I Have an Itch..an Itch to Return..

I am home less than three weeks now and naturally enough, I am beginning to think of where my feet will take me next year. I don’t expect next year’s Camino to be long, 2 weeks will be fine. A have a number of options:

  • St Jean Pied de Port and continue for 11 or so days – I haven’t walked from St. Jean since September 2014 and I miss the climb out and up to Orrison. However, the Camino Frances is usually extremely busy unless I walk in the off season.
  • Astorga – Santiago de Compostela – Another section that is due a visit. I love the walk from Rabanal to Molinaseca. I haven’t been beyond Sarria since 2011. However, along with it’s beauty comes it’s crowds.
  • The Camino Portuguese from Porto – This was a runner until last week. The coastal route, or Senda Litoral looks great. It is quiet, the route touches the ocean and it is short. However, there is a lack of municipal albergues and I would need to book my accommodation ahead. It is one for the future, and at that stage, there may be more albergues
  • Then, there was also my old favourite, the meseta, from Burgos to Leon. However, it would be my fourth time walking through it. I need a change.

In have decided to stay in Galicia and walk the Camino Ingles. The English Way originates in Ferrol or A Coruña. It was a medieval pilgrimage route for people from Britian or elsewhere in northern Europe, who arrived by ship to the ports of A Coruña and Ferrol.

I have no dates decided as of yet. On walking to Santiago, I will continue to the coast and visit Muxia. Today, the Camino Ingles starts in Ferrol or A Coruna and is just over 120km from Santiago. You will only be entitled to a compostela should you start in Ferrol as the distance from A Coruña does not exceed 100km. It is a much quieter route to Santiago with 2,174 pilgrims collecting compostelas in August 2016 compared to 14,936 pilgrims who walked from Sarria.

Walking alone for most of the day did seem to catch me off guard on the Camino Finisterre, so I guess I am prepared for much of the same on the Camino Ingles.

ruta-camino-ingles

However, the Camino Ingles is a tough trail, it is no walk in the park. It takes pilgrims on many climbs and descents. Betanzos to Hospital de Bruma, for example, has a steep climb of 500m in just over 5km. The Camino Ingles, according to many guidebooks, can be walked in 5 days, but I may walk it in 6 days, breaking the above stage into 2. But just like my recent walk to Finisterre, any plans made can be thrown out the window.

day3

Weekend Watch #35 – Strangers on the Earth

I first learned of Dane Johansen at the start of last year from the Beyond the Way series. Dane had walked the Camino Frances in 2014 carrying his cello on his back. Each night, he had performed and recorded Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello in churches along the way. He also spoke to pilgrims while walking taking in their stories. I hadn’t looked into this potential documentary until I saw a trailer for this final product “Strangers on the Earth”.

Full details about the release of the documentary can be found on Walktofisterra.com and Sotefilm.com and below is the trailer. I really hope a DVD is available for purchase in the near future. The film is on show at the Vancouver International Film Festival at present and there are plenty of other videos from Dane over on his YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Albergues I stayed in – Camino Finisterre 2016

I feel that I need to mention the albergues that I stayed in on my recent Camino. All in all, I really enjoyed them. All were private albergues at a reasonable cost, and the owners went out of their way to assist anyone staying there.

September 1st & 7th – Hospederia San Martin Pinario (Website / Google Maps / Gronze)

20160908_142210A great place to start or finish your Camino while in Santiago. It is located right beside the archway way before the Praza da Obradoiro. Bed and Breakfast costs €23 and rooms can be reserved by emailing reservas@sanmartinpinario.eu. Ensure that you email as their on-line booking form is only for more expensive tourist accommodation. I will definitely stay there again the next time I return to Santiago.

 

 

 

September 2nd – Albergue Alecrin, Negreira (Website / Google Maps / Gronze)

alecrinAlbergue Alecrin was the first albergue I came across on entering Negreira. I needed to rest so I was glad to see it. It’s a fabulous little place with 40 bunks. It is advertised for €12 but the owner charged me €10 for some reason. It was clean but filled up quickly. There is a another room available should it be needed. The kitchen is well equipped but there are many bars and cafes in town to eat out. It has air conditioning also, which was heaven!

September 3rd – Albergue Casa Pepa, Santa Marina (Website / Google Maps / Gronze)

marina-pepa-1A great albergue that I would recommend 100%. It is family owned and serve delicious food. A bunk costs €12 and the owners will do what they can if you need anything. The village however is just that..a village, and has no amenities. If you are looking for a shop, it is best walking further to Olvieroa. If you can’t make it that far, like I couldn’t, then you should stop off here.

 

September 4th – Albergue Bar O Logoso, O Logoso (Website/ Google Maps / Gronze)

logoso-logoso-1Quite possibly the only building in O Logoso – once you leave you have left the village. Albergue Bar O Logoso is another family-run albergue and is highly recommended. I found it clean, it had all the facilities and the food was delicious. The family don’t have a great understanding of English however, and there were a number of communication problems when I was there, but hey! it is there home country. A bunk cost €12 and rooms were ready and cleaned by 11am when I wanted to check in.

September 5th – Hotel Playa Langosteira, Escaselas (Website / Google Maps / Gronze)

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Walking from O Logoso in 35c degree heat took me to my limit and I needed an evening of comfort to get me back to normal. Therefore, my daily budget was thrown out the window and I checked into the pilgrim-fancy Playa Langosteira. For €35, I was treated to a bed, air-con, an amazing sleep and a front row seat of the sun rising the next morning. This place was perfect but I feel I have broken cardinal rule number 1 in the pilgrim’s book of ethics!🙂 Anyway, onwards to Finisterre.

September 6th – Albergue Cabo da Villa, Finisterre (Website / Google Maps / Gronze)

fisterra-cabo-1One of the best albergues I have stayed in. The owners are fantastic and the cost of €12 is a steal. It has all facilities, and it is fully reservable if you prefer that. It is the 2nd albergue as you walk into the town. Make sure you walk up to the Cabo to watch the sun set at the end of the day.

 

 

It’s been a quiet week..

Hi folks. I am home from Santiago just over a week now and I have been hit with a bad dose of the Post Camino BluesI find myself waking up earlier than normal and also wondering what I was doing this time last week. My backpack is never far just in case I need to throw it on. I guess the only way to counter-act this dreaded condition is to meet with people who feel the same and keep writing.

In other news:

My 2016 Camino Finisterre in one page: I have just finished writing about my times on the Camino Finisterre. The link to each day can be found in the Camino Finisterre 2016 at the top of the page. I will be posting a more general post about that route in the coming days.

The LWIBloggies: The Littlewoods Blog Awards were held last night and the travel award was won by a smashing travel blog called WanderingOn.com. Check out their site if you can. Congratulations to all winners on the night, they can be viewed hereI have quite bit of work to do to reach their level but I am happy plugging away here, doing what I love. And I’m delighted to have reached the final with all your votes.

A little look into the future: I have started browsing through the Brierley’s booklet for the Camino Portuguese. I really want to walk the Coastal route from Porto to Santiago, and then on to Muxia. This should take up to 18 days. Plans are afoot! It is meant to be a beautiful trail with very few peregrinos. That said, I missed the social aspect of the Camino Frances on the Camino Fisterra. Hmm…lots of decisions to make before the start of the New Year.

Dublin Festival of History: And finally, Dublin City Council are holding a number of free events from September 23rd to October 8th during the Dublin Festival of History. One such talk is “The Irish and the Camino de Santiago: 800 years of history” and is being held in Cabra Library on the Navan Road on October 6th. You must book in advance. Full details can be found here. So if you are from the area, it would be great to attend.

Camino Finisterre 2016 – Day 6-7 – To Santiago & Home

Camino 2016 – Day 6-7 – To Santiago & Home – September 7th & 8th
It had to come to an end….

I had a restless sleep the previous night. A large group came in to the dorm at 3am from gathering at the cape. I didn’t blame them though. It’s the last night. Maybe if I was younger, I would have joined them. Anyway, I got up just after half 7..the sound of flip flops being my final alarm. My Cork friend was gathering his belongings while I carried my bag out to make sure I had everything. He was to walk to Muxia that day, but was waiting for another friend to accompany him. I said my goodbyes to him. Muxia would wait for another day. Today, I was travelling to Santiago.

I walked down to outside the Xunta albergue, where the bus stop is. I had a good wait ahead of me before the bus arrived shortly after 8.15am. People were busily going to work and opening the cafes and restaurants. I was really hoping this was just a dream. I picked up my rucksack..ouch…nope it’s real. I had aches in my lower back from the previous few days’ climbs. Hmm..I need to get (and remain) Camino-fit. I got on the bus and had a seat near the top. A few minutes later, my friend from Slovenia got on. I knew I would meet her before I left. I was delighted! The Monbus coach takes you from Finisterre to Cee and further south along the coast, before it arrives in Santiago. All in all the trip took 2 and a half hours. It was good having company on the bus, as well as looking at pilgrims walking between Cee and Finisterre. I had hoped on being in Santiago by 10.30am for the English mass, but the bus was delayed. Not to worry. We both got a feeder bus from the Estacion de Autobuses to Praza de Galicia (only a €1 each) and walked to the Praza da Obradoiro. No matter how many times I have stood in front of the Cathedral, I feel a great sense of joy. I watched other pilgrims enter the Praza happy to have completed their Caminos. I noticed a number of members of Guardia Civil with arms there too, which I didn’t notice the last time I was here. Times are changing. We both agreed to meet later for some food once we checked into our albergues.

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The Hospederia San Martin Pinario hadn’t changed in my absence. I got my key – Room 409 – ugh! Another climb up those steps. On the top floor, I heard Dublin accents. I said “so I’m not the only Irish person here?” We had a long conversation about our completed Caminos. Both had walked from Sarria and loved the experience. They invited me out for a bite to eat but I needed to clean myself up. I was grateful for their offer. I hope to see them at the airport however when we were flying home. After a shower, I had an hour snooze and wandered out to a busy Santiago. The streets were full of tourists, pilgrims and souvenir traders. It was bustling. Walking down Praza de Cervantes and into Rua do Preguntoiro, I look at all the shop windows. I was looking for Rua Nova however and it isn’t long before I am lost, yet again. I find it after a while and take a seat at El Retablo (you should go there). It’s a great cafe and I ordered an Estrella. The best part of ordering drinks in Spain is the snacks that you are provided. 

After an hour or so after, I went to the Cathedral and then met up with my Slovenian friend, We decided to have some food and before long we were in a resuraunt at the end of Rua Vilar. It was really enjoyable! We then walked to to Casino Cafe to finish the evening. We were then joined by a Latvian girl who had walked the Camino Frances. She enjoyed the Camino experience so much, she was now going to walk to Porto or further. We wished her well and gave her some Portuguese phrases to use🙂 I hope to walk from Porto soon.

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I then had an early night, promising that I would go to the English mass at 10.30. The following day, I woke at half past 7. I decided to get some breakfast in the San Martin. It was fab! Toast, tea, fruit and you can take more when finished. Yum! I then checked out, left my bag behind reception and went to find the English Mass. If you are interested and if English is your first language, there is a mass at 10.30am Monday to Saturday and 9am on Sunday in the Capella de la Soledad. About 50 turned up for this service, mostly from Ireland.

We went for a short way to the Parque de la Alameda to count down the remainder of my Camino. I hadn’t long before I had to take my bag and fly off from the airport. I said my goodbyes, although I gave an invite to come to Ireland!🙂 and made my way to the airport.

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There, I was re-introduced to queues…and everything that I didn’t see on the Camino. I was back to reality. I met my Irish friends from San Martin again and sat with them for lunch. They seemed to have a good time, which is the main thing. While waiting for the plane, I thought about walking, I thought about the next time. The question of “if” had long been answered, it was more a question of “when” and “where”. I had met some great people also – from Ireland, Slovenia, Italy, France, Hungary, Latvia, Colombia, Germany. I hope these memories will stay fresh as they are now. I arrived home tired, wanting to be in Spain. 

 

 

Camino Finisterre 2016 – Day 5 – Finisterre

Camino 2016 – Day 4 – Finisterre – September 6th
A hop, skip and a jump and I’ve arrived

I woke just after 7am after a perfect sleep in the Hotel Playa Langosteire. I knew I had a little under 2km to go before I reached the main village of Finisterre, so I left after gathering all my things. The sun was slowly rising above the horizon and I stopped for a while to watch it rise. Later on that evening, I would see it go down. It was 8am and I had a fear that nothing would be open. However, I passed a group of American women who told me they had an amazing breakfast in one place just off the main road – Albergue Cabo da Villa. I thanked them and wandered off, searching for this place. Arriving there, the owner instantly invited me in for breakfast, which consisted of coffee, toast, and fruit and then she offered me more. This was great! I thought about staying here but there were no rooms ready at this time.  However, she offered to take my bag and pole from me for later, so I could wander around the harbour and take some photos.

corcubion-finisterre

There’s a nice descent into the harbour from the Albergue. On first impressions, it is littered with bars and restaurants, however it was too early and none of these were open. I sat down and took everything in. I knew I had another 3km or so to Cabo Fisterra, so I had technically not reached the 0 km point. But I preferred to wait until the evening to go there. It was at that stage that I saw the Italian girl from earlier on in the week. I couldn’t believe it! She had walked the alternative route to Muxia and had arrived in Finisterre the day before. We both took a slow walk in the cold ocean, which felt great but walking on shells on a beach can be painful!!. I also met the girl from Hungary who was right when she said she would see me in Finisterre. She had slept on the beach just like she said.

With sand in my shoes, I said my final goodbyes to both and walked to the main road and to “Brigantia Viajes”. I needed to book my bus ticket back to Santiago, no matter how much I wanted to stay. I bought an open ticket for the next day – it cost €13. I aimed for the 8.20am bus but there was another at 9.45am if I was late. I stopped off next door in the Mariquito Bar for two glasses of Coca Cola. Half way through my 1st glass, an elderly man, who was with his wife, said to me – “Hola amigo!” I had no idea who he was. “Did you like Casa Pepa?” Nope, still no recollection! How and ever, I enjoyed the conversation. He was from Colombia and was spending another few days in Finisterre. He showed me a photo on his phone of Galway Bay. “See this…my daughter was here and she loved it”. I didn’t doubt a word he said. I said my goodbyes and made my way back to Cabo da Villa where the bunkbeds were being made available. I chose one on a bottom bunk yet again at the very back of the room. It’s a lovely place, with great owners and I would recommend it. I showered, washed clothes and spent a number of hours thinking of the evening.

There’s no shortage of restaurants or cafe’s in Finisterre and at around 4pm, I strolled down to the sea-front and had a great three course menu del dia for €10. I’m not much of a fish-lover, so I stayed on pasta carbonara. It is perfect pilgrim food. I didn’t see anyone else I knew which kind of bothered me. It was also perfect time to collect my Finisterrana in the Municipal albergue. There was a short queue but in a while I had the certificate with my name and date of completion. I wandered back to the albergue for a short snooze until 7pm when I decided to walk to the Cape.

While lying on the bunk, a heard a guy with what appeared to be an Irish accent come into the room. He was finishing his day and looked flustered. I was delighted as I hadn’t come across any other Irish since the airport. I asked him “so what part of Ireland are you from?” He was a bit taken aback and said “Ah, how’s it going, I’m from Cork!”. I enjoyed speaking to him, as I speak as I could at home. We both agreed that we would walk to the Cape later on when he was ready.

It wasn’t long before the albergue started emptying out. Folks had bought drink and snacks and were taking them to the cape to watch the sun go down. Some would stay there for the night, others would come home by 10pm and prepare for walking to Muxia the next day. My Cork friend was one of these. The walk to the Cape is just over 2km uphill and I chose to wear sandals. Hmm..not a wise move! Within 45 minutes we were at the lighthouse. It’s a popular place to be and the car park was full with in a short space of time. I asked for a few photos beside the 0km marker and then found a spot to watch the sun go down. I managed to record it, see below. It was a special evening and it wasn’t long before it was dark. I headed back to an empty albergue Cabo da Villa and got my pack ready for the next day. Santiago was my next destination…

Camino Finisterre 2016 – Day 4 – O Logoso to Finisterre (Escaselas)

Camino 2016 – Day 4 – O Logoso to Escaselas – September 5th
So close…yet so far away!

Day 4 started out in the dark yet again. My dorm was sound asleep when my Fitbit alarm buzzed at 6.30am. My plan was to walk to Cee which was just over 16km away. I would then have 12km left to walk into Finisterre. As such, I was in no great hurry so I decided to get up, take my time and enjoy the few days I had left on this Camino. That being said, the temperatures were due to rise over the next few days, so I aimed to finish up between midday and 1pm. I gathered my rucksack and headed out for my penultimate day of walking. I was getting closer to the sea and was getting eager to see the Altantic Ocean from this side of the world.

It wasn’t long before I arrived at Hospital and a large cafe at the side of the road. It made great effort to let pilgrims know that the next stop off point was in 15kms in Cee. I had enough in my bag to keep me going for that long and I actually looked forward to chilling out by the coast in Cee with some snacks. At that stage, the Camino brings you along a main road and it is a little dangerous at parts. A rush of adrenaline ran through me when I saw the concrete milestone in an island in the middle of the road. Unfortunately, it was too dark to take a picture but using the light on my phone I knew which direction to take. Looking back, I saw a number of people behind me walk towards Muxia and now I was alone. I didn’t mind that however.

olveira-corcubion

Today’s walk is different to yesterday’s or the day before. On arriving at Hospital,  the terrain was predominantly flat for about 10 km. There are no towns, hamlets or villages but I enjoyed this emptiness. I kept looking for distance-markers however, just to be sure I was going in the right way. I also had been told from a Camino friend that I would see the ocean after 2 hours or so and then, I would start on a rather steep descent into the town of Cee. You must remember that I was at just over 1000 feet above sea level and some how I needed to get down to Cee in a 10kms. Let’s hope these knees hold up!

The sun had risen and I was about 5km from the coast. I met a French group who recognised me from Albergue Casa Pepa in Santa Marina. They shouted at me “Hey Irishman, why do you hurry?, are you chasing the girl?”..I was a little stunned at this point and didn’t know what to say! I said I wanted to see the water and the ocean, and wished them a Buen Camino! Other than this group, I only saw one other person until Cee – someone snoozing in a sleeping bag in a picnic area.

I saw a sign for Albergue Moreira around about this point and decided I would aim for here. My day was done, I thought. But I had a descent to find first! Descent first, cold beer second!

And there is was..A green distance-marker, with the words “To the End” written on it, pointed the way to the ocean! It was a beautiful sight. I stopped for a few moments and took a few pictures. It was quiet save for the sound of business in Cee’s port. “Ok…the descent..”, I thought to myself. It started all the way to the town which we could see down. It was very hard for me to concentrate on what my feet were doing as the view was breathtaking. However, I forced myself to, and soon, I was at sea-level. I saw the albergue and sat outside waiting for it to open. Cee is a fab coastal village located in a cove, and it was very different from the villages I had walked through so far. As such, I wanted to stay here. I would have only 12km to Finisterre tomorrow.

It was 9.30am, still very early and I could easily walk on to the next town. But I wanted to spend some time here…gah!..my mind was torn! I walked over to the albergue’s door and see that it was not open until midday. I could kick myself! I grab my backpack and pole and move on. I would walk to the next town, Corcubion. Looking back, I was incredibly hard on myself. I probably should have found a bar and chilled in Cee and then come back to the albergue. Oh well…

corcubion-finisterre

I walked along the coastline, taking in the breeze. Oh it was nice to feel that. I meet a young German guy who was looking for a bar. I walk with him for while. Our pace was non-existent at this stage, we were both in “looking for bar” mode, that most pilgrims can understand. My legs had just recovered from the descent into Cee, however, boom! we turned a corner and started to climb up intensely. The German guy said “Ah yes I remember now..”, he must have walked this before. But, hey, no pain, no gain! The trail was made of boulder-sized rocks and I needed to watch my step as I walked. After the climb, I needed to stop and rest for a while. He continued on, looking for his bar. I would never see him again.

Soon after I was out of Cee and the next town, Corcubion, I saw a wide deserted beach and immediately left the road. The weather was almost too hot, and it was great to see the ocean as I walked closer to Finisterre. I spent the next 2 hours walking between the main road, villages and beach. The heat became very uncomfortable and I decided that I would check in at the next place that had a bed, whether it be an albergue, hostal or casa rural. I saw Hotel Playa Langosteira in Escaselas. It is 2 minutes walk from the beach and 2kms walk from Finisterre. Maybe I could see the sun rise the next day? I hope so… Now, I just wanted to sleep.