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 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.

 

 

Camino Finisterre 2016 – Day 3 – Santa Marina to O Logoso

Camino 2016 – Day 3 – Santa Marina to O Logoso – September 4th
A short, but changeable day..

I left Casa Pepa with very little idea as to where I would finish the day. Most of those who where staying here were aiming for Cee, which is 35km and there are two villages prior to that – O Logoso and Hospital at 16km and 18km. But these pilgrims had been walking for 30+ days and had strong feet. I had plenty of time at hand and could take that time, so I decided on aiming for O Logoso. On arriving at O Logoso, I would have 2 further days to walk to Finisterre. This was my “chill-mino”, after all!

camino-a-finisterre-day-2-elevation

The majority of the people in the albergue left at the same time as myself but most kept to themselves in their own groups, whispering amongst themselves in their various languages. I had bought some fruit and chocolate from the evening before and within 15 minutes, I started on out in the dark. It was foggy and before long, I was covered in a light layer of dew. Water was dripping from the trees and this was enough reason for me to put on my rain jacket. There was no rain forecast however. It wasn’t long before I had left the road way to the dirt track under the trees. At this point, I started to climb over 300m, and passed the towns of Gueima and Abeleiras. On a clear sunny day, you can see the resevoir of Encoro Da Fervenza. There are normally great views, but this morning, it is dark, misty and I can only use Google Maps to assure myself of what is ahead of me. Regardless, I march on and descend the hill on the other side to arrive at Ponte Olveira and into Olveiroa. So far this morning, I had covered 10km in just under 2 hours. The sun was doing it’s very best to break through the mist but failing. It was a nice change in the weather and I welcomed it.

olveira-corcubion

I decided to stop off at Albergue Horreo in Olveiroa for some breakfast. Some Spanish pilgrims who had stayed here the previous night were putting packs in order and getting ready for the day ahead. I recognised them from stopping off in Casa Pepa. I ordered my usual tostada and cafe con leche and sat outside. I got chatting to a girl from Hungary who had stayed in the Refugio in Ponte Olveira not too far behind. She wanted to walk to Finisterre today – just under 40kms. I wished her well but I couldn’t help asking why she wanted to go there in such a rush. She told me she had no money and was hoping to sleep in the donativo albergue in Finisterre, while offering to work there. She was taken in by the Camino experience. I offered to buy her a coffee but she refused my offer. I enjoyed talking to her and moved on after drinking my cafe. “I’ll see you in Finisterre”..she shouted as I walked off.

The next 4km to O Logoso was spent in the hills. There are quite a few ascents and descents and I was glad for flatland when I finally reached it. It was particularly busy at this point when I got caught up in a large organised group of Spanish hikers. I decided to walk at speed ahead of them as they were slow. I met my Spanish friends from Albergue Horreo again and we exchanged small talk in English. I was getting used to walking alone on the Camino Finisterre. I suppose I would have enjoyed company but I am walking under my own conditions while walking alone.

I arrive at O Logoso after 4 hours and ask the owner if they are open. She smiled and said yes, but the room is still being cleaned. I say “Estoy cansado” and she laughs! I had no problem waiting outside in the shade with a glass of ice cool coke. Just while I was waiting, the Hungarian girl arrives and sits down beside me. After a cigarette and a quick chat, she moves on and again says “I’ll see you in Finisterre”.

This albergue in O Logoso is one of the better ones. I could have walked to Cee, but that is another 18kms and at 11am, there was no guarantee of a bed. I washed my clothes, showered and chilled in the sun, which had finally made an appearance. Albergue O Logoso sits on top of a valley and there is an impressive view, once you walk behind the albergue. I had an early menu del dia and sat out in the sun until 8pm. The albergue filled up very quickly, however I hadn’t met any of the people in it before.

Tomorrow, I would walk to Cee or Corcubion and the next, to Finisterre. However, I have had plans broken before.

 

Camino Finisterre 2016 – Day 2 – Negreira to Santa Marina

Camino 2016 – Day 2 – Negreira to Santa Marina – September 3rd
More strenuous…and hotter!

I was 2nd to wake in this one room Albergue Alecrin. An Italian girl who was first to bed was busy getting her gear ready and her movement woke me up. It was 5.30am. I decided to make a move myself at that stage. After a quick breakfast of tea, a breakfast bar and some chocolate, I threw on my rucksack and started out. Negreira was dark…and quiet. Walking up the main street, I came to the edge of town where the medieval festival was still ongoing and there was no sign of it ending. I heard someone shout “Hola peregrino!” from one of the many bars. I walk through the town’s original walls and into darkness.

camino-a-finisterre-day-2-elevation

The first 10 kilometers on this stage are all essentially up, up, up! You have to gain 300 km in elevation, about 900 feet, which can take energy. I passed through Zas, A Pena and Fornos, mostly in darkness but I was greatly aware that as soon as the sun would rise, the temperatures would reach the levels yesterday. I had my trusted phone with me, guiding me as I knew I would be lost without some form of light. I was glad to have plenty of water too. The terrain from Negreira is divided between roadway and forest. On roadway, you are constantly checking for cars which come at great speed, while in the forest, the opposite applies. Leaving the roadway, I passed through forest, with dirt tracks and stone walls. The light was diminished by high trees. Ever since leaving Negreira, I had been debating with myself should I continue to Olveiroa or stop somewhere beforehand. My ankles were sore from the previous day’s exertions and I knew that 34km might be a little bit too much for today. Anyway, I walked on..

Just before Villaserio, I was greeted by a small shelter selling food and snacks. It was great to have a cafe con leche however the owner had limited English. I stopped here for a while and met two girls from Slovenia and Italy. One had walked from Lugo and the other had walked from Leon, both were continuing to Muxia together. We decided to walk together for a while as they wanted to practice their English. I was pleased to help! I really enjoyed their company, and they had great stories to tell me about their times on the Camino. Hmm…the Primitivo..I might walk that next year! One had visited Ireland many times and had traveled parts that I had not been to!! I felt bad now 🙂 Passing Vilaserio, I noticed the fabulous new albergue. Next time around, I would love to stop off here.

The time quickly passed as we chatted and marched up the hills together. We were keeping a very good pace, I figured more than 5 km/hr. The sun was splitting the stones at this time and we decided to find a place for a somewhere for a drink. My energy was sapping but they both wanted to reach Olveiroa today. I saw a sign for Albergue Casa Pepa just off the Camino and we aimed for there. I decided that I would stay here for the night, while they would move on after some lunch and a beer.We said goodbye but I had a feeling that we would meet again. Never say goodbye on the Camino, folks 🙂

I checked in to this great albergue and found a bed to myself. I was the first there but it was full before the evening was over. Casa Pepa is just off the Camino and is family run. The owners are very friendly and even if you don’t plan on staying, do drop in and say hello and buy a drink. I had covered 21km today, but I couldn’t help think “what if”. What if I stuck with the girls and walked to Olveiroa? I would not see Muxia this year but it will be there next year. So be it. I thought of the rest of this Camino. I thought of Finisterre and how I would get there. I thought of the sun set and I thought of returning to Santiago. All these things brought a smile to my face. How could I say I have failed?

I washed my clothes, had a shower and had an amazing menu del peregrino. Afterwards, I sat outside in the shade, watching the world go by. I met many Irish people stopping by for a drink as they walk to Olveiroa. Tomorrow, I would walk closer to the sea.

Camino Finisterre 2016 – Day 1 – Santiago de Compostela to Negreira

Camino 2016 – Day 1 – Santiago de Compostela to Negreira – September 2nd
Up, up, down and up!

I woke just after 6am eager to get going. The Cathedral’s bells served as my alarm clock. Nice one. I had my rucksack packed from the night before save for the clothes I was wearing and a few snacks. I filled up my water canister and headed out. There was no movement in San Martin so I made sure to keep quiet. I was in room 450 which was on the 4th floor. No lift working didn’t help matters either, so I was getting a healthy work-out before even leaving the building. I left the key behind the desk and moved on.

To find the start of the Camino Finisterre, you need to enter the Praza de Obradoiro through the archway at Praza da Inmaculada and carry on down the slope beside the Parador. Before setting off, I stood in the Praza and took a breath in. It was pitch black, and quiet. I saw two other pilgrims. The Cathedral stood tall in front of me, still in a state of disarray. Hopefully, the works will be completed soon.

The street winds down to the main road and Cafe Tertulia, which I had hoped would be open. I was in two minds to stay for a morning cafe con leche but moved on regardless. A morning breakfast bar and chocolate would do me until the next town. It isn’t long before you leave the city and you enter a dirt track. I was delighted to be met by my first distance marker showing 88km to Finisterre, shortly followed by a “Fisterra” sign and arrow marked on a bridge over the River Sarela. I was for sure going the right way, however, there was a distinct lack of peregrinos. It was by no means the Camino Frances. Maybe it was too early, I thought to myself. It was very dark and I found myself using the light on my phone to look for arrows or distance markers. The sun started to rear her head shortly before 8am and at that stage I had 6km walked. The nearest town with a cafe is Augapeseda which is another 6km, and I had breakfast bars and water. Anyway, my feet were strong and I reached Augapeseda shortly.

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The first distance marker on the Camino Finisterre

Boom! Hot spot number 1 felt on my left foot. Down with the bag, out with the compeed and off with the shoe! I was glad to have caught it as I was in no mood to have a blister so soon into a Camino.

The temperatures were increasing with the sun and before long, it was 28c. I wanted to reach Negreira by midday as I had a feeling it would get hotter and I was right. I passed an amazing little town called Ponte Maceira on the Rio Tambre, with it’s own waterfall. It was perfect to stay but I had only covered 16km. Maybe another day. Just another 4kms to Negreira. Boy, but what a 4km! It was all uphill and I raced for the nearest albergue – Albergue Alecrin, to avoid any further climbs. I had only covered 21kms on this day but the heat had knocked me for six. I was a pale shade of pink. It was a fairly lonely day also, despite the scenery. I didn’t come across any other people with a good grasp of English. Mostly Spanish, Italians, and Germans and despite my best efforts, I tended to keep in the shade and to myself.

I had a lovely menu del dia in the Imperial Bar, which has an English owner. They provide a 3 course meal for €8.50. There is nothing wrong with that! Negreira also was celebrating a medieval festival on this day and night, which I missed altogether. This would be the largest town I would pass through before I reached Finisterre. It has all facilities with a number of supermarkets and if you wanted to cook yourself in an albergue, you could do so.

It was at this stage that I decided to think ahead. The following day, I was aiming for Olveiroa and 34km. The forecast was for much of the same, and with painful ankles from the day’s climbs, I decided to sleep on it.

 

 

Camino Finisterre 2016 – Day 0 – Dublin to Santiago de Compostela

Camino 2016 – Day 0 – Dublin to Santiago de Compostela – September 1st
A short flight to Spain!

So I have returned! My feet have touched Irish soil after my Finisterre Camino….well yesterday! I have received my Finisterrana and watched the sun set under the horizon. Yet again, the Spanish people have been 110% and my need to return has greatly increased. I have met some amazing people also from all corners of the world. So how did I get on?

My flight was on the 1st of September. An Aer Lingus A320 Airbus flew a largely Irish crowd at 1pm Irish time from Dublin. I decided to check my bag in this time as I had a pacer pole with me. Once I queued through security, I waited for the plane to board. There were a lot of Irish heading off with small bags, presumably walking from Sarria to Santiago. Everyone was giddy, traveling into the unknown. I talked to a young couple and urged them to collect as many sellos as possible. The credencial will be even more special than the compostela in years to come, I vowed.

My rucksack was an impressive 6kg with the trekking pole dismantled inside. At least I was doing something right. My plan was to walk from Santiago to Finisterre in 4 days and then on to Muxia. There I would watch the sun set and would have 5 days walking complete. It’s the shortest time I have been on the Camino but I need the remainder of my holidays for other reasons. I left Ireland knowing that the weather was going to be pleasant and with no rain forecast and I packed with that in mind. I left my poncho, gaiters and sleeping bag at home and brought the liner. All well and good…although I hoped we had no rain!

So I arrived in Santiago Airport shortly after 4pm Spanish time. There is a very handy feeder bus from the airport that leaves you at Praza de Galicia, which is  about 15 minutes, and from there, the old town is 10 minutes walk. Unfortunately, I got lost trying to find my stay for the night – the Hospedería San Martin Piñario – a renovated monastery. It still had the old features and for €23 it is a joy. I strongly recommend that you stay there when in Santiago (http://www.sanmartinpinario.eu). It’s simple but all you could need as a pilgrim. I decided to meet a blogging friend, Sindre, after checking in, for a few drinks. He had recently completed the Camino Primitivo to the north of Spain. So I walked down to Roots and Boots Albergue beside the Parque Alameda. He was with his friends and kindly invited me to join them. I was the only one who had yet to start a Camino, so was feeling a little left out! We went for some food later but I left a little early to get myself ready for the next day’s hike. I tend to wake up early!! 🙂
As always Santiago doesn’t sleep too early and there was a band playing for a few hours in the Plaza de Obradorio. I drifted off around midnight eager to get the next day started.

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Waiting to take off in Dublin