Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Camino Primitivo

Santiago De Compostela

September 20 2023

I got to sleep in this morning which was really nice.  Had a leisurely shower and down for breakfast at 8:30 am.  

After breakfast it was off to see the cathedral.  The hotel is just a couple of blocks from the cathedral so it didin't take long to walk up the hill.  It was only 9:45 and pilgrim mass was still on so I wandered down the little winding streets of the cathedral district and looked through the tourist souvenir shops.  There certainly is no shortage of items made for selling to the tourists.  Items ranging from under a euro to hundreds of euros.  

The morning drizzle has now turned to a good steady rain which has pretty much cleared the square of the early morning tourists, making it look a lot more like what it looked like in March of this year than the crowded excited crowd I saw yesterday. 

Getting back to the cathedral I took the one entrance on the north side of the cathedral which lead through to see the crypt where the bones of Saint John are housed and then wound around to a passage behind the main alter.  Behind the main alter was a statue of the Virgin Mary which you could touch and your prayers would be answered.  This section was no open in March when I came through.  This passage then lead you back out side.  

I walked around to the other side of the cathedral and entered the main part of the cathedral.  It is an amazing place.  The art work is absolutely over the top.  The main alter is a huge mass of gold and angels bathed in brilliant lights.  The twin pipe organs opposite the main alter must each stand 50 feet tall. Unfortunately a lot of the atmosphere is spoiled by the guided tour guided waving their banners and talking so loud they can be heard every where.  They are offset by the cathedral security asking for silence on the PA system.  

Out on the square it was getting on toward lunch and I had offered to buy Bob a sandwich before he headed off so back to the hotel.  There I met Bob and we went out for a sandwich.  It was really nice and we had a good lunch.  Bob is going to be in transit for something like 36 hours plus an 8 hour layover in Barcelona.  

Back in the hotel I got checked in for my flights tomorrow and confirmed the taxi for tomorrow morning.  

I will have a far well meal this evening with Maureen and the rest of the crew.

IIt has been a great journey with some memorable adventures. However I will be glad to be home. 

There's no place like home.



Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Camino Primitivo

Opino to Santiago de Compostela

September 19 2023

Maureen and her crew were staying 5 kms further down the road from where Bob and I were so we got up early and were prepared to leave early but it was just too dark so we wound up leaving at 8:00 Am any way.  

It was almost surreal trudging along in the predawn light with the heavy fog and mist which was clinging to all of the trees.  About the only sound being the trudging sound from all of the boots in the wet gravel.  Then a very large drop of very cold water would fall out of the trees and hit you ride on the top of your head.  I jumped more than once after being hit. with a large cold drop of water.

The ladies were waiting for us on the trail and we were off towards Santiago.  Only 15 kms to go.  It seemed to take forever as I was wound up and ready to go but we are stopping for coffee or stamps for the pass port, or bio breaks, or more group pictures, or some one has wandered off.  

Finally we come to a marker which says 10.000 kms to Santiago.  Got to stop here for such a unique mileage post marker.  

The fog burns off as we enter the city of Santiago about 11:30 with just under 9 kms to go.   When we did the Portuguese Way we came in from the SW and in side of the city there were no markers but coming in on the French Way there were markers all the way to the cathedral and of course there was a huge parade of pilgrims to follow.   

We headed straight to the Pilgrims Office to get our certificates and as we were a group of six we got to go to the group sign in which had no line up.  In 15 minutes we had our certificates.  The line up for singles looked like it was at least a couple of hours.  A few group pictures in front of the cathedral and off to lunch.

Hard to believe I am here.  Not a single blister, no sore knees,  no aches or pains.  Camino Primitivo is 321 kms and is suppose to be one of the hardest Caminos do to all of the mountains.  So I am pretty happy to have completed this one and be here in Santiago de Compostela.  



Monday, September 18, 2023

PCamino Primitivo

Arzua to A Rua

September 18 2023

Our group was out on the road at our usual time of about 8:15.  Today we were on the road with hundreds of other pilgrims.  I had been doing math calculating that there would be a person every 2 meters on the trail.  This was based on everyone leaving within 2 hours of the first to the last to leave.  Turns out everyone leaves within about 60 minutes so instead of a person every 2 meters, it is more like a person every meter.  To say it was crowded would be a total understatement.  No one was pushing but it was a slow moving parade of slowly trudging people.  The crowd did thin out after the first couple of coffee shops but you were never out of sight of other pilgrims.

The sky was a dull gray with heavy clouds move of the day and the humidity was close to 100%.  So even though it was only around 18 C  every time you started up hill you were soaked in sweat.  The trail itself was mostly through wooded areas with very little on the roads (maybe 20%).  There were sections where the path wound though tiny hamlets and down back alleys.  All of this combined to make a not very phjaotogenic day.  I think the most interesting shots were of a wall where someone had made a collection of old hiking boots into planters along the wall of their home.  

Todays high light had to have been lunch.  We pulled into a little cafe along the route where we had the soup of the day.  It was the traditional Spanish White Bean soup.  It is made with Spanish Judion granja bean, which is a large white kidney shaped bean which does not lose it's skin when cooked.  The beans are stewed with tomatoes and roasted paprika.  The huge bowl was so good and served with a huge chunk of warmed bread.  What a great meal. 

Tonight Bob and I are in a resort style place which is about 20 kms out of Santiago de Compostella.  The rest of the crew are about 5 kms closer in so in the morning we will be on the road early and pick them up on the way. 

Although not a spectacular day scenery wise it was a very nice days walk.  My Garmin made it 20.8 kms with 314 meters climb.

Tomorrow we arrive in Santiago de Compostella


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Camino Primitivo


Melide to Azrua 

September 17 2023

This morning was cold and bluster as we set off.  Forecast was for heavy rain and it was a very believable forecast as the sky was a very dark shade of gray.  There was suppose to be a historic chuurch just on the outside of town but some how we missed it.  It must have been on one of the side loops.

As the Primitivo has joined with the French way the number of people on the trail has increased by an order of magnitude. On the Primitivo you might see ten people all day, and now there are at least ten people in site all of the time.  

We only had 14.5 kms to go so we had left at 9:00 am and with numerous coffee stops it seemed like it took forever to walk down to our hotel in Azrua.  I was really feeling that some of our crew must really want to get rained on as it was getting darker and windier by the minute yet there we were stopping yet again.  We did arrive just after 1:00 pm and the luggage was not here. 

I went for a stroll through the town and as it is Sunday everything was closed.  On my way back I ran in to Maureen and Lorraine who were headed off to this local cheese maker. Apparently this town is famous though out Spain for its excellent cheese.  Maureen had it all scoped out so we went into this shop and ordered their cheese sampler plater.  It was huge and came with a basket of bread.  I found the cheeses to be absolutely excellent.  There must have been a dozen different kinds ranging from hard  to soft .  The blue cheese was my personal favourite.  

By time  I got back to the hotel my luggage was here.  

It has started to pour so made another day without rain.


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Camino Primitivo

Ferreira to Melide

September 16 2023

This mornings breakfast was pretty thin, tiny orange juice, one slice of toast, and one bad tiny muffin.  It wasn't a  long day and I had some food tucked away in my bag so it was ok.  It wasn't foggy so I guess the thunder shower from last night cleared the air.  

A lot of the day was spent walking down little used back roads with almost no traffic.  Some of the crew say that the pavement is hard on their feet but not walking over the loose rocks makes the going a lot easier.  I think Bob's book had the pavement at 70%.  The sections off pavement were very nice, down canopied trails which wound over the hills and often were well graded.  

As we left Ferreira where as a friend says "it's so remote that  they are piping air into it"  and proceeded towards Melide the number of houses and small villages increased.  There were also a lot more pilgrims on the road today than in previous days.  

When we wound up in Melide my Garmin told me to go one way but I was over ruled and we proceeded up the hill.  After a lot of messing  around  we wound up in a hotel.  There was a reservation for Maureen but not for Bob and I.   After phoning Camino Ways it turns out that we are in a different hotel.  Some how it was my fault. Lesson learned follow the Garmin.  Not as new a hotel but away from the mad house of downtown Melide.  

Melide is where the French Way meets the Primitivo , and the town is absolutely packed to the gills with  French Way Pilgrims. 

Quite a day we covered 23.28 miles and had a climb of 420 meters.  This leaves us with just 50 kms to go and three days walk to cover it.  Should be easy stuff.



Friday, September 15, 2023

Camino Primitivo

Lugo to Ferreira

September 15 2023

This morning we were on the road at 8:15 am. It was just getting light and it was quite cool so I had my jacket on.  I was glad to get a good start as starting late only means that you have to suffer in the afternoon heat and risk getting hit by a thunder shower.  

It wasn't far from the hotel to the Santiago gate of the Roman wall which surrounds Lugo.  Posted at the Roman bridge is a centurion who gracefully posed for a photo with me.  Across the river on the Roman bridge which was originally built in 3BC, although this bridge was more likely from the 1980's.   After the bridge we had the major climb of the day which was about 200 meters.  It wasn't steep like some of the previous day's climbs but it did go on for what seemed like forever.

After the big climb of the day it was  mostly rolling hills and valleys.  The sun was out and had burned off the morning fog and it was quite pleasant walking along.  We were at about 12 kms before we came to our first stop of the day whiche was actually some vending machines in a garage beside the road.  The route was about 60% down paved roads with very little traffic so we made good time.  The 40% was down dirt paths which wound through treed woods.  

There has been a very significant increase in the number of pilgrims on the road.  In the early morning there were several groups of 6-10 and a lot of couples.  By noon they had spread out and it didn't seem like we were seeing anymore people than we had before.  That said a lot of the 100 kms pilgrims were only doing 16-20 kms for their day, thy were probably taking a taxi back to Lugo.

My Garmin recorded a walk distance of 28.624 kms and a climb of 618 meters.  This is pretty much the last of the big walks.  The Camino mileage posts are showing a distance of 72 kms to Santiago, and we have four walking days left.    

Tonight we are in a village called Ferreira.  However I think that the only building in the village is hotel/pension where we are staying.  No cell service but good wifi.


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Camino Primitivo

Rest Day Lugo

September 14, 2023

Maureen had arranged a 2 hour English city tour for this morning so were up for an early breakfast and off to meet the tour guide by 9:15 am.   It was quite cool and very foggy this morning so I was glad that I had brought my coat.  The meeting place was right in front of city hall which we were told was designed by the same architect that designed the Cathedral of Santiago.  From city hall we walked down to the Cathedral of  Lugo.  It was build in the 15th century and heavily modified in the 16th and 17th century.  The entire front fa├žade was removed and replaced.   

The tour spent a lot of time going through the cathedral.  Unfortunately no photographs what so ever are allowed in the cathedral  so you have to take my word how beautiful it is.  The upper gallery of the cathedral has been made into a museum displaying the magnificent works of art owned by the cathedral.  The main floor is divided into several different alters all of which are unbelievable works of art.  

From the cathedral we walked across the street to the museum which houses the excavated Roman governor's  house.   It was built in 3 BC.  There are several rooms which have been excavated and the house butts up against the Roman wall.

After the tour was over Bob and I picked up a take out sandwich and walked the Roman wall.  Lugo is the only city with a completely intact Roman wall which surrounds the city.  It is a UNESCO world heritage site.  It is a very impressive structure being 30-50 feet high and 30 feet thick. It is 2 kilometers in length and has 71 towers.  Originally there were 2-3 story round wooden towers on top of the round sections of the wall. These were destroyed in 460 AD when the barbarians captured Lugo.  

After walking the wall I did a little souvenir shopping and hit a supermarket to buy a few things for then next couple of days.  There are no food stores and very little in the way of services during the next couple of days walks.  

Everything is closed for afternoon siesta which doesn't sound so bad as tomorrow is another long day.

It was really nice having a rest day here in Lugo and picking up a little local flavour.