Can you get addicted to walking the Camino? Gosh, it feels great to be on the road again! While most pilgrims stop in Santiago, I want my journey to finish at the "end of the world", and embark on another 100 km to Cape Finisterre. These feet are made for walking... and today it's a leisurely stroll to Vilaserío, 36 km from Santiago, with long breaks and interesting new acquaintances :).
Santiago de Compostela - I did it! 🙂 The silent and sentimental atmosphere is gone once you are in front of this iconic cathedral. Pilgrims are cheering and celebrating everywhere, and the queue to pick up "La Compostela! - the official certificate - is long. With 800 km behind me and lots of experiences richer, I already have plans for tomorrow: Santiago is not the end of my journey, I am going to continue to the ocean, to Cape Finisterre - the end of the world :).
After my 67-km-record yesterday, I aim for comfortable 30 today. But then I use the momentum and at 10:30 p.m. I cross another 66 km off my list :). With no desire to arrive in Santiago de Compostela in the middle of the night, I stay in the huge hostel on Monte do Gozo, sharing stories late into the night with other pilgrims. The atmosphere is fantastic: Everybody is highly relaxed and excitedly looking forward to embarking on the remaining 5 km to Santiago tomorrow 🙂
Only 138 km left to Santiago de Compostela - warm-up completed ;). After a relaxed start, I push through the Spanish heat, passing the last-100-km mark in the afternoon. I rehydrate in Portomarín, watch the sun set, and keep on walking - reaching 67 km when I run out of daylight at 10:30 p.m. in Palas de Rei. At this late hour, I'm really lucky to find accommodation right away. And I'm even luckier that a nice British girl shares her dinner with me, as it's impossible to buy food this late anywhere close. Thank you, Demelza!
What a beautiful morning! Like most days, I had breakfast on the go when I stumbled upon this magnificent vista. Being in nature every day, far away from the usual, insignificant worries is an awesome experience! Looking at my Amazon shopping cart makes me laugh: Really, those things mattered to me once? And since the people you meet on the Camino are not involved in your life back home, conversations become personal very quickly. Today e.g. with Martha from Linz, who I get to know on my way to Triacastela. Nice to talk to an Austrian again :).
We are getting closer to Santiago de Compostela and it's getting crowded. After another dusty 30+ km day with horses, donkeys, cows, and busloads of Camino tourists crossing our way, we reach picturesque O Cebreiro. Tiny, very touristy - but one of my most beautiful evenings on the Camino. This feeling of freedom - a world full of possibilities!
Not everybody walks the Camino in one go. Today, I accompany Elaine and Felicidad, two lovely French women, who walk a week every year. They certainly won't face my current issue: I'm running short on test sensors for my blood glucose meter. After a few inquiries, a very helpful lady in a pharmacy in Ponferrada informs me that my sensors aren't available in Spain. Will the parcel from home reach me in time? More importantly, will the river in Villafranca del Bierzo be cold enough after this hot and dusty day? 😉
This is it, the moment we've been waiting for: On our way to Molinaseca we reach the Cruz de Ferro. On their journey, every pilgrim brings a stone from home as a symbol for what you want to leave behind, and places it in front of the cross. Mine is beautifully painted by my cousin. You can't help but feel sentimental in that special moment.
Another wonderful day on our way to Rabanal del Camino. Now that I decided to stay with Kathi and Torsten, and to book a later flight home, I am much more relaxed. Less focused on myself, more on supporting the group. Walking the Camino in company doesn't mean we stick together all the time - often we hike a few meters apart and get lost in our thoughts. Best of both worlds, I'd say ;).
As much as I enjoyed the solitude on the three days before León, it also made me realize that hurrying through Spain isn't what I'm looking for: I want to create memories with friends and spend time in the lovely places I'm walking through. So, today I decided to stay with my favorite German pilgrims, and the magnificent view from our hotel room in Astorga alone is worth it! I could stare at the Palacio de Gaudí all night long :).