To begin with, this was a looong day. 33 kilometres to Olveiroa. I do not think I had been as exhausted as I was that day when I was crawling towards the albergue.
The night was peaceful and the day started very quietly, something you can enjoy only in albergue rooms as slightly inhabited as ours. With only 8-9 people available and fresh air coming through the window all night, it was quite a refreshing experience. We had coffee con leches with some sort of croissants. I am not usually particularly hungry at that time of the day, but these sections of the Camino (from Santiago to Finisterre) are not only less crowded in terms of pilgrims, but the distances between villages can be substantial, especially if you are used to the French way, offering so many possibilities. So fewer villages, and, what’s more, many of them did not provide eating possibilities, supermercados, or anything like that. So, it’s a very very good idea that there is something nutritious in your backpack when walking the Camino Finisterre.
Continued from Part 1.
We reached Santiago around noon and I was surprised how big the town actually was. We walked for a few kilometres before we reached the Cathedral, too late to see the the Botafumeiro though. The square in front of the cathedral was full with people – taking photos, laughing, sitting/lying on the ground, thinking, speaking, greeting, hugging. The cathedral itself was splendid in its style, details and size. Santiago was bursting with life – pilgrims, students (there is a university), tourists, locals. Very lively atmosphere, with gorgeous architecture and cozy, narrow streets. Lots of bars, restaurants, all sorts of places where you can sit and enjoy life. I was desperate to leave my rucksack somewhere, anywhere, change my clothes and soak in the sun. So much impatience! Probably that is why I had to wait a few more hours, lesson taught, whether learnt – still to be determined.
There it is – the day we were to reach Santiago de Compostela. Ahead of us were only about 22 km. – well deserved small walk after the last couple of days delivering more than 30 km. daily to our feet – interesting how people’s attitude to distance changes . Was I excited that I would finally reach it? Yes, but perhaps not to the extend some people do, simply because for me the end was Finisterre and watching the sun go down over the ocean. Nonetheless, I was really thrilled, curious and impatient to see the place which has been the destination point of pilgrimage for centuries.
So off we went…
I would not exaggerate if I say Triacastela to Barbadelo was probably the most enjoyable walk so far on my Camino. Maybe it was because the scenery was astonishing, maybe it was the pleasant weather, maybe it was that because as the road divided in two after Triacastela people were fewer, or maybe my body/mind had already set into the right mode for hours of walking.
Either way, steps were taken with pleasure.
After the challenges Camino de Santiago Day 3 threw at me, I supposed Day 4 would provide some pleasurable difference. You know, I expected balance and so on. Different is was. It was more difficult, more steep, and demanded more from my not-so-happy-after-the-25th-km feet. But, you know what, I came to realize that putting yourself to the test and striving to go on only transforms the rest afterwards into vigorous enjoyment and at least doubles the luxury of a hot shower, clean clothes, feet up and something Galician to eat.
Walking traditionally started at dark and probably for this reason we failed to take the right turn (there are two alternatives to chose from after Villafranca del Bierzo – a mountainous route and the “highway” route). So instead we found ourselves walking along the road, for most of the time the highway was high above our heads, but overall, surprisingly, I found the way quite peaceful, probably because it was too early. There was a divider to separate pilgrims from the road. Level walking on flat surface early in the morning was not a bad idea. Some lovely small villages for an occasional cafe con leche were quite welcome as well.