Photo info: Canon 5d Mark 2 / 70-200 lens / aperture 5.6 / shutter 1/200 / Time of day – 11 a.m.
Blended with cloud images and snow added from Albums DS art
The name Santiago goes back to the Apostle James (Saint James = Santiago) who went to this most north-western part of Spain, called by the Romans “Finis Terrae “end of the world,” to preach and convert people to Christianity.
We see Santiago in the distance. So close.
The population of the city in 2012 was 95,671 inhabitants.
Cars speed down the busy highway as our path blends with the city.
Follow the arrow…follow the seashell.
Santiago, Spain is the most popular catholic pilgrimage in the world after Rome, which was founded after the discovery of the remains of the Apostle Santiago also known as Saint James of Compostela in the 9th century.
Santiago, Spain is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, in the northwest region of Spain in the Province of A Coruna. ~Wikipedia
Randy is operating a Lost & Found on the Camino service. He found a nice glove on the trail and is trying to track down its owner. No success so we may be bringing a lone glove home. It would be a shame to throw away a perfectly good glove.
Should we stop and get tattoos? We did keep our minds busy on the long days of walking the Camino by planning our tattoo design. I don’t think I would spend the money, so I’m merely dreamer. Randy, on the other hand…
This must be the cathedral, but nobody is here. Where is the welcoming committee? Where are the crowds of people ready to congratulate us on our feat? Why don’t we hear cheers of weary pilgrims, ecstatic that they’ve reached their final destination.
Blip…. Joan makes contact with the 2 way radio. Where are you?
We describe our location and decide we must have come in on the back side of the church. Sure not much action going on back here.
We finally make our way to the front and meet up with Joan. We are thrilled that she is here to greet us and will forever appreciate sharing this moment with her. It would have been disappointing to stand there by ourselves and say, “Huh…there it is.”
But where is the rest of the gang?
Next stop: turn in our stamped Pilgrim passports for our official certificate. On completion of your pilgrimage at Santiago de Compostela you can present your credential at the Pilgrim Office beside the Cathedral. You will then be given your Compostela certificate, the traditional document, in Latin, confirming your completion of the pilgrimage.
It is required that walkers and pilgrims on horseback must have completed at least the last 100km and cyclists the last 200 km in order to qualify for the Compostela.
…and we STILL follow the yellow arrow. This time we go upstairs to look for the office.
We find the rest of the group is in the hotel bar with the Camino Celebration phase in progress. Excuse the noisy image since my flash didn’t fire, but you get the drift.
Buen Camino! El fin.
The following link is an interesting video of the Camino de Santiago from France to Finesterre. The last half covers areas that we walked.
Hmmm…Finnestere. Maybe we should check that out, too?
…not what you can’t.
A man on a bicycle approaches us speaking Spanish and, through his photos, we understand his purpose.
Randy is signing the guest book of sales. This gentleman, on the bike, pedals the Camino selling t-shirts to fund trips to Para Olympic athletic events. His binder is full of news articles and photos of his participation to help prove that he is legit. Scam or not, we purchase a 10 Euro t-shirt and don’t regret it. You just have to trust once in a while.
Plus, he shares a cell phone photo of his baby AFTER the sale (Or, maybe he thought we’d buy more shirts). I mention to Randy that it could be anyone’s cute little baby, but Randy chooses to trust that the story is all truth.
I’m happy to discover that he is legit and our t-shirt purchase is going toward an honest endevour. Check it out at this website: http://ionutpreda.com/
The origin of the horreo is the horreum from the Roman Empire, and is an old technology that has nearly disappeared in the rest of the empire regions.
Monte do Gozo (Hill of Joy) is a hill in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. It is known for being the place where Christian pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) get their first views of the three spires of their destination, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. At 370 meters (1,210 ft), it is the pilgrims’ last hill and last stop before reaching the cathedral, with about an hour’s walk still to go, and by tradition is where they cry out in rapture at finally seeing the end of their path. ~Wikipedia
The Capilla de San Marcos looks rustic, but isn’t all that old compared to what we’ve already seen. Follow another path and it takes you to an albergue that has 500 hostel beds in rooms of 4 to 8 beds.
We are not stopping here so I guess we’d better follow the arrow to the right and head down the hill.
One more hour of walking…
The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The challenging path continues to be flooded in areas and muddy at best. I think all of us are beginning to wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into and what may lie ahead. Water-soaked boots are heavy weights and pull on our tired, sore leg muscles as we schlepp along.
We are now in Galicia and the scenery has blossomed into the emerald green of spring as we weave through woods and dale. We crossed into Galicia on day four before crossing the snowy mountain and the village of O Cebreiro sits near the top. I must have missed the sign. (Better go back and hike that mountain so I can see the Galician border sign.) I’ve read that in the Galician language, O replaces El. Our final destination, Santiago de Compostella, is the capitol of Galicia.
Two languages are official and widely used today in Galicia; the native Galician, a Romance language closely related to Portuguese with which it shares the common Galician-Portugal medieval literature, and the Spanish language, usually known locally as Castilian. 56.4% of the Galician population always speaks in Galician or speaks more in Galician than in Castilian, while 42.5% speaks always in Castilian or more in Castilian than in Galician. ~ Wikipedia
Our path continues through a muddy, hilly wooded area and we come across a colorful, although tacky, looking memorial made of cast-off clothing, snack garbage, socks, hats… It appears as though it is the pilgrim dump. I am not impressed with this area since it contrasts so starkly with the quiet, remote woods, farmlands and small villages. The site does kind of remind me of Jamaica with its bright colors. Randy would like to take home that nice jacket on the lower right, but it’s not his size.
Romanesque stone walls border our path as we cross through pasture areas, working our way down to the city of Portomarin. The slimy mud pulls on our boots and the path is also mixed with sweet smelling cow manure ~ Watch your step! The farmer is getting the herd adjusted to their new pasture grounds using a stick and his dog.
This long bridge over the rushing waters of the Mino River is the only thing between us and our destination for the day, Portomarin, Spain. I hang tightly onto my walking poles as the strong gusts of wind push, tug and pull on me as if playing the old playground game, King of the Hill. ~ Photo from Google images.
Portomarin is tucked in amongst the hills of Monte do Cristo and the river intersects the village. During medieval times people lived on the right bank of the river, in an enclave (territory surrounded by another territory) by the Camino de Santiago.
The Portomarin we see today dates mostly from the middle of the 20th century with much of the old town now below the waters of the Miño. In the 1950’s Franco decided he wanted to build a hydro-electric dam 40 kilometres down river and in doing so would flood the town of Portomarín. The townspeople wanted to save some of their most important monuments and transported these stone by stone up to their new home, high above the river, which you see in the photo above. Now, that would require some heavy lifting! Parts of the old town resurface in the fall when the water level gets low.
As we first come across the new bridge, we pull our tired bodies up some steps to an arch where we see the Iglesia de Santa Maria de las Nieves, built on the site of a former pilgrim hospital. The staircase is actually the sole remaining part of the original 2nd century Roman bridge, which was destroyed by Doña Urraca. I would have taken a photo but it was raining. Go figure…
Wet, tired, stiff, sore, hungry… A-h-h-h-h…. home, sweet, home.
All God’s angels come to us disguised. ~James Russell Lowell
We eat our normal breakfast of tostados with coffee or tea and hop in the taxi at 8:00 a.m. We are fast forwarding the mountain from Vega de Valcarce, and will go about 30 miles to Sarria due to the weather conditions. The van is large enough to hold all seven of us, plus the driver.The treacherous roads are full of slushy snow and it is sleeting. The taxi driver is carefully maneuvering through the icy mountain roads and we are quiet, so we don’t disturb his concentration. It would not be a pretty sight if we slip off the mountain road. We don’t see any other vehicles going over the mountain this morning.
After about an hour, we arrive in Sarria and begin our 14 mile trek to Portomarin. We tip our driver since he did such a wonderful job and did not charge as much as we had expected. He keeps trying to return the tip. No es necesario! We finally convince him to keep the tip since he is very deserving and is well worth it.
We look ahead and see that our path has been washed out and fast, deep water is rushing across. (It seems much deeper than the photo depicts and we don’t see the grassy area on the other side of the rocks, yet.) I hear a gasp and discover it came out of my mouth. How are we going to cross this mess?
Listen… Do I hear angels singing?
Yes, I do! Singing Spanish angels have appeared out of nowhere to save the day. Randy goes ahead to crawl over the rocks and is ready to help the rest up and through to a grassy patch that wasn’t so deep. The Spanish Angels take over the middle and rear to help us up and over the rocks.
Now that we are all safely across, they proceed to splish, splash down the water-filled trail singing their happy Spanish camino songs. Buen camino!
I wonder if we’ll see them again?
Kathy gets the prize for the most waterproof boots, but even her feet are wet now.
The cold rain continues to fall. This is going to be another long day.
It is Camino day four and we are just leaving the hilly vineyard region past Cacabelos and discover a touching memorial along the side of the path.
In the Middle Ages, the town of Villafranca del Bierzo is first mentioned in 791. The origin of the modern town is connected to the Way of St. James as a rest place for the pilgrims which started to reach Santiago de Compostela from the 9th century. ~Wikipedia
If you want clean clothes you need to do the laundry, rain or shine. It is going to take some time to dry if the weather stays like this in Trabadelo, Spain. The village is in the region of El Bierzo and Galician is spoken here. It is still the province of Leon but we are getting closer to Galicia.
Our gang is now traveling in three groups. Kathy, Lori and Jane are together; Randy and Joyce are bringing up the rear; but where are Joan and Diane? Are they pursuing an alternative camino experience? Are they sitting in a bar somewhere, too exhausted to go another step? Have they been abducted?