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LIVE from the Camino Triacastela to Santiago, January 2022

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
I have arrived in Sarria for my first Camino ever.

It is now 1.53am local time. I'm tucked in my bed at a pension where, I think, I'm the sole occupant here. The sheer excitement is keeping me awake... either that, or jet lag haha!

If the info is correct (and I pray to St. James it is..), I will be taking a bus to Triacestela at 13.01 later today, and then walk back to Sarria, making a stop at Samos Monastery, which is the key reason for this weird travel arrangement.

Impression of my arrival in Sarria: EXCELLENT weather. Chilly, but sunny, almost no cloud in the blue sky. I assumed my first taste of Galician winter would be wet and rainy and miserable, so this is certainly a pleasant surprise. The town itself feels deserted though. If I hadn't read beforehand that this was a popular pilgrim stop and one of the busiest stages in the Camino, I wouldn't know. Lot of albergues are indeed closed, as many in this forum had warned. Streets are nearly empty. I was the only pedestrian for most of the time in some parts of town. I have yet to come across other pilgrims so far, but it could be because I didn't visit any bars or restaurants today.

In case anyone's wondering, I took train from Madrid-Chamartin, and then change to Monbus at Ourense (same ticket). Whole journey took about 4 hours. The epic scenery is priceless. This is my first time in Spain so it was really an overwhelming experience, first seeing the arid plains outside Madrid, little villages and churches on hills, the rivers and mountains in Galicia...

Also I realized just now I have yet to secure a Pilgrim's Credential. Will do so in the morning before my journey to Triacestela!

20220114_162709.jpg

20220114_163006.jpg

20220114_173700.jpg
Balcony area of the pension I'm staying (with my dinner on the chair)
 
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Siegfried

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021
Camino Portugues 2022
Hello Thanks for the reporting .

Why did you choose the short distance ?, coming from so far .
I am only curious .

Buen Camino
 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Short update: decided to walk to Samos instead of taking bus to Triacestela, and then hike back through the scenic route. Had sudden bout of diarrhea, almost crapped my pants on my first Camino. Never prayed this hard in my life, so THAT must be the spiritual experience of the Camino everyone was talking about.

Long story coming soon...
 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Hello Thanks for the reporting .

Why did you choose the short distance ?, coming from so far .
I am only curious .

Buen Camino

Very fair question! The honest answer is I've never done a hike before and I knew that my body is definitely too lame to carry the whole belongings with me (esp because I'd be traveling to other cities after Santiago as well). So I chose the Correos luggage transfer service. And it also happens that for winter, Correos only offered service as far as Sarria. I couldnt find any other company that offered service beyond Sarria either, or that could have been my poor research.

And why did I not wait until winter is over? Because I've already waited most of my adult life for the Camino so I thought, screw waiting and screw the pandemic, let's just do it now.

Hopefully will be back some day for a longer route!!
 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
UPDATE for Jan. 15

SARRIA - SAMOS - SARRIA

I had abrupt change of plan this morning and decided against the 13.01 bus to Triacestela. It was too much of a torture to be in Sarria, right on the Camino, and having to wait even for hours to get my adventure rolling, so I started walking towards Samos Monastery at 8.50, just as the sun was rising. Like the day before, Sarria was mostly quiet in the area I stayed in, but finally I came across another pilgrim for the 1st time, who was walking toward Portomarin, going the opposite way.

Me being from Bangkok, I finally got the full taste of -2 celsius Galician winter morning, though blessedly it promised to be yet another clear sunny day. I stuck to the LU-633 road on way to Samos. Despite being the main road, it was really quite a solitude. No other pedestrians in sight, and I've seen nearly no humans on the way, except the occasional motorists who zoomed past by, some of them probably wondering why this peregrino was going the 'wrong way.'

I was soon grateful to have invested in the waterproof hiking boots (I used Northface) and the Merino socks that people on this forum recommended. Although most of the time I walked on asphalt and sideways, there were spots where I had to step through grasses still frozen with dew. I'd be even more grateful later on the trail, as you'll see.

I met two more pilgrims close to Samos. By that point it was full morning. Sunshine was brilliant, though it still felt subzero in spots where sun didn't shine. At about 11.40am I reached Samos Monastery, just in time for their daily tour at 12.00. This was also part of why I decided against taking the 13.01 bus, because I'd have missed it.

Feeling the need to congratulate myself for reaching the beautiful monastery, I took a swig of cider from my wooden pilgrim gourd. That's where trouble first began.

You see, I'm a man of cliches, and of course i bought the walking stick, the St James shell, and gourd the day before. I already had a water bottle so I saved the gourd for special occasion, by filling it with cider. Now, I'm no expert on chemistry, but when I did drink it at Samos, I swear it had turned ROTTEN. I almost gagged and threw up, but by that point the black-robed Benedictine monk had just entered the waiting area, so I had no choice but to swallow it. Was it caused by some chemical reaction? If anyone here has any idea, please let me know so I can have closure.

The tour itself was really worth the walk, though unfortunately it was in Spanish only. Photos were allowed. My group included me and three other Spaniards. I spoke almost zero Spanish but the sight alone was a wonder.

That was where I had my first stamp on the Pilgrim's Credential! One of the Spanish ladies in the same tour group also interpreted my request for a pilgrim blessing from one of the monks, and he granted the request. My next plan was to find something to eat then walk back the same way. By that point, I already felt accomplished and my spirit was soaring.

Except.. no restaurant was open when I was there. Bars yes, but not restaurants. That was such a culture shock for someone from Bangkok, where food is always available close to tourist landmarks. Well, when in Rome, I guess. Someone on this forum has advised bringing 'emergency food' to eat on the Camino because there's no guarantee businesses will be open on Camino Frances in winter, and that advice should absolutely be heeded. Leaving Samos, I soon spotted a supermarket. My hope rose... only to find out it's closed for siesta or something.

I decided to skip lunch (I had quite a hearty breakfast anyway, and visiting Samos filled me with joy) and walked back the familiar LU-633. The scenery on the way back looked even better with the sun shining! But then I spotted a Camino mark some time after Tenguin, in front of some restaurant. Maybe it was a little detour, so I turned and followed the yellow signs.

Doubtless many veterans on this site already know the route. It's the one cutting across hills and forests through Gorolfe, Sivil and Perros. I was vaguely familiar with it, but I totally didn't expect the nature of the trail. Remember, I've never done a hike or country trail, so it was rather a struggle for me. Trail was muddy at some points, which made me grateful for my boot investment.

And it was somewhere on that trail, away from all civilizations, that I had a sudden pain in the stomach followed by a sudden call of nature. I knew it right away, it was diarrhea, most likely caused by that dreadful rotten/whatever cider i drank earlier.

The Camino now has a new urgency. I thought I could hike my way to the nearest restaurants or cafes and beg for a relief there. But my progress was pitifully slow, and the trail kept twisting and rising and falling through the hills. To vast majority of pilgrims, I'm sure it's a rare precious time for self-reflection and admiring nature. But to a pilgrim afflicted by an unspeakable horror, it was an endless nightmare. It was quite a spiritual experience in a way though; I never prayed to Jesus, Mary and Joseph this hard in years, and I kept wondering why The Lord saw fit to punish me in this manner. Was it a penance for being such a shitty person?

A thought did come across me to find a secluded spot and just take a crap right there to get it over with. But how do you take a crap in 5 degree weather? And what if fellow pilgrims happen to walk by and spot me during the action? I certainly had no wish to be "that pilgrim" in their stories, so I soldiered on. Not gonna lie though, there was one spot that looked perfect. Nice downward slope behind a tree, with some branches to hold on to. But then I pictured myself somehow falling down, leaving my pants and pack behind, and having to do an undignifed walk up the hill without pants. Nope, let's not try.

The trail snaked through quaint farmlands and medieval-looking churches, but to be honest it was all a blur to me. And you guessed it, no restaurant or hostel was open at all along the way. After nearly 3 hours of torture, I finally joined the main road at Aguiada. Sarria would be my only savior now. I heard there's some hill where pilgrims used to cry at pure joy at the sight of Santiago Compostela. For me, that hill could have been right outside Sarria. The town never looked so beautiful. Also, I met one more pilgrim on the route, headed for Sarria. He didn't speak much and just overtook me, I figured maybe he needed to take a crap too, so I respect that.

By the time I reached Sarria, my scrambled brain convinced me that instead of stopping at the plenty bars and restaurants, I should just get the deed done in the comfort of my room. I did barge into an albergue at one point but a really beautiful lady, I assumed a pilgrim, happened to be sitting right next to the toilet, and my brain -- bereft of all legitimate decision making at that point -- thought it would be really embarrassing and unchivalric if I make her hear all kind of unpleasant noise (not to mention the stink that I'd have caused), so I left.

The last stretch home was a mad dash for it. I didn't even notice the difficulty of that bloody steep stairs close to the Santa Maria Church. By that point, I was sweating as much as I always did in Bangkok, despite the chilly weather. I'll spare you the details, but let's say the story did come to a happy ending.

It was only afterwards that I realized there were traces of blisters on my feet, my legs hurt, and my skin was chafing red at some spots. I collapsed on the bed with the realization that there are still over 100 kms to go, and this was just the first day...

So there you go, my first experience ever on the Camino. Thanks for coming to my TEDTalk and I'll see you again soon.
 
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marigold

Member
Past OR future Camino
(2009) Sarria - Santiago; (2011) SJPP - Navarette; (2012) Logrono - Santiago;( 2013) Leon - Santiago - Finesterre
Love your story! You write well.
It does sound very strange with hardly any pilgrims and not much open. I've been through Sarria a few times and it's always been heaving with people!
Good luck with the rest of your Camino. I'll try to find your posts again!
 
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teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
UPDATE for Jan. 16

SARRIA - PORTOMARIN

Direction-wise, this is where my Camino will begin in earnest. I woke up with a sense of dread, already fearing what this day on the Camino would bring. Not to mention my body screaming in pain. To be honest, there were some moments when I sat up dazed in my bed wondering why I'm even doing this. I had a small breakfast of some chorizos and strawberries I bought from a supermarket the night before; I didn't want to eat too much, since I'm still haunted by the mishap from yesterday. I groaned and set out, resigning myself to the worst surprise of the Camino.

I couldn't be more wrong. It was such a near-perfect day, as I'd later find out.

20220116_101219.jpg
A cloudy sunrise.

To my relief, the Correos truck was already waiting for my luggage outside by the time I left. Day was cloudy but I prefer this to the sunny day anyway, at least I won't be cold and sweating at the same time! As I set out westward from Sarria, I noticed there's considerably more sign of life than the Samos-Sarria stretch. Finally I start to see more pilgrims on the Camino. Most walked in groups or pairs, with a few solos, all of them keeping a respectable distance from each other, but all of them gave a brief smile and a "Buen Camino" when passing each other nevertheless.

20220116_111101.jpg
Pilgrims on the trail.

I also had my first "Camino buddies" today. I spent some time walking with 2 Spanish pilgrims, who were also on their first Camino, like me! Let's call them Maria and Catherine, who are in their 50s. Despite language barrier between us, I managed to gather that they were in-laws. If I understand them correctly, Maria recently had a messy divorce after years of difficult marriage, so Catherine's husband, who had walked the Camino before, suggested that they do the same, in order to ask God for a better future and leave the past behind. So that's what they did. I know that leaving a stone on the Camino signposts is now seen by many as a cliche, but I was truly touched when I saw Maria laying down her stone.

By the time we ran out of things to talk to each other within our rudimentary interpretation ability and walked together in silence, I realized that I had totally forgotten the pain and uneasy feelings in my body before I started the hike today, even though it felt like the end of the world at the time. In fact, I already felt so much better after taking the first few steps from my hostel in Sarria.

20220116_100229.jpg
Somewhere west of Sarria (after a walk uphill)

I suppose the Camino already gave me three reminders to remember in life. One, things that looked or felt difficult may not turn out so difficult at all once you commit to them. Two, one person's cliche might have had a special meaning for someone else. Three, the Camino is truly a godly and human experience welded into one.

But let's not over-romanticize the Way. There's the inconvenience of having no restaurants open along the 22-km route to Portamarin. Now I see they really mean it when people say winter camino is a dry season. ONE business that was open in my path was a roadside tavern, naturally a shelter for many pilgrims, but sadly no food was available. I had to make do with a beer and coffee and hope I can steal some lamb in the next farmland (spoiler alert: no lamb was available either).

20220116_132037.jpg
If there's a "Save Point" on the Camino this must be it.

I think the terrain in today's walk is a mix of Hobbiton, The Shire, and Rhudaur. There were really moments today that remind me of that scene of Strider taking the Hobbits to Weathertop. It also looks straight out of medieval landscape to me. I'd like to think the landscape has barely changed at all since the first pilgrims were walking here... the stone sheep pens, the farmlands, the hamlets and churches made of stones... and the persistent stench of cattle dung. There were some slopes but nothing compared to the Samos-Sivil-Perros trail yesterday. In spite of the increased foot traffic, most of the day I walked alone without seeing any pilgrims ahead of behind me.

Another thing I learned today is that Google Map can be useless as a map for the Camino. The route is too "off the main road," and there was no signal at times. But who needs Google Maps when there are the yellow signposts? I've come to trust them like my only true companion on the trail, and they haven't failed me so far. Lesson 4 from the Camino: just trust the signs and stop worrying; it worked for countless people before me and they would work for me too.

20220116_092735.jpg
Except when this shit happens.

Finally I arrived at Portamarin about 6 hours after I started walking. I was aware that I was going slow during some part, but I really didn't care, since I remember people on this forum advising about "walking the Camino at your own pace." Once at Portamarin, I checked in, took shower, and went out for food...

...of course, no restaurants were open. Once again, I wanted to scream at whoever came up with the Spanish culture of... having no food??? Wut?? I mean, some bars were open, but perplexingly there was no food. Remember, I only had a small breakfast and skipped lunch. I was already walking back with a plan to settle for a loaf of bread I saw at the hostel kitchen when I came across a pilgrim I saw earlier at the roadside tavern. He kindly pointed me to ONE restaurant that was open (it was next to the big sign that says PORTAMARIN). Miracle does happen. Nothing like Galician Soup at the end of a 22-km walk with no food!

So yes, today does restore my excitement for the Camino! Hopefully tomorrow will be half as good (at least no diarrhea, please God).

20220116_153235.jpg
Such a beautiful town.
 
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Past OR future Camino
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
UPDATE for Jan. 15

SARRIA - SAMOS - SARRIA

I had abrupt change of plan this morning and decided against the 13.01 bus to Triacestela. It was too much of a torture to be in Sarria, right on the Camino, and having to wait even for hours to get my adventure rolling, so I started walking towards Samos Monastery at 8.50, just as the sun was rising. Like the day before, Sarria was mostly quiet in the area I stayed in, but finally I came across another pilgrim for the 1st time, who was walking toward Portomarin, going the opposite way.

Me being from Bangkok, I finally got the full taste of -2 celsius Galician winter morning, though blessedly it promised to be yet another clear sunny day. I stuck to the LU-633 road on way to Samos. Despite being the main road, it was really quite a solitude. No other pedestrians in sight, and I've seen nearly no humans on the way, except the occasional motorists who zoomed past by, some of them probably wondering why this peregrino was going the 'wrong way.'

I was soon grateful to have invested in the waterproof hiking boots (I used Northface) and the Merino socks that people on this forum recommended. Although most of the time I walked on asphalt and sideways, there were spots where I had to step through grasses still frozen with dew. I'd be even more grateful later on the trail, as you'll see.

I met two more pilgrims close to Samos. By that point it was full morning. Sunshine was brilliant, though it still felt subzero in spots where sun didn't shine. At about 11.40am I reached Samos Monastery, just in time for their daily tour at 12.00. This was also part of why I decided against taking the 13.01 bus, because I'd have missed it.

Feeling the need to congratulate myself for reaching the beautiful monastery, I took a swig of cider from my wooden pilgrim gourd. That's where trouble first began.

You see, I'm a man of cliches, and of course i bought the walking stick, the St James shell, and gourd the day before. I already had a water bottle so I saved the gourd for special occasion, by filling it with cider. Now, I'm no expert on chemistry, but when I did drink it at Samos, I swear it had turned ROTTEN. I almost gagged and threw up, but by that point the black-robed Benedictine monk had just entered the waiting area, so I had no choice but to swallow it. Was it caused by some chemical reaction? If anyone here has any idea, please let me know so I can have closure.

The tour itself was really worth the walk, though unfortunately it was in Spanish only. Photos were allowed. My group included me and three other Spaniards. I spoke almost zero Spanish but the sight alone was a wonder.

That was where I had my first stamp on the Pilgrim's Credential! One of the Spanish ladies in the same tour group also interpreted my request for a pilgrim blessing from one of the monks, and he granted the request. My next plan was to find something to eat then walk back the same way. By that point, I already felt accomplished and my spirit was soaring.

Except.. no restaurant was open when I was there. Bars yes, but not restaurants. That was such a culture shock for someone from Bangkok, where food is always available close to tourist landmarks. Well, when in Rome, I guess. Someone on this forum has advised bringing 'emergency food' to eat on the Camino because there's no guarantee businesses will be open on Camino Frances in winter, and that advice should absolutely be heeded. Leaving Samos, I soon spotted a supermarket. My hope rose... only to find out it's closed for siesta or something.

I decided to skip lunch (I had quite a hearty breakfast anyway, and visiting Samos filled me with joy) and walked back the familiar LU-633. The scenery on the way back looked even better with the sun shining! But then I spotted a Camino mark some time after Tenguin, in front of some restaurant. Maybe it was a little detour, so I turned and followed the yellow signs.

Doubtless many veterans on this site already know the route. It's the one cutting across hills and forests through Gorolfe, Sivil and Perros. I was vaguely familiar with it, but I totally didn't expect the nature of the trail. Remember, I've never done a hike or country trail, so it was rather a struggle for me. Trail was muddy at some points, which made me grateful for my boot investment.

And it was somewhere on that trail, away from all civilizations, that I had a sudden pain in the stomache followed by a sudden call of nature. I knew it right away, it was diarrhea, most likely caused by that dreadful rotten/whatever cider i drank earlier.

The Camino now has a new urgency. I thought I could hike my way to the nearest restaurants or cafes and beg for a relief there. But my progress was pitifully slow, and the trail kept twisting and rising and falling through the hills. To vast majority of pilgrims, I'm sure it's a rare precious time for self-reflection and admiring nature. But to a pilgrim afflicted by an unspeakable horror, it was an endless nightmare. It was quite a spiritual experience in a way though; I never prayed to Jesus, Mary and Joseph this hard in years, and I kept wondering why The Lord saw fit to punish me in this manner. Was it a penance for being such a shitty person?

A thought did come across me to find a secluded spot and just take a crap right there to get it over with. But how do you take a crap in 5 degree weather? And what if fellow pilgrims happen to walk by and spot me during the action? I certainly had no wish to be "that pilgrim" in their stories, so I soldiered on. Not gonna lie though, there was one spot that looked perfect. Nice downward slope behind a tree, with some branches to hold on to. But then I pictured myself somehow falling down, leaving my pants and pack behind, and having to do an undignifed walk up the hill without pants. Nope, let's not try.

The trail snaked through quaint farmlands and medieval-looking churches, but to be honest it was all a blur to me. And you guessed it, no restaurant or hostel was open at all along the way. After nearly 3 hours of torture, I finally joined the main road at Aguiada. Sarria would be my only savior now. I heard there's some hill where pilgrims used to cry at pure joy at the sight of Santiago Compostela. For me, that hill could have right outside Sarria. The town never looked so beautiful. Also, I met one more pilgrim on the route, headed for Sarria. He didn't speak much and just overtook me, I figured maybe he needed to take a crap too, so I respect that.

By the time I reached Sarria, my scrambled brain convinced me that instead of stopping at the plenty bars and restaurants, I should just get the deed done in the comfort of my room. I did barge into an albergue at one point but a really beautiful lady, I assumed a pilgrim, happened to be sitting right next to the toilet, and my brain -- bereft of all legitimate decision making at that point -- thought it would be really embarrassing and unchivalric if I make her hear all kind of unpleasant noise (not to mention the stink that I'd have caused), so I left.

The last stretch home was a mad dash for it. I didn't even notice the difficulty of that bloody steep stairs close to the Santa Maria Church. By that point, I was sweating as much as I always did in Bangkok, despite the chilly weather. I'll spare you the details, but let's say the story did come to a happy ending.

It was only afterwards that I realized there were traces of blisters on my feet, my legs hurt, and my skin was chafing red at some spots. I collapsed on the bed with the realization that there are still over 100 kms to go, and this was just the first day...

So there you go, my first experience ever on the Camino. Thanks for coming to my TEDTalk and I'll see you again soon.
Didst forget thy IMMODIUM ?

Samarkand.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
teeranaic,
Thanks for your update and handsome pics. Glad that you are feeling better.
Tomorrow as you go west you might make a slight detour at Portos to Vilar de Donas. See why and how here. Wherever you do go Buen camino.
 
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teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
UPDATE for Jan. 17

PORTOMARIN - PALAS DE REI

A lot of unpack from this day.

It was a really foggy morning when I left the hostel (again, trusting my faith in the Correos -- they have not failed me so far!!). I had a breakfast at the same place I had dinner the night before and set out from the town rather late today, at about 9.30am, because I was waiting for some sunlight and I had a lot of postcards to write anyway.

20220117_100403.jpg

The trail started with an uphill walk that ended in countryside plains. The path was mostly foggy. I could see several other pilgrims walking in the distance in the mist. I soon linked up with 2 fellow pilgrims, Manuel and Belen, a couple from southern Spain. Manuel is a photographer, and spoke really good English, while Belen is a psychologist. Both of them, like me, are first time Camino pilgrims. To have them as my companions would turn out to be the luckiest thing on today's walk, as you'll see.

We trudge onward as the weather starts to change. The fog left us behind, and it proved to be another sunny day and a clear blue sky. We start to see more pilgrims and recognize each other now at this point. Absurdly enough, it reminds me of having a small classroom on first days of school, the time for getting to know other classmates. It's likely the same class that will "graduate" with you at Santiago de Compostela anyway.

20220117_181342.jpg

A thought occurred to me while I was walking and appreciating the Galician countryside to distract me from the ever-ngawing pain in my feet. You know that quote by Andrew Bernard from The Office? Something along the line of wishing we could know we were in the "best time" of our lives before it left you? I realized that I'm doing exactly that right now. It only struck me now that I'm finally doing what I've wished for so long. This is the best time of my life. Or at least I can pretend that this is as good as it gets. My sister-in-law has just started her treatment for the cancer thing; we don't hope for much, but I tell myself there'll be time to worry about it later. My future career isn't really settled yet, but I also tell myself there'll be time to worry about it later.

And it also filled me with sudden sadness. It sounds silly, but knowing that every step takes you closer to the end of your journey, and therefore your adventure is, in a way, slowly coming to an end already...

20220117_164017.jpg

We soon came to a crossroad with 2 seashell signs. One is the 'main' path and other a detour. I'm still traumatized by my 1st day on the Camino (see above) so I was going to take the main road, but Manuel just waved me to the other day and said "Come on, we'll take this way." So I reluctantly followed. It was the right decision. The path took us through a little green farmland and a small old church. It was there that we caught up with 2 Spanish ladies I met on the Camino from the previous day! They also shared some jamon hams with me before continuing their journey.

I fell behind everyone else because, you know, I had to see a man about a horse, and I walked slow to save my energy for the day. I climbed the ridge beyond Gonzar just in time to see Manuel and Belen taking photos at a crossroad. Once again, Manuel urged me to take a detour off the Camino to some scenic viewpoint. After asking for confirmation that the climb would not give me a heart attack, I duly followed his direction. What I found was probably the most favorite moment in my Camino so far.

20220117_124310.jpg

It was some kind of a ruin on top of the hill. I guessed it must have been a fortress. The view from there is just purely stunning. I could see the sea of fog shrouding the countryside around Portomarin that I walked earlier. I could see the rolling green hills and fields miles and miles away. It was so easy to picture that this must have been the same sight for whoever used to build and guard this hill hundreds of years ago. Several pilgrims were there when I reached the summit, but soon they left and I was alone up there. I just stood there and took it all in. Leaving that place took the hardest effort.

20220117_124355.jpg

I stopped by a roadside tavern in O Hospital for a quick beer (and a stamp!), and then walked on through the historic stretch with a lot of crusader-type landmarks. I'd like to think that pilgrims were walking on this very same path with the Christian horsemen trotting beside them as an escort against the Moors.

Now, I'm not a religious person at all, but I can't resist pausing at crosses and chapels along the way to say a brief, quiet prayer. No one might be listening, but I guess it's the gesture that matters. It makes me feel like "participating" in the long line of tradition that pilgrims before me must have done the same.

After that, it was a typical walk through the countryside. A lot of pastures, villages, old chapels and tree-lined pathways. I think I don't have to mention by this point that a lot of businesses along the way are closed!

20220117_152034.jpg

I made it to Palas de Rei at about 5.30pm. It took me longer than I expected, but I don't regret taking it slow on the Camino at all. Went out that night to a Pulperia only to learn that they run out of octopus. Sad!
 
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teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
teeranaic,
Thanks for your update and handsome pics. Glad that you are feeling better.
Tomorrow as you go west you might make a slight detour at Portos to Vilar de Donas. See why and how here. Wherever you do go Buen camino.

I was hoping to visit but eventually I decided not to go because I was near exhausted from the long day at that point. ☹ too bad, but maybe on the next Camino!
 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
UPDATE for Jan. 18

PALAS DE REI - MELIDE

With all the kilometers my feet have clocked for the past days, I think it's time to give them a well deserved rest, so I will split the route to Arzua in two and spend the night at Melide. That means some of my Camino "classmates" that have been walking with me will advance ahead of me to Arzua. So it was time to part ways. Even though it's only been few days, I felt a bond with them already. Camino does the strangest thing to people.

20220118_103312.jpg
Another effect from Camino: getting excited by road signs.

In today's walk, I see more businesses that are open than all previous stages so far. I count at least 3 bars and restaurants along the way to Melide that were operational, though of course there were some that remain closed too.

My walking companion for this day was one of the pilgrims that I've seen from earlier days but didn't get to know his name or his story till now. He also mistook me for a Korean until we talked! As we trudge and stumble on the leaves-covered paths, he told me he's from Santiago de Compostela, and he's been doing the whole route of the Camino Frances on and off for 3 years now. As in, he would take as many days off as he's allowed each year, spend them walking the Camino, and then come back the next year to continue from where he left off. If I understand correctly, there's no restrictions against that, and I really admire his dedication to the Camino.

20220118_111611.jpg
My walking 'buddy' chats with a local farmer. About cows or something like that.

20220118_111620.jpg
Landscape around the route.

He said he couldn't do the walk last year because of COVID-19, but this year he'll finally complete the Camino. By the I'm writing this post, he must be setting off at dawn from Arzua already, walking a long route and heading straight to Santiago de Compostela. I wish him all the best!

As you can imagine, the route now took me closer to the urban area, and I definitely see more settlements than the days before. But the walk is still a pleasant experience; lot of wooded hill, countryside trail, villages etc. My extremely lucky streak with the weather continues today. It was another day of sunshine unmitigated by any clouds. It was even getting too hot for my taste at some point, but I'm not complaining!


20220118_113236.jpg
On the way to Melide.

I was nearing Melide when my left knee starts to have problem. Now, blisters on my feet, I can tolerate, but I have a healthy respect (and fear) for knees. Especially because the only other time in my life I had a knee injury was when I twist my leg while walking in Rome (of all places) years ago. I was praying to myself, oh God, please not again.

I was leaning on my staff and waiting for the pain to get better when a pilgrim that I've never seen before saw me and hailed me. Once I mentioned that I'm resting my knee, he offered to carry my thing on the spot right there, even though we had just met. I was extremely touched by his kindness, but of course I had to decline. Plus, the town is now within sight and I have a feeling it will get better. He wished me well and told me to look him up at a bar in town before moving on. Luckily enough, I soon felt good enough to be on the road again, and reached my hostel in Melide without any further issues.

20220118_150511.jpg
The stone bridge was closed to pedestrians when I was there though.

It was in Melide that I FINALLY got to try the famed Polbo á feira of Galicia. It's really as good as people say! Eating there at the pulporia makes me a bit sad though to see so many empty seats in the restaurant, This place must have been bustling with pilgrims and visitors once, but the pandemic changed all that. I really hope the whole mess will be over soon.

I was too tired to look up a bar in Melide so I went back to the pension, then slept for 8 hours. No regrets.

20220118_190934.jpg
Great way to end a day!
 
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teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
UPDATE for Jan. 19

MELIDE - ARZUA

My Camino is now almost coming to an end. It's such a mixed emotion of excitement and sadness.

20220119_084651.jpg
The churos helps restore my spirits.

Before leaving Melide, I went to take a peek at the medieval San Pedro church. A Mass was ongoing when I arrived, so I attended the latter part of it until the end. It's really a unique feeling, being in the Mass inside a church with so much historical value. I also found a statue of St. James and a dropped in a quick prayer. Protect me, O St. James, from diarrhea and any bear attacks.

The church has no stamp available, but there's one on the second floor of the town council building opposite the church.

20220119_095311.jpg

It was yet another sunny day and cloudless sky. Do I dare believe that this weather will continue for the rest of my trip in Spain?? I took off my jacket for most of the journey and still drew some sweat. But it's still really chilly when you drop into the shades though.

Like yesterday, the path traverses through farmlands and rural villages, but there's still a lot of stretches where you don't see anyone at all. I try to put everything to memory as much as I can, because it'll be over soon.

20220119_112043.jpg
The Camino isn't only for pilgrims.

I eventually came to a small crossroad with the "main road" and "detour." Remembering the advice from Manuel, the fellow pilgrim from another day, I chose the detour and was not disappointed. The track crosses a woodland and a stream, where I took off my shoes and socks, then soaked my ravaged feet in the cool water.

Minutes later, a random dog came out of nowhere and rested its feet in the stream next to me, as though following my example! The dog also did more than just resting in the stream and splashed water all over me before going on its way. Thanks to the sunshine I was soon dried. I reluctantly left the stream and journeyed on.

20220119_123550.jpg
Woof woof woof

I should also note that the path can sometimes be hilly, with quite a slope upward and downward. To my surprise, I didn't see any restaurants or bars open along the way at all. In fact the only restaurant that was open (as far as I've seen) was at Ribadiso, just before entering Arzua.

I had my first "Pilgrim's Menu" at the restaurant. Salad, fish, St. James Cake, and a whole bottle of wine for just 12 Euro! It's a simple, delicious meal. I also met another pilgrim at the same venue, Eduardo (I think it's spelled like that). He works at a foreign company in Barcelona, so he speaks good English, and he's been to Thailand for holidays before, so that really gives us a lot to talk about! We happen to be at the same age, I guess that also helps. Not to mention that I've already finished the entire bottle.. 😬

20220119_142714.jpg

Eduardo told me he has not seen any foreign pilgrim so far, and I just realized I haven't had either. Every pilgrim I talked to in my Camino is Spanish. If there's any fellow Thai walking the Camino out there, say hi/sawasdee please! (I doubt it though). Also a bit of fun fact, Eduardo's grantparents settled in Barcelona because they were Republican sympathizers during the Spanish Civil War, so that's cool!

Two of us walked the rest of the short distance into Arzua together. I was planning to go out for dinner and some drinks later, but once I arrive inside my room, I lost all willingness to ever leave the bed. I slept maybe 8 hours again... and now I should go find breakfast or something.

I'm also a bit sad that tomorrow will be my last night on the Camino. But I already felt more accomplished and happier than I ever imagined. The people I met, the landscape I've seen, and the silence of the Camino, these will definitely be some of the things I'll never forget for sure.

20220119_155225.jpg
Right outside Arzua.
 
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mai

Member
Past OR future Camino
CF
Pamplona-S 4/18
SJPP-S-F/M 4/19
SJPP-S. (4/21)
Thank you for sharing what the camino looks like in Jan. It seems ok to walk in the cold month. I miss churos which are my favorite food in Spain.
The photos are great!!
Buen Camino!
 

marigold

Member
Past OR future Camino
(2009) Sarria - Santiago; (2011) SJPP - Navarette; (2012) Logrono - Santiago;( 2013) Leon - Santiago - Finesterre
UPDATE for Jan. 18

PALAS DE REI - MELIDE

With all the kilometers my feet have clocked for the past days, I think it's time to give them a well deserved rest, so I will split the route to Arzua in two and spend the night at Melide. That means some of my Camino "classmates" that have been walking with me will advance ahead of me to Arzua. So it was time to part ways. Even though it's only been few days, I felt a bond with them already. Camino does the strangest thing to people.

View attachment 116829
Another effect from Camino: getting excited by road signs.

In today's walk, I see more businesses that are open than all previous stages so far. I count at least 3 bars and restaurants along the way to Melide that were operational, though of course there were some that remain closed too.

My walking companion for this day was one of the pilgrims that I've seen from earlier days but didn't get to know his name or his story till now. He also mistook me for a Korean until we talked! As we trudge and stumble on the leaves-covered paths, he told me he's from Santiago de Compostela, and he's been doing the whole route of the Camino Frances on and off for 3 years now. As in, he would take as many days off as he's allowed each year, spend them walking the Camino, and then come back the next year to continue from where he left off. If I understand correctly, there's no restrictions against that, and I really admire his dedication to the Camino.

View attachment 116834
My walking 'buddy' chats with a local farmer. About cows or something like that.

View attachment 116831
Landscape around the route.

He said he couldn't do the walk last year because of COVID-19, but this year he'll finally complete the Camino. By the I'm writing this post, he must be setting off at dawn from Arzua already, walking a long route and heading straight to Santiago de Compostela. I wish him all the best!

As you can imagine, the route now took me closer to the urban area, and I definitely see more settlements than the days before. But the walk is still a pleasant experience; lot of wooded hill, countryside trail, villages etc. My extremely lucky streak with the weather continues today. It was another day of sunshine unmitigated by any clouds. It was even getting too hot for my taste at some point, but I'm not complaining!


View attachment 116830
On the way to Melide.

I was nearing Melide when my left knee starts to have problem. Now, blisters on my feet, I can tolerate, but I have a healthy respect (and fear) for knees. Especially because the only other time in my life I had a knee injury was when I twist my leg while walking in Rome (of all places) years ago. I was praying to myself, oh God, please not again.

I was leaning on my staff and waiting for the pain to get better when a pilgrim that I've never seen before saw me and hailed me. Once I mentioned that I'm resting my knee, he offered to carry my thing on the spot right there, even though we had just met. I was extremely touched by his kindness, but of course I had to decline. Plus, the town is now within sight and I have a feeling it will get better. He wished me well and told me to look him up at a bar in town before moving on. Luckily enough, I soon felt good enough to be on the road again, and reached my hostel in Melide without any further issues.

View attachment 116832
The stone bridge was closed to pedestrians when I was there though.

It was in Melide that I FINALLY got to try the famed Polbo á feira of Galicia. It's really as good as people say! Eating there at the pulporia makes me a bit sad though to see so many empty seats in the restaurant, This place must have been bustling with pilgrims and visitors once, but the pandemic changed all that. I really hope the whole mess will be over soon.

I was too tired to look up a bar in Melide so I went back to the pension, then slept for 8 hours. No regrets.

View attachment 116833
Great way to end a day!
Yum, I remember that - delicious!
 

jalluisi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Walked from Leon to Santiago Oct. 2021
UPDATE for Jan. 17

PORTOMARIN - PALAS DE REI

A lot of unpack from this day.

It was a really foggy morning when I left the hostel (again, trusting my faith in the Correos -- they have not failed me so far!!). I had a breakfast at the same place I had dinner the night before and set out from the town rather late today, at about 9.30am, because I was waiting for some sunlight and I had a lot of postcards to write anyway.

View attachment 116713

The trail started with an uphill walk that ended in countryside plains. The path was mostly foggy. I could see several other pilgrims walking in the distance in the mist. I soon linked up with 2 fellow pilgrims, Manuel and Belen, a couple from southern Spain. Manuel is a photographer, and spoke really good English, while Belen is a psychologist. Both of them, like me, are first time Camino pilgrims. To have them as my companions would turn out to be the luckiest thing on today's walk, as you'll see.

We trudge onward as the weather starts to change. The fog left us behind, and it proved to be another sunny day and a clear blue sky. We start to see more pilgrims and recognize each other now at this point. Absurdly enough, it reminds me of having a small classroom on first days of school, the time for getting to know other classmates. It's likely the same class that will "graduate" with you at Santiago de Compostela anyway.

View attachment 116714

A thought occurred to me while I was walking and appreciating the Galician countryside to distract me from the ever-ngawing pain in my feet. You know that quote by Andrew Bernard from The Office? Something along the line of wishing we could know we were in the "best time" of our lives before it left you? I realized that I'm doing exactly that right now. It only struck me now that I'm finally doing what I've wished for so long. This is the best time of my life. Or at least I can pretend that this is as good as it gets. My sister-in-law has just started her treatment for the cancer thing; we don't hope for much, but I tell myself there'll be time to worry about it later. My future career isn't really settled yet, but I also tell myself there'll be time to worry about it later.

And it also filled me with sudden sadness. It sounds silly, but knowing that every step takes you closer to the end of your journey, and therefore your adventure is, in a way, slowly coming to an end already...

View attachment 116718

We soon came to a crossroad with 2 seashell signs. One is the 'main' path and other a detour. I'm still traumatized by my 1st day on the Camino (see above) so I was going to take the main road, but Manuel just waved me to the other day and said "Come on, we'll take this way." So I reluctantly followed. It was the right decision. The path took us through a little green farmland and a small old church. It was there that we caught up with 2 Spanish ladies I met on the Camino from the previous day! They also shared some jamon hams with me before continuing their journey.

I fell behind everyone else because, you know, I had to see a man about a horse, and I walked slow to save my energy for the day. I climbed the ridge beyond Gonzar just in time to see Manuel and Belen taking photos at a crossroad. Once again, Manuel urged me to take a detour off the Camino to some scenic viewpoint. After asking for confirmation that the climb would not give me a heart attack, I duly followed his direction. What I found was probably the most favorite moment in my Camino so far.

View attachment 116715

It was some kind of a ruin on top of the hill. I guessed it must have been a fortress. The view from there is just purely stunning. I could see the sea of fog shrouding the countryside around Portomarin that I walked earlier. I could see the rolling green hills and fields miles and miles away. It was so easy to picture that this must have been the same sight for whoever used to build and guard this hill hundreds of years ago. Several pilgrims were there when I reached the summit, but soon they left and I was alone up there. I just stood there and took it all in. Leaving that place took the hardest effort.

View attachment 116716

I stopped by a roadside tavern in O Hospital for a quick beer (and a stamp!), and then walked on through the historic stretch with a lot of crusader-type landmarks. I'd like to think that pilgrims were walking on this very same path with the Christian horsemen trotting beside them as an escort against the Moors.

Now, I'm not a religious person at all, but I can't resist pausing at crosses and chapels along the way to say a brief, quiet prayer. No one might be listening, but I guess it's the gesture that matters. It makes me feel like "participating" in the long line of tradition that pilgrims before me must have done the same.

After that, it was a typical walk through the countryside. A lot of pastures, villages, old chapels and tree-lined pathways. I think I don't have to mention by this point that a lot of businesses along the way are closed!

View attachment 116717

I made it to Palas de Rei at about 5.30pm. It took me longer than I expected, but I don't regret taking it slow on the Camino at all. Went out that night to a Pulperia only to learn that they run out of octopus. Sad!
I remember that trail. We walked in October. Thanks for picture. I enjoyed my Camino very much.
 
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teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Thank you for sharing what the camino looks like in Jan. It seems ok to walk in the cold month. I miss churos which are my favorite food in Spain.
The photos are great!!
Buen Camino!

My experience might be a rarity though. Many pilgrims I met told me January is usually very cold and rainy, so I don't know what next January will look like!
 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
UPDATE for Jan. 20

ARZUA - O PEDROUZO

I think my body is used to the rhymth and steps of the Camino at this point. I'd sleep 8 hours, wake up just before dawn, wait for sunrise and a bit of sunshine, then head out. I guess I'm getting used to the Camino just as it's drawing to an end.

Manuel, the pilgrim I met the other day who went ahead of me, helpfully texted me with a warning that nothing would be open for 15 km out of Arzua until I come across a roadside restaurant in a village called A Brea. Appreciating his advice, I went to get some coffee and croissants before leaving Arzua.

20220120_095420.jpg
Cows! Or bulls?

Since I've read that today's path will be less "demanding" than previous days, I decide to switch from my hiking boots to walking shoes that I used in Bangkok. I think it's a right choice; the route out of Arzua proves to be the most gentle and easy-going so far.

Although I expected that it'd be more crowded and urban, because of my distance to Santiago, I was wrong. The trail is as peaceful as the days before, snaking through woodlands, pastures, tiny villages, and rivulets. There were some tractors -- and pilgrims -- passing by sometimes, but most of the sound I heard was the birds chirping. Weather is brilliant as ever, as though the rural Spain is giving me a spectacular last show of beauty before my pilgrimage ends on the next day.

20220120_103844.jpg
I look back and see Arzua in the distance on the hill.

20220120_131157.jpg
If only I could have these roadsigns for my life...

I tried looking for Eduardo, the Barcelona pilgrim I met the previous day, to no avail. I kick myself for not asking for his WhatsApp info when I had the chance (I thought I'd just meet him along the Camino anyway). I guess that's another lesson from the Camino, if you meet a pilgrim you share interesting conversation with, don't hesitate to exchange your contact details right away!

Somewhere on the trail I came across what at first looked like a monster made of twisted black colored metal. It was a beer garden decorated by beer bottles finished by pilgrims who stopped here, with their names and Camino dates wrtten on them. Too bad it was closed. If there's ONE place I wish were open on the Camino, this must be it. Looks fun!

20220120_121045.jpg
Salut!

I also realize that I have spots of sunburn on my face, something I never experienced for many, many years. How ironic is that: me, from a tropical country that the sun shines all year along like Thailand, gets sunburned in the heart of Galician winter, of all places.

20220120_123449.jpg
Probably for standing in the sun and getting entranced by this kind of view.

Exactly at 15 km mark, I found the restaurant Manuel told me about, which I'm really grateful for, because I'm hungry at that point. As I was going off the Camino trail toward the restaurant, another pilgrim who was walking behind me called at me and gestured that I was going the wrong way. He must have thought I was lost. I let him know that I was visiting a restaurant, so he smiled, waved me on, and continued on his way.

Today's trail is also dotted with what I assume to be memorials dedicated to pilgrims who perished during the Camino, a morbid reminder that the same fate could have happened to many of us. I'm not the most healthy person myself. I paused at same memorials to reflect on that thought and walked on.

20220120_130905.jpg

At this point, Manuel sent me a photo to show that he and Belen have reached Santiago de Compostela. The thought that I'd reach that goal soon drives my feet forward on my trail.

I arrived in O Pedrouzo in the late afternoon, about 6 hours after I started. The pension I'm staying at is probably the best one on my Camino so far. Kitchen stocked with free beer and food, a small balcony, perfume in room to ward off my stinking feet.. and bathtub! It's certainly a nice way to 'spoil' myself as I get ready for the final push to Santiago on the next day.

20220120_155333.jpg
Ok bro I won't!
 
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danielgzepeda

Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 2016
Love your story! You write well.
It does sound very strange with hardly any pilgrims and not much open. I've been through Sarria a few times and it's always been heaving with people!
Good luck with the rest of your Camino. I'll try to find your posts again!
You write well. With a lot of internal thinking on paper. Can't wait for the next update. Thanks!
 
Past OR future Camino
2018
UPDATE for Jan. 20

ARZUA - O PEDROUZO

I think my body is used to the rhymth and steps of the Camino at this point. I'd sleep 8 hours, wake up just before dawn, wait for sunrise and a bit of sunshine, then head out. I guess I'm getting used to the Camino just as it's drawing to an end.

Manuel, the pilgrim I met the other day who went ahead of me, helpfully texted me with a warning that nothing would be open for 15 km out of Arzua until I come across a roadside restaurant in a village called A Brea. Appreciating his advice, I went to get some coffee and croissants before leaving Arzua.

View attachment 116973
Cows! Or bulls?

Since I've read that today's path will be less "demanding" than previous days, I decide to switch from my hiking boots to walking shoes that I used in Bangkok. I think it's a right choice; the route out of Arzua proves to be the most gentle and easy-going so far.

Although I expected that it'd be more crowded and urban, because of my distance to Santiago, I was wrong. The trail is as peaceful as the days before, snaking through woodlands, pastures, tiny villages, and rivulets. There were some tractors -- and pilgrims -- passing by sometimes, but most of the sound I heard was the birds chirping. Weather is brilliant as ever, as though the rural Spain is giving me a spectacular last show of beauty before my pilgrimage ends on the next day.

View attachment 116974
I look back and see Arzua in the distance on the hill.

View attachment 116979
If only I could have these roadsigns for my life...

I tried looking for Eduardo, the Barcelona pilgrim I met the previous day, to no avail. I kick myself for not asking for his WhatsApp info when I had the chance (I thought I'd just meet him along the Camino anyway). I guess that's another less from the Camino, if you meet a pilgrim you share interesting conversation with, don't hesitate to exchange your contact details right away!

Somewhere on the trail I came across what at first looked like a monster made of twisted black colored metal. It was a beer garden decorated by beer bottles finished by pilgrims who stopped here, with their names and Camino dates wrtten on them. Too bad it was closed. If there's ONE place I wish were open on the Camino, this must be it. Looks fun!

View attachment 116975
Salut!

I also realize that I have spots of sunburn on my face, something I never experienced for many, many years. How ironic is that: me, from a tropical country that the sun shines all year along like Thailand, gets sunburned in the heart of Galician winter, of all places.

View attachment 116978
Probably for standing in the sun and getting entranced by this kind of view.

Exactly at 15 km mark, I found the restaurant Manuel told me about, which I'm really grateful for, because I'm hungry at that point. As I was going off the Camino trail toward the restaurant, another pilgrim who was walking behind me called at me and gestured that I was going the wrong way. He must have thought I was lost. I let him know that I was visiting a restaurant, so he smiled, waved me on, and continued on his way.

Today's trail is also dotted with what I assume to be memorials dedicated to pilgrims who perished during the Camino, a morbid reminder that the same fate could have happened to many of us. I'm not the most healthy person myself. I paused at same memorials to reflect on that thought and walked on.

View attachment 116976

At this point, Manuel sent me a photo to show that he and Belen have reached Santiago de Compostela. The thought that I'd reach that goal soon drives my feet forward on my trail.

I arrived in O Pedrouzo in the late afternoon, about 6 hours after I started. The pension I'm staying at is probably the best one on my Camino so far. Kitchen stocked with free beer and food, a small balcony, perfume in room to ward off my stinking feet.. and bathtub! It's certainly a nice way to 'spoil' myself as I get ready for the final push to Santiago on the next day.

View attachment 116977
Ok bro I won't!
Thank you @teeranaic for very enjoyable descriptive and humorous reporting on your first Camino. I have been reading since your first post and each day I return for more smiles and inspiration. Keep on writing, you have talent in writing. And the photos tells me that I should take a chance on winter Caminos. Thank you again.

 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
You write well. With a lot of internal thinking on paper. Can't wait for the next update. Thanks!
I also happen to keep a journal that I jot down some stuff I saw / thought about on the Camino in case I forget later (sometimes there's too much "vino tinto" from the Pilgrim's Menu, you know!) I'd really recommend the same hobby to other pilgrims out there who have not done so already!
 
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Past OR future Camino
2018
I also happen to keep a journal that I jot down some stuff I saw / thought about on the Camino in case I forget later (sometimes there's too much "vino tinto" from the Pilgrim's Menu, you know!) I'd really recommend the same hobby to other pilgrims out there who have not done so already!
Thanks for the recommendation: I will bring a notebook next Camino
 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
UPDATE for Jan. 21

O PEDROUZO - SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

This is it. The final push. I woke up before dawn (which isn't really very early tbh) as usual, but today there's a luxury of tea making facility in the pension I'm staying, so I made one cup for myself and watch the sunrise, trying to take it all in before my pilgrimage comes to an end. I raided the fridge for some chorizos, jamon hams, bread and snacks (it's a very fully stocked kichen, I told ya), left my luggage for the last leg of the Correos service, got a stamp, then left the hotel.

I also dropped by a cafeteria for some coffee before setting out; it was here that I had my last stamp on the Pilgrim's Passport.

20220121_092741.jpg
Nice motivation. Only less than 20km to booze time!

By that time, the sun was already rising. I can't believe my luck; I'll complete the Camino in January with sunshine everyday!

20220121_093051.jpg

The strangest thing happened to me as I was walking. Remember the feeling of regret and sadness I wrote about in the days before? Suddenly I had none of that. Any anxiety is now replaced with excitement at the thought that by today's end, I'll be in Santiago de Compostela. I'll have accomplished the dream journey of my life. I'll get to tell myself: I've done it. It also helps that the path out of Pedrouzo gives me yet more taste of rural Spain. The landscape is hardly changed from the previous days, despite the short distance to the city.

I've also met pilgrims that I had not seen before. They're from other Caminos, like the Camino Norte. Two of them stood out for me, 2 Spanish men who don't speak English well and carry a speaker playing nothing but non-stop rock music. Singing along parts of "Sex on Fire" and "Eye of the Tiger" with them in the woodland somewhere on the Camino is really a surreal experience.

20220121_101918.jpg

As the hill climbs, the trees start to thin, and eventually I emerged onto the highway outside Santiago's city limit and the airport. The terrain then switches back once again to villages, green hills, cow pastures, and lot of empty countryside. But definitely more cars and signs of urban settlements, as expected.

I've read that the stream outside Lavacolla is where medieval pilgrims bathed and washed their feet before entering Santiago. As a man of tradition and cliche, I attempted to dip my feet as well -- only to step on some plants with thorns right by the stream. Ouch!!! I abandoned the ritual and settled with just washing my face, drying my feet, and changing the socks. The price for historical reenactment.

20220121_115532.jpg
Top 10 famous photos before disasters.

Another memorable moment: I met a pilgrim walking the opposite direction from Santiago. He didn't speak a lot of English, but based on our brief chat I gathered he was walking the Camino "in reverse," toward France! There's always the hipster kind everywhere I guess. 😝

After one last uphill slope, I found myself at Monte de Gozo, or the legendary "Mount of Joy." It's actually more like a park and less like a hill. To my surprise, the famous statues of two pilgrims expressing their joy at the first sight of Santiago Cathdral wasn't on the Camino itself. I had little problem locating it from the pathway though, and I was half-running, half-walking toward them... all the while telling myself not to look at the city before I reach that spot!!

It was indeed an impressive view. I was laughing like a maniac somehow when I saw the towers(?) of the cathedral. Not sure if other pilgrims had the same experience, but it was really a Mount of Joy for me. More so because I was holding my water along the route through a village earlier so I had a really joyful release behind some pine trees near the statues.

20220121_133051.jpg

After Mount of Joy, the path crosses a bridge over highways (I think this was also the the spot of the last "seashell signpost" that has been counting down the KMs) then enters Santiago proper. It's my least favorite of the entire Camino, same as many other pilgrims I'm sure. It's a long, seemingly endless yomp through residential areas. It's noisy, it's hot, the view uninspiring, but at least it feels good to be back in the city where many restaurants and cafes are open!

As I reached the Old City, I felt my heart squirming. I could tell I was close now, judging from the medieval-looking churches and alleys and streets. Sure enough, I reached the "tunnel" that I've seen from photos and videos about the Camino. I suddenly stopped, knowing that the end is so near. It felt so "heavy" on me, to take another step forward.

20220121_145518.jpg
My palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy

I paused there for a moment, thinking of all the moments on the Camino, and trying so hard to jot them all down in my memory. And then I stopped being such a drama queen and took the final steps into the square.

Where I was immediately greeted by Eduardo, the pilgrim I missed from the other day! He already arrived at the Cathedral but happened to be walking in the plaza just as I arrived, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him here! After greeting / high-fiving each other, he let me take in the moment of my goal. My first thought was, holy sh*t, the cathedral is way grander than any photos that I've seen.

20220121_145920.jpg
It was so perfect the photo almost looks photoshopped!

I won't even attempt to describe the feelings I had on that plaza, because all of you have already done the Camino, and you have experienced it more times than I had, so let's say, I understand it now.

Eduardo was taking photos of me when the 2 Spanish ladies, Maria and Catherine, who were my first-ever "walking buddies" from the Sarria-Portomarin leg, also enterred the square at the same time. So he managed to capture the emotional, tearful reunion right there and then. It's one of those "images you can hear!"

20220121_150356.jpg

"You made it!" I told Catherine, who's in her 50s, if you remember. She struggled time to time because of her legs. So I pat her knees and told her, "You're very strong!"

She wiped her tears, shook her head, and pointed to the cathedral, "No. I'm not strong. God is strong."

I hope I'll never forget that moment.

After an obligatory, celebratory selfie (thanks to Eduardo), we parted way. I also had them sign farewell messages on the unused spots in my credential. Their friendly company and kindness are, after all, also indelible stamps of my journey in a way.

The pilgrim's office was almost empty when I arrived. I acquired my Compostela and, for extra 3 euro, the Certificate of Distance. So this it, 7 days, 130 km, 1 diarrhea, 5 feet blisters, a grand total of 3 times that I (briefly) had to retrace my steps because I missed the Camino signposts, and 0 bear attack later, I've accomplished my top bucket list.

20220121_112837.jpg
And this weather the whole journey too!!

I'd also like to take this chance to thank ALL OF YOU on this forum, which has been my top source for all kinds of questions and concerns when I was planning my Camino. Please do keep up a good work! I'm sure many future pilgrims are reading this site as we speak, scouring for advice and wondering -- like I did months ago -- if they should commit themselves to the Camino and go for it. To those who're still deciding, I say very simply, go.

Now that I've completed my lifelong travel dream, I'll struggle next time when someone asks me what my dream destination is.

Maybe the whole route of Camino Frances? Never say never!
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
Beautiful.
And so well told, with beautiful photos.

Congratulations, @teeranaic!
Savor the sweetness of your success in one of the finest places on Earth. If you go to Pilgrim's Mass today, when they acknowledge/bless pilgrims from the day before, wait for it - you'll hear something they rarely get to say:
"Uno peregrino de Tailandia, desde Saria."

And, yes. Why not a longer camino? There are many choices.
 
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teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Beautiful.
And so well told, with beautiful photos.

Congratulations, @teeranaic!
Savor the sweetness of your success in one of the finest places on Earth. If you go to Pilgrim's Mass today, when they acknowledge/bless pilgrims from the day before, wait for it - you'll hear something they rarely get to say:
"Uno peregrino de Tailandia, desde Saria."

And, yes. Why not a longer camino? There are many choices.
I'm in the Pilgrim's Mass right now! Is it customary to stand up and raise your fist into the air ala Olympics medalist style when they announce your nationality?
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Past OR future Camino
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
Congratulations @teeranaic ! What a fantastic camino you’ve had - and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings so beautifully. The photo of you with Maria and Catherine in front of the Cathedral is truly wonderful - anyone looking at that photo could not fail to pick up on the emotion you all felt. That emotion will stay with you - just as the Camino itself will stay with you.

Every best wish to you from Oz -

Jenny
 

Bala

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015, 2018, 2022
Congratulations on completing your pilgrimage! And many thanks for taking us along on the journey. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of your posts and the beautiful photos accompanying them. They brought back many good memories. Best wishes as you go forward in life.
 
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Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.

NJohn

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: September 2022
Congratulations @teeranaic ! I loved reading your posts. You‘re writing was perfect - with just enough details and great humor. I can‘t wait to read your posts when you walk the Camino Frances. 😉 Maybe this next September? Then my husband and I could meet you 👍🏻
 
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teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Congratulations @teeranaic ! I loved reading your posts. You‘re writing was perfect - with just enough details and great humor. I can‘t wait to read your posts when you walk the Camino Frances. 😉 Maybe this next September? Then my husband and I could meet you 👍🏻

I only had the time to do this Camino because I quit my job, so if I'm fired from the new job before September I'll see you on the Camino! 😜
 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
EPILOGUE for Jan. 22

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

I'm aware that since my Camino is now completed, this thread has served its purpose, but allow me to overstay my welcome a bit more because of what I experienced in Santiago de Compostela. I guess this thread has become a bit of my travel journal already!

In another thread, a lot of people recommended spending at least 1 full day in Santiago, and once again that advice proves to be right. For a full immersive experience, I chose to stay at Hospedería San Martín Pinario, the monastery converted into hotel that seems to be a popular choice for a lot of pilgrims as well. I have nothing but praise for it. The room is simple, but comfortable, and really gives me a taste of what medieval lodging for pilgrims must have looked like. (It was also a bit cold at times, but hey that's the immersive experience too!)

20220121_092741.jpg
Exorcist vibe though.

20220121_093051.jpg
Room comes with top-notch art.

The hotel restaurant also offers "Menu of the Day" at lunch and dinner, the set comes with a bottle of wine for only 10-11 Euro! As it turns out, the lunch here would be really memorable for a really surreal reason. I'll come back to it later.

20220121_101918.jpg
Dining room for breakfast.

I headed to the cathedral at about 11.15am, ahead of the noontime Pilgrim's Mass. The interior looks even grander than the facade outside. It's really breath-taking. As you know by now, I'm a man of cliche, and since I hear that in order to qualify for the Vatican's Holy Year blessing, I need to do both a confession and communion at the mass. So I looked for a priest for a confession.

I'm not sure if an English language session was available, but the only priest available only spoke Spanish. Lacking an intervention from the Holy Spirit's multilingual ability, he simply gestured me to sit on a stool in front of him and, I think, say whatever sins I've committed. Once I signaled to him that I'm done talking, he instructed me to... recite Our Father for 5 times, I think? It was my first confession in years and definitely the most hilarious/awkward in my life! I doubt he understood me very much, especially that longwinding part about a certain married woman. But hey, I consider the past sins forgiven!

20220121_112837.jpg

It was my first time attending a Mass inside a European cathedral, and the experience was really moving. I got instant goosebumps when the Mass began with the all-male choir singing "Nearer Thy God to Thee" in Latin or Spanish (I'm not sure). And then there's the massive organ! After the last note, you can still hear faint echoes of it. The whole time I sat there, I tried to imagine how awe-inspiring and heavenly it must have been for the medieval pilgrims who also sat or knelt here for the Mass that marked their end of long, dangerous journeys hundreds of years ago. It wasn't hard to imagine at all.

20220121_115532.jpg

After the Mass, I headed down to the "spiritual" endpoint of the Camino -- the Tomb of St. James, or at least according to the legends that guided our entire pilgrimage to this point.

A several pilgrims were already there when I entered the crypt, just staring at the tomb enshrined behind the bars. I turned to look, too, and at that moment, when I finally laid my eyes on the supposed burial place of St. James, I was so overwhelmed with emotion.

20220121_133051.jpg
The 'finish' point.

I'm not ashamed to say I fell to my knees and just cried. It was so hard to describe, to be face to face with the image that I've seen countless of times, the destination that I traveled across the globe in the midst of pandemic for, the one single object that binds us pilgrims together. I'm a history graduate, so the idea of an Apostle being buried here in Galicia is rather a stretch for me, but all skepticism is set aside for that moment: to appreciate the Tomb, or whatever it is, as a very real thing that drove us to partake on this journey together, across the space and time.

It was then that I noticed the man next to me had started to weep as well. So there we were, 2 men, complete strangers to each other, just crying together in front of the Tomb of St. James. I can't help but feel the connection with him, too, no matter how brief.

I didn't have this feeling when I entered the cathedral plaza the day before -- that moment was different, so full of elation and reunions, leaving no space for sombre emotion -- but I felt it now. The end of the road. I've done it. I prayed to St. James, thanking him for my safe passage to Santiago and asking him to bless my loved ones, too. Other pilgrims have started to arrive at the crypt now, so I got up and left. The stairs to St. James statue were closed though, I guess to avoid crowding issue during a pandemic, but who still needs an embrace after the profound moment I just had?

20220121_145518.jpg
One last shot of the altar.

After rosary shopping (my family is Catholic obviously) I went back for lunch at San Martin Pinario. I just finished Santiago cake and was draining my bottle of vino tinto when some people at the back of the dining hall started singing a hymn. It was the same choir from the cathedral earlier! Turns out they were eating at same restaurant. They sounded beautiful inside the cathedral, and they sounded beautiful now, in the dining hall. I can't understand a word beyond "ave" and "Maria" but who gives a crap at this point. I had to get up and give them a "standing ovation" at the end.

View attachment 20220122_154637.mp4

As I was loitering around Obradoiro Plaza at sunset and enjoying the sight of other pilgrims who just arrived at the square, I like to think that my trip in Spain, both during and after the Camino, has been magical so far. I don't hesitate to use that word at all, magical. I'll miss the Camino for sure, both big and small moments. I've felt so many feelings I didn't know I could feel in just a week on the Camino. It's really worth it.

20220121_145920.jpg
Spanish Golden Hour.

On Sunday morning I'll leave Santiago to Seville. I'll be traveling to other cities in Spain (and a stop in Paris) for about 2 more weeks before going back to Bangkok, where my next step in my career and new challenges await. I don't know how much I'll be able to handle them but the pilgrimage gave me vague confidence that I will be just fine.

As Manuel said in his text to me after I told him that I have reached Santiago, "The Camino starts now."

20220121_150356.jpg
Sunset over Santiago de Compostela.
 
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Past OR future Camino
CF 2014
CP 2016
CdelN, Fin/Muxia 2018
? CF 2022
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful Camino experience with us all. We got goosebumps listening to your recording of the choir at lunchtime. How amazing to hear them again.
Wishing you all the very best and safe journey home.
Ultreia and Buen Camino.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances SJPP-Fisterra (2014_18). Burgos-Astorga (2019). Sarria-Santiago (Jan 2020).
EPILOGUE for Jan. 22

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

I'm aware that since my Camino is now completed, this thread has served its purpose, but allow me to overstay my welcome a bit more because of what I experienced in Santiago de Compostela. I guess this thread has become a bit of my travel journal already!

In another thread, a lot of people recommended spending at least 1 full day in Santiago, and once again that advice proves to be right. For a full immersive experience, I chose to stay at Hospedería San Martín Pinario, the monastery converted into hotel that seems to be a popular choice for a lot of pilgrims as well. I have nothing but praise for it. The room is simple, but comfortable, and really gives me a taste of what medieval lodging for pilgrims must have looked like. (It was also a bit cold at times, but hey that's the immersive experience too!)

View attachment 117093
Exorcist vibe though.

View attachment 117094
Room comes with top-notch art.

The hotel restaurant also offers "Menu of the Day" at lunch and dinner, the set comes with a bottle of wine for only 10-11 Euro! As it turns out, the lunch here would be really memorable for a really surreal reason. I'll come back to it later.

View attachment 117095
Dining room for breakfast.

I headed to the cathedral at about 11.15am, ahead of the noontime Pilgrim's Mass. The interior looks even grander than the facade outside. It's really breath-taking. As you know by now, I'm a man of cliche, and since I hear that in order to qualify for the Vatican's Holy Year blessing, I need to do both a confession and communion at the mass. So I looked for a priest for a confession.

I'm not sure if an English language session was available, but the only priest available only spoke Spanish. Lacking an intervention from the Holy Spirit's multilingual ability, he simply gestured me to sit on a stool in front of him and, I think, say whatever sins I've committed. Once I signaled to him that I'm done talking, he instructed me to... recite Our Father for 5 times, I think? It was my first confession in years and definitely the most hilarious/awkward in my life! I doubt he understood me very much, especially that longwinding part about a certain married woman. But hey, I consider the past sins forgiven!

View attachment 117096

It was my first time attending a Mass inside a European cathedral, and the experience was really moving. I got instant goosebumps when the Mass began with the all-male choir singing "Nearer Thy God to Thee" in Latin or Spanish (I'm not sure). And then there's the massive organ! After the last note, you can still hear faint echoes of it. The whole time I sat there, I tried to imagine how awe-inspiring and heavenly it must have been for the medieval pilgrims who also sat or knelt here for the Mass that marked their end of long, dangerous journeys hundreds of years ago. It wasn't hard to imagine at all.

View attachment 117097

After the Mass, I headed down to the "spiritual" endpoint of the Camino -- the Tomb of St. James, or at least according to the legends that guided our entire pilgrimage to this point.

A several pilgrims were already there when I entered the crypt, just staring at the tomb enshrined behind the bars. I turned to look, too, and at that moment, when I finally laid my eyes on the supposed burial place of St. James, I was so overwhelmed with emotion.

View attachment 117098
The 'finish' point.

I'm not ashamed to say I fell to my knees and just cried. It was so hard to describe, to be face to face with the image that I've seen countless of times, the destination that I traveled across the globe in the midst of pandemic for, the one single object that binds us pilgrims together. I'm a history graduate, so the idea of an Apostle being buried here in Galicia is rather a stretch for me, but all skepticism is set aside for that moment: to appreciate the Tomb, or whatever it is, as a very real thing that drove us to partake on this journey together, across the space and time.

It was then that I noticed the man next to me had started to weep as well. So there we were, 2 men, complete strangers to each other, just crying together in front of the Tomb of St. James. I can't help but feel the connection with him, too, no matter how brief.

I didn't have this feeling when I entered the cathedral plaza the day before -- that moment was different, so full of elation and reunions, leaving no space for sombre emotion -- but I felt it now. The end of the road. I've done it. I prayed to St. James, thanking him for my safe passage to Santiago and asking him to bless my loved ones, too. Other pilgrims have started to arrive at the crypt now, so I got up and left. The stairs to St. James statue were closed though, I guess to avoid crowding issue during a pandemic, but who still needs an embrace after the profound moment I just had?

View attachment 117099
One last shot of the altar.

After rosary shopping (my family is Catholic obviously) I went back for lunch at San Martin Pinario. I just finished Santiago cake and was draining my bottle of vino tinto when some people at the back of the dining hall started singing a hymn. It was the same choir from the cathedral earlier! Turns out they were eating at same restaurant. They sounded beautiful inside the cathedral, and they sounded beautiful now, in the dining hall. I can't understand a word beyond "ave" and "Maria" but who gives a crap at this point. I had to get up and give them a "standing ovation" at the end.

View attachment 117100

As I was loitering around Obradoiro Plaza at sunset and enjoying the sight of other pilgrims who just arrived at the square, I like to think that my trip in Spain, both during and after the Camino, has been magical so far. I don't hesitate to use that word at all, magical. I'll miss the Camino for sure, both big and small moments. I've felt so many feelings I didn't know I could feel in just a week on the Camino. It's really worth it.

View attachment 117101
Spanish Golden Hour.

On Sunday morning I'll leave Santiago to Seville. I'll be traveling to other cities in Spain (and a stop in Paris) for about 2 more weeks before going back to Bangkok, where my next step in my career and new challenges await. I don't know how much I'll be able to handle them but the pilgrimage gave me vague confidence that I will be just fine.

As Manuel said in his text to me after I told him that I have reached Santiago, "The Camino starts now."

View attachment 117102
Sunset over Santiago de Compostela.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful Camino experience and great photos @teeranaic. Just magic! I did Sarria to Santiago 18-22 January 2020 to celebrate my 60th birthday. Weather was dry and sunny too. The only bars/restaurants that were open was in larger towns and walked 12-15km each day before finding a coffee. About 20 other peregrinos from Korea, Japan, Australia, UK, Germany and Denmark. I had planned the full Camino for June that year…now hoping for June 2022. ¡Buen Camino! Enjoy the rest of your time in Europe.
 

M2404D

Maureen Sydney Australia
Past OR future Camino
Past : July ( 2013 ) , 2014,2015,2016,2017,
Future : 2018
EPILOGUE for Jan. 22

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

I'm aware that since my Camino is now completed, this thread has served its purpose, but allow me to overstay my welcome a bit more because of what I experienced in Santiago de Compostela. I guess this thread has become a bit of my travel journal already!

In another thread, a lot of people recommended spending at least 1 full day in Santiago, and once again that advice proves to be right. For a full immersive experience, I chose to stay at Hospedería San Martín Pinario, the monastery converted into hotel that seems to be a popular choice for a lot of pilgrims as well. I have nothing but praise for it. The room is simple, but comfortable, and really gives me a taste of what medieval lodging for pilgrims must have looked like. (It was also a bit cold at times, but hey that's the immersive experience too!)

View attachment 117093
Exorcist vibe though.

View attachment 117094
Room comes with top-notch art.

The hotel restaurant also offers "Menu of the Day" at lunch and dinner, the set comes with a bottle of wine for only 10-11 Euro! As it turns out, the lunch here would be really memorable for a really surreal reason. I'll come back to it later.

View attachment 117095
Dining room for breakfast.

I headed to the cathedral at about 11.15am, ahead of the noontime Pilgrim's Mass. The interior looks even grander than the facade outside. It's really breath-taking. As you know by now, I'm a man of cliche, and since I hear that in order to qualify for the Vatican's Holy Year blessing, I need to do both a confession and communion at the mass. So I looked for a priest for a confession.

I'm not sure if an English language session was available, but the only priest available only spoke Spanish. Lacking an intervention from the Holy Spirit's multilingual ability, he simply gestured me to sit on a stool in front of him and, I think, say whatever sins I've committed. Once I signaled to him that I'm done talking, he instructed me to... recite Our Father for 5 times, I think? It was my first confession in years and definitely the most hilarious/awkward in my life! I doubt he understood me very much, especially that longwinding part about a certain married woman. But hey, I consider the past sins forgiven!

View attachment 117096

It was my first time attending a Mass inside a European cathedral, and the experience was really moving. I got instant goosebumps when the Mass began with the all-male choir singing "Nearer Thy God to Thee" in Latin or Spanish (I'm not sure). And then there's the massive organ! After the last note, you can still hear faint echoes of it. The whole time I sat there, I tried to imagine how awe-inspiring and heavenly it must have been for the medieval pilgrims who also sat or knelt here for the Mass that marked their end of long, dangerous journeys hundreds of years ago. It wasn't hard to imagine at all.

View attachment 117097

After the Mass, I headed down to the "spiritual" endpoint of the Camino -- the Tomb of St. James, or at least according to the legends that guided our entire pilgrimage to this point.

A several pilgrims were already there when I entered the crypt, just staring at the tomb enshrined behind the bars. I turned to look, too, and at that moment, when I finally laid my eyes on the supposed burial place of St. James, I was so overwhelmed with emotion.

View attachment 117098
The 'finish' point.

I'm not ashamed to say I fell to my knees and just cried. It was so hard to describe, to be face to face with the image that I've seen countless of times, the destination that I traveled across the globe in the midst of pandemic for, the one single object that binds us pilgrims together. I'm a history graduate, so the idea of an Apostle being buried here in Galicia is rather a stretch for me, but all skepticism is set aside for that moment: to appreciate the Tomb, or whatever it is, as a very real thing that drove us to partake on this journey together, across the space and time.

It was then that I noticed the man next to me had started to weep as well. So there we were, 2 men, complete strangers to each other, just crying together in front of the Tomb of St. James. I can't help but feel the connection with him, too, no matter how brief.

I didn't have this feeling when I entered the cathedral plaza the day before -- that moment was different, so full of elation and reunions, leaving no space for sombre emotion -- but I felt it now. The end of the road. I've done it. I prayed to St. James, thanking him for my safe passage to Santiago and asking him to bless my loved ones, too. Other pilgrims have started to arrive at the crypt now, so I got up and left. The stairs to St. James statue were closed though, I guess to avoid crowding issue during a pandemic, but who still needs an embrace after the profound moment I just had?

View attachment 117099
One last shot of the altar.

After rosary shopping (my family is Catholic obviously) I went back for lunch at San Martin Pinario. I just finished Santiago cake and was draining my bottle of vino tinto when some people at the back of the dining hall started singing a hymn. It was the same choir from the cathedral earlier! Turns out they were eating at same restaurant. They sounded beautiful inside the cathedral, and they sounded beautiful now, in the dining hall. I can't understand a word beyond "ave" and "Maria" but who gives a crap at this point. I had to get up and give them a "standing ovation" at the end.

View attachment 117100

As I was loitering around Obradoiro Plaza at sunset and enjoying the sight of other pilgrims who just arrived at the square, I like to think that my trip in Spain, both during and after the Camino, has been magical so far. I don't hesitate to use that word at all, magical. I'll miss the Camino for sure, both big and small moments. I've felt so many feelings I didn't know I could feel in just a week on the Camino. It's really worth it.

View attachment 117101
Spanish Golden Hour.

On Sunday morning I'll leave Santiago to Seville. I'll be traveling to other cities in Spain (and a stop in Paris) for about 2 more weeks before going back to Bangkok, where my next step in my career and new challenges await. I don't know how much I'll be able to handle them but the pilgrimage gave me vague confidence that I will be just fine.

As Manuel said in his text to me after I told him that I have reached Santiago, "The Camino starts now."

View attachment 117102
Sunset over Santiago de Compostela.
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful Camino.
I have walked numerous Caminos & have read numerous books about peoples’ experiences on their Camino, but your gift with words sums up my feelings completely!
I was going to wait until 2023 to do my next Camino, but you have inspired me to do it this year.
Thank you:)
 
Last edited:

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful Camino.
I have walked numerous Caminos & have read numerous books about peoples’ experiences on their Camino, but your gift with words sums up my feelings completely!
I was going to wait until 2023 to do my next Camino, but you have inspired me to do it this year.
Thank you:)

I'm not an expert by any means but I'd personally advise anyone to just bite the bullet about the pandemic and get back on the camino this year if they are able to do so safely (vaccinated, no serious health issues etc). The solitude and the lack of ppl is a blessing and a curse in itself, but it certainly makes for a unique experience I think. At least it did for me!
 
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CyndyC

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Sept 2019
I have arrived in Sarria for my first Camino ever.

It is now 1.53am local time. I'm tucked in my bed at a pension where, I think, I'm the sole occupant here. The sheer excitement is keeping me awake... either that, or jet lag haha!

If the info is correct (and I pray to St. James it is..), I will be taking a bus to Triacestela at 13.01 later today, and then walk back to Sarria, making a stop at Samos Monastery, which is the key reason for this weird travel arrangement.

Impression of my arrival in Sarria: EXCELLENT weather. Chilly, but sunny, almost no cloud in the blue sky. I assumed my first taste of Galician winter would be wet and rainy and miserable, so this is certainly a pleasant surprise. The town itself feels deserted though. If I hadn't read beforehand that this was a popular pilgrim stop and one of the busiest stages in the Camino, I wouldn't know. Lot of albergues are indeed closed, as many in this forum had warned. Streets are nearly empty. I was the only pedestrian for most of the time in some parts of town. I have yet to come across other pilgrims so far, but it could be because I didn't visit any bars or restaurants today.

In case anyone's wondering, I took train from Madrid-Chamartin, and then change to Monbus at Ourense (same ticket). Whole journey took about 4 hours. The epic scenery is priceless. This is my first time in Spain so it was really an overwhelming experience, first seeing the arid plains outside Madrid, little villages and churches on hills, the rivers and mountains in Galicia...

Also I realized just now I have yet to secure a Pilgrim's Credential. Will do so in the morning before my journey to Triacestela!

View attachment 116517

View attachment 116518

View attachment 116519
Balcony area of the pension I'm staying (with my dinner on the chair)
Buen Camino! And safe passage!
 
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caminolover

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
I have arrived in Sarria for my first Camino ever.

It is now 1.53am local time. I'm tucked in my bed at a pension where, I think, I'm the sole occupant here. The sheer excitement is keeping me awake... either that, or jet lag haha!

If the info is correct (and I pray to St. James it is..), I will be taking a bus to Triacestela at 13.01 later today, and then walk back to Sarria, making a stop at Samos Monastery, which is the key reason for this weird travel arrangement.

Impression of my arrival in Sarria: EXCELLENT weather. Chilly, but sunny, almost no cloud in the blue sky. I assumed my first taste of Galician winter would be wet and rainy and miserable, so this is certainly a pleasant surprise. The town itself feels deserted though. If I hadn't read beforehand that this was a popular pilgrim stop and one of the busiest stages in the Camino, I wouldn't know. Lot of albergues are indeed closed, as many in this forum had warned. Streets are nearly empty. I was the only pedestrian for most of the time in some parts of town. I have yet to come across other pilgrims so far, but it could be because I didn't visit any bars or restaurants today.

In case anyone's wondering, I took train from Madrid-Chamartin, and then change to Monbus at Ourense (same ticket). Whole journey took about 4 hours. The epic scenery is priceless. This is my first time in Spain so it was really an overwhelming experience, first seeing the arid plains outside Madrid, little villages and churches on hills, the rivers and mountains in Galicia...

Also I realized just now I have yet to secure a Pilgrim's Credential. Will do so in the morning before my journey to Triacestela!

View attachment 116517

View attachment 116518

View attachment 116519
Balcony area of the pension I'm staying (with my dinner on the chair)
<This is so nice! Congratulations. I wonder how it must feel being on the Camino, just you! I am surprised and equally delighted that albergue are open in January.
Buen Camino!
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
2009-2019: More than I remember...
@teeranaic : I have thoroughly enjoyed your writing and journey: Thank you!

I won't even attempt to describe the feelings I had on that plaza, because all of you have already done the Camino, and you have experienced it more times than I had, so let's say, I understand it now.

Maybe the whole route of Camino Frances? Never say never!
Welcome to that exclusive club! Hope to meet and talk with you one day on the way out from Pamplona: There are many wonders and sights to experience on the Camino Frances...:cool:
 

CPURKS

New Member
Past OR future Camino
future Camino Frances
UPDATE for Jan. 21

O PEDROUZO - SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

This is it. The final push. I woke up before dawn (which isn't really very early tbh) as usual, but today there's a luxury of tea making facility in the pension I'm staying, so I made one cup for myself and watch the sunrise, trying to take it all in before my pilgrimage comes to an end. I raided the fridge for some chorizos, jamon hams, bread and snacks (it's a very fully stocked kichen, I told ya), left my luggage for the last leg of the Correos service, got a stamp, then left the hotel.

I also dropped by a cafeteria for some coffee before setting out; it was here that I had my last stamp on the Pilgrim's Passport.

View attachment 117043
Nice motivation. Only less than 20km to booze time!

By that time, the sun was already rising. I can't believe my luck; I'll complete the Camino in January with sunshine everyday!

View attachment 117042

The strangest thing happened to me as I was walking. Remember the feeling of regret and sadness I wrote about in the days before? Suddenly I had none of that. Any anxiety is now replaced with excitement at the thought that by today's end, I'll be in Santiago de Compostela. I'll have accomplished the dream journey of my life. I'll get to tell myself: I've done it. It also helps that the path out of Pedrouzo gives me yet more taste of rural Spain. The landscape is hardly changed from the previous days, despite the short distance to the city.

I've also met pilgrims that I had not seen before. They're from other Caminos, like the Camino Norte. Two of them stood out for me, 2 Spanish men who don't speak English well and carry a speaker playing nothing but non-stop rock music. Singing along parts of "Sex on Fire" and "Eye of the Tiger" with them in the woodland somewhere on the Camino is really a surreal experience.

View attachment 117044

As the hill climbs, the trees start to thin, and eventually I emerged onto the highway outside Santiago's city limit and the airport. The terrain then switches back once again to villages, green hills, cow pastures, and lot of empty countryside. But definitely more cars and signs of urban settlements, as expected.

I've read that the stream outside Lavacolla is where medieval pilgrims bathed and washed their feet before entering Santiago. As a man of tradition and cliche, I attempted to dip my feet as well -- only to step on some plants with thorns right by the stream. Ouch!!! I abandoned the ritual and settled with just washing my face, drying my feet, and changing the socks. The price for historical reenactment.

View attachment 117045
Top 10 famous photos before disasters.

Another memorable moment: I met a pilgrim walking the opposite direction from Santiago. He didn't speak a lot of English, but based on our brief chat I gathered he was walking the Camino "in reverse," toward France! There's always the hipster kind everywhere I guess. 😝

After one last uphill slope, I found myself at Monte de Gozo, or the legendary "Mount of Joy." It's actually more like a park and less like a hill. To my surprise, the famous statues of two pilgrims expressing their joy at the first sight of Santiago Cathdral wasn't on the Camino itself. I had little problem locating it from the pathway though, and I was half-running, half-walking toward them... all the while telling myself not to look at the city before I reach that spot!!

It was indeed an impressive view. I was laughing like a maniac somehow when I saw the towers(?) of the cathedral. Not sure if other pilgrims had the same experience, but it was really a Mount of Joy for me. More so because I was holding my water along the route through a village earlier so I had a really joyful release behind some pine trees near the statues.

View attachment 117046

After Mount of Joy, the path crosses a bridge over highways (I think this was also the the spot of the last "seashell signpost" that has been counting down the KMs) then enters Santiago proper. It's my least favorite of the entire Camino, same as many other pilgrims I'm sure. It's a long, seemingly endless yomp through residential areas. It's noisy, it's hot, the view uninspiring, but at least it feels good to be back in the city where many restaurants and cafes are open!

As I reached the Old City, I felt my heart squirming. I could tell I was close now, judging from the medieval-looking churches and alleys and streets. Sure enough, I reached the "tunnel" that I've seen from photos and videos about the Camino. I suddenly stopped, knowing that the end is so near. It felt so "heavy" on me, to take another step forward.

View attachment 117050
My palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy

I paused there for a moment, thinking of all the moments on the Camino, and trying so hard to jot them all down in my memory. And then I stopped being such a drama queen and took the final steps into the square.

Where I was immediately greeted by Eduardo, the pilgrim I missed from the other day! He already arrived at the Cathedral but happened to be walking in the plaza just as I arrived, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him here! After greeting / high-fiving each other, he let me take in the moment of my goal. My first thought was, holy sh*t, the cathedral is way grander than any photos that I've seen.

View attachment 117047
It was so perfect the photo almost looks photoshopped!

I won't even attempt to describe the feelings I had on that plaza, because all of you have already done the Camino, and you have experienced it more times than I had, so let's say, I understand it now.

Eduardo was taking photos of me when the 2 Spanish ladies, Maria and Catherine, who were my first-ever "walking buddies" from the Sarria-Portomarin leg, also enterred the square at the same time. So he managed to capture the emotional, tearful reunion right there and then. It's one of those "images you can hear!"

View attachment 117048

"You made it!" I told Catherine, who's in her 50s, if you remember. She struggled time to time because of her legs. So I pat her knees and told her, "You're very strong!"

She wiped her tears, shook her head, and pointed to the cathedral, "No. I'm not strong. God is strong."

I hope I'll never forget that moment.

After an obligatory, celebratory selfie (thanks to Eduardo), we parted way. I also had them sign farewell messages on the unused spots in my credential. Their friendly company and kindness are, after all, also indelible stamps of my journey in a way.

The pilgrim's office was almost empty when I arrived. I acquired my Compostela and, for extra 3 euro, the Certificate of Distance. So this it, 7 days, 130 km, 1 diarrhea, 5 feet blisters, a grand total of 3 times that I (briefly) had to retrace my steps because I missed the Camino signposts, and 0 bear attack later, I've accomplished my top bucket list.

View attachment 117049
And this weather the whole journey too!!

I'd also like to take this chance to thank ALL OF YOU on this forum, which has been my top source for all kinds of questions and concerns when I was planning my Camino. Please do keep up a good work! I'm sure many future pilgrims are reading this site as we speak, scouring for advice and wondering -- like I did months ago -- if they should commit themselves to the Camino and go for it. To those who're still deciding, I say very simply, go.

Now that I've completed my lifelong travel dream, I'll struggle next time when someone asks me what my dream destination is.

Maybe the whole route of Camino Frances? Never say never!
Congrats, so encouraged by your words and lovely pictures. Will be attempting first camino in June.
 
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jalluisi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Walked from Leon to Santiago Oct. 2021
I have arrived in Sarria for my first Camino ever.

It is now 1.53am local time. I'm tucked in my bed at a pension where, I think, I'm the sole occupant here. The sheer excitement is keeping me awake... either that, or jet lag haha!

If the info is correct (and I pray to St. James it is..), I will be taking a bus to Triacestela at 13.01 later today, and then walk back to Sarria, making a stop at Samos Monastery, which is the key reason for this weird travel arrangement.

Impression of my arrival in Sarria: EXCELLENT weather. Chilly, but sunny, almost no cloud in the blue sky. I assumed my first taste of Galician winter would be wet and rainy and miserable, so this is certainly a pleasant surprise. The town itself feels deserted though. If I hadn't read beforehand that this was a popular pilgrim stop and one of the busiest stages in the Camino, I wouldn't know. Lot of albergues are indeed closed, as many in this forum had warned. Streets are nearly empty. I was the only pedestrian for most of the time in some parts of town. I have yet to come across other pilgrims so far, but it could be because I didn't visit any bars or restaurants today.

In case anyone's wondering, I took train from Madrid-Chamartin, and then change to Monbus at Ourense (same ticket). Whole journey took about 4 hours. The epic scenery is priceless. This is my first time in Spain so it was really an overwhelming experience, first seeing the arid plains outside Madrid, little villages and churches on hills, the rivers and mountains in Galicia...

Also I realized just now I have yet to secure a Pilgrim's Credential. Will do so in the morning before my journey to Triacestela!

View attachment 116517

View attachment 116518

View attachment 116519
Balcony area of the pension I'm staying (with my dinner on the chair)
So excited for you!!!
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
So excited for you!!!
In case you didn't notice @teeranaic's last post on this thread when he arrived in Santiago was on January 23rd.

EPILOGUE for Jan. 22

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

I'm aware that since my Camino is now completed, this thread has served its purpose, but allow me to overstay my welcome a bit more because of what I experienced in Santiago de Compostela. I guess this thread has become a bit of my travel journal already!

In another thread, a lot of people recommended spending at least 1 full day in Santiago, and once again that advice proves to be right. For a full immersive experience, I chose to stay at Hospedería San Martín Pinario, the monastery converted into hotel that seems to be a popular choice for a lot of pilgrims as well. I have nothing but praise for it. The room is simple, but comfortable, and really gives me a taste of what medieval lodging for pilgrims must have looked like. (It was also a bit cold at times, but hey that's the immersive experience too!)

View attachment 117093
Exorcist vibe though.

View attachment 117094
Room comes with top-notch art.

The hotel restaurant also offers "Menu of the Day" at lunch and dinner, the set comes with a bottle of wine for only 10-11 Euro! As it turns out, the lunch here would be really memorable for a really surreal reason. I'll come back to it later.

View attachment 117095
Dining room for breakfast.

I headed to the cathedral at about 11.15am, ahead of the noontime Pilgrim's Mass. The interior looks even grander than the facade outside. It's really breath-taking. As you know by now, I'm a man of cliche, and since I hear that in order to qualify for the Vatican's Holy Year blessing, I need to do both a confession and communion at the mass. So I looked for a priest for a confession.

I'm not sure if an English language session was available, but the only priest available only spoke Spanish. Lacking an intervention from the Holy Spirit's multilingual ability, he simply gestured me to sit on a stool in front of him and, I think, say whatever sins I've committed. Once I signaled to him that I'm done talking, he instructed me to... recite Our Father for 5 times, I think? It was my first confession in years and definitely the most hilarious/awkward in my life! I doubt he understood me very much, especially that longwinding part about a certain married woman. But hey, I consider the past sins forgiven!

View attachment 117096

It was my first time attending a Mass inside a European cathedral, and the experience was really moving. I got instant goosebumps when the Mass began with the all-male choir singing "Nearer Thy God to Thee" in Latin or Spanish (I'm not sure). And then there's the massive organ! After the last note, you can still hear faint echoes of it. The whole time I sat there, I tried to imagine how awe-inspiring and heavenly it must have been for the medieval pilgrims who also sat or knelt here for the Mass that marked their end of long, dangerous journeys hundreds of years ago. It wasn't hard to imagine at all.

View attachment 117097

After the Mass, I headed down to the "spiritual" endpoint of the Camino -- the Tomb of St. James, or at least according to the legends that guided our entire pilgrimage to this point.

A several pilgrims were already there when I entered the crypt, just staring at the tomb enshrined behind the bars. I turned to look, too, and at that moment, when I finally laid my eyes on the supposed burial place of St. James, I was so overwhelmed with emotion.

View attachment 117098
The 'finish' point.

I'm not ashamed to say I fell to my knees and just cried. It was so hard to describe, to be face to face with the image that I've seen countless of times, the destination that I traveled across the globe in the midst of pandemic for, the one single object that binds us pilgrims together. I'm a history graduate, so the idea of an Apostle being buried here in Galicia is rather a stretch for me, but all skepticism is set aside for that moment: to appreciate the Tomb, or whatever it is, as a very real thing that drove us to partake on this journey together, across the space and time.

It was then that I noticed the man next to me had started to weep as well. So there we were, 2 men, complete strangers to each other, just crying together in front of the Tomb of St. James. I can't help but feel the connection with him, too, no matter how brief.

I didn't have this feeling when I entered the cathedral plaza the day before -- that moment was different, so full of elation and reunions, leaving no space for sombre emotion -- but I felt it now. The end of the road. I've done it. I prayed to St. James, thanking him for my safe passage to Santiago and asking him to bless my loved ones, too. Other pilgrims have started to arrive at the crypt now, so I got up and left. The stairs to St. James statue were closed though, I guess to avoid crowding issue during a pandemic, but who still needs an embrace after the profound moment I just had?

View attachment 117099
One last shot of the altar.

After rosary shopping (my family is Catholic obviously) I went back for lunch at San Martin Pinario. I just finished Santiago cake and was draining my bottle of vino tinto when some people at the back of the dining hall started singing a hymn. It was the same choir from the cathedral earlier! Turns out they were eating at same restaurant. They sounded beautiful inside the cathedral, and they sounded beautiful now, in the dining hall. I can't understand a word beyond "ave" and "Maria" but who gives a crap at this point. I had to get up and give them a "standing ovation" at the end.

View attachment 117100

As I was loitering around Obradoiro Plaza at sunset and enjoying the sight of other pilgrims who just arrived at the square, I like to think that my trip in Spain, both during and after the Camino, has been magical so far. I don't hesitate to use that word at all, magical. I'll miss the Camino for sure, both big and small moments. I've felt so many feelings I didn't know I could feel in just a week on the Camino. It's really worth it.

View attachment 117101
Spanish Golden Hour.

On Sunday morning I'll leave Santiago to Seville. I'll be traveling to other cities in Spain (and a stop in Paris) for about 2 more weeks before going back to Bangkok, where my next step in my career and new challenges await. I don't know how much I'll be able to handle them but the pilgrimage gave me vague confidence that I will be just fine.

As Manuel said in his text to me after I told him that I have reached Santiago, "The Camino starts now."

View attachment 117102
Sunset over Santiago de Compostela.
 

teeranaic

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Congrats, so encouraged by your words and lovely pictures. Will be attempting first camino in June.
I hope I didn't give you too much of a first-time "spoiler" ! Best of luck to you and bring your Imodium just in case 😬
 

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