Sunday, 16th of December 2007 at 02:59:11 PM

My Camino Day 6 (Wednesday June 6 2007): Monte de Gozo - Santiago de Compostella (~5 km)

My last day on the Camino starts at 7.00 am. I had decided to walk this last 5 km on my own. Weather was fine. Sun was shining. Coming down from Monte de Gozo I reached very quick the city entrance of Santiago de Compostella.


Santiago city entrance.


 Then walking through the suburb of St. Marco I see the first time the cathedral. I arrive at 7.45 am in front of the cathedral. After walking around the cathedral I find a nice bar and have some breakfast. At 8.45 am I met Yvonne in front of the Pilgrims office where we queue up to get our Compostella.


Me waiting in front of the Pilgrims office to get the Compostella.


Yvonne got her compostella at the desk next to where I received my compostella.

After that we take another coffe together and Patrick joins us. Then we split up, and plan to join for the pilgrims mass which is every day at 12.00. I stroll through the streets take some photos and write postcards. Later I buy some souvenir T-Shirts. At 12.00 I am in the mass, the cathedral is full. I see a lot of faces I had seen on the Camino. Very emtional when the Pilgrims are listed who arrived this day. There is one German Pilgrim from Villafranca del Bierzo: A pied, which means on foot: That is me! I had made it 200 km in 5 days. A nice experience.


Me in front of the cathedral in the afternoon.

my camino to santiago de compostela

200km in 5 days. Villafranca del Bierzo to Santiago.

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Sunday, 16th of December 2007 at 10:29:53 AM

My Camino Day 5 (Tuesday June 5 2007): Arzúa - Monte de Gozo (~38 km)

The night in Arzua I slept not very well. From 3 a.m. I woke up several times, I had two snorer on my left and my right. At 6.30 i got up and my Hike started at 7.00. Walking still in the dark, I got overtaken early by a lady holding a banana peel in her right hand. She had a quick pace, I noticed that I was walking quite slow and I was very tired this morning. So I took the chance and made the lady to my pace maker: I sped up trying to hold her pace and walked around 100 meters behind her still wondering why she didn’ t throw away the banana peel.


1 h 45 after Arzua I arrived in Calle where a nice bar invited me for a hot coffee and my usual bocadillo breakfast. I got in and noticed the lady with the banana peel also ordering her breakfast. I took a seat next to her and we came into talk. She explained me that a banana peel takes quite long to decompose and it makes still sense to through it in a bin although its organic stuff. We immediately opened a easy-going conversation and I found her immediately very sympathic. She told me that she uses to eat a bocadillo with tortilla (kind of spanish potato-egg omelett), and liking tortilla but not knowing the combinatin on a sandwich I decided to try that out soon. Chatting relaxedly we took our breakfast and coffee (I think she had a tea). Not wanting to look to intrusive after having finished with my coffe I decided to start ahead and saying goodbye with the usual words of being sure to see her later on on the camino. I had liked that girl from the beginning and cheered up from our chat I continued my hike, hoping to meet her really again. I took the wrong turn when leaving the bar and I got on a wrong trail. Only 15 minutes later at the stone cross on the foto below a elderly countrywoman laughing at me with my backpack told me I was not on the camino!  


She told me through sign language that I am not on the camino and I need to  take a left to find back to the camino. At first I was scarred How I could not have noticed there had been no yellow signs any more and how and where I had taken the wrong turn. At least at the bar there have been lots of pilgrims. But correct, the last 15 minutes I havend seen any other pilgrims. But soon I consoled me that I wouzld not have seen this nice stone cross if I hadn’t missed the way. I took me 10 minutes to find back to the camino by a shortcut and I immediately recognized the camino from far away by the pilgrims on it. I was not too surprised when rejoining to the camino that the first person I met was the girl from the bar who asked me with a grin where I am coming from. From there we walked together (me still impressed about her fast pace). We introduced each other: Her name is Yvonne and she is from Holland. She had started her camino on the coastal variant but soon recognizing that that one was so boring cause there were few people she decided to take the traditional camino frances. We talked relaxedly and walked together for the rest of the day until Monte de Gozo. At 12.45 pm we had lunch in a truckers restaurant in Cruce de Castrofeio. Arriving in Monte de Gozo we had walked and talked together around 7 hours. this had been one of the nicest day on my camino. I remember that my feet where aching the whole day and I was paying the bill for my 40 km daily stages of the last 5 days. Yvonne even didn’t mind to slow down her incredible pace so that I could follow her. This day was also the day I made the least amount of photos cuase I was so focused on following my conversation with Yvonne. 


Me at the pilgrims monument on Monte de Gozo.


Here I got my last credential stamp (beside the final one in Santiago): the chapel on Monte de Gozo. I also took an Ice cream hear at the kiosk in front of the chapel.


Dinner with Yvonne, (me) Rachel and Patrick (from left to right) in Monte de Gozo.

Monte de Gozo (Mountain of delight) is only 5 km from the Santiago de Compostella basilica. Most Pilgrims pass their last night before arriving in Santiago de Compostella in Monte de Gozo. It has quite large bed capacity and the facility looks like an olympic village.  Late in the evening Yvonne and me had a dinner in the only restaurant in that pilgrims facility. We met Rachel and Patrick (both from San Diego) who were studiying for a year in Madrid and had also heared of and decided to hike the camino. We had fun with red wine and exchanged our email-addresses. In the village we saw a lot of faces we had seen before on the camino, also Antonio the brasilian guy with arthrosis I had met the day before arrived later in the evening. Still impressionating that he had also  made this 38 km stage today. What remains in memory from Monte de Gozo is that everybody there was kind of happy and cheerful and with a grin on the face. We all knew: We had all managed the camino. This had been the last day of pain and 8 hours and Plus hiking. Only another 4 km remined tomorrow. Tomorrow we would reach our destination: Santiago de Compostella.

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Sunday, 9th of December 2007 at 08:55:13 PM

My Camino Day 4 (Monday June 4 2007): Portos - Palas de Rei - Melide -Arzúa (~35 km)

This monday starts at 6.30 am when the first pilgrims start their hike and wake me up. I wait until all have left and start as last one at around 7 am. The first 1 hour until Palas de Rei its quite foggy and cold. I decide to Breakfast not before 9 am like the previous days.


Palas de Rei: I arrive there after a 1 hour hike. The first bigger town after Portomarin on the Camino.


Near San Xulian I cross the road and this sign motivates me: Only 65 km remaining to Santiago.

Here I pass a peculair pilgrim: He walks extremly slow, occasionally raises both arms to the sky and sings kind of church hymns. Overtaking him with my speedy pace I just think this poor fool will never make it to Santiago. I wouldn’t believe to meet him again this same monday evening in the same albergue like me in Arzua, arriving 6 hours behind me and telling me he is from Brasil and has Arthrosis in his hips. His name is Antonio and he is such a nice guy. Later on the camino I learn from other people I meet, that everybody on the camino knows Antonio from Belo Horizonte and everybody loves him. What I learn this day is: Dont judge someone too early and dont judge someoone by his speed.

Quite hungry I arrive in San Xulian and after having read the recomendation for the bar O Abrigadoiro in my guide I decide to breakfast there.


San Xulian, Alberque O Abrigadoiro: Here I had my breakfast, after 2 hours walking. The man behind the bar with a big white beard is quite occupied to serve a group of spanish pupils and I have to wait 15 minutes for my coffee and bocadillo (sandwich).  But the bar is so nice a interesting that I dont mind to wait.


Passing San Xiulian city centre: stone cross


apostle cross on the camino somewhere near Melide

At noon I arrive in Melide and have a quick lucnh. I tried to find a possibility for Email/Internet but nothing to find here. So I continue my walk around 1 pm.


exiting Melide: view back to the town

The Hike from Meilide goes through forests and fields and it was a warm sunny afternoon. Very nice the crossing over Rio Catasol over big stone bricks.


Me crossing Rio Catasol: Near Raido

In the small village Boente I remember a priest standing in front of his chapel and intercepting every pilgrim on the camino to have a look into his chapel. He was spreading good mood, greated everyone by hand with a wide smile, explained the interior of the chapel and awarded every visitor with a small photo of apostle Jacob (Santiago). I also took the chance to get a credential in his chapel and one of his photos.


Late evening, near Arzua. The woman with the sticks was a french lady who had told me she had started her camino in Paris, France. Around 4 in the evening I arrive in a nice clean albergue in Arzua, the Hostal Lactae. (8 Euro). There I takea shower, relax a little bit and then I find a Internet shop where I can check emails and news. In a nice restaurant I have a great dinner with red wine. Late in the evening around ten o clock, I was already lying in the bed I decide to stand up again and go into the garden of the hostal cause I couldn’t sleep yet. There I meet Antonio: The slow and hymn singing pilgrim I had seen this morning near Palas de Rei. We chat a litttle bit and I recognize that he is not crazy. He tells me that he is from Belo Horizonte, Brasil, is 34 years old and has hip arthrosis. He can walk only very slow so he has to make very long day hikes. He told me he had just arrived in Arzua, was washing some clothes and having a cheesee sandwich. Very sympathic guy, father of a 4 year old girl. I was  little bit ashamed of me having declared him as crazy this morning.

I am in Arzua: only 42 km left to Santiago. A good feeling, knwoing that I had walked already 160 km and I will latest arrive on Wedneday in Santiago. Only one full hiking day left!

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Sunday, 18th of November 2007 at 03:19:55 PM

My Camino Day 3 (Sunday June 3 2007): Sarriá - Portomarin - Portos (~44 km)

The night in the 30 bed sleeping hall was one of the better ones. Relaxed and with new energy this days hike started for me  6.30 a.m. It was still dark outside.


Leaving Sarriá on sunday morning 6.30 ; June 3 2007.

After the spontaneous decisions of the first two days I had no plan how far to walk today, cause my original hiking plan was outdated already twice. So I had only a rough goal: Make the traditional stage from Sarriá to Portomarin (around 24 km). I was so lucky this morning to have my warm fleece pullover with me, cause I had made long pros and cons about necessity of this warm pullover in a June Hike in spain.  This day should remain foggy , cold and wet until 12 noon time, for a long 5 1/2 hours of hiking.


Pligrims in the fog.


Incredibly humid and cold .


After 4 km near Barbadelo I saw a couple lying in their sleeping bags in the wet fields. Was it like this if you weren’t succesful the day before to find a bed in an albergue. I could only imagine how uncomfortable that night must have been for those people. Their sleeping bag must be totally wet, no chance to dry it later on which means they have to carry it on, wet as it was. Never would I have slept there in the wet fields! But lets see where I will sleep the coming night. One of the thrilling experiences of the camino, was this uncertainty about the place to sleep which followed you on your hike. I had experienced it as extremly seductive to continue the Hike in the afternoon once having found a first place to stop the days Hike and to sleep. But more later on. This day was one of the best marked stages, I have seen yellow arrows quite everywhere.



And this is probably the reason why the business with the Yellow arrow camino T-Shirts is working fine. As a camino pilgrim you walk for hours just meditating and downplaying your pains. One remaining minimal brain activity is looking for the right path by means of the yellow arrows. This yellow arrow gets so burned into your thoughts that no wonder arriving in Santiago you must buy your yellow arrow T-Shirt. (I bought two …).  However, the hiking continued and due to the fog, cold and cloudy weather I don’t remember much of this morning beside arriving at exactly 12.00 at Portomarin.


Bridge over river Mino with view to Portomarin on the hill.


The stairs up to Portomarin. Weather still cloudy.

In Portomarin I got a credential stamp and had a bad lunch in some filthy tourist restaurant. Around 12.30 the sun came out and the cloudy weather changed to a beautiful sunny day. Although I had reached the minimal day target  (24km Portomarin) , the bright sun gave me new energy and I remember that I was keen on continuing the hike with my new day target : Hospidal la Cruz, another 12 km only. Hospidal was listed in the guides having a nice new albergue.  I put of my fleece pullover and continued the camino at around 1 pm. Impressive for me how much circumstances like weather can immediately change your mood. Having been tired, bored and indifferent the whole morning, the sun made me happy, energetic and receptive for nature’s beauty. Incredibly how quick it got really really hot. After 1 hour hiking in the sun I was sweating, my face began to get burnt from the sun  and I  removed the legs of my trousers. Definetly I am made for the sun: Dind’t care of sweating and my face burning, I enjoyed walking in the strong sun. What now became more important was supply of water. I had began to carry a half liter bottle of fresh water always in my hand, not touching the water reserve 1.5 l bottle in my backpack. I must admit I was not brave enough to drink and refill the water from on the way fountains, but I used to buy half liter bottles of water in bars. I wanted to avoid to come into a situation of needing restrooms too much. In fact in this three days I had only once got the necessity to use a non lavatory nature location for doing my big business.


Tired: relaxing at a picnic area.

On this sunny hike I met Matt from Kentucky and having not talked the whole day it was nice chatting with him. We walked together until Hospidal. He told me a lot of people he met during his hike and about his studies and his professional ambitions and that he travelled  a lot. Our pace was quite high, nevertheless it was afternoon. We arrived together with two Italian girls in the Albergue of Hospidal la Cruz. It was around 3 p.m. and the albergue was still empty and looked really clean and nice. But nothing around it, no bar or restaurant or shop. I was not sure what to do here the whole afternon until sleeping time, and I was still so happy of the experience of walking in the warm sun. So at km 33 (Hospidal) I decided that I would prefer to continue the Hike in the sun. With further two albergues in Ligonde (4km) and Airexe (6 km) I had quite enough possibilities in around 1-2 hours hiking distance. I continued my hike now without hurry, just enyoying the sun and the blue sky. Meantime weather had reached at least 30° Cel., the first summer hiking day on my camino. In Ventas de Varon I had a unhurried coffee and ice cream in a bar. The hiking speed now had changed to moderate and I just enjoyed the walk but recognizing that I slowly got tired. Painlevel was not too high this day.


Near Ligonde I see the first stone cross. Stone Crosses are typically  for the spanish region Gallicia, especially on the camino there are some to admire. But in Ligonde I am litle bit shocked to see that the albergue is closed due to restauration. So now a little bit nervous and speeding up my leisure walking I continue to Airexe hoping to not get surprised again there. Meantime its 5 p.m. The incredible really happens; a group of around ten 14 year old spanish pupil had already occupied the albergue in Airexe. No bed left. Now I was getting really a litlle bit panicy. I saw the image of the couple in the morning lying in the wet field. I asked for the next albergue, which was in Portos: The albergue a calzada. Of course now I was really tired (I had made already my 40 km). This would be my longest hike on the whole camino. Beween Airexe and Portos which was another 3 km I tried to speed up and even overtook three pilgrims, hoping of getting a bed finally. Arriving in the albergue la calzada I was so lucky. One bed was still empty. Without asking for the price I immediately checked in. When I got my credential stamp from the albergue owner, I notice: My pilgrims pass is quite full. I need to be more delicate now and not take every credential on the way, otherwise my pass is full before arriving in Santiago.


The sleeping place in the albergue de calzada looked like a big garage behind the restaurant. I didn’t care. It was clean and only 5 other pilgrims had place. After a shower and creaming my feet (it still was sunny)  I went to the restaurant and had a outside pilgrims meal composed of salad, meat, bread and most important a bottle of red wine.


Although the evening had been a little bit too thrilling, everything ended up fine again with a good eat and some red wine. The pilgrims in that garage were quite boring altogether. I had just a small chat with a spanish lady which was from Madrid. Funny thing she spoke spanish and I Italian and we still managed to understand each other a little bit. I dont remember too much, one I was impressed of was she told me that the Gallician dialect is so different from spanish that Galician people are not understood  if they talk in their dialect. Although this albergue was in the middle of the road and nothing around, this evening I was just happy having it made to find a bed and having had this nice sunny day.

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Sunday, 21st of October 2007 at 04:00:17 PM

My Camino Day 2 (Saturday June 2 2007): Alto do Poio - Samos - Sarria (~40 km)

I had passed the night together with a group of five Italians in a small alberge on Alto do Poio. We have had a nice dinner and a good chat in italian. Suprisingly one woman of the group came from Iseo, a small city in northern Italy were I had lived for a year and done a stage. Another italian guy about 25 year old was on the camino together with his father, he reported of his job as a nurse for elderly people. He didnt like his job and seemed unhappy. My second night gave me the impression what it would mean to use the cheap alberges and sleep with multiple people in one room. One of the nice italian men who I had chatted with became a snoaring monster. I would see and hear worse things (snoring woman), so I was happy when around 6.30 in the morning the first got up and began to rummage in his backpacks. I got up, brushed my teeth, rolled my sleeping back and wished a Good Camino to the Italian group.


The statue of the Pilgrim at Alto do Poio Peak

I started at 7.00 o’clock from Alto do Poio, in good spirit because from now on until Santiago it would go only downhill and the mountains would be behind me. From Alto do Poio (1337 m) to Santiago de Compostella (251 m) still

some 160 km to walk. 

The camino lead through small rural communities with the bad smells of agricultures and moody roads. At around 10 o’clock I arrive in Triacastella and make a stop for bathroom and a breakfast (bocadillo con jamon and coffee). 20 minutes later the camino continues and I decided to go via Samos and make a  guided visit of the monastory of Samos. On the way from Triacastela down to Samos the sun came out and it got really sunny.


A nice and sunny hike: between Triacastella and Samos

 Afterwards I will remember this hike as one of the nicest on my camino. I arrive at 12.15 in Samos. I had walked already for 6 hours and done  25 km.


Arriving in Samos: View to the monastery

I arrived in time for the 12.30-13.00 guided tour. A spanish lady lead me and a australian couple through the monastery, none of us spoke spanish but I understod quite a lot due to the similarity to italian. this tour gave me a little bit the sensation of being on a normal vacation, beside that my feet were aching. After that tour I had lunch in a small restaurant in front of the monastery, again a bocadillo con jamon and tomato and a nice coffee with a shot. At around 13.15 I continue my way to my day target: Sarria which was away just 11 km.


Only 11 km from Samos to Sarria: No Problem ?

This 11 km was a real pain because I got more and more tired, my feet were aching every step I made and I had the impression of getting slower and slower. I remember doing the last 4 km in slow motion, throwing in some pain killer pills.


after 35 km, Just near Sarria, I was hallucinating with pain: Does this sign mean Pilgering banned?

In Sarria I checked out the NH Hotel which was 52 Euro. Having done the last night for 6 Euro I had become a little bit thrifty. By accident walking around in the center I found a new and very clean alberge (Albergue Los Blasones: A Blister-Hotel).


Albergue Los Blasonos: I was lucky, no blisters on the whole camino!

I didn’t wonder any more meeting again the american guy from Florida (Louis) inside the alberge, which I had met before on the O Cebreiro peak. We had a nice chat and he told me he was recommended that alberge by friends and it was good. After “Check-In” and getting credentials in the nearby church, I went straight to a supermarket and bought me a foot creme. Incredibly how my feet were aching: my flatfeet really didnt like doing the camino and they painfully tried to tell me this. I went back to the alberge, cremed my feet and relaxed for some hours in the bed, reading one chapter of “Stripped” by Brian Freeman. (Not the best literature for the camino, but I like thrillers). In the evening I went out for checking my emails in a internet cafe and writing my one and only life camino blog post (Day 1). Later I would have either no Internet or either no energy for blogging during the camino. Last in theat day was a dinner in a pilgrims restaurant around 50 meters from the alberge. Good and cheap food, and most important a good bottle of red wine which made me sleep well and made me nearly ignore the snoaring guys in that 20 bed room alberge.


In this Pilgrims restaurant i closed the 2nd June of 2007!

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