The time has come to walk again.

This time last year I was so excited and preparing hard for my first Camino that I was almost beside myself with anticipation of what was to come.

Little did I know then, that I would be walking the Camino again and finishing a second time within 12 months.

My 12 year old son is walking with me this time. We will be setting out from home on 10th April, stopping over in Santiago, before travelling leisurely to Sarria and starting our pilgrimage on 12th April.

Our plan is to use two weeks over the Easter holidays to walk first to Santiago, continuing on to Muxia and Finisterre before catching a bus back to Santiago and flying home.

We have been training distance walking both with and without backpacks to ensure we are fit enough. It is now safe to say that we are.

For anyone who is interested, I’ll be posting our progress here, during our time in Spain.

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Days 34 and 35 Muxia and Finistarre

I’m sitting here in Santiago’s airport at 6am waiting for my flight home, reflecting on the past two days.

So Friday was a rest day where we could simply be in Santiago to take in the sights and sounds without the hassle of queuing for our Compostela certificate or going to Mass as we’d done that on Thursday when we arrived.

We were really lucky with everything for our whole walk; the weather, accommodation, food, toilet facilities, superb little finds along the way, including getting our certificate and going to Mass at the end of our journey when they swung the Botefumerio. We learned that Thursday was Corpus Christi, so that was why it was swung. Pilgrims hoping for the usual Friday swinging were disappointed.

So Friday was a lazy day and we surfaced about 12, had breakfast and went out souvenir shopping. We generally lazed about, drank and ate, in moderation of course.

Saturday we had booked a tour to Muxia and Finistarre. We started out by coach going to Muxia and arrived there 1 hour 15 minutes later. I was shocked, that was 3 days walking done so quickly by road. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but walking across an entire country sure puts things in a different perspective. Muxia was the icing on the cake and a superb ending to a wonderful journey. Even so, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit of a fraud for not walking there, almost like I had not deserved it. Finistarre (the end of the world) felt different, too commercialised, crowded and not at all like the end of a journey.

So, I’m sitting here having said goodbye to my dear friends, it was hugs all round this morning. I said goodbye to Denis a few moments ago and he gave me something to read on the plane home. I think I’ll keep it for when I get home though as I don’t want to embarrass myself by crying in the middle of the flight.

As I sit here, I can see and hear people crying and sniffling as they say goodbye to their friends or sit alone looking at photos they have taken on their journeys. You can almost hear them thinking and planning their next Camino. It’s time to go home.

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Day 33 Melida to Santiago de Compostela

I applied Vaseline to my feet for the last time at 5:45 this morning. The last time as a pilgrim at least, and definitely the last time this early in the morning.

The others are still getting ready as I’m sat here waiting to go. Not that I want to go knowing it’s our last day, but go we must. Although we’re up early, I suspect we’ll walk slowly and take quite a few breaks to make our time together seem longer. Everyone is ready, so off we go.

We stopped for breakfast within half an hour and what a breakfast it was. For the first time on the Camino I had 2 eggs, bacon, two slices of toast, one with cheese and the other with ham, washed down with fresh orange juice and cafe con leche.

We were off quickly though as we had 27km to do and wanted to beat the crowds as much as possible. We had a full moon in front of us and a sunrise behind.

The day went quickly even though we stopped for drinks at 11. Beer of course, together with our rations of biscuits and chocolate. We also stopped for lunch around 12:30 ish, which left us just 5.5km to get to Santiago.

We left at it was about to rain and with all my rain gear on, I almost missed the monument at Monte do Gozo. Fortunately though, my friends stopped me from going down the hill. From there you can see the spires of the cathedral.

The monument is modern and in my opinion looks out of place in its surroundings.

Just 4.5km to go and we were soon booking into our accommodation, a 6 bed house. Yes a whole house just for us – what total luxury.

Then it was time to go to the cathedral, a mere 1km away. As we approached the cathedral square, I had a few tears running down my face, but not as many as I had expected. It was a joyous moment I will savour for the rest of my life.

As I type, we’re queing up to get our Compostela certificate. We’re inside the building and we’ve been told that the wait is still around 2 hours.

I’ll take a photo of it later, but for now please enjoy my last map of our walk and photos from today.

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Day 32 Melida to Salceda

Today’s walk started at 6:15 am having woken up at 5:30. Denis slept on the ground floor in a different dorm, whilst the girls and I shared another dorm on the first floor. When I woke up, I went downstairs to the toilet and make sure Denis was awake, but upon reaching the ground floor, Denis was outside his Dorm almost ready to go. It was dark to start with, but it soon lightened up.

It was a time of reflection for me now that the Camino is coming to an end. My thoughts turned to those I started with, those I shared time with along the way and those I am going to finish with. Some of whom belong to more than one category, not that it matters, as I love every one of them like family.

Tonight we were rejoined with Michelle who walked 36km to catch us up today, so she can finish with us tomorrow. It was a Pizza and wine night with hearty conversation. I am so going to miss everyone I’ve spent time with, but am sure some of us will see each other again in the not too distant future.

One more day of walking, then it’s party time and time to fully reflect on the past few weeks. Its funny to think it’s only been a few weeks. We’ve shared so much, it feels like a lifetime.

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Day 31 Airexe to Melida

Today was just another typical day on the Camino. Or so I thought. We’d walked around 7.5km to Palas de Rei when Barbara spotted a sign to a supermarket. We said we’d wait by a bar, but as we were passing a church we heard guitar music coming from inside. Wanting a second Sello we went in to find someone at the front playing a guitar for what looked like some sort of religious festival.

After singing several songs, he prayed then got a bag and started handing out pendants of the virgin Mary to the congregation, which we thought was a lovely gesture. Then to our total surprise, he went over to the door, put his backpack on, said Buen Camino and set off to Santiago. We were told he was a Mexican on pilgrimage. The Camino sure is full of lovely people.

Not long after that we came across some touragrinos. So called pilgrims who are bussed in to look at the sites. They walk 1 or 2 km them get picked up again. We also saw lots of new fresh pilgrims walking the last 100km to Santiago. You can tell they’re new pilgrims, because they have newly pressed clothes, clean shoes and backpacks and smell of perfume and deodorant. Oh, and they travel in packs of 10 or more walking slowly and talking all the time. We didn’t like them in front of us, as they were loud and we wanted to enjoy the natural sound and smells of the countryside, so we sped up to overtake them as quickly as possible until we came across some more and then we’d do the same again.

As we were so quick today, we arrived at Melide around 12:30 had a few beers and lunch then ambled down the road to our accommodation. We’re now chilling out waiting to go out to dinner.

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Day 30 Ferrieros to Airexe

Rather than use the main stages, we’ve decided to stay somewhere between them to avoid the rush for beds, now that we’ve passed Sarria. So far so good.

Another great day’s walking, along roads, countryside and woodlands. The weather had been good to us all through Spain so far with the temperature remaining warm. The past couple of days though, now we’re in Galicia, has been reminiscent of Wales. Everything is green and humid.

Our thoughts are turning to reaching Santiago and booking flights home. We’ll reach Santiago this Thursday, but my flight isn’t until Sunday, so I may catch a bus to Finistarre on Saturday to see the end of the world. It’s a few days away yet, so I’ll have to see.

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Day 29 Samos to Ferrieros

Today we left Barbara, a Canadian lady we met in our dorm and had dinner with last night. She wanted to stay for breakfast and didn’t think she could keep up with us.

We had a little fun with breakfast and our oversized croissants. It’s such fun being with these guys.

We left around 8 and set off in search for cafe con leche, which we guessed would be hard to find on a Sunday. 12km later we’d reached Sarria, the typical place where the Spanish start, as it’s the starting place of the minimum distance required to obtain a Compostela certificate.

Wandering through Sarria, we came across a cafe and decided to stop for breakfast. No sooner had we walked through the door and we met Martha who we’d not seen in a while, probably a week or so ago. We all chatted for a while and then ordered breakfast, such is life on the Camino, and nothing is hurried.

We were finishing up and Anna had gone in search of an ATM to get some money. She came back in saying someone was calling her name. It was only Michelle. She had gotten up early and caught us up. I’ve no idea how we keep bumping into the same people when there are so many on the trail. It’s like it’s preordained or something. Michelle walked with us until Barbadelo when we said goodbye to her again, but something told me we’d be seeing her again.

When we arrived at our destination, Eve, who we saw last night (and I met almost at the beginning – a youngster from Wigston in Leicestershire) had already booked in. She had walked from Tricastela and overtook us.

No sooner had we checked in and were in our room, when Denis rushed in to say “you’ll never guess who just checked in”. It was only Barbara who we’d met last night. What are the odds of that, with so many places to stay on the Camino? Preordained! It must be.

Showered and suitably watered, with beer of course, we sunned ourselves on the terrace. At dinner, we had the most amazing meal. A full plate of salad to start, followed by roast chicken and potatoes, all home grown. Dessert was a choice of homemade goodies. I had ice cream, two scoops of ginger and cinnomon and coffee. During dinner, Michelle had sent me photos she’d taken of me while we were walking and asked of our plans for tomorrow. I think we’ll see her again at some point – it just seems inevitable.

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