Friday, June 12, 2015

Santiago to Barcelona June 5 - June 8

We are guaranteed to be the worst dressed tourists in Barcelona but I am hoping that shopping will alter that situation.

Barcelona is overwhelming, intimidating, vibrant, colourful, crazy busy and wild. It is people and more people, motor scooters and boulevards, markets and shops, cafes and tapas and futbol. This is the Saturday that Barcelona plays Juventus for the championship of the European Champions League and everyone in Barcelona is wearing their FC Barcelona team shirts and it doesn't take much imagination to realize that, win or lose, it will be even more crazy and probably dangerous on the streets tonight after the game.

We spent the day wandering the streets and weaving around the masses of people out and about today. As busy as the streets are no one seems to be in a hurry or have anywhere specific to go, unless it is the beach. In Toronto it may be busy but everyone there is single mindedly focused on getting somewhere as fast as possible whereas here it is all about ambling along, stopping for a gelato or cafe with no hurry no worry.

Early Saturday morning we found the market off La Rambla and it did live up to its reputation. It is absolutely huge with rows and rows of stalls of fresh seafood, tapas and wine counters, fresh juice smoothies and fresh fruit, meat counters, candies, nuts, spices and even a couple of vegetarian and vegan cafes and of course masses and masses of shoppers and tourists. We strolled down to the beaches stopping for drinks along the way and then worked our way all the way back up to La Pedrera, one of Antoni Gaudi's famed architectures.

Our hotel L'Antic Espaci is ideally located just quietly away from the Plaza Catyluna. It is quaintly and elaborately furnished in Victorian style with the most helpful concierge ever. Mornings start with breakfast served in a charming terrace.

Sunday morning we had a reservations booked to tour Gaudi's Casa Batlló which was amazing. This house was built in the early 1900's where whimsy meets genius. It is elaborate, decorative, whimsical and yet every single detail relates it to nature and is artistically and environmentally brilliant. If this is representative of Gaudi's vision, I am sure the Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia that we are visiting on Monday will be just as awesome.

Gaudi's Casa Batlló is wonderfully fanciful and yet architecturally brilliant at the same time. He curves and overlaps walls to creat space and air flow and the use of the colours of stained glass plays with and changes the light like a living piece of artwork. The Sagrada Familia is all that and more. It is fanciful and futuristic towering majestically upward. My meagre literary skills could never do justice to a description of this unbelievable structure.

Gaudi's Casa Batlló




La Ramblas

Boqueria Market



They wouldn't let me in.....


Gaudi's 'La Pedrera'

Gaudi's 'Batlló'

FC Barcelona......Champs

Our hotel terrace having breakfast.

Torre de Catatrava.....1992 Olympic flame.



Friday, June 5, 2015

Muxia to Santiago June 4 - 85kms - BUS!

This morning we were drawn again to walk out to the rocky promontory of the Sanctuary. The air was warm and still in marked contrast to the blustery cold winds of yesterday. As peaceful as it was, this coastline is never timid as the strong waves still crashed wildly against the rocks. This could be one of my favourite spots on earth.

We took the afternoon bus back to Santiago, donned our backpacks and, for the last time, walked the couple of kilometres back to our hotel near the cathedral. We joined the throngs of people wandering the streets, stopping here and there for tapas and drinks before settling in for dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant near our Hotel Barbantes. Italian dining in Spain...sacrilege perhaps but the food is delicious. As our Camino is over, we can now switch our mind set from pilgrim to tourist which essentially means that now we do not have to walk so much before we eat and drink and then eat and drink some more.

The young Spaniards continue to prove their mettle on partying pulling all nighters every night of the week. Their laughter and chatter as they passed back and forth under our window from late evening until early early morning was a constant white noise to soothe us to sleep.



Sanctuario at Muxia.










Diggin' for clams.

Muxia harbour.

Gambas a de Lolo



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Finisterre to Muxia June 3 - 30 kms

Muxia is a spectacular place to finish a Camino; the raw power of nature with the blustering wind and the huge waves crashing over the massive rocks at the sanctuary is magnificent. We had walked out to this rocky point after Dayton finished his six hour, 30km walk from Finisterre. Two years ago when we were here, the day was sunny and warm but today, with the cold and the strong winds, the feeling shifted from awe inspiring to intimidating. There were a few other pilgrims doing the requisite photo op at the point and amazingly we recognized one couple as American hospitaleros that we had met two years ago in Santiago and again in Madrid. Unbelievable coincidence.

The view along the "Costa de Marte".........Coast of the dead.


Break time.






Trying not to get wet this time !!!!


Dayton's walking partner today, Linde, from Heidelberg, Germany.

On the rocks at Muxia we recognized two American hospitaleros that we had met two years ago in Santiago and again in Madrid .....what are the chances?

Overlooking Muxia.


Recapturing "The Way"



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Oliveiroa to Finisterre (Fisterra) June 2 - 34kms

If one more person calmly and wisely tells me that the universe is trying to tell me something....

The universe may be trying to tell me something by dealing me the tendinitis card again but I guess I am not a good listener or maybe just obstinate and not too bright. Today I gave in to my boredom and decided to walk....a wee bit.

The restaurant at this albergue/hostel was as busy and lively at 6:00am as it was at 9:00pm last night. All the pilgrims were up, packed and eager to set out on what, for most, would be the last leg of their walk to Fisterra and it promised to be a great day for walking. Dayton was gone by 6:45am and I settled in to wait for the baggage car with the plan to be taken to the town of Corcubión leaving me about 10kms to walk on into Fisterra.

The taxi driver, son of yesterday's driver, and I had a 'failure to communicate' so I was let off a little sooner than I had anticipated. This extra walking distance might be a hazard to my Achilles but I figured the greater danger to my health, and life, was his reckless driving; telephoning, texting, speeding and passing other cars on sharp curves.

I did manage to communicate that I needed to be let off near a Camino marker and that did happen even though I misinterpreted it and set off along a boardwalk by the beach at Cee. Within moments three Spanish ladies out for a walk stopped me and asked if I was supposed to be on the Camino to Finisterre and then directed me to the other side of the Camino marker, the one heading up and into the hills. I had a laugh with them as I explained that I had only been walking two minutes and was already off route. After they set me straight I managed perfectly well and it was a really nice walk high above the coastline weaving through some small towns until I reached the beach boardwalk path Into Finisterre. Just before the beach, Dayton, who had walked twice as far, caught up with me and together we walked into Fisterra and another 3.5kms out to the lighthouse at the Cabo Finisterre.......and back!!!!! So my wee bit of a walk turned out to over 20kms which was exactly half of Dayton's walk.

The Cape was alive with lots of other pilgrims celebrating the end of their pilgrimage, some sitting quietly on the high rocks meditating and others feeding their overused clothes into a fire. My clothes might need to be burned but, until I hit the stores in Barcelona, I still need them.


Shortly after leaving Olvieroa....7:00 am.

Finisterre or Muxia......

Path up from Cee.


Finisterre and lighthouse.


On the beach in Finisterre.


At milepost 0.00, Cabo Finisterre.

Where the boots burn....

On my perch at Cabo Finisterre.

Where everyone leaves something.

The beautiful Cape.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Negreira to Olveiroa June 1 - 33kms

"Always look on the bright side of life, da dum, da dum ....".

Digging deep for that silver lining! There is no bus from Negreira to Olveiroa and the taxi arrangements turned out to be the baggage run, literally the baggage run. I am now being shipped ahead with the rest of the baggage or as the rest of the baggage; it is all perception. What should have been a quick 20 minute drive by car turned into a two and a half hour rural tour to every albergue, Casa Rural and hostel in the province of Galicia as suitcases, backpacks and pilgrims were picked up and dropped off. If there is a silver lining to be had it is that I arrived alive which was never a given considering the texting, the telephoning, the speed and the tailgating of my friendly but distracted driver.

One could walk this Camino time and again and it would always be a new experience; the people and the weather are everything. Two years ago, when we walked from Negreira to Olveiroa, we sloshed through eight and a half hours of a torrential downpour. Today was the opposite, a beautiful bright, sunny and warm day. When the taxi finally pulled up to our hostel, I figured the best way to deal with the insidious envy I was feeling towards those who would arrive hot, sweaty but victorious after walking more than 33kms, was to dump my pack in our room, grab my hiking poles and go for a walk. I walked about six kilometres along the path out towards 'Opcion', the place where the path splits taking pilgrims one way towards Finisterra or the other way to Muxia. This has to be one of the prettiest sections of the Camino Fisterra and it felt wonderful to be out on an undulating country path moving up into the hills looking down into the lush valley and the river below. On the way out I walked and chatted with some other pilgrims matching their pace and then had a very quiet peaceful walk retracing my steps back to our hostel. There is nothing like a walk in nature to neutralize any negative thoughts or feelings and get oneself out of a funk.

Our hostel/albergue is a lively social centre as it has a convenient restaurant with a large outdoor patio and there has been a steady stream of pilgrims coming in since 2:00pm. I am amazed at the number of pilgrims still walking at 7:00-8:00pm in the evening. I know I would be an anxious mess worrying about finding a place to stay. Another lesson to be learned here..letting go of worries and trusting that all will be just fine.



Leaving Negreira.




Dayton found the path out of Negreira absolutely beautiful.


The 'horreiro' outside our pension.