Santiago to Madrid (via train)

June 26-29
Lat: 40.418889 Lon: -3.708889

I got up at 7 a.m., went to breakfast at 7:30, and then walked about 20 minutes to the train station to catch a 9:05 a.m. train to Madrid. They announced that the train was pulling into the station in two minutes and it did right on time. They then announced that it would leave in four minutes and it did, exactly at 9:05. Amtrak could really learn something from "Renfe" the train company in Spain.

It was a great ride to Madrid. I got to see Spain from the comfort of an air-conditioned train car. We got into Madrid at 2:40 p.m. and caught the Metro Subway. We finally got to our Hostelles around 3:15 p.m. Believe it or not, in the large city of Madrid there are actually as many Hostelles and Pensions as there are Hotels. It seems that the tourist and business travelers in Spain look for the better value lodgings. If you go through Madrid to or from the Camino, don't just book a hotel, look into the Hostelles. They are actually nice and you can stay closer to all the sights and nice restaurants.

Madrid is a really beautiful city and a lot of fun with all the street musicians playing up and down the streets and the shops to wander through. They even have a Ben and Jerry Ice Cream shop. I had a single scoop in a cup everyday while there. It was a pricey scoop at 2,90 euro, which is about $3.90 and the double scoop was 4,90 euro. We spent 2-1/2 days there until we took the subway to the airport to fly out. I was on the plane and we pushed back for take off right on time at 11 a.m. and I arrived in Atlanta right on time.

Muxia to Santiago (via bus)

June 25
Lat: 42.8825 Lon: -8.545

I got up at 5:45 a.m., was packed by 6 a.m., and headed out for the bus stop to wait on the 6:45 bus to Santiago. The one thing that I've learned while being in Spain is that all the public transportation is ALWAYS on time. If it’s scheduled for 6:45, it's pulling away from the bus stop by 6:46.

It was about a two-hour ride back to Santiago, traveling back across the land that I had spent so much time walking. I got back to the bus station in Santiago about 8:45 a.m. and had a 15-minute walk back to the San Martin Pinario, where I was staying. I couldn't check in however until noon so they locked up my gear so I didn't have to carry it around for several hours. Hawk talked to the people at the Tourist Office and found out where the train station was in town and we walked about 20 minutes there and got our tickets for tomorrow to Madrid.

One very important note to remember: if you are age 60 or older you can get a senior discount card. This card will cost you 5 euro but will give you a 40 percent discount on your train tickets. A first-class train ticket from Santiago to Madrid is 74 euro, but with my discount that same ticket was only 44 euro. They have two classes: first and second. The difference between first and second class is the seating arrangement. You get a lot more room and fewer people in the first-class car. Also on the train that I took, at the beginning of my hike, going from Madrid to Pampalona, I even got a meal including a small bottle of wine. When you go to the train station ask for a discount card.

I took the rest of the day off and toured around Santiago for the last time. It was a wonderful day.

Lires to Muxia - 15.1 km

June 24
Lat: 43.106667 Lon: -9.2175

I got up at 7 this morning and waited on breakfast to be served at 8 a.m. After breakfast (which by the way was a full breakfast), I took off as I was getting excited about finishing and wanted to get back to the coast. There are no places to stop along the way to get something to drink. It was pretty much void of anything along the way today. Additionally, it was cool and really breezy, but then I was right on the coast even though I couldn't see it. The skies were bright blue, and I couldn't think of a better way to finish a two-month hike of over 900 km than this way. It stayed sunny and blue skies all day except that the closer I got to Muxia and closer to the coast, it got colder and the wind picked up to about 50 to 60 MPH.

One section along the way I thought that I might have lost the trail and that was after I went through the little village of Morquintian. I walked about 3 km and then turned around and went back to the last arrow. I was okay and proceeded on. Finally I got to the road on the beach and followed it for about 3 km more to the town of Muxia, where I then went to the Bela Muxia Alburgue and got a bunk for the night.

I recommend the Bela Muxia Albergue as it is very clean. The have the bunks set up so everybody has privacy and your own light in your bunk area with your own outlet allowing people that need to charge their cell phone to do so all night right there in their bunks.

Just before dinner I went up to the Cape and to the Santuario Da Virxe de Barca, a small Chapel at the end of the trail. Then Hawk, Christine and myself went to dinner together. After dinner they went up to the Cape to watch the sunset.

It was a great day just walking along alone and thinking about the trip. First, in the beginning, climbing up and over the Pyrennes with the cold winds and snow, and then traveling for days across the Meseta, which is normally HOT this time of year, but was actually very cool, and seeing nothing but flat desert lands. There were all the cities that I went to that had all the large Cathedrals and all the history, a lot of which I was really unaware of. Probably the most memorable thing of my trip was the people. The people of Spain are the kindest, most generous, and friendliest people. They always tried to help you and understand what you wanted and needed. They even took time out of their busy day to put up with and even help me as I tried to learn Spanish.

This has been a very different hike for me, as usually I'm packing a stove, tent and food for multiple days and have a lot heavier pack, but with the Camino it's a walk with no more than about 14 - 17 lbs. of weight and everyday you're checking into an albergue, pension hostelles or hotel depending on how much you want to pay for lodging. I stayed in a combination of all of them. Further this is a trail that with some preparation beforehand can be a wonderful trip and truly an experience of a lifetime for all ages. I saw a man of 83 with his wife who was in her mid-70s and a family with kids in their early teens walking the trail and they were all having the time of their life.

There is one word of advise before you come to Spain. Please learn at least a little Spanish as it will really add something to your adventure. I bought and studied Rosetta Stone for about a month and a half, and it taught me a fair amount. Then I went to a Camino Workshop at REI and a man there told me to get on the Internet and Google , DuoLingo and down load it…it's FREE! I did and started using it for several months before leaving and it was great. It was very helpful and was a fun way of learning Spanish.

Well this "Pilgrimage" is over, but tomorrow a brand new one will begin as I will make my way back home via bus, train, taxi and lastly plane. I have enjoyed this journey more than I would ever have imagined and will have wonderful memories of it for the rest of my life. I hope everyone has enjoyed following my day to day progress and if you should decide that this might be the kind of journey you'd like to take on and need information or want my advice on preparing for walking the trail, please feel free to contact me as I'd love to talk to you and give you as much help as I can. So to all: I've had a “Buen Camino,” and I hope that this will inspire some of you to take on the challenge and have your own “Buen Camino!”

Finisterre to Cabo Finisterre (End of the Earth) - 7 km

June 22
Lat: 42.908056 Lon: -9.263056

Hawk woke me up at 7:15 a.m. so that he and I could go to breakfast. This was going to be a zero day except for going to the light house. We discussed what to do about going to the light house at the "End of the Earth." He wasn't sure if Christine was going to go or not. I just said that I was going even if it was pouring rain. As it turned out we all went and it was drizzling rain and a real heavy fog. When we got there, you could hardly see anything, but I did manage to get a few pictures draped in fog. There is a nice little Cafe up on top so we just ate lunch there and walked the 3.5 km back down. I just walked around town and looked in shops the rest of the day.

We all met back up at 6:30 p.m. to go to dinner. We went to a pizza place the night before and thought about going there again tonight because they have a Peregrino meal, but as it turned out that's only Monday through Friday so we just ordered off the regular menu. While we were eating I noticed that the sun was coming out and that all the clouds were gone and it was clear to the west. I decided that when dinner was over that I was going to walk the 7 km to the light house and back, so I went back to my room and changed into shorts and my hiking shoes and took off to the top.

When I got there it was clear as can be and not a cloud in the sky. I had great views so I stayed and hiked around for a while. The sun doesn't set until almost 11 p.m. So I had plenty of time to walk around and see everything and then walk back to town. I finally got back to my room about 9:30 p.m. and it was still completely daylight. At this point I went to my room and turned on the TV while I studied my Spanish vocabulary.

It's been a good day, and if the weather people are correct, it's supposed to be nice and even be a little warmer tomorrow. We’ll see. I will let you know then. For now...Buen Camino!

Cee to Finisterre - 12.9 km

June 21
Lat: 42.908056 Lon: -9.263056

I got up at 7:00 this morning as I didn't plan to leave early because I only had 12.9 km to go and a lot of it was going to be on the coast and even beach walking. I waited for breakfast at 8 a.m. I finally took off at 8:30 a.m. and started walking the coast out of town. I got about 2 km out of town when I realized that I still had my room key so I had to go back. I finally got underway after a wonderful stay in Cee (the "C" is pronounced like a "Th").

When you leave Cee you will leave the coast and go over a nice little rise, which they call a mountain, and drop back down to the coast again. After about an hour I got to the town of Estorde and saw a cute little restaurant on the beach. By this time all the overcast clouds had blown away and it was blue skies and the temperatures were warming up, so I stopped and had some tea and cookies (which they bring with the tea). They are very generous people. You always get something extra with everything you order. I spent about 45 minutes there and then walked on.

About 30 minutes later, I came to where the trail walks the beach down by the water. I walked next to the breaking waves of the Atlantic Ocean and picked up sea shells. There were so many beautiful shells of which none are broken like the ones on our beaches, that I had to stop picking them up. About 30 minutes later I left the beach and started walking the Main Street down to the Hostel Mariquito. The rooms in all these hostels have always been very clean and neat, but mostly plain and simple. This doesn't bother me because I just want a good night’s sleep.

I spent a long time just walking around the town and out to the docks where the fishing boats come in. I enjoy wandering through the little shops even if I'm not buying anything. I'm still trying to engage the locals in some sort of conversation just so I can practice the little Spanish that I've managed to learn while here. The real challenge will be in a week when I get home to continue to learn and then find someone to practice with.

I also went to the Albergue with my Sellos book and got my certificate for completing the Camino de Finisterre. It's a very pretty certificate and has more color to it than the one that I got in Santiago. Later that evening I found a nice pizza parlor, which was a real change from the foods that I'd been eating, and I had a pepperoni pizza and a beer. After dinner I walked back out to the docks and looked at the fishing boats which had all come in by that time.

When I got back to my room and looked out the window where I saw that a full moon had come up. It made me wish that I had hiked up to the light house at the "end of the earth" as they call it.(This is where the trail can go no further West). I am planning on going up in the morning and throwing my Mt. Whitney rock into the sea.

Now it's time to watch a little Spanish TV and see how much I can understand. (I guess when I get home I can still watch Spanish TV.) Well, the adventure is almost over. Today was day 50 and my total mileage walked is 883.5 km. I've only got two more hiking days left and that's to Muxia, which is only 28.5 km, but I'm stretching that into two days. Then I'll catch the bus.

So for now, I'm still a "Peregrino" on the Camino so as always I bid you...Buen Camino!

A Picota to Cee - 19.9 km

June 20
Lat: 42.953611 Lon: -9.188333

I slept in until 6:30 this morning because I was going to wait for a ride back to the trail. I didn't want to wait until 8 a.m. but it would take the same amount of time to walk the 2.9 km back into town so I waited. As it turned out, he loaded us up and took us back to the trail at 8:30 a.m.

It was a beautiful morning and the rains were predicted to be gone and it was going to be a beautiful day in the mid-50s. I didn't even wear a jacket, but in about 3 hours that all changed. As the day progressed the sky darkened and the wind started to blow and just before I got to Cee the skies opened up again. The wind began to blow and the temperatures started to drop and by 6 p.m. it is 54 degrees.

The up side to this day was the Hotel Larry in Cee. I got there and was checking in when the man at the desk tells me that my room won't be ready for about five minutes. So he took my pack, put it behind the counter, and led me to the bar to have a cup of coffee while I waited. A few minutes later he came back and took me to my room. I later learned that Pepe was the owner and that his daughters helped him run it. I went down to the bar to get a Bocadillo and a beer for lunch and his daughter, Sandra, sent me downstairs to the restaurant. That's where I ran into Pepe again, waiting the tables. When I told him what I wanted he said, “Oh no, come with me.” I was a little concerned that my Spanish had gotten me into a translation problem.

He took me to the kitchen where he is also the cook and there is something on every burner. Next thing he tells me is that I should have what he's cooking, that it’s a Galician dish and that I'd enjoy that more than an old sandwich. The first course was a garlic soup, which was great and then the veggies and the different kinds of meats and breads. I found out later that when he was young he wanted to be a chef but his father wanted him to be an engineer so he did what his father wanted. Years later he took over the family hotel and now he is the chef that he always wanted to be. Life is funny that way. I had two meals prepared by Pepe and it's been some of the best eating on the trail.

Cee is a fairly large city, although it’s a fishing village. It still has a lot of things including a shopping mall and a movie theater with two movies. I wandered all over, enjoying all the shops and stores. It started to rain so I went back to the hotel and waited for dinner. After dinner I went to my room where I could sit and look out at the city and ocean. It's raining as I go to bed, but I hope tomorrow's pretty for the walk to Finisterre. We'll see what tomorrow holds. Until then...Buen Camino!

Negreira to A Picota - 2.9 km off trail + 30.9 km

June 19
Lat: 42.938056 Lon: -8.992222

I got up at 6 a.m. this morning and started getting packed and ready to hit the trail. I went down at 7 a.m. to get coffee and a cinnamon roll. When I finished, it was time to head out but it was already raining so I put on rain gear. As it turned out I only wore it for about 45 minutes and it had to come off. It was that way all day, the rain gear went on and the rain gear came off.

After about two hours I caught up with Sandra from Canada and we walked together for a good part of the day. We stopped at one of the only bar/cafes along the way and I got a Bocadillo with cheese. It wasn't long afterward that we separated and I sped up since I was going to the Casa Jurjo Hotel, which is 2.9 off trail. (I was told that I could call the hotel and that they would come and pick me up).

It started to rain again and I finally found the road to turn onto. I thought that I'd find a bar or something and they could call for me, but there was nothing there except farms and pastures. I came up the road, passed by a house, when a German Shepard came out and acted like it was going to eat me. Thankfully there was a tall fence so all he could do was bark and growl. A little lady came out but couldn't get the dog to stop. I asked her if she would call the hotel and she came to me with her cell phone and started handing it to me. I asked if she would call and she said “no,” that I needed to call. I did and it dropped out. At that point, I decided to just walk the 2.9 km and be done with it. It took me about 30 minutes to get to the next town and find the hotel.

About 30 minutes later Hawk and Christine came In. They had called about 7 km before in the previous town and the man went and got them. We all got cleaned up and later went to dinner. This is a very nice place, but the WiFi is weak. Tomorrow the man is going to take me back to the trail so I won't have to walk and then I'll be on my way to the fishing village of Cee, the town before Finisterre. Until then...Buen Camino!

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