Just being there….

29 May 2014

A lie-in was not on the cards for me this morning. I am wired to wake before 6 am, even if I have nowhere urgent to go. It was raining – hard. I have been so lucky on this trip with the weather. I had a few soakings, but never left in the morning to heavy rain. I felt sorry for the pilgrims continuing their journey today to Finisterre and/or Muxia. Ella and I walked this section in pouring rain last year and it almost ruined Ella’s whole camino experience.

I hung around at the albergue for a while, attempting to upload my video of the botafumeiro swing to youtube, but it took forever and I gave up at about 50%. I left my backpack in the luggage store and took my poles to the post office to send them home. But unfortunately the post office was closed because it is a national holiday today. I shall just have to hope that I can smuggle them through ryanair’s boarding gate police. The poles were in my pack on the way from Málaga to Lisbon so they obviously didn’t contravene the airport security code, so as long as they are well tucked away in my pack I don’t see a problem arising. The annoying thing is that I was at the post office yesterday to send my penknife home and didn’t think about my poles.

I then went to a posh cafe for a breakfast hot chocolate (that was mediocre and very expensive) and a bacon bocadillo (that was damn poor and extremely expensive – more than twice what I had paid for an excellent roll stuffed full of bacon and a hot drink in cafés along the way – oh well, that’s city life for you!)

As I was sitting in the cafe I heard and then saw the military band and parade pass by so I left the poor food on the plate and rushed out to admire my boys. They were lined up in Obradoiro square when I caught up with them all standing in the pouring rain awaiting presentation of their medals for taking part in yesterday’s exercise. I felt ridiculously proud of them and stood with them in the rain for quite a while, before making my way to the cathedral to await the pilgrims’ mass.

image

image

I arrived well before 11 am but already there were no seats available so found the base of a column to sit on – rather cold, and I can just hear my mother telling me I would get piles from sitting on a cold surface. I wonder if there is any truth in that old wife’s tale?

I am writing this as I sit on the column and can see that the soldiers have started to arrive and are sitting in the opposite transept.

As a non religious person, I was surprised to be so very moved by the pilgrims’ mass that I attended last year, and hope for the same experience today. There may even be another botafumeiro swing, being that it is a religious holiday and the military are in town. I saw three swings in my time in Santiago last year and would consider myself extremely lucky to see another one on this visit.

I haven’t taken any city photos of this visit to Santiago because, quite frankly, it is miserable weather and no photos would do the city justice. But if you would like to share my love affair with the city from last year, please click on the following links to see it at its sunniest best.

Life after the camino

Life after the camino 2

Life after the camino 3

I am so glad that I have seen Santiago in all its glory, so that I don’t feel cheated on this visit. Apart from the rain, the total facade of the main cathedral entrance is completely covered in scaffolding for maintenance work and in the beautiful enormous square at the back of the cathedral a huge tent is set up for a pop concert that was taking place last night, pretty much outside my bedroom window!

I did snap a couple of shots from the dormitory window last night. One of the cathedral clock tower with a big wheel in the distance where I guess there is a funfair in the park. Later on the wheel was lit up and I took a few more shots from the window.

image

image

The pilgrims’ mass was beautiful again. There was a choir singing instead of the nun, although she was there to conduct proceedings. The choir was enchanting and there was a reading by one of the soldiers. At the end of the service everyone turned to their neighbours to shake hands and wish them peace – such a lovely thing to do, and then those that wanted went to the altar for wafers. And then, to my delight, there was another botafumeiro swing. I was sitting quite close to the altar in the direction of the swing and once again had a wonderful view of proceedings. I just took a few pics at the beginning so that I could give my full concentration to the spectacle.

image

After the service I went back to the albergue to collect my pack and made my way to the airport for my 3:50 pm flight. I am currently sitting in a window seat on a jam-packed flight with two spare seats beside me. Ryanair are now allocating seats and I can only presume that there were only three seats available when I booked my flight a couple of days ago, and the other two remained unsold. And the walking poles made it through without question. I am making the most of my run of good luck whilst it lasts.

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
This entry was posted in Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Camino Portuguese and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Just being there….

  1. Janice Tyler says:

    Well done…..sp proud of you xx

    Like

  2. cindy jones says:

    Congratulations. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

    Like

  3. Leona says:

    I can almost smell the incense from the botafumeiro. What a marvelous experience it must have been for you. In my imagination, I was at Mass with you and offered you the Sign of Peace along with as many of the Spanish soldiers as would be around me, thanking them for their service. Is military service volunteer in Spain as is in the states? Too bad for the rain, I’ve heard and read Santiago is a beautiful city. Safe travels. Leona

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Thanks Leona. The shaking of hands and offering of peace at the end of the mass is quite lovely.
      I am sure that military service is voluntary here in Spain. I know there were soldiers from the US and from Malta taking part and probably from other countries also.
      Santiago is a fabulous place to send a few days, but oh so much better in the sunshine!

      Like

  4. I will be the first to admit I haven’t had connection to my faith for a long, long time but your telling of getting to the church “on time” for the ‘botafumeiro swing’ renewed something in me if even for a moment. The modern city churches don’t do the traditional pomp and circumstance I loved as a youngster. Maybe I yearn for that time past.

    Like

  5. I particularly liked that first photo. Now you must be thinking of the next camino! Where and when will it be?
    – Clare

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Where? Maybe via de la plata. When? Certainly not this year, perhaps in the early autumn so that I can get to appreciate my own garden at its best in spring?

      Like

  6. Marianne says:

    I’m glad you managed to see the botafumeiro swing again – I’ve only ever seen that on YouTube. That must be quite something.

    Shame about the weather, but as you say, you’ve seen Santiago in the sunshine before and, at least this way you were seeing something totally different with the rain and the soldiers.

    I find many of the religious services and festivals in Spain can be very moving indeed. Yes, I do have faith, but it’s not MY faith that I think moves me so much, it’s observing theirs. Their passion. Somehow it gives me hope 🙂

    Anyway, as you read this you will now be safely home – and you and I might be two of only a handful of folk awake, in our beautiful part of the world, soon after 6am! 🙂

    Like

  7. Kristina Wilkening says:

    Welcome home, Maggie! Thanks for taking us on a wonderful and insightful journey! Hope you keep writing a blog…on whatever you fee like writing about!

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Thanks Kristina. I will do a couple more camino related posts and then the occasional blog about life here in Spain. I hope you stay onboard.

      Like

  8. David Wolfe says:

    It’s soooo good to have you home. Well done another camino completed and a wonderful story told together with great pictures that illustrate the text. David xx

    Like

  9. Maggie Gardner says:

    Well done Maggie, another great adventure under your belt. Where I wonder? x

    Like

  10. Aurélio (AMSimoes) says:

    Congratulations Mag
    I apologize if I’m ever to make suggestions and my English.
    One of the best kept secrets of Santiago you will find in the church which is at the back of the cathedral (on the street Via Sacra), where every day at 19h00 heavenly nuns sing vespers (Vésperas).
    Should be one of the highlights of the pilgrims, but fortunately is unknown. Just some know.
    AMSimoes

    Like

  11. What a beautiful journey Maggie!! I’m going to miss your wonderful posts but look forward to reading about your next adventure!!

    Like

  12. Brian says:

    Well done and thank you for the lovely description of your arrival which both put me in your moment and revived vivid memories of my first arrival at the Cathedral 9 years ago. I too was fortunate to see 3 consecutive swings and your pics had me blinking quickly at the magnificence of what is a truly outstanding piece of ecclesiastical theatre.
    I was the recipient of Policio Militario diplomacy outside Redondela when an officer cracked an IT glitch on my phone and put me back in global contact with family down under. Then next moment he was gone as they set off in groups of 10 to reach Santiago in 36 hours – the RENFE opposite my hotel right now offers a tempting cheat ( but conscience would never forgive moi)!! Santiago tomorrow and after yesterday’s heavenly cry I’m keen to see rays of celestial sunshine beaming down on the Cathedral roof.
    Pleased you and your sticks are safely home and many many thanks for being part of my Camino and including me in yours, with much metta,
    Brian

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hello Brian. I guess you are all safely tucked up at home now. Thanks for your lovely message and apologies for the long delay in responding. My camino was definitely Aussie dominated, and all the better for it! Your knees obviously carried you safely to St James, well done – I know you were suffering along the way. It was great to know you, albeit rather briefly. I have fabulous memories of a really interesting and challenging camino. Thanks for your part in it. Very best wishes, Maggie

      Like

  13. Greg Starr says:

    I will miss reading your daily reports. So well written with such lovely photos. Thank you for sharing your travels with your readers. Did you contact Elly when you arrived in Santiago.

    Like

    • magwood says:

      We’ve managed a couple of texts, but that’s all at the moment. She will be returning to Aus any day now so I will mail her and hope to find out about the remainder of her camino.

      Like

  14. lolalil26 says:

    How lovely you completed this journey. Can’t wait for mine in early September. And your pictures are wonderful. Thank you for sharing them. I will re-read your blog as I get closer to my own, especially the part from Porto. Any recommendations or advice? I will be walking on my own but hope to meet other pilgrims on the way. I plan to detour to Fatima from Lisbon and either get on a bus or train to Porto. Thanking you in advance. Best wishes to you!

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Lolalil, thanks for your comment. I shall be writing some assessments and reflections of my journey and my gear, so watch this space. There are some lovely albergues and I will write a post specifically about the accommodation I used. You might want to get yourself something hi-viz or a flashing lamp to use when walking on the busy, fast roads. I thought it would have been useful to have a fluorescent flag attached to my walking pole to try and keep a bit of distance between me and the vehicles. The cars were mostly well behaved, but the lorries were a bit (very) scary.
      Bom caminho!

      Like

      • lolalil26 says:

        Thanks for suggesting some type of fluorescent safety flag or flashing lamp. I will add on my list. Looking forward to reading your assessment. It’ll be hepful.

        Like

  15. marius says:

    it was cool to read the diary. it was quite a different experience to me- I walked from lisbon in april, 2013- raining almost every day ( there were actually floods then in portugal, and it was quite funny because I chose the portuguese way because I thought it’d be sunny every day ), haven’t met any other pilgrim till porto ( was the only one staying in casa fernanda). so it looks like it’s getting more popular. in my plans now- de la plata ( when you do the french way from sjpdp to finistere, extra 100 km from seville do not matter), or camino norte. actually, when you walk the first camino, you get hooked. when i walked french way I thought-‘oh, it was cool, i’d walk the next one in the future’. but the ‘in the future’ became the next year ( like and to you, maggie:))

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Marius. Thanks for reading the blog and for your comment. I had read a couple of accounts of pilgrims walking in the spring last year and the constant rain. It is absolutely no fun when you can’t dry out overnight and have to start a new day in damp clothes.

      I was very lucky with the weather, a bit hot between Lisbon and Porto and then plenty of rain, but I managed to get dry by the end of each day.

      You are right, for most of us it will not be a ‘one off’ experience, but something dreamt of and repeated time after time. But there are many worse things to get hooked on – at least we are keeping healthy!

      I may see you on the via de la plata next year….

      Like

  16. June Smith says:

    Hi Magwood,
    Thanks so much for your feedback on the Portuguese route. My friend and I are hoping/planning to do the Lisbon- Santiago in March/April next year. Our one concern is, of course, the weather at that time of the year. From all accounts it is very beautiful, but we could encounter quite a lot of rain. Are there any months which, from your previous Camino’s, you would specifically recommend?
    We would really appreciate any feedback/names of Auberges/Hostels at which you stayed along the way. Neither my friend or I speak any Portuguese, do you think this will pose a problem at all ?I have ‘smart phone’, (certainly much smarter than me !!) which has a translator on, so I’m relying on that to help us get by (hopefully) 🙂
    I see you write about your walking pole, would you recommend one? I have read that the Portuguese route is pretty much flat most of the way.
    Thanks once again. I look forward to your ‘A’s’ to my ‘Q’s’
    By the way, we are 2 ladies from Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa June 🙂 & Andrea (-:

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi June and Andrea. Thanks for your comment. I think the weather is totally ‘luck of the draw’ – there seems to have been so much unseasonable conditions over the last few years that it is impossible to predict. I walked throughout May and had extremely hot weather out of Lisbon and what seemed like permanent rain from Porto. Both were manageable – my saving grace in the heat was to soak a scarf in cool water and wear it around my head and neck to give instant relief. When it is very hot you probably won’t want to walk long distances late into the afternoon, but there are usually ways to break the stages down.

      When it rains there is the possibility of flooding on the tracks which can be difficult to circumnavigate.

      It really is a matter of hoping for the best, and dealing with what is thrown at you.

      Many Portuguese speak English and French. I can get by in spanish and I found that I could usually make myself understood by using spanish. The Portuguese are very friendly and helpful people and will go out of their way to assist you. We met many Portuguese who had lived in South Africa and spoke perfect English.

      I use ‘pacer poles’ and would highly recommend them. I am sure they are not strictly necessary, but I feel very comfortable with poles, on any terrain. They are excellent at helping maintain an upright posture and alleviating weight from the leg joints, and tend to help you maintain a regular and steady pace, especially when you are flagging at the end of the day. Pacer poles are available from the manufacturer over the internet, not cheap but oh so comfortable to use.
      Don’t hesitate to fire more questions this way if you think I can help.
      Bom caminho to you both

      Like

      • June says:

        Hi Magwood, Thank you so much for your email reply to my questions. As you say, nowadays the weather is totally unpredictable throughout the world, or so it seems. I guesse it will all just be part of the ‘journey’. One thing I did mean to ask last time was about footwear….Boots or Shoes (trainers) any profound thoughts or comments? June Smith Thatchers Rest

        _____

        From: Trepidatious traveller – camino blog [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:48 PM To: june@thatcher.co.za Subject: [New comment] Just being there….

        magwood commented: “Hi June and Andrea. Thanks for your comment. I think the weather is totally ‘luck of the draw’ – there seems to have been so much unseasonable conditions over the last few years that it is impossible to predict. I walked throughout May and had extremely h”

        Like

      • magwood says:

        Footwear is obviously a very personal choice. But I would go for mid height boots with a lot of tread and quality insoles with a lot of padding under the balls of your feet.

        Like

  17. Kieran says:

    Hi. I really enjoyed your blog. My wife and I completed Camino Frances last year and plan to walk Lisbon to Santiago in September 2015. There are lots of useful tips to take from your notes, so I will re-read it before our journey. Thanks, Kieran.

    Like

  18. judijay17 says:

    Thank you for your informative and beautifully photographed record of your journey, which I found searching for info on Camino Portugues. My husband and I will be walking the coastal route from Porto in May. Your posts have inspired me to document our Way as there doesn’t seem to be much available on this alternative route. It might help others as yours has done. Bom Caminho /Buen Camino (for next time, as surely there will be one).

    Like

    • magwood says:

      I’m very pleased that you found my blog useful, many thanks for your comment. Good luck with your own blog – you have to be fairly disciplined to post after a day’s walking, but I find it worth the effort, and I am sure it will be a useful resource to others.

      And of course you are correct – there will be another – this year, Camino del Norte.
      Bom Caminho!

      Like

I would love some feedback - tell me what you think.....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s