Life was just too exciting yesterday to spend my precious time waiting in line at the pilgrims’ office for my Compostela. So here I am at 07:40 waiting for the office to open at 08:00 so that I can pick up my Compostela before setting off for Finisterre. I am not alone – there are around a dozen here at the moment. I could wait until I return from Finisterre, but who knows, I might be equally busy then also.
Of the 10-15 people I have been walking with over the last couple of weeks, only two are heading out to the coast – all others are returning home. I hope this is a general trend, but I fear not. I think I must prepare myself for crowds in the coming days, which will be a shock to the system.
I met with Super George last evening and we shared several drinks and a nice dinner and exchanged lots of tales about the 4+ weeks since we were last together. George walked diretly north on the Via de la Plata and joined the Camino Frances at Astorga, so he was well used to crowds by the time he reached Santiago. It was really good to catch up and compare notes
I heard from Paul that he caught his bus on time and was comfortably ensconced in Porto for a couple of nights before returning to the UK. What a great friend he has been, ready to chat or be silent, share a few jokes and exchange life stories. I am sure we will stay in touch in the future. I bade an emotional farewell to Jesus and particularly Mary who is a beautiful caring woman, always with a welcoming smile on her face. The two italian couples are also going directly home as are all the French. My favourite Austrian woman and her husband are walking on, so I hope to see them during the next three days. And I have arranged to meet with Olivier in Finisterre and walk to the lighthouse together. I am hoping that I might also see Aase at the coast. So lots to look forward to, as well as three more days walking.
So it was 08:10 by the time I walked by the cathedral on my way out of the city and it was immediately obvious there were many pilgtims walking in the same direction. I passed most people soon enough and began to recognise some of the route from a couple of years ago when I walked it with my daughter Ella. I particularly remember a huge hill that I thought was immediately on leaving the city, but that hill was a doddle. A few kms further there was another steep climb, but I managed it quite easily. I was beginning to think that I was obviously much fitter now because I remember having to take breathers last time. But then I found the real deal – it rose 230 metres in a very short distance and it was a tough climb, but I didn’t need to take a break so I must be fitter than previously.
I was pleased to see a cafe at around 9 kms and walked in to take a hot drink, but when I saw and heard the crowds of pilgrims in there, I turned right around and walked back out again. I found another a few kms along the road where there was just one guy taking a break, so I happily joined him.
I passed many other pilgrims along the way – Paul and I weren’t nick-named ‘the English Runners’ for nothing. Not that I particularly want to pass people – I just have a naturally faster pace – but not as fast as either Paul or Super George.
The distance from Santiago to Finisterre is around 90 km, unfortunately split into unequal stages by the available accommodation. So today was a short stage of 22 km and there will be two long ones coming up.
I am staying in the private albergue ‘San José’ in Negreira, where I stayed with Ella previously. The cost is 12€ for a spacious dorm, good bathroom facilities, towel and bed linen provided. There is also a good kitchen, extensive dining area and a lovely garden bordering the woods. So other than a trip to the supermarket for provisions, I haven’t moved very far this afternoon. And seeing that I resisted the temptation to buy a bottle of wine – this may turn out to be an alcohol-free day.