Journey’s end

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And so I have really come to the end of this journey. There have been so many highlights, so many people I will remember and not very many that I want to forget.

Firstly there was George – we spent eighteen days together from first meeting until we parted in Mérida. The same time that I spent with Eli last year on the Camino Portuguese. But there is a big difference between sharing time and space with a man and a woman. George was meticulously respectful when we had to share space and it was great to see him again at the end of his camino.

The day that I parted from George, I met Olivier and his friends, but I didn’t get to know him at all at that time. Two days later I met Paul and fell into a very easy friendship with him. We walked the same stages until Santiago, usually walking together for some part of the day and often eating together in the evening.

And at the same time I got to know Olivier and we became firm friends although I decided against walking with him when he leap-frogged a stage, it was definitely the right decision for me. But I was so pleased to meet up with him at Finisterre and laugh our way through a couple of days.

In Santiago I was lucky enough to see many of the friends that I had made along the way, and was particularly delighted to greet Wilfried when I assumed he would already have departed.

This has been an exceptional camino for me. Although I am glad I started my camino experience in 2013 on the Camino Frances, I would not want to repeat that route now. Just too many people walking the same stages. I think the Camino Portuguese, particularly from Lisbon, remains less trodden. The Camino Mozárabe between Málaga and Mérida was practically deserted, we saw only six pilgrims in eighteen days, and five of those had walked the Granada route.

It was a shock when reaching Mérida to find the municipal albergue full (24 places) but I managed to squeeze in and over the next day or two the numbers evened out and we were mostly a group of 8-12 until we reached the split to the Camino Sanábres when numbers dropped a little.

The Via de la Plata was dominated by men, the majority of whom were French. I am reliably informed that this year the men to women ratio has been 3:1, but I was often the only woman with up to ten men. That wasn’t really a problem for me, but I did miss some female company. What would have been more of a problem was having no one to talk to in my own language, so I was very happy to be able to chat with Paul.

This camino has taught me that groups of men walking together tend to be very cliquey and dominate the space. I didn’t come across any groups of women walking together, so can’t comment on whether they show the same behaviour. Single people and couples are much more likely to mix and be sociable.

I very much enjoy walking alone, but am also happy to spend some time walking and talking to others. Everyone has their own pace and it is difficult to adjust to others who don’t match your own. I was full of admiration for couples who walked together, when the man was often considerably taller than the woman, but they managed an amiable pace together. I wouldn’t find that so easy. I walk quite fast but stop a lot to take photos. Paul and I acquired the nick-name ‘the English Runners’ but we were not racing with anyone, just walking at our natural pace.

Santiago is a fabulous city, full of visitors from different walks of life. Many pilgrims who have walked from afar (or not so far), and tourists of all nationalities in big groups led by tour guides that block the way in the narrow streets. Most pilgrims quietly arrive in the Praza do Obradoiro In front of the cathedral with a look of awe and gratitude on their faces, whilst others arrive in groups and are very noisy in their celebrations…and then there are the cyclists. Some pilgrims have finished their current journey but others choose to continue to the coast and have another three or four days before they can relax. For some, claiming their compostela is one of the highlights of their camino and others don’t bother to visit the pilgrims’ office and are happy with their credencial that logs the stages they have walked.

By the time I arrived in back in Santiago after walking for 52 days I had forgotten about the few tough days where the distance was a challenge, or the terrain was hard on the feet, or I was walking alongside a busy highway. What comes to mind are the magical memories of stunning scenery, the glorious sun-rises and beautiful ancient cities. And the weather! I was so very lucky. One day of walking in pouring rain, a few very windy days and some rather chilly mornings, but overall the weather was glorious and perfect for walking. Even in Galicia that is renowned for its rainfall, not one drop fell on me. I certainly hadn’t expected to be so fortunate. And I know that this good fortune colours my entire camino.

And after taking seven and a half weeks to walk from Málaga to Finisterre, I returned by aeroplane in one and a half hours. And now I am comfortably at home, no more sweaty rubber mattress covers, or being careful not to sit up in bed for fear of catching my hair on the springs of the upper bunk. Time to use the bathroom without worrying about keeping anyone waiting. Being able to eat healthy food whenever I want. Wearing clothes that don’t make me feel like a tramp. And, joy of joys, being able to tame my hair with straighteners. Such simple luxuries that I normally take for granted but will relish for the coming weeks.

Once again, thank you for sharing my journey and giving me so much encouragement. It has been an absolute pleasure to have your company along the way. I am already missing the interaction – I loved receiving your comments and hope you will keep in touch.

I hope you will enjoy some of my favourite photos. Just click on the first picture and it will enlarge and then you can flick through at your own pace.

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 assessments and reflections, Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Camino Mozarabe, Camino Sanabrés, Via de la Plata and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Journey’s end

  1. cornishtim says:

    beautiful photos. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. David Wolfe says:

    It’s very good to have you back home 8 weeks is a long time to be apart, but I am so glad that you accomplished the Camio and enjoyed the experience so much. I never doubted your ability for a second and admire the incredible achievement. Your picture library speaks for itself and will be something to study for many years. Your daily blogs were informative and made one feel part of your camino, thanks for all the effort that you put in after a hard days walk it was worth it to all who followed you journey. Cudeca will be very appreciative of your generosity in fund raising for such a worthy cause.

    Like

  3. Maggie Gardner says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us it has been amazing. I for one will miss your daily blogl. It’s good to have you back.

    Like

  4. Katherine Paterson says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your camino with us Maggie. It´s lovely to have you back though! Your beautiful photos should be in a book.

    Like

  5. Greg Starr says:

    Inspirational!!! — going to miss the blog. Welcome back.

    Like

  6. Leona says:

    Oh, Maggie! I put off reading this last post as long as I could stand it, I didn’t want your journey to end. Of course I’m happy for you that you made it home safely and are enjoying the comforts we so take for granted in our daily lives. I remember the ‘feeling like a slob’ while walking and carrying my life on my back, sans hair dryer, and all the grooming stuff I use normally.

    You have been such an inspiration, your photos are quality and your narrative throughout made me feel like I was there with you–remember me telling you about my dream? Enjoy the rest of your summer, and THANK YOU!—-Leona in Wyoming

    Liked by 1 person

    • magwood says:

      Leona, one of the things I most like about this blog is the wonderful positive people I have (virtually) met from around the world. Your comments and support have meant a great deal to me over the long time that I have come to know you. So…THANK YOU.
      And of course I remember about your ‘dream’.

      Like

  7. janpow123 says:

    Many congratulations to you, you deserve all the accolades you receive, and for raising the money for your local charity, it makes your achievement all the sweeter.It was so nice to see your blog popping into my inbox again!
    Sure everyone is glad to have you back home, none the least your little doggy, pussy and geegee!
    Thank you for the blog and photos….I have learnt so mush about Spain. Have a fab summer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie says:

      Thanks Jan, for such great support. It means a lot to me. And expect a few more posts to ‘pop’ into your inbox – my camino may be over, but I haven’t finished blogging just yet!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. annieh61 says:

    Well done, again Maggie. Great summary. You are some intrepid lady! x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. zohar says:

    Dear Mag, I didn’t miss any of your daily blogs and enjoyed them very much. You put deep in the atmosphere of the Camino and taught me how strong is a realy desire. liked also the beautiful pictures. For your next walk I recommend the trail of israel http://www.israeltrail.net/, They are making now “Google street view” of the trail which will be ready in some weaks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie says:

      Hello Zohar. Israel sounds a bit too intrepid for me. But I will take a look at the link – thanks for posting it. If I walk another camino I think it will be ‘El Norte’, and then I might venture further afield. The Lycian Way sounds inviting. I don’t know if it’s possible to keep getting stronger year on year, as I have over my last three caminos, but if the trend continues I shall be needing to source some tougher boots for years to come.

      Like

  10. Someone should come up with a LOVE button. Glad you home and well. What a journey you had. Thank you for sharing it with us and for all these glorious and stunning pictures. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Fascinating read – thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Diane Peterson says:

    Thank you for sharing your camino with us. It has given me a visual journey as you walked n told of all the places n happenings. Where to next??

    Like

  13. Dave says:

    Loved reading you posts. I mentioned before that after you started and after reading some of your first posts, you got me thinking. I decided to get off my bum, flew to Madrid and started my first Camino on the 12 th May, and will reach Santiago in four days on the 10 th June. Many thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Maggie says:

      I can only hope that you enjoyed your camino as much as I enjoyed mine. I am so pleased if I sowed a seed of interest for you. And now you’re almost at Santiago – may the sun shine and the botafumeiro swing! Buen fin de camino!

      Like

  14. Thanks for sharing your Caminos with us. Are you planning a fourth Camino sometime in the future? 😀 Enjoy the luxuries of being home!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. kitkatknit says:

    Maggie, Thanks for letting us tag along on your camino!!! The photos you posted today are a beautiful set. I still “need” to walk into SdC for a first time and then I too will start venturing out to other paths. I made it to Burgos last fall and then spent a few days in Madrid and Toledo visiting art museums before I ran out of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie says:

      I know how lucky I have been to be able to walk my caminos in one go. I’m not sure I would ever have gone back if that had not been the case. I’m sure you will reach Santiago sooner or later and enjoy all that it has to offer.

      Like

  16. Tony Rice. Aka Urban Trekker says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey, your thoughts, your pictures, and your insights with me. You have made your journey, trials, and trepidations mine and for that, I’m grateful. I think you should call your blog “Audacious Traveler” because that’s what you are, audacious! Happy Trails

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Thanks Tony, always great to hear from you. I think I have a way to go before I earn the title ‘audacious’, but I am certainly getting s little less trepidatious with each camino.

      Like

  17. Sean says:

    Well done Magwood,
    It has been an adventure reading of your travels. Apologies if I went a bit overboard in reply to one of your earlier posts.
    Sean,
    Dublin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie says:

      Thanks Sean, and absolutely no need for an apology. I’m sure I responded to the effect that I wasn’t proud of my reaction, and hopefully I have learned from the experience.

      Like

  18. Welcome back!!!! I miss your blog already but looking to see you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A great achievement Maggie. I enjoyed every km. And look forward to the next adventure Nx

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Heather Patrick says:

    Wow! What a wonderful journey I have had following your amazing blog Magwood.i have met up with George on two previous Caminos and agree he is a lovely guy. Can’t wait for your next trip! You are an inspiration.!

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hello Heather, thanks for your comment. What a small world this is. My experience of the Mozárabe would have been very different, and very lonely without George.

      Like

  21. Steve says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your Camino. The writing is excellent, the photographs superb! You made this route come alive and reminded me of the beauty of the Iberian peninsula. Blessings!

    Like

  22. ingridfolkers says:

    Maggie thank you, for having me along and especially responding to some of my questions. As you are settling back into your home life, I am getting butterflies as my departure nears.

    I paid close attention to your days post Zamora and maybe I will follow in your footsteps for a few days.

    Much Light and Love for your future. Ingrid

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maggie says:

      So glad of your company Ingrid, and all your comments. I would love to hear about your experiences at Zamora – one of the nicest albergues on the VdlP. I hope you have a very enjoyable time as hospitalera and a wonderful camino experience.

      Like

  23. davegoodland says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I’ve really enjoyed it. Kind Regards, David

    Like

  24. synelgg says:

    Maggie ..I start my first Camino (Frances) Tuesday and your blog has been brilliant for me, I loved every photo and every word, you are an inspiration, made me feel brave ..and once I get over these elephants stomping around my tummy …I can’t wait.
    Glenys

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maggie says:

      Glenys, those elephants will soon go back to the jungle once you get going on the camino. I’m so glad that my blog has been useful to you and I wish you a wonderful experience. Buen camino!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Keith Rocks says:

    What a fantastic lady. What a wonderful blog. What beautiful photos. What a great journey. Well done Maggie. I enjoyed every day reading your blog and will miss your colourful descriptions of life as a pilgrim. What an inspiration you are. Catch up with you soon. Keith xx

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Donal O' Mahony says:

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Frances Lazenby says:

    Thank you for your final blog and a great selection of your favourite photos. It must be lovely to be home and enjoying all the comforts that it offers (and David, of course!). Enjoy your memories and riding Liana and walking Rollie.
    Look forward to seeing you both in the autumn.
    xx

    Liked by 1 person

  28. David High says:

    Thank you for sharing your Journey with us all,you are one inspirational woman.Regards and best wishes.David

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Marilyn van Graan says:

    Hi Maggie, When I finished my last camino a month ago – Portuguese – my words were that one is now done and dusted!!! But are our caminos ever that – after following yours (went back to day 1) and enjoying all your writings I realised that this “thing” in now in my blood and am already thinking so where to next year. I have many questions I would like to ask you – do you have an email address where I can contact you.
    In friendship
    Marilyn van Graan
    Member of Cape Town, South Africa confraternity

    PS Your photos are amazing – loved them all

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Marilyn, thanks for your comment. I have sent you an email and removed your contact details from this public space. I look forward to hearing from you further.

      Like

  30. Jeannette Burgos-Rigó says:

    Thank you Maggie for sharing your experience with us, you’re an inspiration and your pictures are amazing. When will be your next Camino and wich one ? I’ll love to walk with you.
    Next year I’ll plan to take the Portuguess road, to volunteer for almost a month in Santiago and after to walk to Finesterre and Muxia, what do you think?
    I’ll miss your wonderful descriptions. Have a nice summer!
    Jeannette Burgos-Rigó

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Maybe ‘El Norte’ next year if time and funds permit.
      I admire all who volunteer, you do us all a great service.
      I loved the walk to Finisterre this year and would definitely say Finisterre first and then Muxia. And don’t forget to kick your boots off and dip your toes in the Atlantic as you walk along that beautiful beach.
      Buen camino!

      Like

  31. Marianne says:

    Well Maggie, you are without doubt a “trepidatious traveller” but increasingly, year after year, you have now become “THE Camino Lady”.

    With wonderful writing and stunning photos you have blossomed into the “go to” person for anyone even contemplating walking a camino.

    VERY well done on your achievement – you are an inspiration!

    Hope to catch up with you, very soon xx

    Like

  32. mary lynch says:

    Maggie I enjoyed your blog so much. Thank you for sharing, thanks for the wonderful photos and the brilliant writing. Have a lovely Summer. I agree with Marianne your ARE an inspiration.
    Much love xx

    Like

  33. Kathy HG says:

    I love your blog and will miss the daily updates. It was great to hear how far you walked each day and how much you spent on food and lodging. The pictures and comments on people you met along the way were really interesting as well.
    Question that no one seems to ask but has been on my mind since we started planning our trip (starting the camino france in september 2015) – What do people do when they have to go to the bathroom along the route? Go in the fields? bushes? Toilet facilities seem to be over-used and limited to hostels and restaurants by the sounds of it.
    I appreciate hearing your comments and suggestions on this.
    Thanks and looking forward to your next camino!
    kathy

    Like

  34. Carel says:

    Because we were walking the past weeks in the French Cevennes, I react somewhat late. Thank you for your blog. It was nice to read your stories and view your beautiful pictures.

    Like

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