Week 20 – The Camino de Santiago

  • Friday, (Day 4), was again a misty start, but after a quiet evening in another lovely Pazo, we headed out for Palas de Rei, via the Knights Templar monastery and church – about 18 km today
Nothing changes too fast around here – not quite industrial farming
  • The trail was not too bad today – mostly undulating rather than steep climbs and descents, and few asphalt roads.
This is typical Camino trail
  • We left the trail and walked about 2.5 km to the Knights Templar church in the hamlet of Vilar de Donas. When we arrived the church was closed but Carolyn rustled up the old bloke who looks after it and he opened it up for us. Within a few minutes we were joined by 3 other groups – all Australians!! We must be an inquisitive lot …. but the detour was well worth the walk.
The church is 14th Century, and is currently being restored with EU grants
The stone slabs on the right are from the knights graves – with carved effigies. The frescoes are original and very expressive.
Stunning doors and surrounds – the carvings are all symbols of origin and there are Scots, English and Irish as well as more European
The original alter stone – incredible detail – no acid rain damage
  • By now it was sunny again so we headed for Palas de Rei. It was quite warm and Adrienne suffered from a few blisters. We found a farmacia and it had just about everything possible to do with feet. We found little gel “toe condoms” and these proved to be a great success in preventing blisters.
  • Our casa was run by three sisters, all in their 80’s and was very nice, albeit a little 1950’s
Only the best bone china at breakfast here
The formal farewell and we were off
  • Saturday, (Day 5), was a 15 km walk to the larger town of Melide. The advertised highlight today is a couple of medieval bridges that are still operational.
    We found a few new friends at the first church, but as usual Adrienne was keen to get moving
    Almost all my trail photos have Adrienne’s bum in them!!
    It was getting quite warm so was a welcome drinks break at the first of the old bridges
    And some running repairs on hot and tired feet
    Entrance to Melide and a much larger version of the ancient bridges

    A big crew in for dinner – we all somehow came together at the end of each day – Richard even managed to recruit Greg, (3rd from left), to do some work in Australia!!
  • Sunday, (Day 6), another 15 km to Arzua, was a gentle day – warm, not too hilly, and lots of shade along the way, but finished with a brutal ascent into Arzua – lots of grey heads panting up this hill
Only for Sunday driving?
A couple of very happy Caministas
Just a beautiful, tranquil spot
This was a serious dummy spit – what did he wear for the rest of the way – 42 kms to go!!
  • Monday, (Day 7), was a 19 km walk to Pedrouzo. Most of the day was quite gentle – and with Adrienne feeling good we kept going and finished the walking by 2pm – the beer and raciones, (Adrienne’s go to lunch), tasted great as we waited for Carolyn and Richard, but they had taken a detour into the Taberna and were not seen for some hours.
Richard looking for a new walking stick – the carver making them all by hand
The famous beer garden at Taberna Velha – drink your beer and write your name on the bottle
The thought of walking about 14 km after beer was too much and I regretfully passed on the opportunity
Every stream crossing is another photo opportunity
  •  We arrived at next accomodation – a beautiful 18th century converted mill, beside a lovely cool stream
    Our room was beside the water and we had the gentle noise all night
    We sat with our feet in the cold water for about 20 minutes – great relief therapy

    All the machinery has been carefully restored in the restaurant – what a way to end the day
  • Tuesday, (Day 8), the final 21 km into Santiago de Compostela – dawned hot and got hotter, and was a long, and in the end, tough day. There is a long slog up to Monte Gozo, and then the last 5 km through town on the asphalt were my least favourite part of a fantastic experience that has inspired us to start looking at other long distance walks around the world.
    Trying to be artistic …
    Welcome to Santiago de Compostela
    Many of the dogs on the trail wore boots to protect their feet on the rough gravel
    But at last we arrived – town hall
    And towards the cathedral – the traditional finishing point of the Camino

    I took this the morning after we finished to cut out the crowds
  • Adrienne and I were hot, bothered, knackered and in need of beer and food so we had a quick look around and headed for our hotel only a few metres from the cathedral.

    We got the group together for a final dinner of paella and rioja – a most enjoyable night
  • Wednesday, (Day 9), and we up early and around to the pilgrim’s office to collect our certificates – excellent move as we queued for about 10 minutes in the cool, while Richard and Carolyn had stood for an hour and a half yesterday in the heat. We are now certified pilgrims in Spanish and Latin.

We then went to the pilgrims mass at the cathedral – they get around a thousand people every day. It is a stunning cathedral, but the highlight is when they light the frankincense burner and swing it high over the masses – this tradition is reputedly to hide the stink of the pilgrims.

Saint James is the figure seated at bottom right – to put the grandeur in perspective he is about 3 metres tall
The monks swing on the ropes until the burner is almost horizontal – quite awesome – the next file is a 3 second movie showing the monks starting the swing, (click on it and it will open a link)


  •  After the service we headed for Fisterra, the traditional “end of the earth” where many pilgrims extended their walk to cast a stone carried from their start into the sea. We had collected stones at Sarria and completed the tradition.
Adrienne and Grant at Fisterra
My troubles are cast into the sea with the setting sun
I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time
  •  Thursday we packed and flew to Madrid. We found our apartment, (only city time while we are away), and Adrienne hates it – can’t wait to get back to the quiet countryside. But we did some window shopping and had a final tapas and paella dinner with Richard and Carolyn before bidding them farewell.
  • It is now Friday afternoon and we have not moved – Adrienne is watching movies and considering getting dressed – this is the mother of all rest days – we will go and get pedicures and massages around the corner later this afternoon, but that is the height our ambition!! We’ll go exploring tomorrow …


4 thoughts on “Week 20 – The Camino de Santiago”

  1. What an amazing walk, I share your photos and stories with my friend Kerry when we are doing our beach walk and having coffee, she’s enjoying all the updates as well. Xxx

  2. Hi Gappers!

    Great blogging! Nice part of the world, where old is all about, picture-book stuff. You mentioned Dordogne the go to for the Pom anti Brexiters, for sure will have plenty who speak English, they do like to think its Bradford in the sun 🙂 Walking is what you have done! apart from the normal toes and knees being a bit sore now and then it’s a great way to keep active. Anyway enjoying your updates and photos !


  3. Congrats on making it, the puglian walks put you in good stead.
    Loved all the photos and tales.
    Addrienne, you need another visitor to bring home a suitcase of shoes for you. I’m unavailable at the moment as need to save for the next trip.

  4. Hello from Manchester
    I hope you are well and relaxing after our walk. I met a lovely fellow from London at the airport and we journeyed through to Heathrow together. The whole way there he gave me cheek about how I’d only walked from Sarria. He had walked the whole Camino right through to Fisterra. Days after the walk I thought I was done but now I’m already entertaining the thought of doing another stage in the future. It’s like giving birth. You swear you’ll never do it again and then…..
    I’d like to share a photo of my daughter and I with you. I am enjoying her so much and we are getting along just marvellously.
    Keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing. Adrienne you got my number but I didn’t get yours. No. or email will do.
    All the best and keep enjoying your gap year!!!!
    Cheers Maria

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *