So to take the suspense right away: The Camino was as I expected it to be. Loud snoring interrupting the nights, getting up way too early, asking yourself why you’re doing this, always tired and always hungry. And loads of sunrises and sunsets. And I would do it all over again.
Day 0 – Santiago de Compostela
I arrived late at night in Santiago and all the memories hit me straight away. I might have invited this a little by staying in the same Albergue like 2 years ago.
The only difference: this time they were filming a Spanish 20s gangster movie outside. At night. “There might be some explosions and shooting,” the woman from the Albergue said. And yes, she was right. At 4am. And 5am. So I would start the first day back on the camino tired right away.
Day 1 – Santiago to Negreira (23 km)
All day I’ve been hearing Pat’s voice in my head “Take it slow”. So I was going for a short walk of 23km on the first day to get used to the new boots and the weight of the backpack again.
For leaving the safety of my job behind just the day before I had quite a light mind during these first quiet hours.
I stopped around midday in a nice Albergue with a backyard where I had the obligatory afternoon beer and nap. I tried to do a cheap day and prepared snacks and dinner from free food that was left behind and some additions I got in a supermarket. At 21:00 o’clock I decided that I stayed awake long enough for the first day, guessing that there would be snoring during the night. And yes, there was.
Day 2 – Negreira to Olveiroa (34,2 km):
Someone had their first loud alarm at 5:00am. Seriously, who would do that? I started walking at 6:30 and it was still pretty dark although dawn was creeping through the woods.
While the sun rose it started to rain for the first time on that day. And I observed my first sunrise rainbow. From now to then the rain became heavier and I took cover beneath eucalyptus, oak and pine trees. It smelled so nice.
I was reintroduced to Spanish patience while waiting over 15 minutes in a panaderia to get an empanada. And I learned that people thought I’m Spanish why I should definitely learn more of that language than just survival bits. I arrived way too late at the Albergue (15:45) because I couldn’t stop walking. And there was just one free bed. Lucky.
That free bed brought me a nice evening talk, a couple of beers and a decent dinner with Karen from Sydney and a very drunken British guy that I could hardly understand. Although he was introducing himself with “Nice, there are some people who speak my language” and I was just about to stand up and sing “Rule Britannia” when Karen simply replied with “No, I speak Australian.” Sadly he left us after two beer – for his excuse, I think he had at least three beer before we started to join – and I won one of these evenings full of travel stories and the meaning of life, kids and beards.
Day 3 – Olveiroa to Finisterre (32,7 km) and Kap Finisterre (another 3,5 km)
Dry and used air in a way to warm room with a saggy bed got me out of the hostel with a starting headache. The moon was still up and guided me through the darkness while others trusted their headlamps more. Well, I had none so I went with the moon anyway.
One thing I like best on the Camino is that you get to see nearly every sunrise. All these beautiful colors in the night sky when you take a look over your shoulder. And then you walk over a hill crest and there’s a greenish beautiful valley waiting beneath with a loud river flowing through. You can literally feel the ocean somewhere behind the next hill.
After some kilometers the headache stroke so hard that I had to fight to get through the second half of the day – like 15 km which is about 3 hours. I had no drink or food left when I reached a village close to the ocean after half the distance. I refilled with Tortilla and Kas limon.
And had yet another ice cold coke. And tried to hold on. And of course I kinda made it. Checked in at the first Albergue. Got food and isotonic drinks. And slept for an hour.
Checking for the sunset time in advance I stayed a while at the beach and then took the last 3,5km to Kap Finisterre to enjoy the end of the way with others: sitting on a rock, having a deserved cold beer, watching the sun set and the ocean glitter. Moments I feel so blessed and happy. I was getting very cheesy and had to think of all the wonderful people in my life – who have been there for a long time. And who are new. And who I would love to share this moment with.
Day 4 – Finisterre to Muxia (28,2 km)
It took me until the evening to decide whether I would stay for another night in Finisterre to enjoy the beautiful beach. Or to go on to Muxia, not sure what might wait there. But because of the strange situation with the guy who ran the Albergue – too many notes, too many rules, too much “adult is talking to children stuff” – I decided to head out. Which has been one of the best decisions so far because Muxia would show off as the best place to end this journey.
I took an alternative route along the coastline where no one else followed and I was alone for a couple of hours. Even the big village dogs which ran around freely were a bit suprised of me crossing their path.
The kilometers tumbled way slower then the days before. So I enjoyed my part-time travel companion: a shepherd dog following me around for over 30 minutes. Always looking after me and staying close when people showed up. So everyone thought that he was mine and I was stuck between freaking out – “what if he doesn’t find back???” – and enjoying the situation.
And Muxia was worth all the pain of the last kilometers. A beautiful beach and lovely windy little town at the ocean. And when I was welcomed very friendly at the Albergue and told that there would be a festival on the weekend I decided after strolling around the cape I would stay here until Sunday and not going to Santiago on Saturday. Freedom of traveling. So I really hoped to have a nice traditional day with lots of food and drinks. At least the Albergue owner was sure about it and changed my bunk bed to another when I told him I’d like to stay for another night: “This is better to sleep longer in the morning and get back after drinking too much tomorrow night.”
Day 5 – Muxia
I took a Spanish breakfast with caffe con leche and churros and headed to my own playa. To listen to the waves, soak in sun beams and do some Qigong. What a hard decision as a German where to put my towel on this full beach…
The rest of the day I spent at the festival which was kind of medieval in a pirate way. The streets were filled with live traditional music. And with all these little bites of food so you can have lots of them: chorizo con pane, mejillores con arizo, tortilla, churros, mini hamburguesas and different types of white wine, beer and mojito along. Way too cheap to let the opportunity pass.
And just when I thought that I’ve been alone for the last 5 days and would like some company to chat and drink with I was found by my bunk bed neighbor with the same words “I like some company tonight and someone to drink and chat with.” There’ve been a couple of more drinks, trying out some really weird looking seafood – what an experience! -, running into the Albergue guy, getting some more drinks with him and being introduced to the mayor. And everywhere bands with drums and bagpipes and people dancing.
The short night I would have left to sleep was well earned. And even the hammering snoring could not take away this.
After the bus took me to town walking the last kilometer into Santiago center brought back yet another lot of memories. It was so much nicer to walk in on a Sunday morning with every store closed and the streets quiet. Not the rush of a city that it had been the first time we arrived here two years ago. Reunion breakfast, more stories and a goodbye and “see ya downunder” with the Australian left me alone but very happy in the city.
While I was settling in at my last albergue a thought came up that I had to check my mobile from work for calls and mails. I was even reaching down in my backpack when it hit me that I don’t have to check because there is none. I will need some time to get used to that.
I had to fulfill a To Do with having dinner at the Italian restaurant – with greetings to my fellowship. And then I just got stuck with this cute German couple and we decided to wander around town, follow the streets, have a beer now and then in different bars and let us be guided by all the music coming from different places around the corner.
Either the tenor singing in the arch of the cathedral, the Spanish band in the hall of the municipal building who kept us lying on the warm ground in front of the cathedral or a guitar and a fiddle and some Beatles lyrics at the Praza das Praterías – the whole city was full with musicians and people who just stopped and enjoyed the night.
And when we finally decided to walk our way back to the hostel the bar around yet another corner popped up with this Celtic Galician group – and so I stayed for one, well two, more beer until some Spanish women started dancing and the night was full of life.
A warm summer night’s dream ended this first trip and I got some sleep before I left for breakfast and my flight on day 7.
Thanks for all, Santiago.
I reached Ocean No. 1. There will be two more this year.