By the numbers
And we did it. We did it. Yeah! (Cue Dora the Explorer dancing).
Miles and I finished the Camino. It wasn’t easy. We essentially did 2 of the most difficult Caminos back to back without a rest day. For anyone that wants to do what we did — Leon to Oviedo via San Salvador and Oviedo to Santiago via Primitivo, do a rest day in Oviedo. Your body will thank you later. We finished the Salvador route and the next day started the Primitivo. It was a challenging first couple of days on the Primitivo both physically and mentally (more mentally for Miles).
But we made it nonetheless.
Here’s the Camino by the numbers:
Number of Americans met: a lot (more than any time I’ve done the Camino)
Number of Germans met: a lot (is anyone left in Germany?)
Number of times Miles got lost: 1 (he had to call me to figure out how to find his way back to the route; he downloaded the app after that)
Number of mud puddles I stepped in to prevent from falling: 2 and they were deep.
Number of times I slid down a muddy hill to prevent falling: 1
Number of bulls we came into close contact: 1. We slowly walked behind him as he was eating in his pasture. Made sure not to make much noise, too.
Number of rainy (misty; pouring) days: on the Salvador and Primitivo, about 1/2 of the days were wet
Highest degree we walked in on the Frances during a heat wave: 92 degrees F.
Number of sunburns: 2 for me. 3 for Miles.
Number of times we fell (tripped or slid): 1 for me and 1 for Miles
Number of Coca Colas consumed: a lot — especially by Miles
Number of vending machines Miles stopped at: all of them?
Number of grumpy days for me: a few — sometimes you have to listen to music to take your mind off the icky rain, the blazing sun, or the fact your feet hurt so bad that you don’t think you can take another step
Number of nice dogs who came up to us wanting all the pets and love: lots
Number of cats who ran away from us as we walked by: lots
Number of cats Miles fed: 1 (he fed his empanada to a hungry cat who wouldn’t leave him alone)
Longest day of walking: 31.03km. First day of the Salvador. It was a long day of walking and strenuous, too.
Number of trains we took: 1 — we cut out about 10 km of the Salvador route. The day before was difficult to say the least and we just needed a break. Even walked along a busy highway for 8km to get to the train.
Number of busses we took (while on the route): 1 — Our last day on the Camino Frances, before Leon. We walked to the next town (about 10 km) and took a bus to Leon. It was too hot. By 9:00 am, it was already 80 degrees. We were joined by many other pilgrims who just needed a break from the heat.
One thing we could do without: the smell of cows. We walked past some stinky cows.
One thing Miles could do without: noisy roosters in the morning waking everyone up at 5:00 am
Number of pilgrims who stay in O’Pedrouzo the night before reaching Santiago: about 2200 according to the guy who ran the hotel we stayed in. 2200.
Best places we spent the night:
Albergue. We stayed in many nice Albergues and a few… well… they could use some help. For me the best one was the Albergue Ponte Ferreria run by a Dutch couple. What made it good — their hospitality. You felt welcome. I had actual veggies on my sandwich (do Spaniards not eat veggies?). We had a lovely breakfast. They played great music during the day.
Pension: Pension 9 de Abril in O’Pedrouzo. Although, we stayed in a few really nice pensions.
Hotel: Hotel Nueva Allandesa. They have an albergue, too but I splurged on a hotel room. Worth every penny. Had a bathtub, which is unusual in Europe. Yeah, my tired muscles were able to rest in a warm bath. And we had a lovely meal there.
Apartment: It’s a tie. We rented a flat in Pajares while on the Salvador and it was the nicest place I’ve stayed in. Modern, up-t0-date. The electricity wasn’t on initially but they quickly came over and got it working. We got there after a long, stressful day of walking through rain, cold, and mud. Waiting for us was food in the apartment — snacks, coffee, milk, etc. And coming in as a tie is the apartment in Santiago. The lady running it was especially nice and helpful. Lovely, clean, cool (AC!) apartment.
Fromista to Leon
146,923 steps; 105.65 km
Camino San Salvador
Leon to Oviedo
180,723 steps; 128.19 km
Oviedo to Santiago
468,970 steps; 337.33 km
571.17 km (354.9 miles)
A Day in the Life
I typically do not write about specific days. I find that type of Camino writing trite and pedantic. Instead I write about little nuggets that peak my interest like Miles’ love of vending machines.
However, a lot of people don’t know what the Camino is like. Here’s a brief synopsis of a typical day— wake up, brush teeth, pack bag, eat breakfast and then walk. Hopefully you have a place to stop for a break. Sometimes not (like yesterday when our first stop was at 20 km; or today when it was at 11km). Pilgrims usually stay in hostels called Albergues. They range in price and amenities. I’ve been adamant about staying in nice Albergues (clean, good facilities) or in private rooms (hotels, pensions). We’re a little spoiled right now. We’ve stayed in more hotels and pensions than Albergues.
There are times you come to an Albergue and everyone is quiet or talking amongst themselves. You’ll find people taking a nap, doing laundry, writing, reading, or just scanning their phone (this is Miles most days). But then there are times when the Albergue is alive. Yesterday, due to weather perhaps, electricity was out for most of the day. This meant that people had to entertain themselves without electronics (!). Early in the day, a group of Spanish men on horseback passed us on the trail. We met up again at the Albergue with their horses grazing in the pasture next door. The power was out but they drank many beers and pulled out a guitar. All afternoon the Albergue was filled with sounds of Spanish folk songs. The power came back on but the singing continued.
This is one day of many. On the Salvador, we stopped at a pension that also had a bar. It was a Sunday. When we and the other pilgrims sat down to eat dinner, we were not alone. The whole town filled the space, playing cards and gossiping. It was a apparent that this is something they do every Sunday. We just happened to be in the most popular place in town. Who knew? Days like this remind you of the intimate nature of the Camino. We are entering a town for a night. On the Primitivo (and Salvador), it’s a small town where everyone knows everyone. Except you. Most of the time you are treated well and you are welcome. Then there are times when you feel like an outsider looking in, trying to understand the culture around you.
Tomorrow, we’ll be gone from this small town and another group of pilgrims will stop by.
Onward and upward.
Have I mentioned I miss my bed? No? That’s a whole other story.
The Allure of Vending Machines
What is the allure of vending machines? I need to know. Miles gets very excited when he sees one and Spain has no shortage of them it seems. Every time we see one, he has to buy something. Anything. A cola. A waffle. Candy.
It reminds me of a blonde joke (sorry to all the blondes out there). Here’s my best attempt to tell the joke via writing (it’s much funnier in person):
A guy sees a blonde at a vending machine. She puts in her coins, presses what she wants and starts to jump up and down. She repeats this a couple more times — puts in the coins, presses what she wants and jumps up and down, very excited. He finally asks her, “Why are you jumping up and down?” She replies, “I’m winning!” Cue the laughter.
I doubt Miles views his treats from vending machines as “winning,” but based on how excited he is, I’m left wondering about my son. He’s not blonde, but still. Vending machines are quite interesting here. You can find all sorts of things for sale for a few euros — the typical candy, soda, and chips, but then you may see condoms, disposable masks, lighters, and most recently, we saw a vending machine selling raw meat. Yes. Raw meat.
Keeping Miles fed was a concern of mine when we started this walk. He’s 17 — tall, thin and eats a lot. It was relatively easy when we were on the Camino Frances because of the many services available. I cannot say the same thing for the Camino San Salvador. Many towns lack bars (cafes) and grocery stores. We walked 50 km without a grocery store and when we finally came to one, it was more like a convenience store that closed at 3:30 pm. I was able to buy a couple of things to tie us over but it was slim pickings.
On day 5 of our walk on the Salvador, we finally had a quality breakfast — cafe con leche and croissants. We even stopped at a town a couple hours later and had a great chicken sandwich. It actually had vegetables on it (very rare here). This was enough to get us through the rest of walking for the day.
Miles, with his penchant for junk food, said the other day that he’s learning about Spain through junk food. He picks weird gummies, cookies, and other treats to fully understand Spanish culture? Hmmm….
He’s requested, upon our stay in Oviedo (a very large city), that we find a good place to eat dinner. I had to remind him that the Spanish eat quite late at 9:00 or 10:00 pm, just when we are going to bed. I promised I would scope things out and see what I can find. I may make us dinner since we’ll have access to a kitchen. Or maybe he can find a vending machine that has a full dinner for 2 euros.
You never know what you’ll find in one.
The Kindness of Strangers
I told Miles at the start of our journey that I tend to bumble my way through Spain. Or perhaps, it’s more like Forrest Gump my way on the Camino. Whatever it is, I tend to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me get through. This trip is no exception.
From the moment we arrived at the airport in Madrid, we’ve encountered many nice strangers to help us out, even when we didn’t think we needed it. It first started when waiting for our bus to Burgos (then to Fromista). There seemed to be much confusion at the bus depot in the Madrid airport as to which bus people needed to get on. Even Spaniards were confused. One guy called the bus company. He did not seem satisfied with the responses he received from the company. Good thing I’m not afraid to use my broken Spanish to ask strangers which bus they were waiting on. Two men helped us find our appropriate bus, with one even going as far as to make sure our bags were loaded properly and that we got on the bus.
We found even more kindness from a host at an albergue who found Miles’ drivers license and a few other items he left behind. She was willing to drive it to us, but we were too far away. I don’t know if we’ll see his license again but she at least tried to get it to us.
Today we decided to take a train for half of our walk. Long story short — I’m tired of walking downhill on slippery, muddy paths or through hilly cow pastures — we walked gingerly walked past a bull as he was eating grass yesterday (did not look at him and no sudden movements). For the train, we spoke very poor Spanish to an older couple who were taking the same train to a different town. To get us on the train, the woman motioned to us and then made sure we got off at the right stop. I felt like my grandma was speaking through her — make sure Marcy and Miles get where they need to go. And getting off the train, we met a woman named Maria who helped us find a bar (cafe) to grab a bite to eat.
Did someone tell them we were coming — Two Americans with very little Spanish trying to find their way around rural Spain? Are we on the news? In the paper?
So, to all the Spaniards who are incredibly patient with a bumbling American and her son, I say thank you (muchas gracias!). There’s a saying that pilgrims like to say, “The Camino will provide.” It’s true but it isn’t the Camino that is providing, it’s spirit of the people here. That’s who provides.
Perhaps that’s the real Camino. It isn’t just the walking, but it’s kindness of strangers and our interactions with each other. Some days, the walking is secondary, almost a nuisance. It’s those days where people make the Camino.
It took three planes and 2 busses to get our destination in Spain for the Camino. The over 30 hours of travel took a toll on both of us, especially Miles, who found himself dozing off and yawning constantly on our bus rides (or waiting for them). He even considered laying down and sleeping on a bench in Burgos while we waited for our last bus.
His nodding off even seemed to concern our last bus driver, who slammed on the breaks a few times to keep Miles awake (we were 2 of 5 on the bus). This was to no avail, as Miles feel asleep anyway. The bus ride was short - about an hour, so he didn’t get quality zzz’s in. We finally arrived at our destination, Fromista, at 7:00 pm, tired, smelly, and hungry. The hotel were we stayed was quite lovely - modern, good food, friendly staff. It’s what we needed.
We had dinner shortly after arriving, a typical menu del dia in Spain (3 courses). Miles had the soup and after one taste, he was transported back to home, similar to the scene in Ratatouille where the restaurant critic eats the ratatouille and is immediately reminded of his childhood. The soup tasted as if I made it. Kudos to the woman in the kitchen and a note to budding chefs — keep it simple. The best food isn’t complicated, but rather is simple and seasoned well. That’s what people respond to.
I let Miles sleep in for our first day walking. Typically, I’m up at 6:00 and out the door by 6:30. After nice breakfast (freshly squeezed OJ - mmmm), we were on the road around 8:45. I had a room reserved, so it was not of big concern and the day was only 20-21 km.
After a rest stop and 6 km left, Miles started yawning while walking. I guess he’s still jet lagged. We made it to our room and showered, started laundry, and ran errands (boy needed a belt). A stop at a cafe for a coke and pastry seemed to wake him enough until we ate dinner.
Tomorrow is day 2. More walking but I’m hoping for a less sleepy kid. Can he at least stop yawning?
Wake up, Miles. Wake. Up.
The decision to go on the camino again (3rd time) is not to be taken lightly. So many things to consider here - when to go, which route to take, how long to walk, who to walk with (if anyone). After sitting on my rear for a few years, the idea of walking the camino again sounded quite appealing, especially after spending the last three years working full time and completing a PhD (the last 10 months have been especially grueling in this respect). I mentioned the idea of the camino to my husband and kids. Unfortunately, my husband cannot walk the camino due to the progression of his MS, but my son was intrigued. My son, a 17-year-old, lanky skinny kid seemed up for the challenge and ready to get away from Montana for awhile.
Since I'm not one to do things in any conventional way, I have chosen to the camino my own way. I realize there are people out there who feel the need to do the full Camino Frances from St. John in France to Santiago in Spain, even if they have to speed walk it to get it done in a specified amount of time. Me? Yeah, I'm not like this. I've done parts of the Frances (Leon to Santiago), parts of the Norte (Santander to when it breaks off to the Primitivo) and the entire Primitivo. This time around, we're starting on the Frances (Fromista to Leon) and then picking up the Camino san Salvador (Leon to Oviedo) and then walking the Primitivo again. Will I ever complete the entire Camino Frances? Not sure. Perhaps some day, I'll do it but probably during a slower time of year. The Frances is rather packed these days and the allure of the lesser traveled, more scenic routes speak to me more. If you're a Frances only type of pilgrim, try walking the Primitivo and Norte -- mind blowing how lovely these routes are and how peaceful they can be. The pilgrimage feels more real on these routes, whereas on the Frances, it feels touristy. I hear the Camino Ingles is especially nice, too. That will likely be my next one, along with the Portuguese (coastal from Porto).
At any rate, my son, Miles, and I are headed out on May 15 and will start walking on May 17. He doesn't know what to expect, which is a great place to be in. When I did my first camino in 2016, I had no idea what I was doing. I read about it, but honestly, had no clue what to expect. It left me more open to the experience. I hope he feels the same way and has a positive experience, even if he's walking every day with his mom lagging behind. Don't worry, Miles, I'll catch up.
The Camino at Home
Today I was to start on my third camino (4th route). It was to be a short one, just 5 days starting from Ferrol, Spain and ending in Santiago. The plan was to meet Joe at the cathedral after he completed his first camino. But alas 2020 had other plans.
The past 2 caminos (2016 and 2019) were used as a way to reflect and take a break from the every day. The first camino in 2016, along the French route, taught me more about who I am more than anything else in my life up until then. It was a mix of duality - one minute you are tired with sore feet and feeling lonely and the next you feel the extreme joy of seeing your camino friends and family. On this camino, I was typically the outsider - the American who didn't speak much Spanish other than "hola" or "si" or "cafe con leche, por favor." I spoke mainly through hand signals and arm motions. A whole conversation can be had through hand signals, by the way. I wonder if this is considered broken sign language.
The second camino in 2019, along the Norte and Primitivo, tested my endurance. The terrain was more challenging, but the scenery was incredible (better than the Camino Frances). I met many people along the way, but I had more time alone, making the human contact I did have, even more special. My Spanish, albeit much improved (added "lo siento" and "no entiendo" to my growing vocabulary list), was still not good enough for conversations. Broken sign language (hand signals) was still necessary.
My third camino will take a departure from Spain. I am fortunate enough to live in the Rocky Mountains with trails and day hikes up and down mountains and over streams. Each hike offers its own set of tranquility and chance for reflection.
However, instead of doing this alone, I have two teenage kids walking with me. My camino this summer may not be through ancient pathways forged by millions of pilgrims over thousands of years but rather it will be on hikes around my home with my two kids, connecting with them on a deeper level. Each kid is vastly different from the other. Where one is is quiet and stoic, the other is talkative and goofy, offering a great mix of personalities.
Recently on a 4 mile hike into a canyon, I watched them walking ahead of me, finding their own footing and way to navigate the path ahead of them. It was then I realized that my camino happens every day, on the streets of my hometown, on the trail through the forest, or on the path in northern Spain. The camino is a spirit that lives in all of us.
While it is disappointing to not walk the Camino Ingles this May, I look forward to exploring the trails and mountains around me and getting to know my kids. The Camino de Santiago will always be there.
The Feeling of “Ah...I’m done”
I’m writing this post in a hotel in A Coruña, Spain, 2 days after reaching the cathedral in Santiago. I would have written a post the night I reach Santiago but I needed time to rest and be with Joe and Miles, who made the trek from Montana to Spain to greet me at the cathedral.
The last 2 days of walking were incredibly familiar, as I had done the Camino Frances in 2016 and I followed the same route into Santiago. The route became crowded with more pilgrims and I found myself on autopilot as I walked through the city.
Upon reaching the cathedral, I felt a sense “Ah...” My journey was now complete and I could rest. Even though the day was relatively short (a mere 20 km), my feet were telling me to stop. They were tired. It was time for me to sit, relax and look back on my 2nd Camino experience.
It was a different experience than my first Camino — more physically challenging, a variety of people on the Camino, and a prettier landscape (nothing against the Camino Frances but the Coastal part of the Norte and the Primitivo have much better views).
Here are the most memorable things from my Camino and a few pertinent numbers:
According to my Apple Watch, over 21 days, I walked:
800,997 total steps
38,143 average steps per day
360.37 total miles / 579.9 total km
27.6 km average/day
2054 total flights of stairs (I’m not sure what they count as a flight of stairs if I’m walking up a hill)
Most flights of stairs in a day — 247 (from the valley to the top)
Most steps in a day — 48,373 — or 34.6 km or 21.52 miles
I didn’t have a nickname except for one person (Mike from Britain/France) called me “Mountain Woman” because I live in Montana and I was going to walk the Primitivo.
People from all over
Met people from all over, including the US. Nationalities represented: France, Canada, UK, Ireland, Spain, Korea, Taiwan, Italy, South Africa, Portugal, Hungary, Serbia, Australia, German, Netherlands, Latvia (and I’m sure there are more... these are the ones I can remember).
Saying I’m from Montana was usually met with some interesting exchanges:
“Montana. So that’s in the middle of the country, right?” — typical response. It was easier for me to say that I live in the Rocky Mountains or near Yellowstone National Park. The best response to saying YNP was, “Oh that’s where Yogi Bear lives.”
One person I met and walked a short time with was an older gentleman who was a geologist. He had been to Butte and knew the US quite well, actually. Typically, I was the only person people had ever met from Montana. However, I met 2 Montanans on the Primitivo. They were not walking the Primitivo... just doing a quick stint with a tour agency.
I met a few other Americans on the Camino, but there weren’t many of us. I can count 5 other Americans I met on the Norte and Primitivo.
With such a large international/European presence, there many questions and discussions about our President. The biggest take away, Trump is a joke. I’ll leave it at that.
Language is still a barrier for me but my Spanish has improved since 2016. I can understand more than I can speak and I’m slowly gaining confidence in using Spanish. It takes time. I’ll get it at some point.
The question of Camino Families has come up during the Primitivo. It’s been the experience of many pilgrims that Camino families are formed on the Camino Frances but not necessarily on the Norte or Primitivo routes. Why is this?
I noticed this early on in the Norte route, that people were basically keeping to themselves. Most of the people I met were either walking alone or walking with people they already knew. I met some incredible people during my short stint on the Norte and had some great conversations with them, but we were far from being a “family.”
On the Primitivo, I’ve seen a few more “families” formed but for the most part, people are on their own. However, it’s such a small group of pilgrims walking at this time, that you see everyone at some point every day either in a bar or in an albergue. We all know about each other’s aches, pains, issues, etc and we continue to support each other. It’s a different type of family. We’re more of a group of misfits who decided to walk one of the hardest routes.
I know that many of us at one point or another have seriously questioned why they decided to walk this route. The collective groan of seeing a steep hill ahead can be echoed by all. However, despite the difficulty of some days, we’ve been rewarded with much beauty — views of valleys covered in fog, flowers blooming, long walks through forests and along mountain paths, incredible cathedrals and churches, many of which are the oldest in the region, and many rivers and streams flowing next to you.
As we get closer to Santiago, the route changes to following more roads and you become sad that there isn’t a path through the forest to follow. Entering big cities, like Lugo, become jarring in a way — so many people and cars. Even entering Melide and meeting up with Frances route poses new challenges. Instead of a few pilgrims either ahead or behind you, now there are many. I guess it’s preparing us for the trek into Santiago, which seems to take an eternity once you hit the city limits.
While I loved having a couple of Camino sisters while doing the Camino Frances in 2016 (Esther and Gayre are the best!), it’s also been a good experience not to have a “family.” I’ve met a lot of people, heard their stories, and shared many laughs.
Is forming a Camino Family required to enjoy the Camino? For me, the answer is no. The Camino is what you make it and how you connect with others, even if language is a barrier. Just allow yourself to open up a bit.
And this is coming from an introvert.
Notes on Days 18, 19
Day 18 — Lugo to Ferreira — 27 km
Lots of walking on roads, creating much pain in my feet. I’m not suffering from shin-splints like others but it’s still hard on the body. We’ve had the pleasure of walking on mountain trails for several days that walking on the road seems to be taking a toll on people’s bodies. The route is flattening out but my body is sore and tired.
Last night I had my own room in Lugo — spent a little extra for ample rest and privacy. It was actually quite nice.
Tonight’s albergue isn’t full, either and it looks like I’ll have my own room. I’ll take it... some of these private Albergues offer more services — real sheets, real towels (a luxury!), and food. It’s the little things that add up.
Day 19 — Ferreira to Boente — 25 km
The day begins with me forgetting my trekking poles at the albergue. Oh well. They got me through the toughest part of the Camino, I think I can manage from here on out (hopefully).
Mornings still tend to be my slowest walking time and this morning was no different. I walked for 3-4 hours before having coffee. If I could insert an emoji here, it would be the sobbing one. But after my coffee and sandwich break, my body woke up and I felt like sprinting the rest of the day. Ok, sprinting is a strong word to use. I walked faster than normal.
Once entering Melide, our little Primitivo route met up with the Frances route and now it’s full of pilgrims. This part of the route is more familiar to me and I won’t have to rely so much on my phone to make sure I’m on the right path. Just follow the many backpacks.
Tomorrow is the last long day and I’ll begin carrying my pack again. It’s been nice not to have it on my back for the past 11 days.
A question was posed recently on a Facebook page for pilgrims “How can you walk 25 km in a day and get up and do it again? (Completely paraphrased).”
That’s a good, honest question. At the end of every day, each pilgrim has issues — blisters, hurting feet, leg pain, etc. We are putting ourselves through pain in order to reach our ultimate destination, Santiago. To do this, we walk on average 25 km per day. A day where you walk much less — under 20 km feels like a walk in the park (I can do this every day!) and seems like a vacation.
How do we do it?
The answer I posted to the gentleman on Facebook was simple— it’s different than walking at home. You just get up and go the next morning.
I honestly can’t explain it. I walk and hike at home. More often than not, I am listening to music or the news to occupy my mind. Some days it feels forced to go on a hike or walk to work, feeling as though I should be doing it, as opposed to wanting to do it. I know at the end of my hike or walk, I will head to my comfortable home, put my feet up and pet my cats.
But here, in Spain on the Camino, it’s different. A group mentality is at play. Walking the Camino is entirely an individual thing but you are seeing or staying with the same group of people (for the most part) day in and day out. Each morning we all wake up, put on our shoes, strap on a backpack, and head out the door. You walk through pain. You walk through Mother Nature’s various moods. Some days, yes, you feel Iike quitting or at least strongly question your choice to do this. Some days, you wake up tired and irritated that someone turned on the lights at 5:30 am. Some days are simply tougher than others.
But no matter what, you get up and start the process over again. Everyone is in this together, even if you’re close or not. Everyone has their own reason to walk the Camino but once you’re here, you’re part of a larger picture. Most of the time, it’s one you cannot see but you can feel it for sure.
Notes on Days 13-17
Day 13 - Pola de Allande to La Mesa - 19 km
I’m glad was only 19 km because it was one of the tougher days, physically. We started the day with a leisurely walk through the valley and then a steep climb up to the top of the mountain. With the steep descent down loose rocks, I’m glad I made to the albergue before the rain started. By the end of 19 km, I was done and ready for a break. I’ve done short days before and they seem like a cake walk. Not today.
The weather continues to be chilly and rainy. As I write this, it’s incredibly windy and rainy outside, so I’m definitely glad I’m inside. The town of La Mesa is quite small. The number of pilgrims boosts the population size each day, by about 40. It looks like the town is home to 20 people at most.
Day 14 - La Mesa to Grandas de Salime - 15 km
Today was a short and relatively easy day, which is what my knees need. We spent the morning descending 850 meters over 7.5 km. It was pretty easy terrain compared to yesterday, so I was a little happier and moved a little faster.
At the bottom of the valley was a dam, built in the 1950s. Interesting to see.
My backpack was late getting to the albergue. This meant sitting in a bar, drinking a beer and having a bite to eat while I waited for my bag to arrive. Yeah, that was difficult to do.
The days from now on get a little longer in terms of kilometers covered. Still more climbing in the mountains but eventually, it will just be foothills as we near Santiago.
Day 15 - Grandas de Salime - A Fonsagrada- 28 km
The misty, foggy morning didn’t clear up until we reached a certain altitude after climbing several meters. At the top, we could see the clouds over the valley and the sun warming things up.
It was also a day where we entered Galicia, leaving Asturias behind. This means, I have about 150 kilometers left until reaching Santiago. The concrete markers pointing you in the right direction, also show the number of kilometers left to reaching Santiago. This is a good and bad thing. Good that I know but bad because they are closer together and it looks like I’m not making any progress. “Oh I see, I’ve only walked 500 meters. Great.”
Day 16 — A Fonsagrada to O’Cavado — 25 km
My goal at the end of the day was just to get to O’Cavado. The walk was pretty much like it has been all along — lots of trails through forests, some muddy areas, some big uphill climbs, lots of downhills.
The foot I broke back in college has been giving me much pain by mid-morning. It’s at this point where I need to take ibuprofen to dull the pain. It generally works long enough to get me to my destination for the day. I keep telling my foot to give me a few more days and then it can rest.
Day 17 — O’Cavado to Lugo — 30 km
Gone today were the major climbs and descents, so 30 km felt like 20. Ok, it felt like 30 km but it wasn’t as tiring. My feet were the major thing that hurt the most. No blisters... just sore.
Lugo is the 100 km mark, so I’m nearly to Santiago. Yippee! The city is quite big — biggest city we’ve been in since Oviedo. It feels a little jarring to be around so many people. The pilgrims entering the city have been walking through small towns, in the countryside, and through forests. Big cities have been pretty much non-existent.
I like Lugo, though. The city is prepping for a big Roman celebration this weekend, since it is a city with Roman walls surrounding the old town area. I’d come back here again to explore the city. You know, come here when my feet aren’t yelling at me to stop walking around.
I wear many hats. First, I'm a wife to an amazing husband, Joe. Second, I'm a mom to 2 incredible kids, Caitlynn and Miles. Professionally speaking, I am a chef, dietitian, and writer working as an instructor in Hospitality Management at Montana State University in Bozeman.
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