Saturday, July 2, 2016

Hospital de Bruma - Santiago de Compostela

Camino Inglés day 4.
Distance: 40.0km (123.2km), time spent: 9:52 (35:11).
Weather: Rain in the morning, then nicer and nice during the day.


In the morning on the fourth and last day on the Camino Inglés, it is even more grey outside than it was yesterday morning, it is raining and today the church spires of Santiago de Compostela awaits us in the gloomy horizon. We have a long walk ahead of us today, forty kilometres; but as we lost a few days due to the delayed luggage, we do not want to split up this leg into two shorter ones.

Leaving Hospital de Bruma in a light rain in the morning, outside the church, the lamppost is still on.

We embarks out in the rain after breakfast, which gives us a chance of testing the ponchos we bought, though it is not the heaviest of rain. Around us, the clouds is folding heavily down across the Galician countryside, which adds a certain melancholic atmosphere to the surroundings. It is quiet on the country roads; we can hear the raindrops falling on the ground. Even though the weather is grey, I like it as we walks in the morning, so there is a certain chance that I enjoy walking in melancholy surroundings.

A grey and melancholic Galician landscape in the morning.

The weather has slowly started to ease as we enter between the first houses of Cabeza de Lobo, when I recall that there is something that I have forgotten. It comes back to me just before we stand right in front of it, by others who has walked this Camino; I have seen pictures of a large, almost full-scale dinosaur along the route. Although it is not standing at the same place as in the pictures now, but stand more stowed away beside a warehouse. The dinosaur is not alone in being a curious element along the Camino in this village; countless weird sculptures are placed next to the road, including a tractor on bent rails.

Kjetil walking in the rain on a quiet country road after Hospital de Bruma.

In A Rúa / Buscas it is coffee o'clock, Solvor is already seated at the first bar we come to (Bar Novo). The weather has eased and the clouds seems to be in a rush to get away from us. This part of the Camino is nicer than expected. We alternate between going on small and less trafficked roads and quiet forest roads. Buildings are never far away, both farms, churches and often, the abandoned and dilapidated memories of former homes.

In Cabeza de Lobo, pilgrims will meet this dinosaur (or dinogrim); I am unsure whether if it is a diplodocus, brontosaurus or brachiosaurus. As well as the dinosaur, there were numerous other weird sculptures standing around in this village.

Then we cross the highway and everything changes, the Camino changes character, it flattens out and forms almost a straight line of approximately six kilometres of relatively dull walking. Ahead of us, a lone figure wanders. We overtake her, an elderly French woman, smiling, has gone from Le Puy some years ago, now she just takes it slow and calm. A small friendly meeting on the Camino. Sigüero welcomes us by a small park, where we sit down and eat the melon that Kjetil has carried for a long time (it is about time, it would barely held any longer).

Even though we are getting closer to Santiago de Compostela, the route still goes through several sections of forests, here on a path through a tunnel of vegetation.

Sigüero gives no impression of being particularly exciting, but it is definitely time for lunch. Where the route goes through the town, we are a little bit uncertain of. At Miras, we order some dishes that quickly proves to be larger than expected, croquetas, tortilla and jamon serrano on toasted bread. Solvor suddenly appears and we waves at her to join us at the table. A local man comes out, starts talking in English, hints about that we should stay here and that he can drive us the short ride to Santiago tomorrow. He intends to pay for our cervezas. We say no, but finds out that he has paid for them anyway when I ask for the bill. This is so far Solvor goes today, so we say goodbye to each other before we continue.

Lunch in Sigüero, Kjetil and Solvor. On the table in front of us, a larger meal than expected.

Now there are only about twenty kilometres left to Santiago, they go through surprisingly enough many forest sections. When we leave Sigüero, we can hear the sound of a shotgun going off twice. I make a pinecone animal that I place on a waymarker-stone. From being dark, gloomy and rainy in the morning, it has now changed to be hot with a cloudless sky above.

Igrexa de Barciela outside of Sigüero.

The very last stretch toward Santiago gets somewhat strange, we arrive at a small junction where there is a yellow arrow saying that the Camino oficial goes to the left, while there is another yellow arrow pointing in the other direction toward a waymarker-stone. The guidebook says we should turn right, but according to the tarmac, it is not the official route. A car stops by and says it is the oficial that is the correct way. The purist in me screams in such situations like this and for a good while I walk with the feeling that we walk on a route that is the locals who have marked to guide the pilgrims to their establishments (memories from Turkey and the Lycian Way).

The detour, or the official way, goes first through a boring stretch along a road, but after a while, it ventures out in a quite pretty and nice forest with the sun shining through the trees. Then we are dumped out next to a high trafficked highway that leads to Santiago and I fear that this route will follow this highway all the way into the city. We take a cola break at a hotel / restaurant next to the highway. Then we walk along the highway, fortunately, the waymarks leads us away from the highway shortly afterwards and brings us back to a familiar waymarker-stone. I still feel unsure whether this really was the correct way.

The Way to Santiago, the most pleasant part of the final last kilometres of Camino Inglés, through nice and bright woods on the route marked as the camino oficial.

We are rapidly approaching Praza do Obraidoiro, Camino Inglés enters Santiago on a different route than the Camino Frances / Primitivo / Norte do. The route through the city is not so bad, but it is not waymarked as Camino Frances is, so we spend some time figuring out where it really goes. I feel a certain excitement by arriving in the city again; I am not sure what Kjetil really feels. From the moment we are in the city centre, there is a significant change in the number of people and pilgrims (as well as tourists).

Arrived in Santiago de Compostela at the Praza do Obreidoiro, the cathedral still under maintenance in the background.

Upon arrival at the large plaza in front of the cathedral you have to just sit down, put on a smile and think that you have made it...again. We have reached the goal, but the adventure is not over yet, barely halfway. Around us, the plaza is full of hustle and bustle, pilgrims everywhere, on foot, on bikes and with paddles. We share a beer and just sit down watching the people around us, the sea of pilgrims and the cathedral that still is not finished with the maintenance work.

Santiago in the evening, the lights from Praza do Obreidoiro illuminates the front of the cathedral.

Then we go to our hotel, A Casa do Peregrino, where we get a shower and a short break before we go out in the city. We pick up our Compostelas, this time also the personalized version that specifies the numbers of kilometres you have walked and from where you started your pilgrimage as well. Checks the status of our delayed baggage, no changes there. Takes a few beers in the sun. Have dinner at the Taberna do Bispo, I still do not know a place with better tapas (I repeat from last year, their fried brie tapas with blueberry sauce is the best tapas I have ever tasted).

The Compostela for Camino Inglés.

We end the evening at Cafe Casino with a coffee liqueur. The European Championship-match between Germany and Italy is shown on a screen, the penalty shootout must contain the worst collection of penalties ever, but it was exciting to watch it. Tomorrow it is once again out on the road, heading towards Muxia.

The personalized Compostela you can get for 3€, it will also display how many kilometres you have walked, which Camino and where you began your pilgrimage from.

Camino Inglés is probably not the most exciting of the Caminos, but nevertheless it is a short and pleasant walk. My expectations were not so high, but we had a nice walk from Ferrol. If you have less time available and want to complete a full Camino, this one like Camino Finisterre is a suitable option. And there are fewer pilgrims along this route during the summer than it is on the far more overcrowded Camino Frances after Sarria. Buen Camino!

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