Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Camino Inglés // day 2 // Hospital de Bruma - A Coruña

Camino Inglés, day 2 (Camino day 43).
Distance: 35.0km (78.4km / 1219.0km).
Weather: Cloudy and rainy.

In a way, the long wrong turn, walking in the opposite direction and having to sojourn out in the rain to get food, only added to the exitement of yesterday. So I was the last to go to bed yesterday, needing to have a moment to myself, calming myself down. Today, I was the first to wake up, seeing the need for time going against the current towards A Coruña. Thankfully a shorter distance today. Most of the other people here will head for Siguero. As it was a pleasant company yesterday, it would have been great to walk together with them today.

Albergue de Peregrinos de Hospital de Bruma in the morning.

Finding the junction where the routes from A Coruña and Ferrol intersects was my first complexity today. I had talked to the hospitalero and he had given me some information, containing one important fact. The Camino has been rerouted, and both routes now joins before As Travesas if you walk towards Santiago de Compostela. It is on the same road that I had to walk up to yesterday, only in the other direction. It was raining quite the amount outside when I ate breakfast, but when I leave the ancient pilgrim hospital it has lessened some.

The descent through woods from As Travesas.

After As Travesas (the walk here mostly constisting of walking next to the road) there is a signpost pointing towards Ferrol, but not for A Coruña. Scrutinizing the map closely, I do manage to find the way, confirmed by a welcoming yellow arrow sometime later. As Travesas is also the highest point on the English Way, at 450m. Fronting farmland and acres on both sides first, the Camino soon starts to make a long descent on a forest path. The Camino emerges from the woods into a small farmland hamlet before finding cover under the trees again.

Looking back at the Camino coming down from As Travesas, coming from A Coruña you will go up that hill.

That this is the ultimate day of my walk is hard to fathom, or convince myself that it is, accustomed as I am to this way of life after so many days of walking. Weather has been nice to me so far. Much kinder than the forecast, but that I will be spared rain today is not possible. The horizons are bleak. And it soon starts to rain. Not suspecting to meet any one, one lonesome pilgrim trudges past me. I stop for a coffee and some food at a bar in Sardones, a small village featuring some old buildings with worn facades. I know I will miss the Spanish café con leche when I am back home. Missing the waymarker out of the village, or rather the ones into Sardones, I go a short stretch on the road before having to retrace my steps.

Old buildings with worn facades in Sardones.

Angles can sometimes be misleading, signs may appear logical when viewed from one angle, but not from another. Coming from the opposite direction, this is such an angle. A large yellow arrow painted on a fonte entices me to follow the road next to it, where a short steep descent follows. Placing me at the mercy of a junction with no waymarks. I spend some time finding the correct route from here, backtracking once up to the yellow arrow. If coming from A Coruña, I would have seen the arrow from another angle, the correct one after walking through a section of forest path. This was just before Sergude, you will get here afterwards. There is now an albergue in Sergude, nice if you want to split the 32.5km to Hospital de Bruma.

A long gone house.

During my search for the Way, the rain intensified.

Dark clouds coming rolling over the horizon.

More walk through farmland and villages, before I approaches the area on the map looking like continuous settlements all the way to A Coruña. Here I go the wrong way again, it is easy to make these mistakes when walking in the reverse direction, but this one was more or less my own fault for not paying enough attention. I end up in Altamira on a very busy road, but manages to find my way back without the need to backtrack.

A rainy day on the Camino Inglés.

Rain arrives for full before I get to Sigrás, where I head for a bar for shelter and an exclusive lunch. On the 43rd and final day, I feel that I have earned it, I have about 14km left of my quattro Caminos.

The old well outside the Church of Santiago in Sigrás.

Sun is then miraculously appearing in holes above. Welcoming after so much darkness on the sky. Again the route does not match my map, making it difficult to get onward through an industrial area. Finding the way, I also finds two other pilgrims. Now near the airport, i have quite good views of the weather ahead. It looks promising, but that promise is surrounded by dark omens.

Church of Santiago in Sigrás.

Down at the Ponte de Burgo, another nice old bridge, the Camino joins a riverside promenade. It must be great to get here after the walk throgh the cityscape of A Coruña and its outskirt. It is welcome to me too. It feels like the announcement of the end of my journey, although a nice one at that. Gentle weather and relaxed people about. Out in the river, or in the small wetlands next to, are various birdlife, with the then mandatory birdwatchers lined up on the promenade.

Peregrino in painting on wall before the riverside promenade towards Portazgo.

Without having been a spectacular walk, the promise of bad weather and uncertain routefinding has made this day exciting too. Now, with A Coruña almost around the corner and good weather, I loose some of my tension. The river promenade ends, after about 3.5km, chasing me up into Portazgo and nothing but a city walk from here on. The route rises a little, gently, providing views back down to the river.

Ponte do Burgo.

In A Coruña, already starting in the outskirts, I have to follow the directions I had jotted down. Finding the way is not straightforward. Passing by the busstation confirms the way and stir up some memories. Ironically, it is finding the route through the city that proves to be the most difficult. If I were just to go straight to the Santiago church, it would be easy, I know the way there. If I want to follow the Camino properly, it is not.

Ría do Burgo river promenade.

I spend quite some time trying to maneuver myself through the streets, both nrrow and broad, and bustling with people. Always on the lookout for a confirmary waymark, which is not so easy to spot. On the positive sand, I get to see a lot more of the city on the way in than planned. At the large Praza de María Pita, I know that I am close, but still asks for a map at the tourist office (got tired in the end).

John Lennon statue in A Coruña, almost looking like he has grown horns.

A long journey is at its end when I walk up the narrow street to the Igrexa de Santiago, 43 days after I set forth from Lisboa. It is apt that I end up here at the church dedicated to Santiago, when I have not walked to Santiago de Compostela itself. The square in front of the church is far smaller than the Praza do Obraidoiro, but I still need to sit down in the same fashion as there. Only me here though, and no other pilgrims arriving, finishing their Camino. A short and quiet contemplative moment, before I sit down at the café next to the church for a beer. I gratefully arrived under a blue sky.

Igrexa de Santiago in A Coruña. The end of my four Caminos starting from Lisboa in Portugal.

In my mind, I had thought it would be great to walk further, to end my Caminos at the Torre de Hércules. Also a fitting endpoint, but I see the time has been running faster than I had. I consider taking a taxi out, but dismisses the notion. Good thing too, I would not have made it before what little is left of the light would be gone. I have seen the Tower of Hercules before too, so I start walking towards my hotel. It starts to rain. A lot. It makes the Praza de María Pita beautiful.

Rain over the marina in A Coruña.

Reflections are like windows or openings into an alternate version of what you see.

Praza de María Pita.

Luxurygrim the last night, well earned. In the evening, I walk around in the Crystal City as A Coruña is also called. Due to the glass-enclosed galleries on the facades next to the seaport. I like it here. Also in the narrow streets where I look for a pizza parlor for my dinner. A short walk over to the Porta do Sol reveals anything but sun, here a strong wind blows filled with rain.

Concello da Coruña at the Praza de María Pita.

Sitting down, I reminisce of my four Caminos, and become aware that they resembles a cross in a way. Lisboa is the southern end of the cross. The Camino Portugués the lower cross arm. Ponferrada is the eastern end, the Camino Real de Invierno the right cross arm. Muxía / Finisterre the western end and the Camino de Finisterre the left arm. A Coruña is the northern end of the cross, the Camino Inglés the upper cross arm.

The Crystal City in the evening.

I have had a truly varied pilgrimage (or pilgrimages).

<< Hospital de Bruma

Monday, October 29, 2018

Camino Inglés // day 1 // Santiago de Compostela - Hospital de Bruma

Camino Inglés, day 1 (Camino day 42).
Distance: 43.4km (43.4km / 1184.0km).
Weather: Nice, then overcast, then rain.

I wake up feeling uncertain again, in doubt whether to go or not. The idea of spending too much time trying to locate the way in really bad weather is not that tempting. And I am very satisfied with the three Caminos that I have done, maybe it is time to be happy with that and spend the next two days in Santiago and A Coruña. Taking some time off in a(nother) way, a vacation from the walking.

Praza da Inmaculada in the morning.

The Camino Inglés is the way that the pilgrims from the British Isles used to go when they were walking to Santiago de Compostela. Hence the name, the British Way. Of old they were sailing to A Coruña to start their pilgrimage in Spain from that seaport, but in the latter days the pilgrims has changed to use Ferrol as their starting point. This is mostly due to the rules regarding getting the Compostela. In order to be eligible for the Compostela, pilgrims must at least walk 100km (they also need to have at least two stamps in their pilgrims passports too). A Coruña is only about 73km from Santiago, making it less attractive for pilgrims, opting instead to begin from Ferrol (119km).

Walking through Rúa de San Francisco after having begun the Camino Inglés towards A Coruña.

In 2016, I walked the Camino Inglés from Ferrol together with my cousin, so I have done the Camino. It is a short and pleasant one. When I made up my plan for this journey, I wanted to see how the Camino between A Coruña and Hospital de Bruma (where the two routes joins) was. Not wanting to travel too much by bus (especially for such a short Camino, two days), I decided to walk it in the opposite direction if I was to do it. And it would not matter at all regarding the Compostela. The only problem, there would be no waymarking in the direction I would be going, but I considered it to be a nice little challenge.

The Camino goes past this old medieval bridge in Santiago.

And a challenge I have got, I decide to go. The weather outside is not bad at all, in fact, it is rather good. As befits, I start my fourth Camino in a row at the Praza do Obraidoiro. From the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to the Santiago church in A Coruña.

View of Santiago de Compostela from the entrance to the city on the Camino Inglés (my exit).

Walking through and out of Santiago I have few problems with finding my way. It also helps that I have walked the route before, although there are places that eludes my memory. The walk through the city is also nice, but I know that the boring parts will arrive later on. After passing by the medieval bridge and walking upwards on a road, there is a little sideway that you can take to get a view of Santiago and the cathedral from. There are clouds on the sky, but the morning light from the sun over the city is nice.

A tipping milestone, this one looks even more lopsided than it did when I walked past it a couple of years ago.

The first wrong turn of the day (I assume I will do some more later) I make just before I get to the boring industrial area in the outskirts of Santiago. It was a fifty-fifty chance of taking the correct turn at a junction, I made the wrong choice. Ironically there is moment of walking bliss just after I have passed through the industrial area, where the Camino goes on a gravel track next to the walls of the last buildings of the area. Through the trees hanging over the path, the filtered sunlight is making a magic display of light. And shortly afterwards, the Camino throws you out on next to the busy highway next to a huge factory spewing out smoke, such contrasts.

Cemiterio de Boisaca.

I remember this part from when I walked the Camino Inglés, walking next to the busy road, but I do not remember where we came down to the road from, and no places I pass by sparks any memory in me. Thankfully someone must have been doing the same thing before, as I find a yellow arrow pointing me to where I will find the Camino again. When walking in the opposite direction, I can only use the waymarks and the yellow arrows to confirm that I am on the correct way. Necessitating that I turn my head and look back ever so often.

Filtered sunrays on the Camino Inglés.

Camino Inglés between Sigüero and Santiago has some pleasant wooden paths, but also goes through places next to busy roads. After going underneath the highway, the Camino goes into a forest and the only way I can know where to go, is to follow the map in my guidebook. The scallops and arrows are so few through this forest, that I can do nothing but trust myself. Taking the correct route or not, I find my way into Sigüero, not yet halfway to Hospital de Bruma, my destination for today.

A small bridge in the small park in Sigüero.

The walk here from Santiago has gone fairly flawlessly, with a few exceptions. And the weather has been nothing at all as predicted. I am glad that I made the decision to go. Lunch is taken in a café in Sigüero, before I walk out of the tiny town through a small and nice park. Not many pilgrims has come in the opposite direction, but there are a few when I pass by the short industrial area outside the town.

A tree in a field.

It is from here that the fun begins. If you walk towards Santiago de Compostela, you will walk through this section just before Sigüero. Here the Camino goes in a straight line for 5km, at least that is how it was when I walked it three years ago. At the end, the path turns left and crosses the highway again. Should be easy to find my way. Quite pleasant at the beginning, then you get a little bit tired after walking through the relative same scenery.

The long and not winding road.

After some while I arrive at a junction. Believing it to be where I should leave the straight gravel path, I turn left and continue further on another track. Problem is, there are no more yellow arrows or any other Camino waymarkers to be found any longer. And after walking down a hill to a bridge, with still no waymarkers to see, I am pretty much sure that I have gone the wrong way. So I walk back to the junction and continue on the straight line. Having walked for quite some time, it becomes perfectly clear that this was a wrong choice. I realize that I actually had made the correct decision earlier, and turn back again. In accordance with my now sour mood, dark clouds are gathering rapidly on the sky.

Farmers working.

In fact, I had made the correct decision when I turned left the first time. After crossing the bridge I finally see a yellow arrow again. Where did the trust in myself go? In fact, I should have left the straight path long before I did. Because shortly afterwards I pass by some waymarkers that makes it clear that the Camino either has been rerouted or that my guidebook does not show the correct route on the map. Whatever the reason is, the Camino does not go where the map in my guidebook says it is going.

A chapel seen from the Camino.

Grateful to be on the right way, but still annoyed of the loss of time and spent energy. Another thing I am grateful for, is that there now is only quiet countryside between me and Hospital de Bruma. There are also more pleasant forest paths on this part of the Camino, it soothes my nerves.

Cute mural on the wall of a passageway under a road.

I have no more mishaps in finding the way, but the long distance I have to cover today and the loss of time has made me walk faster than I want. And my serious wrong turn sure did not make the distance any shorter. The result is that I feel my ankles are starting to hurt. At slower speed, I arrive at the curious village of the sculpturer, Cabeza de Lobo. Now the dinosaur is standing out on a lawn, having a mannequin doll for dinner. And there are even more of the strange statues and sculptures standing around. Even a bar has opened here.

Through autumn woods before Buscas.

Rain finally arrives when I walk into Hospital de Bruma and I feel happy to get here. All good things come in threes, but for me, today it is more like all bad things come in threes. You can count my long wrong turn as the first, my hurting ankle the second. The third is that the bar and café here is closed (every Monday). And I do not have anything to eat with me, except for five pieces of churros, but they do not last long as dinner. The hospitalero at the nice albergue is also not present when I arrive.

One of the more grotescue cruceiros.

There are however several other pilgrims here. A German pilgrim tells me that there is a store about 2km away, but I feel too tired to walk there now. Eventually I have to persuade myself that I have to get food, so I wrap myself into my raingear and heads out into the now heavy rain. It has also become dark and I am not sure of the way. Tired I find the place, seeing that there is also a hotel and a café there too. If I had known, I had probably just taken my backpack with me and checked into the hotel. I buy some food, then decide to just have dinner at the café while I am here. They do not serve any food.

A winding forest track.

I try my luck at the restaurant in the hotel, but they do not start serving dinner until later, a little bit crestfallen I return to the tiny store of the gas station and buy some more food. Then I venture out into the dark and rain again. There is however a saying that the Camino provides. And it does. Because the hospitalero had heard news of my arrival and walk to get food, and on the way down he comes driving past me and picks me up. He had taken his car to drive and look out for me. I am so grateful.

Dinosaur and ship in Cabeza de Lobo.

So it all ends very well. I have dinner in the cosy kitchen together with the other pilgrims, all of course walking in the opposite direction. Our dinner is what may be called quite meagre, but we all share what we have got. After walking all the way here against the 'tide' and quite alone, it is nice to spend the evening together with other people. One more day and I am finished with my walk for this time.

In Hospital de Bruma.

<< Santiago de CompostelaA Coruña >>

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Camino de Finisterre // day 4 // Negreira - Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Finisterre, day 4 (Camino day 41).
Distance: 21.4km (120.3km / 1140.6km).
Weather: Rain and sunny.

The clock was to be set one hour back during the night. I had completely forgotten that. A Camino does that to you, time is a thing lost when doing this pilgrimage. So instead of walking up at 7 o'clock as I believe it to be, the clock is really 6 o'clock. Going down for breakfast, the café was to open at seven, I am surprised to find it closed. Another morning bird then comes up with the answer, reminding me of the change to wintertime. At least I can sleep a little bit longer then.

Peregrino statue in Negreira.

Outside, the clouds are grey and dull, but it is not raining. I had hoped to get early to Santiago de Compostela today, so Maria told me at breakfast that she would walk together with another woman, but leaving Negreira I find her alone. She had taken a wrong turn, and then lost the other pilgrim.

Forest path between Negreira and Ponte Maceira.

The first part of the walk today is all about Ponte Maceira. As the clouds has dissipated significantly, clearly showing signs of retreating, I have a hope of getting there in good weather. Seeing the signs coming from another direction, I know it will be a close call. Out from Negreira, the roads we are walking on are wet surfaces lit up by the reflected light. Then the hard surface is replaced by a lovely forest path, where I finally can see the sun, now shining as a bright star through the trees. I know my way now, soon passing under the nice bridge tucked in between the trees covered in vines.

Río Tambre and the small curved waterfall at Ponte Maceira.

Arch of the bridge at Ponte Maceira.

It starts to rain, just before we reach Ponte Maceira.

Ponte Maceira is a wonderful place. One of the true gems of the Camino de Finisterre. I am still surprised that almost every pilgrim I see here, just takes the mandatory picture and then moves on. This is a place that needs to be taken in slowly, needs exploring. Surrounding the wonderful bridge is a picturesque little village. On the northside of the bridge there is a very old mansion and mill, as well as a long and curved, but not high waterfall. You can walk under the bridge, by joining a stonewalk next to the restaurant on the eastside of the bridge.

Ponte Maceira.

It stops raining, just a we reached the bridge. Then the weather gradually became better. This time it is Maria that has to wait for me. I want to get some nice shots of the place, which gets a little bit delayed by a bus unloading a group of tourists. I have said it before, but if there was accommodation to be found here, I would seriously consider staying at the place.

Farm buildings with paintings of...well...farm animals.

In Trasmonte, Maria spots another cruceiro (there are so many of them) and sets off to inspect it closer. I continue walking, in the firm belief that she would soon catch up with me, as has been usual so far. However, walking for quite a time, there is no sign of her catching up at all. When I am up in Carballo after a long and slowly ascending walk on the road, there is still no sign of her. Feeling that she is somewhat prone to take the wrong turn, I get worried. I turn back, wondering where it became of her, but truth be told I am a little bit annoyed by it.

A pilgrim approaching on the forest path up from Augapesada.

I find her, standing transfixed at the same cruceiro as I left her. Wondering if she has been here and looked at the cross all the time. She has not, she had walked over to the nearby church where there was a sermon. She is really sorry when I tell her that I worried about her.

Lovely woodswalk down to Augapesada.

Except for Ponte Maceira, it is the forest paths that are the highlights of the walk between Negreira and Santiago de Compostela. Before we arrive at Augapesada there is a wonderful path down through the woods. With autumnal colors about to explode, but not quite there yet. Part of the path must have been an old Roman road, as it is covered by cobblestones. We both find the very old bridge in Augapesada interesting, especially as it is now just more of a monument, being located more or less in the garden of some houses. No roads or paths are going over that bridge now.


We have lunch at my usual coffee place after I have left Santiago. Maria insists on paying for this meal too, maybe out of feeling guilty for earlier. We two are the only ones going towards the tomb of St. James, there is now a steady flow of pilgrims on their journey to the end of the world. Implying that this might be the usual midpoint of the walk to Negreira.

The old Roman bridge in Augapesada.

When walking through the small villages, hamlet and forest paths that the Camino de Finisterre takes you through here, the weather changes drastically on the sky. A clear blue sky quickly turns darker and we are under a heavy onslaught of rain, thankfully short. No complaining, I have been lucky arriving at the cathedral in nice weather both times so far on this trip, but things looks not so promising now. The showers comes in waves.

Woods mirrored.

If you ask me, the Camino de Finisterre has the absolute best way of entering Santiago de Compostela of all the Caminos, it is then kind of ironic that it is mostly used to leave the city. On the way to the cathedral there are no industrial areas or boring suburbs to walk through. Only forest paths and small villages before you can stand still and see the iconic spires of the cathedral. Then only a short dip through the woods past some forgotten buildings and up again and into the city through nice streets. To me, seeing the cathedral again is far better from this angle than any of the first sightings on the other Caminos. Camino Frances has actually the most boring entrance to the city in my mind.

Waymarker towards Santiago de Compostela.

Dark clouds over a hamlet on the way to Santiago, soon afterwards it started to rain.

Now I stand looking over at the cathedral, which is barely visible due to the rain clouds residing over Santiago, but the clouds are lifting. Slowly blue sky appear over the end of the pilgrimage, it is a wonderful moment. When we start walking down the dip through the little river Río Sarela, the sky over Santiago is almost free of clouds. We pass by the tent that I have seen pitched here every time I have walked past, we pass by the ruins of the old building next to the river, which are covered in vines. We cross over the old bridge and then climb the short paved road up. We are in Santiago, only a nice walk through the streets before we are there.

Santiago de Compostela.

It is a total clear blue sky when we walk towards the cathedral. Another great thing about this entrance is that you walk towards the front of the cathedral, arriving looking up at it and not coming in from the sides. I have now finished my third Camino in a row, the Portugúes, the Invierno and now the Finisterre. While we have been away there must have been some kind of festival or arrangement here, for the Praza do Obraidoiro is full of scaffolds, metal fences and other paraphernalia in the process of being cleared away.

Rua das Hortas.

I had not expected to arrive under a clear blue sky, given how the weather unfolder during the walk, but I am extremely happy. We sit down in front of the cathedral, as customs are. Although Maria who has gone a far longer pigrimage than I have, even with my three combined, feels the need to lie down and contemplate what she has finished. Around us are the usual smiling faces of the other pilgrims having finished too.

Scallop and old staircase next to the Fachada das Praterías of the cathedral.

When we leave to find a place to stay, clouds are also arriving above the Praza do Obraidoiro, finishing their pilgrimages too. And as soon as we are under roof, at my usual place A Casa do Peregrino, it begins to rain again. Someone watched over our entrance to Santiago. Afterwards, I go down to the Oficina del Peregrino to collect my Compostela.

Torre da Berenguela.

As I have written in an earlier post, Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful city in rain. And especially just after rain, with all its historical buildings reflected in the water and pools in the streets and squares. Later, I meet Maria again at my favorite eating spot, A Taberna do Bispo. Their tapas is so good that there should be a Camino to it, Camino de Taberna do Bispo.

Pazo de Raxoi at the Praza do Obraidoiro.

My only worry now is the upcoming weather, according to the forecast. It worries me. My plan was to walk the Camino Inglés to A Coruña, from where I will fly back home to Norway. However, I will be walking in the opposite direction, with no waymarking in that direction. In foul weather, I do not find that idea that comforting. I consider staying one more day here in Santiago, then take a bus to A Coruña instead. There is plenty to see in both cities.

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela.

In the end, I decide to give it a try. I am just sceptical of trying to locate the way in bad weather I guess, having no waymarks to guide me. In the evening, I sit down at a bar for a beer, while I jot down the route backwards, mostly for my own memory. It will be another exciting Camino. I was very satisfied with this Camino de Finisterre, and although it is better to walk towards Finisterre and/or Muxía, I was glad that I walked it in the direction I did.

The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela reflected i a pool with the scallop.

<< NegreiraHospital de Bruma >>

popular posts