Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 4: Friday May 23 & Saturday May 24: Barcelos to Ponte de Lima

Today we left Portugal and entered Spain.  In reality, at the conclusion of the walk we returned to Barcelos where Michelle was just hanging out in her cast.  While in Barcelos, she was are fully attended to by the family owners of the pensión where we where staining: they even had a wheelchair for her to use.  This was a beautiful day until the outskirts of Porriño where we encountered an industrial area infused with toxic smells.  I immediately had an allergic reaction (burning rash on my legs) and we called it quits for the day.  Nonetheless, lots of gentle hills and wide variety of flowers as well as the usual churches in each village we passed.

Margie, Syd & Kin

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Last Day in Santiago de Compostela: June 1, 2014

As so frequently occurs, I have fallen desperately behind in my blog posts, so I will use this last quiet day in Santiago to summarize events and to share some of my photos of the journey.  This Camino has been all about flexibility and resourcefulness: very little has gone forward as planned, and I did not want the disruptions to ruin either my Camino experience or that of the other Camino chicas with whom I was traveling.  As I described in an earlier post, one of the Austin chicas, Michelle, tripped on the steps out of Lisbon on the way to the train to Porto.  This occurred on Sunday, we all stayed in denial about the severity of her injury until Tuesday when she went for an x-ray at the hospital and discovered that her foot was broken rather than badly bruised, and that she required a cast.  She still had the crazy idea that she night do the walk in a boot, but that was never going to happen.  We were all crushed that she would not be able to walk after months of preparation and training, not to mention an expensive plane ticket to Portugal.  So from Wednesday until the weekend, we attempted to keep her with us by staying in more comfortable hotels rather than pilgrim hostels, and then taking a taxi back to meet her at day's end.  This was fine while we were staying in a family-run pensión in Barcelos because there were wonderful Portuguese "mothers" to care for her while we were out walking (they even had a wheelchair!), but became increasingly expensive for everyone and lonely for Michelle as the week progressed.  Two of us (Kim and I) were sick with some horrid bronchial infection, and everyone was exhausted and ready to shower, eat, and sleep at the end of each day's walk, but Michelle wanted company since her day was pretty understimulating.  By Saturday, it was clear that this plan was not sustainable, so it was decided that I would go by train with Michelle to Santiago where she could see a physician (she required a doctor's authorization in order to fly) both because she was here in my invitation and because she needed both a traveling companion and a translator.  So I missed a day of walking and the group decided to take a train to the Spanish border and proceed from there.

After Michelle was (more or less) comfortably ensconced in  Santiago hotel, we got back on track with the scheduled walks with nights in pilgrim albergues (hostels).  Although my companions liked the idea of only paying 6 euros per night, it turned out that they were less enthusiastic about sharing a sleeping space with 30+ other people.  A bit traumatic for them, but I was accustomed to this from prior trips.  At the same time, I was feeling much better (having taken antibiotics) and Kim was miserable and not getting better.  So for the final stages, she stayed in hotels (the coughing would have kept the whole hostel awake) and then stayed behind trying to recuperate.  Ultimately she met the "final three" at the Pilgrim's Mass in Santiago, and then, after standing in line in the rain for more than an hour to get our Compostela, we all headed to Finisterre by the ocean for a couple days of sunshine and relaxation before returning here to Santiago.

Tomorrow we head back to our respective homes.  It will be great to sleep in my own bed & see the kitties!

The waymarker that tells us that we are 115 kms from Santiago

Some of the wall art we saw along the way
My three traveling companions in a Camino sculpture.

So many beautiful flowers that I have never seen before

Yellow & orange poppies
Some Portuguese cyclists we met along the way.
The sign of the Camino: the shell representing St. James ("Santiago").
My trusty backpack, poles, gloves & camera.
A friendly Spanish woman on the Camino path.
Another sculpture of Santiago.
Just a picture of the scenery along the way.
I am always looking for cats who will allow me to photograph them.
I have NO idea what kind of flower this is, but it is just extraordinary!
Our morning prayer ritual initiated by Margie each day.
Syd & Margie.
In the Santiago Cathedral
The Bufomiero which contains incense & is flung about the church during the pilgrim mass
More at the mass
Waiting in the rain to get our Compostela in Santiago

More beautiful roses

Finisterre: End of the Earth

Long ago, Cape Finisterre was thought by many Europeans to be the end of the world.  Some of the pilgrims who walk to Santiago go on to hike to Finisterre (another 4 day walk), but most either never go or take public transportation as we did.  It is a small and lovely seaside village and serves as a great place to decompress after the stress of daily walking.  Since we had already adjusted our itinerary, we had time to spend two nights at Finisterre.  So I am sharing some photos, especially of my favorite Camino cat of all time.
Fisherman looking for shellfish

A photo of the coast in the evening

The village of Finisterre (lots of colors)

My favorite cat of the Camino: so beautiful!

Gorgeous golden eyes

With his friend hanging out the window

Statue of Santiago the Pilgrim on the end of the walk to the Finisterre Lighthouse

The prototypical end of Camino photo

Kim & I at the 0.00 km Camino marker

We've arrived!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Barcelos Thursday Market

As a group we decided to spend the morning in the lovely town of Barcelos at the weekly market and the to skip a few stages (due to issues with Michelle) and then take the train to Valença at the border of Spain.  This would allow all the walkers to stll walk the final 100 kms, which is required to get the Compostela in Santiago.  I always love photographing markets around the world, so I had a great time today.  Also, SUNSHINE!!

Flower market

Girl I chased down to photograph

With her sister

Mural in train station

Fishing line

Art in the streets

What fantastic colors!

Flower market

Bread market

Who knows what kind of flowers these are--just gorgeous!

Birds of paradise flowers in market