‘Buen Camino’ English Style

August 2022 — 

El Camino Inglés, or the English trail, from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain is more than just a typical pilgrimage, it is a way to find a different side to your personality. Upon beginning I really wasn’t sure what it would bring but when I came upon the last few kilometers I truly felt like I had accomplished a feat of self-determination. Each step brings you closer to the things that you wished you could be and to whom you never you could be. Although historically these journey’s have been religious, known as the Jacobean Ways, today their popularity has risen as a trek for self-exploration, and as test of not only physical endurance but also mental. Plus, this accomplishment is also key to my goal of getting to know all the parts of Spain. 

In the summertime, the number of pilgrims that arrive to Santiago de Compostela (a.k.a. Santiago) is in the thousands daily, but really the routes are ripe for the picking all year round. This camino is about 119 kilometers from start to finish or roughly 75 miles. That’s an average of 20 km, 13 miles, per day. Some days being slightly shorter or longer and flatter or hillier. The pathway is not purely any style of path, rather it weaves in and around small Spanish towns, Eucalyptus and pine forests, farm fields, and stretches of countryside roads. The other thing that that makes this more than just a typical hiking route is that most of the hostels and parts of the trail are accessible for anyone wishing to partake with disabilities. This is unfortunately less common for something like this, especially if you are not able to walk, but the Galician government has made it their priority to make it feasible for almost anyone whom wishes to be a pilgrim. 

Prior to deciding what route to do, the best source of information to aid in the decision making and prepping process is the Galician Governments website, El Camino de Santiago, for ‘all things camino oriented.’ They have an app that you can download too for detailed step by step route information including sights to see, churches, albergues/hostels both public and private, tourism offices, and much more. Trying to decide the route you desire is quite easy when you use their breakdowns for total distances, elevations, difficulty, and what to expect for weather depending on the time of year. There is also a tab about preparation, what to bring and not to bring, suggestions for mental and physical training beforehand, and pdf files on the hostels for each town/city. They provide emergency contacts and instructions if you find yourself injured along the way. All the routes are super well marked with sights and yellow arrows indicating the correct turn and direction, thus it is rather hard to lose track of where you are going. The thing that they like to emphasize is that: YOU ARE NEVER ALONE ON THE CAMINO. And to be honest, it is 100% true! I started alone but met many friends on just the second day haha. 

The idea of the camino is also that you partake in the places that you pass by, whether that be by opening the night, eating out, sightseeing, or just getting a coffee. There are official ‘stamp books’ that each person must pick up to officially complete the camino and receive a credential certificate when you arrive in Santiago. The minimum for receiving the credit is 100 km on foot or 200 km by bicycle. This usually refers to the last 100 or 200 km before Santiago. It is super easy to receive stamps, or sellos in Spanish, because every bar, church, hostel, hotel, information center, etc. has a stamp that they can add to your booklet. You must get two per day to confirm that you are indeed completing the route, but most people end up with three or four a day. It was kind of fun because they are all different and they have the name of the establishment with a cute image in the background. When you finally arrive to Santiago, you should head to the ticket office where they will check your progress history with the stamps, and then they give you a certificate in Latin. I should also mention that there are two English Caminos, but the one leaving from A Coruña is only 73 km, meaning that it is not possible to receive a ‘credential’ stating that you have completed the way at the end when you arrive to km 0 in Santiago. 

For this trip they recommend minimum 5 days to walk to Santiago, but one day being exceptionally long at 33 km, therefore I decided to split it up differently and do 6 days of walking that were more evenly balanced in terms of length. To formulate the best camino you need to be in the starting point city or town the night before you wish to start. I was able to find a super cheap flight to A Coruña the day before I planned to start for just 39 euros with Iberia Airlines. The day before I laid out all the things that I would need on my bed. I went a couple days before to pick up a small sunscreen, some blister strip bandages to put on my feet, a dozen protein bars, and a couple ready-to-eat meals to ensure that I would have everything I needed. They say that one should being no more than a 10 kg or 25-pound backpack because it will hinder your experience. The absolute necessities for all routes include: a sleeping bag, sleep mat, minimal toiletries, a lightweight towel, large water bottle, energy snacks, medical kit, lots of socks, a hat, layers, a solid backpacking backpack, sandals for showering, and well broken in hiking boots or shoes. Some people also like to bring hiking poles, other sandals, and sunscreen depending on the time of year you go. 

If you know anything about Galicia, you’ll know that in the summertime it rains a lot! So, bringing rain gear is essential to a positive experience! Additionally, the climate is much more temperate like that of NY, which made it even more exciting to escape Madrid’s sweltering August heat! 

I laid out my REI Outfitters 46L Osprey Kyte, Westhikers inflatable sleeping mattress pad, Puffle Vegan 40 degree Adventure blanket, Merrell hiking boots, Teva Sandals, my LL Bean packable Trail Model rain jacket and rain pants, a lunch-pal of food, a toiletries bag, solar powered charging block and cords, a first-aid kit, a microfiber towel from Decatholon stores , sunglasses, a visor hat, a small packable canvas bag, and a small packing cube of clothing. I also had a few eating utensils n’ napkins and a small container with dish soap/laundry soap, as I planned to bring less clothes that I’d wash along the way. Upon weeding out any extras and bundling up my bag, it weighed about 8 kg or 17.5 pounds, which put me in a good place! Going to bed super early was a must since my flight the next day left at 7:30 a.m. from the Madrid Barajas Airport. 

 

A Coruña for the day 

I decided to fly to A Coruña and explore the city the day before because I really wanted to get to know that city of Galicia where I had not yet been. Given that my flight was super early I had to wake up at about 4:30 a.m. to grab my things and head out the door. My plan was to take the Cercanías commuter train to Terminal 4 but on this occasion GoogleMaps failed me haha. I arrived to the station near my house and it no longer provided the early time it said it would, so I ended up using my Cabify app to get a taxi. A rather pricey voyage at 30 euros, but since I had no other options in the moment it was that or lose my flight. Once I got past security I was naturally quite hungry, so I found a cafe with a breakfast deal of fresh orange juice, a cafe con leche (coffee with milk), and a croissant for just 6.50 euros. The flight was super short at just 52 minutes from lift off to touch down, and then I ended up having to use the Cabify app again to get to the city center from the A Coruña Airport because it was a regional holiday. That meant that the bus route was an hour and a half long. I could not afford that much time loss when I only had about 7 hours to enjoy the city prior to catching a train to where I was staying that night in Ferrol. 

My main goals were to see the beautiful beaches and the Torre de Hércules, a lighthouse built by the Romans around the 1st century A.D., making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When my cab finally dropped me off in front of the main beach Playa del Orzán just before 10 a.m., I was quite literally starving. As it happened, there was a very nice cafe just in sight, Gasthof, where I proceeded to order two nice slices of bundt cake and a super coffee for the sweet price of just 2.40 euros. How cheap it is to eat in Galicia! After that I headed to the elevated walkway that follows the length of the shoreline around the city, and wraps around a mini peninsula where you will see the lighthouse in the distance. It is perhaps a 15 minute walk from where I ate to the lighthouse, plus you get to take in the waves slapping rocky outcrops below you. Right near the ticket office for the lighthouse there is another mini beach, Playa de la Lapas, which did not disappoint! I took a small detour to see about finding some seashells since it was practically vacant, and I was in luck! Well I will admit that the ones I found were quite small, but the few snail shells and colourful sea glass pieces I collected were sufficient for me. Something that was a bonus and that I didn’t even think about, is that the lighthouse has free entry on Mondays! And as it happened I visited on a Monday, the only thing is that you have to ‘reserve a spot’ due to leftover COVID limitations. But luckily, I secured the last ticket available for the hour that I arrived and had no issues leaving my backpack with the door person to the tower. 

As I made my way up to the entrance there was a man playing the bagpipes and I felt like I had been transported to Scotland. Truly this part of Galicia is very reminiscent of that environment, between the ferns, salt air, and the green coastal outlines. The views from the lighthouse are rad, and climbing up the hand pieced together cobblestones makes you marvel at just how the Romans did it. There is also a neat 20-foot-wide tile compass design below in front of the lighthouse. Just a few minutes walking from the lighthouse you can find some odd looking boxy structures and benches for people to sit upon and take in their surroundings comfortably. I sat here for a bit and pondered life while munching down a few snacks I had. Next, I walked back to the original place where my cab had left me to sit for a while in my swimsuit. Also, a cool thing is that they ahem portable bathrooms and changing areas on the beachside. A word of advice though, do not eat on the beach or you will be accosted by mammoth seagulls! I had to fend them off with my sandal just to finish my bag of dried cranberries haha. Overall, the beaches were sunny and delightful, plus they are super well maintained and clean! However, even for August it was very windy and the water was not warm by any means. Around 3 p.m. I packed up my things, and began my 45 minute walk towards the A Coruña train station. I wanted to get some lunch along the way but since it was a holiday most things were closed, and thus I ended up stopping at a convenience store to grab some yogurt, chips, cheese, and fruit to eat once I arrived in the station. My train to Ferrol left just a few minutes after 5 p.m., and then I arrived about 6:30 p.m.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Faro de Hercules is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the world? 

All along the way, the small-town ocean views are splendid! The Ferrol train station is very small, so I had no issues walking for 10 minutes to the hostel, El Choyo II, where I would stay to start my camino the next morning. Per usual, I reserved my lodging through Booking.com and I have to say that the owner man, José, was one of the most welcoming hosts that I have ever encountered. I was in a bit of a rush to check-in though, because I had to hightail it to the tourism office, Oficina Inicial de Peregrinos, before they closed at 8 p.m. The process was quick and José let me stash my bag prior to speed walking to the office. I was in luck when I walked in as there was no line and the lady helped me straight away to get registered for the Camino Inglés. She got me a booklet, and I paid the 2 euro cost to register. Then she stamped the start point in with the date for the next morning, and gave me a bunch of information regarding suggestions, albergues, etc. I also went to a nearby corner store to get myself one of the official camino seashells with the mark of Santiago, a must have to show yourself as a pilgrim! The booklet would become like my camino bible, each stamp would become a symbol of the kilometers behind me. Once I was all set I checked out a nearby restaurant, Bodegon Bacoriño, to grab some dinner before heading back to my hostel room to get a good night’s sleep. Another thing that Galicia is famous for is its seafood, but since I am vegetarian that’s not an option. Never the less, I was able to order a nice sized Tortilla de Patata, a potato and egg omelette, for a protein packed dinner. The price which included a drink and bread on the side, cost just 10 euros, which wasn’t too bad. Along my walk back, I followed the signs to complete the first few kilometers prior to my hostel which was located at about 112 km from Santiago. 

 

Day 1: Ferrol —> Neda [distance of 16 km]

At 6 a.m. when I awake, there was a light wind and it was perhaps 54 degrees Fahrenheit outside, with the high of the day being about 65 degrees. To be on the safe side I wore lightweight leggings, two shirts — one t-shirt and one long sleeve overtop, my raincoat and rain pants that I could easily ditch when I got warmed up, and of course my hiking boots. One of the tips they give on the webpage is to lightly rub Vaseline on your toes before putting on your socks to eliminate any friction. After suiting up and getting my snacks ready to eat for breakfast as I walked, I dropped my room key off, and was out the door by about 7 a.m. on the dot. During the summer the sun does not rise until about 7:45 a.m., so the first leg was before dawn but very serene and I made good time since there was no one else on the trail. Maybe an hour after I left, it starts to rain but then it broke and I saw a rainbow!!! This was my sign that the camino ahead would be glorious! About this time, I started to encounter other people, both that had been ahead of me, and some speedy walkers that were behind me. But alas it was okay because I continued passing larger groups, drinking water, and shedding layers until I finally arrived at my destination hostel about 9:45 a.m. I was shocked when I realized that I had gotten there so fast, but I think since it was the first day and the temperatures were cool it was smooth sailing so to speak. 

The public albergues of the Galician Xunta (aka the regional government) cost 8 euros per night and are a steal for the price! They are super clean, well maintained, equipped with hot water for showering, washers/dryers for your clothes, multiple bathrooms, bunk beds, and a common kitchen area. The public Albergue for Pilgrims in Neda, is in a very cool location right on the water of the Ferrol river bay, plus it has 28 beds available. As it happened, I was the first person to arrive and that was ideal because it meant that I could claim the bed of my choice. I also had the chance to chat with the cleaning lady whom was kind enough to let me in since it was quite literally down pouring outside. Normally the public hostels open at 12 p.m., however shortly after more people arrived and we began chatting to soak up the time until the person arrived to begin the check-in process. Neda is famous for several things, it water and its bread, and in the olden days they used to mill a lot of grains using the river system, but today it is no more. I think because of the rain most people opted to just stay and rest inside the albergue, but myself and a couple others ventured out to get some lunch at Restaurant O Lagar. I ordered a large mixed salad and some patatas bravas, or spicy fried potatoes with a Nestea for just 12 euros. The portion size of the potatoes was so large that I had a nice amount leftover to take with me for dinner that night. While walking back we detoured and found a boardwalk that took us through the low tide region and then wrapped around to the area in front of the hostel. It was nice to have a sort of ocean stroll but also odd because the climate there is much more tropical even though the temperatures are not really warmer per say. Upon returning I washed some things, got to know some other people who had arrived, and then I concluded the night by playing cards. This was quite a sight to see because it was my first time playing cards in Spanish. By the way, I lost haha, but that is okay! Then I prepared for the next day and was asleep around 10 p.m. 

Best Highlights: fuzzy cows, leafy underpasses, and peaceful water flow vibes! 

 

Day 2: Neda —> Pontedueme [distance of 15 km]

The next day I would walk with a small group of pilgrims I met the night before, and we started quite early, like we were outside in motion by about 7 a.m. From there we began the very steep ascent towards Pontedueme, which even though it was not a long trek the steepness factor was felt by all, trust me! For a large portion of this day we passed through extensive Eucalyptus forests, by various fruit trees like apple and pear, and all the while we had some great laughs. As we came upon the last section we passed though some farm fields of large squash, corn, and tomatoes, and there were a few sections with Níspero fruits, a nectarine/apricot hybrid. I took full advantage and picked about four of them to eat as I walked. They were so good, and just awe bit crisp which was refreshing! Suddenly, we were descending into the small town of Cabanas, which is just before a bridge into Pontedueme. Crossing the large stone bridge the tide was just going out and a man who was fishing had just reeled in a nice fish. In this town, there is a municipal run public albergue, the municipal Albergue for Pilgrims in Pontedueme, that you have to register for in the tourism office and costs just 5€. This price is reflective of the quality though as we soon learned. The deal is that the municipalities do not have the same amount of funds for maintenance, thus the albergue is not nearly as nice as those of the regional Xunta government. But once inside the walls are covered in a pine that gives the two floors more shine and glow. 

Personally, the beds were the same quality, but it was the bathrooms that were not up to par. Also, they do not offer any other amenities, so you may have to eat out and skip a night on washing. Something to consider, is that there’s only 25 beds available which makes it competitive for entry, and you must arrive early secure a place. I believe that we arrived about 11:30 a.m. and after we settled into out bunks we decided to do a bit of walking around in hopes to find a place to eat. This town is much bigger than Neda, and so it offered many services. First, we stopped for a glass of wine, then we passed through the grocery store to get some snacks. Here I got some fresh cherries, tomatoes, a large bag of pistachios, and a protein smoothie for dinner. Just a hop, skip, and jump from the corner store is the cathedral which has delightful white and pink mini daisies growing from its’ walls. Right around the corner we found a place to eat lunch, a bar called Varadoiro, where they offered some vegetarian options like falafel and a vegan burger. We also stopped into a small bakery, Obradoiro Confiteria, to grab some pastries for the next morning. I selected the falafel and a Nestea for about 8 euros. I then decided to return and take a nap back at the hostel. Finally, around 4:30 p.m. I woke up, threw on some pants and my rain coat, and headed to the beachfront, Playa Magdalena, which is almost visible from the entrance of the hostel. To get there however, one has to re-cross the same bridge into town, and then turn left continuing for perhaps 5 minutes walking. This place was super windy, and although the temperature was not too bad at 65 degreed Fahrenheit with mild sun rays, I wouldn’t have described it as warm haha. For a bit, I sat there watching the tiny inner coastal waves along the white sand beach, and then I decided to return to eat my dinner on a bench outside the hostel. The area in front of the hostel is also used as a docking port for fishing boats, which made the views pleasant. When I finished, I returned inside to organize, and get ready for bed. 

Best Highlights: fresh fruit picking, eating cherries by the sea, and salty breezes!

 

Day 3: Pontedueme —> Betanzos [distance of 21 km]

The next morning’s departure was quite smooth, and we left about 7 a.m. on the dot. If you look at a map of the profile for the day, the map will show you that the first 2 kilometers or so is almost a sheer vertical climb, and I won’t deny it. That was the single hardest section of all of the camino for me, it took about 40 minutes just to surmount it, and afterwards we were all out of breath. After a short recovery walk on flat-ish ground, we were good to go. The next couple hours were very pleasant and after we came upon a wooded section, on the other side appeared literal fairy-tale cafe with outside seating, called Tetería Peregrino. I kid you not this place was utterly adorable, and the owner lady the most peach of a person. For 1.50 euros I got a large coffee and a biscuit on the side. She had converted an antique fire stove into a coffee bar and seriously the interior could not have been more well laid out. A few minutes later and we were back at it, this time we had only 15 minutes or so till the halfway point of the day, a town called Miño. We simply passed through and were off to our destination. One of the farmhouses along the river had fresh ripe apples hanging over the pathway, so I grabbed a couple to stuff in my bag. The second half was very calming as we passed many small vegetable gardens, cobblestone foot bridges, and picturesque Galician countryside homes. It made me glad to see all of the fruit and vegetables growing for I do miss my lovely garden in NY, but being able to pick various fruits along the way compensated me. There were also many grape vines along old farm walls, but the grapes didn’t look ready to eat. We passed many miniature chapels on this day too. 

The last few minutes descending into the town of Betanzos is also quite steep, but at least there are sidewalks which made it easier on my ankles. The public Albergue Casa da Pescaderia has a total of 37 beds available and was one of my favorites of the whole stay. This was the most sanitary yet historic feeling hostel, as it is made of stone and had exceptionally clean bathrooms. Luckily, as we approached the albergue around 12:30 p.m., there were only about 10 people waiting outside, which was a good sign! We had made it and secured ourselves beds for the night. Tis’ here where after check-in, I met a German girl by the name of Susanne, who was bunked next to me. She and I would become friends along the route. As it happened, it was a festival weekend in Betanzos, el festival de San Roque. This meant that this little town was jam packed with people, and that there was carnival like attractions set up in the main square. When we tried to find a place to eat, all the places were full or the kitchen was closed. Finally, we found a place called Cervexaria Yocri, to eat lunch. I had a tortilla de patata bocadillo, a baguette sandwich with potato and egg omelette inside, and a Nestea for about 7 euros. From there were decided to grab some things from the grocery store for dinner and a few snacks for the next morning. On my way back I saw a store, Casa do Queixo, that had lovely locally made cheeses, so naturally I stopped in to buy a wedge to eat with dinner. The one I chose was a funky combination of red, green, and white colors. When I asked what the flavors were, the lady told me pesto, mild chilli pepper, and a normal cheese. It was an excellent combination, and I enjoyed every crumb! After eating various things for dinner, I washed up, prepared my bag and went to bed. 

Best Highlights: the mysterious cafe and my tri-color cheese!

 

Day 4: Betanzos —> Bruma [distance of 26 km]

This morning we started super early, about 6:30 a.m., as it was to be the longest day, and the first 6 km was a continuous uphill grade. It was still pitch black outside for at least a half hour before we finally saw a sliver of orange appearing on the horizon. There was a lot of fog on this day as the temperature was only about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but it tended to dissipate soon after the sun rose. Along the way, we stopped at a bar called Bar Carabel, for a quick coffee and a couple minutes rest. Not too long after the bar we entered a very remote logging access road which we would follow for almost 2 hours. We knew that we had to hightail it to the hostel because the next place had very limited places available, only 22 to be exact. After leaving the access road we entered a section of highway with a massive electrical power station, one so large that you could feel and hear the electric pulses above us. I can’t say I particularly liked even walking underneath the wires but it made me appreciate being from a forested small community that’s away from such things. Just a short bit more, and finally we had the Albergue Hospital de Bruma, in sight. We arrived as number 14, 15, and 16, and it was in the nick of time because a large group showed up just a few minutes afterwards. 

We waited around for the office lady to come, and then everyone in the hostel headed to the only bar in town, Casa Graña, for lunch Spanish style. I ordered Caldo Gallego, or Galician Broth which is a mix of potatoes, chard, white beans, and cabbage, with a small salad, a Nestea, and ice cream for just 10 euros. Thinking ahead for the next morning, I ordered a to-go piece of bundt cake and a peach juice for 4 euros. The walk back was a total of one minute haha, but the location is super peaceful amongst a small trickle of a stream and bright green corn fields. A bunch of us opted to sit outside in the sun on the lawn for a few hours, and then I ate one of my ready to eat meals and desserts for dinner. I have to say that they weren’t too bad, even though the textures were soupier. Afterwards I chatted with some pilgrims I had not met yet, prepped my bag for the next day, and went to bed. 

Best Highlights: the Caldo Gallego and the tranquil location of the hostel!

 

Day 5: Bruma —> Sigüiero [distance of 24 km]

This morning was special, as it was extremely foggy and moist! We got to watch the sunrise peak through corn leaves and some of the thickest fog I have ever seen! The morning dew reflected the spider’s webs made in the night and shortly after the sun had risen there were tangerine orange rays coming through the tall Eucalyptus groves. The atmosphere could not have been more amazing for the day ahead! We had started a little later, about 7:40 a.m. since we had beds reserved in the next location. Along the way, we came upon several farmsteads with massive kiwi vines, yes, I said kiwi! I did not know this but apparently, they grow super well in Galicia and many people sell them at local markets. I couldn’t believe that I got to handpick my very own kiwis! Perhaps two hours after leaving, we came upon a bar called Cafe Bar Novo, to get a hot coffee and a snack. Not too much further down the trail we passed by another fruit tree, this time the juiciest looking yellow plums! I could not resist harvesting a couple to sample on the trail, and let me tell you they were spectacular! But it was however the worst day for me in terms of my feet hurting at the end. Although it was great to start a bit later, it also meant that the heat would be worse and since this day was also fairly long, it compiled. 

When I arrived to the hostel I thought my feet were broken haha, quite literally! Upon check-in, I proceeded to shower and take care of my feet as I had about 5 blisters to contend with. Using the pain cream I had gotten from the pharmacy and the blister bandage strips to protect the sore spots. I also will say that my ankles started to get a little swollen after son much angular up/down movement with the steep hills. And the combination of 5 days of continuous use had started to compound as well. The albergue for Sigüiero had to be private as there are no public ones in this municipality. During the week before my trip I reserved a bed in a 10-bed room at Albergue Ultreia et Suseia in the town center for just 15 euros for the night. I will say that the place was very well organized and clean, as well as that it had a nice covered sitting area just outside the back door to sit out of the sun. You will not find this hostel on any lodging websites, but by looking on GoogleMaps, you can get the phone number and connect with the owner lady via Whatsapp. I decided to hand wash a few items before we headed to lunch at a place that the owner lady had recommended us, called Cafe Che. Here I ordered a large portion of fries and fried eggs, along with an ice cream cone, a couple pastries for the next morning, and a drink all for just about 10 euros. At that point, I realized that I needed to go back and lay down, which I did for a couple hours. Then we joined a few other people, as well as my German friend to eat dinner in the same restaurant because it was so very good and cheap! I got a hefty vegetable sandwich and a Nestea for dinner, and it only came to 7 euros, not too shabby if you ask me. Upon returning I was out like a light haha, and boy did I need that rest. 

Best Highlights: the kiwis and yellow plums that I picked!

 

Day 6: Sigüiero —> Santiago de Compostela [distance of 17 km]

Somehow due to the rest and care I gave my feet the day before, I was almost completely recovered from the previous day. The last day of the journey was overall quite great, and it went by faster than I realized since we left about 7:30 a.m. and arrived to Santiago at about 11:15 a.m.. About 9 km from the endpoint we happened upon a cafe in the middle of nowhere, called La Posada del Peregrino. We partook in some coffees and a few pieces of bundt cake. The last 5 kilometers were the quickest I had done of all of the days because as I got closer and closer my adrenaline to arrive got more and more intense which meant so did my pace haha. Essentially at this point you are just navigated the outer parts of the city, and weaving along decrepit stone buildings until you finally enter the city center and are amongst hundreds of other pilgrims all converging on the epicenter, the Cathedral of Santiago and kilometer 0. At last I had arrived!!! 

We entered the last stone underpass and there it was, km 0 in front of the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. At first it didn’t seem real because all of my days had blended together and it was as if the trail had converted our mentalities. Even though it was only 6 days of walking it felt as it if we had formed a new way of life. I think that you learn many lessons along the way and one of them is that humans can do a lot more if they put their minds to it. After our photoshoot, we went to the welcome office to claim our credentials, la Oficina de Acogida al Peregrino. I had to download a QR code to submit my details and have my booklet with me as proof of my journey. We waited in line for about 5 minutes and then they stamped our books, wrote out our certificates, and voila! I like that they give you a certificate written in Latin because it is fitting of the historical nature of the journey, plus it looks like a 16th century proclamation would have. From there I went to my hostel to leave my backpack, though since it was too early to check-in I had to leave it, change, and return to the city center. I met back up with my squad and we visited the cathedral, which has a free entrance. I think that this cathedral has a lovely golden glow from within, and it seemed to simple yet mystically ancient with the symbols that are scribed into the stone pillars. Next, we decided to get some lunch and we found a restaurant near the cathedral called Casa Paredes, As the menu was mostly seafood items, I ordered another couple bowls of Caldo Gallego, some bread, and a large water for about 10 euros. 

Then I said goodbye to some of my fellow pilgrims and we went our separate ways. I went to check-in at my hostel, the Loop Inn Hotel & La Salle Albergue, rest, and then I planned to meet up with my German friend for dinner. I had reserved the week before a small private room with a personal bathroom for my last night of the camino. It was nice to be able to lay out all of my things, re-organize and not have to worry about taking up too much space haha, plus the location was ideal. I met up with Susanne about 7 p.m., and we went to a vegetarian restaurant called The Green House. We ordered several things and had a lovely variety to sample. Twas perhaps 15 euros a person, but not bad for a complete meal. Then we returned to our rooms to rest for the night. 

Best Highlights: laying eyes on km 0 and claiming my credential!

 

Santiago de Compostela for the day

On my last morning, I woke up about 8 a.m., got ready, and went to a small cafe I had seen the night before for breakfast, Confiteria San Roque. One of the things that Santiago is famous for, is the tarta de Santiago, an almond round cake that can either have powdered sugar or almond slivers on top. I proceeded to order myself an extra almond covered one and another interesting looking pastry with a coffee for about 6 euros. After attempting to read a Galician newspaper and looking at things to do for the day, I returned to my hostel to grab my bag and checkout at about 11:30 a.m. I had put my essentials for the day in my small canvas bag and I began my sightseeing day. Right near the hostel there is a convent, Convento de Santa Clara, that I wanted to scope out. I also did a bit of exploring throughout the various cobblestone streets and buildings of the historic section. 

Then before I knew it, it was lunchtime and I scoped out a grocery store near the cathedral where I could sit afterwards to eat my lunch in the sunshine. I got a wide array of things to eat as well as for the evening, so perhaps I spent a total of 15 euros. I then decided to meet up with Susanne, and we found a bench to chat for quite some time. Then we went to get some ice creams and to head back to her hotel room to lay down for a while before finding place for dinner. She also wanted to meet up with a German tour group inside the cathedral, meanwhile I watched a bit of television. Then we walked back to my hostel so I could collect my backpack, and we settled on a restaurant called La Flor Cafe Bar. They had lots of vegetarian options and I ordered some killer nachos, salad, and a Nestea for about 15 euros. We hung out for a bit afterward, said our goodbyes, and then I was off to the Santiago de Compostela Bus Station to catch my overnight bus that left at 10 p.m. back to the Madrid Estación Sur Méndez Álvaro bus station. The ticket I got was a third of the price of flying back so I thought it would be worth it, but the ride was really too long, plus I had a back of the bus seat. I also could not bring my neck pillow because I would have had to carry it the whole week I was walking, so that was unfortunate and I am not sure I would book a bus ride so long again. I finally arrived back to the metro station near my house about 6:30 a.m., and let me say that I was more than tired haha. 

 

How can you have the best experience possible??

  • Pack light, pack light, pack light!!!!  Having a backpack that is too heavy always dampens your camino journey. If you are unsure, check out my post Minimize: Pack Lighter & Smarter.

  • As I always suggest, you MUST plan ahead to do a camino route! Using the website information and doing some zoom-ins on GoogleMaps will help you to do that.

  • Make sure that you bring things to take care of your feet! I had Vaseline, blister protectant strips, and several pairs of socks. 

  • Eating enough proteins is critical to maintaining energy! I was constantly eating every 90 minutes and it paid off because my morale stayed up.

  • Be open minded! The camino is about making friends and growing yourself mentally. 

  • What about language you may ask? Well I spoke Spanish about 75% of the time because I made friends with Spanish speakers, though I did chat with a couple pilgrims in English too, such as my German friend and an English fellow. Is Spanish necessary? I think so yes, at least a basic level because so many of the places one goes are small towns where not many locals speak English. 

  • Do your homework on what hostels there are in each leg of the camino! The thing is with any of the towns or cities that are like 1 day away from Santiago, is that they fill up super fast, and one needs to reserve ahead of time to get a spot. If you want to use the public network of albergues, you have to arrive early each day to severe a place!

 
Conclusion 

You may ask, would I do the camino again?? YES ABSOLUTELY, WITHOUT A DOUBT!! I am already thinking of doing another route next summer, depending on my plans, which you all know are ever-changing haha! : )  Is the camino for you? Well that is for you to ponder and then find out by giving it a whirl! If you ask me, the camino is for everyone and anyone who wants to have an active, inexpensive, yet memorable and rewarding life journey. 

Don’t forget to check out my other posts!! 

Pictured above is the vast network of Camino de Santiago routes

A Coruña ~


Along 

         the 

                Camino ~

Santiago de Compostela ~

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