Postscript… I just realized this did not get published. Oops. Better late than never….
I only had 25k left but I was in no rush. I had 2 days before I had to be in Santiago to meet Diny. Diny was walking the Camino Frances and I had planned to surprise her but she figured it out. My plan was to break the 25k into two easy days. I was finding that with a cold and a blister, anything over 21k was too much, especially if a hill was involved and this section had two. Not major hills but uphill was tough. According to the Brierly guide book there was only one albergue in the next 25k at the 10k mark. It seemed like a good place to stop.
I spent Tuesday night in a new albergue, the only pilgrim! I only found out about it when I stoped to tend to my blister on a park bench when a motorcycle stopped and the driver handed me a pamphlet. On my way into town I ran into Jane from Toronto. She and a Roz, from Australia, were staying at small hotels. We arranged to meet for dinner.
It is hard to organize dinner. In Spain, lunch is usually between 2 and 4 so dinner starts at 8. Most restaurants don’t even open their doors until 8. Most pilgrims are in bed by 8! That leaves tapa or pinxos bars. I this area there were few. In any case we did find a place and were sitting outside when Janna and Nico turned up carrying their dinner. They were doing this on the cheap, staying at the €5 albergue s and using the albergue kitchens to cook.
Janna had said they would see me before Santiago and they did.
I left the empty albergue in the dark planning to stop for coffee which I did only 1k away. By 10:00 I was ready for another coffee and ducked into the next café. While trying to figure out where I was Roz came in. Together we figured out I was at my destination but it just seemed way to early to stop. Somehow, 10k has shrunk. Just outside the café I had seen a sign for a new albergue 4K away, so off we went together for another 4K.
We passed a few effigies. We think they were to protest a chemical industry as one of the signs seemed to say ‘Pilgrims not chemicals’.
There were two hills and at the top of the second one I took a rest, said Buen Camino to Roz and tried to figure out where the new albergue was. It was 500 metres off the Camino. Funny how we have no hesitation walking 500k or 800k, but 1/2k going away from the Path is too far. Beside it now seemed that 14k has shrunk too. I kept going until I saw a sign albergue to the left, hotel to the right. Sharing a dorm and keeping everyone awake with my coughing, or, having another room and bathroom to myself and the luxury to let it all go and cough all night! I turned right. At the reception the woman informed me I only had 45 minutes left to walk. So much for taking it easy today. It figured I had done 18k and those two hills were now behind me.
My last day’s walk took longer than 45 minutes but less than two hours and it was a much pleasanter entrance to Santiago de Compestella than entering on the Camino Frances which seemed to go for hours through suburbs and along busy roads. The Camino Portuguese, on the other hand was like following a secret path through parks, along rivers and creeks and between ancient houses on ancient pathways until suddenly we were in the city.
There are a few more different routes into the city but the big square in front of the cathedral is where everyone comes to run into fellow pilgrims. On my way there I ran into Yanna and Nico and together we entered the square.
Within minutes, Diny entered! Her first Camino and she did an impressive 800k!
Diny and I have had similar journeys in life going back over 30 years. It was good to see her.
I also saw Angel and Izzy together! They had both done the Portuguese Coastal Camino and had walked together into Santiago de Compestella.
Next stop Barcelona.