Saturday, 15 October 2016

Greetings from Santiago de Compostela!

Yes, at last I am here!

It was not a pleasant walk here in the pouring rain, and took much longer than expected. It is extremely busy in Santiago, so we were not able to "hug" the statue of St. James, or visit his relics. We did however manage to claim our Compostelas from the Pilgrim Office, and celebrate afterwards with a glass of champagne.

I will, hopefully, manage to take some 'photos for you when it is quiet in the morning, and we will be attending the Pilgrim's Mass at 12 noon. For now, however, good night, and I will do my final post tomorrow!



Friday, 14 October 2016

Padron - An Encounter with St. James!

Monte Santiaguino, the place where St. James preached the Gospel to the people of Padron.
The presence of thick fog made the visit quite mysterious!
As our walk was only about 7 miles yesterday, we had a chance to explore Padron in the cold fog, and we were very surprised to learn of it's close connections with St. James. The stories are, of course, only legends, but it was interesting anyway, and it would be lovely to think that they were true!

The Convento do Carme, built on the Monte, with the River Sar in the foreground.

At the top of a hill, and after climbing a great many steps, we found the place where St. James originally preached the gospel to the local people. He delivered such a powerful message the the local queen, Lupa, converted to Christianity.

A painting in the Igrexa de Santiago showing the body of St.James being brought back to Padron.

The original stone, O Pedron, to which the boat with the body of St. James was moored
When he was killed, his body was brought back to Padron. The boat was moored to a stone pillar, O Pedron (from which the town derives it's name) on the quayside, and this pillar is under the altar in the Igrexa de Santiago.

Taken from in front of the tabernacle on the Sanctuary, Our Lady looking down towards O Pedron
The attendant allowed us to go right up to the stone under the original altar, behind the present altar, so we were right underneath the tabernacle, and a wonderful image of Our Lady looking down upon us!

Off to breakfast, and Santiago!



Thursday, 13 October 2016

Ponchos again, but a beautiful ending to the day

Yesterday was our longest day yet, at 12.5 miles which included a few climbs. For the most part, we were off road on forest trails through mixed woodland of oak, pine, and eucalyptus. The smell of the damp forest was quite exhilarating, and, to some degree, compensated for the lack of long distance views of the mountains to our west.

A lovely stream beside which we had lunch

I was aching so much last night, that I hardly slept. Some painkillers after breakfast will definitely be a must, before we embark on the next stage. It is about 15 miles from here in Padron to Santiago, but we are splitting the distance in half, so that we arrive fresh at our destination on Saturday. There is a railway station that goes to Santiago right across the road from our hotel, so there must be a great temptation for some pilgrims just to "train" it in!

The churchyard at St. Miguel was lined with crosses, and you can see how gloomy it is.
Hopefully you can make out the mountains in the distance.

We found the churchyard interesting as the graves were stacked on top of one another. I have never seen so many fresh flowers! One young lady with a toddler, had to use a ladder to place flowers on a top grave.

It was a bit of a miserable day for the most part yesterday, and the ponchos came out again. I really hate wearing them, as I can't see where I am going as the hood keeps slipping down! Thankfully after our first break for coffee at a local cafe, it stopped raining, but was cloudy and damp for most of the day.

Whilst I remember, I must mention how hospitable the proprietors of the cafes are here in Spain. When you order a drink, they inevitably also give you a little cake, or a savoury snack, depending on the time of day. Yesterday afternoon, we were given a bowl of paella, a meal in itself. I am pleased we are using up so much energy, as otherwise, I should put on weight.

Meeting children at a local school

A couple of members of our group had some gifts for a school in the area, so we made a detour to visit them. You can see from the 'photos that they were very welcoming!

River Ulla

River Ulla in the other direction. We saw some very large fish jumping out of the water to catch flies.

We took another detour off the Camino to visit the Monasterio Franciscano de Herbon. This is a longer route but avoids the tediousness of miles of city streets to reach the centre of Padron. The path was quite interesting, as again we were in forests or rural communities, but also crossed the beautiful River Ulla.

The monastery was very peaceful, and we all wished that we were staying there, rather than opposite the railway station! In fact the guest master did try to sign us up, but we already had our accommodation organised. The church was very beautiful, and we spent a little time there in prayer, and quiet contemplation

The monastery at Herbon

Inside the Church of the Monastery.

We are exploring Padron this morning, before departing for Teo. There are some legendary connections with St. James here, so I should have some interesting news in my next post!



Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Out and About in Caldas de Reis - in pictures!

River Umia at Caldas de Reis
Caldas de Reis is a Spa town, and the pool in our hotel is beautifully heated by the thermal springs. The water comes out of the ground at a constant 40C, and it was lovely to put my foot into a wayside Fuente Termal. Anyway, here are some 'photos, so you can see what the town looks like for yourself!

Taking the hot waters at the Fuente Termal

This is an outside place for washing clothes, and the water was steaming.
We have seen a lot of these on our journey, but only one person using them.

The River Umia. Our hotel is the white building on the right.

The Camino crosses the Barmana River, which also flows through the town, on the Puente Romano.
We are still following Roman Road XIX.

Camino Real or the Royal Camino, which is the route that we are following, from the Puente Romano.

The Camino Real

The Parish Church of St. Thomas which, like so many churches and chapels on our route, was disappointingly closed.

The Church, which was surrounded by an avenue of palm trees.



...and then came the rain!

The reality of walking the Camino - it rains, and sometimes you have to walk along busy roads!
In case you didn't recognise me, I am the "strawberry"!
There is not too much news to share with you from yesterday, as I was not able to take many photographs. The evening before we left Pontevedra, we did try to get into the Convent where Sister Lucia saw the Blessed Virgin Mary, but without success. We took a photograph of the direction sign, as the closest that we were going to get!

We left our hotel in the dark yesterday morning, as we understood that there was to be some rain in the afternoon. It was quite eerie negotiating the quiet streets of Pontevedra at that time in the morning.

The Lerez River at Pontevedra

The Camino crosses the Lerez River at Pontevedra. This was taken the evening before we departed.

What astonished me, was just how many pilgrims were out, and about in the early morning! Haven't they heard of the joys of having a good breakfast! In actual fact, I think that the reason for the early risers is that those staying in the pilgrim hostels need to arrive for about noon, otherwise there is the danger of the hostel being full or, even closed, as some found in Valenca. Being a largish group, we are in hotels, so our places are reserved.

For the first couple of hours of the walk, it was quite gloomy, and just as things seemed to be brightening up at lunch time, the rain started to fall! The last four miles were therefore a sweaty experience in our ponchos. We all felt quite drained on arrival at Caldas de Reis, after 12 miles on the road. We were therefore grateful for a rest day today, and a chance to explore the town, as we have another long day ahead of us tomorrow.

I will do a separate page about Caldas de Reis, as it has now stopped raining.



Monday, 10 October 2016

Out and About in Pontevedra, in Pictures!

Santuario da Peregrina

Praza de Ourense

We had morning coffee here!

A typical street in the historic centre. As the buildings are close together, it is difficult to take photos!

Outside of the Sancturario. It is in the shape of a scallop shell; the symbol of St. James

I just thought this looked very attractive!

Our map was not good, but I think that this is the Palacio Mugartegul
Another street. It was incredibly quiet. I think that everyone else was having a siesta.

The Basilica de Santa Maria. We attended a beautiful Mass here. It was difficult to photograph,
and no 'photos could be taken inside.



I'm Back!

One of the many wayside crosses that we see. You can see how hot the weather is!
The internet has been difficult to connect to here in Pontevedra, so apologies for the delay in writing this! I have been unable to load on any 'photos, until just now, so I am going to be quick in case I lose it again!

The small bay at Pontesampaio. You can see the hills that we have to cross in the distance.
Our beautiful weather continues, and we are very grateful not to be walking in the cold and rain. Yesterday was a long walk (about 12 miles) in the heat, and involved a couple of climbs. We managed these quite well, so most definitely our fitness has improved. There were a lot of Canadians about yesterday, two of whom, Gina and Bill, walked with us all day, sharing their stories. Another passed us, amusingly singing, "It's a long way to Santiago!" I did find the route rather busy yesterday morning, and presume some people were locals.

The beautiful bridge over the Verdugo River
The route yesterday was varied, as we walked alongside rivers, through forests, along old tracks, and through the streets of Pontevedra. The most beautiful part of the day was walking across the stone bridge over the Verdugo River at Pontesampaio. There were thousands and thousands of fish in the river, some of them the size of a large salmon.

The Brige again, looking landward

The Chapel of St. Martha near Bertola. It is wonderful when these are open for pilgrims, as often they are shut.
The Chapel had it's own stamp, so we were able to stamp our pilgrim passports ourselves.
We have a rest day today, so after Mass at the Basilica, we wandered about exploring. As soon as I can, I will let you have some 'photos, as it is a beautiful city. I hope that we will be able to visit the Convent where Sister Lucia saw the Blessed Virgin Mary this evening. A group of us are making a pilgrimage to Fatima next July, so it would be wonderful to explore this part of the Fatima  Story.

Ave Maria!