The end? … or just the beginning?

Just 5 days and 120kms from our final destination, after 5 weeks of walking, our lovely long walk is over. Greg spent a night in hospital in Lugo, and is now ‘home’ and improving, but not enough for us to complete our walk on this trip. It’s so disappointing for us both, but rather than focus on it, I’m going to write about the good stuff, and there’s been plenty of that.

When we started our walk, I hadn’t done anywhere near enough training – it was cold and wet at home and I had too much else to do, and lots more excuses for why I couldn’t walk for quite a few kms at a time with a heavy rucksack. In the end, I don’t think it really mattered. After the first week or so, I got used to the distances and to carrying an extra 12 kg, and once my feet settled down, walking 25kms became just what I did every day. And I was always happy to spend the day walking, I never thought ‘oh, I don’t want to do this today’, although I was glad of our 3 rest days when we took them in large cities.

I’ve gotta say, that as someone who spends most of her life sitting in front of a computer screen, who hates sport and isn’t really all that interested in physical activity, walking 680kms while carrying a 12 kg pack is something I’m pretty darn proud of. I’m fitter than I have ever been, and thinner than I’ve been in quite a few decades. And I’ve got this tan that looks great … until you look at my white ankles and feet.

We have seen some beautiful parts of Spain, and met some great people. The friends of the Camino who helped make our journey a success, and the pilgrims we met along the way were all interesting and all had a tale to tell, and a story to share. It was always good to bump into people we had met earlier on our Camino, and to catch up on their travels since we saw them last.

As we drove along the motorway to the hospital a couple of days ago, I realised how lucky we had been to spend those 5 weeks walking – we really got to see what that part Spain was like, compared with zooming along in a motor vehicle. Every country looks the same from a motorway.

The food. Ah, the food. I could, and probably will, write a whole post or even a whole blog on Spanish food. Some of it was incredibly good, some of it was utterly forgettable, but eating out every night was a novelty and a lovely change from the usual ‘what’s for dinner?’ at home. I keep finding Spanish cookbooks (or actually, I think they find me) that I want to buy for myself and to stock on my website.

So for now, we’ll keep on posting on this blog. The current plan is to stay here in Lugo for a couple more days, then go to Santiago by bus (and I can tell you now, it won’t be the same as if we had walked all the way), fly to Frankfurt for the Book Fair as we had planned, then fly home from Munich on October 12th as planned. By then, Greg will hopefully have recovered enough that the flights won’t worry him too much, and we’ve really just got to get home to our real lives, our businesses, our families, friends and to Daisy the cat!

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Day 36 Triacastela

We have had an unscheduled stop at Triacastela today because Greg has been struck by a nasty bout of dizziness whenever he tries to get up. He has spent the day in bed and we’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow. I’m not sure how this will affect the last few days of our walk. I guess it will be interesting at best, and impossible to complete at worst. I did visit the little church in the village we’re staying in this afternoon and put in a good word for him. I hope he recovers soon. It’s not fun feeling sick when you’re far from home.

So, here are a few words about food…

Autumn started in the northern hemisphere early last week and now wherever we walk we see ripe wild fruit, berries and nuts, and cultivated food crops are being harvested. Last weekend marked the start of the grape harvest, and people are busy picking, selling and storing their crops. As we walked out of Cacabelos a few days ago, we saw an old man wheeling his wheelbarrow full of pears and potatoes in to town, followed closely by another old man carrying a basket of walnuts. People have set up roadside and pathside fruit stalls and yesterday we followed signs for ‘frambuesas’ (raspberries) to the courtyard of a house that had a little table with punnets of raspberries and redcurrents and an honesty box. Those red berries were delicious!

What has really amazed us is how green the countryside is, so late in the season. At home it’s all turned brown by early autumn, but here everything is very lush and the grass is high.

We’ve spent the last week or so walking in the mountains, where the winters are long and cold. Huge stacks of neatly split firewood are being stored, food is being preserved and there seems to be more activity than usual in the little villages we walk through. Pimientos (red capsicums) are being char-grilled prior to canning, beans are drying and then being stripped from their pods, the last of the season’s tomatoes are being coaxed to ripen.

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Day 35 O’Cebreiro to Triacastela

Another sunny day, but it was still only about 19C. We left at 9:30am, but we had only 21km to do today. Out guide told us it was flat, but it was an uphill climb out of town. We had great views to the north of us.

It was about a 5km walk before we found a bar Judy could have a coffee, and we could have a break. It was a nice sunny position, where we could stay warm. We walked though little villages that mostly seemed to be running dairy cows. One village (Padornelo) that had three houses in it, one of which was empty.

We had a short steep walk up to a bar, and we found Franz, who we have been bumping into for weeks. The last time we saw him was the Leon Cathedral.

We stopped for lunch at another little dairy farming town Fonfria, where a woman was running a little cafe by herself. It was good food, clean, and shows how lots of people in other little spanish camino towns could make a living as well.

After Fonfria it was relatively flat to Biduedo, after that the dreaded downhill began. Judy has posted before about walking downhill, but let me remind you, its hard on the feet. Even with walking poles to lessen the shock, 7km continuously downhill is difficult.

We made it to Triacastela, finding on the outskirts a 800 year old chesnut tree. We made it at about 5pm. We found the restaurant in town that had the most people in it (others were empty), and had a Menu del Dia (menu of the day) for 10 Euros each, which was nice.

leaving O’Cebreiro in the morning

the view north from O’Cebreiro

another pilgrim statue that occur often over the Camino de Santiago

the menu choices at a bar we passed

an 800 year old chesnut tree

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