At about 5pm the streets fill up with people walking here in Madrid. Today was crazy. They are setting up for a festival. Stages are being put up, streets are packed and police are in the main squares.
The following photos don’t show the chaos, but tomorrow we are going to take a day trip to Toledo to get away from it. Toledo is a small medieval town about half an hour away.
The buildings are very tall everywhere in Madrid and many have huge statues on top.
When you order hot chocolate here, it is thick like pudding. If you want ordinary hot chocolate it’s called cola cao, like Nesquik. Today though we stumbled on a churreria. They serve thick warm chocolate that you dip churros into.
Pets of the day. They were waiting for their owner outside of a restaurant.
My husband sent me a text that said it must be kind of sad to be finishing up such a big adventure. It was intuitive of him because the girls and I were discussing it at breakfast. The sadness hit us when we approached Santiago and we could hear the loud roar of the airplanes at the airport. One of the things I practiced while walking was staying in the moment. But the Camino was very special. It is difficult to describe what we each came away with. The photographer Dorothea Lange once described a bare cabin enjoyed with her family in a way that kind of sums up the Camino for me. She said it was a place to be together where they all felt a sense of freedom. She thought the cabin answered the longings of the human heart.
I was thrilled whenever there was cereal on the breakfast menus, so I laughed when I saw the name of this cafe.
I visited the Prado Museum today while the girls got their weary muscles massaged. Clouds and sprinkles, but sun is in the forecast until we leave next Wednesday.
It is strange not to be walking. We wore our boots as we walked around the city, though. They became so contoured to our feet that they are really comfortable. We never got blisters. Tomorrow we take the train to Madrid.
We went to the pilgrim’s mass today at the cathedral and saw them swing the giant incense belcher on the pulley with ropes.
They even have belchers in stores
No cows today.
We stopped at an old bar and saw who we thought was Leonardo Di Vinci.
The view of Santiago from our hotel room.
A few photos of the beautiful morning at 7am today. In one you can see a layer of fog on the ground.
The writing says: Be always yourself
Everyone in rural areas had one of these. They are used to dry out corn or air dry meat. In this case, they put the chickens underneath to eat what fell through.
It started raining before Santiago. A photo of a wet street leading to the cathedral.
More school kids.
Relief sculptures on the outside wall of the cathedral, and us, inside and out.
Some things have remained constant these past few weeks. Like steep inclines. Today was no exception. We had the “opportunity” to scale our last mountain. Another has been the sweetness of the Spanish people. When we started in Pamplona, we had to walk though quite a bit of the city to get to the Camino. People were heading to work in their business attire. They noticed we were going in the wrong direction and pointed out the right way. We hadn’t even asked. They sent us on our way with a “Buen Camino.” That first stop was so exciting. Yesterday we were leaving in the early morning from Pedrouza. A man stopped his car to reroute us. Again, we hadn’t asked.
We are staying a second day in Santiago, so I will share more tomorrow, as well as photos from Madrid. In the meantime, a photo of my Camino passport. It has stamps from hotels, bars, restaurants and other stops as we made our way along the Camino.
Today we walked through more forests and farms with very persistent rain. Not really any photo opportunities, so I put together a small compilation of pictures that haven’t been posted. Tomorrow, Santiago. Buen Camino.
The day started out sunny, then clouds, then rain and back to sun. There have been thunderstorms behind and in front of us, but we have been lucky to have missed them. The landscape today switched back and forth from forests to farms. I love seeing the farm animals, although sadly, many of the dogs in rural areas do not have a good life.
We have two days left to enjoy being out on the Camino. The day after tomorrow it will come to and end when we walk into the city of Santiago de Compostela. I can’t believe it. When we started, it seemed so far away. The entire Camino Frances is 790km. When we reach Santiago, we will have walked about 400km (about 250 miles) It’s been great, all of it. We aren’t even tired.
Cloudy with ten minutes of sun today. We are in the region of Galicia. Very green, many farms.
Galicia’s historical influence comes from Celtic regions such as Ireland. Here is a photo of an ancient “crucerio” left by the settlers.
Here is a typical “bar” along the camino. It can probably be compared to an english pub. Many people, especially pilgrims, frequent these bars for a Spanish lunch such as a tortilla. These are not the tortillas used to make tacos. A Spanish tortilla is like a potato pie.
We also saw many happy cows that are pasture raised here in Galicia
There was steady rain today, some mud and boulders, but we endured. The landscape and stone houses reminded me of rural areas in Ireland. We reached our destination for today, a city called Portomarin. It has a man made lake We also reached the 100km mark, the distance left before santiago.
For dinner we had Pulpo, an octopus dish that is a specialty in this area. And after we had some schnapps, which was served in a couple of the casa ruals we stayed at.
Thanks to all of you who are following our journey. We enjoy hearing from you in the comments section. It has been fun sharing our days with you.
This morning we shared a taxi with a man who had walked every step of the camino starting at the Pyrenees. He had hurt his hip on the assent from the mountain we walked yesterday. He told us another woman had fallen and broke her arm. Today would have been many more mountains, so we opted for the taxi. As we drove though, the area looked like the Scottish highlands mixed with forest.
A few photos of Ponferrada where we were last night, and the tiny village where we are now.
The promised rain is due any minute and will last up to and including Santiago and Madrid. We’re putting on our rain gear already. Buen Camino.
The casa rural (a house in a rural area) we stayed in had all kinds of animals. Early in the evening we heard a cow bell and one of the large males was bringing them all home from the pasture. It was so cool to see and hear. Early evening could be 8:30 pm because it still looks like noon outside. It gets dark at 10pm.
We left our casa rural and began walking, waiting to come to a forest region. We never saw a forest, but it took us 7 1/2 hours to walk 12 miles. Seven and a half miles of it was uphill on rocks or through mud. Walking on rocks down the other side was more difficult than going up. it was the warmest weather we’ve had, about 75 degrees.
We have only five more days of walking until we reach Santiago. I say that wistfully, with the exception of today. Walking these long distances becomes rhythmic. The colors all around us are so bright. Seeing other people walking, many older people, gives you an unspoken sense of community. Knowing that there’s something you are walking towards creates a sense of calm. And sometimes looking out at an endless stretch of road keeps you in the moment. You just walk.