Spent a splendid day with friends, Brigitte, James, and Heiner, first driving north to Nordstrand, Nordfriesenland, Germany to look at the North Sea–windy, drizzly, but a. great matjes roll for lunch (one of my favorite fish: young immature marinated herring). It only got better with a visit to the Emil Nolde Museum. He was one of the first expressionists as a member of “Die Brücke.” The picture of us in front of some of his works gives an idea of his style. For dinner–you guessed it–more matjes!
Spent two gorgeous days with the Kunzes, seeing the highlights of Rendsburg and enjoying their scrumptious meals and hospitality. The picture shows the old town hall, the suspended ferry over the East-west Canal, and scenes from tonight’s dinner. What’s missing is Hainer, their son who traveled some seven hours from Marburg to Rendsburg by train to surprise me—yes, train. The strike is over!!!! We’ll catch a photo of him tomorrow. A real treat tonight was a DVD of a man with Parkinson’s who made the Camino de Santiago–amazing feat!
Had a super first leg of the flight–a whole row on the plane to sleep on the way. At Heathrow I managed my way through the bus maze: where to catch it; where to buy an oyster (my multi-day ticket); where to get off; where’s my hostel??? The picture says it all–you bet I’m intense. My backpack with four bottles in it was pretty heavy to have to schlepp it any further than necessary…..My adventure has started–I love it!
I’m flying out tomorrow (Apr 21), heading to Germany, first visiting friends then family, and beginning a short 450 km section of the Via Regia on May 4th. The attached photo shows my good friend and walking buddy Geoff (on the right). We just finished leading a group of 16 pilgrims on a 11-mile hike with 1000-ft climb. Both of us are ready for some hiking: he on the Portuguese Camino and I on the Via Regia.
Can’t believe it’s over. The last 24.9 km (15.6 mi) took me to the goal, walking through beautiful countryside with a little drizzle nearly the whole time. I have Rainer to thank for getting us early to Santiago. He had a strong pace and left little time for breaks. On arrival, we almost immediately ran into several peregrinos we lost contact with earlier–a real reunion that continued for hours as others popped up.
First line of business was getting a room, then came the one-hour wait for the Compostela (certificate), followed by several beers and meeting Phillip (from Germany) who then joined us for dinner celebration. The pics speak for themselves:
Today’s 18.1 km (11.3 mi) led me through some of the most beautiful scenery of the entire Camino. The forest smell and sounds of so much water trickling all around me made me stop here and there to imprint a memory.
The Albuerge is next to an 18th century Carmelite Monastery that gives it a special aura. The town of some 90,000 is revered as a special Jacobean venue. It was here that the apostle St. James landed and started his preaching. Two pictures say it all, one on top of a hill (also the front cover of my guide) where he preached and a second with the original stone where St. James’s boat tied up on the River Sar, the stone illuminated under the main altar.
Only one more day!
23.1 km (14.4 mi) closer to Santiago–only two days left and feeling bittersweet about it. The walk through river valleys with many Albariño vines was a real treat. Many of us pilgrims now know each other and we wave as we leapfrog each other on the Camino. It’s particularly special seeing the old Roman road designator number XIX (see pic). Who knows who all walked these roads and now I am–a small thrill.
Caldas de Reis is named after the natural hot springs. One pic had me standing in front of the one springs used for washing. Also took a pic of my favorite Galician architecture with columns holding the first floor.
A few uphill climbs and and paths through mixed forests took me 18.2 km (11.4 mi) to a great looking albuerge in Pontevedra. Four of us shared a washer and I took advantage of it and did my pants too. May not sound important to the casual reader, but it is to a tired pilgrim–it was a gift.
The town has some 83K people in it and has been described as an old Galician town. Many, many old, important looking buildings greet you in the center. I forwent a nap just to get a better impression–vale la peina (it was worth my pain).
Here are just a few impressions, one of which included the Parador (state-run 5-star hotels usually in very old settings), the Pilgrim Chapel in the shape of a shell on the Peregrina (female peregrino) Square, and City Hall:
An easy 14.9 km (9.3 mi) brought me to my first views of the ocean inlet since Porto. Lovely walk–great albuerge at the end of the day, even though a number of us had to wait a half an hour for it to open. Had my first GOOD pulpo (octopus) on the Camino and expect more as I approach Santiago and beyond. Two German ladies are pushing their friend in a wheel chair to Santiago–an amazing task! Had a beer with them and talked about their adventure–enough for their lifetimes.
So much going in here–festivities, music, artisans selling their wares. It’s almost too much for the senses. Here are a few pics.
Beautiful day for getting 19.3 km (12 mi) behind me–now under 100 km left. The past heavy rains have washed out a few areas, but everyone managed to use the adjoining fields as a makeshift detour.
Discovered the cause of my bone bruise: sandals have a crack in sole (too old) that let some jagged rocks intrude. My fault. I should have replaced them.
Going through Tui, my first Spanish town, I stopped in at a small church adjacent to a convent to find four nuns at their morning prayers. At first I felt as if I were intruding, but after a few minutes more as an invited guest. Witnessing, no, immersing in a Camino context in the power of the church–the total dedication some practice–is beyond words.
I have dozens of photos from today–beautiful gripping scenes–but these four nuns by far have punctuated the day for me!