Yesterday was a big day for the sturdy band of Aussies walking the final stages of the Camino Portugues. After a rather light, but adequate, continental breakfast we left our palatial guesthouse in Padron, most with good intentions of walking all or most of the way (over 20kms) to Santiago. Fine weather kept spirits high as we navigated our pathway via small, colourful hamlets, sometimes walking briefly beside the N 550, to a welcome cafe about 10km from our destination. Over lunch of bocadillos and cafe con leche, four of us decided to continue to walk the entire distance. Several others volunteered to blaze the trail and arrive early at our hotel, taking a taxi to the outskirts of the historic city to walk symbolically the last few kms.
By late afternoon all of our pilgrim passports had been stamped by Friends of the Camino volunteers – evidence that we had reached our goal! A celebratory drink in the sitting room of the former seminary – our home for the night – was accompanied by lots of laughter and stories of the day’s events. That night we dined together with the owners of a local tour company, who had helped to make our Camino experience so enjoyable.
A slow start this morning was followed by free time to relax and explore the atmospheric medieval streets. Those who attended the daily midday mass in the Cathedral witnessed the giant swinging incense burner that was originally used to fumigate sweaty pilgrims! After lunch we travelled on to the seaside village of Finisterre, once thought to be the end of the earth. We visited the lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and witnessed the ceremonial burning of garments left by other pilgrims who had walked long distances to get to this point. A hearty plate of delicious Pimientos and other tapas, and a feast of seafood and local wines, made a fitting finale to a magical day.
Over the next two days we will travel on some of the most ancient walking trails in this part of the world. These paths along what is now the Camino Finisterre were used in Celtic times, many centuries before the ministry of St James. There will also be an opportunity to experience the culture and warmth of the Galician people before returning to Santiago where our journey ends.