On our final day walking the Camino we went from Padron into the city of Santiago de Compostela. We walked 31 kilometers, more than 45,000 steps. That was an insane amount of walking!
Here is a photo of the Camino we walked, from Tui to Santiago. This map was included on our credencial del peregrino along with 3 other Camino maps plus a pilgrim prayer and pilgrim blessing. Both the prayer and blessing were in Spanish. I will share them in English on a post I plan to do soon about our visit to the Cathedral in Santiago.
Even though Friday was our furthest walk, there was beautiful scenery along the way so this helped make the journey more bearable. It seems to me that Galician people take great pride in their properties and work hard to maintain them for themselves and for passing pilgrims. Here are a few photos I took from gardens we passed yesterday.
If you like admiring flowers, then doing the Portuguese Camino is just the thing for you, as long as you don’t mind walking more than 140 kilometers in 6 days!
Of course, you don’t have to do the Camino this way. You can organize your own trip and cover shorter distances, for example. We signed on with Santiago Ways because it had been recommended to us by several people when we lived in Ireland. They found the hotels we would stay in, transported our luggage from one place to the next and they organized our breakfasts and most of our dinners. They provided a guide book to the trail and the total package price was reasonable.
However, as I mentioned in a previous post, Santiago Ways underestimated the distances we walked every day. The last day was estimated to be about 24 kilometers while it was over 30. Maybe their distances are measured as the crow flies rather than in the zigzagging way we followed the Camino through the countryside.
There are many companies around to help you organize your Camino. But if you are looking to do a one week trek with not a lot of climbing up and down hills, I recommend the Portuguese Way from Tui, Spain. Or if you have a few more days, you can start in Porto, Portugal. We came across many walkers who had started there.
In any case, the Spanish authorities in charge of maintaining the Camino through their territory are doing a great job and the forests we traversed were spectacular.
If you like walking in the woods, doing the Camino would suit you fine. Just be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. Also slather your feet with baby powder or vaseline each morning and wear Merino wool socks. This will help reduce the number of blisters you get.
I discovered they make great bandaids for blisters here in the EU. There is a French company that makes Compeed bandages. You can buy them at most pharmacies. They have bandages designed for where people typically get blisters. So amazing! Here are photos of two types of Compeeds.
On the Camino, feet care is critical. I passed a woman from Sicily with blisters on her toes walking in flip flops because she couldn’t wear her shoes anymore. Don’t wear flip flops! I did end up wearing sandals with good rubber tread and wool socks the last two days because I had gotten a double toenail and wearing shoes made it worse. Next week, I see my podiatrist to have this looked at. Be kind to your feet, whether walking the Camino or not. They take you where you want to go as long as you are good to them.
On our last day walking the Camino in my oh-so-fashionable blue wool socks and grey sandals (not!), we saw dogs, cats, horses, chickens, goats and sheep. Here are some highlights.
The Why of the Way
Part of the reason we wanted to do the Camino was to explore this part of Spain. We had never been to Galicia, the northwestern part of Spain, before but we absolutely loved it. The countryside was beautiful, the food was delicious and the people were kind.
But I was also on a spiritual journey when I took part in this pilgrimage. What I rediscovered when I walked was how beautiful the world can be if we just slow down enough to appreciate everything around us. You get so tired at times on the Camino that you stop thinking thoughts and simply become eyes and ears that see and hear the beauty of the earth. And for that I thank God because he is the source of all the beauty in the world.
As the beautiful song goes:
For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise
For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light, Lord of all, to thee we raise This our hymn of grateful praise.
Thank you God for everything and thank you Spain for being such a lovely welcoming country to pilgrims from all over the world.