Day 10 Part 2: Valga to Santiago de Compostela

Now that I’ve had a night’s rest and have a little downtime I can finally do a full post about the last day of walking. It was actually supposed to be the second to last day of walking. I planned this Camino as an 11 day walk because I felt like 10 days last year was pushing it. Well, so much for taking it easy this time! 😂

Sergio, Lena and I started walking under the stars again. Stefano kept his original plans of staying Padrón and in the outskirts of Santiago for the last two nights, so we had said a temporary goodbye to him when we stayed in Valga. The day was supposed to be only 20 kilometers and we had found a nice albergue to try to stay in at Teo. As we got to one of our breaks, we threw around the idea of going all the way to Santiago. It would be crazy. But we said we’d think on it and decide at our stop in Teo.

As we walked we considered the possibilities around walking 35km to Santiago. This would be the longest day I’ve walked on any Camino if we did it. But I felt good. Even though Lena had been having lots of pain in her legs, her gut told her we should do it. Sergio, went with the usual “I’ll walk 5km and see how I feel.” We just kept laughing about the crazy thought and we kept walking.

We made a stop in Padrón to see the famous stone in the church of Santiago there. The stone is known for being the one that the boat carrying St. James’ body was moored up to.

We walked on and kept toying with the idea of a 35km day. Today’s walk went through small village streets that look almost identical to those we’ve been walking through all along. Each of these villages has the token old lady or old man and at least one cat. Many of the houses feature dog warning signs, even if the “mean” dog in question is too old to get up. These villages and the scenery are what I love about walking the Camino. Seeing the world by foot is the best way to go in my opinion.

At our second stop we were getting more and more serious about arriving in Santiago a day early. So we started thinking about the logistics of changing hotels, etc. Still, we waited until Teo to make our final decision. After we past that point we would only have 15km left to walk. When the numbers start getting that small, it can be hard to want to stop.

Of course we made the crazy decision and kept walking. That’s when it started to get hot and we had lots of big hills to climb. Probably each of us considered stopping short at one point, but we kept going. Finally at our last major stop we all changed our reservations. It was happening.

While the last 2km were probably the hardest, we were excited to finally make it the cathedral. I kind of figured that with the more Camino walks I do, the less emotional it would be to arrive in Santiago. But it’s not. It’s hard to hold back some tears and feel so much pride in what you’ve just accomplished. The friendships, the laughs, the challenges and the pain all come together to create an amazing experience.

Today I’m just taking everything in and getting together with my Camino family and other pilgrims I’ve met along the way. Santiago is such a special place and it feels great to be back here, even if my legs hurt!

Day 9: Barros to Valga

13.3 miles

6:30am to 1:00pm walking time

Today hasn’t been a bad day by any means but it’s just felt like the part of a vacation that’s just “travel day.” The only goal is to get from point A to point B. I suppose that’s every day on the Camino. But often it feels like there’s something unique to see or a fun city to explore. But today our only stops were the normal Camino bars/cafes and then running errands (bank, grocery store) in the one city we walked through.

Today I’ve also been tired – I think all of us have been. With the village party next to our albergue last night, the loud music and fireworks went until 1am, it was hard to get decent sleep. We stopped by the party before it was really getting going at around 9:45pm. It kinda looked like much ado about nothing with a huge stage, a bar and two snack stands. All for about 25 people, most over the age of 70. Since it’s Spain, I’m guessing the party picked up later and things got more exciting a while after we left.

Sergio, Lena and I started off in the dark again. I probably shouldn’t mention that we somehow missed an arrow and started down the wrong road for a bit. I realized it when I opened my geocaching app to see that the power trail of caches I followed on the Camino last year was on the next road over. Luckily we were still headed in the right direction so barely any time lost.

For the most part it was a very easy walk today. Flat trail or road and mostly through farm country. I remember on this same section of the way last year that my cousin Justine and I got caught in a rain storm and waited out a downpour under grape vines in a vineyard. With only two days away from Santiago, I might actually get a rain free walk (minus a little foggy mist).

Being back in Spain, I’m excited about the fact that I can get bocadillos at almost every bar or cafe again. On the Camino Frances, I loved them until I got so bored with eating them. But distance makes the heart grow fonder, so my love for them is back again. Two days ago I got one for my lunch and just like I remember, they’re WAY too big for one meal. Even when you’re a hungry pilgrim. That bocadillo lasted me for two days of lunches. The new one I picked up this morning will do the same. I like getting the jamon and queso bocadillo and then buying a package of chorizo to add to it. Sooo good! The beer and soda are there for scale…

It was supposed to hit 31 degrees today (88 F), so it was nice to finish walking before the hottest part of the day. I think we got lucky and mostly walked in the woods or had a nice breeze to keep the temperature down.

So there’s not much to the “town” of Valga. I already took the full tour and found that it consists of the albergue, a restaurant that’s closed. A building supply store and two bars. One of those bars also acts as a little market. So those two bars our the options for dinner. Hopefully that means something other than a bocadillo. 🙂

The plan for tomorrow right now is a short day of only 20 kilometers and then we just have 15 kilometers left until Santiago on Wednesday. I’m sad that it’s coming to an end soon as I’ve made some great friendships and I love walking even when it hurts. But I know the Camino will be here waiting for me when I come again.

Day 8: Arcade to Barros

15.5 miles

6:15 am to 1:00 pm walk time

Back to a more average length Camino day today. Three of us started before dark. As soon as we left the albergue, I saw a shooting star. It appeared to be headed toward Santiago, so it was like it was leading the way. We needed our lights shortly after leaving the village as we had a climb through the woods on an old Roman road.

Luckily it was the hardest climb of the day. We slowly descended into the city of Pontevedra. I got to log a virtual cache near the Peregrino Cathedral by taking a group photo there.

After leaving the city it was a beautiful walk, luckily mostly flat with the occasional rolling hills. Since there’s a small geocache power trail going into and out of the city, I got to log a few finds along the way. I figure it might take me a few more caminos on this path to get them all. Reason to come back!

After taking a short break about 1km from our albergue we got word that 7 of 16 beds were taken up at the albergue we wanted to stay at in Barros. So we hurried our way there. Turns out, Stefano was able to secure our beds. The owner of the albergue had gone to get food for the communal dinner and told other pilgrims to let people know to put their stuff on a bed to claim it. One aspect of the Camino that isn’t the most fun is worrying about getting a bed. Most of the time it’s fine and there are plenty of places to stay. But in the case of today, it would have been a 6km walk to the next albergue. Not something any of us were excited about doing.

The albergue we are staying in is pretty funky. I walked in to the Beatles playing which was a good sign to me. One of the owners and I already bonded over a love for the Beastie Boys. There’s also a big party at the local church tonight that’s supposed to go until 1am. So we’ll see if we get much sleep. We saw people dressed in what looked like traditional Galician wear and they were already letting off fireworks.

Before heading this way I wrote a blog about the signs of the Camino. So today I thought I’d share some of the many signs that guide you along The Way.

Less than 60km to go to Santiago now. We should be able to break that up nicely over the next three days.