Camino del Norte – Finally Santiago

Mileage post

Getting over the bridge into Ribedeo in Galicia doesn’t mean that we were at the end of our walk.  We had 186.917 kilometers (over 112 miles).

Even though Beth and I can handle numbers, we were not be keeping track of the remaining mileage with three decimal place precision.

But the Norte in Galicia has these concrete posts consistently on the trail. Not all have the mileage but all have the all-important arrow.

Now I can be bribed with clear, accurate signage, which is why I decided that Galicia is the best section of the Camino del Norte.

Galician is also a regional language, connected to Portuguese. All official signs are in two languages – Spanish and Galician. The area isn’t wild; it has well-tended farms and fields and fields of kale. We found kale in everything. See the top photo.

The people seem friendlier, even though they don’t speak English any better than those on the rest of the trail. Maybe they’re more tuned into the Camino del Norte. Better signage, more water spouts…

I think I’ve lost it – language-wise. I meet an old man with a big “Buen Camino” smile. A water fountain is close to his house, so I say

Gracias pour this. My brain has Spanish, French, English indigestion.

Albergue Villa Martin

The first unforgettable hostel in Galicia was Albergue San Martin, in Miraz, an impeccable hostel run by volunteers of the Confraternity of St. James, a British group.

This is the start of the 100K (or 60 miles). To get your Compostella, your certificate, you have to prove that you’ve walked the 60 miles going into Santiago by getting two stamps a day in your pilgrim passport.

The volunteers at the “British Albergue” speak English. They also make you a nice cup of tea as you sign in. I’ve missed a proper cup of tea with real boiling water.

No one should miss staying at the Sobrado Monastery. The imposing monastery was founded in 952 CE, though the building is more recent.

If you’re lucky, Brother Lawrence, originally from London, will fill you in on the history of the monastery. He’s so intelligent, well-spoken, friendly and open – a character from the Camino that will stay with me for a long time.

And then, the Camino del Norte meets the Camino Frances for the last 24 miles.

What was a trickle of hikers have turned into a river.

Cafes are open at 8 am, more quirkiness on the trail, because there are more people on the trail. Art, graffiti, food, water fountains are plentiful. The trail is wide and on dirt.

A person who lives on the trail posted numerous pithy quotes, which he/she thinks pertains to pilgrims on the Frances.

Finally in Santiago.

In Santiago

People are giddy with their accomplishments – good for them. We pose for  the standard photo in front of the Cathedral.

But our hiking adventure isn’t over.

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