WELCOME!

Welcome to our blog site of our experience hiking the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) from August 29, 2017 through October 16, 2017. Above are tabs you can click on to read about our group of four and how we came to hiking the Camino. There is also a tab with the history of the Camino.

Our blog entries and pictures are in reverse order, with the most recent being at the top. To get to the beginning of our Camino, click on the tab on the right side that says August 2017 and scroll down slightly. Our adventure begins on August 28th, 2017, the night before we flew to Spain.  Some of the pictures may appear small, but you can click on most of them and they will enlarge to full screen.  You can then scan through all of the pictures in that post at full screen size.

If you are considering or planning to hike the Camino, we hope that our pictures and blog assist you in your preparation. If you have any questions at all, please contact us at pilgrims4@yahoo.com or simply add a comment or question at the end of this post.  Another great resource is the Camino forum at http://www.caminodesantiago.org.uk/ where you can read discussions or ask questions of other pilgrims about hiking any of the Camino paths.

Buen Camino

Santiago to Madrid to Chicago to Fargo

IMG_3569Monday, Oct. 16th was a LONG DAY starting at 3 am in Santiago and ending at 10:30 pm in Fargo! After  crossing 7 time zones, it was a total  26 1/2 hours! All of our flights went very well and were all running on time.

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And the best part of the day was the great reception we had when we landed in Fargo!

This ends my blogging for this amazing and unforgettable journey! Thanks for following along and for your prayers and encouragement! It meant a lot to all of us! And tomorrow we will be home in Minot!

The four pilgrims before and after the Camino de Santiago 2017.

Buen Camino,

Kathy

Bryan’s Final Post – Back Home

And we got a good typical Spanish send off from Fisterre.  About 5 am, in the heart of town, a rooster started to crow.  So fitting!  The day after we had hit the end of the trail at Finnesterre, we boarded the bus about 9:45 am for a ride back to Santiago.  There were three buses, the typical Greyhound style, in Fisterre just to take pilgrims back to Santiago.  We managed to all four get on the first bus and it was an excellent ride.  With the tight corners and narrow streets, the buses were fitted with rear axles that would steer as well, allowing the bus to make sharp corners.  The only disappointment for us was that we were getting back to Santiago too late to attend the mass at the Cathedral.  We arrived at the central bus station and grabbed a cab to the same hotel we had stayed in six days earlier.  And the same desk clerk who had helped us before was on duty again.  He took great care of us even though we could not check in yet.  We sat in the bar/restaurant and played some cards, ate a bit, and then checked up on the forest fires south of Santiago.  As the afternoon progressed and we were ready to check into our rooms, I emptied my pocket of all change (and there was quite a bit) and left everything less than a one euro coin as a tip.  It is not customary to tip in Spain for some reason.  The others followed suit, we left a good size bowl of change as a tip, and we checked into our rooms.  We came back down later for supper and the bartender came over and brought us all kinds of treats.  We later had supper and headed to bed early.

THE FINAL DAY!

We had a very long day of travel all the way from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid to Chicago to Fargo, and then to Fergus Falls for me.  Kathy and Terry are driving home from Fargo on Tuesday, Oct. 17th and Vince got on the train to Whitefish, MT in Fargo about 5 hours after we landed there.  Our day began by waking up at 3 am and catching a cab to the airport.  There were just a few things on our mind.  First of all there were forest fires about 45 miles south of Santiago de Compostela and ash was dropping on the city.  We didn’t know if this would affect the flights.  Second, a hurricane has just crossed the Atlantic Ocean headed toward Spain and then veered north toward Ireland and the UK.  We were crossing the Atlantic on the tails of this storm.  We got to Madrid fine, and boarded our 9+ hour flight to Chicago after some uncertainty.  Both Kathy and Vince got pulled aside and taken to a special room.  We didn’t know what was going on.  It turns out that it was just a random security check thing, indicated by a special number on your ticket.  Okay, time to board.

With 7 hours of time change we landed in Chicago just 2+ hours after we took off from Madrid.  Vince accidentally left his IPAD on the Iberia Airlines plane and discovered that after we had cleared US customs, picked up our baggage and then re-checked it, moved to another terminal, and gone back through the security checkpoint for our flight to Fargo.  After some scrambling around trying to figure out who to talk to, they had found the IPAD on the plane, looked in the case, and Vince had left his boarding pass in there.  They called and then a woman brought the IPAD over to the security point in the terminal we were at.  We thought Iberia did an excellent job with their flights and good airplanes, and this just topped it off.  However, Vince was the lucky winner again.  A random number on his boarding pass for the flight to Fargo meant he had to go through an extended security check again.  We had a good flight to Fargo and landed pretty much on time.  By the time I got home it had been about a 28 hour day.

I wore my Fitbit for the entire journey.  1,318,450 steps from the day we left Fargo to arriving back home in Fergus Falls.  Each night when I went to bed I would check the Fitbit for total steps that day.  The peak was 39,931 in one day.  I thought that I should get up and do another 69 steps so that I could have a 40,000 step day.  It didn’t happen.

It is going to take some time for the entire journey to sink in.  The guide book clearly did not give enough information to get a real sense of how difficult and demanding hiking the Camino de Santiago really is.  We talked about whether any of us would have tried this if we had truly known the difficulty and the answer was likely no.  But, we did try it and succeeded.  We also talked about whether any of us would do the Camino again.  Vince said yes, the rest of us said no.  (Additional Post:  Within two weeks of being home I changed my mind.  I would do the Camino again and do the same route.  There is so much that I missed the first time.)

Many thanks to all for the prayers and support.  What incredible memories we have.

And many many thanks to all of the wonderful pilgrims we met, their support and helpfulness, willingness to share physically and verbally, and to the many monasteries, albergues, hostels, hotels, and bar/restaurants for their hospitality.  It is simply impossible to put into words how much all of these meant to the experience.  And we now have friends from around the world.

Here are pictures of the pilgrims from the day we left Fargo and the day we returned to Fargo.

Buen Camino

Pilgrim Bryan

Fisterra to Santiago

We are on our way home! We boarded a bus in Fisterra at 9:45 this morning for a ride back to Santiago. We were surprised to see how many pilgrims were lined up. There were at least 3 buses loading passengers with each bus holding 50-60 passengers. The ride back took about an hour and a half.

We then took a taxi to our hotel, the same one we stayed in last Monday on our way to Fisterra. We spent the afternoon playing cards. It is quite hazy here as they are fighting fires about 45 miles south of here. In fact there is white ash on our window sill!

After dinner we are now bedding down for a very long day tomorrow! We will be up at 3:00 am to catch our 6:45 flight to Madrid. From there we fly to Chicago and then on to Fargo arriving at 10:30 pm after crossing 7 time zones!

So looking forward to being home.

Kathy

Bryan’s Day 45-The End of the Trail at Finnesterre

This is our final day before starting the journey home. Unfortunately Vince still is not feeling well and spent the day in bed. It was extremely foggy in the morning and you couldn’t see the boats tied up at the dock most of the time. So Kathy, Terry, and I took the opportunity to do a little shopping and to eat lunch.  I bought a scarf as a present for my wife, something that would easily fit into the backpack for the trip home.

Terry had made a comment that I seemed to be walking on the side of my boot, so thinking that might be the source of my knee issue I looked at my boots closely. They are definitely in tough shape.  I discovered that the inside of each boot was worn all the way through to the outer layer, so yes I had been walking on the side of the boot.

I decided to walk in my tennis shoes for the 3 km to the lighthouse at Finnesterre. It is an uphill climb all of the way which has tended not to bother my knee. We took pictures at the 0,0 marker (they don’t use the . in Spain) and spent some time looking out at the ocean. It was still somewhat foggy and visibility was not great but it was a bit emotional as this signified the end of our adventure. As I was looking at the outside of the lighthouse a Spanish family asked me to take some pictures of them and then asked if I had walked the Camino.  They were amazed at the distance we had walked and had many questions.

There were some vendors by the site selling souvenirs and many items for pilgrims on the Camino.  I had tried to buy a 9″ X 36″ map in Fisterre of the Camino route we had walked but the last one had just been sold.  I found one in one of the souvenir stores up here and it was cheaper than in town.  We had either a snack or a drink in a little shop by the lighthouse and got stamps in our Finnesterre pilgrim passport book.  We walked back down to the town and the downhill did not affect my knee as bad as in prior days but it was a gentle downhill.

The three of us had supper and sat next to two women who had walked the Camino and stayed in hotels the whole route.  That would change the experience a bit.  And now we prepare to head home. Tomorrow is a bus ride to Santiago de Compostela and then on Monday we catch a 6:30 am flight to Madrid, then on to Chicago, and then to Fargo at 10:30 pm. All in one day. I do have pictures which were added to this post after I got back home.

About half way to the lighthouse.  You can barely make it out sticking above the trees out on the point.

This pilgrim at the 0,0 marker signifying the end of the trail.  We had to stand in line and wait to take our pictures at the marker.

Even though we waited to let the fog lift, by early afternoon it was still foggy out over the ocean.

This is the cross at the end of the trail.  There were literally hundreds of crosses of various sizes, made out of a variety of materials, all along the route.

Buen Camino

Pilgrim Bryan

Bryan’s Day 44-Casa Pepa (Hospital) to Fisterra

For the second day in a row I did not walk due to my sore right knee. I thought about it but the knee gave me enough signals to let me know it would not cooperate. I sat at the bar/restaurant for some time and took a couple of pictures of the early morning fog just prior to sunrise.  I also sat out front on the patio and the kitten from yesterday came to climb my leg and sit on my lap.  I don’t know if they don’t pet their cats here, but the woman and her daughter were just amazed at how the cat responded to being petted and played with.  The time finally came to call a cab to get a ride to Fisterra but the lady at the albergue said to wait because I could maybe catch a ride with the person who hauls the backpacks for people that ship them forward. Sure enough, he said he would give me a ride and it only cost me 10 € instead of maybe 30 € or more for a taxi. Not only that, but I didn’t pay the 3 euros to ship my backpack either.  I just had to sit through all of his delivery stops. I also got another lesson in Spanish driving.  There is no such thing as tailgating in Spain.  It seems the closer you get to the vehicle in front of you the better it is.

I got to Fisterra by 1 pm and verified our reservation at the hotel but could not check in yet. Again, our choice of accommodation was a perfect location without us knowing it before hand.  We are just one block from the bus station and two blocks from the harbor.  I went for a walk down to the harbor and along the harbor front.  Fishermen were coming in with their catches in bags and bringing them right up to the restaurants.  I walked down by the water front and here was a female pilgrim on the sand.  She had come prepared and stripped down to her bikini and walked into the water.  I never did go down to the water to check the temperature but it must have been cold as she did not go in very deep and did not stay in very long.  I walked further down the harbor front and went through a street market area where people were selling meat, all kinds of other food products, clothing, etc.

The other three pilgrims finally showed up at 4 pm after their 16 mile hike and into the hotel we went.  The bad news is that Vince was not feeling well and went right to bed.  Again, he had not been feeling well all day and almost didn’t walk with the others.  The other three of us went out for supper and I walked along the ocean harbor again.

I have added a picture of the harbor.  There is a long section of restaurants just across the street from the harbor with the beautiful view.

The typical morning fog that we have seen the past few days close to the ocean.  And, as usual, since there is a hill there must be wind turbines.  This has been a point of interest for me, as in my prior life of being employed I did work on some wind projects for my company.  I remember reading about the federal Spanish government putting in a high payment for wind generation, and after some years having to cancel it because there had been too much wind generation development and the total cost for the subsidies was now an economic burden.

More morning fog.

The harbor right in front of restaurant row.  Just a great place to sit back and relax, have a good meal, and reflect on an incredible experience.

Tomorrow is on to Finisterre and the end of the trail.

Buen Camino.

Pilgrim Bryan

Day 45 – Fisterra to Finisterre (1.8 miles)

After sleeping in for the first time in 47 days 😳 we spent the morning doing a little shopping and walking along the harbor. It looked like all of the fishing boats were in the harbor but we didn’t know if it was because of the fog or the weekend. The last picture is of two guys building fishing traps.

After lunch and after the fog had lifted some, we finished the last of our journey, 3 km to the lighthouse at Finisterre! The views were amazing! We were finally at the end and the emotions hit us! The realization of what we had just accomplished brought tears! We made it, all 560 miles! We walked 44 of the last 45 days! We are tired and worn out and somewhat sleep deprived but we are here and our journey is complete!

Thank-you all for your prayers and words of encouragement! This has been a journey that we obviously will never forget. We have experienced much and are so thankful that we were able to complete what we set out to do.

We started at the 799 km marker and here we are at the 0.00 km marker. It is finished. Completo!

And tomorrow we begin our journey back home. See you soon!

Buen Camino,

Kathy