Camino Primitivo (Camino de Santiago) Etapa 12: O Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela.

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I awoke around 6 a.m. with butterflies in my stomach. The day had finally arrived. Me desperté a las 6 de la mañana nervioso. Por fin, el día ha llegado. 

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After 600 kilometres on the Camino del Norte, 121 on the Camino San Salvador and 323 on the Primitivo, I was going to arrive to Santiago. Only 19 kilometres separated me from the goal I had had since 2010. Was I ready? Después de 600 kilometros del Camino del Norte, 121 del Camino San Salvador y 323 del Primitivo, iba a llegar a Santiago. Solo 19 kilómetros me separó de la meta que había tenido desde 2010. ¿Estaba listo?

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There was an open bar just after I left the pensión, so I had my tostada and café and got the credentials stamped. I already saw a ton of peregrinos. O Pedrouzo feels more like tourist trap on the Mediterranean than a Camino town. Había un bar abierto justo después de la pensión, y desayuné la tostada y café con leche de siempre, y me sellaron las credenciales. Ya había muchos peregrinos. O Pedrouzo es más parecido a un pueblo de turistas del Mediterráneo que un pueblo del Camino. 

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I was prepared for tons of peregrinos. As the hospitalero in Bodenaya had explained it, as the Primitivo was the first Camino, it was the Caminos Francés and then del Norte that became the Primitivo, not the other way around.  1502 peregrinos registered with the office, and I know not every one goes to the office. Estaba preparado para muchos peregrino. El hospitalero de Bodenaya nos explicó que el Primitivo era el primer Camino, y por eso, era los Caminos Francés y después del Norte que se convierten al Camino Primitivo, no el Camino Primitivo que se convierte al Camino Francés. Había 1502 peregrinos se registraron aquel día con la oficina de peregrinos, y sé que no todos van a la oficina. 

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I was right. It wasn’t as bad as I feared, as I was thinking it would be Les Rambles in Barcelona, but it was pretty bad. I somehow managed to walk alone for about 20 minutes in the first forests along the way. I was happy it wasn’t entirely industrial. It was gone too soon, as there were peregrinos everywhere. Tenía razón sobre el tráfico de peregrinos. No era tan mal como pensaba, porque pensaba que iba a ser como Les Rambles en Barcelona, pero aún así, era mal. No sé como, pero tenía unos 20 minutos cuando caminé solo en los primeros bosques por el Camino. Me alegré que no hubiera todo industrial. La tranquilidad desapareció demasiado rápido, y después había peregrinos por todos los lados.

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The last stretch feels more like walking from the car park at Disney to the actual park than walking the Camino. La última etapa es más como caminar desde el aparcamiento de Disney a Disney que caminar el Camino. 

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I stopped at a church along the way for a stamp, and at a bar along the way. I saw a school transport bus try to park right in the Camino too. Paré en una iglesia para un sello, y también en un bar por el camino. Vi un autobús de transporte escolar intentar aparcar justo en el Camino. 

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The good thing about running into a ton of peregrinos is that someone can always take your picture at all the Santiago de Compostela signs. La cosa buena de ver muchos peregrinos es siempre hay alguien para hacerte una foto en todos las indicaciones de Santiago de Compostela. 

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Everyone talks about how emotional they become when they see the cathedral from  Monte de Gozo. I felt nothing. Anticlimatic much? Only 4 km left, and they went by in a flash. Todo el mundo habla de como la emoción que se siente cuando ven la catedral desde Monte de Gozo. No sentí nada. ¿Decepcionante? Solo me quedaban 4 kilómetros, y me pasaban rápido. 

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I was a bit excited to pass the official sign saying I was in Santiago limits, but as I’ve already mentioned, it was a bit anticlimatic. As I walked through the Santiago streets, I remembered my 2009 visit. I had lost my debit card and saw it on an extreme budget. I more or less remembered the streets. Me emocioné un poco cuando vi que estaba entrando los limites de Santiago, pero como ya había dicho, era algo decepcionante. Mientras caminé por las calles de Santiago, recordaba mi visita de 2009. Perdí la tarjeta de débito y vi la ciudad con un presupuesto catalán, digo extremo. 

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I found my way to the cathedral. I was a bit excited, but I felt no sense of accomplishment, no sense of self-discovery, no sense of relief. Encontré la catedral. Estaba un poco emocionado, pero no me sentí que había conseguido algo, ningún sentido de auto-conocimiento, no sentido de alivio. 

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The actual arrival to the Cathedral of Santiago will not give anyone sudden answers to the meaning of life. La llegada a la Catedral de Santiago no te va a dar las respuestas de la vida.

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The Camino as a whole will teach you everything there is about life and about yourself, but these lessons are not obvious. Nothing on the Camino is obvious. El Camino te va a enseñar todo sobre la vida y sobre ti mismo, pero sus lecciones no son obvias. Nada del Camino es obvio. 

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I was going to go to the noon peregrino mass, but I didn’t want to pay to store my backpack, so I opted for the afternoon mass. I did get my Compostela after waiting in queue for an hour. I returned the next day to pick up a certificate of kilometres walked. I don’t know WHY my initial reaction was “no” to that! Había pensado en ir a la misa de peregrino a las 12, pero no quería pagar una consigna para dejar la mochila. Por eso, fui a la misa por la tarde. Conseguí la Compostela después de esperarla una hora. Volví el día siguente para el certificado de kilometraje. No sé porque no quería uno al principio. 

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I went to my pensión, had lunch, rested, purchased new jeans (I had tossed mine in the donation bin in Oviedo) and meandered to buy souvenirs. I enjoyed being in such a beautiful city. Fui a la pensión, comí, descansé, compré vaqueros nuevos (había tirado los míos en el contenedor donativo en Oviedo) y callejeé y compré regalos. Disfruté de estar en una ciudad tan bonita. 

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Santiago, population 95,671, was originally a Roman cemetery in the fourth century. 500 years later, Bishop Theodemar of Iria claimed to have discovered Saint James’ remains. Construction on the current cathedral began in 1075 and wasn’t finished until 1211. Santiago, población 95.671, era un cementerio romano en el Siglo IV. 500 años después, el Obispo Teodemar de Iria dijo que descubrió los restos mortales de Apóstol Santiago. La construcción de la catedral actual empezó en 1075 y no se acabó hasta 1211. 

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I arrived to the cathedral nearly an hour before the pilgrim’s mass and had no line to enter and only a short one to hug the Apostle James. I found a seat for the mass. I was in luck as someone had paid to have the botafumeiro ritual done that day. It was as cool as promised. Llegué a la catedral casi una hora antes de la misa de peregrino y no tenía que esperar para entrar y solo tenía que esperar unos minutos para abrazar el Apóstol Santiago. Me sentí y esperé la misa. Tenía suerte, porque alguien había pagado para tener el ritual de botafuimero aquel día. Era muy chulo. 

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After mass, I hung out in the Praza de Obradoiro, people watching. I did get a bit emotional then. Después de misa, me quedé en la Praza de Obradoiro, mirando la gente. Vale, por fin me emocioné algo. 

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I had dinner and went back to the pensión to rest. I didn’t have to wake up early the next morning. My Camino routines were over. Cené y volví a la pensión para descansar. No tenía que madrugar. Las rutinas del camino se han acabado. 

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There was still one thing left to do before I could say my Camino was officially over though. Todavía me quedaba una cosa de hacer antes de poder decir que había acabado el Camino.

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A continuación…

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Hikes/Rutas #33/30 of 2018
Date/Fecha: 21 de junio de 2018
Kilometres hiked: 19 km
Mountain/Route/Monte/Ruta: Camino Primitivo/del Norte/Francés O Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela
Difficulty: Media Fácil

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A Coruña. Yes, Virginia, a place rainier than Euskadi.

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I’ve hesitated writing about Galicia until now because of my hazy memory and my desire to return to do the SetMeravelles justice. I have only been there once, for three days, six years ago. I keep hoping for a return visit to spend more time and visit the two provinces I didn’t make it too, but things keep coming up. It’s not that I don’t love Galicia, as I do. However, Galicia is in the northwest corner of Spain, chock full of winding roads. Even in Bilbao on the Cantabrian Coast, I’m a full 5-6 hours away, and the world is big. I know I’m on a personal pilgrimage to Santiago, but that’s going to take a while in itself.

On my first Semana Santa in Spain, I went to Portugal and took a train north to Galicia (and caught Ryan Air back to Madrid to catch the bus back to Linares in Jaén, where I was living at the time.) After a too brief stop in Vigo, I went ahead to Santiago de Compostela where I was staying. It was raining, of course. I checked into a non-pilgrim hostel and saw tourist shops full of Camino de Santiago stuff. I was in awe of the pilgrims arriving to town and made the decision to do the Camino one day myself. (Six days later, I’ve done…40 kilometres! Go me. I’m picking it back up in March or April whenever the monsoon stops). I walked around the Cathedral of St. James in awe. And while the city is small for its fame (only 95,000 people), it didn’t feel small. I kept walking through the small streets, loving the gallego I saw everywhere. Due to my aversion to all things related to seafood, I did not try pulpo (octopus), the speciality of Galicia. (In fact, I’m going to have a nightmare about an octopus attacking me now due to having typed this up).

I did try a piece of tarta de Santiago, though. And two more on my next two days there.

I digress. The next morning, when I was getting ready to go to A Coruña (the province capital. Santiago is the capital of the autonomous community), I discovered that my debit card was missing. I remember getting money out from the BBVA next door to the hostel, but I don’t remember what I did with it after that. And to make matters worse, it was Semana Santa, which meant all the banks were closed. I frantically emailed my mom and took off to A Coruña. It was raining. A lot. And I remember beautiful scenery and listening to Wynonna’s Revelation, but I was so freaked about not having much money that I didn’t really enjoy the city. The rain stopped for the return to Santiago, and I ended up going out for drinks with a guy from the hostel.

The third day was spent in plan tranquilo, seeing one of the coolest staircases in the Museo de Pobo Galego (Musuem of the Galician people) and heading out to the airport to catch a much-delayed flight to Madrid.

I am dying to return to Galicia, and even more dying to be out on the most famous road to get there later this year.

Set Meravelles

Torre de Hércules 

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No, this is not the Hércules Tower! However, in my fuzzy memory, when I later read about the Hércules Tower, I assumed this was it and that I had visited it. I still haven’t actually been there. Kicking myself. I blame the stress from the missing debit card that trip. You live and you learn, like Alanis Morissette sings. The actual Roman Torre de Hércules is a lighthouse dating back to the second century AD. It is UNESCO World Heritage site.

Catedral de Santiago y su camino

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The Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) of Santiago is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Cathedral is one of the most important in Spain, and it’s on good authority that the remains of the apostle James are buried here. In 813, legend has it that a bright light lead a shepherd here, and the shepherd told the bishop who told King Alfonso II of Oviedo, who had the Cathedral built in that spot. For that reason, over the centuries, many people made a pilgrimage across Spain to the cathedral. The original cathedral was destroyed by a Moorish leader, Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamar. Alfonso VI of Castilla had the current one constructed in the 11th century.

Praza do Obradoiro

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The main plaza of Santiago is amazing in its own right. Located next to the Catedral de Santiago, the Praza houses a hotel that was originally an albergue for pilgrims founded by Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabel, the ayuntamiento (City Hall) and a school.

Museo de Pobo Galego

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In the convent of San Domingo lies the Museum of the Galician People (Museo de Pobo Galego). It has artifacts through Galicia history and tells the story of the Galicians. It also has some of the coolest staircases ever, just as twisty and windy as the Galician roads.

Muxía (to be discovered)

A Galician village of 6000 people, Muxía is part of the Costa de Muerte, where many shipwrecks happened over the years. It is also the end of the Camino de Santiago for those pilgrims wanting to make it to the coast. (It is close to Muxía where the ending scene of The Way was filmed.) The 2002 oil spill from The Prestige unfortunately took place near here, but it quickly recovered, thankfully.

Finisterre (to be discovered)

Finisterre means “The End of the World”, and until certain people “discovered” lands that were already discovered, it was believed to be the very end of the world. The cape boasts a lighthouse and several beaches, and along with Muxía, is the true end of the Camino de Santiago.

Betanzos (to be discovered)

Betanzos is a small city of 14,000 habitants located near the Atlantic Ocean. It has one of the most famous Casco Viejos of Galicia. The walls still have 3 of their 4 original gates, and there are many palaces and a clock tower to visit.

Galicia, I want to go back soon!

Also, a bit of “galego” for anyone interested. “Como estás hoxe?”

Also, a bit of a note to say that I am travelling today (unfortuantely not to Galicia) but will reply to any comments and likes and typo corrections as soon as possible, just be patient! The destination will be revealed soon…