At a Glance:
Day 31: Santiago to Negreira (20km)
Day 32: Negreira to Olveiroa (33km)
Day 33: Olvieroa to Muxia (32km)
Day 34: Muxia to Finisterre (35km)
*Distances are approximate. The Brierley Camino guide that we used does not cover the Camino Finisterre, so we primarily relied on internet sources and a free tourist map that we received at our albergue in Negreira. To add to the confusion, many of the towns have two spellings — the Spanish and Galician versions. For instance, Finisterre (Spanish) is referred to locally as Fisterra (Galician) and Mucia (Spanish) is Muxia (Galician).
Camino de Santiago Day 31/Camino de Finesterre Day 1:
After a month of walking, we made it to Santiago yesterday. So what do we do next? More walking!
We started the Camino de Finisterre today — the way to the “end of the land.” Historically, many pilgrims would continue on past Santiago until they reached the coastline. We are actually going in a round-about way — stopping first in Muxia (a coastal village further north) and then to Finisterre. The trails run together for two days, then split early on day three, with a fourth day connecting the two destinations.
Since we had worked so hard to get to Santiago (and stayed up for soccer last night), we slept in. We didn’t leave our hotel until 8:00 a.m.!!!
Today, thankfully, was the short day. There seems to be limited accommodation west of Santiago, so there are not lots of choices for where to stay. We hiked roughly 20 km, though the same type of terrain we saw in most of Galicia. At one point we put our feet in the river (second time!), and enjoyed a really excellent view of a cute town and bridge. There were far fewer pilgrims on the trail today (although there was some kind of community walk headed in the opposite direction as us).
When we arrived in Negreira, we booked our beds in Albergue Lua (getting extended instructions from our host regarding what to expect the next few days, including a much welcomed map), and after a trip to the supermarket stopped at an “English Pub,” where we enjoyed cider and O’Hara’s beer (it’s like Guinness but not as good).
As we drank, a bunch of bicycles passed us along the street. It turns out that there was a triathlon going on while we were there. It was 20k of bicycling and 5k running, plus however long the swim was. As the bicycling was finishing up, we walked over to the arch at the other end of town, where we saw the athletes finish their runs and get their final time. They had the whole Camino blocked! It’s a good thing that we got where we wanted to be before the race started.
Elizabeth is feeling sick again. Her cough has finally started to get better and now she’s sneezing again and afraid the cycle has started over again.
Camino de Santiago day 32/Camino de Finisterre day 2:
We woke up at a more normal time and got on the trail before 7:00 this morning for the longest day of the Camino Finisterre. It was a lot more of the same type of terrain, but a little bit less well-marked. At one point a bicyclist passed me and told me that Elizabeth was behind by at least a kilometer. This was surprising since she had been ahead of me and I had hurried to catch up but couldn’t get her in sight (I had stopped briefly to put on my rain jacket, which to me explained the gap). I turned around and met her back on the road, learning that she had taken a wrong turn and had sought out the bicyclist to send the message up ahead.
It rained a little during the day; not much, but it felt like hours of walking through a cloud. More than anything, it was a tough day because it was about getting back into the habit of walking a longer day. Apparently they have a word for this light rain in Gallego (the Galician language) that literally translates as “the rain that gets dumb people wet” — because it seems like you shouldn’t need a rain jacket, but before you realize it you’re soaked (also really, with such rain, why not go inside?).
We spent the night at the municipal albergue in Olveiroa, another super small town that seems to only exist for the Camino. We enjoyed talking with a Korean couple that lives in Hawaii while we cooked our lunch at the albergue (they stayed at our albergue last night too). We’re starting to notice that most of the people walking the Camino de Finisterre also started in St. Jean like we did; these are not the people that started at the 100km mark in Sarria (perhaps because we’re the only ones that can spare another 3 or 4 days? or are crazy enough to keep walking?).
Camino de Santiago day 33/Camino Finisterre day 3:
We got an earlier than ordinary start on our way to Muxia this morning. We were greeted with rain. The rain was not as hard as it was a couple weeks ago before Leon, but it lasted longer and just kept raining for the first half of our hike today. In a 30 km day, that’s a long time to walk in the rain.
Fortunately the rain softened and then ended after our morning break in Dumbria (about 10km into the day), and most of our day was under cloud-cover. Shortly after the sun came out we heard sea gulls and found our first view of the ocean! In another few km we were in Muxia, a small village out on the cape that borders a large bay.
Unlike most of our days on the Camino, where we are done walking once we get to the albergue, in Muxia we had another couple km to go before we could call it a day. We left our stuff at the albergue and then walked a final km out to the end of the peninsula.
According to legend, Saint James came to Muxia to evangelize and the Virgin Mary arrived in a stone boat to encourage him to keep on spreading the word. There is a church at the end of the peninsula marking the site, and although it was not open when we arrived, there were a couple windows designed to let tourists see in. We spent some time sitting on the rocks along the water and were about to head back to our albergue when we saw a familiar sight — one of the Canadian couples that we had seen off and on throughout the Camino (from our second night to the day that we passed through Villafranca). They had finished the Camino and had bussed out to Finisterre and Muxia for the day and just happened to be there as we were walking back!
I rounded out the night by going out to a bar to watch part of the Italy vs Belgium soccer match. Or so I thought. It turns out that the Euro 2016 soccer tournament is on one channel in Spain, and that channel decided to show only one game per day. Because Spain played in an earlier game, Italy/Belgium was not broadcast.
[Elizabeth’s note: As noted above, we have seen far fewer pilgrims since leaving Santiago. This was especially evident today, since we split from the trail headed directly toward Finisterre after about 5km. After the split, we only saw a single group of pilgrims just before arriving in Muxia. Similarly, there are only about a dozen pilgrims staying in the municipal albergue here. The albergue itself is a huge, modern building that is weirdly empty (partly by design as there are not many beds but probably 3 chairs per bed spread throughout the facility). One treat at the municipal albergue is that we received another certificate stating that we have walked to Muxia — it’s in Gallego instead of Spanish!]
Camino de Santiago day 34/Camino de Finisterre day 4
Last day on the Camino!
Finisterre literally means “end of the land.” It is believed that pilgrimage to Finesterre is much older than the Camino, as the celtic peoples of pre-Christian Galicia understood it as the westernmost point in Europe (it isn’t — there are places in Ireland and Portugal further West).
Before we started the day — actually during our lunch break yesterday — we booked an apartment to stay in for a few days after we finish the Camino. Since we had a few requirements (internet, washing machine) we ended up booking a place in Muxia. But we still wanted to finish the Camino at Finisterre, so we left our albergue in Muxia with our bags, walked past our apartment for tonight, and continued on to Finisterre, planning to to take a taxi back to Muxia.
Today’s path starting along the coast by a beautiful beach with a view of what appeared to be a half-built luxury hotel. Then the trail turned inland and climbed a mountain. We could see serious clouds up ahead and were determined to make it to the top before the bad weather hit.
We made it over the top and part way down the other side before we had to get out our rain gear, and even then it never rained too hard. The terrain was lush and often forested, and we made our way to the single cafe on today’s route (at about the 14km mark) before making our way into the town of Finisterre. As with yesterday, reaching town did not mean that we were done walking — there was another 3 km to the lighthouse at the end of the land.
As we entered Finisterre, it began to rain so we stopped for hot chocolate. We figured out where we would later go for our “Finisterrana” — our certificate of making it to Finisterre — and I discovered a restaurant serving real curry by smell (I’m quite proud of that) that we decided would be our treat once we returned from the lighthouse.
Then we headed out to the lighthouse at the end of the land. Since we weren’t staying in the town of Finisterre, we carried our full backpacks. On the way up, we ran into a couple from Washington state who we had walked with over a week ago as we headed into Rabanal (they had bussed to Finisterre), and talked to them during our final kilometers. And then we reached the end.
I had felt incredibly excited when I reached Santiago; I was emotional at Finisterre. There was a bagpiper next to the lighthouse and I had to hold back a few tears as I realized this was coming to an end, with a fitting soundtrack. It’s not that I wasn’t ready to finish — my feet definitely were ready to be done — but it’s a bit overwhelming, and being up on cliffs — which really do feel like the end of the world — makes it more powerful.
Just past the lighthouse it became much more windy. We took a couple pictures and watched a few people ceremonially burn possessions (we had nothing sufficiently flammable, dry, and disposable to burn). As we started walking back, we took pictures for a German couple. While there are many people out at the point, few have their full backpacks. Most took a vehicle at least to the nearby town, if not to the point itself. They noticed our backpacks and asked how far we had walked and congratulated us when they heard it was from France. That felt good.
Before heading back to Muxia we had our curry lunch (pretty good actually), picked up our Finisterana, and met up with Kat from Australia (who’d chosen to give her feet a break and drove to Finisterre for a few days relaxation). Cabbing back to Muxia was interesting both because we haven’t been in a motorized vehicle since St. Jean over a month ago and because although we took a different route than we walked, we covered today’s walk in about 30 minutes (prompting Elizabeth to get carsick).
We’ll be spending the next couple of days letting our bodies have a chance to rest in a wonderful apartment overlooking the ocean in Muxia. Rain is forecast for the rest of the week, so I expect that we’ll spend much of the day inside admiring the view.
And now to relax and sleep in past 5:45am!