These are the last two days on our trek westward across Spain.
Our first day takes us along a brief 12-kilometre coastal walk to Finisterre, our destination for the day. After checking in at the austere Hotel Finisterre, we head off for an afternoon stroll to Cabo Fisterra.
This was the western tip of the known-world prior to Columbus and, as can be expected when looking out on to the unknown abyss, rituals took hold well before St. James arrived. We are in the land of pagan beliefs. We have left the historical path to Christian enlightenment, ending in Santiago. Beyond that the journey has led us back in time to one of Roman and Celtic mysticism. Here, the power of the church has been supplanted by the infinite plane of water extending beyond these rocks. It is an undeniably powerful space, so different from our trek to Santiago. Continue reading
Today we will walk a leisurely 22 kilometres through the heart of Galicia, a region with strong Celtic roots and its own distinct language, Galician, a cross-cultural mix of Spanish and Portuguese, the region’s southern neighbor.
Winding our way through the hilly countryside, the unique qualities of Galician architecture reveal themselves. It is a largely rural way of life, with small, isolated communities scattered here and there. Continue reading
Yesterday we surmounted the highest point on our journey. Today it is all downhill, a leisurely 21-kilometre hike to the modest village of Triacastella. Here, it is all about the scenery. Rolling clouds lap distant hills carpeted with the rusty hues of late fall. The air is cool and moist. Damp forests close in around us, then suddenly open to reveal gently undulating mountain vistas. Continue reading
Our 31 kilometre journey to Villafranca del Bierzo takes us through the lush vineyards of the Bierzo region.
Before imbibing we must pass through the bustling city of Ponferrada. Established by the Romans as the centre of a lucrative mining district, the city has had its ups and downs. First destroyed by the Visigoths and then by the Muslims it was finally rebuilt by the Catholics. Continue reading
Styxx has settled into his new life as tourist. And we have settled into our roles as dog tour guides. We set aside our usual travel routine of long hikes, eating in fine restaurants, going anywhere we want. Now we search for dog-friendly activities and venues, not wanting to leave Styxx alone for even a minute.
It was the type of day on the Camino that you wish would never end. The sun soaked us in warmth, demanding that we remove our zippered pant legs as we plied the gentle slopes on our walk to Estella. Along the way, history entertained us, first with the medieval hilltop village of Cirauqui, its streets lined with elegant stone mansions. Soon after, we found ourselves crossing a Roman bridge and treading on paving stones from the original Roman road, Via Traiana, which the Camino follows for most of its length. Next comes the medieval Villatuerta and its late 14th century Church of the Assumption.