Walking in Spain along the Camino Ignaciano from Loyola to Manresa, and the Camino de Invierno from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela

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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Into Santiago de Compostela

Leaving Ponte Ulla for the last days push to Santiago de Compostela began in fog and was quite cool.  I crossed back across the bridge to check out what I'd missed, in the dark, the night before.  Walking back to collect my pack the young bloke who passed me yesterday zoomed past again, presumably having stayed elsewhere last night.  Over breakfast I met an Italian woman and just as she was getting ready to depart who should come along but the "shopping trolley" pilgrim who, I was informed, was a 70 year old Italian, named Paolo.  That meant three pilgrims ahead of me, which soon became five, as around the corner I saw my dinner companions of the night before, Goedele and Peter, heading up the hill - a substantial increase in pilgrim traffic for my last day.
One of the few pilgrims I have seen on this path crossing the bridge at Ponte Ulla.
The little church in Ponte Ulla,
with shells on the bells!

Not only was there a stiff climb out of Ponte Ulla, but the rest of the stage is very up and down, making it a fairly tough final day.  Reaching the 13 km to go point I saw the Cathedral towers in the distance, and was breathing a sigh of relief.  However, it took hours, in the heat of the afternoon to trudge those last few kilometres, and boy, was I glad to get there!

This last stage was surprisingly rural, passing little villages, virtually suburbs, but still maintaining the village appearance.  It was actually only the last few kilometres that I walked through denser housing.

I have had particularly good weather these past few weeks.  My whiz-bang poncho, bought especially to keep the rain of Galicia at bay, has not been used since the brief shower I had back near Ponferrada!  My boots have held up well, though I think I will be leaving them, as much of the tread has gone.  So too, my feet have held up well.  Dr Google is an amazing help when stuck in a place where it is too difficult to communicate exactly what is wrong.  He diagnosed, and recommended treatment for, Achilles bursitis.  Ice, exercise, cream - all have held this at bay, as have the exercises recommended for repair of the Achilles tendon.  At home I would no more think of using Dr Google, but on the road he has proved to be mist helpful!

My turquoise shirt is now a funny striped shirt, showing very well the damage the sun can do.  It has "fade stripes", due to the continual exposure to the sun, very obviously fading the fabric.  Under the straps, and on the back the fabric remains pretty much the bright original colour!
Goedele and Peter heading up what was basically a five kilometre climb out of Ponte Ulla.
The higher I got the clearer it became.  Looking back, the hills looked like islands in a sea of mist.

Like many churches and chapel's along the way this one was closed.  The people of the village had gone to great lengths to make this a restful place, with benches to rest on and a fountain to get a drink. Note the horreo in the background.
This little Chapel was only about 4 kms from Santiago.
The albergue at A Laxe, at the top of the 5 kilometre hike up from Ponte Ulla.

For several weeks I have been seeing huge pots of chrysanthemums in shops.  It seems strange, being from the southern hemisphere where these flowers tend to be synonymous with Mothers Day.  It took me a while to work out why they were so prominent.  It is because on, or near, the 31st October people spend much time cleaning, tidying, and repairing the graves of their loved ones.  They then place flowers, generally a pot plant, on them.  The cemeteries I have passed have been particularly colourful in recent days.
Just one cemetery.

Pots of chrysanthemums (above and below) for sale

The towers of the Cathedral can be seen, but there is still 13 kms of up and down to get there!
They get closer, but still a few kilometres away!
And I made it!

I know there are some of you reading this who would like to know distances etc.  Next post I will put that information up.  It is quite an exercise accessing good wifi, so it will have to wait until next time.

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