Camino Inglès (part 2)

(Much overdue post; better get it done before the new summer journal starts in a couple of days)

Reasonably priced hotels seemed to be in short supply but we found one for a splurge. When we mentioned to possibility of two nights, we were redirected to an apartment the hotel had in the old city. Not quite as cushy, and no wifi, but a good option.

A lazy day in Betanzos, with a wander about and investigation of some of the local churches.

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Bev got a nice silver necklace with the design based on the circular window below. We found a lady, in the back of her little shop in the old city, doing silverwork; she crawled over the other displayed work to get the necklace Bev had chosen.

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Wednesday August 12th, Bentanzos – Bruma, 29km

At 10:00 am, Bev went off for a little more sight-seeing, to look inside some churches that had been closed the night before while I remained stationary and conserved energy. Then we walked our bikes back to the central square which gave Bev the opportunity to look inside the church there at a domed roof that I had found particularly striking the day before.

We went up a steep road from the square, following the little camino arrows out of town and into forests, sometimes on single- and double-track trails and sometimes on tarmac. It was a warm day when the cloud cleared so the shade afforded by the trees was welcome. We leapfrogged with various other pilgrims today as our speeds varied: they were faster uphill and we gained on the downhill sections.

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There was a sustained uphill track that our guidebook warned us about, with a cruceiro in the apparent middle of nowhere. And you would have to get off the track and pass the cruceiro on the ‘wrong’ side to see the faded yellow arrow at its base. It was hard to spot; I didn’t notice it until looking at this photo. We had stopped for a good lunch in anticipation of our afternoon struggle. We passed a group of pilgrims napping in the shade, gathering strength for the climb. Fortunately, it wasn’t as serious as it was made out to be.

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We arrived in Bruma just after 4:00 pm to find the albergue full. But we could pitch our tent, order a meal to be delivered from a restaurant a few kilometres away, and have a contented night sleep. It rained quite heavily at times in the night; I love being in a tent with the rain lashing down (as long as I remains dry).

Thursday August 13th, Bruma – Sigüeiro, 30 km

Bruma is not very far from Santiage de Compostela, and the trail was fairly flat, so we thought about doing it all today. We finally decided that we didn’t want to arrive in the crowded city late, making accommodation difficult to find. There was a place to stay in Sigüeiro so we called it a day.

Almost there; only 11 and a bit kilometres to go.

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The crowds in front of the cathedral in Santiago came as a bit of a shock to us, accustomed as we were to the quiet roads and countryside. Here it’s a combination of pilgrims and tourists. Given that 200,000 pilgrims completed a camino (and wanted a compostela – a certificate) in 2013 and given that the caminos are somewhat seasonal, it is reasonable to think that about a thousand pilgrims a day end up here in August. Most of them will have walked the Camino Frances.

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We stood in line to each receive our ‘compostelas’ (certificates of completion). The young priest who looked over our passports seemed unconcerned that we didn’t have the requisite number of stamps in the last two hundred kilometres or that we had not completed the ‘proper’ Camino Del Norte.

We went to a pilgrims’ mass in a very crowded church full of wandering and clicking tourists. The mass didn’t seem very spiritual in that atmosphere. A large incense-emitting crucible was hauled up by a group of priests who got it swinging in large pendulum arcs, high up to the ceiling and rushing down to just above head level. If one of the priests made a false move, carnage would ensue.

Our ride is over. A wonderful time together for Bev and myself. What a lovely woman!

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