The Camino de Santiago Part II

It’s amazing how quickly time flies. I fully intended to write about the magical experience of walking the Camino… more than just my laundry list of what I’d packed or how exhilarated I was at the end of the Camino. That feeling of build up… and then it’s over and you aren’t ready for it to be over feeling. The same way I felt the day after our wedding. Anyway, I know many people have expressed an interest in walking the Camino and I may organize a group to go in May of 2013. But for those who are thinking of walking just a small part of it (5 days), I thought I’d share what we did.  Before you read on, if you have a Mac… here’s a slideshow that I put together of some of the many images I captured to give you a sense and feel of the walk.  Click here to view it.  And here’s a link Noelle (who walked the Camino with me) wrote for an online travel guide and here was her online blog she wrote as we were walking.

Ok now on to the details…

We flew to Santiago and took a taxi to Sarria (you can take a bus from Santiago but we would have had to wait around for a few hours for the bus, so instead hopped in a cab). The cab ride was a little over two hours (I think and 200 Euros per cab (which we divided between us)).  We did no walking this first day.

May 25
Hotel Alfonso 982 530 005
Doubles 60€
Single 50€
These prices are without breakfast. Double with breakfast is 76€.
Arrive by 6pm.

Day 1:

We walked 21.5 km to Portomarin…

May 26, Portomarin
Pousada de Portomarin 982 545 200
Double: 85€
Triple: 104€ (actually a double with an extra bed)
She will include breakfast in this rate, since we are 5.

Day 2:

We walked 24 km to Palas de Rei…

May 27, Complejo La Cabana
34 982 380750
Triple 66€

Day 3:

We walked 28km

May 28, Arzua

Hotel Teodora 981 500 083

Double 45€

Triple 55€

Does not include breakfast.
Call to reconfirm if arriving after 5pm.

Day 4:

We walked further than O’Pino walking approx. 30km to a town and Inn I can’t remember… we just wanted to have a shorter walk our final day so we could make the church service at 12N in Santiago.  However, here is the initial reservation we made..

May 29, O Pino
Hotel O Pino 981 511 148
Double 50€
Triple 65€
Please arrive by 5pm.

Day 5:

We walked to Santiago… 17 km from the town I can’t remember… :)

I know one of the women we walked with was a bit remiss that we hadn’t stayed in auberge’s (a.k.a. hostels).  Many would argue the hostel is the way to go.  It’s much cheaper, but more importantly, you get to know and meet more people who are walking the camino.   The downside is that you are sleeping on bunk beds in a room full of people, sharing bathrooms, etc.  And it can be noisy with snorers or people rustling around in their bags for things, etc.  I personally, liked our one star hotel experiences.  (And to think I joked about the rationale for hotels to brag about their one star status.) :)

When you arrive to Sarria, your first town, head to the church to get your passport.  The passport is what you stamp as you stop at places along the way.  There are no limits as to how many stamps you get, you just need to get at least two stamps in each of the towns along the way if you want to get your official Certificate in Santiago for having walked the Camino .  In order to get the Certificate, you must have walked at least 120km or biked 200km.  This five day walk earns you the Certificate… although I felt a bit lame getting the Certificate along with the others who had actually walked the full Camino (800+ km).  And you get the Certificate at the Pilgrim’s office in Santiago.  You will want to get there around 10:30 if you are intending to head to the 12N  mass at the church.  There will be arrows that will indicate where the Pilgrim’s office is.  And if you don’t see them, just ask.  You pass it on your way to the church.  Also, if you are lucky or if someone has paid 200 Euros to the church, you might get to experience the swinging of the incense.. it’s a huge container that holds the incense and is hanging from a huge rope.  It is swung across the whole church like a pendulum.  It’s breathtakingly amazing.. and by luck of chance, Erika was close to being hit in the head with it! :)

I think ideally, I would have preferred to spend our final night in Santiago at a five star hotel and get a massage.  Instead we flew out and headed home…

You’d think it would be easy to purchase the Practical Guide to walking the Camino on the Camino… it isn’t.  So be sure and have your guide before you arrive.  I bought mine in Santiago on our final day.  What I purchased is “The Way of Saint James – The Pilgrim’s Practical Guide” written by Jose Maria Anguita Jaen.  I would have put a link to it here, but couldn’t find one on Amazon.

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