Since I could not post the pictures yesterday, here are the snippet of our day.
Finally at the cathedral!
After 44 days (which includes 5 rest days), we concluded our Camino journey today by reaching Santiago. As you may recall our journey began in St. Jean Pied-de-Port on August 14th. After traveling for almost 500 miles (790 km), we arrived this afternoon at the Cathedral in Santiago. We took the most popular route of the many Camino paths, the Camino Frances. Along the way we traveled through 4 major cities (Pamplona, Burgos, Logrono, and Leon). We traveled through various regions beginning with the Basque region of France and Spain and ending in the fertile and moist region of Galicia. We were able to enjoy the grueling climb of the Pyrenees, the flat and heat of the Meseta, and the rain of Galicia.
We went through falls, sprains, blisters, pains, bug bites, cold and sniffles along the way. In the end the Camino made us stronger than we thought we were. Every time any one of us had doubts, the other members gave him strength. If this rag tag team can do it, any one can do it!
Since we had 20 km to make it to Santiago, we left later than usual after 8 am. While all of us were excited about completing this journey, no one wanted this wonderful journey to end. Our steps were deliberate and slow as if we were trying to relish every moment, every last step.
Stay tuned for the conclusion… I am unable to upload any pictures so will need to post the rest next time. I guess I am not ready to stop blogging, also!
Our travel today to Pedrouza brings us 20 km from Santiago. Our plan for today was 20km. All this translates into a simple fact. The end is near. Today was a day of relishing all the rituals, joys, pains, and ecstasy that we have enjoyed for last 6 weeks. We started this journey in France exactly 6 weeks ago. Today would be the last full day of travel and the last night in an Albergue. Tomorrow, God willing, we will be in Santiago de Compostela completing a 500 mile journey that has been in the planning for 2 years. So many of you have given us encouragement, good wishes, courage, and prayers. We could not have undertaken a journey of this magnitude without that support. Thank you all.
We started this morning just like many mornings, in the dark. We were out and walking by 6:30 am.
This was the coldest morning yet. We started by climbing out of the city in mist and fog.
The route once again was lush and green but this time full of eucalyptus tree and it’s fragrance.
After a nice breakfast and later a break we continued on, making great progress.
We gathered again for a relaxing lunch before finishing our walk for the day.
View of our last Albergue as we settle in.
Team Camino sends our best birthday wishes to our family and friends. This week we have 4 birthdays. Sanam, Taimour, Irfan, and David Rovner are celebrating their birthday this week. Here is a montage of flowers from today’s hike in their honor.
Next stop Santiago!!!
Finally at 9 pm last night my two brothers Barkat and Sikander met up with us at our Albergue. They traveled all day by train to go from Madrid to Santiago. From Santiago they took a taxi for 50 km to meet us in Melide. Welcome to two new members to our team Camino.
It was such a joy and pleasure to have my brothers, whom I admire and look up to, among us. Barkat bhai has been my inspiration for the Camino. He is my oldest brother and my role model for walking. He is healthy and fit and loves walking. I caught my walking bug observing him. In fact, I originally chose the date of 2014 so that we could celebrate his 80th birthday by doing the Camino together. It is a dream come true for me that he is able to be here to complete the Camino with me
Sikander bhai is probably the most generous and good hearted man I know in the world He has always been there for me and a source of inspiration for my life. The joy and pleasure I feel with my two brothers cannot be described in words.
We were able to reserve a private room for them at our Albergue. It also happens that we had a private room for 8, this way we were able to spend time together without disturbing others.
We had brought back pizza for them and we were all able to eat, chat, and reminisce before calling it a night.
Today we had planned a 15 km walk, so we did not need to rush in the morning. We were out of the Albergue by 7:30 and met across the street for coffee and croissant.
Our original plan was for Sikander to take a taxi to our next night’s aubergue and meet us at the end of the day when we finished our walk. He changed his mind and decided to join us for the walk to next town about 5.5 km away.
It was yet another beautiful day for walking and we enjoyed the simple sights and sound of birds and roosters, reminding us as to how lucky we were to be enjoying the nice morning walk in the Spanish country side.
During one of our morning breaks we met up with our friends from Germany whom we had not seen in a week.
We stopped for lunch with beautiful views and good food.
We had a nice afternoon and
dinner in Arzua. All are settled in their beds for the night because we have an early morning walk to Pedrouza, our last night before Santiago.
We changed our plans for today so we could meet my brothers in a larger city (our original goal was Boneta, an additional 5km). Also, everyone was tired from the grind yesterday. We don’t know if the brothers will make it here today or tomorrow (the train is arriving in Santiago at 8 pm).
Since we only had plans to go 15 km, we started late, around 8 am after a light breakfast.
Most of the walking today felt like country side walking with nice views.
I should introduce you to my “tomato” team!
After breakfast or breaks when we are ready to go, I make sure my senior team has started walking (as I am responsible for bringing up the rear). Then I look at my young team and say to my tomatoes, “We are leaving.” They in unison respond, “We will ketchup!” Drum roll please!
Melide is famous for Pulpo (octopus). Some of the team are hungry for it. The rest of us just want a good dinner. We will find out later if my brothers can join us tonight, otherwise we will see them tomorrow.
Our goal for today was to travel 25 km to Palas De Rei. We woke up to find out that the water system was contaminated due to the torrential rain the night before (brown water coming from all faucets)
We left the town in darkness at 7:30. The way out was a long and arduous climb in the cool and overcast sky. Soon the light was visible and we had beautiful views around us.
After 8 km we hit our first town and street side cafe. It was packed with pilgrims. There were hundreds of pilgrims around us The majority had started in Sarai to do the last 100 km. Our quite paths felt crowded for once. A feeling so unfamiliar.
The path was a constant up and down. The weather got cooler and then warm and then cold again.
As we were entering town after 25 grueling km and 170 floors of climbing, I got word that my two brothers Barkat and Sikander have reached Madrid.
We hope to meet up with them tomorrow afternoon in Melide ( 15 km from Palas De Rei and only 50 km from Santiago).
Barkat will join us for our walk to Santiago, while Sikander will wait for us in Santiago. We are excited about the reunion!
After our longest day and longest distance it was nice to sit at the farm house and enjoy beautiful view and evening sun.
Fortunately for us our goal for today was the Portomarine which was 19 km. this would be our shortest distance the rest of the trip. We decided to leave an hour later as sun was coming up.
It was another beautiful day with lush paths. Now that we have crossed Saria, number of pilgrims on the path has increased exponentially. Number of cows in our path and their pies has also increased in Galicia.
Original city of Portomarine was drowned in 1956, and a new city was created just above in the hills.
After settling in and lunch we decided to go down to the bridge and look at the old town. A torrential rain started for next 45 minutes and we were stuck under a shelter as the water from town started to flood around us.
We officially crossed the 100 km marker today (every marker has been suspect so far – the numbers seems to go back and fourth).
We thought we were done with all the records. The longest day, the most miles, the longest climb, the highest point, the most strenuous climb. We were wrong!
Our plan was to take the path that would bypass Samos and take us to Saria and then on to Barbadelo to a 17th century farmhouse converted to an Albergue that was highly recommend. This meant a respectable 22 km day.
We once again woke up early and left our Albergue at 6:30.
At this point our detective Sakkar discovered that the name of the town did not match what we were expecting. We realized at that point that in the dark we had missed our turnoff point somehow. We were 9 km into our day. The other path was going to save us 7 km. We decided to take our lumps and continue forward to Samos and see the 9th century monastery.
This day was a perfect day for a hike. Beautiful views, lush paths, nice weather. Every thing was just perfect.
By the time we made it to Saria it was almost 3 pm and we needed our lunch and the cover another 5 km.
By the time we made it to Casa Carmen, our destination. It was 6 pm and 32 km with 173 floors climbed. This makes it our most miles and longest day of hiking. Hopefully Camino does not have too many more of these kind of surprises for us.
After the long and scenic walk yesterday, today our plan was to simply hike down the mountain and keep the day short and sweet. There was forecast for more rain and everyone was in the mood for a short day.
We decided to sleep in an extra hour and leave around 8. It was raining when we got up so we decided to have the breakfast at the Albergue and left at 8:30 with slight rain.
Team was excited at the prospect of a short and beautiful day. We thought we may have to walk on the road due to the rain, but the trail looked nice and beautiful.
Rain was intermittent and turned in to mist. Every one was enjoying the panoramic view of the valley.
We are all settled in for the night in Tricastella. Tomorrow we head past Saria to Barbedelo which means by end of tomorrow, God willing, we will be less than 100 km (60 miles) from Santiago.