Santiago de Compostela – Negreira

Scallop of Saint James

Scallop of Saint James

Well it was a slow start! After three days enjoying Santiago de Compostela it was time to begin the final push to Finisterre. I said goodbye to Esvina and promised that I would take up her kind offer of a free bed and family meal on my return to the city. She had been very hospitable and I had enjoyed my short stay at her house. She kindly let me leave a few things at the house so the walk to Finisterre should be a bit lighter and a bit easier!

Prints and souvenirs for sale in town

Prints and souvenirs for sale in town

I walked slowly through the town. There were new pilgrims arriving all the time. I felt their happiness at arriving at their goal. There were couples and groups of scouts and a myriad of others. It was strange to be leaving the city when so many people were arriving! There were few who looked like they were heading to Finisterre. Many I had walked with over the past days, the past weeks had taken the bus. They had obviously had enough of walking. I had promised myself long ago in Lectoure that I would complete the walk to Finisterre. The Way led through a small white-washed street before descending into a tiny valley with stone cottages. Soon I was back in the familiar whispering eucalyptus forests. This time there was no one else, just me. Gone were the noisy crowds of walkers and the tourist pilgrims. It was just the forest and the Way of Saint James and my plodding steps.

Two walkers pass through the streets of Santiago de Compostela

Two walkers pass through the streets of Santiago de Compostela

At a small cafe in the village of Portela I said hello again to Mara who had ridden her horse all the way from Switzerland. She was deep in conversation with a friend over lunch so I did not get a chance to chat much. I ordered a tortilla with ham and cheese and sat enjoying the rewarding feeling of walking once again. The muscles were slowly loosening up and walking was again becoming a familiar process.

A group of Scouts arrive in Santiago de Compostela

A group of Scouts arrive in Santiago de Compostela

Each village I passed through was very different to the villages before Santiago de Compostela. The communities were more rural and less dependent on the passing pilgrims for their daily livelihood. It was mainly dairy farming country and many spoke the local Galician language. It was remarkably relaxing and refreshingly quiet – I was enjoying this part of the Camino. I had made the right choice. It was good to walk this final few days and not rush back to the modern world by taking the bus to the final destination.

Looking back to Santiago de Compostela from the Camino

Looking back to Santiago de Compostela from the Camino

At an old bridge in Ponte Maceira I met Gennaro from Italy. He did not speak much English, and my Italian and Spanish were still poor. Somehow we communicated well and walked the rest of the day together.

The bridge at the village of Ponte Maceira

The bridge at the village of Ponte Maceira

After only 21 kilometres or so there was the village of Negreira. There was an albergue here where we hoped to spend the night. On arriving however the small office for pilgrims advised that it was full (having only a few beds). None the less, we continued on and found the albergue up the hill after the village. It was indeed a small albergue and all the beds were indeed taken. The young man at the reception said that there was another albergue at the entrance to the village. We did not have the energy to walk back so asked if we could put our sleeping mats and sleeping bags on the floor. He said that it was not allowed and anyway we should pay €5 for use of the facilities. After a brief pause he smiled and said that we could do what we wanted adding that he had not seen us! Finally he advised it would rain tonight. I was touched by his willingness to bend the rules to accommodate exhausted pilgrims.

Arch linking the Capilla and the Pazo de Coton in Negreira

Arch linking the Capilla and the Pazo de Coton in Negreira

Gennaro headed off into town to buy some pasta and meat for the evening meal. After a shower I did so too as we had agreed that I would supply the fruit and wine for the meal. Negreira was a fascinating place. The centre seemed to be in a time warp. The majority of the town consisted of modern apartments contrasting uniquely with the older town centre. There were cafes and bars from the Forties and Fifties with highly ornate ceilings and lighting. It was a relaxing place, a quiet market town serving the immediate area with basic shops and services. I liked it a lot!

Returning to the albergue, Gennaro was already cooking the pasta and we sat down with everyone else outside the building as light rain started to fall. We opened a Rioja and dived into the pasta meal. Out of the fading light Moritz, Ray, Alexander, Viktoria, Ruth and many other familiar faces appeared. They too were looking for a bed for the night. By now the man from the albergue had long gone. Everyone decided to sleep on the floor as we were doing.

Mara and friend rest with the trusty horse

Mara and friend rest with the trusty horse

It was so busy on the limited floor space inside the albergue that I decided to stay outside under the shelter of the overhanging roof. I put down my mat and sleeping bag and retired to the sound of the gentle light rain pattering on the roof with the cool wind blowing in my face. It was not too cold and seemed like a perfect place to sleep.

Decanting wine in a local bar

Decanting wine in a local bar

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6 Comments

  1. Posted December 31, 2010 at 00:08 | Permalink

    Very happy to see the tail end of the journey! I’m anxious to start this year…the time is so up in the air, with family things and all…but walk I will!

  2. Posted December 31, 2010 at 21:47 | Permalink

    Karin – keep on walking and all the best for the New Year!

  3. Moritz
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 17:24 | Permalink

    This journey really sticks with me. I really want to get going again.

  4. Posted January 12, 2011 at 18:43 | Permalink

    Moritz – me too!

  5. Posted December 29, 2011 at 15:51 | Permalink

    Good pictures

  6. Posted December 31, 2011 at 16:12 | Permalink

    Thank You! Like your site too!

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