Mooney reporter Katriona McFadden is walking the Camino De Santiago in Spain this week and is sending us back ‘Audio Diary’ reports. She is walking it with her fiancé, JP. One of JP’s jobs is to give Katriona a boiled sweet before she has to walk up a hill. Otherwise she gets cranky apparently!
Katriona is travelling courtesy of caminoways.com, an Irish company specialising in accommodation, transport & luggage transfer along the Camino.
DAY FIVE – ARZUA TO AMENAL (23 KM)
A little Spanish goes a long way on the Camino! Most pilgrims are Spanish and, as a result, not all cafe owners and receptionists speak English. It’s advisable to learn a few basic phrases. A phrasebook would have certainly helped me last night at dinner. The menu was entirely in Spanish and I decided to order a starter with a name I didn’t understand, just to be adventurous. Tripe soup is what was served up to me! The waitress was very understanding when I told her I wouldn’t be eating it.
Some beautiful forest paths today. That is Australian Steven Matthews up ahead in his cricket hat. He is walking the Camino alone to give him time to think about the future of his marriage, he says.
Today we had four seasons in one day, sun, rain, thunder and hail. Another pretty walk through the Spanish countryside and forests. In a cafe just before Amenal we met Steven Matthews from Sydney. Steven is walking the Camino alone. He had planned to walk it with his wife, Meg, he says, that is until she had an affair with another man and left him. However, her lover didn’t leave his wife so Meg returned to Steven. "Her default position" he says. Steven says he is walking the Camino to have time and space to think about their marriage and their future.
Steven walks with us a while and we stop at a roadside memorial to a Kilkenny women, Myra Brennan, who died in her sleep in Santiago 10 years ago.
Memorial to the late Myra Brennan, just outside Santa Irene.
She was only 52 and had walked the Camino twice. Her friend "Brigid F" erected the memorial to her on the 5th anniversary of her death. We take a moment at the memorial before carrying on to the Hotel Amenal. We are now only 14 kilometres from Santiago and the end of our Camino!
Romance on the Camino!
DAY SIX – AMENAL TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (14KM)
The great thing about booking on a half-board basis is that you don’t have to walk the streets with your tired feet looking for food, you know your breakfast and dinner are provided at your hotel. The dangerous part about half-board is that dinner always comes with wine. A bottle of wine. Each! As a result we were a little later than usual starting out today. More rain but we are now accustomed to it. What is it that Billy Connolly says? "There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes"
Santiago in the distance. We're getting close!
The outskirts of Santiago de Compostela
We had a few hills to climb today but before long we found ourselves at a large stone marking the outskirts of Santiago. Only 11km to go. Pilgrims had made makeshift crosses out of twigs and attached them to the fences.
Twig crosses stuck into fences on the road to Santiago. Only 11km to walk!
We walked through suburban Sarria. The city well and truly came into sight at about 5km. We followed the scallop shells on the footpath the whole way to the Pilgrims Office, showed our Pilgrims Passport, filled out a form and got our 'Compostelas' (certificates) with our names written in Latin.
Our certificates! Yes, we really walked 110km!! My rain poncho is in shreds but has served me well.
Yay! Tomorrow it will be read out at the 12pm Pilgrims Mass in the Cathedral that two Irish pilgrims completed the Camino by travelling from Sarria. That’s us! We meet Scotsman John Walker in the Pilgrims Office. He volunteers there. He says unfortunately we won’t see the ‘Botafumeiro’ at tomorrow’s mass (that’s the gigantic incense burning thurible that is twirled around the Cathedral by ropes). It’s only on display at certain masses, he says, but if we go to mass on Thursday night we will see it.
The Hotel Monumento San Francisco
We are staying at the Hotel Monumento San Francisco. It is a converted part of a functioning convent. There are signs up warning “Silencio” for guests who wish to explore the grounds. This is the real deal! At the end of the Camino, over a glass of wine, we reflect on the people we met along The Way and their reasons for being here. For most people it’s about time, making the most of it while you have it. To anyone now inspired to do this great walk I say “Buen Camino!”
A Galician bagpiper busker welcomes up to Santiago