The Last Supper

Day 11

 Reflections

Reflections

We  have been reflecting on the trip and the experience of the journey here.  Throughout the walk on the Portuguese Camino, we have been up at 6am on the road by 6.30am and usually breakfast 10kms into the days walk.  

 Coastline

Coastline

 River Walk

River Walk

The countryside throughout has been beautiful and the weather, although it has been wet and cool, proved ideal for the journey. 

This morning we both said that we missed the discipline of the days walks. Perhaps a daily routine focuses us and spurs us on to the end of each day with a sense of satisfaction in achieving something....

Either way, walking the Camino can be done for any reason, my brothers and mine are different  but perhaps with the same end goal, to get from a to b. 

 Roman path

Roman path

No doubt we will take different things away from it, a new appreciation of the nature around us, a renewed spiritual focus, an appreciation of all things emotional and physical which perhaps resets our senses. 

 Tapas

Tapas

There has been some good food (not a great deal of vegetarian), great local wines and some tasty ports on the way and some interesting accommodation choices.

By sheer chance "the last  supper" was Burrata salad and Courgette Tempura, followed by Compostela Tart. It was all splendid and an unexpected delight on our last evening in Santiago de Compostela.

 Courgette Tempura

Courgette Tempura

 Burrata Salad

Burrata Salad

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 Compostela Tart

Compostela Tart

If you wanted solitude, peace and time to think and reflect then you can do that, equally you can seek companionship and friendships along the way. Either way it is a must for anyone wanting to escape the homogenised everyday life.

 Roof of the Bennedictine Monestery.

Roof of the Bennedictine Monestery.

Perhaps I will come back and fill in the photos I didn't  take with my camera maybe even another Camino!  Buen Camino!

 My brother and me!

My brother and me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fritatta Edition

Day 10

 Breakfast

Breakfast

I have made it my mission today to embrace Spanish cuisine but to try and avoid the Fritatta, the fallback dish for anything without meat! With such great produce here I don't understand why you don't seem to see any in the cafes and restaurants, maybe they are saving the best stuff for home use. Unfortunately if you decide to have a cold glass of something refreshing, you all know what I'm talking about, the tapas ensues. 

 Something cold

Something cold

Despite my anti-fritatta stance I have had to buckle and accepted a very small piece, I like to think of it as a pre-lunch.

 Fritatta.

Fritatta.

We managed to find a restaurant  that catered for vegans and vegetarians and not just with fritatta. 

 Buddha 

Buddha 

There was a large Buddha standing to greet you in the restaurant. It was a calm and tranquil place after cacophony of Santiago on a Saturday,  full of eager pilgrims on there way to the Cathedral.

 Chickpea stew.

Chickpea stew.

I had the Chickpea stew and my brother had a Gazpacho, the photos don't really do it justice, apologies, I am working with a phone camera!

 Local wine.

Local wine.

The white wine we had was lovely, a local white and the last of the batch!  

 Risotto.

Risotto.

Rissotto was the main dish and very nice it was too, not a fritatta in sight. I thought the dishes they served them in unusual and perhaps not the best choice, maybe more suited to fritatta! 

So enthusiastic of the non typical food that I forgot to photograph the dessert, a sort of salted caramel mouse, hence the empty plate.

 Empty dessert plate.

Empty dessert plate.

We are staying  in the Pension Fonseca, a really nice place across from the Cathedral.

 Pension Fonseca

Pension Fonseca

Interesting enough the noise tonight will be from the restaurant and bars below. The revellers will be going on to the early hours. 

 

 

 

Santiago

Day 9

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Santiago 

The body still seems to be slowly recovering from the trek from Valenća.  Perhaps it's the Spanish Tortilla and Salad that's grown a little weiry.  It still seems to amaze me that Spain is such a difficult place for a vegetarian. Or is it that the UK is so diverse in its culture and cuisine that we are spoilt for choice, can that be a bad thing?  We will come back to this as I am passionate  about food, perhaps we could do a food edition on Saturday. 

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I sat for a while outside the Cathedral this morning whilst a certain brother attended a mass.

Soaking up the atmosphere and watching the local artists setting up to sell there art.

There was a couple of musicians playing classical guitar and a Hammer Dulcimer. A percussive instrument played by hitting the strings with hammer shaped spoons. The combination with the classic guitar was really great, whether its great when I play it in the car back in the UK, we will have to see. 

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We visited the Galician museum today, which used to be the biggest  and most powerful Bennedictine monastery in Spain. A massive and impressive church with the most amazingly ornate alters. Behind the alter is the seating area for the choir, each one carvered with images of saints. 

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The place seems to have a Tardis like quality, revealing room after room.

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Climbing the stone stairs revealed another area for a choir at the top overlooking the alter. Seating for 50 or more, the vocals must have been amazing given the shape and size of the church,

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it's a shame that they don't use it for appropriate musical and vocal concerts. 

The Pilgrim museum was equally impressive, lots of medieval art, 

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with extensive historic artifacts, from painting to carvings all housed in a modern building on the inside with an impressive atrium giving you views of the Cathedral.  

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Santiago has lots to offer, cafe culture, history, cuisine (jury's out on vegetarian), I'm hoping to expand on the cuisine tomorrow but Spain is a tough crowd.  Tonight it was home cooked food (by me) in the large refectory of the Seminario. All vegetarian, not a fritatta in sight,  football din in the background, washed down with local Galician wine.  Spain cuisine, let's see tomorrow.

 

 

Enlightenment

Day 8

 The journey has taken its toll!

The journey has taken its toll!

Having traveled approx 150km from Porto, arriving at Santiago de Compostela I wasn't particularly expecting anything.  On arriving at 9.40 this morning it was kind of an anti-climax.  On reflection I think that it was the experience of walking from Valenća to Santiago that was more interesting for me.

 Arrival at Santiago de Compostela

Arrival at Santiago de Compostela

We attended the 12 o'clock service but it was a bit like a circus attraction. Everyone with their camera/phones taking pictures of the spectacle. We chose not to take photos because it didn't seem right, thinking that I'd rather have the image in my head than on social media.

 Detail inside Cathedral

Detail inside Cathedral

 Detail outside Cathedral

Detail outside Cathedral

Santiago itself is a vibrant place with lots of old buildings and narrow streets and it has a bustling community.

 Lively conversation

Lively conversation

 Sorting the Padron Peppers

Sorting the Padron Peppers

It's worth a visit to the extensive market where you can buy wonderful looking food, including the fabulous Padron peppers.

 Takeaway

Takeaway

Cafe culture is quite evident and an excellent opportunity to soak in the atmosphere. I may have mentioned that my Sony A7 camera decided to stop working two days ago. This is a shame as there is so many photographic opportunitues to be had. I will have to resort to the camera on my phone which I feel  is not a sufficient tool for a professional photographer. 

 Accommodation!

Accommodation!

We are staying at the Seminario Minor, which in its day would have had up to 150 young priest trainees.  I feel that my brothers choice was somehow directed towards instilling some kind of religious enthusiasm on me. I on the other hand was wondering where the ensuite was and what time room service was available. 

 All mod cons.

All mod cons.

It is also interesting to note that my brothers room is so much bigger, although given his tendency to expand his "stuff" to every surface available, perhaps he needs it.  

Hoping for a peaceful sleep in the echoy and reverberating space that we are in.

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The Wednesday Edition

Day 7

We left Padron after a welcoming breakfast at Pepes.

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Calling pilgrims in off the street and cheering them on when they leave.

 One of the hostels

One of the hostels

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It was a bit like waiting in a queue today to walk the Camino. Suddenly a large group of Spaniards dressing in fluorescent shirts appeared as if out of nowhere.  I suspect it was to slow down the fast “Walkers”.

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Going was slower, I think mainly down to pilgrim fatigue and the Spaniards doing what what Spaniards do.

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My brother was clearly starting to be delirious as he said “look a piece of Roquefort cheese!”, judge for yourself.

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There were many Church’s offering to stamp our pilgrim passport, stopping once for a welcome espresso before our final destination. 

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In the interest of interesting we wondered if we could have suggestion about what you think this is used for, answers on a postcard please. 

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The last 6km being really tough but a bit of encouragement from a wiser and younger brother we picked up the pace.

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We are staying in Albergue Milladoiro hostel tonight. It is pretty plush compared to the others we have been in. 

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It may however be a sleepless night as I suspect the demonic possessed pilgrim is in our room. Sadly no port to test tonight so we Are looking for an alternative, any suggestions?

The Padron Collider

Day 6

 Misty Morning

Misty Morning

Today was a tough one, although the route was not. I think that physically one’s body needs more rest and I suspect most pilgrims feel the same. The terrain was fairly gentle today again going mainly through wooded areas, very pretty.

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We arrived in Padron just after 11am  as the  rain came down.

 Padron Peppers

Padron Peppers

There has been no mention of God so far on this blog, the reason for which many do the pilgrimage to Santiago.  I did I hear about a secret ongoing experiment deep under the town of Padron and financed by the Galiciain government and the Vatican. It is rumoured that they are trying to discover the God-particle, further details are hard to come by. 

I myself am skeptical and find the whole thing unlikely, however the Padron Peppers are very nice as tapas.  

I feel sometimes that we are so concerned and focused on where we need to be, we skip by all the interesting stuff on the way, we miss the present moments. The short video kind of try’s to illustrate that. 

In this homogenised , fast world that we seem to live in, walking the Camino or any “pilgrims route” gives us the chance to experience a slower pace of life and all that surrounds those moments. “Everything has its beauty , but not everyone sees it” Confucius. 

Any other business

The Church of St James of Padron, worthy of a visit, a calm place and home of the “Pedron”, the alleged mooring  post where the boat carrying the body of James the apostle was moored on the river Sar.  It is worth mentioning that the post was apparently a Roman alter stone dedicated to the god Neptune.

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In conclusion tonight’s port is Sandeman’s fine Ruby port, sadly our last one of this sample. This is what  people would have tasted as port, richer than all the previous  tastings.  I prefer the previous samples however this does go very well with Manchego cheese. 

http://www.sandeman.com/age-check

PS. My Sony A7R mk11 gave up the ghost today, it's not even twelve months old, hopefully the boys and girls at Fixation will be able to sort it out 😞

 

The Rain on the Plain

Day 5

Who would have thought that it would be wetter in Spain than in the UK and we aren't even on the plain.

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Heavy rain all day today, although the route was mostly through woodland, forests and along river banks, occasionally crossing the odd fast rail line (look both ways). We stopped for breakfast 2 hours into our walk, preferring to get ahead of the other Pilgrims, only for them to join us in the cafe! Seeing more and more people as we get closer to Santiago and the routes converge. 

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Caldas de Reis is a small but noisy town with hot spa water popping up at various stages for weary travellers to dip there feet.

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As some of you may be aware I am a vegetarian and whilst I know Spain can be a problem, I was never quite prepared for how difficult it is. Even the mixed salad comes with Tuna 😱. Having to resort to desperate measures!

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In conclusion today  our "Port Trial" Fine Tawny Port, intense body with red amber colours, elegant fresh flavours with long finish with a hint of oak. Sandeman's recommend pairing  with this recipe :http://www.sandeman.com/cocktails/cream-of-pumpkin-and-white-beans-with-coriander-flavoured-olive-oil-and-sliced-flaky-spinach-roll

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Peregrinorum Vade Ad Domum

Day 4

 Hostel of the Demons

Hostel of the Demons

Apparently demons have been known to disrupt the progress of Pilgrims on the road to Compostella. I say this as a witness to the rantings and screams of a fellow pilgrim throughout the night.Another sleepless night!

Setting off at 6.30am in the darkness, our journey this morning took us over wooded countryside and idyllic setting with mist hanging low in the hills. 

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Travelling along the Via Romano (XIX) which wound through the lush forest and vineyards of the area, (check out this wine, €2.60) a lovely wine of the area, then arrival in Pontevedra.

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We checked into the circa 1940's hotel with a view of getting a quiet night's sleep "senza  demoni", who would have accounted for beds from the 1940's; a room change and a bed from the 1970's; here's hoping for a good sleep. 

Pontevedra  is a beautiful mediaeval town (regional capital of Galicia),  very lively this afternoon as Spain were playing Russia, a draw I believe!  Highlight of the trip so far culinary speaking was the Padron Peppers - yum.

 Padron Peppers

Padron Peppers

Another early start but as promised the "port trails".In the interest of balance in the photographs I posed with tonight's bottle of choice.  The years of being  a photographer have given me the edge over my brother, who was unable to capture a correctly focused picture, hence the photo of my brother tonight, Sandeman's Ruby Reserve, but not as good as the 1968 reserve.

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Along the way....

Day 3

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Starting at 6am to try to stay ahead of the crowd. During the night we had a heavy thunder storm leaving the road ahead wet underfoot.  (For those of you who are unsure, Paul is the one on the right)

We were hoping for a little cafe for breakfast but made it to just outside Redondela (three hours later), more of a brunch, bar Corisco popular with the other Pilgrims, for a welcome coffee and snack. Today was easier although still tough, 17.8km,at least we will have time to rest.

As the vegetarian on this journey I knew it would be tough culinary speaking but I'm surprised at how little there is for choice, I was hoping to lose a few  pounds through the exercise but it will certainly be helped by lack of food.

We did manage to have some local wine from Mencias, very nice with Manchester.

Tonight's scientific appraisal of Sandeman's port will be the Reserve, richer that the Tawny, but non the less,splendid, the end of a tiring but  interesting day.