Santander home

We found the time on the boat dragged. Either the entertainment was not as good as we remembered or we are getting jaded. We enjoyed the morning breakfast though. It was fun checking in on Facebook every time we passed somewhere like Jersey or The Isle of Wight.

It was all ending too suddenly for me and I was hoping for some time in Plymouth just to ease us home more slowly.

Even this was not to be. Every hotel we tried was full. Then we got to a park and the road was closed off “Road Closed MTV Festival Event” it said. We tried another hotel there and the guy was more helpful “There is not a bed left in Plymouth” he said “All booked up for the festival” Again, we have arrived too soon, it is looking like we should have had that four days in Santander.

There was nothing for it but to head for the station. The girl was very helpful and managed to get us on a train home. We could have three changes or four for half the price, so we opted for four. At least we did not have to sleep in the station.

Even the café was closing up, although we managed a sandwich. Our welcome home meal never happened. We had spent 60 hours travelling and arrived home in Wrexham at a quarter past midnight. One up for Wrexham though, there was a taxi waiting and we got back from the station in no time at all.

The celebration meal will have to wait.

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A Coruña to Santander

We were up and out in plenty of time, so we stopped at a bar on the corner for breakfast. Another long day ahead we needed fueling up before we start.

Once inside the bus station the job of finding our bus began. It was not easy as several bus companies operate from here and we had to go from the stands back upstairs to check again which stand we wanted. As we look again at the TV screen we hear a shout from the other stairs. I am baffled for a moment and cannot understand what I see. At the top of the stairs are two people I know, but this is so far from probable, I just cannot work out who what or where they have come from.  They are Hugo and Paloma Bret, a French couple that we dance with in Buenos Aires. They sail along the Spanish coast in the summer and were here on their way back to their boat, and just like us they were looking for a bus.

You just could not make this stuff up. It was nice meeting them but we had a bus to catch. Back downstairs we still could not find our bus, but, in the end, a helpful driver put us in the right direction and we were  finally away.

There is not a lot I can say about a bus journey except that we flew over a few of those high ways, (notice what I did there?) but from the bus it was difficult to get any idea of the scale of these viaducts.

We arrived at an underground bus station many hours later and walked out into the Santander sunshine. The first job was to find the times of the ferries. You can actually see them from the bus station and this was part of the Camino route, so finding the office was simple enough.

“Next ferry is four days, or this one leaves in two hours” she said. So much for a day in Santander then. We had not stopped here when we were walking through as we thought we would get our chance at the end, but every so often life gets in the way. We had time for a quick coffee and a pastry across the road and an ice cream before we heard the hooter blowing, it was time to board.

There was beer on board though Fosters, then we could clean up in our cabin and just rest and enjoy the entertainment. Travelling on a bus and nibbling all day had left us with little appetite which was a shame as the evening meal looked good and a definite change from the Spanish. Still there was always breakfast to look forward to.


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Cee to A Coruña by bus

After our substantial breakfast we headed off to the post office to post some cards.  The bus did not leave until eleven so we had time to kill. All the shops are still closed, they are in no hurry to reopen after the holiday.

There is a café opposite the bus station though, but after the big breakfast I am not ready for the biscuits they gave us with the coffee. They were concealed in our bags, this is a long bus journey and the food will come in handy.

After walking for weeks, just sitting in a bus was a bit of a drag, but we kept ourselves busy spotting places we had been.  We stopped off at a bus station where the driver said he would stop for 45 minutes so we all got out. Comfort breaks and coffee. When we came out the bus was gone. I had a vague recollection of this happening last time, but it was still a worry.

Then, of course, every bus that came in, we all tried to board. It was just chaos. The bus, of course, arrived and we all boarded for another long trip. This time though there were no familiar sights to see just miles of open road and the occasional detour through a town somewhere to drop off or pick up passengers.

Eventually though we did arrive at A Coruña and we set off for the ticket office. Last time we arrived in Santander in the early hours with nowhere to stay and not even a bar to sit in. We would do it different this time, but first we had to navigate our way through the nightmare of siesta.

We got to the office just in time, the door was locked behind us and it got pretty hot in there with half a dozen anxious people all trying to get tickets to somewhere. We passed on the six o’clock bus and opted for the ten o’clock in the morning bus. Just hope we can find accommodation now.

As it happened we only had to turn into the next street and we found Hotel Palas. It was very old-fashioned with 1950s furnishings and carpets on every floor. It was clean though and more importantly they understood what a traveler wants. There was almost no closed in storage space, but hooks and flat surfaces where you could spread out and not run the risk of forgetting things.

We were told to leave the key as the reception is always manned, then we walked out to explore A Coruña. We wandered down to the sea, but all we found were docks. So we stopped for a drink and a rest then headed on. We found a massive shopping centre, but it was all but empty. Those shops that were occupied were closed for siesta.

Further along there were tents and stalls all set up for a sausage festival (I kid you not). Now it must be our lucky day, for today is the day of the festival. Thing is though nothing was open and there was a barrier around the entrance.

We found our way to the city walls and the defences, it was all very interesting for me. Viv however was more interested in the hotel below us. Two swimming pools numerous tennis courts and some very classy looking bars. Too rich for us I think.

We wandered into the old town and enjoyed all the antique buildings and narrow cobbled streets.

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We decided it was time to head back and look for food. We had no map, every tourist information was closed and we were lost. Not at first, I was sure I knew the way back, but it quickly became apparent that we were walking in circles. We stopped at a bar and asked for the bus station, “es damaciado lejos” they said and told us to take a bus. Having just walked 1026 kilometers and as we had walked from the bus station, we told them it could not be too far. We followed their directions and again found we had done a circle.

Again I realized that there is no point asking a Spaniard for directions, so we looked for the sea and then backtracked. We found our way back and then went to where I had got food last time we were here. The standard had fallen and it seems they will be closing for good in a weeks time. Still we filled up with pasta and beer and it was not too expensive. Sad though to see another place closing.

Then back to a comfortable night with views of the bus station.

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Finisterre to Cee 19Kilometers

If you have your maps out you will know that it should be just under 12 k today. The extra 5k was not my fault, as you will see.

As alburgue go this one was very near the top. Only two others in our room last night and a really good breakfast. We sat talking to an Irish guy who spends most of his days since retirement walking in Spain. Funny, you expect all the Irish to be Catholics walking to save their eternal soul. Not this guy, never goes in churches and just walks for the pleasure of it.

We did not set off at a very early time as we expected to arrive early, after all today is only 11.9k. We walked along a known route through town and then on to the beach. It is a lovely walk and we soon arrived at a park area with benches and exercise machines. Half an hour out and already it was getting hot, so we stopped for some water. At this point Viv thought to check her bag, she had left her kindle behind in the alburgue.

After all the ear ache she had given me over the sleeping bag, then she lost her sponge bag and now this. Well I was not about to let her off lightly. We had to walk another half hour back then return here I was not happy. Back in Finisterre we still had problems finding the alburgue and that wasted more time. The Irish man was still sitting outside and surprised to see us back again. Viv’s kindle was under her pillow so we were off again.

The second time along the beach was not quite so enjoyable but when we passed our turn around point we were soon into Sardiñero. From here we started to meet pilgrims coming the other way again. We did not stop here though it is only a short hop (1.1K) to Estorde. A good place to stop and get some refreshment. The beaches and bays along here are unparalleled for their beauty.

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We had some climbing to do then before we finally dropped down into Corcubion. The place was bouncing, there has been a medieval  event here and there are stalls and roundabouts by the dozen. We sat and took in the atmosphere and consumed some ice cream in the sun.

We were in Cee in less than 2k and I knew exactly where I was going. When we got to the hostal the guy behind the counter was on the phone. When he came off he told us that was the last room he had. We searched around the town and again there was nothing available. So we tried the three star Hotel Insua. It was more expensive, but had rooms. I bit the bullet and booked us in for two days.

I have to say it was worth the extra just for the breakfast. In saying that we could not have afforded these prices for seven weeks and now I needed the fuel less, but I enjoyed it just the same. Room 101 again, are they trying to tell us something?

We wandered around the town hoping to do some shopping, but could find nothing open. Then I found out that we are very poor pilgrims. Today was 23rd July, St James’s day. It was no wonder we could not get a room anywhere.

The hotel served pinchos with the beer so I was happy just sitting in the sun. Evening meal was another problem again. Of course half the places were closed but for those that were open the kitchen was not. We spent some time in Café Rodin, thinking about food.

After nine we finally returned to Mac Rober where we knew the food was good, but I am sure I remember they served all day before.

Closing down my GPS now we have covered 1026kilometers, it is time to start using an easier form of transport.

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Muxia to Finisterre 34.5kilometers

The camino trails right around the peninsula here, but as we had walked most of it on our day off there was little point in doing it again. So after stopping for some coffee we headed straight out on the road to Finisterre.

We walked for a while alongside the sea. On the opposite coast they were building a huge complex, possibly a hotel. The scenery here was stunning but this was just a blot on the landscape. I can’t help feeling that they could have made better use of Muxia itself and left the cliffs as a thing of beauty.

Once we reached the end of the bay we turned inland and thankfully missed the back of this construction. We were back in woodland now and the going was fairly good although there were some confusing waymarks. On this stretch there are waymarks for both directions, Muxia and Finisterre. The problem came when we saw one for Finisterre pointing the direction that we had come. Had this happened at a time we were tired it would have confused, luckily we were still fresh, so I ignored it and soon we passed more agreeable signage.

After about three hours we started to meet pilgrims coming the other way. My only conclusion was they must have stopped at Lires, because I could not believe that they had covered over 30k already today.

We passed through a place called Morquintian there was nothing there apart from a guy who was permanently camped in a lay by. He had a donativo table and cups of coffee. Not impressed with the hygiene standards we just had some fruit off him and a very fancy stamp.

Lires never lived up to its book description. There was no bar or shop, and we never even saw the alburgue, but then we were not looking. All there was, was a small hut with some vending machines. Not what we wanted at this time.

It was a long day with few places to stop, so we took advantage of every opportunity.

The book states that the only facilities on this route are in Lires but when we got to As Eiras we saw a sign for a bar. It was off route, but only a diversion not a full about turn. So we headed up and grabbed some coffee.  While we sat outside a black camper van arrived with the lady from London and her husband. She was at great pains to explain how she had walked on to the bridge we had just crossed and her husband had brought her back. Sounded like a guilty conscience, because on the Camino nobody passes judgment. We all do it our own way she had no need to explain.

When we left we wished her well, knowing we would never meet again as she was going the opposite way to us.

When we found someone had put some chairs in their front garden, with drinks and biscuits, well we were in heaven for a while. Some woman came looking for water and left in a huff, when we looked there was a tap by the wall. A little patience would have rewarded her. We left a grateful donation and carried on.

We found only one other place before we got to Finisterre, someone had converted their double garage into a bar. It was blisteringly hot by now so it was beer time under the parasol. The garden was like a menagerie, there were budgerigars in cages, hamsters in one of those plastic homes they make and even turtles in a bowl. Of course there were cats and dogs as well. I don’t know how they coped with the heat though.

As we approached Finisterre we started to have problems with navigating, we would never get lost as there is, more or less, only one way in or out, but The GPS was showing 2.5k to destination for an awful long time. I don’t know what it was fixed on, but it did not get any closer even when we were in the town.

The hotel we stayed at last time was full as was every one we tried. We circumnavigated the town and dissected it, then went around again. Nothing. Then we were approached by a woman who had a private alburgue on the hill. We had no option but to go for it. It was not too bad only six beds in the room and each room had its own bathroom. Breakfast was also included.

Once we had settled it was time to go up to the lighthouse. On the walk up we meet again the Americans that we had met in Negreira, they were on their way down, hoping to go up again later. We have our picnic on the benches near the top and pass the 1000 kilometer mark getting there. I try to mark this with a photo, but I just cannot focus in and keep the display up on the GPS at the same time. Somehow, the our second coming has lost the magic and we do not stay too long. We intended to stay for sunset, but got bored just hanging around.

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On the way down we met the Americans again who were on their way up to the lighthouse for the second time, I hope they enjoy the sunset. We had eaten our picnic so there was no need to find somewhere to eat tonight. So we just stopped off for a beer. Where we were sat I was amazed to see a Hotel flying the Welsh Flag, a first here, I think.

Then we had the problem of finding the alburgue again. It was in a back street behind a school, but which street. It took us so long that we decided that going out again was not a good idea. We also changed our minds about an extra day here and decided to move on in the morning.

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Olveiroa to Muxia 30.4 kilometers

In the morning we had to return to As Pias to return the keys, but as it was the only place open for breakfast and it was on our way, it was no hardship. We passed the pathway of granite obelisks, I still do not know the significance of these, and then turned left up the hill. There is some wonderful scenery here, but the early morning mist means we do not see it at its best.

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We pass through a small hamlet and here there is another alburgue. We decide we are not far enough in yet so we do not stop.  There is an information centre just before hospital and we stop to check in. “What country are you from?” she asks. “Wales, Gales” I tell her. “England?” “No Wales”  “But that is England” “No, it is a country part of GB. You know, Gareth Bale” “England” she said. She would not move so I made her put GB on her form.

At Hospital we stopped for a coffee and as usual the woman there was adamant that we should buy more food “Nothing more for 15 kilometers” she says. Viv had a banana, but I had enough and we have stuff with us. Two girls we had met somewhere before Santiago were here, they had met on the Camino and were now splitting up. The Italian, who had left just as we arrived was going our way to Muxia, but the Chilean girl was heading straight for Finisterre. They both thought that the split was outside the bar but we knew it was a bit further on. Fortunately she had gone the right way, the camino path would rejoin the road around the corner anyway, just before the split.

At the split we stopped and took a photo, just for old times sake then continued along the road towards Dumbria. This is another 4k of dirt track and road until we arrive on the outskirts. It did not quite live up to the book though, there was only one bar and the groceries were in the back of the bar. We had to help ourselves and then summon the barmaid to get service.

The next place on the list was Senande, two bars it said. Well there were plenty of benches, never saw a bar. We stopped on a bench and ate the biscuits and yogurt we had bought. Soon all the benches were occupied with pilgrims, seems there is not much choice here.

With the descriptions in the book I expected to see a bar around every corner, but there were non.  It was 27k of rugged country interspersed with hamlets. But not a one of them had a welcome sign or bar. As we approached the sea our hopes were raised first in Moraime, then San Martino and San Roque all seaside places but non had an open bar. There were beaches but no kiosks nothing.

We reached the outskirts of Muxia and a wide glorious beach, there at the end was a hut. It was just tourist information though and not manned, just a video on a loop. Around the corner and into the town proper we finally found a bar, I was not going any further without beer.

Next to the bar was a tourist office, they gave me a map and information about things to see, but for accommodation they were useless. We tried several they were either too dear or too full. As we came out of one full one I saw a German guy that I thought I knew (Viv reckons we did not, but we exchanged greetings anyway). He asked if we were looking for accommodation and told us of the old house he was staying in.  There was some confusion as the lady of the house was not there, but we sat in the garden and waited. Soon enough we were installed in a cozy room with an enclosed balcony.

It was not all roses, however. Viv had lost her precious sponge bag. In it was her creams that we had spent many hours searching out her toothpaste and tooth brushes. The biggest disaster was the hypo allergenic soap, we did not think that would be replaceable here. I tried posting on facebook to see if anyone had found it. All I got was sarcasm from an American who could have no idea what this meant to us. So much for a site supposed to help pilgrims.

As well as all the facilities Casa Isolina also had a laundry service, well bag of laundry 5e, just do it. We also had a breakfast of sorts, just some cake and juice, but never the less an unexpected bonus.

We had another rest day here. Muxia is normally the end, but for us, well we still had a few days to go. We were unsure how many, but the end came quickly in less than a week, but that’s a story to come.

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Negreira to Olveiroa 33.6 kilometers

The breakfast at La Mesquita was another of those buffets, not comparable with an English but well worth the money. I was not looking forward to today so a good feed was what we needed.

Last time I did this stage we got completely lost, I have the GPS this time, but even with this it will be a long day. See if you are interested.


The walk out of town is simple enough. The city gate is well worth an extra view. After walking through woodland we follow the highway for another 2k until we arrive in Zas. Here we turn off the road and down into the village. At the centre of the village I can now see where we went wrong last time; There must be ten arrows drawn on the road and another three on the building opposite, turning us uphill to the left. Viv doubts me, but I am 100% sure we went straight on down the hill last time.

I have a more confident step now and everywhere is new and unseen and after another 5k at A Peña we come to a split which I am certain we had not come across before. Reinforcing my belief that we have passed our nemesis. The sign says 500 meters, I am at first reluctant to divert but the book says that there is no need to backtrack, so we head off to get coffeed up.

There were a lot of people sitting here having a well earned break, but we could see the continuation of the Camino in front of us. After we were fully refreshed we set off again. The track cut steeply uphill and joined the road, from here I was sure I could see the Camino below us.

Ahead I could see a woman coming towards us looking confused. She asked if we were still on the Camino, she had left the bar and now was not sure. About another 500 meters further we did, in fact, meet the lower trail again.

We found out she was from London and the reason she had a small pack was that her husband was following in a campervan. So not only did she get more breaks than us, she was also assured of a bed each night. Her husband had been in the Met and he had injured his leg in a motorcycle accident, so now was unable to walk far. Hence his relegation to support vehicle driver.

We walked together until we arrived at Vilaserio, where the campervan was waiting. We met the husband and then said our goodbyes.

It was another 7.5k of country roads to Santa Marina. The 11k from A Peña  is too much in one hit so we sat on a wall and ate our lunch. Further back we had seen a diversion and chose to ignore it. Then 200yards further on we saw a bench where we could have sat more comfortably and Mikel and Suzanna who obviously had got the jump on us by taking the diversion.

At Santa Marina we arrived at an alburgue and a chance for more coffee, and in my case beer. As we walk out of the village we are again on the highway, there are a number of shops here. They look closed but on testing the doors we found one open. I can’t remember what Viv wanted, but apparently I am an idiot for not realizing they would not have it.  Nothing ventured I say.

We had another 11k of minor roads dirt tracks and highway without a break. There was a diversion to A Picot where there was supposed to be shops and a bar, but it was 3k longer. I have learned not to trust promises the book makes so we gave it a miss.

These roads are now familiar again as we get closer, we were back on track here last time but it was approaching seven o’clock. This time we arrive at Ponte Olveiroa just after two. We still have a couple of kilometers to go but we stop at the alburgue for an ice cream and a rest.

On the other side of the bridge is another beautiful modern alburgue, we made the mistake of passing it last time and failed to get a room. I don’t think we will have that problem this time so we press on.

Olveiroa has almost nothing but the pilgrims and so is full of places to stay, unfortunately it is not so large that it can always accommodate them. We decided to pass through to the far end where despite everything the patron found us somewhere to stay last time. As Pias is full again, it seems, but they have a house and we can have a room there for40e.  Beautiful place and there is a bar right in front, I think we will be happy here tonight.

The bar also has a shop, so we get some provisions for the morning. Later we return to As Pias for some food. I remember the food being good here, but this time  it was a disappointment. We had a meat stew, it consisted of a plate of boiled cabbage and a pile of non descript meat fat. For once we did not clear our plates.

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