Saturday, 2 September 2023


 On my first day in Santiago, having finished the walk and completed my ablutions in the hotel, I walked into the city. 

Passing a trendy restaurant, called Con: Fusion, I was able to spy on the menu that they were serving a Prawn Curry. 

The restaurant name is a clever play on words in Spanish. Con meaning with fusion, and taken together confusion.

Sending a message to my friends, asking if they wanted to join me for dinner at 8.30pm, I got no response. However the prawn curry looked to good to miss, so I resolved to dine alone. 

That evening, Juan, my friendly waiter with a tidy beard and apron to match, asked the damning question, « have you eaten here before? ».

I explained that I had just finished the Camino, was new to the city, and really wanted a prawn curry and a bottle of locally produced wine. Juan was very helpful with the wine,  a beautiful white called Fanrel, from the Orixe region in Galicia. 

The confusion came when I tried to order. Juan informed me that he was keen to get me to try the local specialities, and sadly prawn curry was not on the list. My starter was going to be Ceviche de Bonito, a raw tuna dish, which I discovered later originated in Peru. 


Finishing the Ceviche, Juan returned to the table, beaming when I told him how great it had been. « Now for the prawn curry? » I said. Juan had other ideas. « Have you had Galician Octopus ? » he inquired. I pointed out that yes I had had octopus on the trail, and dépité Galicia spelling it differently to the rest of Spain, it didn’t hold the same allure as the prawn curry. Clearly that was where I was wrong, because octopus it was going to be. 

During this time Konstantin had asked for my location, to join me for dinner. Incredulously, when he showed up, he asked Juan for a prawn curry, which the waiter brought him without a whimper. It just was not fair. 

I asked for a prawn curry, despite feeling full, determined not to be beaten. This was turning out to be an expensive meal. 

No luck, they forgot to cook it. Konstantin was keen to move onto a bar he had found, so we paid up and left, sin gambas. 

The following night, having fortified ourselves with a few Bombays and tonics, we returned as a four, for our last supper together. Curry de Gambas we sang as one. Juan looked sheepish, but knew he was beaten. Confusion was over, I got my prawn curry, and boy was it worth the wait.

Sunday, 27 August 2023

The end of the World as we know it

The Camino, for some pilgrims, does not finish in Santiago, but journey on to the end of the world. The Romans believed that Fisterra, was such a place.

I knew that my Summer holiday, would not allow me to walk this part of the journey, so with my friend Konstantin, we caught an excursion coach, that would take us there.

To validate the 45 euros, that would also show us some other stuff too. This Horreo is one of the longest. We have been spotting them all over the Camino, either made of wood or stone. They are used to store and air food, keeping humidity and rodents away. This record length was the result of a competition between two towns, looking to show off their wealth.

The waterfall at Ezaro, is unique because it is a fresh waterfall, that falls into the sea. At Fisterra, the next stop on the trip, we had fantastic seafood for lunch in town. The light house is the point, where you can't see any land, just blue sky and sea. Konstantin and I had an impromptu swim in the Atlantic, at worlds end. It has the 0,00km marker stone for the Camino trail.

The lighthouse at the end of the world


The next stop on this magical mystery tour was to Muxia, famed for the shipwrecks, it is a choppy part of the coast. It was here too that the film "The Way" concluded, with him scattering his sons ashes into the sea.

There is a fable about a stone boat that appeared here. The stone sail is all that is left, and as legend has it, if you crawl through the smallest hole and appear at the biggest, all you troubles leave you. Konstantin and I gave it a go!

This is the bridge at Ponte Maceira, on the Camino way, were disciples of Saint James, evaded capture by the Roman army. The story goes that they crossed the bridge, before it fell into the river, halting the army in it's tracks. It is also one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, winning prizes. 

The trip was very good, the tour guide was excellent. She gave all announcements  in Spanish, English and then Italian. 
And so this is the end of my Camino world as I know it.

Thursday, 24 August 2023

Santiago de Compostela

Reaching Santiago, I wanted a number of things. I wanted closure on a walk, I wanted the certification that validates what I have done and I wanted the whole Cathedral experience. What I got was lost; physically and mentally. 

It took me a while, and tourists information, to find the Peligrino Offices. The man I saw was gentle and impressed I had come all that way, on my first Camino. With certificate done, I knew that Mass at noon gave me plenty of time to explore the Cathedral. 

It was on this tour, that I saw a priest sitting alone, offering confession in English and German. It was here that I had been adrift mentally. Giving my confession, I broke down and cried. He asked about my Camino, and I told him what a journey it had been. While saying my penance, I prayed for all the people I said I would. It was very emotional. 

I found a seat at the front, for Mass. There were twelve priests giving communion, and it was a beautiful service.

Suddenly eight men appeared in burgundy coloured capes, adorned with the shell of Saint James. They took up the ropes to the thurible, filled it with lit incense and then proceeded to swing it, almost touching the roof. 

Just the perfect moment to be found, and now hang up my scallop shell.

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Apostolising with Peregrino

 Now on the penultimate day, I am walking between Arzúa and O Pedrouzo. I meet up with Carlos, who was at dinner last night, in a family run restaurant, in Arzúa.

Carlos has a holistic approach to his beliefs, especially that everything is connected to everything else.

This is in stark contrast to the my walking companion from yesterday, Bernard, a Catholic Seminarian from Brussels.

However, there were plenty of ideas all three of us shared, and I would like to share with you. 

Firstly, when faced with a mountain to climb, it is important to look back, to see how far you have come. On the Camino, I reflect that taking crossing the Pyrenees as a bench mark, then you can achieve anything. Suddenly the mountain does not look so big, and the kilometres will fall away. 

Secondly, when carrying your pack so far, it tends to focus you on what you need and what is frivolous. The less you have, the lighter the load. Carlos expanded this idea to our heart, and the pain we carry. He promotes self-healing, and clearly has an ability to teach this. Reflecting on getting rid of what you don’t need, I look forward to attacking my wardrobe, as I have treated my pack.

Carlos watching the kilometres decrease 

The next point was universal in it’s agreement, that you can’t change people, you can only change yourself. There are relationships on every level, in my life, that I need to improve. Love will resonate, and things will get better in time. Control your actions and don’t reflect others people’s anger by becoming angry yourself. Remember that family is paramount, work is in second place.

Finally, a number of Perigrinos have commented, that nobody lies on the Camino, there is no reason to. You walk, you share your life, you listen and talk. Why waste that precious time and energy on something not true?

It was refreshing how honest Bernard was, when he wanted to pray rather than talk. 

In truth, I write these things down, so I don’t forget the lessons I have learnt, and to remember the people who made my Camino so incredible.

Tuesday, 22 August 2023

The Naked Chef ( or Dinner Party on the Camino)

 Arriving at Palas de Rei, after an enjoyable 25km hike through woods and farms, it was great to hear that my friends were there too.

The naked Chef, fortunately clothed in this library picture 

Erik called me and was excited, because their Albergue that night was equipped with a kitchen and dining area. He wanted to find a butcher’s, and demonstrate his professional skills as a chef. As an after note, he wanted to borrow a shirt, because they had washed everything in the Albergue laundry.

And so Erik, Orsi and I went into town on a quest for ingredients, Konstantin was to join us later. Erik clearly knew his meat, and was very masterful in acquiring Entrecôte and shoulder steaks for tonight. Melon, Parma ham, onion and broccoli purchased, I offered to provide the wine. 

Back at the Albergue, with laundry still not finished, Erik striped my shirt off, to prevent it being splashed with oil. He and Orsi then got to work preparing this impromptu dinner party. 

The Parma ham was wrapped around the melon for starter, served with two bottles of Lembranzas, 2022, from Albariño. 

The Entrecôte steak, that had been hung for 35 days, were cooked to perfection. The broccoli was accompanied by a Hungarian salad dish made with onions and dressing. The steaks were served with three bottles of Coto de Imaz, 2018, from the Rioja region we had walked through. A fantastic time was had by all.

Monday, 21 August 2023

The Tower of Babel

 There is linguistic etiquette on the Camino. Everyone is greeted in Spanish, either with a Hola or a Buenos días. This is then followed up with Buen Camino. 

After this you can try your own mother tongue, or try and speak theirs. Walking with an Italian women called Christina, from Milan, we began our exchange as above. It then became like the Tower of Babel, with Italian, English, Spanish and French all being used. At one point I fell back on my Latin, thinking that it must be close to the Italian words. 

Caecilius et Metella thermas Romanas visitant cum Quinto filio eorum. Eheu, mons erupit!
There is only so far your conversation will go, with GCSE Latin. In fairness, Christina didn’t give a monkey’s who was going to the baths, or that they were about to be covered in ash.
Other friend who come from Germany and Hungry, speak English so perfectly amongst themselves, it is staggering how linguistically capable they are, particularly when we are tasting wine. 
Walking with Danny, from Madrid, his English is incredible too. He still beats himself up, when he can’t find a word, however our conversation's are deep and varied. It all puts me to shame. 
In my defence, when passing a group of French people, I did speak French to the lady. She was stunned but pleased, questioning how an English person was able to speak French, in Spain.
My point is that the Camino is the best of the Tower of Babel, where fellowship and friendship communicate above all. 
To confuse thing further, last night, after a gorgeous meal of Octopus and beer with Danny, I watched regional dancing and bag pipes in the town square of Palas de Rei. Please tell me that this could not be similarly passed off in the Trossachs?

Sunday, 20 August 2023


A month ago, I began my journey in Saint Jean Pied de Port, crossing the Pyrenees. The night before we started, while walking around the old town, we came across an impromptu concert being given on the cobbles. Sitting on the stones, at the beginning of the Camino, listening to the music play, was fantastic. Sadly I could not upload the whole video.

Stones have then continued to mark the path. You will find huge arrows made from smaller stoned, pointing you on. They make up the very fabric of the path, they form bridges to cross rivers, like today into Portomarin. Castles, churches and Cathedrals. 

Let us not forget the stones in my pack, that I carried to the Iron Cross, that came with such emotion, when laying them down. But also the stones becoming a permanent connection with the Camino and my family.

Pilgrims pile stones on markers, showing you are on the right path. Apostolising, as is my want, this can be verification that you are on a correct spiritual journey, as well as clarifying you are on the right path to Santiago.  Today I crossed the marker, telling me I have 100km to go. Sonya Camino, my ace advisor, warned that the path from here on in would become busy, filled with pilgrims just doing the final 100km.

Stones are in abundance on the Camino and yet powerfully symbolic, just like the scallop shell for Saint James. 

Tentatively talking of seafood, Erik, Orsi, Konstantin and I shared an Octopus and an excellent white wine from Sarria. 

The wine was rich, with marzipan and honey notes. It went perfectly with the Octopus, and the Calamari and Hake that followed.

Saturday, 19 August 2023

To be a Pilgrim

 Back in primary school, I can remember standing in the big hall, used for assembly, singing about being a pilgrim.

As John Bunyan penned; “there is no discouragement shall make him once relent.

His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim”.

So what is it like to be a pilgrim?  As you walk along the Camino route, you see there is an inordinate number of fruit trees, berries and edibles. Pilgrims in the past would have eaten fruit and then done a “Paula Radcliffe” I believe it is known as, along the route. 

Subsequently more fruit and berries came. I might try it with wine corks, for the pilgrims coming after me.

Another aspect of the trail is bumping into pilgrims several days later. It was great to catch up with Orsi, Erik and Konstantin after several days away from each other. Orsi was kind enough to play chess. 

Today I had the pleasure of Danny’s company on the walk. We were introduced several days ago, but it was great to chat today. The topic of conversation was far ranging, and made the kilometres slip away. It did slow us down. 

Finally, for today, I want to mention the Pellegrino’s menu, that most restaurants offer. It is a three course dinner with a half bottle of wine. Standards vary, as two nights ago I had a soup that was given the love and attention of road kill.

Not so soup-er

The price is normally less than 15E, which is a bargain.

Last night however, I dined with friends, enjoying a local stew for starter and the beef tongue for main. Pudding was a frozen tiramisu, but the house wine was drinkable and the company divine. 

Clearly he will make good his right, to be a pilgrim.