Spain 2018, part 28 (Santiago de Compostela – Finisterre)

Following the afternoon rest, I left the hostel again and headed towards Obradoiro Square. I walked again beside a small park from which it is possible to see nicely the towers of the Cathedral, as well as the sky that was so blue this time.

Colexio de Fonseca park

The reason for my new visit to Obradoiro Square was that I wanted to go on a sightseeing tour by a small tourist train. Before that, it was again fantastic to see the stunning front facade of the Cathedral.

Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela

The tour by the tourist train was a rather uninteresting experience for me. Admittedly, it was still worth doing because it gave me an idea from which side I could have a very fine view at the centre of the city and the Cathedral. That is from the Alameda Park. My hostel was rather close to the park and I thought of walking over there anyway, but I would have probably missed going to those parts of the park from which there is a truly stunning view at the historical centre of the city. Since the Day of St James is the main holiday in the city, there was also a large fair taking place at the park and the fairs are the same everywhere – a lot of noise, colours and people. I walked only along the perimeter of the fair, took photos of what I wanted and was quite content with that.

View towards the Cathedral from the Alameda Park

View towards the city and the Cathedral from the Alameda Park

I spent the remaining time of the day resting and getting ready to continue with my journey around Spain, but now using transportation. The next morning, after breakfast and final packing, I was ready to move farther on. Farther in this case meant the town of Fisterra (in Galician) or Finisterre (in Spanish). The name of the place comes directly from its meaning in the past – the end of the earth! When the pilgrims in the past finished their pilgrimage, they would walk for around four days more and then they would get to the Atlantic which in their age (as well as at the time of the ancient Romans who actually came up with the name in the first place) constituted the end of the earth. Beyond that big water that stretched towards the horizon, there were only waterfalls, tortoise’s back or the backs of elephants,... depending on how you imagined the Earth to look like.

Just as the numerous pilgrims nowadays do, I also imagined I would walk this part as well, as a kind of a bonus on top of the Way of St James. I even included the days for that in my travel plans. Needless to say, in the meantime I had become fully aware that I had no intention whatsoever to do something like that. It was not only the question of whether I could physically do it, on account of my leg and the tendon in it, I simply no longer had the desire to do it.

That’s why this morning I took a taxi to get to the coach terminal and from there I took a coach to the centre of Finisterre. There I caught a taxi again and went to the hotel I had already booked earlier. The vacation had started.

When I was choosing a place to stay at in Finisterre, the price was an important element, but it turned out I chose it very well since it had a fantastic position for what I needed. To start with, the receptionist immediately drew my attention to the fact that the coaches to Santiago stop at the coach-stop that was literally on the other side of the road from the hotel. Another great thing was that the hotel was just a couple of hundred metres from a big, long sand beach called Langosteira.

Langosteira beach

I left my things in the room and went down to the beach where I took my footwear off and walked a little along the section touched by the water. I even entered the water up to the half of my calves, but not more than that, since the water was icy for me. I thought it could be good for my leg, in lieu of cold presses, but still I did not enjoy it. In addition, in the first part of the beach, there was an incredible quantity of shells, some of which were broken, and when I would step on them with my right leg (that hurt me), I would instinctively jerk it back, thus only augmenting the pain, so soon I put my slippers on and continued to walk in this way. The shells, however, soon thinned out and I could walk barefoot again in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Shells on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean

Langosteira beach without the myriad of shells in the shallows

On the beach and close to my hotel, there was also a very good restaurant with sea food and since I had decided to relax, rest and give myself treats here, I went to the restaurant for lunch. It was crowded, but that’s the advantage when you travel alone –it is often easier to find the place for you. On this occasion I chose to try some shells I had not eaten before (longueirón, pod razors), and then I also had a wild sea bass. The shells were fantastic and the sea bass was rather standard.

Ensis siliqua

After the excellent lunch, I walked along the beach for a little while and enjoyed the colours there. If it hadn’t been the icy Atlantic in the north of Spain, it almost could have been a place somewhere in the tropics.

Langosteira beach

In the afternoon I slept like a log and barely managed to wake up properly later on. At some point I did walk down to the beach again and sat there on a wonderfully warm low fence wall at a café where I enjoyed the view I had from there.

One more clara at a restaurant close to the hotel and I was ready to continue with my sleep. I slept an incredible quantity of hours on this day and night and I was absolutely amazed at how I managed, but I guess I finally relaxed and that reflected on my sleeping.

As opposed to the first day in Finisterre that was rather sunny, the next day started rather gloomily. When I first looked out of the window, I could not even see the nearby beach – everything was covered by fog or a cloud that drifted above the water. Gradually, the fog or the cloud lifted a little, the ocean waters of the bay could be seen, but the land on the other side was still wrapped in the whitish-grey fog.

Langosteira beach when it’s cloudy

Langosteira beach

I walked to the centre of Finisterre, but all the time I felt a bit wavy. I guess my blood pressure went all the way down, but I solved that with a coffee and a soft drink with caffeine. I felt better afterwards and I also enjoyed sitting in a bar from where I had a wonderful view, as well as a feeling of serenity.

Port in Finisterre

Following the brief visit to the centre of the small town, I returned to the area around my hotel and there again I had lunch at the same restaurant as yesterday. Since I saw that the quantity of food of the previous day was just too much, on this day I decided to have “only” two types of shells. The first ones were a type of clams (almejas), while the other one was in fact just one, but big. It’s basically the Atlantic version of a scallop which is the symbol of the whole Way (I have explained this in more detail in part 7 of the story of my Way of St James, https://www.svudapodji.com/en/spain-7/). Since this was the first shell of this type that I ate during the Way, I asked the waiter to bring me a paper napkin and I save the lunch’s left-over, i.e., the shell itself, as a memory.

Clams

Great scallop

This was, of course, followed by the afternoon rest. During this stay at my room, two toe nails, out of the final total of three, fell off. I can tell you right away that this does not hurt at all. The pain actually takes place much earlier, at the time when the nail separates from the body. This time it was just like when you cut your nails – in other words, you don’t feel anything. Later I went down to the beach and walked all of its length, which is over 2 km. There and back. That was now for me – a piece of cake! Still, I was glad to be back since there was a rather chilly wind. That evening there was a Moon eclipse and my room was positioned perfectly, but I still could not see anything because it was cloudy. I was not concerned by this in the least and again I slept well and long during this night.

The following day, after a very slow waking up and breakfast, I walked again to the centre of Finisterre. While going there, on the other side of the road I saw a pilgrim whom I used to encounter quite often during the Way. Earlier, every time we met we would greet each other cordially, but this time he almost did not recognise me. The fact is that I had a slightly different wardrobe on me, not the yellow t-shirt, but I didn’t change that much. Still, this did not surprise me a lot. With all due respect, I believe that a large percentage of the people walking the Way love that part where they feel particularly “open” to the events and other people, because this is considered a part of the spiritual aspect. Sincerely, I do have my doubts that anything happens within most of them. Like in the rest of their lives, they simply get into the “role,” which in this case entails openness, all smiles, positivity, etc. Once the “show” is over and the role is hanged on a rack, and they go back to what they are in their daily lives, which is most often an incredibly great superficiality to start with.

On the other hand, after a couple of hundred metres I came across another pilgrim whom I used to meet often during the Way and our encounter this time around was the same as before, we hugged and kissed, asked each other how we were, congratulated each other for coming all the way to the “end of the earth” and went on our separate ways. The consequence was the same as in the first case, but the essence was significantly different. At least for me. I always prefer essence to the form.

Again I went for a coffee to the bar that had nice tables and comfortable chairs by a couple of French windows perched above the port and like the previous day I enjoyed sitting there and writing. I do the main part of my stories at home, when I’m back from a trip, since the conditions are better for me then and I can better combine the text and the photos, but I like to write down as many details and as many impressions during these breaks. They are more realistic that way, not based on recollection, and also I have less work to do when I’m back at home.

What was important for me was that I spent the whole previous day without painkillers. From time to time my leg still hurt me while walking, but not so much that I could not bear it. I massaged it a little this morning and realised it created almost no problems when I walked. Still, the plan for this day did include a lot of resting, but I also had to move occasionally.

When I got back to the hotel, I decided to walk uphill a little to a very unusual restaurant with a stunning view. I found the restaurant unusual since its architecture was completely modern and out of place (the restaurant is located in a very small village), and yet this did not bother me visually in any way.

A restaurant with a view

The food was fantastic. I decided to take a special menu – a series of small portions envisaged and proposed by the restaurant. In that way I could try different things and everything was really tasty. With my stomach well full, I went down to the hotel and again enjoyed the afternoon rest.

Significantly later, I headed back towards the centre of Finisterre. The day was wonderful – sunny and pleasantly warm.

View at Langosteira beach

When I got to the centre of the town, first I sat at a café in the port to wake up a little more and then I boarded a small tourist train that leads to the absolute “end of the earth,” i.e., to the promontory that shares the name with the town. Namely, at the time of the ancient Romans, it was believed that this was the end of the earth and hence the name of the promontory and the town: it originates from the Latin finis terrae. The pilgrims, as well as the tourists who stay in the town and its surroundings, particularly like to go to the promontory and watch the sunset there. I decided to do the same on this day, especially since the sky was cloudless and the forecast for the following day said it would even rain. Still, regardless of the sun and the state of the sky, there was a very strong wind and I was glad I had taken a wind jacket with me which protected me quite well.

The lighthouse at the promontory of Fisterra (Galician) or Finisterre (Spanish)

Without dwelling too much around the lighthouse, just like the rest of the visitors I went to find some spot for me from where I would watch the Sun sink into the rippled waters of the Atlantic Ocean and I was very happy with the place I found.

The sunset as seen from Finisterre promontory

The sunset as seen from Finisterre promontory

When the “show” was over, very content, I returned to the centre of Finisterre by train and then I went on foot to my hotel.

After this glorious sunny afternoon and clear evening, the following day was completely cloudy. As I’ve said, it was even supposed to rain. My intention was to walk all the way to Finisterre promontory, but I had some second thoughts. Eventually, I did put a raincoat and an umbrella into my small backpack just in case and headed towards the centre of Finisterre first and then continued towards the promontory. Along the way I stopped at the Romanesque Church of St Mary from the 12th century. There were already a lot of people inside and I saw a small group of young musicians, so I found a place for me in a corner. Later I realised that this was actually all in preparation for a mass and since I did not feel like staying there I left the church as some point and continued towards the cape.

Church of St Mary in Finisterre

I got there in the end and took a couple of photos, but it was all less inspiring than the previous night, since everything was grey.

I’m getting closer to the lighthouse at Finisterre promontory

End of the earth and of all the pilgrimages

Therefore, I did not hang around for too long, but rather started to go back. My leg still hurt me all the time, but the pain was not too strong, so I covered those 9 km (from the hotel to the promontory and back) with a relative ease and at an excellent average speed, which was all just fun for me.

Still, having returned to Finisterre, first I went for lunch at a restaurant that was a little outside the typical tourist paths. I had noticed it the night before from the train that I took to the promontory, since the driver of the train greeted somebody at the restaurant using the train’s horn. The restaurant seemed to be the place visited by the local people and that is always a good thing. I was not wrong. The waiter was kind out of this world and the food was excellent.

Smaller-scale scallops

However, I did spend most of the day in the room where I lay down, resting my leg and solving Sudoku puzzles.

Regardless of the chilly and cloudy weather, I did feel sorry not to walk along the beach once more. I quickly went down and was surprised by the fact that there was nobody on the beach but me. Admittedly, the weather was bad, but still... The mystique of the beach was there. I also became aware that I finally started to relax and recover. Namely, I began to sing and that is always a rather good gauging instrument of my overall state. So, I walked a little, enjoying the soft, albeit cold sand and the Atlantic Ocean that wetted my feet and calves. I wondered where all those innumerable shells I had seen the first day had disappeared. Then I stopped for a glass of sangria at a bar near the beach and that was it. I went back to the room to pack up and continue working on a Sudoku puzzle.

Langosteira beach on a cloudy day

Verica Ristic

Read more posts by this author.

Subscribe for free to Svuda podji - travel stories

Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox.

or subscribe via RSS with Feedly!