Camino to Fisterra
Santiago to Vilaserío
33 km / 21 miles
A bit of a depressing morning. I gathered my things and left the camino family Air Bnb around 6:45 am. I left Santiago in the dark, with a bit of morning fog hugging the cathedral leaving only an ominous silhouette in the distance.
Nothing too exciting to share. I walked through farms and fields and had a good amount of incline. The climbs were actually nice; I like the challenge and feeling of climbing hills and mountains.
It was crazy how few pilgrims were on the camino compared to this past week. And while I didn’t like the crowds, it was a bit depressing. Most people’s Caminos had ended. They were flying home, already home, returning to their normal lives, while I hiked on. It didn’t feel the same. I experienced a bit of loneliness and emptiness. Why was I still walking while so many others had stopped after the big goal of Santiago? I told myself in the beginning I would finish in Fisterra. And my father finished in Fisterra. It will be my birthday and it will be worth it. Whether it is happy or sad or all the emotions, it is part of the journey, part of the way.
I arrived in Vilaserío around 3pm. Tonights albergue, Casa Vella, is super charming. An old stone building with beautiful wooden beams, a giant fireplace, and nice garden. It’s homey and cute and I’m happy to stay here tonight.
Vilaserío to Hospital
25 km / 16 miles
I went to bed at 10 pm after a lovely communal dinner. I slept until 7, a great night’s sleep, and set off at 7:30 am. Pretty soon into my day, I ran into Anja and Martin, the only other two of my Camino family that kept walking from Santiago. Today was a bit better of a walking day, as I spent time with Anja and Martin, and kind of tapped back into the Camino life. We stopped a few time along the way for food and drinks and even ran into Christian! The four of us continued on to Hospital, sharing stories, laughs, and feeling a bit better to have company. The three days are like a brand new Camino, definitely feeling a bit different than the past 35 days. But grateful to have these gusy to share the last few steps with.
We had dinner with some fellow English pilgrims and went to bed somewhat early for our last day of walking.
Friday, May 13
Hospital to Fisterra/Cape Finisterre
31 km / 19 miles
Happy Birthday meeeee! And our final walking day! It also happens to be the final 31 kilometers on my 31st birthday!
I set off early, wanting to enjoy the final morning and my birthday with myself, some time to reflect on what an amazing experience it has been, what a challenging few years it has been, and to set some clear intentions for this new year. And I was able to witness a stunning sunrise. Nature always provides the best and most beautiful backdrops for life moments: the final sunrise of the Camino on my birthday just feels a bit more powerful, meaningful, and beautiful.
We made our way to Fisterra, finally seeing the Atlantic Ocean after 36 days of walking across northern Spain. When we arrived in Fisterra, our Camino family was waiting for us (minus Graham who had an early flight home to catch that day). We enjoyed a wonderful birthday lunch of fresh seafood and delicious local white wine. It was the best lunch I can remember. After, we said goodbye to most of the family, as they had to catch the afternoon bus back to Santiago. It was now just Anja, Martin, Elena, Christian, and I left. After a very, very emotional goodbye, we walked our last steps up to the lighthouse, and more importantly, kilometer marker zero.
On the rocky cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, we each took some time alone to reflect on the past few weeks: the first, apprehensive steps leaving St. Jean Pied de Port, the daunting Pyrenes Mountains on the first day, the morning egg tortillas, the ups, the downs, the pains, the foot creams, the tapas and pintxos, the different albergues, the sharing of stories with pilgrims I may never see again, the laughter, the tears, and the family I’ve created the has made this experience the most special. I sat staring out at the Atlantic, also reflecting on the fact that my father had been in this same spot, and most places along the Camino that I had just walked, eight years ago. It felt incredibly satisfying and full circle to have completed the Camino where my father had finished as well. The sense of accomplishment, pride, and closeness to my dad quite literally brought me to tears.
After a good while taking it all in, we made our way back down from the lighthouse to town, stopping at a local beach inlet. Everyone bought me champagne and cakes to celebrate my birthday. They lit a candle and sang to me before we all ran into the Atlantic Ocean for a (not-so-clothed) swim, a tradition for many pilgrims.
What an incredible final day on the Camino de Santiago and 31st birthday, one I’ll never forget.
Some final reflections to come.