Our walk across the Spanish countryside has long come and gone but as you many of you know, Mom and I walked the Camino Finisterre this year taking in around 89km overland.
The Camino Finisterre (Land’s End) is arguably the real end to the Camino de Santiago. It was thought that Cape Finisterre and its famous lighthouse was seated at the end of the world, and so many pilgrims now journey to go that extra mile – well, 89km – to reach it You won’t get the Compostela certificate once you complete it though, that’s reserved for those who end in Santiago BUT you do get a certificate called the ‘Fisterrá’ or ‘Finisterrana’.
Like the Camino de Santiago, en route you need to keep a Pilgrim passport for your stamps to ensure that you’re not cheating and as proof of your pilgrimage. But I digress! This year Mom and I decided to do this route for a few reasons; one because we wanted to see the “real” end of the Camino and two because it was meant to be a beautiful journey.
Like 2017, I documented our whole experience over on Instagram as well as filming footage along The Way (see what I did there??), and like last year, we had a remarkable experience. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? To kickstart our journey, Mom took the train up to Dublin to overnight in my apartment – Chez Kavanagh – and we jetted off the next day via Aer Lingus to Santiago de Compostela.
Santiago de Compostela – Hotel Gelmirez
This was our second time staying at Hotel Gelmirez (we stayed there in 2017), and though it’s good value, in a good location, clean and functional, it’s truly devoid of any personality. Its modern décor doesn’t really fit in with Santiago’s historic old town vibe and the staff is just ok. But value is value and it’s a good hub if you want to explore.
So before we hauled on our walking boots (our tips are here) we spent a few days in the city to soak in the atmosphere. Santiago is full of life and personality but I feel like you appreciate it more as a pilgrim who has walked the Camino. The end of your epic journey, it’s difficult to describe that immense feeling of relief when you see the Cathedral loom on the horizon and the final yellow arrows guiding the way. The shops in the old town cater to the pilgrims, it’s a final tourist trap yes, but with a charm, with the scallop shells on sale reminding you of the journey.
For us, of course, this time it was different since this wasn’t our “end”. Instead, we did a few new things like drinking goblets of gin! We had one suitcase between us that we opted to transfer using Jacotrans.
Negreira – Hotel Millan
We arrived at Hotel Millan and our feet felt like jelly. Though a pleasant route, there was a lot of uphill sections which slows you down considerably. We were very, very relieved to see the hotel in the end.
Rooms were clean though a little dated. Because Negreira is so small (around 7000 people), there were not many places to eat so we decided to stay at the hotel. We ordered the pilgrim menu which is a staple on the Camino usually consisting of soup, a meat dish, and dessert.
The funniest thing about this hotel was watching the white-gloved waiter carrying a single green apple on a saucer to someone for their dessert. Bizzare! Anyway, one of the biggest things to note about the Camino Finisterre route is that there isn’t much accommodation to choose from. Hotel Millan was fine, but we wouldn’t be rushing back.
Olveiroa – Casa Pepa
Casa Pepa was a delightful hostel located in the middle of nowhere next to a graveyard! But don’t let that spook you. We arrived here in the pouring rain and opened the door to a roaring and welcoming fire. We had booked a room to ourselves which I would highly recommend if you want a bit more comfort. The hostel was completely booked out and some even had to sleep on mattresses on the floor. Despite being in Spain, it was freezing at night but the hostel provided us with warm blankets.
It was here that we also came across the Portuguese entourage who would brighten up our Camino journey with joy and enthusiasm.
Campelo – Albergue O Logoso
With the Portuguese group ahead of us, the next day we packed up as usual and sauntered off into the wilderness. The Spanish countryside is glorious and you really get a feel for the rural farming community. We finally caught up to the Portuguese group at a bar where they were loading up on beer! Whipping out musical instruments they sang their hearts out while they took a break – we marveled at their energy considering they had just done around 15km and had 15km left to walk.
Albergue O Logoso was a quaint hostel that was also located in the middle of nowhere. Based in a farmyard of sorts, those on the Camino route had to walk through it which meant it was a prime location for sure! We had a private room here that was designed to reflect the surrounding land and we ate once again from pilgrim menu. I’ll say this, for your own sake, don’t have the pilgrim menu every night or you’ll actually become sick of food very quickly.
Cee – Hotel Larry
Finally, it was time to see some of the coastline and our descent into Cee was stunning. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed at the intense beauty of the land as you walk across it. On route and at the top of the mountain gazing down at Cee we saw a man who was embracing his friend; he was simply weeping and you couldn’t help but feel emotional too. It turns out that he had suffered much pain – three heart-attacks in fact – and he couldn’t believe he was actually doing the Camino. It’s moment like these that make the journey so special.
When we arrived in Cee we made our way to Hotel Larry, which was hidden along the windy cobblestones of the town. The owners are very friendly and even though their English was limited, we felt the warmth of their hospitality. Unfortunately, this is where I’m pretty sure I developed a spot of food poisoning due to eating undercooked pork and this affected me for a few days. So while I wouldn’t recommend eating there, I would recommend staying. The décor is a little dated but it was clear and comfortable.
Days on the Camino are usually spent like this: you walk in the morning, arrive in the afternoon, check in and then explore and eat before you start all over again. Sometimes, in places like Negreira, there’s nothing to do but this time we arrived in Cee to a festival! In the town square, there was an event with the townsfolk celebrating local dance, music, and song.
Finisterre – Hotel Rustico Spa Finisterrae
It was a long slog on our final leg into Finisterre. The rain was belting us from the coast and coming down in sheets of water. We were exhausted and arrived truly soaked into the Hotel Rustico.
We had a lot of issues with this hotel. The building itself doesn’t open until check-in time 3pm and we managed to get in earlier only because the cleaning lady was kind enough to let us in. It has no dining facilities apart from breakfast (despite it actually having a dining area). Because it’s on a hill, to get food you need to walk down into the main town – fine but not when you’re exhausted. Not only that but the male manager (who also seemed to be the owner) was very, very rude.
There’s no elevator in the hotel and our room was up two flights of stairs – he didn’t even offer to carry our cases and walked ahead of us as we hauled them up. When we asked about bus times on how to get to Muxia he completely dismissed us and said that it’s not his problem as he runs the hotel. Classy eh?
Also, though the hotel’s name says “spa”, you have to book this all in advance and it’s at an extra cost. The plus side? Our bags arrived safely. The hotel itself is comfortable – the décor and building are beautiful but we would not stay here again. He seriously needs to learn how to interact with his customers.
Despite all of this, we enjoyed our time in Finisterre because its lighthouse officially marked the end of our walking route.
Muxia – Albergue Arribada
An extension of Camino journey, following a few days in Finisterre we decided to make our way to Muxia. We travelled to Muxia by private bus (which we had to figure out on own due to the lack of enthusiasm at Hotel Rustico) and arrived at what I can say, is one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. The owner comes from a fishing family and the nautical theme is felt throughout the hostel. It’s spotless with beautiful décor and the private room that we booked was HUGE. It felt better than many of the hotels we’ve ever stayed in.
This stone has a story behind it. Legend has it Muxía was the landing place of the stone boat that carried Virgin Mary when she arrived in Galicia to help Saint James convert the locals. The granite stones you will find near the sanctuary are said to be the remains of the Virgin Mary’s stone boat: the sail, the helm and the boat itself.
Muxia is a small fishing village with windy streets and minimal tourists. It’s the perfect retreat if you simply want to do nothing. Right by the sea, we lazed about in the sun and strolled around with not a care in the world. A similar certificate, the Muxiana, is available for pilgrims who walk to Muxia!
Santiago de Compostela (Part Two)
With our certificates in hand, it was time to head back to the main city. We got another private transfer back to Santiago de Compostela since public transport was so scarce and stayed yet again at Hotel Gelmirez (by the way, don’t pay for their breakfast, it’s not worth it). We spent a few more days sauntering around Santiago de Compostela again before we jetted back to Ireland, this time donning wristbands to mark our journey.
And that as they say, is that! Like our previous walk, the whole experience was truly magical and I’m grateful that I was able to spend it with my Mom. If you have the means to do even a part of it, I’d highly recommend it. It will capture your heart.
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