We stopped at a panadería in Santiago for a few breakfast pastries and we headed out the other side of Santiago by 8:30am. Right away, we were on the Camino proper (rather than a road) with plenty of rocky, root-y, muddy slopes. Alberto enjoyed it, but I found it really challenging. We let a pack of MTB's pass - there seemed to be several connecting MTB trails in this area - and passed a few walkers as well who were obviously heading out for their three day trek to Finisterre. It was very slow going for me, and I dismounted several times. Of course, I'd been doing this throughout the whole trip whenever the terrain got too technical, but having to do it so early, and on this day, made us both nervous. Throughout the rest of the trip we never truly had to be somewhere by nightfall. We had plans, but we could alter them. But now, we had to reach Finisterre today in order to be back in Santiago the following evening to catch our night bus to Madrid. Faced with a definite destination, the stress of making such slow progress was powerful.
We actually stopped on the side of the trail for a long while and considered our options. It's hard to describe, but I felt so low in those moments that I just truly didn't believe it was possible that I could make it to Finisterre that day. I didn't want Alberto to lose his opportunity to reach Finisterre, and begged him to continue on without me. We were still close enough to Santiago that I could have reached it easily even if I walked the whole way. Alberto didn't want to go on without me and turned his bike around to start heading back, giving up on his dream. But eventually, he came up with a simple suggestion. If we really weren't making good progress, we could stay overnight tonight in one of the towns before Finisterre, and cycle the rest of the way in the morning. Even if it meant we missed our night bus to Madrid, we still had a spare day before our flight from Madrid to London. We didn't have to make it to Finisterre that day at all. With that psychological barrier removed, we were able to continue on.
Alberto used his GPS to divert us to the road where possible, which helped us make good time to Negreira, the first stop at 23km into the ride. We were there by 11am. The sense of progress we felt on arrival really cheered us up and I began to believe again that we could make it to Finisterre. We stopped at a supermarket to pick up food for later, and Alberto admired the old-fashioned pharmacy, which had wooden drawers for all their goods and the computer hidden out of customer view.
|The approach to Negreira|
We stopped in Olveiroa, the last stopping point for pilgrims before Finisterre, at about 3pm for lunch. We called a pensión (like a B&B) in Finisterre to reserve a place to sleep, now confident that we'd make it. We asked the woman at the bar about the rest of the route. She said it was uphill from Olveiroa, then flat to Cee, and then mixed to Finisterre. Of course by this time we were so skeptical about such descriptions from locals, I'm not sure why we asked.
She wasn't lying about the hill, anyway. It was steep, but the roads were very quiet so we didn't actually find it too challenging. I reflected on how much fitter I'd become since starting the ride, knowing that a hill like this early on would have seen me struggle.
We knew that the sights along the camino would get better as we approached Cee, and so stuck to the proper path for the last part of the trip. We saw our first bit of ocean and got really excited, and then we even saw Finisterre in the distance. Alberto kept looking at his GPS, which registered us at 350m above sea level. Finisterre was at zero. When were we going to lose all that height?
|First glimpses of the sea|
|Beginning the descent|
|Fisterra in the background|
We then headed to our pensión, which gave us a pilgrim's price of 25 euros for the room - when you divide it by two, cheaper than some of the hostels we paid to stay in and share a room with several others!
After a shower we headed to the lighthouse, km 0 on the Santiago - Finisterre trail. This is where people normally burn articles of clothing or leave their boots when they complete their journey. There was a small fire going, and after much consideration we decided we shouldn't burn our clothes as they were all synthetics, and it wouldn't have been environmentally friendly. So we burned the printed-out elevation profile of the route - not that it had done us much good!
|Large collection of boots left by other pilgrims|
Stats for the day:
Odometer: 95 km
Moving average: 11.8kph
Overally average: 7.8kph
Moving time: 8h 37m
Stopped time: 4h21 (including our time at the beach!)
Max speed: 59.8 kph