I met my fellow 21 pilgrims, many on their first Camino like myself. Some had been on a previous Garda Holiday Club Camino and knew what was ahead. They reassured the novice pilgrims that everything would be fine. We also met our guide Miguel; a native of Galicia with years of experience in guiding groups along the Camino.
Our first night’s accommodation was in Hotel Roma in Sarria. We had a chance to relax when we arrived ahead of dinner. This was our first real opportunity for the group to mix together and get to know each other. We enjoyed a lovely meal and some nice wine but everyone retired to bed early in anticipation of our first days walking.
Day one was 20km to Portomarin. It was obvious the group comprised of both seasoned and less experienced walkers. However, everyone agreed that we would all start our first walk as a group. After a very tasty breakfast Miguel led us to the start of our Camino route and off we went. The group splintered into smaller groups with the experienced walkers making good progress whilst those with less experience setting on a pace that they were comfortable with. This was to be a feature of each day and it worked very well for all involved.
The first day finished for most people around 4pm. We enjoyed the lovely sun and took plenty of rest breaks in the many café bars along the route – Tea only of course! Hotel Ferramenteiro Portomarin provided a welcome break at the end of the first day before a stroll around the town followed by dinner.
Our second day of walking was the longest walk. Walking from Portomarin to Palas de Rei – 25km. Considering the length of the journey, some of the group headed off at 8.30am and others delayed the start until 9am. Everyone had made much better progress than anticipated. We all arrived at the hotel at 4pm despite the additional 5km.
Day three was a short 15km to Melide. The weather was in the later teens which was great for walking and there had been no rain since we got there. The group stopped along the walk for coffee and tasty Santiago cake. By day three the group knew each other well and the walk felt like a walk with friends rather than a pilgrimage. This remained the case for the rest of the Camino. We arrived in Melide in the afternoon and stayed in the wonderful Hotel Lux Melide.
Day five was a 20km walk to Pedrouzo. People chose to take the long way to the hotel adding a couple of extra kilometers to their day. Dinner was pizza and wine – the perfect dinner after walking.
The final day we walked to Santiago – 20km. The group took off at staggered intervals. We all agreed we would meet at a café bar 5km from Cathedral Square to walk the final leg of the journey together. We arrived at the Cathedral around 3.45pm and we were met with splendid sunshine. After checking into our amazing hotel – Hospedería San
Martin Pinario – Santiago, we explored the Cathedral and the old town and went to have our last supper as a group. After dinner believe it or not, some of our group headed out for another walk! Earlier in the week some people had missed the milestone of 40,000 steps and were determined on reaching it before leaving Spain and they did! A big congratulations to those determined ladies on this excellent achievement.
On our departure day we had an opportunity to attend mass at 9.30am or 12 mid day, others explored the sights of Santiago. It rained all day but we did not care, we had walked 115km, met new friends and old friends, made many memories and had an amazing Camino.
Miguel was an amazing guide. He met us every evening at 7.40pm before dinner to brief us on what was ahead of us and was always there to answer everyone’s questions and to check in on how everyone was doing.
The best thing about the Camino was that no one was left alone on the walk, everyone looked out for one another and if the pace needed to be adjusted it was done willingly.
Submitted by John Jacob – Group Leader