Camino Postcard 37: Finisterre

18-20.5.19
We left Santiago not long after midday and arrived in Finisterre at around three o’clock. It had been a pleasant enough journey for me, but one to be forgotten for Ellena and Carolin – both suffered travel sickness on the way to the coast and back again.

When we arrived, the skies were blue and we had time to pop into a nearby restaurant for lunch. We had booked an apartment for the weekend. It was only a mile or so up the road but once our lunch was over, we were only too happy to jump in a taxi to get there.

Hiccup No. 1 took place when we arrived at the garage café opposite the apartment to not find the flat owner’s representative waiting for us with the key. No problem, let’s sit down and have a coffee. So, we did.

While we wait, I’ll tell you about the above photograph. It’s the same cross – with the crucifixion on one side, and our Our Lady and the Christ child on the other. The Incarnation in all its glory.

Once the flat owner’s representative arrived, we settled into the apartment. It was a clean, nicely furnished place. However, this didn’t stop Hiccup No. 2 from now happening: there was no WiFi. Where’s it? I text messaged the flat owner. There isn’t any, he wrote back, but there is lots to do in Finisterre: there’s a medieval church, there’s this, there’s that, there’s the other!

Right. Dude. Duude. Sit down. Ellena, Carolin and I bow to no one in our love of medieval churches and this, that, and indeed the other but if we pay good money for a modern apartment we expect there to be WiFi. There’s a time to visit medieval churches, and there’s a time to use the internet.

Seriously, though, while the lack of WiFi didn’t ruin our weekend, it was a big surprise to find that there was none. For this reason, and this reason alone, I would not go to the same apartment again if I revisited Finisterre (which I hope to do – see below).

To conclude the Great Matter of the Absent WiFi – you may be wandering why it was such an issue; surely we could have just used our mobile phone’s normal data plan. I could, and did, but Ellena and Carolin didn’t have any data on theirs so they relied on WiFi to be able to use their devices. So that they could use their phones, they tethered them to mine. That solved the problem until we got back to Santiago where, mercifully, the apartment we stayed in did have WiFi!

Once we had recovered from the shock of no WiFi, we decided to hit the beach. Our apartment nearly backed onto it with only a bit of scrubland separating us. To get there, we had to go down to the basement car park and out the back door. Easier said than done. We didn’t quite get lost in the (empty) car park but the door leading to the scrubland was not easy to find! You’re going to have to trust me on this one. It was all very awks.

Once we found our way out of the basement, we crossed the scrub, got stung by nettles and found the beach. There, we had fun paddling and trying to avoid the broken shells. Ouch.

As you can see in the above photos, I tried to get arty again. Am I looking at a sand cliff? (Please say yes). No, they are just the walls of a runnel – three or four inches high. I put my phone next to the sand wall, clicked and hoped for a decent photo!

Our weekend was largely spent relaxing at home or visiting the beach, either to paddle or bath or collect shells. Along the way, I went on a food run. While visiting one of the waterfront restaurants to order a pizza a man said hello to me. Oh dear; I don’t recognise him. He knew me, though: we met in Zubiri (see this post and ignore the wholly ill advised bit about Top Nazis. Heh.). He still remembered how I had had to ditch the two books I had brought with me! We had a nice chat while I waited for the pizza.

From the moment when Ellena suggested that we come to Finisterre to celebrate the end of our Camino, I had been very keen on the idea: it meant that I would be able to visit Muxia, where The Way ends. On Saturday, I wandered into town to check the bus schedule. Unfortunately, there was a restricted service and it looked like I had missed today’s bus. To make matters worse, tomorrow’s schedule was not much better – there was no direct bus to Muxía. To get there, I would have to go to someplace else, change buses then head on my way.

I think it was as soon as I saw that a change was necessary that I thought to myself, you know what, not this time; let’s leave it until next time I am here; it gives me an additional reason to come back. I just want to relax and not be bothered about planning anything.

So, I stayed in Finisterre; although, I didn’t entirely relax. On Sunday, instead of going to Muxía, I took a walk to the lighthouse at the end of the end of the world.

The lighthouse is about four kilometres north of the centre of Finisterre, and the path runs uphill along the side of the road on one side, and a deep drop into a cliffside wood on the other. That Sunday, it was a burningly hot day.

By Camino standards, the walk was short and not too strenuous; after 36 days of walking, though, I doubt my legs thanked me for putting them through one last exercise.

Presently, however, I arrived at my destination. Ahead of me, a car park, then, a souvenir shop; further on, a hotel, then the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was closed, but you could walk round it to the very last piece of land before the Americas and look out over the sea while standing next to the last Camino memorial stone.

In the above photograph, the boots sit on the memorial stone (there is a cross out of sight to its left). The dolphin is back along the path, on the way to the hotel. The land you can see is further down the coast.

Having said a prayer for the man to whom the stone was dedicated, and taken a moment to admire the view, I withdrew to the nearby hotel bar.

Drinking that beer, in that place, in that weather, after that Camino was a most wonderful experience.

But soon, it was time to return to the flat. The walk back to Finisterre was downhill. Between that and the beer inside me it was a whole lot more pleasant a walk than the way up!

On Monday morning, we left the apartment and walked/hobbled back down the road to the bus stop. It was another sunny day and the coach was rather too warm for long journeys. This compounded Ellena’s and Carolin’s travel sickness. All I can say here is that at least they felt better afterwards.

I don’t know when or if I will get the chance to walk the Camino Francés again. That’ll completely depend on time, health and money. In the meantime, what I would certainly like to do is walk from Santiago to Finisterre to Muxía and then back to Santiago again. This pilgrimage would take about a week or ten days at most. As I write these words, I’m hoping this will be my 2020 pilgrimage. Time and the good Lord will tell.

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