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Posts Tagged ‘following the way of st james’

I had such a wonderful afternoon. Met up with a young woman who I connected with on instagram via her Camino posts and mine, about 2 years ago.

Since then we’ve enjoyed each others posts, both Camino and other life stories. She’s been to Broadstairs a few times but I’m usually away so we never managed to meet up. But finally, my dates at home were conducive for her to visit the area and so we planned to meet today.

It was so gratifying to be able to talk to someone who has also walked the Camino, someone who understands the impact it has on your life, and ‘gets’ more than just the basics.

Although her journey was 6 weeks and mine only 11 days, we found so much in common with our experiences; mentally, emotionally and physical. We spoke solidly for over 3 hours.

We agreed that on the whole, unless you’re sharing Camino experiences with someone who has actually walked a Camino, most people’s eyes glaze over after 10 minutes or so. Which is not a criticism, but rather an acknowledgement that they don’t ‘get’ what you’re talking about.

Her experience of the Camino was vastly different to mine; she was 21 when she walked 6 years ago, and I was 62 when I walked last year. Her distance was 790 kms whereas mine was 240kms. Yet, despite the differences there was so much we could share about packing, what we actually needed by way of clothes vs what we thought we’d need, about injury and how we dealt with them, and how we related to other walkers.

After listening to her experiences it confirmed for me what I suspected….the French route is completely different to the Portuguese route. Not just in geography, but in the set up and the way in which pilgrims connect. There seems to be more opportunity to form deeper relationships.

It was a relief to be able to talk to someone who understood what I meant by the ‘essence’ of the Camino.

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Day 14 Wednesday 2017.09.20 – After spending the evening in Padrón I realised I would have to add it to my growing list of ‘favourite places on the Camino’ LOL. What a charming town, also with Roman connections.

After arriving at my albergue, as mentioned in my previous blog, I had a couple of hours snooze and then I hit the high spots…literally. On my arrival in Padrón I had noticed a very large church sitting majestically on the hill above the river overlooking the town, so made my way in that direction.

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Convento do Carme

Crossing through the Canton de la Igliesia, I stopped first at the Iglesia de Santiago, where I had spent some time on arriving in Padrón, for a second visit and look around. It is a truly remarkable church, with centuries of history. The original temple was erected circa 1133 by Archbishop Xelmírez and over the centuries various temples and churches have been built on and added to. The atmosphere is one of quiet contemplation, a stillness hard to match in the outside world.

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side entrance of Iglesia de Santiago entered via the Espolon Promenade

From there I  strolled along the tree-lined “Espolon Promenade”, the large rectangular tree-lined park that runs parallel to the river, along which I had walked earlier, just enjoying the early evening setting sun casting shadows across the dusty gravel. Strolling into town at the far end; pilgrims just arriving, along the riverside; locals sitting on benches relaxing in the warmth of the sun’s rays.

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Espolon Promenade in the early evening

From there I crossed the river Ulla/Sar via Ponte Santiago, past an old and elaborate stone fountain; Fuente del Carmen, a Carmelite fountain built by Pedro de la Barcena in 1577.

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view of the River Ulla from Ponte de Santiago

Located just below the convent the monument boasts a link with St. James.

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Fuenta del Carmen

This fascinating construction consists of three bodies; in the lower one is the Virgen de los Dolores (Virgin of Sorrows), protector of women in labour. In the centre you can see a representation of the Apostle James’ body being brought to this Galicia by his disciples. And in the upper body is a representation of the baptism of the Queen Lupa by the Apostle St James ‘Santiago’.

I followed the road up hill and then up numerous steps to the church built on the rocky area above Padron called “Santiaguino del Monte” to the Convento do Carme. An enormous monastery built at the beginning of the 18th century on living rock, it’s first inhabitants were the ‘Discalced Carmelites’ or Barefoot Carmelites (a Catholic mendicant order with roots in the eremitic tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers who dedicate themselves to a life of prayer – ref wikipedia). The convent eventually passed into the hands of the Dominicans, an order still present today.

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Convento do Carme

Unfortunately the church itself was not open to viewing at the time I visited, but oh my word…the views from the atrium were astounding. With the setting sun casting long shadows Padrón looked ethereal and other-worldly. It escalated to top of the list of my favourite places on the Camino.

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views of Padrón and the Mahia valley

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Convento do Carme and me 🙂 and views of the town and mountains behind

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Cruceiros in front of the Monastery

Then back down the steep steps and back over the bridge; Ponte do Carme and into the town proper.

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cart sculpture and Ponte de Santiago and Igresia de Santiago

Padrón is an ancient town, once more important than, but overshadowed by Santiago once the remains of Saint James were discovered during the 9th century and thus proclaimed patron saint of Spain by King Alfonso II, who built a church and monastery over the tomb in honour of the saint. It is however, now an important stop on the Portugués Camino Route to Santiago de Compostela – (Campus Steliae or field of stars).

As with most of the towns I passed through or stayed overnight in, Padrón houses and buildings, that tend to merge one into the other, are built of thick stone slabs which offer a cold dark feel, with the by now familiar decay, shuttered doors and peeling paint overshadowed by charming balconies and glimpses of quirky characters and sculptures. I absolutely loved it.

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Padrón; a labyrinth of alleyways

Meandering the labyrinth of streets and lanes I encountered some fascinating statues and sculptures.

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sculptures in Padrón

An oversized scallop shell. Macías o Namorado, Padrón, Galiza. Escultura de Ramón Conde. a sculpture to the Padron Pepper Pickers. Pilgrims carved into stone. An elaborate cross. Statue of a Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.

Then it was time for food. I spotted a likely looking cafe; Cafeteria Bocateria Alfoli on the Plaza Ramón Tojo and was soon tucking into a delicious omelette and chips with the by now inevitable coke.

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supper

After satiating my hunger I decided to head back for a shower and an early night. I walked back long the Calle de Delores and discovered to my absolute delight that this was the route I would follow to Santiago on the morrow, a route that was just meters from the albergue where I was spending the night. 🙂 Thrilling.

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Calle de Dolores – The Way to Camino de Santiago

Soon, showered, teeth cleaned, Pepe repacked ready for an early departure, my clean clothes sorted and ready for the final day of my pilgrimage to Santiago, my leg massaged, creamed, and strapped I slipped between the cool sheets of my bunk. By 10:30 pm it was lights out and a heavy cloak of silence fell over the albergue. I really loved that about this particular venue…a lights out policy of 10pm and silence by 10.30pm.

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lights out at Albergue Corredoiras….all the Pilgrim’s boots tucked up safely for the night

Tomorrow….Santiago de Compostela. My final day of pilgrimage to the field of stars.

All too soon I was in the land of nod, undisturbed till my alarm went off at 6.30am. My foam earplugs worked a charm once again.

Early to arise, early to arrive…..or so I thought LOL Ultimately I didn’t actually get away till just before 8am…mostly because at 6am, it was still as dark as pitch. I didn’t fancy walking in such darkness so I snuggled back between the covers till 7.30 😉

To read more about the Albergue Corredoiras visit Places I stayed on the Camino

Day 14 Caldas de Reis to Padrón

 

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