Fog City Boy #40

Fog City Boy on the Camino del Norte

Hendersonville, May 2, 2023

Irun to Santiago – The Prequel

My last perigrenacion was in the fall of 2019 – the Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago. Shortly after returning home to San Francisco, I formed the intention to walk the Camino del Norte. As our daughter, Elizabeth, a peregrina in her own right, has observed, “Your Camino begins the day you decide to go.” And in that sense, my Camino del Norte started several years before I actually took the first step! Conversations with pilgrims who had walked that Camino, guidebooks, surfing the Correos Paq Mochila website, populating a spread sheet, all the time building ever greater anticipation.

Covid set me back quite a bit: limited travel that I was willing to undertake, and myriad restrictions on entry and movement in France and Spain. And the gyms that I frequent, like most others in the US, were shut down for an extended time. That situation proved problematic in the immediate term.

[For the record, I am fully vaxed and as of this writing, triple boosted. And an additional data point. . . after my first booster, I caught covid.]

Though there were competing opportunities for my attention and participation, the Camino beckoned. And our son, Noah, asked to walk with me, as well. And so, on August 29, 2022, the Fog City Boy boarded a flight from Hendersonville, North Carolina to Atlanta, and continued on to Paris, with an additional flight to Biarritz/Bayonne, arriving mid-afternoon on August 30.

img 2491

Coat of arms of BayonneThe Fog City Boy had a reservation at a small pension in the Bayonne’s old town, just two blocks from the Cathedral where, on the next morning, he would receive his first sella of the perigrenacion. The lodging was clean and comfortable, though hauling my mochila up four flights of stairs was not fun. Hauling it down the next morning wasn’t either.

img 2495

31 August 2022 – Bayonne to Biarritz

After a pleasant breakfast at a nearby café, the Fog City Boy collected his mochila and walked up the hill to the Cathedral.

Supporters of the Camino maintain an information desk open most mornings where peregrinos are counseled about what lies ahead and they may receive the first stamp in their pilgrim passport. A genial hospitalero provided both to me. He also provided a schematic representation of the elevation to be encountered by the peregrino along the official route.

I set out for Biarritz. There is a way marked route to Irun, but I was not aware of it. So I trusted my cell phone which, it turned out, wasn’t the best choice. A walk that ought to have taken an hour and a half, in fact took five hours and, though I enjoyed seeing many neighborhoods I would have missed, the software took me a great distance out of my way.  Some of the interesting sights along the way:

Jardin Public Leon Bonnat (Bayonne)

img 2497

A maritime range finder (Bayonne)

img 2500

Lagoon (Bayonne)

img 2498

Coat of arms of Biarritz

But, eventually I got to Biarritz and quite enjoyed my sojourn there.

It was one of the last weeks of the summer, and many beautiful young people were enjoying the weather, and the beach.

I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a small restaurant near the beach.

img 2503

And rested comfortably at La Maison du Lierre.

Hôtel & Espace Bien-être La Maison du Lierre

1 September 2022 – Biarritz to St. Jean de Luz

After breakfast, I set out for St. Jean de Luz. The path I chose, again without benefit of way marks, took me along the beach and up a hill past a handsome church – Sante-Eugenie.

img 2506

img 2507

img 2508

The way forward was comfortable through the town.  And I had a wonderful lunch at a small restaurant tucked behind a surf shop in Bidart.

Eventually, my failure to do the proper advance planning landed the Fog City Boy with some challenging territory to traverse. And it was along a heavily traveled roadway. And the afternoon turned hot and humid. After descending and ascending the lengthy grade, I opted for a local bus that deposited me directly in front of the hotel I had booked – Hotel Colbert.


Coat of arms of Saint-Jean-de-Luz

I had delayed making a dinner reservation at the restaurant and when I sought admittance, alas, the house was sold out. But I got a good pizza at the pizza joint next door.

The Fog City Boy was now squarely within Basque Country.  There are 3.1 million citizens of Spain and France who consider themselves culturally Basque, with a unique language unrelated to any other, and with historical traditions.  Many, but not all, Basques (and some of their neighbors) speak the language and carry on the traditions.  The Basque flag and the Basque Coat of Arms:


2 September 2022 – St. Jean de Luz to Irun

Our son, Noah, was flying in from Sacramento to join me for a week on the Camino. He was due to meet me at our hotel in Irun.  Hotel Colbert was directly across the street from the SNCF railroad station. The weather forecast was for hot weather and not having forgotten the previous day’s travail, I determined to take the train to Hendaye, the end of the line, and across the Bidasoa River from Irun. The river marks the border between France and Spain.

Coat of arms of Irun

I exited the train, left the station, and walked across the bridge to Irun. Because both nations are within the Schengen Zone, there were neither customs nor immigration processes to deal with. I reached Hotel Alcazar about 30 minutes later.

Gallery image of this property

I spent the balance of the day exploring Irun.

The Fog City Son arrived in the late afternoon. We sought out the Albergue de Peregrinos Jakobi where Noah got the first sella in his pilgrim passport. We had a nice dinner nearby the hotel.

3 September 2022 – Irun to San Sebastian (Donostia in the Basque Language)

We were off timely and retraced our steps from the night before – passing the albergue and continuing along the way marked Way.

img 2524

Shortly after clearing the outskirts of Irun, we began our climb through alternating residential and agricultural areas. About an hour after we had begun, the rain came. It did not deter us, but we found shelter and waited for it to pass. We then continued to climb along a dirt track,

img 2526

eventually arriving at the Santuario de Guadalupe.

img 2529

img 2528

Noah and I explored the church and surrounding grounds. The views were wonderful.

After our exploration, the Fog City Boy and Fog City Son had a choice to make.  Shortly after the church, the Camino splits into a high level variant, and a low level variant. The paths rejoin at Pasajes de San Juan.

The Fog City Boy had been advised by several Camino del Norte veterans to take the high level variant which affords spectacular views, though the route is extremely challenging.  We were feeling good after a break at the Sanctuario, and decided to go with the high level variant.

img 2533

We set out and shortly reached the split.  Especially at the very beginning after the split, the Way seems to require the peregrino to climb straight up. There is a reason this route is called the Purgatorio route.  We took our time and made it safely up the very steep grade.

Once ascended, the route follows along the ridgeline. We explored several ancient fortifications along the Way.

img 2540

img 2538

img 2535

And the views were as spectacular as they had been advertised.


After several hours, we reached the high point – Jaizkibel – elevation 545 meters. Not surprisingly, a radio broadcast tower is located there.

img 2543

img 2546

We rested there and enjoyed the lunch we had brought along.  After lunch, we headed down the mountain. The Way down was steep and often covered with uneven paving stones.  The Camino intersects with other hiking trails in the area.

img 2547

A cross alongside the Way reminds the perigrino that this is a peregrenacion.

img 2548

Late in the afternoon, we arrived in Pasajes and took the small ferry across the river to the outskirts of San Sebastian. Along with a dozen or so American tourists we had encountered on the Way, we boarded a local bus that delivered us to downtown San Sebastian. It was a short walk to the Pension Koxka where we would spend three nights.

Gallery image of this property

3 – 5 September 2022 – At San Sebastian

We explored the old town and adjacent bay and its beaches.

img 2576

img 2577

img 2578

img 2579

Coat of arms of San Sebastian

There was a festival in progress while we were there.

It included rowing competitions. The winner of the women’s race was a team from the town of Orio which we would visit en route to Zarutz. The boats were large and bore no resemblance to racing shells with which we generally are familiar. They reminded the Fog City Boy of the whale boats that were resident at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California back when the Boy was an undergraduate at Berkeley.

On September 5th, Noah and I hiked up the hill from San Sebastian to Igeldo – the first leg of the next stage of the Camino del Norte. It was a lovely morning walk along the littoral.

img 2570

We took a city bus back down the hill. Where we continued our exploration of pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”) – which perhaps is best translated as “skewers.” Sometimes these delectables are presented on a skewer, but not always. Every bar in this part of Spain has them – fresh every morning. These are not tapas, which generally are more substantial in culinary scope. Here are some examples.

Noah found a small painting of San Sebastian harbor that he fancied and bought it as a souvenir of his Camino adventure. We had a nice dinner down the street from the pension.

san sebastian harbor

September 6, 2022 – San Sebastian to Zarutz

We returned to Igeldo via a city bus, and struck out on our walk to Zarutz. The Way was largely residential at the outset, with unpaved track along the way. And some beautiful views.

img 2580

img 2582

When we arrived in Orio, which translates as “of the river,” we had a beer before taking the train the rest of the way to Zarutz. We walked a few blocks to our hotel which was not far from the rail station.


Coat of arms of Zarautz

After settling in, we realized that Noah had left his painting at the restaurant where we had had diner the night before we left San Sebastian. So we made a new plan.

The Fog City Son would return to Orio to buy a soccer jersey in the town colors, which are similar to the national colors of Ukraine – yellow and blue. And the Fog City Boy would return to San Sebastian to retrieve the painting.

September 7, 2022 – Zarutz to Deba (via San Sebastian and Orio)

The Fog City Boy took an intercity bus to San Sebastian, arriving in the late morning. Noah took a train to Orio. Both the Fog City Boy and the Fog City Son succeeded in their respective missions. The Fog City Boy captured some additional views of San Sebastian.

img 2584

img 2585

img 2590

And Noah scored two soccer jerseys.  The blue and white one is worn by the team (and its fans) Real Sociedad – a first division Spanish team.  The second one is the jersey worn by the Oreo Rowing Club (and its fans).  Arravnketa Elkartea is Basque for “Fishing Association.”


Separately, and by train, we headed for Deba, where we took a taxi to our hotel which was some distance from the train station. The views were wonderful and Noah made friends with a resident kitten.

img 2592

img 2595

8 September 2022 – Deba to Guernica

Coat of arms of Guernica

After a light breakfast, we made our way back to the train station, again by taxi. The trip to Guernica was swift and we had the afternoon to explore. We visited a tiled rendering of Pablo Picasso’s painting “Guernica” which speaks to the bombing of the town, its people, and its livestock during the Spanish civil war.

img 2604

Our hotel was nearby.

img 2614

9 September 2022 – Guernica to Bilbao

The Fog City Boy located the Guernica town library which offered citizens and visitors access to the internet. Yes, regrettably, the Fog City Boy checked his email and tended to other chores. The Fog City Son did it all on his iPhone.

Coat of arms of Bilbao

We proceeded by train to Bilbao City Center. Our pension was a few blocks from the train station. It was comfortable and convenient to . . . another selection of pintxos.

img 2622

img 2620

img 2619

img 2618

10 September 2022 – At Bilbao

The Fog City Son was up quite early. A taxi was waiting for him just outside the pension. He was off to the airport, and his transit back home to Sacramento, California.

The Fog City Boy bade him a fond farewell. It was the first time that the Boy and the Son had spent a week together. Just us. Very special.

For the remainder of the day, the Fog City Boy walked the Old Town and explored beyond its confines making good use of the town’s tram system.

11 September 2022 – Bilbao to Biarritz

There is a passenger railroad that originates in Bilbao and traverses many kilometers north along the Bay of Biscay. It is a blend of intercity railroad, interurban railroad, and local transit – sometimes surface and sometimes subway. I got to ride all the way to France! The last stop is a short walk to the SNCF station at Hendaye. Border patrol officers met passengers departing the Spanish train. But there were no formal customs and immigration inspection.

The Fog City Boy took a brief train ride to Biarritz and then a taxi to a Best Western Motel (yes, really) at the Bayonne/Biarritz airport. That would be home for three nights until Air France returned him to San Francisco.

12 – 13 September 2022 – At Bairritz

Biarritz had much to offer, as it had before. Dinner at sunset was a special treat.


A nearby light was flashing its warning to mariners.

14 September 2022 – Biarritz to San Francisco

The Fog City Boy was up at 4 am, donned his mochila and walked a few blocks to the airline terminal. He boarded a “Hop” flight from Bayonne/Biarritz to CDG – the main Paris Airport. And then a direct flight home to San Francisco. It was good to be home, though the Boy was a bit wistful not to have progressed farther on the Camino del Norte on this occasion.

But, all in good time! And thus, this FCB entry is designated a prequel. The Fog City Boy is planning to continue the Norte from Bilbao starting in August of 2023.

And with that, I’m off.

Knute Michael


If you would like to subscribe to future posts on this Fog City Boy blog, scroll up all the way to the top and look for the button on the lower right corner of the screen.  Click on it, be redirected, and ask to be included.  I would be honored!

Fog City Boy # 39

Fog City Boy on the Thames Path

From the Headwaters of the Thames River to the Thames Barrier in London

San Francisco, April 16, 2020

As previously announced, the Fog City Boy is reporting his most recent rambles and perigrenacion out of the order in which they were achieved. The first ramble, back in September, 2019, was the Cotswold Way (FCB #38), followed by the Thames Path – the subject of this epistle – and last, the Camino Ingles (FCB #37).

September 19, 2019 – Kemble to Cricklade

At the conclusion of the Cotswold Way and our exploration of Bath in Gloucestershire, as reported in FCB #38, the Fog City Boy and his Consort commenced onward travel to different destinations. Ginna flew to Tel Aviv to visit friends living in Haifa, and the Fog City Boy took the train to Kemble and the headwaters of the River Thames.

Flag of Gloustershire

Kemble is a small town in Gloustershire.

The Fog City Boy with the monument marking the origin of the River Thames. There was no water to be seen, however. Other hikers reported that water from a spring is seasonal at that location.

After leaving the origin, the ramblers share a pasture with bovine occupants.

But shortly thereafter, the Thames appears not far from the Path.

County Flag of Wiltshire

Cricklade, in Wiltshire, is the first town on the River Thames. St. Sampson’s Church is the town’s dominant feature.

Flowers and whimsey are also resident.

September 20, 2019 – Cricklade to Lechlade

The River Thames broadens quickly.

In England, people  legally are permitted to enter fields and meadows otherwise reserved for agriculture.  The Path passes by high corn as it follows near the River Thames.

Flowers along the Path.

And swans.

The farming communities of Castle Eaton, Kempsford, and Hannington Wick.

The Fog City Boy saw his first yacht on the Thames.

And shortly thereafter, in Inglesham, the 13th century church of St. John the Baptist.

In Lechlade, a young gent rowing, and a young lady admiring.

Also in Lechlade, the first of many houseboats moored along side.

Swans prominade as evening falls.

Apparently, not all the birds in Lechlade were swans.

September 21, 2019 – Lechlade to Oxford

My original intention was to walk from Lechlade to Newbridge, overnight, and continue on to Oxford the next day. However, I was advised that the 16 ¾ mile Path to Newbridge was quite isolated, did not traverse any villages, provide any services nor any place to call for a taxi should that be necessary. Due consideration of some recently incurred but transitory injuries persuaded me to proceed directly to Oxford and spend an extra day there. Not a bad alternative at all! Public transport was indirect but I had all day!

         Flag of Oxfordshire

Official logo of Oxford     Coat of Arms of Oxford City

A carnival atmosphere prevailed when I arrived in Oxford.

September 22, 2019 – at Oxford

The Fog City Boy explored this university town. More houseboats, innumerable bicycles, and sadly, a homeless population as well.

Churches and other handsome buildings prevail throughout the University district.

September 23, 2019 – at Oxford

The Fog City Boy joined other visitors for a tour of the University. Here, Trinity College.

Our guide was knowledgeable, articulate, and made sure we saw Harry Potter sites along the way.

September 24, 2019 – Oxford to Abbingdon

The River Thames is about a mile from the heart of the University area. And it was a gloomy morning when the Fog City Boy began the next stage of the hike.

An extensive system of 45 locks and weirs allows for a considerable volume of water-bourn traffic.  The river is navigable for small boats as far as Cricklade, and for larger boats as far as Lechlade.  There is no charge for the service.  Here is Sandford Lock.

Later the weather improved and travel on the river did as well.

Abingdon Coat of Arms

The Abbingdon County Hall, now a museum, is a handsome Baroque structure constructed between 1678 and 1682. Dominating the town’s historic market square, It has undergone repeated repairs and renovations over the years.

September 25, 2019 – Abbingdon to Wallingford

Many boathouses are maintained by college rowing teams, local clubs, and sometimes individuals. Some are utilitarian but neatly kept.  This one is at Cholsey.

Some are grand. This handsome structure is at Long Wittenham.

Fishermen have assigned locations at various locations along this stretch of the River Thames. This one is at Dorchester.

A bridge at Shillingford.

Wallingford Town Council Coat of Arms

The town square at Wallingford.


September 26, 2019 – Wallingford to Pangbourne

Though the Path is never far from the River Thames, it frequently traverses “meadows.” Meadows is a pleasant, if misleading, euphemism for “cow pasture.” And all that goes with it. At Cholsey, the Fog City Boy followed the Path through a meadow and attracted the curiosity of a young bovine who followed for a time.

The Fog City Boy was not disappointed to pass through the next gate and continue on to a different meadow.

Later that day, at Goring – Lower Basildon – it was a grey day, but the vista was beautiful.

At Reading – Caversham, a long promenade along the River ended at a boat house where several swans were taking a nap.

Shortly thereafter, the Fog City Boy encountered a waterfowl convention.

At Pangbourne, the Fog City Boy and another hiker from The States, met up with a friend from London. We all stayed at The Elephant Hotel, and set out on the Path the next day.

Image result for the elephant hotel pangbourne

September 27, 2019 – Pangbourne to Henley

We had quite a good ramble – perhaps a bit more than we bargained for. Henley is home to the Henley Royal Regatta held annually over the first weekend in July.


The regatta was established on March 26, 1839.






Columbia College’s crew won the 1878 regatta Visitor’s Challenge Cup..






September 28, 2019 – Henley to Maidenhead

Flower boxes and other displays greeted the Fog City Boy on the Path out of Henley.

And more houseboats.

In Harpsden – Lower Shiplake the Path runs adjacent to a backyard railway.

Flag of Berkshire

At Maidenhead, in Berkshire County, the Fog City Boy’s lodging was nearby a lovely park with a charming fountain.


The River Thames continues to broaden.  The Maidenhead Bridge was close by my accommodation.

September 29, 2019 – Maidenhead to Staines-upon-Thames

The Fog City Boy used public transportation to journey to Windsor and explore the community surrounding Windsor Castle.


Staines Urban District Coat of Arms

I then made my way to Staines on Thames.  I stayed at the Swan Hotel which was situated directly on the River.  A handsome property that included a deck facing the water and lovely views.

A statue of the King’s/Queen’s Swan Keeper.

Collars as required.

Stains is the site of the London Stone, placed in 1285 and marking the customs limit and the riparian jurisdiction of the City of London.

September 30, 2019 – Staines to Hampton Wick

It was a lovely morning as the Fog City Boy departed Staines.

Later, the Path passes through Chertsey, where an automotive enthusiast has constructed a remarkable conveyance.

A bit farther along, the Thames at River House Gardens.

The River Thames flows into Hampton.

October 1, 2019 – Hampton Wick to Wandsworth

The stone marks the border of the Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the Borough of Richmond. upon Thames.  It is about 10 miles from Charing Cross – definitely in greater London.

City of London Coat of Arms


The Fog City Boy arrived in Greater London and rambled along the Path through built up venues en route.



A plaque identifies the dwelling as the home of the architect Sir Christopher Wren.


Twickenham. The River Thames is getting broader.


October 2, 2019 – Wandsworth to Greenwich


The Path continues through built up venues. Canary Wharf.

Isle of Dogs,

Access to Greenwich was through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, constructed from 1899 to 1902. It replaced an unreliable ferry system and allowed workers living south of the Thames to walk to work in the dockyards at the Isle of Dogs. The Tunnel is 1215 feet long and 50 feet deep. Domed entry terminals grace each end.

The restored clipper Cutty Sark is moored adjacent to the Greenwich terminus.

Greenwich Coat of Arms

Queen’s House in Greenwich.  Home to the Old Royal Observatory and longitude zero!

Two symbols of Britain that are fast disappearing in this age of cell phones and electronic communication.

October 3, 2019 – Greenwich to the Thames Barrier

The Fog City Boy was up timely and launched on the last stage of the Thames Path.

The Path provided a misty morning view of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Farther along, if one doubted that London is a global financial center, one need only note the signage atop the office buildings across the River Thames:

Citi, State Street, HSBC, Barclays.

The Path continues on.  Signage provides important information to mariners.

And of course, there is a mermaid on the promenade.

The Path crosses beneath the Emirates Airline Cable Car.

And at last, the Thames Barrier.

The Fog City Boy hiked away from the River Thames and caught the London Overground to return to downtown Greenwich to reclaim his backpack, and return again to the Overground and make his way to Gatwick Airport.

And next morning, from there to Spain and the Camino Ingles.

Whereto next? The Camino Del Norte seems like a good choice but not until 2021. Or maybe Hadrian’s Wall?  Or maybe both? Stay tuned!

With that, I’m off.


Knute Michael

If you would like to receive future postings as they are published, click on the “Follow” button below.

Fog City Boy #38

Fog City Boy on the Cotswold Way

Chipping Campden to Bath

San Francisco, December 1, 2019

On 5th September, the Fog City Boy and his Consort (his wife, Ginna Dean) departed San Francisco, arriving in London on 6th September. We had a lovely time visiting friends there and after several days were escorted by one of those friends to Chipping Campden – the traditional starting point of the Cotswold Way.

The Fog City Boy had determined to walk the 102 miles to Bath and, at the end of the day, walked most of that distance. The Consort had other ideas and pursued her interests in the Arts and Crafts movement, fabrics, flowers, and museums, reuniting with the Fog City Boy each evening along the Cotswold Way.

The Cotswolds are an area in south central and southwest England, principally in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, comprising the Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills that rise from the meadows of the upper Thames to an escarpment known as the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the bedrock Jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden-colored Cotswold stone.   It contains unique features derived from the use of this mineral; the predominantly rural landscape contains stone-built villages, historical towns, and stately homes and gardens.

The Cotswold Way is one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales. Here’s a description of the National Trails from

“National Trails are long distance walking, cycling and horse riding routes through the best landscapes in England and Wales. In Scotland the equivalent trails are called Scotland’s Great Trails. There are 15 National Trails. Walkers can enjoy them all, cyclists and horse riders can enjoy the Pennine Bridleway and the South Downs Way, as well as sections of the other Trails. In total, England and Wales have around 2,500 miles (4,000 Km) of National Trail. The England Coast Path will be the newest (and longest) National Trail when it is complete in 2020. The first few sections are now open and more will be opening over the next few months.”

10 September 2019 – At Chipping Campden

We explored this charming town, admiring homes, businesses, and the handsome town church, all built of Cotswold stone.

Flowers added a welcoming touch as we wandered. These were placed adjacent to early alms housing now repurposed.

Our lodging was at the Noel Hotel.

We had a pleasant dinner and a good night’s sleep. The next morning we had the first of the famed “full English breakfasts” to be enjoyed along the Way.

11 September 2019 – Chipping Campden to Stanton

The Way’s official starting point is at a small square adjacent to the foot of Market Hall in the center of town.

Shortly after leaving Chipping Campden, the Way ascends Dover’s Hill which offers magnificent views of the nearby countryside.

Continuing from that high point, the town of Broadway is a charming Cotswold town.

Old houses built of Cotswold stone prove to be durable.  This one awaits restoration.

The Way leads past Broadway Tower built in 1799 atop Broadway Hill. It was built as a folly for Lady Coventry by her husband, the 6th Earl of Coventry. It was an observation structure during World War II.

Red deer graze nearby.

Sheep are more common in that part of the world, needless to say. They grazed contentedly as the Fog City Boy passed by.

The Cotswold Way is well waymarked. All the National Trails use the acorn as their identifying symbol, just as the Great Trails in Scotland embrace the thistle, and the Caminos long ago adopted the scallop shell or concha. It also should be noted that those who traverse the Camino de Santiago are referred to as pilgrims or peregrinos. Those who traverse the National Trails and other public paths are referred to simply as ramblers!

At Stanton, the local folks told me of a fire just the night before. The garage was destroyed, but the nearby home was spared.

We stayed at a small B&B, the New Forge House, in nearby Toddington. The proprietor collected me at the cross in the center of town. Ginna arrived separately by bus.

12 September 2019 – Stanton to Cleve Hill

The next morning, the proprietor returned me to Stanton and I continued along the Cotswold Way. Stanton is a charming village, but not a stranger to the challenges of modern life.

The Way continues along an avenue of trees adjacent to pastureland. A thatched barn appears to be in current use.

A little further along in Stanway, the Way passes a war memorial. The bronze is of St. George slaying the Dragon.

Lovely flora accompany the rambler along the paths.

The Way ascends to Cleeve Common which is available to local shepherds for several months each year. It was a windy afternoon when I reached Cleve Hill, the highest point on the Cotswold way. Sheep grazed placidly on the common.

We stayed at the Cleeve Hill House Hotel, with a dramatic views from both sides of our lodging.

13 September 2019 – Cleeve Hill to Birdlip

The Consort was keen on exploring The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum in Cheltenham which has permanent and special exhibitions of furniture together with silver, textiles, ceramics, and paintings from the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Here, an 18th century waistcoat. . .

Cheltenham is not on the Cotswold Way, but both the Consort and the Fog City Boy determined to board a local bus calling across the road from our hotel and alight in central Cheltenham.

Cheltenham is renowned for its Georgian architecture.

We explored for a time and the Fog City Boy continued on through Cheltenham and its residential outskirts to rejoin the Way at Leckhampton Hill.

The Way skirts or passes through several nature preserves. It was a lovely afternoon.

In Birdlip, we stayed at the Royal George Hotel.

14 September 2019 – A detour to Gloucester – and on to King’s Stanley

We were not far from Gloucester and decided to explore that very modern city. We went by taxi to the center of town. It was Saturday, the weather was good, and the town was busy with tourists and locals taking advantage. We visited the Gloucester Cathedral, parts of which have been filmed as part of the Harry Potter series, and a Sherlock Holmes episode.

We discovered a Portuguese tapas restaurant that was a welcome break from English pub food. The decorations were whimsical and amusing.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have pulpo that day.

Later that afternoon, we again traveled by taxi, this time to King’s Stanley. We had a reservation at The Grey Cottage, a B&B operated by Mrs. Rosemary Reeves, a delightful lady with many engaging stories to tell.

Upon our arrival, she seated us in her solarium and brought us tea and cake.

She directed us to an excellent Italian restaurant for dinner that night, and provided an extraordinary breakfast the next morning.

She is rightfully proud to have been honored by the Queen for her contributions to the tourism industry in Britain. She confided that, before traveling to Buckingham Palace to receive her award, she was careful to practice her curtsy.

September 15, 2019 – King’s Stanley to Wotton-under-Edge

Before departing The Grey Cottage, we enjoyed walking her meticulously manicured garden which sports the stump of a California redwood tree planted long ago. She had engaged a skilled woodcarver to craft a concha backed bench to the delight of her many guests, the Fog City Boy and Consort included.

The Way continues through varied terrain and countryside.

There is a very steep climb at Cam-Uley and an extended walk along the escarpment. But, wonderful views await the rambler.

The Way continues through plowed fields . . .

. . . eventually reaching North Nimbly. The buildings are no longer made of Cotswold stone.

The town is home to the Tyndale monument, erected in 1866 to the memory of Sir William Tyndale, who, in defiance of the authorities, translated the New Testament into English. He was burned at the stake for heresy in 1536.

A bit farther along on Nimbly Knoll is a circle of trees commemorating, variously, the victory at Waterloo, and later the jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The Way descends into Wotton-under-Edge. “Edge” refers to the Cotswold escarpment.

We stayed the night at the Swan Hotel.

September 16, 2019 – Wotton-under-Edge to Tormarton.

Leaving Wotton-under-Edge, the Cotswold Way passes a centuries old building (at least part of the walls date that old. The sign reads: “Ancient Ram Inn. 10th Century. Not licensed. Wotton’s oldest house. Haunt of Highwaymen.”

I missed a waymark but traversed a charming public pathway and in time reconnected with the Way. On the way out of town, the folk were proud of and quite protective of local wildlife.

Further along, a gentleman was training his horse.

A small square in Hillesley.

A monument in memory of General Lord Somerset stands near Hawkesbury Upton. It was erected in 1846 to honor Lord Robert Edward Somerset (19 December 1776 – 1 September 1842) was a British soldier who fought during the Peninsular War (one of the Napoleonic wars) and the War of the Seventh Coalition (another Napoleonic war).

The Way continues to Tormarton, a very tiny village counting just 350 souls. The village is the host of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene which dates from the 12th century.

Our lodging was a very comfortable and modern Best Western property.

September 17, 2019 – Tormarton to Bath

The last stage of the Cotswold Way was longer than all the others – 16.5 miles. So an early start was necessary. Again, more lovely scenery at Cold Ashton.

At Lansdown, the rambler ascends and climbs over a stone style to inspect the scene of the 1643 Battle of Lansdown between forces of the Parliamentarians and those of the Royalists. It was a bloody but indecisive battle with many casualties on both sides.

The Way skirts the walls of a Roman Camp and crosses through it en route to Bath.

The Way enters Bath through Royal Victoria Park and passing the Royal Crescent.

The Cotswold Way ends (or begins) at the Roman Baths and the Bath Abbey.

The Fog City Boy had completed his rambles along the Cotswold Way.

We spent two nights at the small and charming Kennard Hotel a 12 minute walk from the Roman Baths. To reach or return from the Baths, we crossed the Pulteney Bridge which crosses the River Avon. Shops and some housing are built on both sides of the Bridge.

The next day, we bought a cute little dress at one of those shops for our then 26 month old granddaughter.

We took a free walking tour of Bath and visited the baths themselves. The tour was conducted by a member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides.

Shortly after gathering our group of about 30 ramblers, he inquired where everyone was from. Of course quite a few of us were from The States. In a genial way, he editorialized: “If you won’t mention Brexit, I won’t mention Donald Trump!” He was most knowledgeable and the tour was well worth the time spent.

The next day, the Consort and the Fog City Boy made their ways, respectively, to the intercity bus station and to the railway station. The Consort was headed to Heathrow for onward travel and the Fog City Boy to Kemble and the Thames Path.

And with that, more to follow.


Knute Michael

If you would like to receive future posts as they are published, scroll up and click n the “follow” button on the lower right corner of your monitor screen. This feature may not be available on cell phones.

Fog City Boy #37

Fog City Boy on the Camino Ingles

San Francisco, November 6, 2019

From the Sea to Santiago

4 October 2019: Thames Barrier to Ferrol

The gentle reader is advised that the Fog City Boy is publishing his blog reports out of order this time around. In fact, I walked the Cotswold Way in England (from Chipping Campden to Bath), then followed by walking the Thames Path (from the headwaters of the River Thames to the Thames Barrier in London) before walking the Camino Ingles. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to publish my adventures on this most recent Camino, and then report on my adventures in England in subsequent posts.

The Thames Path ends at the Thames Barrier, one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world, designed to protect Central London from tidal surges. It stretches 520 meters across the river and comprises 10 steel gates which can be raised across the river whenever a tidal surge is predicted. When raised, the barrier’s main gates are as high as a five-story building and are as wide as the opening of the Tower Bridge.

But more about that in a future posting!

Once I reached the Thames Barrier, I returned to Greenwich, where I had stayed the night. I collected my pack and set out for the London Overground, joining at the Greenwich Station on the South West Railway..

Eventually, changing trains, I reached Gatwick Airport, where I overnighted before departing the next morning for A Coruña by way of Madrid. It was a long day, but eventually I reached A Coruña Airport, and secured a taxi that delivered me to Ferrol about 40 minutes later.

As charming as the English countryside is, and as cheery as the English pubs are, the Fog City Boy was pleased to be back in Spain with a Camino walk awaiting him the next day.

5 October 2019: Ferrol to Neda

Historically, peregrinos coming from England and port cities north of Spain often sailed to A Coruña to begin their perigrenacion a Santiago (76 km). More recently, for pilgrims desiring to receive a Compostela in Santiago attesting to their pilgrimage, an alternate route has been established to Santiago from Ferrol (123 km). To qualify for a Compostela, a pilgrim must have walked at least 100 kilometers (200 if by bicycle or on horseback) upon arriving in Santiago. I elected to begin in Ferrol.

About midway to Santiago, I took a day and visited A Coruña .  But more about that later.

The Ferrol Hotel Gran is about one kilometer from the official starting point for the Camino Ingles. I walked through the old town to reach the monolith that marks the traditional point of departure. The old town in Ferrol looks the part.  The image is of the Municipal Palace, not the hotel!

The monolith does not resemble the one pictured in John Brierley’s guidebook. But a representative of the tourist information office walked me to it and assured me that it was really the one.

The Way proceeds back through the old town, passing a fountain dating from 1584, and the Iglesia de San Francisco.

The Way continues past a major Spanish naval base. Peering through the fence, among many other treasures, I observed a small triple-expansion steam engine no doubt salvaged from a Spanish naval vessel no longer in service. Shades of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, moored at Pier 45 in San Francisco! (The Jeremiah’s steam plant is considerably larger than the one in the weeds.)

The Way continues past the naval base and continues along the estuary at the mouth of the Ria Ferrol.

The Way passes the Iglesia San Martin de Xubia, before beginning an extended hike through woodlands and parks.

Emerging from the parkland, Neda comes into view.

On this Camino, I walked with a daypack and engaged the Correo [Post Office] to transport my main pack from lodging to lodging at a total cost of 20 euros for the entire Camino Ingles.  Upon arriving in Neda, I surveyed the scene, and then went out to explore the town and the neighboring town of Narón.

The view from my room at Pension Maragota was spectacular.

The Banco Hispano Americano was intriguing, but no longer extant.  The fountain, however, is fully operational.

6 October 2019: Neda to Pontedeume

This stage of the Camino Ingles started out with a hike from Pension Maragota up the hill and then gently down into the principal business streets in Neda. A cross adorned a small park along the Way on the main roadway through Neda.

The Way crosses through the grounds of Iglesia de Santa Maria and, astonishingly, through a children’s play park that is a part of the church complex, before continuing across a stone bridge and back through town. Within the church is a plaque placed by the Confraternity of St. James commemorating the Holy Year of 2004.

Out of Neda, the Way traverses less populated areas and encounters mild but meaningful elevation. At one point, I looked back to see the major shipyard across the estuary.

At Fene, the Way passes a stone structure that long ago harnessed the power of the stream beneath it. Not far away was a much newer structure also making use of the water from the rivulet.

Spain continues to build and maintain these neighborhood lavandarias, though they are rarely used and sometimes because of stagnant water, are unusable.

In Fene, I paused for a café con leche and met up with two peregrinas from the United States (one from Las Vegas and one from the Boston area) whom I had met on the Way the previous afternoon. We would see each other from time to time along the Way. And one, at the conclusion of her perigrenacion, remained in Santiago for a week to volunteer at the Pilgrim Welcome Center validating Credencials and issuing Compostelas!

A little farther along, an enterprising denizen of Cabanas offered conchas for sale. The price is donativo.

Near the bridge across the Rio Eume, the Way takes a short detour past a quiet cruceiro before continuing on to Pontedeume. “Pontedeume” means “bridge of (the) Eume.”

The bridge dates from the 16th Century. Pontedeume is a substantial and busy town.

My lodging for the night was at a very small but comfortable hotel on the outskirts of town. It was a steep climb along the Way to get there, and when I arrived, it was closed. Or at least not open. It did not have the look of an abandoned building and I guessed correctly that it would open later in the afternoon. I passed the time at a nearby café.  The view was memorable.

7 October 2019: Pontedeume to Betanzos

I was up before dawn and enjoyed a nicely prepared continental breakfast at the hotel. I headed out and up along the Way, reaching a vantage point from which to enjoy the sunrise.

I managed to take a self-portrait.

In Miño, I saw a simple water tank serving a household and a garden.

Shortly thereafter, the Way disappears into a eucalyptus plantation and begins a lengthy climb. Another enterprising denizen, or perhaps simply a supporter of the Camino, had left cold drinks for passersby. Again, donativo. The upside down milk crates provided a welcome place to sit and recover from the steep hike.

Once out of the woods, I came upon a newly constructed horrero or granary or corn crib. Almost every farm has one or more. But not every horrero has a farm. Many Spaniards seemingly just like to display them. Which accounts for the bus stop constructed to resemble a horrero. I also saw these two years ago on the Camino Primativo.

Lovely gardens along the way.

And a return to rural countryside.

The Way traverses country lanes as it gets close to Betanzos. Along the Way is an active and interesting fonte. The fonte de gas – presumably because the water produced is, or at some time in the past, carbonated water.

The fonte dates from 1884. The inscription reads “por los ne cinos de la fuente” which seems to translate as “because of the source.”

A little farther along, the Way passes the Iglesia San Martin, and then the Way drops down toward Betanzos.

The peregrino enters Betanzos by crossing a medieval bridge and then passing through an arched gate and proceeding up a cobbled street to a gracious square in the center of town.

The Fog City Boy found his hotel for the night, did his laundry in the en suite sink, and hung it out to dry. And then explored the town.

8 October 2019: Betanzos to Presedo

By design, this day was a short day. It was a rainy day and the Fog City Boy had to crawl into his poncho and dodge the rain as best he could. One respite was at the Iglesia San Esteban.

And then on to Presedo where a half dozen peregrinos gathered near the municipal albergue – waiting for it to open in the early afternoon. We gathered under a welcome covered parking lot that served the nearby parish church.

400 meters down the road was a charming and peregrino friendly café.

Once the albergue was available, I captured my pack which had been delivered there earlier in the day. I found a local taxi and we journeyed about thirty minutes to Cambre, a suburb of A Coruña, where I would spend the next two nights. I walked for several kilometers into A Coruña, eventually returning to my lodging by taxi.

The Hotel Rural La Marisqueira is a small but commodious two-star hostelry apparently built by a retired fisherman. The name translates as “the seafood restaurant.” Inside the bar there is a representation of what must have been parts of his fishing boat. Fun to explore.

9 October 2019: Exploring A Coruña 

I took a suburban bus into the center of A Coruña. It was a pleasant day to just explore the town.

A Coruña Coat of Arms

The impressive City Hall anchors a broad plaza.

Walking through the old town led me to Iglesia Santiago where the Camino from A Coruña begins.

I returned to La Marisqueira by bus and enjoyed a nice seafood dinner while looking forward to returning to my Camino early the next day.

10 October 2019: Presedo to Meson do Vento

A taxi collected me shortly before 8 a.m. and returned me to Presedo. By prior arrangement with the Correo, they would collect my pack later that morning and deliver it to Meson do Vento. I continued on with my daypack. The Way passes by pastureland. I paused to capture the vista including the sheep in the distance.

Two astute dogs noted my presence, broke from their station among the sheep, and came running.

Though noisy, they were not threatening.

The Way climbs steeply toward Hospital de Bruma, a village of a few stone houses and the site of two albergues, one of which is the restored medieval pilgrim hostel. However, I had a reservation at a comfortable hotel about one mile off the Camino route. I arrived in time for lunch and then explored the town. The parish church is newly constructed or reconstructed. The cruceiro before the church is of an earlier vintage.

11 October: Meson do Vento to Sigueiro

I was out the door shortly before sunrise. A mist hugged the ground all around me.

In Ordes there is a small café with a large statue of St. James dominating the whimsical sculpture garden adjacent to it.

The Way continues on to San Paio Buscas passing by Iglesia San Pelayo with an 18th century statue of the child martyr Pelayo, martyred in 926 at age 13 during the caliphate of Abderraman III.

The Way gradually shifts from a quiet rural setting . . .

. . . to a modern, urban environment with motorways and factories.

I had arrived in Sigueiro. I stayed at an albergue, albeit one that offered a nearby apartment that I shared with an American couple, also on the Camino.

12 October 2019: Sigueiro to Santiago

I set out from the albergue before sunrise, pausing for a café con leche (grande) at a café in the center of town. And then set out again, crossing the Rio Tambre into rural and semi-rural countryside.

An ingenious farmer had stationed a female scarecrow where she could guard his cornfield.

The Way continues through a heavily forested tract. While waymarks guide the peregrino, not all signage relates to the perigrenacion!

Arriving in the suburbs of Santiago, the Way continues past an ancient gatehouse and aqueduct.

Santiago de Compostela Coat of Arms

A few minutes further, the spires of Iglesia de San Francisco come into view. And shortly thereafter, the last cruceiro before entering the old town and the pathway to Praza da Obradoiro.

A festive atmosphere begins as one approaches the old town.

Sadly, the festive atmosphere does not extend to all on the approaches to the Plaza and to the Cathedral.  There have been alms seekers each time I have visited Santiago.  Generally they are quite passive, but occasionally they walk from cafe to cafe asking for money.  I prefer to give them food rather than money.

A sense of grandeur pervades the plazas and boulevards surrounding the Cathedral.

The cathedral square, Praza da Obradoiro, was teeming with peregrinos who were celebrating the completion of their respective peregrenaciones.  [Click anywhere on the link.]

The Fog City Boy felt the same way!  He prevailed on a peregrina he had met several days before to take his picture with the Cathedral in the background.

It felt good to be back.

The last day of a Camino pilgrimage (the Fog City Boy has now completed six of them) begins with a strong sense of anticipation. And contemplation, too. My experience on the Camino Ingles was very much like my earlier experiences. Contemplation and gratitude. Gratitude to have been able to undertake a series of long walks this year that aggregated about 250 miles.

Is there another Camino in the Fog City Boy’s future? Yes, for sure! The Camino del Norte? The Chemin du Puy? Hadrian’s Wall? Time will tell.

And with that, I’m off.


Knute Michael

If you would like to receive future posts as they are published, scroll back up and click n the “follow” button on the lower right corner of your monitor screen. This feature may not be available on cell phones.

Fog City Boy #36

Fog City Boy on the Camino Finesterre

San Francisco, August 13, 2018

Santiago to the Sea

13 May 2018: Santiago to Negreira

I was up at a reasonable hour and had a good breakfast and headed out discover the end of the earth! Santiago was overcast that morning.

After a few wrong turns making my way out of town, I found the first waymark pointing the peregrino toward Finesterre.  76.798 kilometers to go!

Less than an hour after finding the first waymark, the Fog City Boy cast a reflective glance at the distant spires of the Cathedral.

Shortly thereafter, The Way to Finesterre passes by the home of a local supporter of the Camino who made known his or her affection for peregrinos passing by.

The Way passes along shaded pathways and verdant countryside.

Fonte Santa Maria Trasmonte. . .

The Way continues through productive fields. . .

. . . though the gracious, unfinished residence casts an emotional shadow.

Ponte Maceira is quite a spot on The Way. The restored medieval bridge over the Rio Tambre is outstanding as are the falls.

This video doesn’t exist

Ancient engineering directed the flow through a water driven mill erected centuries ago.

The Way continues across Rio Tambre.

Another hour or so and The Way finds itself in the town of Negreira. It was a Sunday and most shops and some restaurants were closed. But a walk through the town brought a quiet opportunity to observe the sculptures that adorn the median of “Main Street.”

A salute to the local ranching and dairy community. . .

And, of course, Santiago. . .


14 May 2018: Negreira to As Maronas

The next full stage chronicled in guide books is a transit from Negreira to Olveiroa – a distance of 34 kilometers. That’s more than the Fog City Boy felt like tackling, so he broke it into two segments. Negreira to As Moronas (today) and As Maronas to Olveiroa (tomorrow).

Leaving Negreira, the peregrino again crosses the Rio Tambre and passes by the sixteenth century church of San Xulian.

It was a rather dreary day – gray skies and occasional drizzle. Horreos (graneries) became quite common along the Way to Finesterre.

Passenger shelters for the local bus services were designed to resemble horreos – including a finial on one end of the roof, and a cross on the other!

I paused at an old schoolhouse in Vilaserio that has been repurposed as a municipal albergue. 10 matresses on the floor, a couple of tables and chairs, and not much else. No one was there, the door was open, so I went in to warm up and eat a tin of sardines and an orange I had collected along the way. I think I had a small bread roll to go with it. I washed up left a small donation in the collection box in the entrance foyer and continued on The Way. Here’s a picture of the albergue I found on the web. The day I stopped there was not a sunny day!

The rain abated though the sky was overcast as I came through the farming village of As Moronas. On the outskirts of town are two enterprises – a café/bar, and a panaderia. By prior arrangement with Hotel Xallas in Santa Comba (12 km away), the shop lady called the hotel which sent a taxi to fetch me (and return me the next morning).

There wasn’t much to see or do in that small town, but I got a good night’s rest.

15 May 2018: As Maronas to Olveiroa

After a good breakfast at Hotel Xallas, I collected my mochila and was met promptly by the taxi that returned me to As Moronas. The Camino Finisterre continues through rural countryside, and emerges near a chapel of San Cristobal and cemetery.

Nearby is a camp ground and café welcomes peregrinos.

My destination for the day was Casa Loncho a casa rural in Olveiroa. I arrived in time for a late lunch, and the opportunity to use Casa Loncho’s laundry facilities. The complex includes a large private albergue and a very large and well preserved horreo, for which the albergue is named.

I opted for a room of my own which included a charming display harkening back to an earlier day.

The town square is surrounded by large horreos, some still in use.  Occasionally along The Way there are newly constructed horreos, apparently “pre-fab” versions of cast concrete rather than the traditional granite.

16 May 2018: Olveiroa to Cee

The day brought beautiful vistas.

And a long line of windmills . . .

This video doesn’t exist

And along The Way, thistles nodded their heads at me and remined me of their cousins along the West Highland Way!

5.9 km from Olveiroa (about 4 miles), the peregrino is given the option to continue to Finisterre, or proceed to Muxia, about one day’s walk beyond Finisterre.

Here’s the detail showing distances and destinations . . .

Many pilgrims choose at this point to head first to Finisterre and then continue on to Muxia, possibly returning to this point to complete the circuit. Some keep on going and walk back to Santiago! My travel commitments did not permit me to walk the Muxia circuit on this transit. That leaves something for a future perigrenacion!

The Camino Finisterre drops down from the ridge it traverses to the Marco do Couto, an 18th century wayside cross.

Two women traveling together were resting there. We all continued together for a short time. One of the women was walking slowly but deliberately. The other matched my pace. We conversed in her broken English. I do not know where she and her companion were from.

She asked the usual questions – Where are you from? Why are you walking the Camino? Where do you go tonight? How long have you been walking? Where did you start? . . . . Do you want a travel wife?

. . . . Say what?!?

I politely declined. She dropped back and resumed walking with her friend. I continued on alone.

A short distance later, the Camino Finisterre passes the Ermita Nos Senora das Nieves (18th century Hermitage of our Lady of the Snows).

A bit further along, it passes the Ermita de San Pedro Martir (Hermitage of St. Peter the Martyr).

This hermitage boasts a holy spring with waters that cure aches and rheumatism.

The Camino continues on.

And finally descends into the town of Cee, where I would spend the night.

Cee is an industrial port, but importantly, the peregrino’s first encounter with the ocean on the Camino Finisterre.

The town has many restaurants and a large municipal plaza with a modern “town hall” . . .

I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon, dinner, and another good night’s rest.

17 May 2018: Cee to Finisterre and on to Faro de Fisterre

The Camino Finisterre generally hugs the coast from Cee to Finisterre. (Spelled and pronounced in the Galician language as “Fisterre”.) It passes through the town of Corcubion.

Local residents often like to celebrate their heritage.  One garden sports a small statue of St. James, along with a scale model of a horreo.

In Sardineiro, I paused at a small seaside park with a refreshing sea breeze and a beautiful view.

The Camino turns slightly inland but also decidedly upward.  I encountered the smallest “lavanderia” (only one place) that I have found in all of Iberia!

In time, the Way emerges from a wooded area and the peregrino is treated to a first view of Finesterre.  The lighthouse is just visible a the far left of Cabo Fisterra.

About an hour later, I reached Finesterre.  If you talk to a peregrino who has journeyed to Finesterre, you likely will come away believing that there is nothing there but the lighthouse, an albergue where you receive your Compostela, and other peregrinos.

In fact, it is an active fishing village with a population of about 5,000, not all of whom are devoted to the pilgrims comings and goings.  There is maritime commerce there.

I located my lodging for the evening, sought and received directions to the lighthouse on Cabo Finisterre. In early afternoon, I began the final stage of this perigrenacion.

It’s a climb, but manageable.

The climb pauses briefly at the 12th Century Iglesia de Santa Maria das Areas.

Sights along the way to the lighthouse:

A bulk freighter lies at anchor awaiting orders for its next voyage . . .

Signage provides guidance – just in case you’re lost . . .

A statue of a peregrino celebrates the commitment and drive that brings together just ahead peregrinos from all across the world.

Beautiful vistas abound . . . the lighthouse is barely visible in the far distance . . .

I reached the lighthouse about an hour after beginning the climb.

An accommodating peregrina took my picture hugging the final waymark – 0.000 km to the lighthouse at Finesterre!

There was a festive air about the grounds. I celebrated my arrival at a small café near the lighthouse with cerveza y pimientos padron! Yum.

And enjoyed the view.

Importantly, I got the final stamp in my Camino Finisterre credential.

On the walk back to town, I and many others who had just completed their perigrenacion paused at a tall cross facing the sea.

Buen Camino!

I returned to town and presented myself at the municipal albergue where a town official verified the stamps in my credential and issued me a special compostela attesting to my completion of the Camino Finisterre.

I slept soundly after a shower and a good dinner, having reflected on my travels.

18 May 2018: Finisterre to Santiago

I was up early and enjoyed a very satisfying breakfast at my lodging. Threw on my mochila and headed down through Finisterre to the Estacion de Autobuses. There were dozens of peregrinos waiting for the bus to return them to Santiago. After some angst about whether there would be enough seats for all who wished to travel, the bus was loaded with a few empty seats to spare.

Back in Santiago, I wandered the town, and reflected on my travels on The Way. The next day, I would begin the journey home to San Francisco, with stops in Alexandria, Virginia and Hendersonville, North Carolina.

There is inevitably a spiritual aspect to the pilgrimages completed here. For me, and for everyone, I think. As daughter Elizabeth – my inspiration for my several peregrenacions – observed, “your Camino starts when you form the intention to make the pilgrimage.” That is certainly true. And, I think the Camino continues within the pilgrim long after arriving in Santiago and garnering a compostela. I know it does with me.

What’s next? Likely the Thames Path from the headwaters of the Thames River to the City of London. And after that, it would only be fitting to commence the Camino Ingles, a short but very lovely Camino de Santiago historically chosen by pilgrims from England.

Thank you for following these chronicles.  Your continued interest and encouragement lightens my load and spurs me onward!

And with that, I’m off!


Knute Michael

If you would like to receive email updates as entries are posted, scroll back up to the first page and click on the “Follow” button on the lower right corner.  This feature may not be available on cell phones.



Fog City Boy #35

Fog City Boy on the Variante Espiritual y Ruta Maritima del Camino

San Francisco, July 8, 2018

Translatio . . .

7 May 2018: Pontevedra to Combarro

The Variante Espiritual branches off of the more traditional “official” Camino Portugues (Camino Central) about three kilometers north of Pontevedra, and reconnects about three kilometers south of Padron.

Literature encouraging pilgrims to follow the route describes it thusly:

Follow the same route as the remains of St. James on his journey to Compostela and cross a place of great natural beauty. Discover water-mills, fountains, chapels and monasteries. Walk through forests, vineyards and beaches. Travel the only maritime Via Crucis [sic] in the world, where you can admire the 17 centennial cruceiros (calvary) identifying this part of the Camino de Santiago as the “Translatio.” THE ORIGIN OF ALL ROADS. [“Translatio” means “the transfer.]

After his execution in Rome, St. James’ followers secretly transported his remains to Spain by sea. In 44 AD the ship carrying his body sailed to the Bay of Arousa where his body was brought ashore and then taken by a small boat up the river and again brought ashore, near Padron, and eventually interred at Santiago.

The description of the Variante Espiritual is accurate. It is a less traveled route which gives the peregrino a measure of solitude not generally available on the “official” routes. The number of pilgrims on The Way varies inversely with the distance to Santiago! And, there were a substantial number of pilgrims on the road early that morning.

I fell in with two young women from Germany and a woman who was my contemporary from Switzerland. We chatted in German and in English (their English better than my German). When most pilgrims continued on the traditional Way, the four of us stopped where the Variante breaks off from the traditional Way and we took each other’s pictures. (Last photo in FCB #34.) Then I learned that they also were planning to take the Variante. We walked in tandem for the rest of the day.

The Variante has a distinct waymark – a concha (scallop shell) superimposed on a red cross of St. James.

After about two hours on the Variante, we came upon frisky lambs frolicking in a pasture by which we passed.

The faith is strong in Galicia. Cruceiros are common and often hundreds of years old. This one appeared to be quite new and the detail was impressive.  It was placed in the garden of the home in the background.

Seal of the Municipality of Poio

The Variante passes through Poio which is home to a substantial and active Monastery of San Xoan de Poio dating from the 7th Century.

Interesting and recent inlays decorate a court yard.  The staff, the gourd, and the cross of St. James – all symbols of the Camino.

We continued on along the coast. The peregrinas continued on, but I stopped at Combarro for a nice lunch and a restful afternoon. The hotelkeeper where I stayed was quite proud of his establishment and his town. He took me up to the roof deck and exulted in the vista!

8 May 2018: Combarro to Armenteira

Combarro is built on the side of a steep coastal range. The Variante breaks away from the main thoroughfare through town and goes . . . up!

Swiftly, the peregrino finds himself in sparsely populated, then very sparsely populated country. It’s a long, steep climb, but the views are great.

The Variante turns inland but continues to climb, eventually emerging from forested trails and logging roads to reach Armenteira, a pleasant community and location of the Monasterio de Santa Maria de Armenteira. Its nuns are of the Cistercian Order.

I stayed at an Albergue in Armenteira. It is newly constructed and municipally operated.

Laundry facilities were present. That’s my laundry hanging from a line – lower left.

9 May 2018: Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa

Only a very light breakfast was available at the Albergue, so I broke out one of my cans of sardines – my failsafe comestible for situations such as this. The Variante continues through the town and then enters the Ruta de la pedra y del agua – the route of stone and water.

(The spelling on the sign is in the Galician language. Some would argue that Galician is a dialect of Spanish. But the Galicians hold that it is their own language.)

It was a fun walk – mostly downhill – with good signage and pleasant surroundings. There were a substantial number of abandoned stone buildings, and plenty of water along the way.

After emerging from the Route of Stone and Water, the Variante continues along side the Rio Umia . . .

. . . continuing into vineyards. The supports for the vines are built to support substantial crops!

A few minutes later, public art as a tribute to common folk.

A cruceiro in a vineyard.

I arrived in Vilanova de Arousa, situated on the edge of the Bay of Arousa, visited the municipal albergue where I bought my ticket for the swift boat transit the next day, and settled into my lodging. I explored the town, had supper, and went to bed . . . anticipating the the next day’s adventure.

10 May 2018: Vilanova de Arousa via the Ruta Maritima – to Padron

I was up timely, enjoyed a decent breakfast, and headed for the boat landing. Several of us looked around for the boat that was to take us up the river, but to no avail. Over the next half hour, about two dozen peregrinos gathered there, all a bit chilly and wondering if we were in the right place. Eventually the boat and the boatman arrived.

We all boarded, along with our mochilas and walking sticks which we held between our knees. It reminded me of riding in a cattle truck during Army Basic Training with my duffle bag between my knees.  The benches were not deep, but they were adequate.

We cast off and proceeded. The sun was not high yet; the scenery was lovely.

The boat was swift and provided an exciting ride!  I had almost a front row seat.

In time, we came upon a trio of cruceiros – depicting on the mount at Calvary, Jesus in the center and the criminals lower and to his left and right.

Not long after, we arrived at our destination, Pontecesures, a short two kilometer walk to Padron. The boat and the boatman returned to Vilanova. I and the other peregrinos now were back on the Camino Portugues.

I got a Café con Leche to warm up, and then headed the short distance to Padron. checked in to the Hotel Chef Rivera – the very same lodging I had when I passed this way in 2014. (Shout out to my friends from Alberta who walked in tandem with me then, and who also stayed at the Chef Rivera.)

I revisited Padron. The bronze peregrino is still walking toward Santiago.

It was a nice day, and families were enjoying the

11 May 2018: Padron to Santiago

On the way out of Padron, I noticed a recently constructed passenger shelter. Made of granite!

The Way avoids some of the heavily traveled highway by traversing country lanes and villages.

At Faramello, The Way passes a small church and shrine, and the Cruceiro do Francos, one of the oldest wayside crosses in Galicia.

Shortly thereafter, I came upon what I will simply describe as a lazy man’s way of herding sheep.

A handsome plackard in the town of Teo.

And here, the Fog City Boy is slightly over 10 kilometers from Santiago – sitting at the same bridge where a similar photo was taken in 2014. Different boots (the other pair wore out after 1,000 miles), a different water bottle, and Tilley hat a bit floppier, but the same Fog City Boy – boots, water bottle, hat, and peregrino – none the worse for wear!

I continued on, took a break for lunch, and reached Santiago in the late afternoon.

An obliging peregrina took my picture and interviewed me about my perigrenacion.

12 May 2018: At Santiago

I was up early and arrived at the Pilgrim Welcome Office about 7 am. The line had already formed. At precisely 8 am the gate was opened and eager peregrinos filed inside. A volunteer in the office reviewed by pilgrim passport, placed a final stamp in the next open space, and prepared a Compostela bearing the date of issuance, 12 May 2018, the point at which I had begun the pilgrimage, and my name – suitably Latinized. Although I have earned three other Compostelas, each one has special meaning for me. I am pleased, and honored, to have them.

I left the Pilgrim Office to return to my hotel for a good breakfast and then explored the Convento de San Francisco which was a block away. A handsome structure, the exterior recently renovated, with extraordinary religious art within.

I then visited the Cathedral, and as always, marveled at the grandeur of the structure, and the extraordinary art in the chapels and the main altar. I lit a candle in memory of a friend who had passed away shortly before I left on my pilgrimage.

I visited other venerated buildings and enjoyed just wandering the streets of Santiago.  And from a travel agency near the Cathedral, I got a map and a new pilgrim passport for use starting tomorrow!

There is always a sense of exhuberance in Santiago because when peregrinos arrive, they know they have achieved a major accomplishment – whether religious, spiritual, or simply athletic. They, and those who have come to welcome them, are in a celebratory mood.

There was dancing in the Praza de Cervantes.

I had a good dinner, including a long-standing local favorite – pemientos padron and vino tinto de la casa.

Tomorrow would be another day, and another journey. Tomorrow I would strike out on the 90 kilometer Camino Finesterre – the journey to the lighthouse that marks the place the Romans thought of as Lands End – the end of the earth.

Buen Camino!

More to come!


Knute Michael

If you would like to receive email updates as entries are posted, scroll back up to the first page and click on the “Follow” button on the lower right corner.  This feature may not be available on cell phones.

Fog City Boy #34

Fog City Boy on the Camino de la Costa

San Francisco, July 3, 2018

Hail to Spain, farewell to Portugal

1 May 2018: Ancora to A Guarda

I awoke to a pleasant, sunny day. A good day for walking to Spain! The Way was in good condition and beckoned me forward.

After about an hour after leaving Ancora, I came upon a herd of goats enjoying a seaside brunch. In the distance you can see Monte Tecla which dominates a peninsula on the Spanish side of the Rio Minho (Rio Min͂o).

About half way to the town of Caminha where there is a ferry to take pilgrims and others across the river to Spain; however, it is seasonal and was not operating when I passed by. The Senda Litoral branches off of the official Caminha route at Moleda. It adds about a mile to the walk, but is through a lovely park at Moleda Beach and Camarido Beach. Apparently they are favorites of the local surfing crowd. Unfortunately, not all surfers are welcome.

I arrived in Caminha, briefly explored the central city, and at about noon proceeded to the ferry. The ferry was a modern catamaran design and was moored conveniently to the town. A gentleman who appeared to be part of the ferry operation told me that the ferry wouldn’t set out again until 2:00 – however, there was a small boat that could take me now. Was I interested? I looked over the small boat. It appeared seaworthy. Already aboard were two peregrinos from Japan who were doing their perigrenacion on bicycles, also on board. We chatted briefly and the boatman cast off.

The boat was a fast one and the trip did not take more than 15 minutes. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t exciting. Part way across, the boatman feathered the engines only slightly and invited one of the Japanese fellows, and then the other, to exchange places with him and take the controls of the boat while he took their pictures. They accepted his offer. I considered whether or not I could swim to shore if the boat swamped.

He offered me the same opportunity but I declined and held fast to the side of the boat. In a few more minutes we arrived in Spain.

The Japanese fellows got on their bikes and went on – up and over Monte Tecla – the official Camino de la Costa. I continued around the mountain on the Senda Literal which skirted lovely beaches. I paused and looked back at Portugal.

While there was political graffiti in Portugal, it seemed both more frequent and more pointed in Spain.

Flag of A Guarda

In mid-afternoon, I arrived in A Guarda, a town with a population of 10,000 or so.

I checked into my lodging, and explored the town. On the recommendation of fellow Bay Area peregrino (a shout out to Emilio, and thanks!), I hiked up to the top of the town and visited the Castillo de Santa Cruz, the construction of which was begun in the 17th century.

It was strategically placed with a commanding view of the sea to the west . . .

The Spanish verb “aguardar” can mean variously, ”to keep,” “to watch,” to guard.” An appropriate name for the town that grew up beneath the castle!

The interior of the Castillo is now a sculpture garden.

The sculptures celebrate common folk rather than royalty.

A soldier in battle dress . . .

A mason . . .

A young woman in the wind, facing the sea, waiving to her lover . . .

I enjoyed my visit to the castle and, toward sunset, returned to my lodging and a good night’s rest.

2 May 2018: A Guarda to O Muino

It began as an overcast day and remained that way. Still, the views were stunning.

It was a pleasant walk, the highlight of which was following The Way into the small town of Oia which is host to the El Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Oia dating from the twelfth century.

The monastery is of some considerable architectural interest and is unusual for having been built directly on the coast of Spain, rather than some distance inland.

The Monastery is closed to the public at present. A private development concern has undertaken to restore the monastery and adjacent buildings with the aim of establishing it as a 4-star hotel with meeting rooms and other facilities. They hope to develop year-round tourism which the locals accept with mixed emotions.

I got a stamp in my credencial  from a friendly café owner and continued on my way.

Along the way there were reminders that the economic challenges of recent years have not been wholly overcome. This handsome home has been under construction – or perhaps in suspended animation – for a number of years.

In the late afternoon, I arrived in Mougas and continued on a few kilometers to O Muino, a tiny community perched on a bluff overlooking the coast. One hotel had restored one of the many historic windmills that dot the coast in both Portugal and Spain.

3 May 2018: O Muino to Baiona

The weather improved although almost the entire distance today was along sidewalks and sendas adjacent to heavily traveled roadways.

Someone had built a lovely summer home that even sported a small swimming pool.

A little further along and on the other side of the road, no swimming pool, but a great view.

As elsewhere in Spain, the local authorities have taken steps to facilitate peregrinos and keep them safe from vehicular traffic. Note the granite peak in the distance.

Another coastal home. Note that it is constructed of granite blocks, an oft-used building material in this corner of Spain.

And, atop the granite peak, the Faro de Cabo Silleiro, built in 1924 and projecting a light 44 kilometers (24 nautical miles).


Seal of the Municipality of Baiona

I continued on into the town center of Baiona, a community of about 12,000.

On the main thoroughfare I espied a welcoming café. They advertised a calamari sandwich in two sizes. I ordered the small size.

What would the large version have looked like!?! I enjoyed half the sandwich and saved the other for lunch the next day.

Baiona was windy that afternoon. The flags of many nations welcomed visitors to this coastal destination.

A handsome fonte dating from 1865 is situated near the town center.

The placard explains that the fountain was donated to the city of Baiona by Ventura Misa y Bertemati, a local entrepreneur.

I wandered the town for a time. The billboard below was not the first one I had encountered offering instruction in the English language.

4 May 2018: Baiona to Vigo

Again, the Camino de la Costa and the Senda Litoral diverge. I chose the Senda Litoral, passing a lovely chapel and adjacent cruciero on the way out of town.

As previously noted, political messaging in Spain is not uncommon.

A little further along, the Fog City Boy strikes a pose at seaside.

More beautiful scenery, but increasingly developed for visitors’ enjoyment.

In time, I made it to Vigo, an active seaport with substantial ship building and repair facilities. There was a lovely park near my lodging for the night.

5 May 2018: Vigo to Redondela

On the way out of Vigo, I again traversed the central park and came upon the dancing waters of a lovely fountain.

About two hours into the day, the Senda Litoral rejoins the Camino de la Costa. At this point The Way becomes quite hilly which is, on the one hand challenging, but on the other, affords wonderful views.

A delightful young woman has established a bocateria catering to peregrinos. A place to refresh and relax before continuing on.

I gave her the address for my blog. I’m hoping she is reading this now!

There were hundreds of mussel farming barges anchored in the river below.

The Camino de la Costa continues through a lightly wooded landscape. . .

. . . before reaching Redondela where it rejoins the Camino Central – the traditional Camino Portugues.

May 6, 2018: Redondela to Pontevedra and beyond

On this perigrenacion to date, I have only repeated one stage of The Way that I had walked previously on my first pilgrimage in 2014. That would be the stage from Matosohinos to Vila do Conde (plus a short segment at the end of the walk from Porto to Matosinhos. Today I will walk to Pontevedra and the day after, about an hour to the point at which the Variante Espiritual branches off from the Camino Central – rejoining in three days time the Camino Central shortly before Padron.

One of the attractions of this Way to Santiago was that the thrill of discovery was yet available to this pilgrim. New paths, new vistas, discovery, and a destination that, while not new, was to be reached by a new, coherent traverse. All in, all done, I will only have duplicated my 2014 pilgrimage on slightly over three days.

The Camino is about discovery. Discovery of space, time, and spirit.

With that, on to Pontevedra.

I recall that in 2014, I by design overshot Redondela by a few kilometers. This time I stayed in town. Meandering out of town, the peregrino finds a display of conchas and words of greeting and encouragement.

At Arcada, a Roman bridge still crosses the Rio de Vigo.

Once across, there are more than one challenging climb!

We are now well into Galicia. The frequency of Crucieros increases.

Later in the day, I came upon the Capela da Marta, dating from 1817

Shortly after that, I decided to walk a detour from the regular Way – the Senda Fluvial rio dos Grafos Tomeza. This was a lovely, shaded, and engaging walk through the woods along a babbling brook!

Flag of Pontevedra

The Senda Fluvial rejoined the waymarked route and I continued on into Pontevedra. It’s a big city in that part of the world with a population in excess of 80,000.

A large town square with numerous restaurants seeking the attention of visitors – pilgrims or not.  And an extraordinary church – the Sanctuario de la Peregrina – dating from the 18th century.

The next day, May 7th, I crossed the Rio Lerez . . .

. . . and continued a little more than three kilometers, passing by a charming painted tile on a wall surrounding a suburban house depicting St. James, a Camino waymark, and the cathedral in Santiago. . .

. . . they were welcoming and acknowledging the pilgrims passing by . . . and I continued my perigrenacion to Santiago via the Variante Espiritual.

More to follow!


Knute Michael

If you would like to receive email updates as entries are posted, scroll back up to the first page and click on the “Follow” button on the lower right corner.  This feature may not be available on cell phones.


Fog City Boy #33

Fog City Boy on the Caminha da Costa

San Francisco, June 18, 2018

The peregrinação begins!

26 April 2018: Porto to Matosinhos

I was up timely, collected my pilgrimage gear, had a decent breakfast, and set out for Santiago de Compostela – about 173 miles on foot, and 17 miles by boat away. I had a sense of anticipation, and a certain exhilaration as well! It was good to be back on The Way!

Flag of Porto

I picked up the waymarked path just outside my hotel and walked down to the Rio Douro and followed the river for most of the rest of the day. I should clarify that there actually are two paths that meander north along the coast and often intertwine. There is an “official” Caminha da Costa (the Way of the Coast), and there is the Senda Litoral (Coastal Path). I began with the Senda Litoral and generally preferred it to the Caminha because it hugs the coast more closely than the Caminha, which often travels the coastal hills rather than the shoreline.

Porto once had a very extensive trolley system. A small portion has been retained for tourism purposes. The alignment is generally single-track with passing turnouts strategically placed. San Francisco borrowed several of the little, single-truck trams when it inaugurated the Trolley Festival in 1983 (replacing the cable cars while that system was rebuilt). I came upon one of the tourist trams that was attempting to reach the end of the line adjacent to the river. Its progress was blocked by an auto that apparently had been parked on the tracks for an extended period of time. The motorman and a policeman were trying to decide what to do.  I passed it by and continued along the river.

Porto is often compared to San Francisco – hills, water, and bridges.

Soon the river met the sea, and the vista became more dramatic.

Public art is common in Portugal and Spain. Shortly after arriving at the urban center of Matosinhos, I encountered “Tragedy at Sea” – a set of sculptures set directly on a sandy beach and facing the ocean. The nearby plackard read as follows:

Inspired by a painting by the famous Augusto Gomes, a great artist from Matosinhos, the sculptural ensemble “Tragedy at Sea”, by Jose Joao Brito (2005) remembers the greatest nautical tragedy ever recorded on Portuguese waters: the tempest of 1-2 December 1947, in which several fishing boats sank off Leixoes Port, causing the death of 152 crew members and pain and despair in the whole community. 72 widows and 152 orphans came out of this tragedy.

My first day of this perigrenacion was not a long one – slightly over 12 kilometers (7.5 miles). The decision to set Matosinhos as my destination for the day was a conscious one: Generally it is not wise “to launch out of the box too hard” at the beginning of a strenuous athletic endeavor. Hape (Hans Peter) Kerkeling, the German television personality who is largely responsible for popularizing the Camino, has observed that it can take 10 days “to get your walking legs.”

Flag of Matosinhos

I arrived in time for a nice lunch, having dropped off my pack at my evening’s lodging. During lunch, I noticed two women who clearly were peregrinas. I greeted them and we talked for a time. They had set out from Porto that morning, but intended to go on much further that day. They were sisters and hailed from Slovenia. One seemed quite nervous – clearly on edge. She stepped out of the café for a smoke, and her sister told me that her sister’s boyfriend had died exactly one month before. She said she hoped that the Camino would help her sister come to terms with her loss. I hope so, too.

27 April 2018: Matosinhos to Vila do Conde

One reason I wanted to walk the Caminha da Costa was my one-day experience on that route during my first peregrenacion – the Camino Portugues – in 2014. It was the most beautiful day of all the Camino routes I had undertaken to this point. (See FCB #8 ) So today, I expected, would be a repeat of that experience. And it was in many respects, though the weather was much better on that day in 2014.

I departed my lodging and walked to the small port of Matosinhos. . .

. . . crossed the drawbridge and on the other side, saw a reassuring yellow arrow.

Continuing through the outskirts of Matosinhos along a heavily traveled roadway reminded me of San Francisco’s Great Highway that parallels the Pacific Ocean at The City’s Ocean Beach.

The Senda continues north, and though the day was overcast, the vistas were glorious.

As I had done four years previously, I approached the Boa Nova Lighthouse which alerts mariners to the “Black Coast” – the scene of many shipwrecks. It is the second tallest in Portugal at 46 meters. The white light from the lighthouse reaches approximately 28 nautical miles.

The weather improved during the course of the morning. I passed through a small fishing village, continued on along a network of boardwalks and accompanying views.


High on a bluff a cross reached out to the faithful.

Sometime after noon, I came to a small village and discovered a small café where a half-dozen young workingmen were enjoying a hearty lunch. I presented myself and the matron of the café asked, “peixe ou carne?” I responded “peixe“ (pronounced “pesche”). I could infer from her next query that she wanted to know “what kind?” I told her with gestures that she should choose. A few minutes later she returned from an outdoor barbeque manned by her husband with a wonderful a whole fish – expertly fileted, moist and tender. With boiled potatoes, cabbage, bread, sparkling water, it was the best meal I had in all of Portugal! The price? €7.50.

The restaurant was decorated with the Portuguese flag and a banner patterned after the flag of Angola, the former Portuguese colony.

I’m not sure what sentiments were conveyed by the display. Could it be support for what originally was a communist regime in Angola? Or rejection of such a state? Or perhaps a keepsake of someone who fought in the Portuguese Colonial War (1961-1974).  I’ll never know.

Later in the day, I came upon a shrine hosting what I found to be compelling religious art:

Vila do Conde Coat of Arms

In the late afternoon, I reached Vila do Conde.

Just outside my accommodation for the night, there was more public art.

In the distance you can see an aqueduct built in the early 18th century. It supplied water to the entire city from the nearby hills.

28 April 2018: Vila do Conde to Esposende

This time, the day started out on the “official” Caminha da Costa. Leaving Vila do Conde, The Way is well waymarked and passes through developed districts eventually reaching Povoa Varzim which hosts a handsome church.


Back on the coast, I encountered a small windmill – not presently in service.  It was the first of many such structures (sans the arms to hold sails) that dot the coast.  I was unable to determine whether they were used to pump water, grind grain, or for some other purpose.

During my travels this day, I met a trio of peregrinas, two of whom were sisters hailing from London, and one of whom hailed from Slovenia. We walked together for several days. The sisters were raising money for a school back home. They had been sponsored by many friends and parents who applauded their travels on the Caminha da Costa.

Flag of Esposende

Entering Esposende, I came upon a statue honoring the work of a local priest.




29 April 2018: Esposende to Viana do Castelo

The Way proceeds through some challenging country, and into every pilgrimage, a little rain must fall. . .

My Caminha friends from London offered to take my picture after we successfully exited a long wooded stretch with intermittent rain.

We passed by a lovely shrine en route.

Viana do Castelo Coat of Arms

Viana do Castelo lies on the north bank of the Rio Lima. The Caminha shares a bridge with a highway and a railroad. We made it safely across but swiftly became lost. The waymarking is not the best in Viana, however upon reaching the old town section of the city, we were greeted by a charming display of umbrellas.

30 April 2018: Viana do Castelo to Ancora

After an early breakfast, I met up with the peregrinas from London and Slovenia and we hiked up and out of town.  They were continuing on the traditional Caminha route and had farther to travel that day than I.  I accompanied them through the suburbs and into the small farming villages that form the “exurbs” of Viana.  After an hour, we set out on our separate ways.  There were hugs all around, and of course, wishes of “buen Camino!” I headed toward the coastal town of Areosa and the three peregrinas continued on their way.

I spent the balance of the day on the Senda Litoral, many segments of which have been greatly improved to attract the attention of, and footfalls of, peregrinos from all across the world.

It was a lovely day, and the views were rewarding.

The Senda passes the ruins of the Forte Paco.

The improvements to the Caminha include paved sections, graded sendas, and extensive runs of boardwalks.

Ancora is across the inlet which must be circumnavigated. The system of boardwalks is not wholly complete, requiring a final arrival in town by walking quite a way on soft beach sand.

After checking into my lodging, I explored the town – discovering a Festival of Flowers gracing the town square.

And many decorated bicycles!

A commuter railroad stops in Ancora.


I returned to my seaside lodging, enjoyed the vista, had a good dinner, and slept well.

The morrow would bring my last walk along the coast in Portugal. Tomorrow the Caminha da Costa would become the Camino de la Costa.

More to follow!

Knute Michael


If you would like to receive email updates as entries are posted, scroll back up to the first page and click on the “Follow” button on the lower right corner.  This feature may not be available on cell phones.

Fog City Boy #32


Fog City Boy Walks Through Hyde Park

San Francisco, June 3, 2018

The Fog City Boy has completed the Caminha da Costa (Portuguese) or Camino de la Costa (Spanish) and is happily back home in San Francisco, as the date line above discloses. I am preparing my blog ex post facto because the opportunity to report en route wasn’t there this time: The internet cafes and occasional hotel business center with a real computadora on which I have relied have all but disappeared. Wi-Fi is everywhere and readily available, but I can’t compose a blog entry on my iPhone! So, I will publish a series of posts over the next several weeks, but they will have been composed after my return.

Pilgrims on the Coastal Way generally begin their perigrenacion in Porto, Portugal. The Coastal Way proceeds north through Vila do Conde, Esposende, Viana do Castelo and Caminha where it crosses the Rio Minho and continues into Spain, eventually connecting with the traditional Camino Central of the Camino Portugues at Redondela. I followed this route – with the exception of a 3-day excursion via the Variante Espiritual. Details to follow.

I reached Santiago de Compostela, visited the pilgrim office to receive my Compostela – the certificate attesting to a pilgrim’s completion of his or her perigrenacion, and then continued on for an additional 90 kilometers to Finistere – where the Romans thought it was lands end – thus “finis terra.” But, more about that later!

However, before the Fog City Boy could walk these 250 miles, he had to get to Porto.

23 – 25 April 2018:  San Francisco to Porto

The flight from San Francisco to London Heathrow was the best kind: uneventful. Upon arriving and clearing customs and immigration, I had to make my way to London Gatwick for my next day flight to Porto. Being a closet rail fan, I eschewed the bus link between the two airports, and elected to take the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station.

The train was comfortable and swift. Paddington was grand.





















I looked for Paddington Bear, but did not see him. Apparently someone was taking care of him, no doubt providing him sandwiches and marmalade.


I proceeded to the entrance to the Tube intending to ride the Circle Line several stops to arrive at Victoria Station where I would board the Gatwick Express and be whisked off to my destination. However, upon applying at a kiosk for a ticket to enter the Tube, I encountered a fare demand of £4.85 = $6.47 which seemed kind of a lot to travel for 6 or 7 stations.








So, since I had embarked upon this adventure for the purpose of walking places – and the day was young – I decided to save my $6.47 and walk to Victoria Station. That would take me through Hyde Park.

What fun!

It was a pleasant afternoon, and joggers were out in force.

The path took me across the Serpentine. . .

And then, I came upon a procession of mounted soldiers! And heard bells ringing in the distance! And later the report of artillery being fired!

The occasion was a celebration of the birth of young (but not yet officially named) Prince Louis and the arrival of his parents, the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at Buckingham Palace. The Times of London reported as follows:

“Official celebrations were already under way, with the bells of Westminster Abbey ringing out from 1pm and gun salutes fired in London at 2pm.

“The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery rode out from Wellington Barracks into Hyde Park for a 41-round salute, and the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), the City of London’s Army Reserve regiment, fired a 62-round gun salute from the Tower of London.”

It was quite a show.

I continued my walk back into the City – past Harrods. . .

And past the Wellington Arch. . .

Through a small park. . .

And finally arriving at Victoria Station.

The GX – the Gatwick Express – delivered me promptly to that airport. I slept well, and next morning, flew to Porto.

The Cathedral was a few blocks from my hotel.

I applied for and received a new Credencial del Peregrino – the pilgrim passport that attests to the pilgrim’s commitment to his or her pilgrimage, and on which are recorded many sellas – stamps from hostels, hotels, restaurants, and points of interest along The Way followed by the pilgrim. A stamp from the Cathedral inaugurated this Credencial.

That evening, I took a walk down the hill to the Rio Douro – a popular attraction for both visitors and locals. I passed a monument commemorating the fifth centenary of the birth of Henry the Navigator.

I continued on to the river.

There were many people out for a stroll or otherwise enjoying a pleasant evening.

















I had a nice dinner, returned to my hotel, and enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

My perigrenacion on the Caminha da Costa would begin in the morning.

More to follow. . . .


Knute Michael

If you would like to receive email updates as entries are posted, scroll back up to the first page and click on the “Follow” button on the lower right corner.  This feature may not be available on cell phones.








Fog City Boy #31

Fog City Boy on the Camino Primitivo

Dublin, September 23, 2017

The respite in Lugo was a welcome break – an opportunity for recovery before launching on the final stages of the pregrenacion. Lodging was comfortable. Food was good.

While wandering the old town in Lugo, I crossed paths with two young couples I had met along The Way. Both had walked the Camino del Norte which originates at Irun (Spain) near Biarritz (France). It proceeds west along the coast with the Camino Primitivo serving as one of two traditional routes that eventually connect with the Camino Frances. I met the American couple (from the Pacific Northwest) on the Hospitales Route. I met the German couple (she from Poland) a couple of days later. Reunifications are one of the most rewarding elements of the Camino experience. Though you may only have known a peregrino for a day or so, you share a common bond that makes you “old friends” when The Way brings you together again.

Both couples had experienced a fully booked town when they arrived in Berducedo (where this en suite peregrino was disappointed not to have his own room and an unlimited hot shower). Both had walked on about 5 kilometers to the home of a generous woman who undertook to provide shelter and dinner to them and to other peregrinos who could find no other habitacion for the evening. The price? Strictly donativo. All four spoke of their experiences with gratitude.

The Way proceeds past the cathedral, through one or another arched gateway (there are alternate routes out-of-town), eventually crossing the River Mino and casually traversing the suburbs of Lugo.

As The Way moves from suburbs to rural venues, it is clear that harvest is coming soon.

The peregrino traffic on the respective Caminos increases upon departure from Lugo (Camino Primitivo), Sarria (Camino Frances), or Tui (Camino Portugues). Each of these towns is a gateway of sorts – a point where the distance to Santiago de Compostela is a few kilometers over the 100 needed to obtain a compostela – the certificate attesting to one’s status as a pilgrim and to the completion of the peregrenacion – upon arrival there. Many pilgrims begin their pilgrimage from one of these gateways.

I was particularly pleased to set out on the last 100 km or so because guidebook references made clear that most of the elevation challenges were behind me. That meant that I would be able to “step out” – use my full stride rather than taking “baby steps” as I had done so frequently in the days before. Baby steps were my safety measure when dealing with ascents and descents. I marvel at the 20 and 30-somethings who blithely stride swiftly up and down graveled byways, many without walking poles.

In time, The Way returns to its usual farm road/byway character. Entrepreneurs capture the opportunity.

The Way follows secondary roads but also diverts into wooded paths. I took a break in a shaded spot, only to discover a waymark monument with a statement by a Canadian peregrino who had recently passed by. Exactly why this location commanded the peregrino to jettison his boots is unclear.

But also there are enduring reminders of the faith.

The Camino Primitivo presents an assortment of challenges (elevation being one, as previously reported). One of those challenges is the paucity of facilities between Lugo and Melide or alternatively Palas de Rei where the Primitivo joins the Camino Frances for the final distance to Santiago. The distance from Lugo is 46 km to Melide with very few albergue spaces or other habitacion available. The peregrino must plan carefully!

My plan was to break the Lugo-Melide stage into three substages. I had booked accommodations accordingly.

Unfortunately, I missed the cues as reported in my guidebook marking the edge of town at San Ramon da Retorta (population about 50, not including peregrinos staying at the two alberques) – the intended end of my first substage. I had planned to call for a taxi there, return to Lugo for the night (I already had booked and paid for my hotel there), and return to San Ramon the next morning to continue on. But I blew by the town and found myself a long way out of town before I was forced to acknowledge that my plans were superceded by a new reality!

Having no other choice, I persevered.

About one hour and 3 km later, I came to Burgo de Negral, a tiny farming village (population 37) that formed around a pilgrim hospital established in 1223. Burgo also was home to several 30-somethings who might best be described as latterday Iberian hippies. I assign that description with affection. They were most kind to me.

They had a display of leather goods, simple jewelry, and other souveneirs of the Camino assembled by she who was the leader of the family assemblage. Fruit and beverages were available, as well as a selle for the passing peregrino’s credencial. Everything was offered donativo.

I collected the selle, made a donation, and explained my plight.

She who was the leather artisan and leader of the pack volunteered her brother to drive me to Lugo (there were no known taxis for miles around). “How much would it cost?” “Donativo,” was the response.

So I climbed into Alejandro’s very basic little car (not his real name), and off we went to Lugo. I arrived safely about 40 minutes later. Actually, he was a far more conservative driver than any of the actual taxi drivers I had engaged in Spain.

Alejandro with broken English and I with broken Spanish talked as best we could. He communicated that he thought the Primitivo was more difficult than the other Caminos. I indicated agreement. He said that he had biked the Camino Primitivo at some point in the past. We arrived in Lugo, I made my donation, he was cordial and returned home.

The next day, there were no busses that would get me to Burgo de Negral. But the information office at the Estasion de Autobuses in Lugo directed me to a regional line that would get me to Guntin, a substantial town in the general vicinity of Negral. “Take a taxi from there,” was the advice. Ok. Today is a short day (because yesterday was longer than intended). Let’s give it a try.

I enjoyed the ride through rural hamlets, eventually arriving in Guntin. I exited the bus, collected my mochila, and looked for a taxi stand. To make a short story shorter, there was none, but the operator of a Repsol (petrol) station called a friend who had a local delivery service who was willing to take on the challenge of getting me to Negral. He only got lost once, but eventually – after receiving directions from a resident farmer – deposited me in the Bergo de Negral across the street from a Camino waymark.

I made a point of calling on my latterday hippie friends who were glad to see me. I was glad to see them! We all embraced, and I continued on The Way.

About 5 km farther along the Way, the path leads through the farming town of Ferreira. The Way crosses a Roman bridge part way through the town.

A little farther along The Way, there is a small parklet off to the side of the road. A stream has been channeled through it and a monument commemorates a local benefactor and hero.

The next morning, I came upon a very welcome sight – a small cafe/bar that was not reported in either of my guidebooks (published in 2013 and 2015, respectively). The Camino infrastructure continues to evolve!

[Strong advice to future peregrinos: Never rely on a guidebook more than one year old if you can avoid it. The Caminos are always changing.]

I had the breakfast sandwich – very welcome after the inadequate Continental breakfast that was offered at my lodging that morning. A Camino McMuffin?

The establishment was run by a cordial woman whose dress, carriage, and visage suggested she might not be a Spaniard. Another peregrino placing an order asked her, hesitantly, if she spoke English. She responded, “I’m Irish, but I speak English.” Several peregrinos present chuckled at that.

So, paying for my cafe con leche and Camino McMuffin on the way out, I told her that one week later I would be in Dublin. What should a peregrino do in Dublin? “I suppose you should sip a pint of Guinness!”

I told her I would, and have followed through on the promise!

Melide is 53 km from Santiago. It is the point of convergence between the Camino Primitivo and the very heavily traveled Camino Frances. There were peregrinos everywhere! Many albergues were there to house them. Many bars available to help them relax. A pleasant fountain graces the town square.

A cruciero welcomes the many peregrinos passing by and reminds them of the origin and purpose of their peregrenaciones.

By this time I had caught up with the German couple. I spotted them as they proceeded through town, I hailed them from my comfortable seat at a cafe. We acknowledged each other and compared notes. They were planning to continue another 6 km that day (it was early evening by that time) to Boente where there were two albergues that between them could accommodate 76 peregrinos – and hoped to complete their travel to Santiago the next day

That would be quite a long day, indeed! [Do the math: 53 km – 6 km = 47 km * 0.62 = 29.14 miles.] But, intrepid peregrinos that they are, off they went. I returned to my lodging and got a good night’s sleep.

From Melide onward, I was (largely) repeating several days I had walked in 2015 when I walked the Camino Frances. “Largely” because the Camino is always being rerouted for various reasons, one of which is peregrino safety. The many involved jurisdictions want to encourage visitors to walk the Camino. Among other things, that means keeping them off the highways and other primary thoroughfares.

The province of Galicia, within which Santiago is situated, hosts vastly more pregrenios than any other jurisdiction. The Junta de Galicia has appropriated over €500,000 for improvements to the Caminos that traverse Galicia. This includes improvements to drainage, construction of new sendas (track separated from thoroughfares) and waymark monuments and an occasional placard affixed to a wall.

The waymark monuments are noteworthy because they include a single incised (carved) arrow painted yellow indicating the direction of onward travel, and an incised “signature” logo of Galicia (painted black) at the bottom attesting to the authenticity and implicitly the validity of the waymark. These new (or updated) waymarks have been strategically placed at virtually every junction or crossroads on The Way in Galicia where a peregrino could get lost or be uncertain about The Way. Older waymark monuments apparently have been sandblasted to achieve the same “carved” and painted signatures.

The particular design is important because the carved arrow cannot easily be tampered with as is the case with a simple yellow arrow painted on a rock or other surface. That carved arrow, in accounting lingo, constitutes a good control mechanism.

I wondered whether the new waymark monuments would supplant the need for the ubiquitous yellow arrows that guide peregrinos on other parts of The Way. I think the answer is “no.” This collection is in Pedrozo.

Over the next three days, I walked in tandem with a peregrina from North Dakota. This was not her first experience on the Camino and would not be her last this year. She had injured herself during her first peregrinacion and completed it on crutches! That’s commitment!

In Boenta, the Igrexa Santiago welcomes pilgrims and offers a selle for their credentiales.

Other experiences along The Way from Arzua (where the Camino del Norte joins the Camino Frances) to Santiago:

A monument to a chicken graces the small plaza before the town hall in Arzua. (This is new since I passed through in 2015.)

Also, a barracks to the Guardia Civil, a paramilitary force with a complex history in Spain.

There were many cyclists along The Way. All were friendly, but alas, not all warned peregrinos on foot of their often high speed approach.

The monument identifying the outskirts of Santiago cheered all peregrinos passing by. This is where I left Elizabeth’s rock in 2015.

From here, it is all downhill!

The plaza before the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is as grand as I remember it from earlier visits.

[wpvideo qwdmT61a]

The parador in the plaza.

Having had a day or so to reflect, here are my thoughts.

First, I was somewhat bemused and somewhat disappointed to observe peregrinos with earbuds in place proceeding along The Way. How can you be in the moment, how can you reflect, how can you have a religious or spiritual journey listening to something that takes you out of the moment. I don’t believe they were listening to Gregorian Chants or the Missa Solemnis.

And to add injury to insult, I observed quite a number of peregrinos holding their cell phones and actually carrying on extended cell phone conversations as they marched on. They were in their own moment, but it was not a moment on The Way.

Second, I was disappointed to observe that virtually all waymarks from Melide to Santiago had been “annotated” – to employ a term that gives too much credit to what, in fact, is simple graffiti.

Further, the “distance to Santiago” plaquards previously glued to an inset into the waymark monuments had all been removed. As were some of the ceramic conchas. I believe they were taken as souveneirs, rather than removed during the Galicia improvement process because they might no longer have been accurate. Some of the ceramic conchas were partly in place, a corner broken off, suggesting that it had been broken when a collector attempted to pry it off the monument.

So it seems that with the astronomical increase in the popularity of the Camino, and with the saturation of the experience with young people with characteristic exuberance, the quality of the experience has changed in just the four years since my peregrenacion on the Camino Portugues (2014). This should not discourage the gentle reader from walking the Camino. After all, in times gone by peregrinos encountered robbers and other brigands as part of their pilgrimage. Know that you make your own Camino experience. It is yours alone.

In Santiago, my Map App was unavailable because my cell phone was out of battery. Eventually I was directed by kindly merchants to my small hotel in the old town. There I discovered a new kiosk. . . central to a new-to-me business model . . . and cousin to the ubiquitous ATM.

Call it an ADCM – automatic desk clerk machine. Upon confirming your identity by scanning your passport or national identity card, and confirming your reservation, the ADCM vends a keycard that admits you to the property and to your room. The property in fact has an on-the-property desk clerk/manager during the morning and afternoon. Then the ADCM takes over! Actually the device is feasible for this property because the owners have five other properties in Santiago and several have all night desk coverage. Those non-automatic desk clerks can rush to the guest’s assistance if the ADCM is recalcitrant. Time marches on.

The next morning, I was up early and presented myself at the Pilgrim Office well before it opened at 8 am. I was third in line, received my compostela swiftly, and set out to enjoy the city. It was bustling with peregrinos arriving in large number, and others setting out for Finesterre and Muxia. And gaggles of tourists alighting from luxurious tour busses with guides leading them through the old town.

I attended the pilgrim mass at the cathedral. (There is one at noon each day and one at 7:30 Friday evenings.) The cathedral is undergoing external and internal reconstruction. As in the past, it was standing room only. The organ is an awesome instrument, and a work of art in its own right.

Even so, the mass included the swinging of the giant incense burner – the Botafumeiro. I did not photograph it this year, but see FCB #10.

I found a quiet chapel in the cathedral and lighted a candle for the late wife of a good friend. She was also my friend.

And outside, I looked for someone to take my picture with the cathedral in the background.

I waited for a time, and happily, I saw the Polish girl walking into the plaza. She was pleased to capture an image of me at our common destination. She was headed home that evening. I asked her to greet her friend for me. He was going on to Finisterre the next day.

I was sad not to see the others with whom I had walked in tandem. But all were off to their own adventures and, after all, so was I.

What’s next?

Hard to say. Perhaps another walk in the UK? The Camino Ingles? The Camino Portugues along the coast? Or somewhere in Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Chengdu or Tibet? Time will tell.

With that, I’m headed home. Thank you for following these chronicles. I’ll post again next year.

Knute Michael

If you would like to receive future posts as they are published, click on the “follow” button on the lower right hand corner of your monitor screen.  This option may not be available on cell phones.

Fog City Boy on the Camino Primativo

%d bloggers like this: