Finisterre is what the Romans long considered the "End of the World." It is what they thought was the furthest point jutting out into the raging waters of the Atlantic with waters so rough and cliffs so rocky, it's termed the "Coast of Death." The last place before Hades or falling of the edge of the earth...actually I don't really know what they thought came next, I'm sort of just romanticizing it. Either way, it was quite fun to get there and have to say, "Excuse me sir, could you tell us which road to walk along to get to the end of the earth." One man just decided he would walk half way with us and give a little history while he was at it. Santiago de Compostella is technically the end of the Camino de Santiago, but some pilgrims decide to just keeping going until they can't walk any further because of the barrier of, well, an ocean. Tradition has it that they burn their clothes at the end of it as a symbol of burning their old life to go home to a new one. However, this summer a pilgrim caught part of the hillside on fire so they have prohibited that. We actually made this trip quite quickly, taking the train from Ourense at 7:00 a.m. to Santiago de Compostella, switching to a 2.5 hour bus to Finisterre. Walking up the 4 km hill to the end of land, pulling a Chevy Chase by looking around, taking a moment to soak it up, took some photos, walked back down, and caught the bus back, and then the train. It rained most of the way there, but cleared up as soon as we got there, making for the walk up the cliffside street a beautiful path looking out over the Atlantic with the sun beaming through the clouds. While we were past the lighthouse on the rocks that head down to the coast, the wind was so strong I literally was having a really hard time standing. I was holding onto rocks and sort of having to gasp for air because the pressure of the wind was making it quite hard to breathe. This meant we didn't just chill out on the rocks for a while as it was a challenge.
(Apologies again for terrible photos...I have finally figured out there was a huge hand print residue on my lens...uggg)
An award-winning cemetery
At first I wasn't super excited about a 2.5 hour bus ride for such a quick trip, but the last two hours of it were on a road literally on the coast (like often nothing between us and the sand of beaches). It wound in and out of all of the bays (fjords?) into little idyllic Galician fishing villages with their colorful little boats anchored in the inlets. In the gaps of our conversation with a couple of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, I basically sat jaw dropped staring out the window at the allure of the sea. Hemingway says that those who love the sea call it la mar (giving it a feminine gender) instead of the correct word, el mar. That's when I decided I love Galicia (still struggling a little with the rain every day thing, but this was the "wow, I live in an awesome place" moment). What amazed me was how undeveloped the shore was. We would pass through one little village on the water and then there wouldn't be much, and then another little village built up from the water. Any place like this in the States would be solid condos. It seemed like it was like if you're born to that town, you live there, but the whole doesn't move in there to be as close to beauty as possible, therefore destroying what made it beautiful.
The pilgrims we met on that bus ride and later back in Santiago were very interesting to talk to. They were all quick to state how incredible the Camino was and how it is life changing. Then past that, the rest of the conversation turned to how hard it is and the fact that half of them were limping was testimony to that. Also while back in Santiago, waiting on the train, we found an Alabama Cafe! We had coffee and asked the waiter why it was called that. He said because it's a state in the United States. We said, "Yeah, we're from there!" And he was like, "Yeah, it's a state in the United States." Um, yes, we know. : )