Retrospection on the Camino Primitivo
From 20.08.2019 to 8.9.2019 I went to Spain to walk the 'Camino Primitivo', the oldest of the Camino de Santiago. In that time, I walked around 300km from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela and an other 100km to Finisterre. This is a short retrosprctive of the holiday.
Hostels are found in many places on the way, so called Albergue, in which pilgrims could stay for a single night (usually between 5€ and 15€). This hostels consisted of one (or multiple) rooms full of beds, toilets, showers, and sometimes a kitchen. A few (private) hostels offered dinner and breakfast.
The Camino Primitivo was special, because the way between two places with hostels was unually large (25-30km), which means one day's march often contained no hostels except the starting one and the destination one. This means there is often no way to shorten the stages.
In Spain, the most important meal is dinner in the evening, which in turn is pretty large. In almost each village you could find a restaurant in which you could eat a pilgrims menu or a menu of the day for usually 10€ to 12€. This menus contain drinks (water or wine), bread, a first course (usually soup or salad), a second course (usually different meat and potatoes / chips), and a desert (e.g. ice cream, pudding or cake). You could choose your first course, second course and desert out of a small selection.
Based on my experience, vegetarian meals are not really known in Spain. Even if it is possible to somehow eat vegetarian, you are restricted to only a few different things (e.g. the second course will be often fried egg with chips as the only alternative).
Oviedo to Lugo (~200km)
The first part of my travel was from Oviedo to Lugo. In this part, the number of hostels is low (often there are 25km or more between cities with hostels). As a result, all pilgrims have similar stages and over time start to build a loose group which you often meet at hostels, eat together, and sometimes even walk together.
The way is pretty lonely. The only larger cities are Oviedo and Lugo, in between are only small and larger villages, and the way goes through a lot of remote regions. Because of this, the way feels quite and peaceful, but also a bit lonely (especially outside of your group of pilgrims).
The stages itself are really beautiful, mountainous region. Unfortunately, the weather was not the best. Although it was rarely raining, the morning were always cloudy. Even while the temperature was enjoyable because of this, the places with the best views (especially the mountain passes) were in the clouds. Luckily, there were still many beautiful moments.
Lugo to Santiago de Compostela (~ 100km)
In this part, the Camino Primitivo unites with the other ways (especially the Camino Francés and the Camino del Norte). As a result, the number of pilgrims increases by a huge margin. As a result, I kind of lost my group of pilgrims (even though you still met them) and felt a bit more lonely between all pilgrims. In additin, most pilgrims already had their fixed groups at that point.
An other feeling I had was the increase of the commercialisation of pilgrimage. For one, there were a lot of souvenir shops. Also the hostels kind of changed, from small ones with 10-20 persons to huge ones (sometimes 80-100 pilgrims).
A special moment was the arrival at Santiago de Compostela. You can't really describe that, just experience it yourself. It is kind of a mixture of all feelings. It is - literally - undescribable.
To the "end of the world" (~ 100km)
Even if Santiago de Compostela is the goal, many pilgrims (including me) continue to Finisterre, the so called 'end of the world'. Even if it hadn't the same emotional impact as Santiago the Compostela, it was a good finish for the holiday.
Unfortunately, the was a forest fire close to Finisterre. At some point, you saw a fire fighter plane or helicopter each minute. This gave the end of the walk a bit of a depressing tone.