On our drive along the coast we picked out Fisterra as our next destination. I’m really happy we did, I love this odd little place. We were only going to park here for lunch but we stayed for three days. Driving in, on your left is a car park (campervan park up) charging 5 Euros per day. There are no facilities, but the view is stunning, and the guy who runs it is great too.
We had stumbled across the end of the El Camino de Santiago. As the name suggests the official end is in Santiago, but then history dictates that you should continue on to Fisterra, to the lighthouse and burn your clothes as part of a pagan ritual, as this was once considered to be the end of the world. For those of you still in the dark the El Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage to the final resting place of St James. It was quite common to make this pilgrimage to worship St James and people from all over the world were known to walk here from hundreds of miles away. This tradition was resurrected in the 1970s when a few people charted the old trails used, and wrote about their experience. Once again, people from all over the world now take this pilgrimage of between 100-500 miles, and sometimes even further than that. The purpose of the trip isn’t so much to worship St James any longer but for many it’s still a spiritual experience. It’s a physical test, but you may just discover a little more about yourself along the way. Some people use this experience to move past hard times in their lives or even to quash some demons in their heads. Everyone has a different reason to be treading these well-worn paths, but you won’t be alone. One other aspect of the Camino is meeting people from all over the world. I think in this modern digital world it’s a powerful experience to separate yourself, to detox from the constant pressures and distractions of everyday life.
You can find out all the info on this experience online, but as a guide it will take around 31-35 days, you need to cover on average about 30kms per day, and it will cost in the region of 15 Euros per day. There’s albergues (hostels) along the whole route, usually charging 5 Euros per person, and it’s considered best to start in May, or in early September. Check out the film “The Way” if you need some inspiration, this will give you an insight into what it’s all about. I would be open to taking on this challenge at some point in my life, and we even talked about doing it to finish this leg of our trip, but we didn’t feel like it was the right path at this time. It’s the kind of thing you actively search out, instead of just coming across randomly, but also I think in a way we’re already doing our own journey, it’s just a little easier on the feet this way.
There is a big hippy community in Fisterra, and it’s hard not to get caught up in their happy vibes. We strayed into the World Family, a cafe/commune that actually offers great food, and the menu of the day is 7 Euros – bargain. You see all sorts of people here while you sit and eat your lunch, and we found it to be a really entertaining place to be. Come back in the evening and they offer a communal style dinner at 9pm open to everyone, and you just offer a donation as payment. If you had asked me beforehand if I would like to have lunch and dinner at a hippy commune and then party into the night with random people on a spiritual quest – I would likely say – No, I’ll give that one a miss thanks, but it was so much fun and I would highly recommend both Fisterra and the hippy cafe.
Take a walk up to the lighthouse, and also discover the secret cove at the north of the harbour. These are two stunning places to see while you’re there, but also hunt down the Panaderia German, it’s a small bakery – pretty much run from an old lady’s front room, and she specialises in sourdough. There’s a market on certain days near the harbour and some really great little shops tucked away. You also meet so many shaggy dogs just lying out in the sun as you walk around the town, I think this place attracts hippy dogs too, if there’s such a thing.
We met some great people that had been walking the Camino (Matt from Sydney & Lyn from Atlanta), and some lovely Germans and Dutch that were camping next to us in their vans and motorhomes. This town has a real atmosphere that seems to attract some interesting people, treat yourself to at least two days here, and you will have a completely random experience – guaranteed.