Day 27 – my Schedule

I now know my schedule.

I want to be in Santiago for the Sunday Pilgrim's Mass. It's on the Sunday that they swing the giant incense burner – the Botafumeria – and having seen it on docos, I'd like now to see it for real.

It would be a fitting end to this extraordinary experience.

Again, let me state that I'm not Catholic, and I don't follow an orthodox religion. As I said earlier, in the last census I put down that I was a Buddhist because they've had a rough time in Tibet and I figured they needed my statistical support.

That said, I'm on a pilgrimage. And I'd like to be there for that Sunday Mass.

To get there in time, I will have to do a couple of 30km+ days in the next week. I want to try and get to Samos tonight, and stay in the monastery there. I was there two years ago with my wife – we were driving through and stopped at a cafe for a coffee, and found the monastery by accident.

(There are no accidents, right?)

At the time, I had a hankering that I wanted to walk the Camino, and the place struck me as being something very special. Very calm. Very spiritual. And the monastery is supposed to be one of the largest in western Europe. I'd now like to go back as a pilgrim.

However, it's an option on the route, and adds another 7 kms to the day's tally. For me though, it's important to go back. What's 7 kms when I've done 650 kms?

If I do make it to the Sunday mass, then that means I will have walked the Camino in 32 days. With 3 rest days. So my actually walking days, or hobbling days sometimes, would be 29.

Some of you might think that's too fast, however let me say, and others along this path who've seen me walking will vouch for this – I could not have gone much slower!

Even when I'm full throttle I barely break 4 kms/hr. And most of the time I've been doing 3 kms an hour, both because of injury, and because I stop and take photos.

Most pilgrims are averaging 5-6 kms an hour. However they take long rest breaks. And they usually end their day at 1pm or 1:30pm.

I don't rest. I just walk. (One day I walked 22 kms without stopping for a break.) And I'll often walk until 4pm or 5pm.

People who've passed me during the day are amazed to find that I'm ahead of them the next day. They reckon I've bussed it, or taken a taxi! It's just that I'll finish late and leave early.

So I don't feel I've rushed the Camino. Like I said, I don't think I could have done it much slower.

What I've learnt from all this is that I've got a lot of stamina, and I'm much stronger both physically and mentally than I thought I was. But my theory is that the Camino infuses you with energy, from the soul imprints of all those who've been before.

I truly believe this.

Oh yes, and Coke Zeros help too…

So that's my schedule. I hope I can do these next few long days.

For those of you who have very kindly told me to slow down because they don't want the blogs to end, let me say that even after I've finished, I want to do a series of blogs doing an “audit” of the whole experience – practically and metaphysically.

For instance, I want to do a blog on my expectations of walking the Camino, versus the reality. I want to explore the question: Is the Camino a spiritual journey or just an adventure holiday? And I'd like to post my top ten photos that I've taken. Things like that.

So there'll be more blogs!

Now, it's actually 3:32am here (damn you Camino, why couldn’t it have been 3:33?) so I better get back to sleep. I have 32 kms to walk today if I'm to get to the monastery at Samos.



30 thoughts on “Day 27 – my Schedule

  1. Bill…Is there a schedule for when they swing the Botafumeria? Is it every Sunday? After seeing that in “The Way” and some you-tube videos I too would really like to see that in person. Good Luck on the upcoming longer walks. No doubt you will do fine.



  2. If you make it to the Sunday Mass? I’m sure you will.

    I enjoy your blog tremendously and all the pictures.



  3. Bill, there is no guarantee that the Botafumeria is going to swing at Sunday’s mass. Now if I could just find a recent blog entry from the Santiago office to confirm that it will swing at the pilgrims mass that also has started for the evening. I am telling you this so you stop scheduling. You might have noticed by now that the camino does not like plans. I understand how you feel, I too would have been very disappointed not to have seen it swing. I was lucky, I saw it swing 3 times. twice on the same day. So generally, if it hangs before mass, it swings. Then again, if nobody paid for it, it will be taken down. I will contact someone in Santiago, in case new rules are in place and let you know. Ultreia!


    • Alright, thanks Ingrid for letting me know. And if you could find out and tell me, that would be great.

      I know a lot of my fellow travellers are making similar plans to be there on that Sunday for that reason.

      And yes, the Camino definitely doesn’t like plans!



      • Hi there

        Ingrid had the same thought as me about timings for the Botafumeiro. I remembered reading something from JohnnieWalker on the Forum and found this that he posted a couple of weeks back. From memory John works in the Pilgrams office in Santiago…so he’s pretty close to the action… Abbey

        Re: 20 things to do and see in Santiago de Compostela

        Postby JohnnieWalker on 18 Apr 2013, 10:49


        The Chamber of Commerce in Santiago have arranged for the Botafumeiro to be used at the 7.30pm service every Friday evening. Apart from that it is pot luck. It isn’t possible to tell in advance if it is going to be used. The rule of thumb is that if it is hanging it will be used at some point during the day.

        Santiago de Compostela


      • Hi Bill I was in Santiago a few years ago and it was swinging at a Tuesday mass.A wonderful sight not to be missed


  4. I love reading your posts and woke at 5.20 this morning to yet another post. You have made me so keen to do a bit of the Camino, now I have to plan how to be in Santiago for the Sunday mass as well as maybe adding the monastery to my walk. Ah well, no sleep for me either.

    Sent from my HTC


  5. I am really enjoying your photo’s Bill, I was wondering how you move them from your camera to your blog?



    • Hi Gary –

      I take the SD card and load the photos straight into the iPad via an adapter.

      I then use Blogsey app which works well with Word Press. They have a drag and drop function with pics, and it’s relatively easy.

      Hope this helps.



      • Bill, You really are my mentor. Even though I am 15 or 20 years older than you, I still need a mentor. And remember it is much harder to teach an old dog new tricks but you are doing it, or put another way, the Camino provides. I have been going nuts trying to simplify getting photos into my blogs on a predictable basis. It has been hit or miss. Blogsy it is. That will prove to be the best $5 I spend today, except maybe the pancakes I treated myself to this morning. I think I am over the hump now and can write and edit my blog with predictable results, again, thanks to you.


      • Thanks Bill, enjoy the rest of your Camino !!!!!

        From Victoria BC, Canada


  6. It seems that you will see it either if a group pays for the service of the Botafumeiro on the day you arrive for over 200 Euro, or if you arrive on a holy day which according to the official pilgrim website is on May 23 next… this may be too far out for you? Instead of rushing you could slow down as you have 12 more days…One pilgrim suggested emailing the pilgrim office, email below, to see if a group has reserved an upcoming day on your schedule… I don’t know if this type of query would be answered as it seems too many people would want to know and it would be too much work to respond to every pilgrim…. if I see anything else I’ll post it. Enjoy! from

    “the Botafumeiro is used for liturgical purposes (in the same way as a priest would normally incense the altar) on the following Feast Days:

    The Epiphany of the Lord – 6 January
    Easter Sunday
    The Ascension of the Lord
    The Apparition of the Apostle – 23 May
    Pentecost Sunday
    The Martyrdom of Saint James – 25 July
    Assumption of the Blessed Virgin – 15 August
    All Saints – 1 November
    Christ the King
    Immaculate Conception – 8 December
    Birth of Jesus – 25 December
    Transfer of the body of the Apostle – 30 December

    The Botafaumeiro may be used on other occasions when groups arrange this.” “pilgrim’s office:


  7. Sorry bad information (and I can’t edit my post)…1. my computer was set on the wrong day, it is May 5 not the 12 as it told me… (I knew that seemed odd, wonder how that happened)… and 2. The Ascension of the Lord which is mentioned on the website but no date is given may be the 9th of May. See …. So, yes that’s very soon, next Thursday, maybe too soon. But if you go by your good luck it may be swinging the day you arrive because a group paid for it and is the right address to email about reserving it (and questions might be answered). Sorry about the bad info to begin with.


  8. Hi Bill, I woke up this morning about 3am in Australia- spent about an hour worrying if I had made the right decision to do the Camino, there are lots of things to consider, mainly can i do this. Anyway, I got up and read your blog for the day, somehow makes me think it will be ok, (plus tickets are all booked). Thanks for that, made getting out the door at 5am to walk seem like a good idea. Look forward to reading more of your journey. Buen Camino Carla


  9. In fact I have to add, that if your story here were a movie or a short story (long walk, short story) as it is shaping up to me in my mind’s eye anyway since I found this site yesterday, then I personally feel the better ending is to not plan to arrive on one of the scheduled days, the 9th or the 23rd, (if you do, that is good, but just walk your camino the way you need to walk it) …put it out there in the universe that it’s something you would like and see what happens after you follow your PGS.


  10. Hi Bill, I found your blog accidentally last week. Due to the fact, that I will start my first Camino in a week from now, I was very interessted to read you daily entries.
    Thanks that you share you thoughts and impressions with us. I can’t wait to start my way.
    Take care.
    Thomas (from Berlin Germany)


  11. Hi Bill and everyone, here is the reply from Johnnie Walker “Hola Ingrid – there is no guarantee I’m afraid and the pilgrims’ mass remains only at 12 noon each day. We will not know if the botafumeiro is on until much later in the week.
    Best regards

    So nothing has changed. My very fortunate personal experience was that after accomplishing the almost impossible (long story) I was able to shuffle, hobble into Santiago on October 20, my 60th birthday, late afternoon. It was a Saturday. Now I am catholic, but not a practicing one, except that on the camino I attended pilgrims mass and prayers whenever possible… it felt right and it added to my spiritual journey. So off I went to church on Sunday. The regular Sunday mass is at 10 am and I peeked in and there it was hanging it its glory, so of course I stayed and so grateful that I stayed. I decided to stay for the pilgrims mass and so I saw it swing a second time that day. It is a ” WOW” everytime. BTW, position yourself somewhere along the side naves, not the centre. The botafumeiro swings north/south. The difference between the two was evident by the reading of the countries that pilgrims had arrived from THAT DAY before NOON! During pilgrim mass, the nun(s) lead the hyms and practice with the congregation prior to mass. So for me, it was a bit disappointing, apparently no one from Canada had arrived that sunday morning.

    Bill, please remember, Santiago is also a well visited tourist town, so everyone is there and as much as this is a regular catholic mass and as much as truly one should behave accordingly, nobody does…. I am not a skilled photographer, so all my pictures have parts of ipads, ipods and phones and heads. Like the clicking of the pacerpoles… you now hear the clicking of the cameras. Also, they ask not to clap after the botafumeiro has swung…. everyone does… an indication that for most, maybe, pilgrims mass and blessing and watching the botafumeiro swing is a celebration of the journey. Expect the pilgrims to be reflective, quiet, hugging each other and behaving much like on the rest of the camino and expect the tourists to be hurried, pushy and loud. Practice your tolerance…lol… all are welcome in the house of God and Santiago accepts hugs from them all.

    Should Johnnie send me another update, I will pass it along


  12. I too was sadden about your blogs ending when you reach your destination. Im glad to hear you plan to continúe blogging after. I also plan to blog but it will be more for ny friends and family to folliow my journey. Buen camino


  13. I have seen the butafomeiro before, my husband family is from Galicia. I was afraid the butafumeiro was going to get loose and fall. My eyes were red and i could not stop sneezing. The utube is fine. Sorry guys but it is what it is.


    • Apparently it has fallen before! you can check Wikipedia to read about when it fell during a royal visit and was flung right out a window. I don’t personally get the appeal of seeing it, but then I don’t really get the appeal of the church in Santiago either, and I am a person who believes. But I can respect that some would want to see it, especially after walking all that way…


  14. More info on Botafumeiro: My friend Jose Luis Sanches of the Portuguese delegation (they are currently serving as Amigos at the Pilgrims Office and Hospitalero in one of the Albergues, just send me the following text.

    The 7:30 pm mass is just a regular mass. The Botafumeiro swings every Friday at 7:30 pm. Besides that only if someone pays for it, or it’s a special day. May 12 don’t think it is, but Sundays are more “likable” to have someone paying for it.

    I had asked him if Sunday May 12 would be a special Sunday (Mother’s day here in Canada -not in Spain, that was yesterday).

    So as always, The Camino will share with you what you need when you need it. I hope you get to see it swing Bill, stay a few days, Santiago is a lovely town to explore and should you need more rest days in a beautiful Galician home, I will connect you with Tracy Saunders of the Little Fox House. Donativo all the way, 3 – 5 days peaceful days of reflection before heading home.




    • Hi Ingrid, that’s fantastic info, thank you!

      I guess I’ll just take pot luck on Sunday. I have another 30km+ walk to get there on time, but that’s ok…

      Again, my thanks.


  15. Hi Bill,

    Hope you get to see it swing! By the way would you consider posting your route once you have returned and are writing the post camino blod? I love how you were able to avoid the highway at times.

    Bueno Camino


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