Day 28 – Everything’s changed in Galicia!

The reason this blog is late is because today was a huge day.

36 kms and 12 hours walking.

I left Samos this morning at 6:30am, and I arrived at Portomarin at 7:30pm. I got lost, and added another 3 kms to the trip. I had lunch of 30 mins, and a break of 15 minutes. Otherwise, the day was walking, and taking photos.

I started off slow. I did the first 12kms from Samos to Sarria in 5 hrs. That's about 2.5 kms / hr.

Here's the thing though – today I took 276 photos. Now, as you can probably gather, I take my photography seriously. (You wouldn't think so most of the time, looking at what I post, but I do.)

So when I see something that I think could make a shot I stop, consider it visually, get my camera out, start it up, (which doesn't always happen instantaneously), select the focal length, the aperture and the ISO, I then frame and focus, check my exposures, re-frame and refocus, and finally I take the shot.

Then I do the same thing from a slightly different angle. And then I do the same thing closer. Or wider. I figure if something is worth stopping for and photographing, then I may as well do it properly.

I walk slowly so I don't miss anything. I'm constantly on the lookout for shots.

I estimate that it takes me between 30 seconds to 90 seconds to take just one shot. I don't just shoot from the hip. I consider everything carefully. And I look and try to see. Then at the end of the day I look at what I've shot and wonder why the hell I wasted so much time on such a bunch of ordinary images!

(I've taken about 4,000 shots so far and of those, there's only about 6 or 7 that I really like.)

Anyway, my point is this – I walked today for 12 hours. But of those 12 hours, I spent a hell of a lot of time taking photos. Let's say I averaged 1 minute per shot, which for me is about right. That's 276 minutes. That's over 4 hours.

I could have walked the journey today in 8 hours, which would have put my speed at about 4 kms/hr. Instead I stuffed around taking pictures.

But what my photography enables me to do is really see the Camino. I see stuff that most people miss. They walk right past some amazing things, because that's not their purpose. Their purpose is to walk.

My purpose is to dick around with my camera.

Lets talk about today. Or rather, let's start with last night.

I went to Vespers in the Samos Monastery chapel. (I'd always thought Vespers were little Italian motorbikes.) There are no pictures because photography was not allowed, however the chapel was inside the monastery – a simple but beautifully elegant chapel – and there were a dozen monks that sang Gregorian chants. Some were very old, stooped, and tiny. With their robes, they reminded me of little Obi Wan Kanobis.

It was beautiful though – and worth doing, even though I'm not CathoIic and I had to stand for about 40 minutes and my knee was aching like hell.

I then left early this morning – 6:30am – and grabbed a coffee and some “mother's” cake before I left Samos.

Again the track leading out of Samos followed the stream. There was a gorgeous stone angel by the track at one point, and on several way markers people had left photos of loved ones – presumably those that had passed.

As I said, I got into Sarria at 11:30am, and stopped at a Supermercado to pick up my lunch:

  1. 1 x Coca Cola (they didn't have Coke Zero)
  2. 1 x packet of potato chips, crinkle cut.
  3. 1 x packet of sugar coated lollies (they looked too good not to buy them)
  4. 1 x block of milk chocolate.

Yep, that was my lunch today.

I ate it on a moss covered rock about 2kms outside of Sarria. Later in the day, at about 4pm, I had a proper lunch – Galician soup, fried eggs and bacon, and French fries. Much healthier…

Later, I stopped and had my photo taken at the marker for 100 kms to Santiago.

And still I kept walking. It was a long day, made longer by my getting lost just before the end of the journey and adding about another 3 kms to the day.

(I'd just taken a shot and got distracted and missed a crucial marker. Stupid me and my stupid photography.)

Anyway, the title of this post is that everything is different in Galicia. This is why I'm going so slow. Because the images are so enticing. Different light, different textures, different weather.

Rain and wind – and if it's not actually raining, then it's drizzling. And the food is different. The Galician soup is sumptuous, and of course there's the Pulpo. Octopus.

The buildings are all stone, and there's such a strong Celtic influence to everything.

I am now 90 kms from Santiago. I can't believe it. After these past two big days, I'm now going to take it a bit easier.

And I'll try not to take as many damned photos!


38 thoughts on “Day 28 – Everything’s changed in Galicia!

  1. Bill, please keep on shooting your “dam” photos, they are awesome. Ever thought you are a tad critical of yourself? 🙂 Oh boy what are you going to do with all the lights and shadows constantly changing in Finsterra and Muxia. I hope you have time for that. Ultreia


    • Hi Ingrid, won’t be going to Finisterre. Went two years ago, admittedly by car, but don’t feel I need to go back. Plus my wife comes in on Monday and I want to spend time with her. bb


  2. Bill, I was going to tell you the other day that you really have a good eye for photography! I come from a family of photographers and I am sorry to say that I did not inherit that talent! I do just ok but I think I just expect to “see” and am in too much of a hurry. Thank you for your photography lesson!!

    Your blog is so inspiring and your photography so beautiful!! Thank you for sharing your way!! Debbie


  3. Bill, please keep on taking lots of photographs. I enjoy your photos as much as I do your writing.

    Rose Newton


  4. Hello Bill – I have so enjoyed your blog and all your pictures! Thank you. I am doing the Camino fall of ’14. I am also a photo buff, so my small camera will certainly be in my pack. I am also a painter/sketcher. Have you seen any artists on the Way? I suspect I’ll be taking lots of references and painting on my return to Canada.


  5. Yes, I know what you mean about taking hundreds, nay thousands, of photos. It’s always a dilemma for me. But I always succumb. And I’m a shoot from the hip type of person. Some friends of mine recently did a trip around Oz and deliberately didn’t take any photos. They wanted to see it through their eyes not a camera lens. I do believe you can be just as observant without the intention of taking photos, but it requires a more conscious effort maybe. Anyway, I do really enjoy your photos, and there are more than 6 or 7 which are really good 🙂
    I enjoy your philosophizing too. What I don’t need a mouthful by mouthful account of what you eat – but I do appreciate that it becomes somewhat of a preoccupation in this kind of situation 🙂
    Keep on truckin’
    Cheers Wendy


    • Thanks Wendy. Sorry about the “mouthful by mouthful account” of what I eat. Can I suggest that you send me a list of all the things you don’t wish me to discuss in my blog so that I don’t offend you further?


      • Billl, in addition to enjoying the beauty of your photos and the keen observations of the Camino and the people you encounter on it, I have to say that I get a lot of enjoyment out of the banter between you and your deciples. To say I am amazed at what some of them suggest you do or do not do is an under statement. Last I checked it was your blog. You have the patience of Job and a very controlled tongue. Be thankful for the Wendys of the world as they provide levity and humor. BTW, since I will be coming along next week, keep up the menu items as it gives me an idea what to expect.


        • Hello Bill — OMG – I agree with the previous post that this IS your blog — so write what you will. ALL of it has been great.


          • Pamela – blogs are funny things. They are both a personal recollection and a public forum. So the rules blur somewhat. I’m sure Wendy meant no offence in what she posted. She’s more interested in the journey rather than the fuel that gets me there!

            Fair enough.

            That particular day I itemised the crap I had for lunch – all the lollies and chips etc – just to show that you don’t have to be “pure” in your dietary habits to walk the Camino.

            My reply to her was meant to be humorous. She did also say some very kind things in her post. So Wendy, if you’re still reading this mate, I didn’t mean to admonish you – and I promise I won’t itemise any more crap food.

            I will though soon do a post on Pilgrims’ Meals that I’ve had, but that post will be clearly titled so you’ll be adequately forewarned…



      • Bill. Dont know how it came anonymous because it was me, Steve. I will take credit. Ha Ha. Showing me what I have to look forward to……….


      • I’m sorry Bill if you took this comment so seriously. It was meant to be “tongue in cheek” (a mouthful of tongue, so to speak). I guess I was also reacting to the endless pictures that people post on facebook of every meal they cook or eat during any one day. Maybe I was just trying to get a reaction. You question why you are doing the Camino. I think it is also interesting to ask why people write blogs. Isn’t it better to create a bit of controversy and discusssion rather than just getting lots of pats on the back … though Lord knows … we need a lot of these too.
        Please don’t take offense. See comment on today’s blog “Arrival”. I love your blog, your photos, your writing style, your powers of observation, your attitude to life and fellow travelers and the way you question everything, including yourself.


        • Hey Wendy,

          Thanks for revisiting, and your comments here. Emails, blogs, posts and Internet communications generally can so easily be misinterpreted, can’t they.

          You are very kind in what you say about what I’ve been doing. The blog became, and has become, a very important part of this pilgrimage for me – from both a personal perspective because its made me “pay attention” to what I’m doing and seeing moment to moment, but also because as the walk progressed, I realised people were actually reading the blog. And they were getting something positive from it. So it became important to me.

          Thank you again for being so good natured and generous about it all.



  6. Bill ~ I continue to love your images and words! I arrive in Madrid in 24 days! I am starting in Leon (don’t have the time to so the full thing this first time) and am so inspired as I read your blog.

    I have one quick question if you don’t mind… I noticed in one of your pics, that you have a bottle on you waist belt. Us that part of your pack or is it a separate attachment? That is the one thing driving crazy right now in my training and preparation – can’t find anything like what I see you have one.

    Thank you again for sharing your experience!!!

    Buen Camino!


    • Bill, I saw that and had the same question. I have the same pack as you do, and would like a more accessible water bottle than the side pockets that are hard to reach, however with Jill with me, she can always hand me the water. But, would like to know what you have there.


    • Hi Nicole – I have an Osprey backpack. It is fantastic, it has two pockets on the waist either side. In one pocket I sling a bottle of water, which is what I drink from as I walk. It’s easy to reach, and it’s 600mls which usually lasts me about 2-3hrs. I then refill it, or top it up from a 750ml bottle I keep at the side of my pack. I’ve found this is a lighter, and more effective way for me to keep myself hydrated rather than having a camelback. bb


  7. heheheheheh I know exactly where you got lost on the way to Portamarin…..
    Id did the same thing…..and I wasn’t taking photo’s. :o)


  8. We walked from St Jean to Pamplona as a family over Easter and on my return, I made individual ‘photobooks’ for each of the four 12/13 yr olds who were with us using my photos of them at different points along the walk, together with their photos of scenery which they had taken on their own phones. Although I am very happy with the results, I wonder how come I never saw any of the types of ‘scenes’ you havefound – next time (and there will be a next time) I must slow down even more and look around me instead of only at my companions/at the ‘big’ things. Loving your photos. Buen Camino


    • I look around for the visual inconsistencies – whether they be textural, contextual, or the singularity of images. I see things that others don’t, and another photographer would see things I’d totally miss. I was thinking today, as I was walking, what would William Eggleston (my favourite photographer, other than Sabastio Salgado) shoot that I would completely overlook. Everyone has their own “eye.”


  9. Hi Bill, lovely pictures once again. I love all your shots and gives me details that I should be looking for on our walk. I love the foodie pictures too, makes me hungry and the coffee, love the coffee!
    Take care on your last miles…….joy.



  10. Nancy, Good luck on your Camino with your family. We will be thinking of you as we start in SJPP next week.

    Bill, as always the pictures and commentary are great. I will reach a little further because of you. Thanks.


  11. Hi Bill
    Love your blog. My parents turned me on to it and have enjoyed all your photos. You may have answered this somewhere else on your blog so forgive me if I ask again; How did you manage/store all the photos you took? I know I will take thousands on my Camino starting in September and I want to make sure they all make it home. Thanks for your time.


    • Hi Andrea, storage and backup is an issue. I brought 3 SD cards, and made sure that I put a new card in a third, then two thirds of the way through, in case I lost my camera, or it was stolen, then not all my photos would be lost.

      I kept all my “keeper” shots on my iPad, but I’ve only got a 16GB IPad so I had to be careful with managing memory.

      I also used photo stream, with apple, which is a cloud backup service, but they will only hold 1,000 shots at any one time. I’ve now shot in excess of 5,000 shots in a month.

      Ultimately though, every shot I’ve taken is on the cards, and I keep them in my money belt with my passport. And I won’t feel happy until I’ve got back home and downloaded them and properly backed them up.

      Hope that helps


      • Thanks for the quick response and thanks for the info. I am thinking that a similar system will be my best option as well.
        This will be my first Camino but I have had the good fortune to have had a few journeys that included long stretches of trail, desert or road to reflect on. It seems to me that the months after sometimes offer bouts of enlightenment. 😉


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