Continued from A Coruña Mont San Pedro.
I took a bus at 2 p.m. from A Coruña to Ferrol, which cost seven euros and took about 35 minutes. It was full of teenagers and business people. I was the only backpack-toting pilgrim. The bus driver was playing rock music quite loudly, but nobody seemed to mind. I found it amusing that a soundtrack from my youth had such appeal in this region of Spain. Most of the teenagers were wearing earbuds and fiddling with their phones. A few other passengers were dozing off. I gazed out the window and watched the world go by, as Foreigner, AC/DC, and Metallica serenaded us onward and upward. Ultreia would make such a great name for a rock band!
On my walk from the Ferrol bus station to the hotel, I was thinking about how much I enjoyed A Coruña and wondering whether Ferrol would be as captivating.
It was fun to stroll along the pedestrianized street on my way to the hotel.
Ferrol has some interesting public art, beautiful sculptures of angels, and lush courtyards with fountains.
I was glad that I had prebooked a night in the Parador the day before starting my Camino.
PILGRIM TIP: To get the pilgrim rate which includes a free breakfast, you must book directly on the Parador website (not through booking.com).
After checking in, I walked to the harbor, where the ships used to arrive from England and Ireland.
Ferrol has many signs of the Camino.
This was the first of many blue plaques with QR codes that I saw on the Camino Inglés. You can scan the code with your phone, then a webpage will launch that shows details of a point of interest.
After a café con leche, I went to the tourist info office to get a sello (stamp) for my credential. They gave me a map with the Camino route marked, which proved to be very useful to navigate my way out of Ferrol the next day.
For dinner, I went to the Bla-Bla Café, pictured above. I enjoyed a bowl of Caldo de Gallego (hearty Galician soup with greens), served with crusty bread, and a glass of Albariño wine. I then went to an evening mass at the Church of San Francisco, located next to the Parador.
After the mass, there was a small gathering of people at the altar. I simply was going to ask the priest for a blessing after mass ended, but I stumbled into something special. Apparently, it was a prayer vigil dedicated to Maria that occurs during the month of May.
I had no idea what was going on, but I felt the presence of God. I joined the others in the call-and-response readings from the flyer someone handed out.
According to sister Anita, a.k.a. Pilgrim Weaver, the prayer to Maria is one of confidence. “Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.”
So, here I was in the Church of San Francisco, the namesake of my favorite city back home, praying for confidence. When the special service ended, I thanked the priest, told him I was going to start the Camino the next day, and brought out my two pilgrim shells. He smiled, gave me a blessing for a safe journey, and wished me a buen Camino.
Meanwhile, back at the Parador, a shiny marble bathtub was beckoning.
Knowing that my room at the Parador had a big marble bathtub, earlier in the day, I had purchased a one-kilo bag of sea salt at the grocery store for less than € 1.
I enjoyed a hot mineral bath on Camino eve, a small luxury before days of crowded albergues and showers-down-the-hall!
PILGRIM TIP: When you have a room with a bathtub, treat your sore body to a healing salt bath! If you like bubbles, squirt a little shower gel into the running water. You can find the big bags of sea salt in the condiment section of most markets, ranging in price from .45 to €1 . Just make sure to use it all up because 1 – 2 kilos is much too heavy to carry! Trust me, your body will thank you, and you will sleep like a baby.
I slept so well after another full day of exploring, the special Maria prayers and blessing, and the salt bath. This all was such a magical way to transition to the Camino.