Ferrol: Parador, Harbor, and Pre-Camino Blessing

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 thirty-five 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.

Casa do Concello (Town Hall)

Casa do Concello (Town Hall)

It was fun to stroll along the pedestrianized street on my way to the hotel.

They couldn't have picked a better tagline

They couldn’t have picked a better tagline.

Ferrol has some interesting public art, beautiful sculptures of angels,  and lush courtyards with fountains.

Angel in Ferrol

 

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).

Parador Ferrol Pilgrim rate -€80 with breakfast included

Parador Ferrol’s pilgrim rate was €80 with breakfast included.

The iconic Paradores shield at the entrance welcomes guests.

The iconic Paradores shield at the entrance welcomes guests.

Reception area at the Parador

Antiques and old world charm

Antiques and old world charm

A comfortable lounge in the lobby

A comfortable lounge in the lobby

My room

My room

After checking in, I walked to the harbor, where the ships used to arrive from England and Ireland.

Ferrol Harbor

Ferrol Harbor panoramic

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.

The same street that pilgrims walked when the arrived by boat

The  archway that pilgrims walk through, after arriving by boat.

Pilgrims walk from the port, through the arch onto Calle de Carmen Curuxeiras

The stone pillar marker is where the Camino Inglés from Ferrol begins

This stone pillar marks the beginning of the Camino Inglés from Ferrol.

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.

The Parador is on the right and the church of San Francisco is on the left. The appear to be connected.

The Parador is on the right and the Church of San Francisco is on the left. They appear to be connected.

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.”

The Regina Caeli is a song to Mary in Latin.  “Queen of Heaven, rejoice, for the Lord is risen.”

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.

Sparkling clean bathrooms

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.

Paradors have great travel size sets of shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, lotion, showercap, comb and a soap.

Travel-size shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, lotion,  soap, plus a shower cap and comb

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.

Up next, first morning of Camino Inglés in Ferrol.

5 thoughts on “Ferrol: Parador, Harbor, and Pre-Camino Blessing

  1. I enjoyed it all, Laurie. Especially helpful was learning about the QR codes on the pilgrim signs, the need to go to the Parador website http://www.parador.es/en to reserve a room, and the hint of sea salts for the bath. I have often used the hotel shampoos or gel for a bubble bath, but not thought of getting the salt.

    I hope notjustagranny makes sure she chooses an Ingles route that is 100 km or more — that is assuming she wants to earn the Compostela. As you know, walking from the Ferrol route (as you did) qualifies; starting a walk from A Coruna would not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Susan. I am a huge fan of the Spanish sea salts for baths. 🙂
      Good point about starting from Ferrol to get a Compostela. This is why I made it very clear on my Camino Inglés Stages post at the very top:
      https://thecaminoprovides.com/2017/05/31/camino-ingles-2017/
      “A Coruña is one of the two Camino Inglés starting points, but it is only 75 km (47 miles) from Santiago. In order to get a Compostela certificate, you must walk at least 100 km, so the more popular starting point is Ferrol, 118 km (73 miles) from Santiago. I didn’t want to skip A Coruña because I had heard that it is an amazing place, so I worked it into my pre-Camino itinerary.”

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