Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 33 Gonzar - San Xulian (April 20)

We had a good sleep and coffee and toast before starting out for the day.  Once again we have good weather.  We are loving the last few days of walking.  A little up and down and paths wide enough to walk side by side. Again the hedges line both sides of the path, at least part of the way.  Tiny yellow, purple, pink and white wildflowers all along the way.  We stopped at Palais del Ray for lunch.  It was delicious mixed salad, fried padron peppers, grilled squid, and really good bread.  Cullen had some Albarino wine while I stuck to water.  Today the mountains are far from view.  It is with mixed feelings when I realize we only have 3 more days of walking the Camino.  Physically I am ready to stop since my right pinkie toe has been hurting for a couple of days.  But there is something so special about meeting people of all ages from all over the world experiencing the same thing you are.  And seeing those same people on and off over a 5 week period has been a big part of my Camino.  We walked the extra 3 km to San Xulian as we had planned in order to avoid the crowds in Palais del Ray.  We have to thank Falcon for this tip.  The albergue here is quite cozy and one of the best we have stayed at.  We're supposed to meet Rudy, Connie, and their Spanish friends.  The proprietor, Miguel, is a wonderful fellow.  He took a crumbled down building like so many we have seen in the small villages and turned it into this very welcoming spot for pilgrims.  The cost is 10 euros and he offers dinner for another 10.  Plus there is a bar so we'll be able to have coffee before staring out tomorrow. Miguel is married to a lady from Cuba so the food here is a blend of Galiego and Cuban.  Their daughter is a musician who plays classical guitar and sings opera so we had a bit in common to talk about our daughters!  At 5 pm there were still a lot of pilgrims passing through.  An older German woman arrived at amour 5:30.  She spoke no Spanish or English.  Luckily one of the Portugese women speaks German.  It seems she lost her wallet of cash.  Someone volunteered to cover the cost of her meal and bed for the night but she left her backpack and is going to backtrack and look for her wallet since she thinks she knows where she dropped it.  She was gone nearly an hour but amazingly enough she found it!  Even more amazing to me is that she decided to continue walking even though it was nearly 7 pm by then.  We had a nice meal; caldo, pork fillets, salad, vino and bread.  For dessert we had a delicious cheese with quince.  After dinner we stayed in the dining room and watched the Barcelona / Milan soccer game.  The Portuguese ladies were the only ones routing for Milan -the coach is from Portugal and Milan won.  We met a young couple from Mexico tonight along with another Mexican man who was planning to walk the Camino with his wife but she passed away.  So he is carrying a credential for himself and for her and hoping to get compostelas for the both of them when he arrives in Santiago.  The young couple have been married for 15 years and have no children so they are walking to Santiago to ask St James for his help.  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 32 Barbadelo-Rente - Gonzar (April 19)

I woke up early and went down to the common area so i could wrap my toes up and be ready to go.  I'd like to go out with a little group in case those dogs are put - safety in numbers and all that.  We started out alone but the 2 young Germans weren't far behind so we walked slowly so they'd catch up and thankfully the dogs were not out this morning.  The first 7 km were very nice walking; tree lined paths or paths bordered by low stone fences.  Some streams, lots of wildflowers and the usual amount of dung avoidance areas.  Stopped in Morgade for a coffee and it looks like a very nice place to stay.  Some of these casas have such beautiful enclosed patios with an outside bar.  While we were sitting, a man came down with a suitcase and gave it to a taxi driver.  Shortly after he came down dressed to walk and carrying a little backpack.  If I do the Camino again that's the way We'd go.  You stay in private places so you're not taking up space in an albergue yet you are walking with a very light pack.  We walked to Portomarin, about 19 km.  We crossed paths with Kaija several times today.  She is very worried about being to fly home because of the volcano eruption in Iceland.  It was a great walk today.  Mostly on paths, some up and down, but nothing terrible.  Sometimes I feel like the route for pilgrims is someone's idea of a bad joke.  Really people?  Do we have to walk nearly 20 km only to have to climb several dozen steep, medieval steps to enter the city?  Believe me, at this point the drama is wearing me out.  The scenery though is just so gorgeous at times.  Meadows of grass and wildflowers.  One part of the walk today was through a stream and there were rectangular slabs of stepping stones for us to use.  The sound of running streams was with us most of the day as were the cuckoo birds.  And just when we thought we had seen the last of the storks -there one was in a farmer's field.  The path paralleled the highway part of the way but along most of it there was a natural barrier of some sort hedge.  There is one bush which at first I thought was Rosemary but this bush is thorny yet has a lovely yellow flower. There is also a hedge about 5 ft tall with tiny purple flowers.  One of my dreams actually came true today.  I've been dreaming about walking on a path covered with oh so soft pine needles.  The realty of my dream didn't last long, only about 40 ft.  We had a very decent paella in Portomarin and a very nice Albarino wine.  

Cullen checked a souvenir shop and came. back quite excited, he noticed that the store had a copy of the magazine La Moto and the picture of us standing at the Alto de Perdon was a two page spread for their article on the Camino.  Of course he bought the magazine so now we have a special memory of our Camino.  And of course Cullen showing the magazine to all peregrino friends! I walked in my crocs from Portomarin to Gonsar about 8 km.  This worked out very well for me again today though my boots are heavier to carry.  We are staying at the Casa Garcia tonight.  We have our own bedroom but we'll sharing a bath.  The waitress, Gina, was especially nice.  Dinner here was good, but usual spaghetti Bolognese, hake and Tarta de Santiago.  

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 31 Triacastela - Barbadelo-Rente (April 18)

I woke up quite early and actually got out of bed at 0630.  Some people had already been up and gone.  We left the albergue and went back to last night's bar for coffee.  We were on the road to Sarria around 0745.  We decided to skip Samos and go the shorter route to Sarria - a difference of 7 km.  Unfortunately we missed a turnoff and ended up in Samos anyway.  The monastery was closed, but there was a big bicycle race getting underway. Was it worth the extra 7 km?  Not really.  When we arrived in Sarria we walked around a bit looking for a farmacia.  As we walked by a building an old Spaniard called out to us to come over.  I was not too sure about it but Cullen walked over and started talking to him.  The old guy, named Emilio Lopez Somoza, insisted I come over so I did and he then wanted to offer us some refreshments, so we walked through the building garage into a big meeting room with lots of Camino momentos and pictures.  First he had to show us a picture of him and President Clinton.  We never did fond out how he got his picture taken but he was very proud of it.  He then offered us anything we wanted from the frig.  We talked with him for about twenty minutes and then bid him adios.  Cullen took pictures of us with him and promised to send him copies when we got home. Sure was a nice moment.  We then stopped for some lunch.  My first paella here. It was a seafood paella.  It was a little salty and greasy, but okay.  I wore my crocs the rest of the way, about 5 km to Barbadella.  Walking in them wasn't bad at all.  I've talked to several people along the way who have done quite a bit of walking in their.  My little toe on my right foot is hurting so I thought I'd switch off.  I don't see a blister so I'm not sure what the trouble is.  It was a very nice walk from Sarria.  Tree lined paths,  not many rocks for a change.  We arrived at the municipal albergue and met a nice young couple from the Czech Republic.  Also staying here are Andy, young Annie, her German friend and the 2 young German men with the funny straw hats.  We walked up to the Casa Carmen for dinner and the French lady from the albergue joined us.  Unfortunately, we speak no French and she speaks no English or Spanish, which did not stop her from talking to us in French.  We managed to have a pleasant dinner together.  Rudy and Connie came I as well.  They have a room here.  We went for a walk before dinner to check out the Casa Nova since we heard they have a bar.  I really feel like we're in the middle of nowhere here.  Anyway we could see 2 dogs running towards us from about a football field length away.  I was hoping the old lady who obviously owned the dogs would call them back.  Instead she seemed to be egging them on.  They really frightened me so the lesson is to always take your stick when you go walking.  Same thing happened when we returned to the albergue - dang dogs.  There are lots of clouds out this evening and it has been raining on and off.  Cullen and I decided this is the last municipal albergue for us.  The sleeping area was way too cramped, the kitchen had no utensils, the common area was locked when we first arrived and then the hospitalero unlocked it for a couple of hours then locked it again.  Just not very conducive for conversation.  

Day 30 O'Cebreiro-Triacastela (April 17)

Had an okay sleep.  It looked like rain when we were getting ready to go so we put our ponchos on.  Luckily, the weather held and we didn't get rain until we arrived.  The walk here was quite beautiful.  Mountain views, meadows, and pastures.  We were very lucky to have clear view since our reference books warn us that there is usually a mist obscuring the view.  We got to a village and were hoping to find a place for some refreshment but the place was closed.  But a little old Spanish woman called put saying she Had pancakes if we would like some. So she gave a couple and asked for a donation and she also asked Cullen to kiss the saint's statue for her when we get to Santiago.  Later on, as we were leaving a lunch spot, an old Spanish couple were driving their 20 cows down the street.  They were so cute - yelling at the cows for going the wrong way and the old man had to chase down a runaway cow.  Right after that perhaps 200 meters further on, shred of goat and sheep came jingling by.  So finally we see who has been leaving all the droppings on the path!  We arrived at the albergue and there was only one bed left, but the hospitalero was kind enough to pull a fold away bed out of the closet for us. Lots of familiars here st this albergue; Andy, Duke, Patty, Han, Kaija, Birgitta, Neyong, and others.  We had a nice snack of cheese, bread, salad, and calamari so I don't think we need any supper tonight.  We decided to take a stroll around town and there were a couple of very decent looking places to eat.  We stopped at a bar and ran into the American couple we passed on the trail today.  They're from California - Rudy and Connie.  Very nice people.  We stayed in the bar with them for a couple of hours then headed back to the Refugio Oribio.  I liked the albergue very much but it's another hot night in the sleeping bag and a whole lot of snoring going on.  

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 29 Villafranca del Bierzo - O'Cebreiro (April 16)

We had a good sleep last night. Unfortunately, we did not get treated to a Quemada last night. Breakfast was offered at the Ave Fenix for 3 euros. We also decided to pay the proprietor 4 euros to haul our bags up the mountain for us. It's 30 km/18 miles and I just don't think we can make it all the way up carrying our packs. It was raining when we left so we wore our portable saunas, aka Altus ponchos. They keep us very dry but they don't breathe well. We saw beautiful views today. Heather covered hills. We took the road route because of the weather and much of it was along running river so it kind of drowned out the highway noise. Around 1030 the rain stopped and the sun came out. We passed a lot of cow and sheep pastures today. Happy cows, not like most of the cows we had previously seen in too small corralled areas. We stopped at just about every village on the way for refreshment. We're going to stay in the Casa Carolo tonight. It's the same place our packs will be dropped. The sunshine didn't last long. If it hadn't started raining today it would have been a great walk. When we were on the last part of the trip I felt like it could have been a scene from an old silent movie. The wind was blowing our ponchos, the rain was coming at us from all directions, a and we're on this narrow path winding it's way up the mountain. Well it was a long 8 hour day. And though we had asked for a full size bed and bathtub, we got neither for 48 euros. Once we got settled in we sat in the bar and watched a couple of old guys playing drums, guitar and accordion. There are a lot of tourists here. There weren' t too many on the trail today. It is such a nice feeling not to see anyone in front or behind.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 28 (Ponferrado - Villa Franca de bierzo (April 15)

Had a pretty good sleep. Got up and out by 0730. We followed the Spaniard from the Canary Island who we've been seeing sin e Mansilla because we noticed yesterday he did not follow the marked way around Ponferrada but must made a beeline to the albergue. I think he saved us a couple of km today. Lots of highway walking today, but at this point I don't care. My legs are feeling like lead and my pack feels like it weighs a ton. It was warmer todAy, but cloudy. It has been drizzling on and off. This should have been an easy day, but it wasn't. Who knows why? Saw Kaija, Birgitta, the 2 Annes, and a 72 years young Finland man named Seymour. The albergue we're staying in tonight, Ave Fenix, may do a Quemada which is the main reason we stayed here. we're having a communal meal which is always nice. We' re not very hungry for dinner because we had a great lunch at the Hostal T restaurant with Patricia when we arrived. It was quite a good meal. Villa Franca is a very nice town

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 27 Foncebadon - Ponferrada (April 14)

I didn´t sleep too well so I got up early. The view is beautiful from the albergue. It is very cloudy, but the sky looks great! We left around 8:30, and it was 32 degrees F. A bit chilly. We started walking and we saw a few snow flurries. We made it to the Cruz de Ferro and there were quite a few pilgrims there taking photos. Cullen´s buddy, Ramon, took picture of us depositing our stone (and an arrowhead for a coworker) on the pile. To imagine the millions of pilgrims who did this very thing was grand. We walked the 7 miles to Acebo. It was really hard on the knees, but it is great to be in the mountains again. Acebo was a beautiful town. ONe of the few that actually seemed prosperous. We picked up a delicious orange, a banana and some chocolates at Josefina´s Tienda. We passed by Manjarin, the real atmospheric place. Not for me, sorry. It seemed like we had to walk around the entire city of Ponferrada in order to get to the municipal. I was so aggravated after walking 18 miles. They were slow in checking us in and they weren´t very welcoming. The showers were good though and the toilets ample and the clothes line was fine. The kitchen seemed well equipped, many prepared a meal for themselves. There were 2 sets of bunks in our room which we shared with a young Spanish couple. from Barcelona. Last year they walked from St Jean to Burgos and this year they are walking from Astorga to Santiago. So, pretty much they skipped the entire meseta which is too bad. Met a young American woman from Park Slope in Brooklyn. She hadn´t done a lot of prep work and she was feeling a bit overwhelmed. She decided to take a bus to Sarria and just do the Camino from there. We had dinner with Kate, Kaija (Finland) Brigitta (Finland), Patricia (France) and Bjorn (German). Thank goodness they all speak English!

Day 26 Astorga to Foncebadon (April 13)

Got a bit of a late start today. Cullen was feeling congested so we wanted to stop at a pharmacy for some meds. Afterward we walked really quick and stopped Santa Catalina de Somoza, the first bar/albergue on the right. Though we didn´t go in, I noticed there was a sign for bacon, eggs, and potatoes for 5 euros. This albergue looked very pleasant. The mountains are ahead of us. The walkway was okay but after a couple of kilometers the path seemed covered with tree roots. We came upon a woman who had tripped and fell right on her head. There were many tending to her and the 3 Spanish men we´ve been seeing on and off told Cullen an ambulance had been called but they were very busy with pilgrim accidents. When we arrived in Rabinal we took a break to assess whether or not to continue. Cullen decided he was feeling pretty good so we went on. It was only another 4 Km but those 4 km were the most difficult of the day. Up, up, up a narrow rocky path. Something we haven´t seen in a while. We were heading to the Monte Illago albergue, but Duke was outside the first albergue and we decided to just tay there since it had both a bar and a restaurant. This town is indeed like a ghost town with more tumble down buildings than usual. 2 of Cullen´s Spanish men friends (Ramon and some other) were in the bar when we arrived. They were very concerned about Cullen´s health because last time we saw him he was having tummy trouble. Dinner at the Albergue was okay. Cullen introduced Duke, Patty, Han to the sol y sombra. Rebecca and Ants (kiwis) also showed up at the albergue and I guess the put all the English speakers in one room with the exception of a young Brazilian man who also spoke English. We met a young German American Girl, named Annie, she´s only 23 and walking on her own. We ran into Becky in Rabanal and she was going to stay there for the night.

Just a comment about the Albergue, the room smelled really bad. I don´t know if we pilgrims all smell or if the room smells. And the showers were not the greatest.

Day 25 Villar de Mazarife to Astorga (April 12)

Good Lord! Great weather again! We left the albergue last again. We immediately ran into Becky and walked the entire day with her - it was great! The walk was actually long and hard today, but we did get back into some hilly areas. There were lots of stones on the path. Hard walking. But lots of beauty as well. More storks nests and wildflowers. We even saw some livestock today - cows and pigs. We saw huge piles of celery root (celeriac) waiting to get picked up and distributed to market. We thought we´d only make it to Santibanez today. A ¨short¨ 12 mile walk. No way did we think we could make it all the way to Astorga, but we did. When we arrived in Santibanez we felt good and thought we could make it to the town just before Astorga. But, 4 km out of Astorga we came across a fellow (Bruno) with a fruit-drink stand and he spoke pretty good English and he told us it was an easy walk from there into Astorga, so off we went. He also recommended we should stay at the San Javier Albergue, which we did after checking out the municipal and not feeling too good about the place. San Javier was wonderful. There were two hospitaleros; Maya Louisa and Paco. Paco took care of those people with foot problems. Perhaps not as professional in the foot department as Laura was in Mansilla, but still a very caring person. The showers were nice, the bunks were nice, sufficient toilets and only 8 euros. A very dapper local man wearing an Alpine type hat herded several of us into the convent for mass. The nuns sang and the priest asked the pilgrims to carry the prayers of the sisters to Santiago. We had a great meal at the Hotel Gaudi. The Albergue gave us a coupon and for 11.50 euro we got ensalata mista, a whole baked fish and for dessert arroz con leche. Vino and bread too of course. A perfect end to a hard day. Before dinner Cullen, Becky and I sat at the bar and had sol y sombras. The bartender didn´t know how to make it so Cullen instructed her. They were very generous portions.

I feel like the weather has changed temps really dipped when the sun went down.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 24 Leon to Villar de Mazarife (April 11)

Before starting our walk we had breakfast in the Parador. A huge buffet! We saw Ann there. We left late, around 0945. Dare I say it? Another beautiful day in Espana. We walked a few miles to La Virgen del Camino and had a coffee. we continued on and shortly after, we ran into Dieter, and then Sara. Doesn´t seem like too many people took this alternate route. The way here was nice. The past few days we have had the snow covered mountains in the distance to our North. Today I didn´t see them until we left Oncina de la Valdocina. When I turned to see where Cullen was, there were the mountains. The way took us through farm fields, but where there weren´t fields planted, there were wild flowers. We arrived in Chozas de Abajo and had a coke and beer. The bartender was very nice. There were a couple of interesting Santiago statures along the way. We had decided to stay at Alberque Tio Pepes before we arrived in town. We had a room with 2 sets of bunk beds and happily, no one else stayed in our room. It was noisy as the Brierley book said it would be. Was hoping to catch up on the blog posting there but alas the advertised internet was not working. Very disappointing since it was one of the main reasons for staying. We had the menu of the day there and the food was not good. And it was noisy until 10:00 pm. There was a tub in one of the bathrooms and it had a stopper. If you are looking for a rest in the afternoon, this is not the place for you. Though Dieter got a private room for 20 euros and he said it was very quiet. Lots of 20 somethings hanging around making quite a racket on a Sunday afternoon. We did see 3 storks´nests in the church across the street from the albergue. The owner did give us free shots of orujo after dinner, so maybe it wasn´t such a bad place after all.

Day 23 Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon (April 10th)

The bus dropped us off at the bus station in Leon. We made our way to the tourist office near the cathedral to pick up maps and to get info about places to stay. Cullen and I decided to splurge and went to the Parador. We had a great room with big towels, a tub, shampoo, conditioner, a little balcony with a view of a stork´s nest, a TV and free wifi. We went for a walk and checked out the cathedral. It was very beautiful and very different from the cathedral in Burgos. Lots more stained glass. We walked a round a bit and really liked the city. Went back to the Parador for a big lunch and a bottle of Peregrino wine and then had our first siesta. After siesta we walked back into the city and had a couple of tapas and some wine. We visited the Gaudi bank building. Went back to the room and watched the ultimate soccer match Real Madrid versus Barcelona. We couldn´t stay up for the whole game but Barcelona won 2-0. It was a great, relaxing day. Just what we needed.

Day 22 Bercianos Real Camino to Mansilla de las Mulas (April 9)

We got up this morning and both of us were out of sorts physically. We didn´t even have a coffee! We walked about 4 miles to El Bergo Ranero. We ran into a bunch of Spanish gentlemen Cullen has become acquainted with and they recommended he have a cup of Manzanilla caliente - a cup of hot tea. We continued on and ran into Becky. She couldn´t walk another step last night and so she stayed at the hostel in Bercianos rather than walking to the far end of town to the albergue. A good choice for her since she had already walked quite a ways when we ran into her yesterday. And, she had a room with a tub! We arrived in Mansilla de las Mulas via the alternate route as recommended in the Brierley book. Cullen was continuing to have tummy trouble today. The municipal albergue was quite nice. The hospitalero, Laura, is an angel. Soon after siesta she had a line of pilgrims in her office waiting for blister treatments, tummy trouble, muscle aches. She took care of my blisters and those of many others. The Finnish woman had been having shin problems, Laura´s mom gave her a massage. Dieter had been there for a second night with tummy problems and she was taking care of him and she also gave Cullen something for his tummy. Since Cullen really couldn´t go out for a meal I shared a simple meal of cheese, bread and banana with Anne (German) and the Finnish woman - I can´t remember her name right now. A few of us stayed up later and had a great discussion with Laura about The Way. We discussed different historical stories, symbols and traditions. She seems to have devoted her life to the Camino and to the pilgrims. I had a good night´s sleep. We went to a bar around the corner for coffee and Dieter and Sara came in. We all took the bus the 18km to Leon.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 21 Terradillos de los Templarios to Bersiano Real Camino (Apr 8)

Had an okay dinner at the albergue. We stopped in at the Peaceable Kingdom in Moratinos and met Rebekah´s husband, Pat. We were walking down the street and saw a man walking a couple of greyhounds and so we took a chance and sure enough it was Pat. What a treat to meet him and all the various animals they have taken in. He was good enough to offer us coffee and biscuits and we chatted for about an hour and were only sorry that Rebekah was not there. We left the PK and stopped at the Langanares albergue in San Nicolas del Real Camino for another coffee. The albergue seemed very nice with a pleasant outdoor area. Left there and made it to Sahagun. We have a really big meal there and another lesson was learned - don´t eat a big meal (and drink a bottle of wine) with another 6 miles to go. We ran into Becky who we hadn´t seen since Burgos and walked a way with her. She had been walking 10 km more than us already that day so we went on ahead. The walk from Sahagun was not great - lots of construction going on. The hostel at the beginning of he town had single rooms-some with bathtubs we later found out from Becky costing around 25 euros. We continued on to the parochial albergue since we were interested in a communal meal a service. We arrived late and there were already many familiar faces there. We were so tired, that we just didn´t feel like showering or washing clothes. I had bought a small bottle of shampoo (luxury item) earlier in the day, but will have to wait another day to use it. Supper was a leak and potato soup and lentils with rice. Everyone helped with either cooking or cleaning up. After supper the hospitalero from Belgium invited whoever was interested to a service. Not a religious service, but certainly spiritual. She lit candles and asked us to share any thoughts with the group. Afterward, the German contingent sang a hymn and it was really quite moving. I slept with earplugs in for the first time and it helped me quite a bit. I slept well, but during the night Cullen got up 3 or 4 times with a bad tummy. waaaaahh!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 20 Carrion de los Condas to Terradillos de los Temparios (April 7)

There were 4 beds in the room last night in Carrion. Some rooms had only 2. It seems the 2 bed rooms were given to the single women. We shared our room with a French couple who were our age and we went to sleep and woke up at the same time which was nice for a change. We have been blessed with another beautiful day. A bit chilly and cloudy, but the sun is shining. We walked the 10 miles to Calzadilla de la Cueza and had coffee and a delicious tortilla sandwich at the bar in the albergue Camino Real. This albergue looked like a nice place to stay. Walking between the fields today a tractor was plowing and he was being followed by 3 of those huge white birds which look like sheep from a distance when they land. The clouds are incredible, low hanging and seem more like a picture than real. The last 6 miles were not bad. One of the best pieces of advice I´ve read on the forum is to rest 10 minutes for every hour you walk. We got to the first Albergue just before town, but follow the arrows into the town until you (we) arrived at the Jacques Mornay albergue. Very family like atmosphere. Wonderful hot showers, single beds (not bunks), plenty of line to dry clothes. We have some familiar faces here, Andy the young German we met in Grañon, Duke the American traveling with a Canadian and Korean, and the young New Zealand couple.

The Meseta is kicking my butt. I thought it would be a piece of cake for my toes. Turns out my toes prefer up and down terrain to flat for walking. Though my knees prefer the flat surface.

Day 19 Fromista to Carrion de los Condes (6 April)

Had a good sleep at the hostel. Breakfast was okay. The hostess gave me a souvenir thimble which I guess after paying 45 euros (10 more than the book said) for the night, didn´t seem very generous. We left around 0830 and I think we were the last to leave the town which is fine by me. Another beautiful morning. Yesterday and today the sun and moon were visible. Still seeing storks here in Fromista and in Boadilla. The birds are really singing today. The forsythia are in bloom and we´ve passed some hyacinths as well. We stopped for coffee in Villarmenter de Compos and ran into an American ( who has been walking for 12 or 18 months. Walked across the U.S.A. and is now heading to Jerusalem. That´s the second person I´ve met who walked across the U.S.A. The first was a South African woman who did it in 8 months. Cullen refuses to walk across the U.S.A. Guess I´ll have to cross that off my list of things to do! We arrived and decided to stay at the Monastery de Santa Clara for the night. There is also an albergue run by a different order of nuns, but this is the first place and we thought it might be the one recommended by the hospitalero in Castrojeriz. Oh well. They have a lot of shops in this town. There was a pretty decent outdoor shop selling the altus rain ponchos and a lot of other hiking gear. A nice grocery store not from the albergue where we picked up supplies for tonight and tomorrow. We were warned in the Brierley book to pack what we need because there is nothing for 10 miles once we leave here in the morning.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 18 Castrojeriz to Fromista (April 5)

We thought we´d walk to Boadillo today but decided instead to go all the way to Fromista for a cash machine. We did stop in Boadillo at the albergue En El Camino and the hostess was so friendly and the setting so tranquil and welcoming that I´m sorry we aren´t spending the night. The route into Fromista was very nice, along the canal lined with mini wildflowers. We´ve seen the snow covered mountains to our North most of the way. Hopefully we won´t be walking into them. I got my first blister today. Imagine 2 weeks without any trouble and now I get a blister. When we arrived in Fromista we felt like we were in the wild west. But instead of a herd of cows, a herd of sheep were going down main street. We were pretty tire so decided to stay at a Camino Santiago hostal tonight. It is adjacent to the albergue. We went to the albergue to access the internet and it looked quite nice! I liked Fromista. It seemed to be a properous town. We were going to try the restaurant recommended in the Brierley book, but it seemed from the menu to be a bit pricey so we went somewhere else.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 17 Hormillos to Castrojeriz Happy Easter! (April 4)

Had a good night´s sleep. The noisiest one in the room was Cullen. And, his alarm went off at 0645, which was probably a good thing because the Austrians were suppposed to get up at 0630. Despite the weather forecast, it was a clear morning. It was very cold, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining. The mud puddles were frozen. Perfect walking weather! Stopped for a coffee in Hontanas since San Bol didn´t appear open. another 2 hour walk without a first cup! If we could have walked another 11 km yesterday I would have gone on to Hontanas from Hormillos. If the Irish couple would have been with us we would have! Hontanas seemed much nicer than Hormillos. Anyway, while we were enjoying our coffee and bocadillo, the church bells started ringing in the church right across from the bar. They rang and rang and rang. It was really loud so I hurried Cullen up . It was a nice walk the rest of the way. Beautiful weather and scenery. I did slip into a mud puddle, thought I could walk around it, but in I went. Oh well, its only mud. We passed the Convento de San Anton - amazing. There is an albergue there. We got to the Albergue Traditionale in Castrojeriz around 1320, but it doesn´t open until 1500 so we went to the Meson Restaurant for lunch and had a great big plate of green beans, pimientos stuffed with some kind of shrimp stuff and rice pudding. Delicious! The 2 Korean girls decided to stay at the same one even though there are 4 other albergues here.
So the Albergue Traditional is quite primitive. Two things would have made it perfect; heat and toilet seats. Other than that the hopitaleros were wonderful hosts. They invited us up to the dining area for a ¨Quemada¨, which is a Spanish drink. It was quite an elaborate preparation and presentation. I don´t recall the ingredients except for sugar, raisins, absinthe and water. But he lit the whole thing in a ceramic bowl, off went the lights and with a ceramic ladle provided quite a show of flame pouring from the ladle into the bowl while speaking some incantation about light and flame and cleansing. When that was finished he did a rendition of Amazing Grace. Then off to bed. This was one of those nights when I´m dreading getting up in the cold and sitting on the toilet without a seat, thinking I can´t do this another day. And then, we get up have the breakfast provided by our hospitaleros Emilio and Jose. Emilio walked us out and as we started down the street he sang Auld Lang Syne in Spanish. A Camino moment!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 16 Burgos to Hormillos (April 3)

We left the Albergue today and it was raining. A bit more than a drizzle, but not a downpour. The rain cleaned our dirty boots and then the wind blew us dry. Then, the mud got us dirty again. It was not a bad walk . The route out of Burgos was nice. We walked to Tardejos and had a coffee. We walked pretty quick and were probably the 13th or 14 pilgrims to arrive in Hormillos. We had hot showers, washed laundry in cold water outside - it was chilly. Our room had 8 other pilgrims in it it. 6 of them Austrians . The hospitalero here is a young Spanish woman. She spoke very good English. She works in the morning and her mother works the afternoon/evening shift. There was only 1 bar in town and 1 small shop for groceries. The bar was right across the street from the albergue and it offered a menu del dia for 9 euro. I had a sol y sombra in the bar to check the chill out of my bones. Cullen wants me to mention the "auto peregrino". These are folks that drive from place to place. The stop at the albergues and use the kitchen facilities to fix a meal and then they go on their way. The hospitalero did not approve, but they cleaned up after themselves and didn´t seem to be a problem. Perhaps if there were more pilgrims trying to use the same space it might cause a problem. This is the first albergue I´ve seen fill up. The hospitalero had to find alternate arrangements for at least 3 late arrivals. I think she put them up above the bar somewhere. Went to the bar for dinner and shared a table with a nice German couple (Peter and Brigette). We first met in Ages, then saw them again in Burgos. After dinner, back to the albergue for conversation in the common kitchen area.The French couple (Alex and Annie) we met in Grañon were there. She has been having a lot of trouble with her feet. There was a young Spaniard offering massage service for a reasonable price so she signed up for one and when I saw her later she seemed well improved after a massage, herbal treatment and a gauze wrap around her feet. Cullen had a nice conversation with an older Spaniard from Madrid. I´m happy again that he is able to converse. It was a very cold evening in Hormillos. We heard the weather is going to be cloudy and rainy in the morning and clearing up.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 15 A day in Burgos (2 April)

We decided to stay in Burgos an extra day. The hospitaleros said we would have to check out at 8 then come back at noon to get a bed. Happily we got a bed! As we had planned, we had tapas for dinner last night with Dieter and Maura. She left today to return to London, but she is planning to return to the Camino in the fall. We had a very good sleep last night. Well, except for the party that broke out in the street around 0430. We said farewell to Katherine (Austrian sister) and said farewell as she was leaving to walk on. Her sister, Andrea will be returning to Austria today. We said an emotional farewell to her. She was sad to leave the Camino and her sister but her kindergarten class will be waiting for her to return. We met Dieter in the lobby at 8 as we had planned, hoping he would stay an extra day with us in Burgos. He decided he was going to leave Burgos and walk a bit then find a single room to himself for the night. He needed to catch up on sleep and writing. Hopefully we will catch him in the next day or two. We walked over to the bar with him and had a coffee and croissant then went our separate ways for now. We did a bit of touring in the morning. Visiting the cathedral and the Saint Nicholas of Bari Church. The entire altar area was carved stone - not the usual wood and gold leaf we´ve seen so much of. We splurged on a delicious meal today. Went to a nice restaurant today (Casa Pena) on c/Calzado 7. We must have passed it on the way into the city today. Had the Morchilla, tomato and asparagus salads, lamb, bread wine and a delicious Tarta de la casa. On our way back to the albergue we ran into Rebecca and Ants, the young New Zealanders we met early on. It was great to see them. They were looking for the albergue so we walked them here and then met Becky in the common area! So glad to see her. One of the unique things about this Camino is that although we´ve only met these folks 2 weeks ago, it seems when we see them again that they are long lost friends. Cullen just checked the weather and he said snow is predicted for Burgos on Sunday. It´s a good thing we´re leaving on Saturday!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 14 Ages to Burgos (April 1)

We got up early and were on the road by 0715. It was still dark and we were the last ones out (aside from Juan Ramon the cyclist). There was cold coffee and bread left so we had some. We walked a couple of hours then stopped at a bar which was way too crowded with pilgrims and very smokey. The next place to stop was in Orbaneja which is mentioned in the Brierley book. We had great coffee and a special Easter confection called Torrellegas (spelling may be wrong). The day is a little cool and it was cloudy/hazy. Once we left Atapuerca the walk became difficult. Lots of mud and wet rocks uphill and downhill. After our coffee stop, 2 Spanish girls and a young Spanish man asked us to take their photo. We had met them in Grañon. The girls were leaving him to take the bus to Valencia. He asked if we wanted to walk with him on the alternate route into Burgos to avoid highway traffic. We felt adventurous so said we would. We slopped thru muddy fields - this is the dirtiest I have been. We walked alongside the airport. The sun came out and we started to get too warm so once we hit a city street we said our goodbyes and thanked him for showing us this way. I´m sure it cut a couple of miles off of today´s walk. We had several more miles to walk. We arrived at the Cathedral and WOW! It´s huge. Found the municipal albergue - Jacobean. Great location, modern, clean, hot showers, what more could we ask for? All for only 3 euros each. The Austrian sisters are here as is the German couple from last night and several others from Grañon and Belorado. We went for a stroll to check out the cathedral. Stopped for churros and chocolate. We´re planning tapas for dinner so we can watch the procession tonight at 8. Guess who just walked in? Dieter!! We are so happy to see him. He arrived from San Juan de Ortega!