September - October 2017
  • Day39

    Padorleno To San Mamed 27+ kms

    October 30, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Had planned to walk to Sarria, but got hungry and tired so I stopped perhaps a mile or two short.

    The first thing I do each morning is to check the weather (if wifi is adequate). This morning it was clear and 38 so the question was to put on all my clothing, or to put on all my clothing. Question answered and I went out the door fully decked out with my headlamp in place only to find that it was foggy. I recall what happened to Daniel in the movie The Way (it was foggy, he got lost and died of exposure) so I looked around and through the fog I saw a beacon of light eminating from afar ...a bar with coffee no less. So I found my way and enjoyed a hot cup of joy while the weather and daylight improved.

    There was a rather large dog in the bar (and no cats) that appeared to make himself at home with the customers and no one was giving him any trouble. That dog did what he wanted to do.

    After a fashion I left and took all my arms, legs, and digits with me. Fog still around and it made for a nice walk in the mist until it cleared. As on prior days, the elevation makes for beautiful scenery and I enjoyed the quiet and beauty of the morning.

    They must be redoing part of the trail as it was pristine with new Camino markers that the graffiti experts had not yet reached. A very old church in the hills was quite nice and well situated amongst the surroundings and as the haze lifted, there was much to see. What a beautiful country!

    Stopped in Triacastela to visit a mercado to buy some snack food, then continued toward Sarria deciding to stop at about 2 pm so I could get some food while places were still serving. The Albergue that I stopped for the evening reminded me of a highway motel. You remember, the kind that you drive right up to the door. Well, here, you just walk right up to the door. Same concept. Very clean rooms and I got a private room with free breakfast. Dinner is communal at 7 and I look forward to that.

    The owner of the albergue called a local restaurant for a salad for me as I was pretty hungry. It was delivered in a huge salad bowl that would serve four people. I ate it all (hey, no shame here. You want to invite me over for dinner, be prepared for one hungry man) and for just five euros (lettuce, a whole tomatoe, hard boiled egg, tuna, ham, beets, onions, white asparagus and carrots. Delicious. Can't wait to try octopus again.

    The day really turned out to be very nice. I've been blessed with fantastic weather and I hope it continues, but just in case, my rain pants and 'gators are quickly available.

    Dinner was right on time. Enjoyed it with a gentleman from Scotland, one from Germany and one from Israel. Good vegetarian dinner. Will be hunting for meat tomorrow.
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  • Day38

    Herrerias to Padornelo - 17 kms

    October 29, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Wow! If yesterday was my best day on the camino, today was the toughest. A 595 meter climb, almost 1955 feet.

    A very nice day for the climb though. Stopped often for coffee, juice, and my favorite chocolate pastry. Well worth the effort.

    The small communities I passed through must have had their weekly cow parade yesterday through main street and one could tell. Nothing insults the senses more and the reason pilgrims have to leave their shoes outside, but the good thing was that it had not rained around here in quite some time. Very thankful for that. A picture of those wonderful critters is attached for your enjoyment and as a reminder why we do not allow cows on the mountain as pets or otherwise. They appear to be preparing for next weeks parade.

    Early morning sunlight on the hills highlights the color and veriation of the terrain. Now I know why I so love the mountains...just gorgeous.

    I ran across the three ladies from Wales again halfway up the mountain. One had to return to a cafe to look for her glasses as she thought she had left them. Glad it wasn't me that left my glasses as it was a long way in the wrong direction.

    O'Cebreio (the church) Is attached and a picture of the distant haze that again reminds me of those mornings when I am enjoying coffee and looking at the "cats paws " in the valley below. This valley is a very distant valley, but the general direction that I will be walking.

    The last picture is a memorial to pilgrims that are trying not to lose their Tillies in a stiff breeze. Too bad the angle of the light was not better, but you get the picture. I've had to grab mine several times to keep it on my head and out of the pastures and ravines.

    I stopped about one PM today. Tired after the climb and we changed to standard time last night so DST is no more in Spain until next year. Found a hostel that would do my laundry and served a wonderful lunch (salad, fried egg, two huge pieces of bacon and fries), and I ate the whole thing to include flan for dessert. I even licked the plate it was so good. Now for dinner!

    Dinner was another excellent salad, a pork chop, potatoes and beans. Good meal and I had another flan (and licked the plate yet again).

    Might try to reach Sarria tomorrow. Just depends on the trail condition and my energy level.
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  • Day36

    Villafranca to Herrerias - 22 kms

    October 27, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    Today was one of those days that occur all to infrequently. The morning was clear and brisk. As the sun rose and I could see more I realized that this just might be the best day of my camino. It will really take something to top it. Scenery was fall beautiful.

    Breakfast of yogurt, coffee and juice, and pastries paved the way for a perfectly delightful walk. While most of it was along an almost empty road, other parts were along a country lane with trees turning color, fields full of animals (think sheep and cattle) and streams keeping the woodsy noise pleasant and relaxing. It felt great to be alive!

    The trail had a steady uphill angle to it, and given that I still have to climb over 600 meters in about seven kms tomorrow, I want to leave early tomorrow and climb while it is cool. It will be really "cool" to arrive at O'cebreio and see the sunrise (I need a rooster tomorrow with an accurate clock).

    I had a second breakfast, then passed through a hamlet and noticed a house with an unusual in-law suite...on the third floor. So when the owner tires of his in-laws he just invites them to enjoy the view from the patio by stepping out the door and wala, all in-law issues are solved.

    The pilgrim stature made me realize that I still have a good distance to navigate, but have come a long way. If this wonderful fall weather continues, making Santiago by November 5 should not be an issue.

    Hope you enjoy the pictures. Lots of detail so please expand and see the sights.

    Lunch was a ham and egg omlet. A bit salty, but I was hungry and probably needed the salt. Plan to loaf around this afternoon and enjoy a Menu del Dia for dinner. I'm sitting outside the cafe enjoying the afternoon sun chatting with a pilgrim from Germany on her last day...no more vacation.

    My room has a window that opens onto the street. Kids are playing, adults are chatting, and I'm thinking about a beer. Haven't had one in several days due to not feeling totally up to par, but today is a different day. Yep, I'm going down and grab a cold one.

    And it was really good! Also found out that dinner at seven is ok, so I'll enjoy an early dinner tonight.

    Dinner was a very large salad with tuna, chicken with French fries, and a navel orange for dessert. They gave me a very dull knife to cut it up. Anyway, very filling and am calling it a night.
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  • Day36

    Ponferrada to Villafranca - 25 kms

    October 27, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    I was in a room with three others, an Italian, one from Hong Kong, and the other from Tiawan. Those guys snore too. Had to use my ear plugs to get some sleep.

    Had a pretty good breakfast with yogurt, cofffee, OJ, and pastries, then packed and left in the dark. The sun does not rise until well after eight (8:56 tomorrow to be exact) and with no roosters and dogs to worry about, got a pretty good night's sleep once the ear plugs went in. Think I will alternate between the traditional albergue and the private room route. A private room is much nicer and quieter.

    Passed the castle on the way out, and if I recall the movie (The Way) correctly, it was in Ponferrada where the backpack was stolen, then the next day the son carried the pack to the city gates. No gates, but a pretty park. I think the attached picture is of the walkway. If not, then it is quite pretty anyway.

    Unusual trail markers and it's pretty difficult to get lost with something like that to point out the camino.

    Passing through one small village, it appears that Halloween is a big deal here, unless there is something I do not umderstand. We'll assume that it's all about Halloween.

    Fall is here. Not sure about where you are, but here it is fall. Met a group from Australia walking along and also ran into the Canadian individual that has walked this way several times. Guess she does not mind doing her laundry (but I do and I think that is the worse feature of the camino. Just love it when I can find machines or someone that will do it for a modest fee). Today I found a very nice albergue with several private rooms and the owners were willing to do my laundry for five euros. That is what I call a deal!

    The last picture is a view of the mountain I will be on for the next couple of days, then as far as I am concerned, it is all downhill. Once I reach Sarria, the trail becomes a known entity and the goal is in sight. I will pass through Sarria on the 4th day of walking (beginning tomorrow).

    I ate light tonight as I had a huge lunch and still trying to digest it. Yogurt is very healthy you know.

    Tomorrow, one more time, on the road again.
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  • Day34

    Acebo to Ponferrada - 17 kms

    October 25, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Breakfast was later than I preferred, but the rooster kept quiet (the dog did not) so a good way to begin the day? Great breakfast and ate too much as I had a side stitch for a mile or two.

    I need to share a story from yesterday that I forgot about. When I stopped for an orange juice, there was a group (herd) of cats outside the cafe milling around and I guess looking for handouts. That's what cats do, you know. Anyway, as I was taking off my pack, a dog comes charging up the street and the cats scatter to the four winds. One up a tree, one on top of a car, one jumped onto a wall, then to a roof of a shed, and another I lost sight of. Well, the dog comes to a quick stop, does a 360 as if trying to figure out what to do and which cat to chase. The cats just stayed in place as if to say "we got you, now where's your horse?"

    A cool start, but the temperature warmed quickly once the sun made its appearance. The trail was a mix if road walking and downhill gully walking. Not as bad as yesterday, but not easy. I passed through the community of Riego de Ambros early and the lights were still on. The mountains were again a sight to marvel with the fall color starting to appear.

    Stopped at Molinaseca for a very pleasant cup of hot coffee (too early and cold for a beer), OJ, and some pastries (notice the interior of the bar...very nice). There was also an old bridge leading into town and one could tell that they needed water as the river was but a trickle. I believe I stepped across it coming down the dirt and rock hill.

    As I got closer to Ponferrada, a cute house with window boxes full of flowers and the Camino sign visible for pilgrims to see. Finally the bridge leading into Ponferrada. I love these old bridges. Wish we had some in the USA that could compare.

    Once in Ponferrada, I departed the trail to find an albergue off the beaten track and am delighted with my find. They serve all meals and all are home cooked. For lunch, I had a wonderful hot pumpkin and squash soup, salad and a bacon quiche with ice cream for dessert. I could really get use to this.

    Dinner was at seven, but was told that I could have it earlier. Seven was fine with me.

    Delicious dinner (lentil soup, salad and chicken, and ice cream for dessert) and an Italian joined me. He works in Spain and is fluent in at least three languages as he understood me quite well.

    Tomorrow is a busy day and I need my rest. Enjoy.
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  • Day34

    Rabanal to Acebo - 17.5 kms.

    October 25, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 4 °C

    A shorter walk today, but in the plan as it was mostly uphill and downhill, but more uphill. The trail made it challenging with large potatoes, eggs, softballs and just about everything else imaginable to walk on. Glad I only did about 10 miles or I would be exhausted.

    The scenery made it worthwhile though as I love the mountains and the views were very pretty. Could have been on the Blue Ridge Parkway except there are no wind turbines there yet. Perhaps in the future, but not now.

    First stop was a very small village for a glass of orange juice, then onward and upward as they say to the Cruz de Ferro (you should recall the scenes in The Way when all left something to release themselves of some of life's burdens). When I arrived I noticed a pilgrim (nationality shall not be mentioned as I am on a pilgrimage) walking all over the site taking numerous pictures. History suggests this to be a holy site where pilgrims leave a symbol of their burden that they want forgiveness for.

    So I continued and passed a structure that I can only figure missed the local zoning ordinances, but who knows.

    In the distance is a destination that I should reach tomorrow and I believe it is Ponferrada. I'll be sure when I arrive.

    A couple of interesting memorials that I captured. One could be an LL Bean boot advertisement, but I doubt it and the other, well, you make the call.

    Wish I could attach two more, but the limits of technology.

    I found a very nice and new albergue. For 45 euros, I got a private room with a shower in the room, dinner and breakfast. My laundry is being done by the staff as they only have the one washer and dryer so that will be done shortly. Dinner at 7 PM.

    Interesting how we develop habits and how quickly we do that. For example I can pack my backpack without looking as I know where everything goes...

    (it all goes into the big hole in the top...fooled you!). I also unroll my sleeping bag each day regardless of the arrangements (private room or albergue) and feel right at home (well, not quite like home, but you get the message). Rather sleep in my bag as I know that it has been sprayed with anti-bug juice and I should be safe from critters that roam at night.

    So here I am waiting for dinner and a stupid rooster thinks it's 5 am. What is wrong with the Spanish barnyard animals? Everyone knows that roosters cockle-doodle-do at daybreak and rest their voice the balance of the day. I'll probably sleep through my usual wakeup time with this rooster messing things up. His clock is really off.

    Dinner was delicious. A nice salad, chicken for the main course, then fruit for desert.

    Tomorrow, on the road again.
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  • Day33

    Astorga to Rabanal 12 + miles

    October 24, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Decided not to return to the restaurant where I had a late breakfast yesterday. There was an all you can eat opportunity where I spent the night and they lost money on me. Quite a spread. I had lots of oj, ham, tomatoes, other breakfast meats, some stuff I could not recognize (and I did not try it as 12 miles is a ways to go with an upset system), cheeses, toast and jam, and if course coffee. Very nice and I was pretty full when I danced in the street with my warm clothing on. Worked perfectly and I was warm as toast. The stocking cap under my Tilly perhaps looked strange, but then we are all camino friends. The expression works on the Camino as well as other places...what happens on the Camino stays on the Camino so if I look like a poorly fashioned pilgrim, so be it. Nobody should know except those I wish to tell.

    Walk was a gradual uphill climb and it will get worse over the next couple of days as the Camino crosses the mountain range. Yes, the Pyrenees is not the only mountain range to cross. The Cantabrian Mountains also pose an obsticle and must be crossed. One of the pictures I attached is a long range view of what's in front of me. Fun? Yes, I'm having fun and enjoy the challenge.

    Scenery changes by the mile. Old churches, fields full of pumpkins, and parents biking the camino with their children. Dad had one and mom (in front) had the other and most of the time the kids were peddling.

    Notice the guy taking the picture (in the lower left corner) of the long range view. Recognize him? Ahhh, come on, surely you recognize the famous author and world traveler. Well, you'll just have to figure it out 'cause I ain't telling. So there.

    Found a comfortable place in Rabanal and am relaxing as I write this. Dinner is at 6 PM so that is nice. Bedtime by 7:30 and no grass to cut.

    Dinner consisted of two fried eggs and three large pork chops. Lot of food and should be good to go in the am.

    Ran across a guy from California that I met on October 1. Thought he looked familiar, but his hair was longer (so is mine). Pretty neat to reacquaint with folks from the past after all of these miles.

    Tomorrow I walk to Acebo. Tommy tells me they have the best breakfast on the Camino.
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  • Day32

    Astorga

    October 23, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Had a relaxing morning since I had nothing really planned except for a couple of things that I found to be important (makes perfect sense to me).

    I mentioned the kindness strangers had extended to me in past days. Well, there have been a couple more worthy of note. The first one occurred when I paid my room bill this morning. The owner had reduced the rate by another ten euros daily so this was enough to feed me for a day for sure.

    The second, and most importantly, occurred today as well. Last night I had a bocadillo for dinner and I chipped my molar. Bad news with two weeks to go. I shared my tale of sorrow with the owner this morning after I could not find a dental clinic open and he took it upon himself to call around, found an open clinic that he trusted and got me in as an emergency patient . As luck (perhaps Camino luck) would have it, the dentist did a wonderful job of grinding down the rough edge, then filled the void with amalgam. Said no chewing for two hours and it should be ok. Paid the 60 euro with many thanks. A very talented dentist, and very young. We communicated via a translation app on her smart phone and things went well.

    It's going to be cold for the next several days in the mornings so I found a sporting goods store and got a stocking cap and a much heavier, tighter fitting sport shirt that should keep me much warmer. I proudly walked out with the cap on my head feeling Christmas had arrived.

    Had time to tour the cathedral and have attached a picture or two as well as of the old Roman walls. Wish I could attach more, but these are the best. The Roman museum was closed and I'm disappointed as I wanted to see the Roman baths and compare to some of the facilities I've found along the Camino. Probably about the same quality. That reminds me...I've made a decision on the distance I will walk each day. I am going to limit myself to 20 km (that's about 12.4 miles). Reason is that I am getting tired, and arriving later than I need to ensure that I get lunch. I should make Santiago on November 5 which will give me a couple of days there before I fly to Madrid the evening of the 7th and home on the 8th. Fiesta for sure!

    Muxia will have to wait for another life.

    Lunch was a late breakfast. Fried eggs, bacon and sausage (which was nothing more than a hot dog). Juice and coffee were added; all for 5.50 euros. I'm going back there in the am before walking out of town. My first breakfast was a piece of potatoe pie and coffee and for breakfast dessert, I've had four yogurts, more apricots and a quart of juice. Dinner should be nice. I can wait until later as I am full at present.

    Thought a picture of the owner (sitting) and his assistant would be appropriate and interesting. I owe him a big debt of gratitude. The Roman walls are included and one showing how thick they were built as well as the construction materials used. The building that is referred to as the palace is the Episcopal Palace (the tourist information center must be closed for the season), and two pictures of the interior of the cathedral. The square near the cathedral is not large enough to permit a really good picture of the exterior so I'll make due with the interior. Also found a modern sculpture in one of the squares, but not appropriate for Jack to view (sorry Jack).

    So tomorrow I'm going to leave with my new cloths on and dance a jig in the square :)

    Just got a Fitbit email stating I have walked the equivalent of New Zeland, or 990 miles. All since the 8th of july. I learned that walking uphill as well as downhill gives more Fitbit miles since the steps are shorter, but I'll take it. Beggars cannot afford to be choosey.

    Dinner was a pizza, a procuitto personal pan pizza. In case you are wondering why I would order a pizza, well, it's comfort food and I can chew it on one side of my mouth. So far, so good so I celebrated by purchasing some of my favorite gummy candy. Nice.

    Until tomorrow.
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  • Day30

    San Martin to Astorga - 14 miles +/-

    October 21, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    Talk about cold! Wow! Need more warm clothes. Put on all that I had and walked at a very brisk pace to generate some heat. Noticed frost on the ground and captured a pretty sunrise. It seems that they are the most colorful when it is cold.

    Had a cup of coffee in San Martin and stopped for breakfast in Hospital De Orbigo so I covered about six miles in the cold with about nine to go.

    Made my first wrong turn this morning...in the dark. Had the headlight on, but must have missed a turn somewhere. When I came to a hard surfaced road and did not see an attow, I checked the book and the Camino was much closer to the highway than I was so I made a left, walked about 1/4 mile down the road, found the arrow, made a right and kept trucking.

    I finished the walk to Astorga receiving one act of kindness. I stopped at a mercado for fruit and the owner gave me an orange as a gift. He used his cell phone to translate. Probably does not see too many pilgrims as old as I am and it is not a problem for me to look tired.

    Once in Astorga, I walked around looking for a hostel where I could chill out for a couple of nights. Made a couple of false starts, backtracked, and found the Casa de Tepa. The gentleman that helped me told me that the property had been in his family for over 200 years.

    We negotiated the price and when I offered my credit card, he said to pay later. The room is great and I'll enjoy it for the next couple of nights. He asked me where I was from and when I replied, he went into a closet and came out wearing a new year's eve plastic hat with the stars and stripes covering it. We had a laugh at that, and I think he gave me his best room. First floor, sunken bed and TV watching area, and separate shower and toilet areas. Towels large enough to wrap around twice with some left over.

    Anyway, I am sitting in a laundry washing my clothes. Met a couple from Canada and she helped me with the washer settings so I should be clean in about an hour, then food.

    Interesting picture of the bridge leaving de Orbigo, the trail in front of me, and a stature of a pilgrim drinking something. Is it water or wine, and if wine, tinto or blanco?

    The tower appears to be a grain storage silo given the number of corn fields close by and the long range picture shows Astorga. Zoom in and you can see the cathedral. The other picture is the road in front of the mercado.

    Dinner is a bocadillo - ham, cheese, and tomato. Always an issue finding someplace that is open and serving food after two but before eight. Going to enjoy my beer and ham sandwich, then might go out later.

    Nope, in for the night.
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  • Day29

    Leon to San Martin, 16 miles +/-

    October 20, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Well now, it's Saturday, and my favorite restaurant was not open as early as yesterday so I left sooner than I wanted, and on an empty stomach. Hooked up with several other pilgrims as we tried to find the arrows in the starlight walking several miles on pavement, sidewalk, etc. as we navigated through the industrial part of West Leon. Went up a few hills with a very cool breeze blowing into my face. Had on my jacket zipped to my neck, gloves, and used the chin strap for the Tilly or it would have been a UFO flying into the sky.

    I did find a bar that was open early on for a coffee and a piece of potatoe pie, then later, an open mercado for an apple and a snickers bar. That was tasty (the snickers, then the apple to clean the choppers).

    A good bit of the walk was along the highway, or just off it so the scenery was not the more enjoyable woodsy scenes that remind me of the mountains, but did enjoy one brief instance that the camino took me through a canopy of autum leaves.

    Noticed a couple of cute photo ops and captured them. The last pic is of my room in the albergue - all for 20 euros, and dinner tonight at 7 consisting of chicken and rice.

    Had lunch along the way at a rest stop. A burger with a piece of bacon, two pieces of processed lunch meat, fries, salad, and a coke. Way too much food for me, but I did a good job with it.

    The last few miles I walked with a South Korean that spoke pretty good English. He could not have been older than 25 and was enjoying his first camino. Had a huge pack, but with the temperature forecast to be 35 at 7 am tomorrow, probably smart of him to pack all those clothes. For myself, I'm looking for another fur lined something. Guess I'll have to wear everything I've got as it is not expected to rise out of the 40's until I arrive in Astorga. Thinking about stopping over there for a night as I have the time and there are more Roman ruins to investigate as well as the cathedral.

    As I write this, it is 4 pm. I am sitting in the restaurant area so I can get wifi, and enjoying a cup of warm coffee as it is still chilly outside, too chilly to sit in the sun.

    Dinner was quite enjoyable with others from around the world to share the meal with. More tomorrow.
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