We are off to walk the Camino in Spain again, this time starting in Pamplona and finishing in Finisterre, 42 days of walking, with some rest days interspersed. Week first in San Diego visiting Michael’s family, and 6 days in San Francisco on return.
  • Day68

    Last day in Madrid - and Spain

    October 29, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 6 °C

    This is the end of our 2 months in Spain. It has been a varied, physically taxing and wonderful time. From the heat at the end of summer, to the very cold autumn weather now, and from the foothills of the Pyrenees to the Maseta, then across more mountains and hills in Galicia...what could be more wonderful and varied. And now this last week of winding down and visiting some new places - Salamanca and Segovia - and revisiting Madrid. We are so lucky to be able to do this....

    So today we stayed in town. Went to the Reina Sofia museum which houses modern art, including Picasso’s famous painting of Guernica. Then we just wandered around, trying to keep warm! It was again mostly below 10°, and I see that tomorrow there are snow warnings. Hopefully our plane will have taken off by then. Tonight we had our final dinner at Rosi La Loca. Again a great meal. It is fusion food, and that is probably why we are so enjoying it as we have had straight Spanish food for so long. They do Asian flavours and do interesting combinations of ingredients. And we noticed tonight that most of the diners are not Spanish...not English or American either necessarily, but from many parts...and many languages.

    So tomorrow we fly to San Francisco, and spend 6 nights there before returning home next week on Wednesday 7th. It should be a good unwind from here, and it will be great to see Simon who will be there as originally planned, and not on a work trip to Angola! This will be the last blog post for this trip as San Francisco will be the calming down time, not the hype of Camino and foreign parts. We think this has been perhaps the best trip ever!!
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  • Day67

    Fine and cold in Toledo

    October 28, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    Today was wonderful. It has fined up, and was mostly sunny with a few clouds, but still cold...single figures all day again...we wore many layers. So we got the train to Toledo, again half an hour, but easier than Segovia as it departed from Atocha, relatively near us, and arrived close to the town. We did get a bus to go up when we arrived, but walked back in the afternoon.

    Anyway, it is a lovely town...full of narrow streets, old buildings, with distinct moorish influence, and being a hill town there are wonderful views over the outside countryside. Having found that the cathedral, being Sunday, wouldn’t open till 2.30, we first found the El Greco house and museum...this was fabulous, paintings of his, and some others, all in a house - not actually his, but near where he lived, and in the style and setting the scene. Then we did get to the cathedral - quite a business, as you had to queue for ages to buy tickets - quite expensive, and included audio but Amr had to give in his license as deposit...after all this we thought it better be good - as we have seen so many amazing cathedrals this trip...however, it WAS excellent...huge of course, amazing carving and El Greco paintings, cloisters...another highlight of the day was visiting the monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes ...so many beautiful buildings and monuments. The Alcázar on the other hand was a fine big building, but not one to visit...it has government offices etc and not a visit place.

    So altogether a great day, well worth the visit. Then we were back in time to draw breath and go to dinner at the sister restaurant of Rosi La Loca called Inclan...just excellent food. Small share dishes, very varied and amazing tastes. Sooo good.
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  • Day66

    Cold and Wet in Segovia

    October 27, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

    Despite the cold and wet (we can hardly complain after our run of almost perfect weather) we really enjoyed our day trip to Segovia. The temperature remained in single figures, and it was showery, so not ideal conditions, but the buildings in this town are very worth a visit, not to mention the enormous Roman aqueduct, which was used to supply fresh water till just recently.

    We got the fast train - takes only half an hour from Madrid - which deposits you in the countryside quite a long way from the town, but fortunately there are buses waiting to transport the daily tourists. Then, with a map from the tourist office right near where the bus drops us off, we could walk through the narrow streets, visit the cathedral and any churches that are open, walk to the alcazar, and admire the huge aqueduct that towers over the side of the town. Again, a massive cathedral, said to be the last Gothic one build in Spain, and a very fine example. And the Alcázar is amazing...apparently influenced the Disney castles, as it looks quite fairytale-like. Very influenced by moorish architecture. Had a good walk in there, but it was cold so didn’t linger in the gardens as we would have.

    While at the station we bought tickets to go to Toledo tomorrow, and the forecast is still for cold, but not wet, so an improvement! This is a country of contrasting temperature and weathers...can’t believe how hot we were only recently! So soon off to find something to eat - think we’ll have Spanish tonight!
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  • Day66

    Return to Madrid

    October 27, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Yesterday we took the train back to Madrid from Salamanca, through more very flat plains...and here we are back at our little hostal. All very familiar. Not a lot to say, and I actually forgot to write yesterday, but will do a little catch-up now...one thing was that before Amr had noticed a restaurant called Rosi la Loca (Rosi the crazy woman) which had attracted his attention - not mine, as it had a decor of colourful birds and flowers and didn’t look my style! Anyway, we went to see for lunch yesterday and it is amazing!! Taste, flair...we have booked for Monday dinner, our last night. Will elaborate more, but soon off to Segovia for the day...looking forward to this as never been there. And tomorrow we plan to go to Toledo. Details later.Read more

  • Day64

    Our day in Salamanca

    October 25, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Again, sunny and perfect weather. And we had a great day exploring this amazing city. Quite relaxed though. First was the huge cathedral...all these cathedrals keep exceeding each other! This one is actually two - the new was 17th century, and the old (adjacent) is 12th century...and then we walked up the towers and had a stunning view down to the naves of the cathedrals, plus a view down over the city and countryside, and could walk round the edges...way up high...we chose not to do the very last climb up to the bells!.. Then we saw many other buildings..the casa de las conchas (of course to do with Santiago - the eternal scallop shell - which is the public library, and a university building that also is decorated and looks like another cathedral, and there was a wonderful Art Deco museum (a specialty for Amr)...we had a break and visit back to the hotel, as the temperature had gone from 2° in the morning, to a moderate 17 or so, and rose to about 22° in the afternoon, so we left our down jackets, but still took protection as it cools as soon as the sun sets.

    So in the afternoon we walked via another amazing university building to the Roman bridge across thenriver, and read in the sun on benches with kindles ...very pleasant...then back to the fantastic plaza Mayor for a drink before we met Barbara for dinner tonight...now back and ready for train to Madrid tomorrow. So glad we chose to come here..it is a gem of a city...
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  • Day63

    Travel day to Salamanca

    October 24, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 6 °C

    We have left the Camino, and today got train and bus to Salamanca. It is probably good to have these days in Spain for Camino withdrawal! We had a lovely leisurely day in Santiago yesterday - another sunny day, and a final dinner.

    Today we left early to get the 7.48 train to Zamora. This seemed the simplest way to get to Salamanca, and we had faith that we would find a bus for the short journey there. Our faith was justified, as we left the train at Zamora with a very helpful young woman who showed us where the bus station was (very close) and all worked perfectly. Now installed at the Salamanca Ibis!! So familiar, and a 10 minutes walk to the historic centre of this quite wonderful city. Will elaborate tomorrow when we have a day to explore properly. Met a friend from Manly, met through yoga, who is in Salamanca now..what a coincidence!

    Just have to mention the train journey...at first through Galicia, and through very mountainous areas, beautiful and many tunnels. Then finally we emerged to another Maseta....and all was totally different. This part was flatter than where we walked through, and we again had the very bright penetrating light - again a cloudless day. I realise that this is so contrasting with the light in Galicia which is very much softer, almost misty, even when sunny. And the temperatures here are very cold at night (down to 3° at dawn (which is now 8 am), but up to 22° in late afternoon. Lovely. Off to sleep now.
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  • Day62

    Photos from yesterday..at the very end..

    October 23, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Finally back to proper wifi...the hotel at Finisterre was fine, but wifi came and went (and mostly went)..so can now show the beauty of the walk at the lighthouse ....now just returned to Santiago and are in a room with an even better view to the cathedral! And another perfect sunny day.Read more

  • Day61

    Now we have truly finished our Camino

    October 22, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌬 20 °C

    Another wonderful day, and we have finally TRULY finished the pilgrimage. We walked the final 3.5 kms to the lighthouse at the “end of the earth” and reached the signpost 0.000. The path went alongside the road and so was easy walking...we just had normal shoes, no sticks, and I had no hat which I use as a hair controller as well as sun shield, so got very wind blown. And again we had perfect weather! Spectacular views all the way along as we walked high on the cliff top till we reached the lighthouse. Standing on the rocks there you truly feel you have reached the end of the earth - Finisterre. Quite a few people there, photographing the views, marvelling at the scene, posing like us at the 0.000 milestone. There was a man there, about to start busking playing the didgeridoo - he turned out to be from Kazakhstan originally, then lived in Germany, came to Spain and met his girlfriend and has been living here for several years!! Not sure where the didgeridoo fitted in!!!

    We walked up with the Canadian couple, Arlene and Lambert, that we have met a lot during this Finisterre section, and who are staying at the same hotel. They walked back another route and we returned the way we came and had an amazing lunch of more fresh seafood...chiperones, pulpo, prawns...SO good. The fish is so fresh. Last night we had merluza (hake), which had been caught that day. The fish come straight from the boats to the restaurants round the port. Now digesting and relaxing.

    The wifi here is very hit and miss...won’t even try for photos till back in Santiago...at the moment I will feel lucky to upload this!
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  • Day60

    We are finished! At Finisterre!

    October 21, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Well we have finally finished our walking!! Today we walked the last 13 kms into Finisterre - and according to Amr’s Apple Watch we have walked 840 kms! So now we are recovering, mentally, and having to transfer to a more normal life. Physically we are pretty good - no blisters, no aching muscles or bones, but it is a good feeling to know we have completed it all, and we feel proud of ourselves. Our bags magically were delivered to our hotel for the last time - from now on we will be responsible for them! But it’s fairly amazing that they came to 42 hotels without any hiccups...and we have had a re-pack, all the walking stuff (sticks, shirts...)have gone to the bottom of the bag.

    So this morning’s walk was again lovely. We just had to get round a few more headlands to get to Finisterre, and over one of them, but it was a pretty and easy walk, with water glimpses and views a lot of the time. Our hotel is lovely - we are here for 2 nights - but it is quite a high climb up the hill from the water. The whole town is on the side of the hill. Our room wasn’t ready when we first arrived, so we left the backpacks and sticks and went down to the town for some lunch...this is a fishing town, so seafood here is amazing. Then, on walking back, we decided we’d stay put now and shower and sort our stuff...we had had thoughts of walking to the lighthouse this afternoon (a 7 km round trip) but have voted against that! Maybe tomorrow....it is a historic place to go...it is again great weather today which is why we theoretically thought it would be a good lighthouse day, but tomorrow may be ok too...weather is no longer vital to us...we have been SO lucky.

    So tomorrow we veg here - wander around, eat fish, relax - and on Tuesday we will take a bus back to Santiago for one night at same hotel as before. Finisterre (or Fisterra) is like Cee, a busy and prosperous town...many hotels and hostels as many pilgrims end up here, but full of normal people too and today being Sunday many people were out and about, having lunch, walking the dog, riding bikes etc. I think we will enjoy our day of relaxation tomorrow!

    I don’t think the wifi is good, but so often it surprises me and does upload photos...but if none appear, they will eventually back in Santiago.
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