Joined February 2019 Message
  • Day27

    Day 26 Camino part II

    June 26, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    A double bed!! Whoop 🙌.
    Clean and rested we get ready to see the city. Tracey said she was de pilgriming, being able to wear normal clothes again and makeup.
    Not having I walk around with the rucksack makes a big difference too. I get my obligatory (been there,seen that, got the...) tee shirt.
    The sun comes out for the afternoon, temperature rises and we have a nice time wondering seeing all the sights, hearing all the sounds of this busy city.
    The cathedral is undergoing renovations and there’s no pilgrim mass inside. We go in to view what we can, and to light a candle for Jasmine.
    It’s evening now, and the city is livening up, people out to socialise and dine. We head for the Paradore hotel, slipping past a sign keeping tour groups out we head to the bar and enjoy a glass of cold crisp cava. (In the same table and chairs from four years ago). But for that extra treat, we head for that extra treat - dinner down in the vaulted restaurant. The tasting menu, with accompanying wine; and they even made a vegetarian version for Tracey. Wow, what a treat it was. The food was divine, and the wines too.
    Only one more thing to do, sleep 💤
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  • Day27

    Day 26 Camino part I

    June 26, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    So, here we are. The last day. All the roads, tracks, hills and flats we have walked - its all come down to this last 23km. We still haven’t mastered the rucksack 🎒 packing, but we are getting there now. A clean set of clothes, and a shave - ready to go.
    We set of around 7:20 and follow the road in and out of forests. Undulating as we go, some rather short and steep (a gentle straight down would have been nice). Passing by a village we decide not to add more onto our walk today to in sake for a coffee now - there is sure to be another village. And there is, but another 4km on...
    The path is good, and a few people are walking it. But then all of a sudden it gets busy, a large school partly of teenagers and teachers pour out of their Albergue. And for the first half of the walk it feels quite crowded.
    From an overcast damp start we walk into drizzle, low cloud and finally fine rain and then rain... Coats and covers on we trudge forward. As we get to the city’s edge we should be able to see the cathedral above the buildings, but it’s covered in cloud and drizzle. We walk through the new town, slowly winding our way up and in; able to take the coat hoods off.
    We made it. 😀 Just around mid day we get to the Cathedral square. Fantastic, 26 days.
    Now, to find the pilgrims office for our Compostela. No shells or yellow arrows to follow for this, and it’s moved from four years ago too. We follow a few backpacks and pick up tourist signs to the office. A queue! As good pilgrims we join the line. Maybe an hour later we come out smiling with our credentials and compostela.
    Now where’s the Albergue- I need a wash and a rest.
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  • Day26

    Camino Day 25

    June 25, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    It was warm and stuffy in the dormitory last night, waking us both in the night. Tracey just got up and went back to sleep, whilst I (most probably upsetting a few people) opened the windows for some air.
    We decided to breakfast in, we had cereal, tea and OJ - making a welcome change from a ‘cafe con leche’ and a ‘napoleon’ (not that I have anything against them, but it’s nice to have a breakfast you are use to).
    Much of the day’s walking was similar to yesterday. Undulating through forests and fields. We saw more Jays today, and a vole to add to the list of animals on our Camino. He was scuttling across the path.
    It was getting warmer today too, that and the fast paced 31km to Santa Irene brought out the aches and pains. One more day after this, we kept thinking... one more day. Weird, after all this time how the last few km’s are taking its toll. The feet are fine, they have got use to the boots and the daily steps. It’s just the rest of the body starting to say enough.
    We passed many on the trail today, with differing sizes of bags and wear to their boots. It was certainly busier. We stopped quickly for a couple of drinks, and slightly longer for lunch. So we ended up passing the same people upto four times today. Some faces we recognised from early on, and others recently in Sarria.
    Tonight’s bunk beds are together, and we both have the bottoms. The Albergue is only half full, So no pressure on the showers - Maybe as we are 2km away from a ‘standard’ stage stop. We are here after 25 days, instead of the guided 34. Not bad going.
    Santiago tomorrow, and the last stamp in our credentials as pilgrims.
    Night, and thank you for your support x
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  • Day25

    Camino Day 24

    June 24, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    The alarm went off at 6:11. Neither of us moved, I was swift to turn it off before upsetting the others in the dorm. There were 10 in the room today, a couple had left already and another was rustling around in their bag 🎒. Even after 3 or 4 weeks for some, you never pack the bag right for the next morning. You think you have everything for a quick getaway, and then you remember your clean socks at the bottom (or the iPhone charger, fr that extra 10% whilst your getting ready in the dark). I got up at 6:30, and dared to wake Tracey at 6:50 - she was still sleeping. We were not the last out, but at 7:40 we were near the remaking few. 💯m later we stopped for breakfast at the bar. We didn’t set off for real until about 8:30 in the end.
    We were walking the shortest leg so far today, 27km to Melide - home of the regional delicacy Pulpo. Spilt into two halfs we would stop for lunch in Palas del Rei.
    Much of the walking today was gentle troughs and peaks, slowly descending all along. Mainly the same as yesterday, walking country lanes/avenues with a canopy from the trees lining them (oak and increasingly more so eucalyptus) and fields with cattle or horses. Only a few had crops now.
    It was only a few kilometres away from tonight’s resting place did we come across a couple of things that had been regular in our days walking previously. First of all, following a main road and secondly a medieval stone bridge crossing the river at Furelos.
    On the was into Melide I tried some of the octopus 🐙, and it amazed me how great it tasted. We found the Albergue easily enough, and just in time... or aches and pains were starting to raise their heads (though the feet seemed to have more life in them).
    Wash, cook, drink and wander the town. Pack for tomorrow, blog and now to finish the last beer off before bed. Lights out tonight is 11pm‼️
    Two more days... two more days...
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  • Day24

    Day 23 on the Camino

    June 23, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    Well that was a fun ~33km today, who said the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain? Not today.
    As we set off from Vilei this morning, at a leisurely 7:30 we had cloud cover but no rain. It had been pouring all night, but broke for sun rise.
    We decided to walk before breakfast and at around 6km through rural fields and tree lined paths we came across a breakfast spot. Perfectly times for a couple of reasons, it was spitting with ran and also they were just open. We managed to string out a croissant as two coffees each for an hour or so, as we watched the rain lash down. Many first time pilgrims, joining the Camino from Sarria trudged past with their new waterproofs and ponchos.
    The rain eased enough for us to get underway - rain coats on and backpack covers too. We walked through oak Forrest’s and arable land, undulating all the way. Today’s chorus of song from the birds was also joined by a field of frogs croaking away. We were motoring away to lift the average pace up, our aches and pains being dulled by modern medicine.
    Just before Portomarín we came across a Veggie bar - something we had to stop for, as Tracey had suffered a poor offering the night before The food in Spain is definitely orientated to the meat eater. But this was an oasis for all. The veggie burgers 🍔 were to die for and a smoothie to was it all down. The rain had eased, and so waterproofs came off, long sleeves packed away and fuelled we were ready for the last 15km.
    We dropped steeply to the bridge across the river to Portomarín and suffered the long haul up the other side. The path for a change followed a road up (a reminder of a week back). Modern medicine was wearing off with 6km to go (or as I had said 5 point something kilometres... it was actually 6.1, but I didn’t want to demoralise the troops).
    Again today was a walk through small farm villages, cows, pigs and sheep; and the view of the final village with our lodgings for the night was welcome.
    Normal ritual happened, and rewarded with a big beer. Rest and a pilgrim dinner, only one more thing to do (after finishing the wine bottle) - bed. Earlier again!
    Tomorrow a shorter day, only 27km and half the lost stage back. Pulpo...
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  • Day23

    Day 22 on the Camino

    June 22, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    Fonfría ending up in Vilei (just past Sarria). 32km give or take. One thing you learn quickly on the Camino is to never trust the measurements. It is what it is in the end, and you can get very frustrated (especially at the end of a long day when 3km turns out to be 4km).
    Today we came down the mountain we climbed yesterday, and for 9km it was dropping, gentle at first on a good path but then steeper and steeper with worn out rocky paths again (European money not stretching the whole way down). We were definitely in Yorkshire... Stone walls, green undulating hills and fields, cows 🐄, tree cover and woodland, moss, nettles, daisies, cow parsley. Even starting the day with grey cloud, but that still burnt off with the humidity getting up and the temperature hitting the low 20s.
    We walked through farm villages fo most of the day - made up with 6 to 10 houses and the main road littered with evidence of cows. Even when we stopped for a drink and a tortilla we were reminded where we were with cows going past us for milking.
    We walked through Serria (modern into old town) as this is the last start for people wanting to get their certificates in Santiago - as its the last town before 💯km. It would be busy with new walkers, and we wanted to be in front of them tomorrow.
    Today’s walk was hard for Tracey, and progressively for me too. Tracey’s knee proving to be the worst of her injuries when it comes to walking. It took a while to free itself this morning, as then later on got progressively worse. For me I seem to have pulled something in my shin ankle area. And at the Albergue we shared the ice pack on all our injuries.
    Washed, washing and sleep. A beer and then dinner (not great for vegetarians). Some seeing Andy he blog. It’s busier not walking!
    Tomorrow we plan to start make the km’s back we lost at the start - depending on our limps. We are still on plan for Wednesday finish 😀, bodies allowing.
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  • Day22

    Day 21 on the Camino

    June 21, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Ok, so just a warning ⚠️ to today’s blog. We have just come from a large (40+ communal dinner) where the bottles of red wine were being replaced like tap water. Such a fantastic feast, and the noise from the conversation was amazing. Everyone has a story to tell and share.
    Today you could throw 10 adjectives at and you wouldn’t do it justice. It was the hardest, toughest, most amazing, wonderful, beautiful, draining day so far. So the Pyrenees, they were tough. But once you were over them you came down. Today was as steep if not steeper; with a twist. You thought you were at the top at O Cebreiro, but NO... for the not (and last 10km) you kept going up and down all along the plato top. We were even tainted by two Altos. Seeing the Albergue was such a great sight.
    Earlier in the day we started out along the road again, but soon transferred onto a track. The landscape had turned greener, more pastural and market garden. And as we started gently to climb we remarked how much like home it looked. The villages we passed through were so removed from Spanish rule - so remote and rural, looking like they survived on what they could. The initial two gentle hours passed and allows Tracey to loosen up the aching muscles. And the next two hours we sweated the warming day and the steep climb.
    Today was also special to us, as the generosity of those following us meant that Tracey hit the £800 target set to raise for The Christie. We are in your debt, thank you.
    (Made it with a minute to lights out... Night all)
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  • Day21

    Day 20 on the Camino

    June 20, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Well, we slept well last night. Tracey even got a little lie in until 6:30am. (I’d stayed up a little longer last night and woke earlier just to check on her and see if she was ok). The fall yesterday took a lot out of her, but she was adamant when I woke her that we were going the planned 34km - to be reviewed on the way; but I knew what that meant always, lol.
    We took out time and got out of the Albergue around 7:15am, found the first bar and had breakfast. Ready for the day we set off. The first 8km, after walking through the old town, skirted around the new - through some posh neighbourhoods and out into fields of market garden produce. Families were already out there tending their plots. Again into suburbs and rural towns before we hit the countryside again. The crops had tuned back to fields of vines (of which four years ago we remembered tasted the grapes 🍇🍇 in the Autumn).
    We stopped around 16km in, to get some fruit and a Spanish “Cornish pasty” in Cacabelos. Every village we passed theology had a small church at least, and here was no exception. Stone brick, rotund and simple inside with wonderful stain glass windows.
    The countryside was undulating today with a better grittier teach and road to walk on. No trips or slips today, though Tracey walked with a slight limp and the muscles were starting to ache from the fall yesterday.
    We passed through the beautiful town of Villafranca de Bierzo with little under 10km to go. The path followed the road, through a gorge, with a motorway above us. The hill sides changing from grass land and vines to more trees.
    The Albergue we planned to stay in (decided 1km before the end) was full - only 12 beds. But, a dear old lady who was sat outside led us along the street, between other houses to another (her’s). This I believe she did for another 8 guests, lol.
    We did the usual - slept and chatted to others.
    Even watched the rain fall outside and listening to the thunder. Feeling glad we had got there in time.
    Dinner ended up to be a self organised communal affair with about 5 languages being spoken. The Italians ended up cooking - pasta, couldn’t argue with that.
    Blog and a cup of Twinings English Breakfast tea ad now it’s bed 💤
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  • Day20

    Day 19 on the Camino

    June 19, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    So today was Rabanal to Ponferrada, via the Cruz de Ferro; a 33km stage.
    We set off after breakfast, climbing just under 400m in 8km. The scenery quickly changed to trees, brush and green pastures with milking cows. The air was so clean, with an abundance of lichen on the bark. It had showered over night and the morning was cloud covered. Some of the hills around us were enveloped by the clouds. The path was well trodden and good up.
    At Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on the Camino, we left stones we had been carrying for loved ones. A time to think, pray and reflect.
    The top plateaued out for 5km and we continued walking the slate path with purple, green, browns and yellow alongside us.
    We then started the treacherous 12km part road/ mainly stone rubble path down. At points the loose rocks and steepness put a lot of stress on your feet and tops of your legs.
    Nearly there, 300m to the road leading into Melinaseca the unthinkable happened. Tracey tripped on a protruding rock and went flying forward, down onto her face. Others around us came and helped. Tracey’s strapping Italian angels helped her off the mountain to a place where she could rest; I called 112.
    An ambulance was dispatched from Ponferrada and made good speed. Taking us the remaining 8km to where we were aiming for to stop in the afternoon. After overcoming the language barrier, as Bering treated, Tracey left with a broken nose and 3 stitches to a cut above her left eye. (I’m so relieved that we have not left Europe yet!!)
    Told to rest and cool down, we find out hostel and mange to get a double scoop ice cream (doctor’s orders). A trip to the pharmacy and an early night. She is adamant to walk tomorrow... I’ve said let’s review in the morning (but I already know what the answer will be...).
    Night and God bless
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  • Day19

    Day 18 on the Camino

    June 18, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Santibanez to Rabanal dal Camino. 33ish kilometres.
    7am breakfast and then 7 hours on the road... Well, we do walk most of the time, but for a quick water break here and there and a lunch around 20km in.
    These recent days have been similar and different,but very much into the routine of pounding out the first 15 or 20kms - it seems to be the last 10 to 15 that take as long and are the harder.
    It was 12km to Astorga this morning, along a gravel track next to the road (sound similar?) A steep climb up into the town, past the ‘Spa Hotel’ and then where? It was market day, all the stalls were set up on both side of the street (you know the markets from 30 years ago back home, and the noise was wonderful). However this proved a problem to us pilgrims. We couldn’t see the way, the shells on the floor or yellow arrows were covered by stalls. Other pilgrims in front were as equally confused. So, we looked up towards the cathedral spire and went in that sort of direction. And what a site when we got there... Gaudi’s Palace and the cathedral side by side. We resisted and looked, thought and carried on.
    Out of the town we had wide tracks, white tracks, road and rocky paths. We had every sort of path that would cause blisters either by rubbing or just ripping the feet. The road was the best, a little spongy under foot too, but then you had to deal with the Spanish drivers.
    Corn fields are giving way to pine plantations and cows. We gradually went 300m as we headed to our abode for the night. The last 7km between villages was tough, but with some BP 109 music we made it. A real rural retreat, a courtyard and collection of connecting buildings. The bedroom feels like a large barn, and we have top bunks pushed together tonight.
    We had a washing scare, as showers have been falling this evening - spoiling the clear skies.
    Bed seems to be coming earlier too...
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