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LIVE from the Camino [An Unexpected Pilgrimage - - 2024 - - Intermediary in my Home to Home]

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
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Well !!

Here's an unexpected parenthesis in this much longer Camino : https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...-home-to-home-2019-2021-2022-2023-2024.58346/

In fact, I had thought that my Home to Home was finished, uncompleted except in an abstract sense, but I have been very powerfully drawn back to it. A surprise even to me !!

It's also true that health-wise, this is becoming increasingly necessary, both physically and mentally. I thought to myself some years ago, I think near the start of my 2014, perhaps I even thought this in 2013, that for my health I might need to walk every 2 years or so instead of every 5 or so, and that prediction seems to be becoming true. I need to be out and about, not stuck at home and in front of my computer.

Anyway, I am planning to get the Night Train from Nice to Paris, spend a day there, then Night Train to Biarritz. Bah !!! there's still no return of the Night Train directly from here to there, that was a lovely train !!

Not sure yet how I'll get from the border to Salamanca, but I'm sure I'll think of something.

I'll walk to Santiago, and I'll walk at least some distance out from Santiago -- hitch-hike likely to an extent along the Francès, with definitely some days walking on the Meseta, which I love to bits !! Then make my Way to Roncesvalles, which I'll consider (when I get there) as Day 373+0 on my Home to Home. I did get further last time ; but with so many of the compromises I was forced into, I really do need to restart my Way Home from that point onwards.

Wish me luck !!
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
JabbaPapa,

Please don't try to do too much too quickly. Will you be taking your famous black cape?

Looking forward to reading your updates as you progress. My heart goes with you.

Stay safe, Carpe diem and, as always, Ultreia!
 
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JabbaPapa,

Please don't try to do too much too quickly. Will you be taking your famous black cape?
I will OF COURSE do "too much" !! ... but certainly not too quickly.

The great big black pilgrim cape is coming along of course, though I suspect that this time it will serve more often as a blanket than as a cape. It's not a Winter Camino.
 
Every. Single. Time. -- I make myself play a game of Hide the Passport, Find the Passport.

Took me about 45 minutes to lay hands on it again this time. Found my old expired Passport within 10 minutes, but that was no help.

It was in my old Credencial plastic pouch this time instead of somewhere sensible. Like for example in the "new" one ... :rolleyes:

---

I've started packing the backpack. French Army sleeping bag takes up most of the volume, but I don't need many clothes and I think I can squeeze in all that I need. Nice to be able to leave the woollen jumper at home, that thing does take up some volume (and weighs a bit, but it's a necessary on a Winter Camino), and I need fewer medicines with me from only about 2 months outside of France instead of 8 like last time.

The great big black woollen pilgrim cape is raggedy, and likely I'll have to do a DIY fix along the way, with boot laces. Fixing it at the seamstress is something else I had to compromise against. Well, at least my belt is a bit more viable this time.

Clearing up the mess pre-Camino I did anyway find my hiking gloves -- I don't like them, they're artificial fabric and they stink as soon as they're wet, but I hadn't the time to organise better ones.

Haven't put everything in yet, but the pack is definitely lighter, even with the sleeping bag and cape already there.

I've a feeling I won't get going 'til early next week -- I won't travel on the week-end anyway.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
It's starting tomorrow.

I am still annoyed at the death of the Paris plan, but I will instead get a train to Arles or Tarascon or Avignon, and then either travel or hitch-hike onwards from there.

I'm putting my shell back on around my neck as I type. It's the same one from Pablo Payo, El Mesonéro Mayor del Camino de Santiago, that he gave me on my 1994. One of my most loved and treasured possessions. My Roman key is back off for the time being, but it'll back on for my Home to Rome next year. Once that's done, I may keep it on upon any pilgrimage afterward.
 
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Day 1 - - Narbonne - - it has been a day of contrasts and paradoxes, and so a Camino day, with its joys and frustrations.

It began quietly enough, doing my interwebs stuff, some cleaning chores.

Then my first train was half an hour late, which turned into two hours, then four.

Having said that, in Nice, the manager of a small local supermarket, nothing special, gave me the food I wanted to buy for free.!!! - - because I am a pilgrim. And I think that's a pretty good sign.

Train journey was by parts horrendous and sublime.

The part I loved most was traveling along the amazing Estèrel, particularly along the part of the track where I could see where I had walked in 2019, and where I shall walk again later this year.

I found a reasonable spot to sleep, mostly in the shade from the street lamps, against a wall, and covered too, which is good because it rained and indeed it still is raining.

The elf cheapo inflatable mattress did a great job !!!

Have to start hitch-hiking today, but not before coffee and resupply, besides it's pointless trying too early in the morning.

Depending on how long it takes me to get into Spain, there is a chance that I may need to start in Zamora rather than Salamanca.
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Good morning, updated the previous post as I was too sleepy to get even the basics down.

hmmmmm, it's raining pretty heavily now - - the spot where I slept is the only dry place in sight.
 
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I'll be doing my first actual walking this morning, hopefully not too much, but anyway the hitch-HIKING starts in a while. I need to find a second phone charger gizmo, one of my two died, also a new pair of black jeans as my 2022 Camino jeans are dying, sadly.

It's stopped raining anyway, and my sleeping spot is still dry. Seems I chose well !!
 
I REALLY like Narbonne, the people here are so lovely and kind. And the city has a bourgeois but at the same time rustic elegance combining what seems to be the best of city, suburb, rural, simplicity, and Catholicity into a genuinely healthy whole.

I am quite unsure that the title of this thread is an accurate one for this Camino, which seems to be changing into something entirely unexpected.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Howsoever that I might try to look at things, as if I were somehow in charge or something, this fundamentally unexpected Camino has taken on a life of its own, and not since my 1993 has it been like this. I have no idea at all what I'm doing nor where I'm going, and yet here I am on my Way to Santiago.

I'm not even sure at this point that I will even set foot on the Sanabrés.

I need this one somehow to be guided by my intuition.
 
And I REALLY like my new backpack. Everything fits in perfectly, it's a LOT lighter than my old Decathlon one, and much more comfortable. Ideally a somewhat larger Osprey or something might be better, but for THIS Camino, what I have is perfect.
 
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This is a very strange day.

I just walked haphazard, and hap took me straight to the exact right place to get my new pair of black jeans and my new charger gizmo.

I didn't even expect yesterday to be in Narbonne in the first place !!

I also still have not the faintest clue of what I am doing nor how I am here, nor why, which really is quite refreshing.

I am near the edge of Narbonne anyway. I still have found no coffee, but I guess that Whoever brought me here has other priorities.
 
Day 2 - - at Emmaus and at the crossroad between the road to Perpignan and the road to Carcassonne.

It's a bad hitch-hiking spot.

I've asked to sleep in their covered porch, to which the guy has agreed in principle, though he may well have floor space somewhere. Anyway I am in the refectory and out of the rain, so that's good.

I have just been given an ice cream, and that's lovely.

Oh, and I walked here, so that's good too.

Tomorrow I'll also need to hike not hitch, at least until somewhere with better possibilities. Whatever else has happened today, I've realised that I am in no hurry regardless, and that whichever way forwards is the right Way.

Nice to be out of the rain anyway ...
 
Montredon des Corbières - -

I'm fumbling my way along. Hitch-hiking on the main road is a non-starter, but I can see that I am not too far from the Carcassonne variant of the Arles Way, and that little roads lead there, and somewhat parallel to it, which should be easier.

It just happens also to be a part of my return route from Roncesvalles and SJPP later this year, and Heavens know why I have been drawn towards it already.

There was good food at Emmaus last night, a good shower, and I slept indoors on my inflatable mattress. Finally managed a coffee this morning, the normal machine they're using is broken.

Weather is a lot better.
 
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Day 3 - - Ginestas - - and progress !!

I got a good lift out of Montredon, from a good young man who is following via Facebook the progress of a foot pilgrim on his way to Jerusalem (currently in Serbia, apparently). It's a small world ...

I am very close now to the route of the Arles Way variant via Carcassonne, though truth be told, this is one of the very villages that I was considering for a detour around this particular local section, only now it has of course become a dead certainty that it's exactly what I'll do !!

It's a lovely village, full of flowers and laughing children. And typical South-West France.

I got myself a pot of traditional Terrine, a steal at €3.50, and that's my very tasty lunch.

Not sure what more I might do today - - this is turning into a pretty good training hike, I've walked towards I guess 5K to 10K both yesterday and today, further today, and I don't want to push my legs too far too soon.

The heat of the day is anyway right now, so staying put for the time being.
 
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I am enjoying reading your daily reports, Jabba. You are definitely walking/hitching/sleeping by faith as you usually do, always full of interesting twists and turns along the way.
Ummm, talking about those black jeans, I hope they are the newer stretchy variety for more comfort, but they sound miserable either way if your weather stays hot.🫠
 
Well, I'm staying here, at the kids' park, but looking at the lodging possibilities on this route, potentially I am revising my plans for the section Roncesvalles to home. We'll see.
 
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Sleep was a bit complicated, as there were so many activities in the village that there were no good spots until after 1AM. The spot that I did find that was protected both against the wind and the intense full Moon was in use until then as a car park by the patrons of the pétanque tournament.

It didn't help that the inflatable mattress deflated -- not bust, just the cap fell out.

Also not helpful is that the Android device is messed up, doing stuff on its own and draining charge. If I switch it off, it has been switching itself back on, it's been opening the camera app solo, and sigh ...

This Windows Phone is now working straightforwardly better than that thing, just with a very outdated version of mapy.cz.

Well I dozed anyway in the kids park, then moved to the good spot, reinflated the mattress, and slept.
 
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Conilhac-Corbières - -

Two good lifts this morning, and I am halfway from Narbonne to Carcassonne.

I did catch sight of a picturesque point along the Canal du Midi, at Ventenac-du-Minervois, so I can see why some people like it.

I am back on the main road ; however it's more sensible size here.

Anyway, after last night I need some strengthening, so I have decided to go for a pilgrim menu at the little Basque restaurant here.
 
My understanding is that there was a massive hail storm in Perpignan yesterday, and general bad weather along the coast, so good thing I guess that I was drawn this way instead.

BTW, the steak is excellent, and delightfully the chips/french fries have been properly fried in fat, not oil.
 
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Day 4 - - Carcassonne

I am on the Arles Way (Carcassonne variant) !! Also technically on the Piémont Way.

Three decent lifts got me here, the first the short distance from Ginestas to Ventenac-du-Minervois thanks to a vineyard labourer. Was a quick one over a short distance, got picked up inside Ginestas itself, where I had taken a café au lait and recharged my devices a bit.

Then the walk through Ventenac and the aforementioned beauty spot at the canal, maybe 2K total, and got a lift from a gentleman in an old but well cared for 2CV who took me to Conilhac. We discussed politics and religion, though he did get into the a rather anti-clerical monologue towards the end. It's clearly a great area for hiking and biking anyway , nice and flat, with a mix of little tarmac roads, dirt trails, and agricultural roads.

Lunch, then a lift to Carcassonne, didn't really have to wait that long for it, fairly standard lift and not much to say, but it was good and fast.

I tried to stay at the Abbaye, but nobody was answering the phone, I went there to see what's up, nobody was there except for a couple of pilgrims who had been calling since morning to try and get their credencials, and a guy who lives there and told us that often on the weekend there's nobody there. Guess the nuns have gone, then. The website of the place wants you to reserve in advance via email ...

So I called the youth hostel, and got a good lower bunk here. It's set up a lot like some of the more modern Albergues on the Francès, of the individual bunk alcoves type with a curtain, pillow and duvet, a shower and toilet in each dormitory, and so on. They sell some overpriced food on the ground floor, which is nonetheless attractively set up and comfortable.

Good place to stay overall, and of course I really needed this night in an actual bed, shower, and get some soap and water into some clothing !!

Between the short bits of morning walking, then some to-and-fro between the old town and new over the old bridge, maybe a 5K or so total ? So not much.

I'm trying to sort out my Android device misbehaviour, and I am beginning to see that the main reason for it seems to be that after some months if non-use, it resets all apps to default settings, so that all that I had done to make it usable last time round had been lost. Found out anyway why the camera was switching itself on, and so it should stop doing so.

Rest here a bit longer, go down for a coffee and then look for a little supermarket open on Sunday morning. Sadly no time I guess to go to Mass, unless I get lucky on the way out of the city towards a good place for hitch-hiking.
 
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Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
I've met a few pilgrims.

Apart from the couple who were looking for credencials, one of the residents at Emmaus suddenly declared, I walked the Camino !! 913 Km !! then scuttled off, hmm maybe he did.

A Spanish pilgrim who has just finished the Norte, he lives on the Norte and often bikes along it was staying here too, for a post-Camino vacation, so we swapped notes and some stories about the tourigrinos LOL.

His French is better than my Spanish, so that's what we spoke in, with a few pieces of Camino-specific Spanish thrown in.

At the same time, my Camino habits are kicking back in, so this is all doing a pretty good job with my Camino prep, that is getting used to life out of the backpack again, re-introduction to the daily effort, as well as the social element.
 
Bram - -

Bit of a suburban slog out from the centre of Carcassonne to the edge point where hitching even becomes possible, got one short lift, then a second better one from a Catholic couple who picked me up because I am a pilgrim. They would not have picked me up otherwise.

Wearing your scallop shell is very frequently helpful.

We exchanged some hot church gossip, then they left me between the Mairie and the village bar where I am taking a cool one. Or two. (...)

Closing in on the Arles Way proper in its passage through the Lauragais.
 
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Well this is a big one ...

Day 5 - - Auterive

It took me quite a while to get a lift out of Bram, from what really should have been a good spot, to the point that I started to make my prayers for help, spontaneously I prayed to Mary in particular for guidance on my way.

Shortly after a young woman stopped, driving her young son back home from somewhere, and she took me to Villefranche-de-Lauragais, then to Nailloux where she lives. Which happens to be the exact route that I took in 2005 when I left the Arles Way to head for Lourdes.

Then - - as I was by the roadside looking at mapy.cz trying to work out where to sleep and what not, a young man with his young wife and several young children stopped and asked me if I needed anything, I said not unless you're going to Auterive ; and they said hop in, and they brought me here.

So clearly whatever reason has brought me here is one that goes via Lourdes.

So I am now on three pilgrimages - - Lourdes ; Santiago ; finish the Home to Home (which will include Lourdes again).

So yeah, this is a big one.

And the Camino provides.
 
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It's a lovely warm evening, and I'll be sleeping on the grass next to the river Ariège, which I guess is the same choice I made last time in 2005.

I met another pilgrim, this time an elderly gentleman who in his youth made the foot pilgrimage from somewhere near, not sure but via Auterive, 12 years in a row, little money, sleeping wherever he could and so on.

We compared notes on rough sleeping.

Twelve is of course a Marian symbolic number, and the number of the Archangels.
 
Transport luggage-passengers.
From airports to SJPP
Luggage from SJPP to Roncevalles
It's a lovely warm evening, and I'll be sleeping on the grass next to the river Ariège
So real / no expectations … and I’m enjoying reading your pilgrimage notes. I hope your night beside the river was as comfy as I am seeing it in my imagination… (lush soft grass beside clear flowing water ????).
Buen camino
 
So real / no expectations … and I’m enjoying reading your pilgrimage notes. I hope your night beside the river was as comfy as I am seeing it in my imagination… (lush soft grass beside clear flowing water ????).
Buen camino
That's what I did last time here in 2005, and that's a very close description of what the river bank is like here. I slept a little further up this time, against a low wall for some protection against wind and street lights. Also good to sit on and sort out my things this morning.

The sound of the flowing river water was most soothing.
 
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Carbonne - -

Very hot today. Fine in the shade, scorching out in the Sun.
 
Rieux-Volvestre - -

Carbonne was frankly so hot and humid, I just took the bus here. I am still escaping the heat.

I found a restaurant here that hadn't quite closed where I was able to get a coffee, some water, and some Android device recharge.

Got some shade after that at the covered market, and the humidity is a bit better here too.

The Albergue that was here in 2017 has gone the way of the dodo.

I suppose that I'll try again later once the heat goes down a bit, nevertheless it is starting to feel like Spain, including the 2PM "Spanish midday".

Today's pilgrim was a villager along the way who has just finished his first stage, Le Puy > Conques and will carry on in stages going forward.
 
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2CV!!! Your Chemin is truly blessed!!
Sometimes the Camino Provides really well.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Day 6 - - Cazères-sur-Garonne

Short update now.

It was a frustrating day of trying to find a bar for a bit of rest and recharge but finding none, but upon arrival into the centre of Cazères I met some local carefree types.

The lady of that house offered me a fantastic plate of pork and chips, we all shared conversation. She was thinking of offering me a spot to sleep on, but changed her mind later which is fine - - but I did get to take a shower Hooray !!

I will probably add more tomorrow, but for now sleep, not on grass (there's a bench here I can't do without), but near the Garonne.
 
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Despite and because of the difficulties coming this way even just hitch-hiking, I am glad to be doing it, as it gives me a far clearer understanding of the Via Garona and the Arles Way variant via Béziers > Carcassonne.

The attempt by the region to promote the Via Garona as a secondary Camino route, from 2017 onwards, seems mostly to have failed, and I'm sure the covid restrictions were a bit of a killing blow. There's virtually nothing in terms of Camino infrastructure, just the usual sort of gîtes and chambers d'hôte that you could find on even the most DIY route. It might be better for bikers.

All of the above applies to the Arles route variant, except that additionally it hasn't even been waymarked and so includes much DIY. Plus between Béziers and Carcassonne there seems to be the same dearth of Camino infrastructure as between Béziers and Perpignan, which seems to be indicative of a widespread failure by the Region to support these two major and one important secondary Camino routes.

Does the fact that the region has become broadly atheistic have something to do with this lack of support ?

Anyway I may need to roughly follow the Piémont Way out from Lourdes on my Way back home, always assuming that there's any better support on that route ...

I will not be walking back this way anyway, unless I change my mind again ?

As to my way forward hitch-hiking now, some motorway hitching looks to be unavoidable, though my best route looks still to be via Lourdes - - unless who knows which way someone might take me ?

Slept well last night anyway, just passing some time to recharge the Android device somewhat in a bar.
 
OK I had another look and did find some good details for the Piémont Way. So more or less that way it will have to be on the way back, though I do like my detour via Saint-Palais.
 
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Day 7 - - Lourdes

After recharging myself and my Android device in that (pleasant) bar at Cazères/Cazère (both spellings are used), I headed out on the little road eastward, and got a lift pretty quickly from a Muslim gentleman, Moroccan origin, with his baby daughter in the back seat, who was headed to Tarbes.

He was low on fuel, which was lucky in the end, as I was able to help him out a bit, and he switched his route and drove me to Lourdes which was only slightly out of his way.

Towards the end, the driving route took me along the road that I had taken walking here in 2005, some of the views from it are spectacular and it was a joy to see them once more.

He had the Koran playing on audio which didn't bother me, nor did his smoking, and we had the usual Christian versus Muslim arguments, but it was friendly enough, though I did have to stop him at some points with "we will never agree about this". The trip went well, and I got into Lourdes at about 1PM or so.

I got some beers, not many, and sat down to rest in the shade for a while by the Parish Church.

Then I went in search of the pilgrim office, which has moved again, and first time ever for me it was open. Hooray !! Just went for the chat really, and to be friendly, though I did get some more up-to-date info about the Lourdes -SJPP lodging situation. Was happy to see that they have updated that info, particularly as I had called them in January last year to inform them of some errors on the old list.

It was a pleasant chat, and I saw the guy again quickly just now as he had come to visit Jean-Louis.

Because yes I stayed at La Ruche which is as wonderful as always. It really is my favourite among them all. A varied group of pilgrims, among them one retired lady (here with her husband), and she had walked home to home some years ago from the Alps, a 4,000 to 5,000 K job, of the kind that's dear to my heart. Six months for hers.

Supper and breakfast were great, got some clothes washed and dried and so on.

I will make my Marian devotions at the Grotto this morning, after some shopping in town, then back on my way.
 
Compared hiking staff techniques with Jean-Louis on the way out nice to meet someone else who knows his stuff.

I use a one-handed technique, his is an interesting two-handed one that requires a longer staff. Always good to learn something new !!
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Day 8 - -

I am still in Lourdes.

Because of another fairly crazy day. Last night, I had the start of a fairly deep conversation with a Dutch peregrina here, then on my way down to the grotto at a point that was still early enough for hitch-hiking, I met her in town, and we needed to continue that conversation.

She is still staying here too, so that's nice, maybe we'll carry it on.

Anyway then I went down to the grotto and made my prayers and whatnot, then stopped for a spot in the shade while looking for the exit towards the road.

A young man was there studying a corrected paper, and as he got up to leave I casually said hallo, and is that a paper for your studies ?

Yes but I'm a seminarian, just being polite we said where are you from and so on, are you going to Santiago etc.

Anyway he was from Barcelona he said, I said oh I used to live there, in a village near Sant Cugat dell Vallès, oh that's where our Seminary is. I said actually I went to school in Sant Cugat, but actually we lived in Valldoreix. He said crazy, our Seminary is in Valldoreix (which is sometimes considered as a part of Sant Cugat).

Anyway, he went off then came back, have you eaten you can come with us.

So it turns out that the whole Seminary group from Valldoreix was in Lourdes, and I ate with the group and we shared some stories - - and at the end, after Grace, their Spiritual Director gave me a pilgrims blessing, which is the kind of very unexpected thing that's been happening to me all week.

Anyway after all of these alarums and excursions, my route to a hitch-hiking spot took me straight back to the front of the Albergue, the heat of the day was up, pretty much impossible to hitch, there was a pilgrim buzzing at the door to get in, and the whole of it was just - - OK I give in, that's the end of my hitch-hiking aspirations for the day !!

Sigh ...

Well, I have nothing more left to do in Lourdes now, tomorrow that is, I'm at the right edge of the city to get out my way in the morning, my clothes have had a second round of cleaning, so hopefully I'll be back on track tomorrow.

But yeah, the Camino really does provide ...
 
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Day 9 - - Arudy

I got in when it was still more or less early enough to continue hitch-hiking, but I needed a bit of a rest, as I had walked the last few K into the village, and anyway I needed to check my way forward from here regardless.

And it became clear to me that there was too much likelihood of getting stuck in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, or even if I made it to say Navarrenx, too much risk of a bad night outside.

So here I am again, in this wonderful place. Just one peregrina apart from myself, a pleasant and lively young woman who started at Carcassonne.

She slept upstairs, and I had the men's dorm to myself.

A fairly simple day really, needing little to eat from all of that food I had in Lourdes !!

------

I am starting to think more about my itinerary going forward, and I am starting to think that the Sanabrés is probably right out. I may only be doing a 200K job or something into Santiago, which may leave Ponferrada as my only real option.

Unless someone has a different suggestion ?
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I am in Oloron-Sainte-Marie - - and after having spent some years telling people to get the ultra-cheap local bus lines, it's time for me to take my own advice for once.
 
An extra snippet for those who follow such matters - - the Oloron > Somport bus is still technically a temporary replacement bus while the railway line is down.

Well ; the local timetable says that it's currently modified because of work on the track.

So it seems that they are actually finally doing it after all this time !!!
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Day 10 -- Saint-Palais

Hitch-hike to Oloron then buses.

Sadly got grabbed by a bit of the black dog between the afternoon and evening, which is always annoying, so I isolated myself when I got in here and looked for somewhere to sleep that wasn't the Albergue.

It passed anyway, and I found a good enough spot at what I think is the covered market, even mostly sheltered from the street lights.

Possible better news from yesterday is that I may need less beer than I used to against the pain. Needs confirming, but my knees are definitely feeling better since Lourdes. Ankle is still bad.

Raining a little this morning, used the cape for a short bit, but it's too warm to actually wear it.

Seeing if I can get a coffee, two main bars are still shut though, then hitch-hike to SJPP then onwards from there.
 
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A selection of Camino Jewellery
Day 11 -- Pamplona

It was good hitching, and I think about a 10K of hiking.

Not really awake yet, so this will be a short one.

And I need to be starting out by walking this morning, until I don't know where.

It was a good group of pilgrims at the Albergue, though I did end up drinking too much vino tinto with a Spanish peregrino with a disability who is cycling his Camino on his e-bike.

There was a French pilgrim walking from home, I seem to be meeting a lot more of these Home to Santiago pilgrims than I normally do. Must be about half a dozen so far.

Lovely American Hospitaleras.

My knees are definitely less painful since Lourdes. The legs don't work any better, and aches and pains from hiking are of course still a thing, but once my anti-inflammatory kicks in, there's no pain, and that is new.
 
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OK just woken up properly, and out here on the square I amazingly still have the Albergue WiFi.

Now I remember where I am too, hooray !!

So this morning is one of my favourite stretches of the whole Francès up to that incredible panoramic view. Great stuff !!
 
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Day 12 - - Zariquiegui

So I didn't make it up over the top, and it was a 12K "counting" more or less as a 15 from the climb.

It's very interesting, I definitely no longer need the beer to get going, which will make things a lot easier financially, after my money comes in on Saturday anyway. I need to carry more water instead, and some beer will still be good for restorative purposes.

I met another pilgrim from home, this one an 18 year old from the Netherlands. He was kind enough to get me a beer.

I needed not to eat, as I had some problems earlier, and also I had found some salami left out for a pilgrim in need, and from some help given earlier I had just enough to pay for the Albergue here. Nothing special, but it's comfortable enough.

I'll walk up and over in the morning, then back to hitch-hiking from Uterga.
 
I am in Uterga. I managed to get some cash on the way down - - and BTW I still have not made up my mind if I hate more the descent to Uterga from the ridge or the ascent up there from Uterga - - so I think I will splurge out on a second cerveza. I need the rest indoors more than the beer, but I guess I will just have to multitask.

The pilgrims are here in their dozens rather than their hundreds.

I did have one surprise on the way down, as someone behind called me by name !!

The young and beautiful Italian peregrina who was at Lourdes on the second night was there and blazing past me. We had basically no time to talk, but it was rather pleasant to see a familiar face.

My staff hand is a little sore, this up and down has been a bit taxing for it.
 
...and ship it to Santiago for storage. You pick it up once in Santiago. Service offered by Casa Ivar (we use DHL for transportation).
OK I need food and cash be damned.

Though I most certainly am looking forward to great big fat pilgrim menu on Saturday !!
 
Day 13 - - Puente la Reina

The hitch-hike into Puente la Reina turned out to be pretty easy, and I am staying here both for the lateness of the hour and because multiple items of clothing were in serious need of some soap and water.

I am too, but as I am outside not in, that can wait.

To this point the largest contingent had been the French, followed by the South Koreans, but I guess now that other routes are reaching the Francès, more Spaniards will appear.

I have reached an OK hitch-hiking spot anyway, so I should get further along tomorrow.

I'm still trying to work out how this new beer thing will work, it's still helpful as a restorative.

Weather is not too hot.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I am at Iratxe.

And really, where else would I be ?

It's high pilgrim season, so naturally it's the dodgy orange-brownish stuff coming out of the tap.

It does grow on you IIRC, but maybe that's just the booze talking ?

Better stuff on a Winter Camino anyway, that's for sure ...
 
Day 14 - - Los Arcos ; and Day 15 - - Logroño

Won't type anything much, I am just too exhausted.

Slept outside the church in Los Arcos.

Today was a mix of hitching and hiking, probably about a 16K or 17K walking, the end of that in the heat of the day. I am at the parochial, we have just had dinner, but I am simply too tired to go down to the end of day prayers, which is a shame.

Many familiar faces here tonight, which is strange for me, I am normally so slow that I almost never see anybody more than once.

I am starting to get a handle on the new beer thingy, it's still so weird that I no longer need it for painkilling.

Sleep now.
 
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Day 16 -- Navarrete

A hot day up as I am slow, as usual.

This section was Day 1 of my first Camino in 1993, so I know it very well.

I found a pizza on the way out of Logroño, and there was an ad hoc community meal at the Albergue, so I ate well. The way out of town seems to have stabilised, though they have replaced the dodgy dirt road up to the ridge with concrete. An improvement IMO, even if the new thing is not beautiful, as it is easier to get up, and they have also put down some decent stonework benches, including in two of the good rest spots in the shade.

The roadworks devastation of the valley before Navarrete continues apace, sadly, as they are putting through yet another motorway ... :mad:

The approach to the village was one of the most picturesque, and they are turning it into a horror.

I finally managed to sleep at the Municipal here, it's OK - - the hospitalero was a bit of a box ticker and tried to insist that I must sleep in the last (top) bunk bed in dorm 1, and only after I told him 4 times that I'm disabled, and after a final absurd suggestion from him that I should wait for the next pilgrim and dorm 1 to fill which he realised was insulting the moment he made it did he give me the bed I needed - - which actually turned out to be a standalone, not a bottom bunk.

All's well that ends well anyway.

Tomorrow is pay day hooray, and a certain restaurant in Nájera is about the best place I can think of for a long expected pilgrim menu. May need to sleep outside at Ventosa tonight, but should be able to get a breakfast there in the morning.

I'll get a bus forward at some point, maybe on Monday ?
 
Short day today and I will take it easy, I'll even get a cool one before heading out.

If I can get a bus on Sunday, I will.
 
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....

Tomorrow is pay day hooray, and a certain restaurant in Nájera is about the best place I can think of for a long expected pilgrim menu..

JP,
Over past years when I stayed at the Najera municipal a good value nearby resto was Mesón El Buen Yantar, Calle Mártires, 19, bajo. tel. +34 941 36 02 74 If it still is operating perhaps you might also enjoy it. Carpe diem!
 
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JP,
Over past years when I stayed at the Najera municipal a good value nearby resto was Mesón El Buen Yantar, Calle Mártires, 19, bajo. tel. +34 941 36 02 74 If it still us operating perhaps you might also enjoy it. Carpe diem!
That is exactly the "certain restaurant" that I have in mind.
 
Somehow I always feel like death getting in to Ventosa, though thanks to some help from kind pilgrims, I have a bed, plus enough in my pocket for a pilgrim menu.

There are options for some paella or pizza at the Albergue, but both options sound dodgy. If it's the kind of paella I'm thinking of, well - - never again.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
One extra advantage of not sleeping outdoors tonight is that it's Fiesta in the pueblo, so that would have been non-ideal ...
 
Day 17 - - Ventosa

The menu up at the top bar is nothing to write home about, but it is well prepared and nourishing. Also better than the stuff they have at the lower bar, and definitely better than some foul frozen pseudo-paella ...

It is getting pretty hot out there after about 2PM ...

I should be able to sleep anyway, even during tonight's midnight disco fest. It is good anyway to have reached the pueblo at a mostly sensible hour - - I was in the heat of the day proper for no more than about an hour.

This makes 2 out of 5 times I'm sleeping indoors in Ventosa.!!
 
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Day 18 - - Nájera

A somewhat unsettling day.

I did not mention that there was a thunderstorm in Ventosa, which somewhat calmed down the fiesta. But anyway, I had crashed into bed at about 4PM, and stayed in there until about 7 in the morning.

The sudden rain anyway made the heat in the dorm vanish away, so then I slept.

And the noise from the fiesta didn't really start until the midnight disco fest, but as I was already rested and dozing it was fine. It calmed down a bit at 1:30, then the disco stopped at about 2, most people seemed to leave at around 3, with just a few stragglers sticking around until 4 to 4:30, then the other people in the dorm got up at about 5:30.

Which would all have been horrid, except I had those hours of prior sleep so it was fine !!

Cool and rainy then on the way out, so my big black pilgrim cape got some use other than as a blanket.

Still not that many pilgrims, but more than there were - - I'm guessing it's the start of July wave beginning to come through.

Things went a bit sideways from the restaurant onwards.. The food was of course excellent, but the service was terrible, plus I overestimated how much I can drink in these new conditions of no longer needing it for basic pain management purposes. That got me into two mild, short, and pointless arguments which was rather frustrating. And led to a somewhat unsettled sleep.

Oh well.

The Municipal is OK, though I think I preferred it when it was bare and spare.

There's a bus to Burgos at 1PM, and I guess I should be able to get from there to Ponferrada tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've had some bacon and eggs and tortilla for breakfast.
 
I'm not sure exactly how much actual walking I've done so far on this preliminary bout, but I think it's something like 120K to 150K. Could be more, I may be underestimating how much hiking I did during the hitch-hiking.
 
Day 19 - - Burgos

Not much to say about the day itself. I did have my ritual chilled Mahou Verde on Cathedral square.

There is some more motorwayfication of the road next to the Camino between Santo Domingo de la Calzada and a little beyond Grañón, though I would not be surprised if it went as far as Belorado. Or even further ... 😵‍💫

It's as ghastly as one might expect.

In more cheerful news, I saw that a new bar has opened in Tosantos, right next to the big old tree by the main road. Good spot for it.

The wake up music at the Burgos Municipal continues to improve towards being kinder and gentler.

Not much else to say - - bus to León, then a second to Ponferrada.
 
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So the bus to León was completo, pretty much "because of Monday", as they have only one bus running for the day. And as I have ended up wasting half the day, train out of here is at 5:20 ...

I doubt I'll get into Ponferrada in time for the Albergue, but hey-ho ...

Most of the trains are running one hour late of course.
 
Day 20 - - Ponferrada

After those alarums and excursions, the train got in late here, getting towards 10PM.

I hobbled as "fast" as possible towards the Albergue, grabbing a packet of crisps/potato chips along the way, and reached it after 10:30, closed of course.

But someone inside was visible in the Hospitaleros area, and a Hospitalera opened a back door for me, and so kindly ensured that I had a bed.

Hooray !!

Rained out last night as well - - and whilst I would certainly have looked for somewhere sheltered to sleep out if that had been necessary, this was definitely better.

Looks to be coolish today at this end of Spain, but probably not more rain.

And now the walking proper begins.
 
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That was all pretty tiring, and it will take me a bit to wake up properly.

Still, now that I am actually here, some anxiety has lifted.

I seem to have moved ahead of the wave again, judging from the number of pairs of boots & shoes at the entrance, the Albergue was quite below full capacity - - but still some dozens nonetheless.

I'll follow a different and more civilised way out of town than what the yellow arrows say. That route is actually not too bad when you're coming in the opposite direction, as a gradual move into civilisation, but in real terms in the "proper" direction it's basically a procession through various portions of Ponferrada's grottier suburbia.

So I fail to see how just going through the central parts of the city would in any way be disadvantageous.
 
Day 21 - - Cacabelos

The Pamplona suburbs are not as bad as they once were, through some urban renewal including improvements like little benches and shops and things, making them generally more habitable, and a great deal of horticultural development, including a part of the main road out of Pamplona being lined with magnolia trees and many front gardens curated with love.

It began to rain again getting towards Cacabelos, after I reached the Camino trail proper, though it was just drizzle at that point, and my body heat was sufficient to keep my clothes dry from it. It began raining more heavily during my stop in the pueblo. The cape came into use on the way out.

I tried the frozen ravioli, thinking they couldn't possibly get that one wrong. Oh well. I heaved it all out again 20 minutes later. Happily I was at the parapet by the bridge and in an ideal spot for it. Better out than in. 😵‍💫

I hadn't stayed in the Municipal since the time that it was still a Parroquial, I'm guessing since 30 years ago ?

It's much the same now as then. The beds seem to be more comfortable.

Kept on raining through much of the night, so it's a cape day, at least to begin with.

I'll try and push at least to Trabadelo. I'm beginning to get an impression that with a few more weeks of walking in me, thanks to the improvement in my knees, I could potentially begin to walk longer distances than I have been since 2019.
 
I'm at the edge of Villafranca and moving out soon.

I moved past the Municipal that come to think of I may have stayed in once and past Ave Fenix so at that point I was committed to keep on walking.

My feet hurt more than my knees, which still feels super weird.
 
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Day 22 - - Trabadelo

Well that was tough, but I roughed through and I did it. It's at least a 17K, and my knees still feel normal.

Feet feel like they used to before my knees started demanding all the attention when they first failed.

So the feet hurt LOL

If anything had been open at Pereje, I would certainly have bailed there, but everything except for the water fount was shut up tight.

The last 4K were tougher than the others, and I rested on the concrete security barrier every few hundred yards ; but finally I laid my eyes upon the most welcome spectacle of the village bar, where I partook of two large, chilled, barley restorative beverages.

The Parroquial is shut today for some reason, and when I got into the Municipal, the pilgrims here were tucking into the main course. Looked tasty, but somehow I still am not hungry at all. I did partake of their tinto. It was tasty. So is this lesser appetite some extra benefit of those barley beverages ?

I do still have half of a chorizo and I had eaten the other half, true ...

Kindly anyway, a fellow pilgrim yielded a bottom bunk (top bunk is unfeasible, and whilst it wouldn't bother me in the slightest to sleep on the floor downstairs, this will be more comfy), so I'll be fine.

Oh !! I am no longer the slowest pilgrim, in K/day terms that is. One from Cacabelos last night stopped in Villafranca, and I did 9K more. It has ONLY taken me ten years to finally find someone slower than me !!
 
Met a lovely French peregrina along the way this afternoon, after SJPP > Santiago, she is now walking Santiago > SJPP. Hooray !!
 
Legs feel a bit wonky this morning but not too bad. Knees are still fine, which continues to amaze me. Just need a bit of breakfast before setting off.

Shorter day anyway than yesterday, easier too I should think as there are a few pueblos and so on.

O Cebreiro tomorrow not today !!

Oh and it was 18K yesterday, not 17.
 
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Day 23 - - Las Herrerías

A short 11K and I took it slowly ; my legs felt more stressed at the start than they did at the end, so I guess it was a restful stroll. Which in itself is weird for me, two years ago 11K even as a short day would have been pain-inducing.

11K is just under what my average was in 2021 and 2022. But this was easy !!

Anyway the walk became quite enjoyable after reaching the Valcarce service station. I did have a little difficulty out of Trabadelo until then, but the rest I took there and the help from some cool service station cerveza plus a bench in the shade there was quite restorative.

I've finally stayed at the Albergue here in Herrerías, which was completo for both food and a bed last time back in 2014. The San Julián church porch is still a good place to sleep out here, IIRC it rained last time and I was fine, but I did want to sleep here at least once. The food was great, especially the first course local smoked/cooked ham. They are stingy with the wine though.

Today I'll aim for the Alto do Poio. I am likely still not strong enough for a Triacastela run, as that would be a 30K or so.
 
Don't know if I'll make it past O Cebreiro, I am feeling a bit pooped.

Not there yet BTW, but close.
 
Day 24 - - O Cebreiro

The walk up is not difficult ; just long.

I was feeling more sleepy than tired as such, so I stayed here.

The coach loads of tourists coming to visit the "famous Paolo Coelho place" seem finally to be gone, so that apart from some normal day trippers and some people staying in hotels, it's now pretty much locals, people working here, and pilgrims.

I am glad I stopped here anyway, as without those coach loads, the place has regained some of its old atmosphere, from the pilgrim perspective that is. People are happy to be here, in the realisation that their final stretch starts here.

As to myself, I am sometimes seeing some pilgrims several days, which previously hadn't happened (barring exceptions) since the 1993 - - though I am discounting some of the more egregious bed racers on the 2005.

Today I'll get as far as I get, though I seem to recall that a good stretch of it is not that hard.
 
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I'm at Alto do Poio, and I have just had a pleasant conversation with a Flemish Belgian Bicigrina who has nearly finished her own Camino from home, and her 1st Camino.

We compared routes south of Paris, and the surreal experience of getting through les Landes ...

Just resting, then carry on later. It's not hard to at least Fonfría IIRC
 
I am at O Biduedo, where it is expensive. My legs want to stop here, though I have heard that story before ; not convinced.

Triacastela is unachievable, mostly I've just realised because O Cebreiro > Alto do Poio is a harder walk than in the other direction ; in comparison with 2022 when I came close to managing Triacastela > O Cebreiro ... but someone stopped to offer me a lift in his van that time over the last few K.

The lady in this place here last time was really nice, the one here this evening seems to be a bit of a shrew.

Anyway, I'm carrying on, once my legs calm down - - and then if there's nothing going at the Albergue in the next pueblo down, I'll just hunker down somewhere outside, as there's no chance of rain.
 
Day 25 - - Fillobal

That was a tough 17K, mainly from the terrain.

I am starting to feel confident that I could manage a 20K+ on easier terrain, such as my preferred flat places.

I think my daily average will end up higher than it's been for a while, and it has already increased from 12K - 13K to about 14K.

My legs feel like they did on my 2005, though of course I'm walking about a third of the daily distances.

I did anyway yesterday decide to simply walk as far as I could get, which is what I used to do on most of that 2005 Camino, and the feeling in the legs is similar - - some pain in the knees too, but just normal from the hiking stress and none from the chronic pain which is still gone. I still can get a little twinge in the knee as there's still diminished cartilage and diminished function, and this was a partial healing, not a complete remission.

Anyway, down to Triacastela where I shall not linger, but I'll carry on from there.

(Last sentence removed by mod)
 
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Day 25 - - Fillobal

That was a tough 17K, mainly from the terrain.

I am starting to feel confident that I could manage a 20K+ on easier terrain, such as my preferred flat places.

I think my daily average will end up higher than it's been for a while, and it has already increased from 12K - 13K to about 14K.

My legs feel like they did on my 2005, though of course I'm walking about a third of the daily distances.

I did anyway yesterday decide to simply walk as far as I could get, which is what I used to do on most of that 2005 Camino, and the feeling in the legs is similar - - some pain in the knees too, but just normal from the hiking stress and none from the chronic pain which is still gone. I still can get a little twinge in the knee as there's still diminished cartilage and diminished function, and this was a partial healing, not a complete remission.

Anyway, down to Triacastela where I shall not linger, but I'll carry on from there.

🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

TY for your words.

Buen camino.
 
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I am in Triacastela, and not sure what I'm doing yet, except that I need some more cerveza. My legs are a bit stiff this morning ; and honestly it's getting close enough to lunchtime that I am naturally thinking of it, particularly given that I had just a bit of tortilla yesterday and some mini sandwiches in the evening (the great bar at Fillobal has been closed for a few days :-().
 
I am in Triacastela, and not sure what I'm doing yet, except that I need some more cerveza. My legs are a bit stiff this morning ; and honestly it's getting close enough to lunchtime that I am naturally thinking of it, particularly given that I had just a bit of tortilla yesterday and some mini sandwiches in the evening (the great bar at Fillobal has been closed for a few days :-().
What is it in cerveza that alleviates your condition?
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
OK pilgrim menu at the wonderful Complexo Xacobeo it is. Legs are starting to calm down, and I will go on later as it is a pretty cool day with good walking conditions.

No idea which way yet.

I find it amusing that my WiFi automatically connects in so many places here with no need to ask them for the code ...
 
Day 27 - - Triacastela

Well, the pilgrim menu plus the rest has kickstarted my brain to start working normally again, and it is quite clear that carrying on today is not reasonable.

I do not regret pushing things yesterday, getting beyond my limits is super important, even if stopping at Fonfría would have been the logical thing to do.

Oh well. Sarría is an 18K job, and after that there's basically an Albergue in every pueblo.

Better perhaps an honest 18K tomorrow than some half-motivated exercise today.
 
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I am in the Circus - - which once seemed to begin at O Cebreiro, but now clearly starts at Triacastela.

Pilgrims have multiplied like loaves and fishes.

I decided to stay at the Complexo Xacobeo Albergue for sake of ease. I have the one non bunk bed, ground floor, so a good choice I think.

The minus side is that once more the conversations that I hear around me sound more and more like a foreign language, just as what I say myself falls on increasingly deaf ears.

No, not deaf really - - but rather ears attuned to a different paradigm, and hearing defined from a hermeneutic that has yet to be forged into something other than a jolly community experience. Which these silly Camino Ways are also of course, as we all know, but the Camino is also something harsher, deeper, raw, alone, sometimes animalistic, but then also solitary and meditative under the Grace, Will, and Love of God our Father, which so many in this Circus seem to be oblivious of.

It's silly, because the joy of the Camino comes precisely from its depth.

The Camino is a Pilgrimage, not a hiking path.

Perhaps it's simply that those starting from inside the Circus just haven't walked far enough to make their own balance.

It has been ten years since I have walked from here to Santiago, and last time was in not just the opposite direction, but also after the end of normal pilgrim season.

I had not quite understood the degree to which pilgrims within the Circus generally have become so deaf and blind to the underlying purposes of the Way of Saint James.

---

Having said that, I have otherwise found that pilgrims further away from Santiago have generally become more faithful towards the principles of the Camino, starting from further away and then pushing through to the end.

As much pilgrims starting from home as those starting from such conventional rally points as Arles, Lourdes, Le Puy, SJPP ...

And apart from the remaining and ongoing touristification, there is a very significant increase in the number of pilgrims starting from home.

So some sort of rebalancing from both perspectives ?

I am in any case fascinated by the ongoing changes that I have been seeing over the past 30 years or so. And there's something 1990s about the Camino this year ...
 

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