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LIVE from the Camino Buddhist monk en route

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Namaste

I'm Viranando Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk en route to Santiago de Compostela and onward.

I started walking from a small Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Ericeira on the 5th of April. This morning I passed through Figueira da Foz. I came across this Forum just now, because I was researching how to get over the river at Barra, west of Aveiro. Since I as a Buddhist monk in the Thai Theravada tradition don't use money (for 10 years now), I tried to find out if the ferry is maybe free of charge for pedestrians; well it isn't. :)

So I will have to walk directly through Aveiro and continue northeast; I dread the tangle of Autostrada. I had hoped to bypass all that by walking along the ocean.

I just wrote this post in case someone has walked here before and has some suggestions that I can't see looking at my map.

With Metta;

Viranando Bhikkhu
 
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Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
I just wrote this post in case someone has walked here before and has some suggestions that I can't see looking at my map.
You might try sending a PM to Nick (@jungleboy) or @Albertinho - both live in Portugal and might know off the top of their heads. Prople have done this - here's a screenshot I pulled off wikiloc:
Screenshot_20210413-215349_Wikiloc.jpg

Good luck and bom caminho, bhante! May you have all the support you need.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Past OR future Camino
A few in the past; more in the future!
You might try sending a PM to Nick (@jungleboy) or @Albertinho - both live in Portugal and might know off the top of their heads.
Sorry, I don't know. But maybe if Viranando went to the ferry departure point and explained his situation, he would be allowed on without paying even though there is normally a charge? Good luck in any case!
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Past OR future Camino
A few in the past; more in the future!
Please know that the border between Portugal and Spain is still closed and it would be illegal to cross it, even as a pilgrim. You might want to look for a good place to wait the current situation out.
BC SY
He’s in Aveiro which is further south than Porto, so the border might be open by the time he gets to it (currently closed until April 16th IIRC).
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Thank you all very much for all the good advice. I think I made my peace walking via Mira - Loure - Estarreja and then get back to the ocean after Ovar. It's going to add two days because I am giving Aveiro a wide berth but I do have the time.

In regard to the border, yes I'm hoping for good news on the 16th of April but even if the border is still closed for tourists, I might have a shot by saying that I am heading home (I'm German) and won't come back, since the closure of the border is enforced by the Portuguese and not so much the Spanish side.

If I can't cross, I will be heading East and try my luck at every border crossing on my way.

I will post here every now and then about my progress for everyone that might be interested.

IMG-20210405-WA0000.jpg

Greetings;

Tan V

PS: If you see a Buddhist monk with an alms bowl next to a supermarket, he is probably hungry. 😇
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
I will post here every now and then about my progress for everyone that might be interested.
Excellent, thank you.
There will be some people wanting to know about conditions, and others of us wanting to know how you are personally faring.
Blessings on your journey, wherever it takes you! May your alms be abundant, and support appear as you need it.

[Edit. Tan Viranando probably can't say this, but I can. If anyone who's in Portugal happens to encounter him before noon, and you are in a position to offer him his meal for the day, please do not be shy. Protein is important, especially if he is vegetarian or vegan! (It's fine to ask).

After noon, juice or soymilk are usually very much appreciated. Some monks can also take cheese or dark chocolate after noon. Just ask if you can offer these, and he can let you know if the answer is "yes, please," or "no thanks."]
 
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sid gustafson

Veterinario y Novelista
Past OR future Camino
(2018) Francés in the spring, Portugués in the fall!
Namaste

I'm Viranando Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk en route to Santiago de Compostela and onward.

I started walking from a small Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Ericeira on the 5th of April. This morning I passed through Figueira da Foz. I came across this Forum just now, because I was researching how to get over the river at Barra, west of Aveiro. Since I as a Buddhist monk in the Thai Theravada tradition don't use money (for 10 years now), I tried to find out if the ferry is maybe free of charge for pedestrians; well it isn't. :)

So I will have to walk directly through Aveiro and continue northeast; I dread the tangle of Autostrada. I had hoped to bypass all that by walking along the ocean.

I just wrote this post in case someone has walked here before and has some suggestions that I can't see looking at my map.

With Metta;

Viranando Bhikkhu
Is there not a bridge upstream?
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
Namaste

I'm Viranando Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk en route to Santiago de Compostela and onward.

I started walking from a small Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Ericeira on the 5th of April. This morning I passed through Figueira da Foz. I came across this Forum just now, because I was researching how to get over the river at Barra, west of Aveiro. Since I as a Buddhist monk in the Thai Theravada tradition don't use money (for 10 years now), I tried to find out if the ferry is maybe free of charge for pedestrians; well it isn't. :)

So I will have to walk directly through Aveiro and continue northeast; I dread the tangle of Autostrada. I had hoped to bypass all that by walking along the ocean.

I just wrote this post in case someone has walked here before and has some suggestions that I can't see looking at my map.

With Metta;

Viranando Bhikkhu
Buen Camino Viranando, I am sure they will look after you.
 

hecate105

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
'09 Portuguese Estellas '14 Aurelia '16 St Davids '17 Via Augusta/V dl P. '18/'19 Michael Mary Way
Good luck - I did the route years ago on a bicycle and a kind lady directed me onto the motorway! But autostradas apart it is a lovely area and at least fairly flat...
I wish you good fortune on your pilgrimage!
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Hi there!

A little update from me. I arrived at Lovelhe this afternoon where the first bridge into Spain is located. It's closed with some signs and barricades (see picture). In the town before Lovelhe I happen to talk to some villagers and they said that people jump them and nothing has happened so far. But when I sat near the bridge a police? car but without lights on the roof drove from the Spanish side right onto the bridge, turned and drove off again. I wouldn't be able to go over the fence anyway, just wanted inform arriving here after me.

Tomorrow I will walk to Valença and see if I can convince the border police there, so expect another post from me shortly.

Just some quick replies to the posts above:

@VNwalking

You really know your monks! 😊

In the Thai Forrest tradition soy milk is actually much more debated than cheese. And while most of the western monasteries would have it, the Thai monasteries would not. Cheese is considered one of the five tonics and falls under 'butter' which the Buddha allowed monks to have in the afternoon and we can keep it for up to 6 days because the translation of cheese in Thai is literally 'hard butter'.

@JillGat

Thank you for your generosity. 🙂🙏

@Rebekah Scott

Thank you very much for this kind offer. This year my walk will have to end in Biarritz around the 10th of June though (if I can make all the borders). This will leave the walk from Prague to the German border and from Thun in Switzerland to Biarritz left for me to walk (most likely in 2023 or 24, as I have to go back to my Thai monastery for a year next year) in order to have walked to whole distance from Prague to Lisbon via Cologne. So if you don't mind, I would love to contact you again in the future because I don't know anyone in France and a shower (or a water hose will do as well) once a month would come as a real blessing. 😅🚿

@SYates

Thank you for the warning. I wouldn't and couldn't just cross the border illegally if I wanted to stay by the Buddhist principles that I have taken up some ten years ago. I will see if I can convince the border police tomorrow that I am basically on transit (I have a friend in Biarritz who would give me a lift to Germany it I make into the area by the 10th of June. Otherwise I might wait until the 3rd of May and then head back South if the border will be kept close.

@to everyone else

Thank you all for your good wishes! 🤗

IMG-20210424-WA0001.jpg
 
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When you walk the Camino, and suddenly a pandemic appears
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
I will see if I can convince the border police tomorrow that I am basically on transit
Good luck, and please let us know how you go!

I would love to contact you again in the future because I don't know anyone in France and a shower (or a water hose will do as well) once a month would come as a real blessing. 😅🚿
Reb lives in Spain, in Morotinos, on the Camino Frances a bit before Sahagun and Leon. So if you're headed to Biarritz on foot, (and go via the CF) you'll walk past her place. That said, there are several Forum members in France, and when the time comes if you put the word out there will probably be people in a position to know where assistance can be found.
 
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LesBrass

Likes Walking
Past OR future Camino
yes...
Good luck, and please let us know how you go!

Reb lives in Spain, in Morotinos, on the Camino Frances a bit before Sahagun and Leon. So if you're headed to Biarritz on foot, (and go via the CF) you'll walk past her place. That said, there are several Forum members in France, and when the time comes if you put the word out there will probably be people in a position to know where assistance can be found.
If you're anywhere near the Camino Vezeley in SW France... I can certainly help :)
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Buenos Diaz.

I like the new 'LIVE from the Camino' flare. 😇

So here we go: I walked into Valença with a friendly Portuguese pilgrim named Fernando (the only one I have met since Lisbon), that I met 4 days ago and walked the last two days together with. He too was headed for Santiago but was very aware of the closed borders. So after we literally broke bread and cans of sardines that he kindly offered for our meal in Valença, we were headed for the Autostrada bridge because we were told, that the pedestrian bridge here is closed as well. I really wanted to speak to the border police, so we went first for the Portuguese checkpoint. The police woman there said that Fernando wouldn't be able to go on and she didn't gave me much hope to get past the Spanish checkpoint either but let me walk. Fernando convinced her to let him go with me to translate if need be. So we walked on the bridge across the river to the Spanish guard. He stopped us and we explained the situation. And after checking my passport and asking me multiple times if I am really intending to transit Spain on foot to get to my home country he gave me permission to pass. INCREDIBLE! But he said that we can't be walking on the Autostrada and he would need to drive me two kilometers into Tui. And so he did, even took Fernando along for the ride.

Of course it was a little sad that my pilgrim brother had to turn around but he will be back at another time, I'm sure. We will meet up next time I'm in Lisbon.

So now it's off to Santiago, a mere 107 kilometers; I should be there in 3.5 days.

And so I leave the country that I have called home for the past 10 months full of kind, warm hearted and generous people ready to walk on as a mendicant monk.

So much for now;

Viranando Bhikkhu 🙏
 
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Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
And so I leave the country that I have called home for the past 10 months full of kind, warm hearted and generous people ready to walk on as a mendicant monk.
That's a milestone, to be sure. Congratulations!
May you go well and walk happily, bhante. (Fortunately, Spain has its share of kind, warm hearted and generous people.)
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
So, here I am. Arrived in Santiago de Compostela after camping last night just 7 kilometers away from the city center. The morning was quite frosty, just 4 degree celsius. That made it hard to slip out of my cosy sleeping bag and pack my tent together. In Santiago I stood for alms food just outside the gates of the historic wet market a block away from the cathedral but wasn't so hopeful to receive anything, because I heard that the begging culture is quite developed here. But after two hours, I head received two baguettes, two chorizos, one banana, a big chunk of cheese and a bottle of water. A fine feast!

And through the huge generosity of a forum member here, I didn't have to leave the city immediately but will stay for the night in a very fitting environment - as a monk...

Tomorrow I will head on towards France, first on the Camino Frances and then sometime after Leon I will have to traverse to the Camino Norte. Any suggestions where? I would like to get to the coast in the vicinity of Mundaka at the latest, to revisit some old memories.

On my first full walking day in Spain I met one other pilgrim from the French speaking part of Switzerland heading South, who said something about getting over the border by taxi. I don't know how he wants to manage that, as there is really just one open bridge with a permanent border post on the Spanish and the Portuguese side. I also met two Spanish girls walking from Pontevedra to Santiago in four leisurely days.

I asume, that now that I am on the more popular Camino walking backwards, I will meet more pilgrims even in year two of the pandemic.

@LesBrass

Thank you for your generous offer. I might contact you one day. 🙂

Thanks everyone for your encouragement.

Tan V
still walking...
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
sometime after Leon I will have to traverse to the Camino Norte. Any suggestions where? I would like to get to the coast in the vicinity of Mundaka at the latest
You have a bunch of options.
You may have already considered the Primitivo from Melide to Oviedo; there is also the Olvidado from Cacabellos or Ponferrada. Both of these may be more remote than is practical for alms; othes can fill you in practically, but the Primitivo is the more travelled of the two.

After Leon, the first and shortest way across the mountains is the San Salvador to Oviedo in 4-5 days. Then there is the Vadiniense/Lebaniego from Mansilla de las Mulas which takes 9 days. These are mountain caminos so food may be a challenge on both routes.

Too far along because both end in Irun (but probably more suitable for alms) are the Via de Bayona/Vasco, from either Burgos or Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Again, good and much needed advice.

I haven't looked into any of it yet and literally all places you meantioned I hear for the first time. I really really dislike planning, it's the least favorite part of my Tudong endeavors. Incidentally, this is how I ended up on this forum in the first place, because I plunked Ericeira to Santiago into a mapping service on the internet (mapy.cz), loaded the resulting track onto my GPS device and didn't realize that there would be a ferry crossing ahead.
Having said all that, I have nothing against a nicely planned out tour, don't get me wrong, I just don't enjoy doing it myself. I'm more the kind of person that relishes the walking, finds suitable camp sites, encourages others to just do another 5 kilometers or makes them eat dirt if necessary. 😁 I can be quite motivational, if this is a word.

When you give those days (4 days, 9 days), what daily distance is this based on, roughly? I could make it 4 days without food but 9 days would be a stretch.

Tan V
 
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Past OR future Camino
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I like deciding where to start and then just pointing my nose in the right general direction. But in covid time the benefits of planning are slowly becoming clear.

When you give those days (4 days, 9 days), what daily distance is this based on, roughly? I could make it 4 days without food but 9 days would be a stretch.
For the SS, 15 - 31km.
4 days is actually really pushing it, and you'd have to be super fit.
Click in those links in my post and they'll take you to Gronze's guide, for stages and logistic info.
Here's a screenshot for rhe SS, as an example:
Screenshot_20210430-162531_Chrome.jpg
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Good morning everyone,

I just went through quite a cold spell with temperatures as low as 0 degrees in the morning and was looking forward to the days getting warmer over the next period. I had left Sarria yesterday after eating my alms food and went on into a bit of a more mountainous area. After packing my tent this morning and started walking for a bit my left sandal begann to feel and sound strange. The strap has ripped clean off, right where it meets the rubber (Teva Strata); after just 800 kilometers of moderate walking. So now I'm carrying on flip-flop style but this can't be a solution for the remainder of the tour, another 700 kilometers of it as the other straps have to bear more of the load now and will rip even faster.

Just to let you know. I will keep you updated.

Tan Viranando
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Good morning to you,

Since you have just left Sarria here are two of my favorite places west of Sarria with very kind people who might be able to help you. They may have Gaffa tape in their workrooms to repair your sandales.

Down the hill from Ferreios and next to the church/cemetery O Mirallos is a favorite stop. They are open every day, serve breakfast from 07:00 and offer a small free dorm if you wish.

Years back in 2010 I stopped in the private Casa Garcia in Gonzar. They also offered many possibilties.

Good luck and Buen camino.
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
@mspath

Thank you for your kind offer. I think I am past those places already. I do carry duct tape and can McGuyver something together that will last until León (165 km) . My monastery has offered me to send me a used pair of sandals if I provide them with an address. There is also Rebekah Scott's place (220 km) and I wrote her a orivate messsge this morning already, just waiting for a reply.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
@mspath

Thank you for your kind offer. I think I am past those places already. I do carry duct tape and can McGuyver something together that will last until León (165 km) . My monastery has offered me to send me a used pair of sandals if I provide them with an address. There is also Rebekah Scott's place (220 km) and I wrote her a orivate messsge this morning already, just waiting for a reply.
Glad to read that you are still managing .
 
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nikkikirkby

New Member
Past OR future Camino
(2014)
Thank you all very much for all the good advice. I think I made my peace walking via Mira - Loure - Estarreja and then get back to the ocean after Ovar. It's going to add two days because I am giving Aveiro a wide berth but I do have the time.

In regard to the border, yes I'm hoping for good news on the 16th of April but even if the border is still closed for tourists, I might have a shot by saying that I am heading home (I'm German) and won't come back, since the closure of the border is enforced by the Portuguese and not so much the Spanish side.

If I can't cross, I will be heading East and try my luck at every border crossing on my way.

I will post here every now and then about my progress for everyone that might be interested.

View attachment 97637

Greetings;

Tan V

PS: If you see a Buddhist monk with an alms bowl next to a supermarket, he is probably hungry. 😇
So Awesome, will definitly follow your progress 🙏🏻
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
Moving along a bit from where you are in Ruitelán is Albergue called Pequeño Potala. It might be worth contacting them as they may be happy to assist a bhikkhu. (It's near Vega de Valcarce, just after you come down from O Cebreiro - my map says it's about 8.5km from OC)

Give away boxes in albergues are sometimes very good sources of equipment. Maybe it's worth poking your nose in at the municipal once you get to O Cebreiro to see what's there.
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
I didn't know that give away boxes existed but I will manage until León or Rebekahs. If I don't hear from her, then sending the parcel to a hostel to be collected would be the next best option, wouldn't it?
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
Presumably, but I don't know from direct experience. But Rebekah is totally a woman of her word, so you will eventually hear back form her.
 
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Rent a house in Santiago (1 month minimum)
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Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Good morning to you,

Since you have just left Sarria here are two of my favorite places west of Sarria with very kind people who might be able to help you. They may have Gaffa tape in their workrooms to repair your sandales.

Down the hill from Ferreios and next to the church/cemetery O Mirallos is a favorite stop. They are open every day, serve breakfast from 07:00 and offer a small free dorm if you wish.

Years back in 2010 I stopped in the private Casa Garcia in Gonzar. They also offered many possibilties.

Good luck and Buen camino.
Gronze says that O Mirallos is closed.
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Past OR future Camino
2022
Thanks for your update. I hope that is a temporary closure.
There is one comment on the Gronze site for this facility that says that they no longer offer accommodation. This is not part of the official Gronze information, just one of the comments so it may pay to check directly with them.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
There is one comment on the Gronze site for this facility that says that they no longer offer accommodation. This is not part of the official Gronze information, just one of the comments so it may pay to check directly with them.
Their own web page describes only the restaurant/bar.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@Viranando Bhikkhu even if you do not hear from @Rebekah Scott, when you get to Moratinos, ask for her, and go to her house. It is a tiny dot of a village. Someone will be there, even if Rebekah is away, because she has animals and someone will be caring for them. Her home is a "house of welcome" and you will find sympathetic help.
 
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MyDestinationGalicia

Mark Auchincloss
Past OR future Camino
2021
Namaste

I'm Viranando Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk en route to Santiago de Compostela and onward.

I started walking from a small Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Ericeira on the 5th of April. This morning I passed through Figueira da Foz. I came across this Forum just now, because I was researching how to get over the river at Barra, west of Aveiro. Since I as a Buddhist monk in the Thai Theravada tradition don't use money (for 10 years now), I tried to find out if the ferry is maybe free of charge for pedestrians; well it isn't. :)

So I will have to walk directly through Aveiro and continue northeast; I dread the tangle of Autostrada. I had hoped to bypass all that by walking along the ocean.

I just wrote this post in case someone has walked here before and has some suggestions that I can't see looking at my map.

With Metta;

Viranando Bhikkhu
My favourite resource is the Blog of Luis Freixo who has Maps of all the Portuguese routes including the coastal routes see http://www.caminador.es/

Bo caminho
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Good morning!



Today is going to be an easy day, only 28 kilometers downhill, no alms round and it's supposed to be sunny, so I can splurge a bit on my phone battery and recharge it later.

So I thought I would go ahead and give you some idea of what is happening on the camino more generally since I left Santiago.



For the first three days up to Sarriah, I met quite a lot of pilgrims, I would say at least 10 to 15 people each day. Usually at least two of them walking together but also groups of up to 5 or 6 people. Most of them didn't carry more than a day pack so they could have been just out for the day but about a handful carried something more hefty and I think were bound for Santiago. Sadly though, there was rarely more of an exchange than 'Hola!', 'Hola!', 'Bon Camino!' and 'Gracias!', so I couldn't really tell where they were from. Since I don't speak Spanish myself, I reverted to saying 'Hello!' 'Good Morning!' and 'Enjoy your walk!' In this way I managed to stop and talk for a minute to a Spanish couple who had started the their journey in Burgos and a Swiss woman who had just left from Sarriah that very morning.

After I had moved through that city the numbers of pilgrims dropped substantially and it seems to me, that this place is a bit of a starting point to Santiago if one only has a week or so and wants to stay a couple days at the final destination as well.

So in the last 3 days I met four to five walkers on average. The ones that I talked to were a German who had started in Pamplona, one from Slovakia who walked from St. Jean. I also talked to two Spanish guys yesterday but forgot to ask where they had left from.

It comes to me as a bit of a surprise, that even though most of the pilgrims who walk this year are Spanish, there seem to be more foreigners walking than I had expected. Although, I don't know what kind of 'traffic' there is in normal years, I guess it must be quite a lot more.

Walking through the villages and towns, I get the feeling, that they must really hurt, being in their second year without income from the stream of pilgrims injecting money into the local communities. There are 'se vende' signs on sooo many buildings and properties.

I sometimes think about what aspects of me walking especially in this year and in 'the wrong direction' of the Camino Frances' would have been harder and which are the ones that would be easier compared to a 'normal' year.

One thing that would have defenitely been harder I think is to stealth camp. For example, since I am in this mountainous region with rarely a flat space, I pitched my tent less then two meters from the trail last night around 8 pm. It's now 12 hours later and no one has gone by my tent. I never climb over a fence to pitch my tent but I'm sure quite a few places I have slept on were meadows, forests or tree plantations that are privately owned. And if a farmer or owner has ever spotted me that I am not aware of, no one has has come to my tent so far to ask me what I am thinking of doing here or to kick me out. Knock on wood.

What seems to be easier and doesn't seem to be possible at all for me this year, is to team up with some other pilgrim that one meets along the way. This year, there are rarely any and they all walk towards Santiago. Having said that, there seems to be a tendency to team up as I have experienced that with my Portuguese pilgrim friend Fernando, who I met and walked with for a couple days before we reached the Spanish border. And also the German and the Slovakian had just met a day prior and it looked likely that they would end the walk in Santiago together. So what do you think, is teaming up normal?

The last big item is about alms round. Since Sarriah, I didn't bother to stand for alms food twice (the day after Sarriah and today) because the little hamlets I could be standing in are basically deserted and the one or two shops there are either closed or have so few patrons that the likelihood of me receiving food would almost solely depend on the shop owner taking a pity in me.

In the bigger towns and cities I do stand, it takes really long to get my bowl filled with food for the day. Some two hours or more I will have to stand on average which is substantially longer than in Portugal. This might be for a few reasons. One, is the size of the supermarkets. While in Portugal they have a lot of the medium sized chains (Continente, Lidl, etc.) and people are much more willing to go back inside after they hear that I can't take their money. In Spain, you have either the super stores like Carrefour (no one in their right mind is going in there twice in a row) or many small shops in one city (Coviran, etc.) so the stream of customers is rather low because they are so widely distributed.

Also, the Spanish people seem to be more in a rush and while they average the Portuguese in the numbers who want to give money, only about 10 to 15 percent of the Spanish are going to get some food after I decline compared to the Portuguese where about 80 percent of the ones after hearing that I only take food will go and buy some. As you can see, there is a lot of time working out theories when one stands for two hours in front of a supermarket each day... 😁

Well, it's eight thirty in the morning now, my latest start ever in the last 32 days. I usually start walking around 7 am. Still, no one has passed my tent but it's time to get packing.

Tan Viranando
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Thanks for your update. Sunshine and 28 kms downhill should be a great combination for walking today. Where are you now? Buen camino.
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
There are 'se vende' signs on sooo many buildings and properties.
Sad. But not surprising.
Normally there is a steady stream of people walking, and now it sounds like a mere trickle.

So what do you think, is teaming up normal?
For some people, especially on the Francés, yes. But you're walking backwards, and since all the traffic is going in the other direction, that's not going to happen.

Buen camino, bhante. 🙏
 
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Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Good morning!



Today is going to be an easy day, only 28 kilometers downhill, no alms round and it's supposed to be sunny, so I can splurge a bit on my phone battery and recharge it later.

So I thought I would go ahead and give you some idea of what is happening on the camino more generally since I left Santiago.



For the first three days up to Sarriah, I met quite a lot of pilgrims, I would say at least 10 to 15 people each day. Usually at least two of them walking together but also groups of up to 5 or 6 people. Most of them didn't carry more than a day pack so they could have been just out for the day but about a handful carried something more hefty and I think were bound for Santiago. Sadly though, there was rarely more of an exchange than 'Hola!', 'Hola!', 'Bon Camino!' and 'Gracias!', so I couldn't really tell where they were from. Since I don't speak Spanish myself, I reverted to saying 'Hello!' 'Good Morning!' and 'Enjoy your walk!' In this way I managed to stop and talk for a minute to a Spanish couple who had started the their journey in Burgos and a Swiss woman who had just left from Sarriah that very morning.

After I had moved through that city the numbers of pilgrims dropped substantially and it seems to me, that this place is a bit of a starting point to Santiago if one only has a week or so and wants to stay a couple days at the final destination as well.

So in the last 3 days I met four to five walkers on average. The ones that I talked to were a German who had started in Pamplona, one from Slovakia who walked from St. Jean. I also talked to two Spanish guys yesterday but forgot to ask where they had left from.

It comes to me as a bit of a surprise, that even though most of the pilgrims who walk this year are Spanish, there seem to be more foreigners walking than I had expected. Although, I don't know what kind of 'traffic' there is in normal years, I guess it must be quite a lot more.

Walking through the villages and towns, I get the feeling, that they must really hurt, being in their second year without income from the stream of pilgrims injecting money into the local communities. There are 'se vende' signs on sooo many buildings and properties.

I sometimes think about what aspects of me walking especially in this year and in 'the wrong direction' of the Camino Frances' would have been harder and which are the ones that would be easier compared to a 'normal' year.

One thing that would have defenitely been harder I think is to stealth camp. For example, since I am in this mountainous region with rarely a flat space, I pitched my tent less then two meters from the trail last night around 8 pm. It's now 12 hours later and no one has gone by my tent. I never climb over a fence to pitch my tent but I'm sure quite a few places I have slept on were meadows, forests or tree plantations that are privately owned. And if a farmer or owner has ever spotted me that I am not aware of, no one has has come to my tent so far to ask me what I am thinking of doing here or to kick me out. Knock on wood.

What seems to be easier and doesn't seem to be possible at all for me this year, is to team up with some other pilgrim that one meets along the way. This year, there are rarely any and they all walk towards Santiago. Having said that, there seems to be a tendency to team up as I have experienced that with my Portuguese pilgrim friend Fernando, who I met and walked with for a couple days before we reached the Spanish border. And also the German and the Slovakian had just met a day prior and it looked likely that they would end the walk in Santiago together. So what do you think, is teaming up normal?

The last big item is about alms round. Since Sarriah, I didn't bother to stand for alms food twice (the day after Sarriah and today) because the little hamlets I could be standing in are basically deserted and the one or two shops there are either closed or have so few patrons that the likelihood of me receiving food would almost solely depend on the shop owner taking a pity in me.

In the bigger towns and cities I do stand, it takes really long to get my bowl filled with food for the day. Some two hours or more I will have to stand on average which is substantially longer than in Portugal. This might be for a few reasons. One, is the size of the supermarkets. While in Portugal they have a lot of the medium sized chains (Continente, Lidl, etc.) and people are much more willing to go back inside after they hear that I can't take their money. In Spain, you have either the super stores like Carrefour (no one in their right mind is going in there twice in a row) or many small shops in one city (Coviran, etc.) so the stream of customers is rather low because they are so widely distributed.

Also, the Spanish people seem to be more in a rush and while they average the Portuguese in the numbers who want to give money, only about 10 to 15 percent of the Spanish are going to get some food after I decline compared to the Portuguese where about 80 percent of the ones after hearing that I only take food will go and buy some. As you can see, there is a lot of time working out theories when one stands for two hours in front of a supermarket each day... 😁

Well, it's eight thirty in the morning now, my latest start ever in the last 32 days. I usually start walking around 7 am. Still, no one has passed my tent but it's time to get packing.

Tan Viranando
Totally speculative, and I don't know much about the local politics/sensibilities in Spain, but can only hope to try to speak to your Portuguese experience. Many of the rural Portuguese are only one or two generations away from being very food-deprived. Conditions there, till the change in government in the 70s, were pretty rough for typical citizens. So giving someone food, and going out of one's way to do so, does not surprise me in the least. (I hope I kept this comment as nonpolitical as possible.)

Bom caminho!
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
@mspath

I'm camping 3,5 km to the west of Astorga where I will go for alms food tomorrow and then push through a long day to get close to León for alms food on Sunday morning, since I have experienced that in smaller towns supermarkets can stay closed on the weekends as opposed to Portugal where they tend to stay shut on Mondays.

@Friend from Barquinha

Nice observation! I experienced the same type of care and generosity when I walked across Ireland and up the west coast. The Irish have defenitely had their own national trauma with the potato famine, a memory which is very much kept alive on the island.
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Very interesting to follow your story! All the best to you on your Way: Wishing you much well!
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
So, just a little update from me.

I received the new pair of used sandals on the 11th, two numbers too big but hey, who cares. :->

I've also had a warm meal and the opportunity to wash some clothes at Rebekahs house but couldn't stay overnight, due to my severe allergie to cat hair.

I continue to meet pilgrims coming from the opposite direction and they are really from all over the world, with Argentina and Venezuela being the furthest places.

I've had a priest stopping me on the road, who invited me for the meal and I ended up staying there overnight. I attended mass and was redecorated as a classical pilgrim, blessed a newly build meditation centre and made new friends. The whole evening was certainly one of the highlights of this walk.

Just after Burgos, I pushed 42 kilometers to get to a camp spot, overexerting my achilles tendon in the process, that my feet had probably not yet fully adapted to the new foot bed added most likely to the problem. I had to rest for a whole day just 5 kilometers before Beladora. Today I walked again but reduced the distance to under 20 kilometers, I also took pain killers and used pain relief cream on that leg. I really hope that I can continue in this reduced fashion. Time will tell. Alms round tomorrow morning will be in Santa Domingo.

Cheers;

Viranando Bhikkhu

PS to Tan Thiracitto and Tan Mettiko jun.:

Hallo Venerables, ich weiß nicht wie, aber das ihr mich hier gefunden habt hat mir Tan Narindo erzählt, mit dem ich gestern telefoniert habe. Schreibt mir noch mal in einer PM wie ich euch erreichen kann. Ich würde mich wirklich freuen. Tan V
 
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Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Oh? Very interesting. Where?
I do hope that achilles calms down ASAP!

The original plan was to head for the coast - so the Vasco? It's a glorious walk.

Actually, plans had already changed well before the tendon started acting up becausee the lift home I was offered by an old friend of mine from Biarritz on the 10th of June (I had mentioned it earlier) didn't come through (not his fault).

At that time I had a good look at the map what to do instead and it came out to two interesting options. In both cases I would finish the Camino Frances in St. Jean (the coast would have to wait) and then head either up to Bordeaux via Plum Village or keep going into the Pyrenees to Toulouse via Lourdes. I decided I would go for the second option because I thought that Plum Village might be on a tight lockdown so as to not become a superspreading place, just like our monasteries who had pretty much closed to the public quite early on to avoid this scenario.

I then started laying out the days up to Pamplona and looking at it now, I must have been stark mad because in order to arrive in Germany around the 10th of June by 3 different Flixbus legs (I'm carrying some vouchers) from Toulouse, I would have had to consistently walk more than 40 kilometers each day.

Well it looks like the Camino has a way to course correct and now I seem to be down to about 20 kilometers a day because without the pain medication I can feel the tendon more acutely again today.

A couple days before I pulled the zero (I always wanted to use this phrase, it sounds soo PCT 😏), I received a little pamphlet from the new meditation place that I had blessed earlier and I read it on that day of involuntary rest, really taking it in. It invited some introspection about my walk along the Camino and I came to realize (again😁) that this should not be about clocking kilometers or to fall into some misguided destination fever but much more about the beautiful, surprising, hilarious or connecting encounters with other pilgrims and people along the path and first and foremost to provide the necessary time and space to (re-)connect to the inner being, ones inner path. It's obvious now (again😁), and an insight in itself but it is so easy to get carried away by external factors and our deluded mind that latches onto them.

So the new plan (😁) is to now continue walking towards St. Jean, however long it will take, and from there head to Biarritz after all, since it is the closest destination in France that is serviced by Flixbus. I'm content (let's see how long that will last) with having to make that 'sacrifice' as it is really time to slow down now externally as well as internally and to take the path in(-ward) to it's full extend.

Tan V
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
new meditation place
Sorry to bug you...but where?

it is so easy to get carried away by external factors and our deluded mind that latches onto them.
You can say that again. :oops::rolleyes:
The camino really shines a light on that, and the pull of 'progress.'

So the new plan (😁) is to now continue walking towards St. Jean, however long it will take, and from there head to Biarritz after all, since it is the closest destination in France that is serviced by Flixbus.
There's a slighy shorter option from Pamplona than going to St Jean Pied de Port, which requires walking down the Voie de la Nive to get to the coast. The Baztan takes 5 days, going directly towards Bayonne, as opposed to what looks like 6 via St Jean.

I've walked both (though not the VdlN); Elizondo (halfway) is a biggish place and there's the usual supemarcado zoo at the border crossing. If they are open, you could possibly spend a night after Pamplona with the Srs of the Sacred Heart in the donativo Albergue in Zabaldica, and then hop over the hill to the Baztan. That albergue is a very special place.
 

Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
The meditation center, although center sounds to busy, is more a place for pilgrims to meet with a dedicated meditation area on the third floor. Nia, who has build it out of an old finca has a very good eye and hand for interior design. I will find out the exact address for you as I have passed the pamphlet on already to an Italian pilgrim girl that I have encountered yesterday (and who gave me a big piece of chocolate cake 'for' it).

I thought of ending the Camino Frances at its beginning (St. Jean) and from there it's only 57 km to Bayonne.
 
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Viranando Bhikkhu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
So,

this is probably my last entry here for this year.

I reached St. Jean yesterday morning. But before that, I stayed for a night in the well tended garden of Neil at the abbey of Eskirotz and Ilaaratz. I had stopped there to ask for some rubbing alcohol (one of the two allowances the Buddha made (medicine), the other is for water) because the wounds on the back of my hands wouldn't stop oozing pus for the past 7 days or so and looked pretty grim by then.

Neil took me in and we had a nice tea in the evening together with another pilgrim and his beautiful husky.

Porridge in the morning and two big plates of lentils a couple hours later all offered by Neil provided energy to tackle the following climb. The trip up to Roncesvalles was defenitely one of the most beautiful stretches of the tour. I had clear skies, and continued walking trough the night with the full moon lighting my way.

By that time I had come to the decision to end my tour this year in St. Jean to get to my parents house and to see a doctor there about my hands as quickly as possible.

I figured out a way with my brother to book a train ticket to Bayonne from where I can continue on the Flixbus network.

The staff at the tourist info in St. Jean was really helpful and printed the train ticket for me. Apparently it is supposed to be possible to scan the QR-code on the ticket into the SNCF app and I tried that first from a screen and later from the printed ticket without success. The inbuild QR-code scanner inside the app would open but not register the QR-code; I really tried. Has any of you been successful in this endeavor?

This might be the end of this years walk but the camino will continue to integrate inside of me. I received a tremendous amount of generosity and goodwill, the entire walk, 52 days would not have been possible without all the good hearted people that I had met on the way and here in this forum. Thank you! Anumodana. ❤️

Viranando Bhikkhu
 

Mycroft

Active Member
So,

this is probably my last entry here for this year.

I reached St. Jean yesterday morning. But before that, I stayed for a night in the well tended garden of Neil at the abbey of Eskirotz and Ilaaratz. I had stopped there to ask for some rubbing alcohol (one of the two allowances the Buddha made (medicine), the other is for water) because the wounds on the back of my hands wouldn't stop oozing pus for the past 7 days or so and looked pretty grim by then.

Neil took me in and we had a nice tea in the evening together with another pilgrim and his beautiful husky.

Porridge in the morning and two big plates of lentils a couple hours later all offered by Neil provided energy to tackle the following climb. The trip up to Roncesvalles was defenitely one of the most beautiful stretches of the tour. I had clear skies, and continued walking trough the night with the full moon lighting my way.

By that time I had come to the decision to end my tour this year in St. Jean to get to my parents house and to see a doctor there about my hands as quickly as possible.

I figured out a way with my brother to book a train ticket to Bayonne from where I can continue on the Flixbus network.

The staff at the tourist info in St. Jean was really helpful and printed the train ticket for me. Apparently it is supposed to be possible to scan the QR-code on the ticket into the SNCF app and I tried that first from a screen and later from the printed ticket without success. The inbuild QR-code scanner inside the app would open but not register the QR-code; I really tried. Has any of you been successful in this endeavor?

This might be the end of this years walk but the camino will continue to integrate inside of me. I received a tremendous amount of generosity and goodwill, the entire walk, 52 days would not have been possible without all the good hearted people that I had met on the way and here in this forum. Thank you! Anumodana. ❤️

Viranando Bhikkhu
You have blessed many of us with your posts. Sending many blessings to you.
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
I received a tremendous amount of generosity and goodwill
Indeed. It is what keeps people coming back to the camino and to this forum. It's quite remarkable, these oasis of kindness.

The trip up to Roncesvalles was defenitely one of the most beautiful stretches of the tour. I had clear skies, and continued walking trough the night with the full moon lighting my way.
Beautiful. I've walked at night in elsewhere on the camino, but never over the mountains.

Very wise to expedite taking care of whatever is going on with those hands. Thank you for sharing here and may you have a safe onward journey.
 
Past OR future Camino
2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
espacio interior
C real de Oriente, 64
Castrojeriz
Ah, ok, I get it now.
When you said 'meditatiin center' I was imagining a new retreat center or something.
😄

This wonderful place has been around for a while but is not as widely known as it should be. It's described beautifully here:

How wonderful you could do a blessing chant there!
 
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