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LIVE from the Camino Camino de Invierno

2020 Camino Guides

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
We started walking on Wednesday April 17th.

Ponferrada to Villavieja: nice walk right up until the killer hill leading up to the village. Holy cow that was steep and hot as we left from Ponferrada later than we wanted and hit the hill in the hottest part of the day. Then we waited about 30 minutes for the mayor of the region to come let us into the albergue. Very nice, small place. Nice Dining room and kitchen. The sleeping area is very nice with real cotton sheets and wool blankets.
The heat was still not working so we had no heat or hot water. The mayor said he’d come back with a mechanic to fix it but we doubted that would happen and of course it didn’t. We were the only ones there so we just spread out and doubled up on blankets since we only brought sleep sacks. It wasn’t bad for us, inside temperature was 60F degrees which is 5 degrees lower than we keep our house at night anyway.
Taking a bath was interesting as we had to heat water in the stove since the tap water was as cold as river water! I’d stay there again. It was nice having the little place to ourselves. We used the kitchen to cook some packaged Noors soup and eat some bocadillos we made. Nobody asked us for money, so we just left 20€ on the front desk with our name and sent the mayor a text. He never responded but I assume somebody will eventually come by. Maybe. :)

Villavieja to Las Médulas was a short walk but nice. We stayed at Casa Socorro and it was comfortable and very quiet at night. Would recommend it.

Las Médulas to Puente de Domingo Flórez was another short day but as with everyday, we had steep hills up and down. Stayed at hostal La Torre I and it was nice. We got there early and they hurried to make up a room for us. We ate at their restaurant across the street and totally over ate. Good food and very friendly people.

Puente to O Barco: our tracking app and map recorded this at 20km. We stayed at Pension do Lar which is well into town so maybe that’s why there’s such a large distance disparity. Pension Do Lar sucked. We arrived on Easter Saturday and even though they advertise on the big sign that they are open 24 hours, it’s not true. We got there at 6pm. I called the owner the day before and TOLD him we’d be arriving around that time. He said no problem. Nobody was there. I repeatedly tried to call him and no answer. The phone finally started to just ring busy. The bartender across the street was able to contact him and he said he’d send his bartender to open the place in 20 minutes. An hour and 15 minutes later a kid showed up and let us in. Gave us our choice of double rooms. We were so exhausted as we had walked in 80 degree temps and my husband’s bruised foot really need to get rested.
Of course we come to find only 1 set of bath towels in the room and nobody to call since the kid was gone and their bar wouldn’t open until 8:30 (just gor drinks) on top of that, the shower stall door only opened about 18 inches. I squeezed through but almost fell coming out. My husband ended up taking one of the door panels off the hinges just so he could fit through. I’m a short, not obese woman and I could barely squeeze through, no excuse. Let’s not even talk about the bathroom door that wouldn’t stay closed because it was hung wrong, so there was no privacy when using the toilet. Ugh! Definitely wouldn’t recommend.

O Barco to A Rua was an easy flat walk. But all on asphalt which killed our feet. No views. Just a walk on pavement. Stayed at casa rural Pacio do Sil across the highway from the main town. OMG! This place was beautiful. The rooms and private bathroom are exactly as pictured. Lovely family that I talked to for long periods of time. Highly recommend as long as you don’t care about going into A Rua. There are pulpo stands and a nice restaurant about a 20 minute walk away. Pharmacy, train station, etc.

A Rua to Quiroga had lots of road walking. We’re staying at the municipal albergue and there are only 2 female pilgrims next door. We have a 2 bed room with a big private bath. 20€. Super nice cleaning staff. The ladie’s son owns the place. They had a completely full albergue last night (150 beds) and had to turn away pilgrims. It happened to be Easter Sunday and there was a large group staying here for the wine festival. See....this is why I made reservations for the first 14 days. A lot going on in this region besides pilgrims.

Tomorrow we head to Casa Pacita which is a pension/casa rural 300 meters off the Camino about 3km before Pobra de Brollon. I can’t walk 27km so this location is perfect and they serve food.

The weather is perfect at 40F to 55F until 11 and then it gets hot. Temps in the 60s and 70s. Yesterday it was 80F in the afternoon. Way too hot for hiking. We barely got a drizzle on one of these days. Thank goodness it looks like the temps are dropping back to a more normal and tolerable 40F for the rest of the week. Some mild showers in the forecast but nothing that would make me break out a rain shell. I’m still walking in my purple rain skirt and T-shirt. Hubby in shorts from his convertible pants and hiking shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
I can’t believe people are wearing full on winter coats here. Pilgrims are walking in 3 layers of clothes! Good god they must like to sweat. :)
So yeah, we’re from Alaska.

To be continued
Irene

Oh, the posts from my Camino with pictures are public on my Facebook page. I’ll update my blog when I get home.
You can find me here and just “follow me” without friending. https://www.facebook.com/irene.InAlaska
 
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MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, '14: Frances
2015: Chimayo, USA.
2016, '17: VdlP
2018: Madrid, Ourense, Salvador, Primitivo
Thank you so much for all of the details! I agree, I am constantly shaking my head at the warm clothes other pilgrims wear while on Camino.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Thanks for the updates. I am taking notes as I expect this route to be in my future.

I am constantly shaking my head at the warm clothes other pilgrims wear while on Camino.
I like to dress fairly warmly, and am sometimes surprised to to see others in shorts and bare arms, but I assume they are comfortable. I've learned that people's temperature control systems are very different.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Buen camino, you two!
Thanks for the detailed posts...a bunch of us will be reading with interest.:cool:
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
Well, my husband’s bruised foot is significantly better. But we had to take the train to Quiroga in order to give him a solid rest day to ice his heel. It was definitely worth it since the pain diminished significantly.
Weather got rainy by the time we reached Monforte de Lemos. We stayed at Conde Lemos hotel across from the train station. Very nice hotel. But we had take taxis back and forth from the center of town to keep my husband from walking too much. I’d recommend staying in a place toward the center of town.
Here we met up with our old friend stfina from this forum.
Our walk today from Monforte to Villariño was in pretty much heavy rain and very windy, and I must say a bit cold. I’m in a skirt so I had to add my rain skirt and light rain jacket along with my Goretex OR Sombrero hat. Ran into a couple of deep mud puddle sections but since we’re wearing backpacking boots Goretex liners, and gaiters, I feet were nice and dry. As were our backpack contents with the standard Osprey covers. As always.
We’re staying at the casa rural marketed on Booking.com as hostal Torre Villariño. Lovely place with spacious rooms and plenty of hot water and in room heaters and blankets. I only wish it had stopped raining so we could have looked around this beautiful property. It’s been in their family for generations. Highly recommend it if you want shorten the Monforte to Chantada leg.
Tomorrow we head to Chantada which is a 16 km walk but has a very steep downhill and a steep uphill. I think this is the downhill that is tough after a rainstorm because of the slippery rocks and shale.
Going to bed, it’s late! More later.
Still posting publicly on my FB page. See link above if you want pictures.

Irene and company.
 
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Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
Your photos of wet and muddy conditions have resolved my indecision about footwear; I will take my Ecco boots and not my Keen Arroyo sandals!
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
Your photos of wet and muddy conditions have resolved my indecision about footwear; I will take my Ecco boots and not my Keen Arroyo sandals!
I’m very glad that I’m wearing my Vasque St. Elias boots. This Camino is very rocky and also has a lot of road walking. My boots are comfortable and completely waterproof especially with short OR gaiters on. The mistake I made on The Primitivo 2 years ago was wearing Merrill “hiking” shoes which caused a horrific case of plantar fasciitis that I never had in 30 years of hard backpacking. My boots with my custom made orthotics are definitely making a difference. And I don’t have to think about where to walk. I just walk right into the streams and into mud if I have to. The inside of my boots are dry and my Darn Tough socks only mildly wet from sweat.
 
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alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
Today we walked from Villariño to Chantada. Those terraces are beautiful and the local people and dogs very friendly. The hike down was very steep and slow and the hike back up the other side equally as steep :)
No rain and perfect weather. Partly cloudy and about 50F in the middle of the day. We didn’t see any pilgrims on the way, but did run into a couple here at the hotel Mogay. Very nice hotel. Modern room with a fantastic shower head with lots of pressure. Hair dryer in the bathroom for those with hair drying problems.
Oh yeah, we stopped at the winery on the other side of the vineyards. He gave all of us free glasses of wine and we took some photos. And yes, I actually bought a bottle and carried it into Chantada. Never felt the extra weight in my back since I was carrying 3 liter of water and had already drank 1. I can’t believe I carried a bottle. I swore I’d never do that, but that bottle of Vino de Licor de Castaña is basically a Port. It was too good and cheap not to buy. Also picked up a bottle of Orujo de Crema (I’m addicted) as soon as we got into Chantada. Alcohol is just too good and cheap not to enjoy.
The Torre Vilariño casa rural last night was a comfortable stay. Comfy bed and super quiet. I can’t rave about it enough. And it does have a hair dryer if anyone cares :)

My only issue with this Camino has been the difficulty in washing and drying clothes. the Primitivo spoiled me with all the washing machines/dryers or clothes hanging areas. The lack of albergues means that we’ve had to wash and dry everything over heaters in the rooms and not all the rooms have the old radiators that make drying easier.
So far, I’m preferring the Primitivo over this route for many reasons. But it’s very nice and quiet.
Pictures up on my Facebook page. I will post a full blog post on my website with proper pictures when I get home.
 
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alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
Sorry, I have been meaning to post but too tired. Since the downpour last week the weather has been perfect. We’ve start walking around 8:30 and the temps have been a nice cool 40-45F so all I needed was my Purple Rain skirt and T-shirt. You warm up fast. By noon it gets into the high 50’s and 60s. I’m glad I didn’t bring any long johns or warm clothes.
We’ve stayed in pensiones, hostels, albergues and a hotel in Lalin. All had thick clean blankets that kept us warm even with no heat. These old stone buildings get very chilly inside even when the outside temperature is 70F.
If you’ve been following me on FB you’ve seen my photos and the video from the Relive app which I LOVE!
Tonight we’re in Ponte Ulla. A lot of asphalt yesterday and today. Actually, most of the Camino has been on asphalt. I’d say 60/40 split with dirt paths. I’ll double check with my husband who made the topi moss for this Camino,
Tomorrow we arrive in Santiago after 16 days!
I’ll write all the details up in my blog when I get home and post a link here.
So far, The Primitivo is our hands down favorite. We won’t be repeating this particular Camino.

Vow renewal on Sunday at San Agustin church during noon mass. Anyone in Santiago that day is invited! You too @ivar.
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
Sorry that I stopped posting to the forum. I did upload my photos to Facebook so if you followed me you came along for the ride.
In the end, this was a nice walk except for the absurd amount of road walking. If asked, I’m sticking to what I’ve said for the last few weeks, The Primitivo is still our favorite and has less road walking and better views. The Invierno has too little infrastructure and things like the lack of albergues and good food made a huge difference for us. It was definitely more expensive for accommodations but we knew that going in.
Things that I didn’t like was the lack of washing and drying areas. Luckily most pensiones had a radiator and we were able to dry socks and tshirts by morning. The albergue in Villavieja is wonderful but they still hadn’t fixed the hot water/heat problem. For us it was no problem as we had the place to ourselves and just grabbed extra blankets and warmed water in large pots to take a bath and wash my hair. Really not a big deal but for some it may be.
The food is not as varied as on other Caminos and just mediocre, but we never starved and it was cheap. People were very welcoming.
I’m glad I’m fluent in Spanish, I don’t recall running into many locals who were fluent in English.
Almost no water fountains. I think I saw 2 but there are bars to fill up in and for the long stretches, we had 3 liter bladders anyway.
All of the accommodations were chilly inside even when the temperature was warm outside. This could be an issue for people who aren’t used to the cold. But all the pensiones, hosteles, albergues, and hotels had blankets.
Ask questions because I can’t think of anything right now. Sitting in the airport in Seattle waiting for our flight back to Anchorage. We did a 3 day layover on Dublin on the way home.

Irene
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Irene,

Thanks for the live reports and your frank opinions. It’s always good to have different perspectives rather than just the positive glow that so many of us give.

Based on what you said, here are a couple of suggestions for your next walk :) — Camino Madrid (virtually no road walking, but some at the beginning on paved bike paths), Vdlp/Sanabrés, Castellano-Aragonés, Baztán. IMO, never too early to start planning the next one. Have a safe trip home, buen camino, Laurie
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
Hi, Irene,

Thanks for the live reports and your frank opinions. It’s always good to have different perspectives rather than just the positive glow that so many of us give.

Based on what you said, here are a couple of suggestions for your next walk :) — Camino Madrid (virtually no road walking, but some at the beginning on paved bike paths), Vdlp/Sanabrés, Castellano-Aragonés, Baztán. IMO, never too early to start planning the next one. Have a safe trip home, buen camino, Laurie
The Aragones-about how much asphalt/highway walking would you guess?
The Madrid one looks great except for that day with 30+km with no apparent way to break it up. I can’t walk 30km.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
...
The Madrid one looks great except for that day with 30+km with no apparent way to break it up. I can’t walk 30km.
It's not Madrid subforum but I'l answer anyway.
You don't have to walk 30km if you stay at albergue in Las Dehesas (3km after Cercedilla) and would take the Valsain variante. With staying overnight in La Pradera it would be just 19,7km:
Next day you can enjoy gardens of Royal Summer Palace in La Granja de San Ildefonso and have a short day to Segovia.
 
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