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J Willhaus

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Hope you are having a joyous holiday season.
 

JabbaPapa

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This French train strike is messing many things up in terms of delays.

It remains impossible for me to do the Marseilles round-trip to get my army boots re-soled.

And 'til this week, it's been dubious that I might be able at least get this cycle of my administrative rubbish done either.

And in the meantime, my muscles are shrinking from being stuck in and not much hiking, and it's all turning into a great big mess of not completely ready -- regardless the FACT that as Pilgrims we are always ready.

But a part of me and a part of my head has been in Lleida since the start of June, and simply will not leave, at least not 'til I get there in person and kick it down the Way !!!!
 

JabbaPapa

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A 15cm baby step -- but I finally managed to hook up with the nice seamstress lady (Portuguese) and my new big black cape is getting itself shortened into reasonableness. Or at least to what passes for that virtue in me ...
 
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JabbaPapa

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I have understood that this confinement and the troubles associated with the lockdown are part and parcel of my current Camino.
 

JabbaPapa

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I find myself realising that in 18 days time, no legal nor practical impediment would remain to stop me making a 2020 pilgrimage to Rome from my front door, en attendant the capability to continue the current Home to Home via Fatima, Compostela, and Lourdes.

It's an unexpected and slightly scary notion !!

It's just 800K or so, and TBH I've recently been starting to get a bit homesick for Italy, even though I can see that silly & beautifully magnificent country from my bedroom window, and two local buses can take me there (where I can purchase some alternate sorts of booze than usual ; but I can also call some family and friends for free on the Italian network, not free from France).

Can't even ask for advice in this, as it's almost by definition something that only another "True Pilgrim" could help me with, and then only face to face, and if he/she were on the Pilgrim Way. My Godfather (he's a year younger than me, bless) is often very helpful by default, but not this time.

But your random personal commentary would help, which I guess is the point of this post.

What do you think about this crazy notion ?
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
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Hospitalera, Zamora 2017, Hospitalera Grañón 2018, Hospitalera Estella 2019
I am thinking you need to be prepared for camping? Don't know the status of Albergues in Italy or of food vendors. But you are an experienced pilgrim and if you have a way to contact friends who could help in an emergency it seems like a plausible Camino. Certainly seems a good time of year for it and pray for us all when you get to Rome.
 
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You will know when to go when it finally "feels right" to you.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
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OK I'm finally getting back into it.

I'll be off to Marseilles, again, to fix up my size 14½ army boots, again.

Probably re-sole my current pair, and get a second pair. Probably walk with the new pair rather than the old.

Probably going there week after next, will be some kind of ghastly 3:30AM start out from home and then a train day there and back.

It seems that my man at that French Army base in Marseilles is the last one in the whole country to be making the traditional French army boot, and that there's a serious risk that the Government will shut him down -- so that's an extra reason to get a spare pair, as all other alternatives my size are prohibitively expensive.

--

As for restarting at Lleida, well, I'm no longer worried about Covid19 lockdown hassle etc -- the best analysis I've seen suggests that it's following standard viral epidemic patterns, which in Spain have an Autumn to Winter reflux, so that whenever I restart, December to February or whenever, it will be dying.

OK so my current training regimen is dodgy, but more and more I think I just have to get up and go.

I did finally work out that the worst of my recent physical problems came from too many potatoes.

Otherwise, that first stretch out from Lleida is dire for 2-3 days, but there are (I believe) a couple of good restaurants on the Way I could sleep near to outdoors (and of course eat at !! yummy !!), to break that stretch up into hobbling bite-size bits.

Then it's on to the latter more juicy bits to Zaragoza and my dear Logroño ; and then on the Francès to Astorga ; then complicated again LOL.

I hadn't originally planned to make this a Holy Year Pilgrimage, heh the Camino chooses us not the other way 'round ; but well, for the crazier part of it later in 2021 I'll be walking from Santiago to France which does make things easier.
 

JabbaPapa

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Probably going there week after next, will be some kind of ghastly 3:30AM start out from home and then a train day there and back.

Well, 3:30 AM now, and I'm heading there today, rather than sometime next week as I originally thought.

Backpack and big black pilgrim's cape are necessaries for the day trip.
 

JabbaPapa

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oh well, that only took 21 hours there and back, similar to last time ...

But -- second pair of size 14½ French Army boots :cool: , and the first pair is being re-soled 🤩 .

If they'd had their key this morning I'd have been asleep for hours by now -- OTOH they gave me a fantastic price on the new pair, 100€ which at that price and given the extremely good quality and given the whacking great big size 14½ is virtually el cheapo.
 
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JabbaPapa

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All in all, yesterday was a good Camino prep day, and the passing of an important test of readiness to get back on the Ways of Saint James.

I had been delaying that trip to Marseilles for, blimey, nearly a year -- because I just wasn't physically and mentally capable of it.

But then yesterday at about 2:30 AM, well, just went ahead and decided that was indeed the day.

It was undoubtedly an ordeal -- as I have a handicap. But I am recovering pleasantly quickly from it, and the day trip even yesterday felt mostly like one of those harder Pilgriming days that end in exhaustion and trigger a rest day.

I am gaining confidence that I shall be able to resume in Lleida in either December or January.
 

JabbaPapa

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At the latest, I think I will be back on the Way of Saint James in early 2021, I think January at latest, could be wrong -- though December remains possible hence the ¿2020? still in my siggie.

A Holy Year Camino ---still freaking me out a bit, but hey not my decision ; God and the Camino provide.

Diet "cheats" striked back hard this month, which ultimately is a good thing as my knees and ankles are now behaving with less unruliness after I eliminated those "cheats" again. Sigh. I really do like that food. Back on carnivore. Many people hate this, but so what.

My gut is hard rejecting vegetable fibre, so I guess that's the end of that particular conversation with it. (have some lovely larded steaks in the fridge, Italian origin I believe, from the local and amazing Portuguese butcher's shop)

The first condition for carrying on in the Way was being physically and mentally capable of that hard day trip to Marseilles, for Size 14½ French Army Boot purposes, which has now been done successfully ; as much footwear-wise as against the general endurance questions versus the bloody annoying handicap.

Meanwhile I am finally making good progress with the Greek, only took 20+ years, so that the books I will be taking with me onward into this Camino shall be a sensible Greek philological edition of The New Testament from the lovely Deutschen Bibelgesellschaft publisher (their editions of the Latin Vulgate are amazing) ; Protestants they may be but very excellent ones ; plus a lovely handy thin, light, flexible little Biblical Greek-French dictionary that I have.

If I also need to bring the Biblical Greek textbook with me too, so be it.

Bottom line -- the game is afoot.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Got my first pair of size 14½ French Army Boots back in the Post today, re-soled.

WP_20201026_19_43_33_Pro.jpg

The quality of these things is incredible.

And now I have two pairs ... :cool:

---

As to the Camino though, it is now quite clear that even very late 2020 is a bust ... :(😷:(🤒

Not because I suppose that risk outweighs possibility, but simply because I lack any influence nor control over administrative lockdowns.

It really does seem to conspire against my Winter Camino desires ...
 
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JabbaPapa

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Plus now I'm actually wearing them again for the first time, they're amazingly comfortable !!
 
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JabbaPapa

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I have few brilliant photos of my Camino so far, but here's one from the amazingly beautiful stretch between Aix-en-Provence and Arles that I had forgotten about -- mid April 2019 :

WP_20190414_13_48_55_Pro.jpg

I love the fact that the sky is actually indigo not blue in the pic.
 

JabbaPapa

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Well -- this morning I received an e-mail from the Préfecture on the final steps to obtain my French "Brexit" Residency card for Brit expats, and once that's done, despite having returned to being "out of training", only the most basic reopening of Portugal's and Spain's Regional borders would be needed, plus the beginning of a calendar month, and a few more meds, to get back onto this current Camino. (I'll be crossing all international borders on foot)

It's incoming !! :cool: 👉
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 CF;
Hospitalera, Zamora 2017, Hospitalera Grañón 2018, Hospitalera Estella 2019
Wishing you safe passage. Loved the photo of your boots and of the blue sky last fall. We are still waiting for borders to reopen to Americans (which may be never if people here don't wise up!)
 

JabbaPapa

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Thinking it'll be April, unless Spain continues restrictions beyond the end of the respiratory diseases season.
Wishing you safe passage. Loved the photo of your boots and of the blue sky last fall. We are still waiting for borders to reopen to Americans (which may be never if people here don't wise up!)
Thanks !!

And the boots are lovely, but I'll be walking on the new pair. 👉
 

JabbaPapa

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Well !!

It was a bit of a surprise, but today I actually managed to walk the full length of my basic training hike. :cool:

Rather hard and painful, and it took me six hours or so (instead of the 4 hours or less that would be par for the course), but the pain was manageable, and I managed to get past it ; even though it required some extra doses of my non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

It was also a surprise from the fact that my legs had been feeling weaker than usual in recent weeks.

Also because last time I managed the full hike was I think in 2019, and since my forced return from the 77 days of this Camino so far, I had been struggling to a degree with consequences from injury.

So this is great news -- including in the perspective that Spain may be reopening in early April, though Catalonia where I must restart perhaps not until May.

The various threads seem finally to be gathering back together again, and it looks more and more to be incoming 👉
 
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lovingkindness

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.
Bonjour @JabbaPapa, the other day as I was walking by La cathédrale Saint-Caprais in Agen I saw something that reminded me of you...

Pélerin St Jacques. Agen .JPG . Agen r.JPG
Pèlerin astride a coquille St Jacques, the swirl of a cape, angel rejoicing... (15/03/2021)
 

JabbaPapa

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My new French Residency card (Brexit special, 10 years, Permanent Resident) just arrived in the Post, so apart from a few new t-shirts needed, I'm all set up for a restart just as soon as Spain opens up enough to make it possible legally -- except the negative PCR test if Spain continues that measure for incoming land travel from France.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Yep, I'm definitely getting back onto the Camino some short while after May 9th -- France is opening up again on the 3rd, and whilst even in lockdown I'm one of the few lucky ones still able to travel, this reopening will still make the other end of my return journey to Lleida somewhat less complicated.
 

lovingkindness

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.
Yep, I'm definitely getting back onto the Camino some short while after May 9th -- France is opening up again on the 3rd, and whilst even in lockdown I'm one of the few lucky ones still able to travel, this reopening will still make the other end of my return journey to Lleida somewhat less complicated.
That sounds exciting!
 

JabbaPapa

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I'm getting more and more of those crazy Pilgrim "signs" that this is now finally going ahead again.

Unexpected greetings in church from absent friends, pilgrim jokes from complete strangers, odd knowing smiles from passers-by seeing my great big yellow arrow.

You can always of course "force" your Way into a Camino, and that's perfectly fine -- but seeing that you are being called into it is always the better situation.
 

JabbaPapa

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It's still coming together beautifully :cool: 👉

Got the info today about a PCR test I'll probably need to cross the French/Spanish border even on foot, as I plan to do (between buses and between Bourg-Madame and Puigcerdà, from the bus up from Perpignan to a bus down to Lleida) -- though there's still some chance they may revise that requirement for land travel within the next two weeks ; we'll see.

But I do want to go back up that route on my way back as it's more or less the reverse of my way back when the ghastly 2019 heat wave forced me to stop ; though I returned via Andorra instead. And it's beautiful up there too, and seems much better than a more "sensible" route via Barcelona.

And I also called the Perpignan Pilgrim Office, and they kindly reassured me of Pilgrim accommodation in the pleasant Refugio there (not an Albergue, it's too ad hoc to be described so).

Just need some new t-shirts, not that many, a gizmo, one extra month of my medicines, and it's hard to think of anything else -- except of course the apprehension of a PCR false positive.

I have been wearing my new pair of UK size 14½ French Army Boots, US size 15½-16, for a couple of days instead of my comfy re-soled home pair, all good, and I anticipate no problems.

Catalonia is threatening to try and impose continuing regional travel restrictions after the end of the State of Alarm on the 9th, but frankly enough is enough -- it's illegal, and I'll treat it as such. NOT to say that Pilgrims from those countries whence it shall still be illegal after May 9th to travel to Spain should violate that, including because by air travel they could be refused entry and sent back home, just that simpler hiker/pilgrim matters are less complex for those of us going home to home, outside of international public transport requirements and rules.

Taking my Greek New Testament with me this time. Still need to learn a little more to begin reading it normally, so the Koine textbook is coming in the backpack too, and I really do also need to have my copy of it blessed by my Confessor.

All of this, well, I'm very close to being back on my Way. And that's amazing !! :cool:👉
 
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JabbaPapa

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And I'm just now gluing the two new Crediencial booklets into my already massive one.
 

JabbaPapa

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Going on foot pilgrimage tomorrow -- 1st May is the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the local Marian Shrine.

Had been forgetting it, but my godfather reminded me !!
 

JabbaPapa

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Going on foot pilgrimage tomorrow -- 1st May is the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the local Marian Shrine.
Well, that was ... interesting.

I need cheap beer as supplemental pain management (less important after a few weeks on a Camino), and this morning I had none as I set out up the mountain rather than my usual down ; and I was tired this morning, almost cancelled the attempt, but I didn't.

Pain got pretty bad, but I could still carry on ; just way too slowly, and having to stop every few hundred metres, so that I realised there was no way I would reach the target on time for the pilgrimming stuff. So I decided (or realised) I couldn't go further than La Turbie, and I eventually made it through determination ; just about an hour or so later than normal.

Then hooray !! Shops are open despite Labour Day !! Beers !! (I always get cheap low alcohol % lagers or pilseners, except on the VERY rare occasions when I come across a British shop with lovely canned widget Bitter 🍺 )

Three cans of beer later, pain is down again, so I start heading home : much better !!

The steeper downhill tarmac bits are still more difficult than usual, but I make it ; and I don't need to stop or rest any pains or anything 'til my usual 1st rest point. More beer stops. And then so on, much better all the way home.

Oh, except it starts really p-ing down with rain, not full-on Galicia style, but definitely as much as a "normal" Galician rainy day. Bad enough that even the inside of my cape started feeling wet.

Feet and socks though inside the (UK) size 14½ French army boots ?
Not just dry, but warm and toasty. :cool:

So all in all, despite the negatives, and despite not reaching the intended destination, it ended up as a good training day in the face of adverse conditions. Tiring and painful, but good enough for a complicated day without the safety net of the bus service.
 

JabbaPapa

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Closest of all I think in the recent training hikes to Camino conditions.
 

JabbaPapa

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My restart date may be delayed slightly by a delivery delay for an article I have ordered online -- we'll see.
 
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JabbaPapa

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The remaining local lockdowns near Zaragoza will affect my route -- I can make it to Zaragoza, but then I can't really see any other choice than get a train from there to Tudela. (unless those lockdowns are ended before then)

The only real 100% hiking alternative would be head back up North via Huesca, cross a Sierra, then onto the Aragonés at Santa Cilia -- but er, no thanks, I've already crossed those mountains, not again !!
 

JabbaPapa

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I have been looking at train time tables from here to Perpignan, and well -- good thing I'm old school enough to know how train lines work in practice, yet new school enough to know how to force an uncooperative search engine to find what I want to know instead of what it wants me to believe.

Turns out three slow trains (or 2 + a semi-fast) get me there 2 hours faster than the fast ones.

Can get out of the house at about 6AM and a bit, get a 6:50 bus at the bottom of the road to the station (free i.e. already paid for on my monthly card), then an el cheapo train to Marseilles at 7:28. Arrival 11:02, then a bit less el cheapo to Nîmes 11:24 > 12:39.

Then, choices (will probably be hungry and in need of cerveza), but then get to Perpignan at either 16:12 or 16:48. Maybe el cheapo too ? We'll see. It does exist.

And there, I've got the stay in the albergue organised.

Next morning, li'l bus up to Bourg-Madame ; walk from there to Puigcerdà ; menú del peregrino if I'm lucky at that point, else some snack ; bus to Lleida, then hopefully albergue there too.

...

Then : walk ... 👉 :cool: 👉
 

JabbaPapa

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Well, my restart date will not be in this coming week.

12th is no-go as I have a tedious home inspection.

Then the 13th is a double Feast Day -- Ascension Mass in the morning ; Our Lady of Fatima Mass in the evening, and this Camino is to Fatima first, Santiago later.

14th and 15th, work days on the railway, so no good either. Then 16th Sunday.

Need a PCR test prior to setting off, earliest after that is the 17th, result probably 19th -- then travel etc.

So unless Spain stops this practice of demanding negative test results in land crossings, I'm still a little while before the restart.
 

JabbaPapa

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Getting ready -- I can tell, because those "strange signs and portents" that quite a few of you must be quite familiar with, from past experience, are starting to appear fast and many.

Looks increasingly like next week.

I'm nowhere near "ready" physically, and the first few weeks will undoubtedly be arduous and likely to be rather painful. (except with cervezas, vino tinto, and menús del peregrino)

But well, the pain is my daily companion anyway ; and if I waited 'til I was "ready", I'd never get on my way (my one single exception to that principle was the 2014, as I had to overcome some far more serious physical issues first, starting from a point where I thought that another Camino was pure and simple impossible).

Still very pleased with my Brexit special 10-year "Article 50" (yes its in capital letters on the thing) residency card making all of this possible, as well as my continued life down here. And that's not politics, just personal.

Italy looks gorgeous this evening.

But view from in front of my place, back in January, looking towards the West and my more distant destinations :


WP_20210112_17_32_06_Pro.jpg
 
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JabbaPapa

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Blimey, it's finally sinking in -- next week !!!

I am in full departure mode.

Have to start on the job of sorting my backpack.

Putting my shell back on tomorrow, for the Fátima Mass.
 
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JabbaPapa

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No -- shell is on now, and I've just done my basic packing.

Pack isn't that heavy, and I've just rediscovered a couple of t-shirts (one short, one long sleeved). Jeans probably OK -- one pair currently a bit too big, another a bit too small. Think I'll shrink out of those and into these.

So that's one less shopping trip.

Medicines might end up being slightly low, or maybe not -- can use aspirin in emergency though. Might need one more block of Lavender Marseilles soap ??!?

But blimey, the game is on !!

Leaving home maybe Wednesday.
 
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JabbaPapa

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hmmmmm, I think my departure may end up being delayed by some medical insurance matters.

It's not likely to be more than a few days' delay, and even if I end up with not enough time to fix things, it's not that serious, will still have basic and emergency cover. The main financial advantage I get from the 100% cover is a cheaper monthly local bus pass, which I won't need on the Camino.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Still in my delays, but I'd think I can be off either next week or following one.

This sort of eleventh hour procrastination has anyway been typical of my Caminos since the 1990s ...
full
 

JabbaPapa

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So yes, not this week but next.

Getting out from home on Tuesday to get back on the Camino on Thursday seems plausible, else Wednesday/Friday.
 
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JabbaPapa

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The final piece of my latest series of pre-Camino administrative stuff has fallen into place, so that my health cover will be assured for another year. Just need to send something off tomorrow or on Monday as I wish.

Camino Signs are still incoming, which is great, as they had been a little absent from my previous and more willful two departures -- where I was more concerned with health than with Christian Pilgrim spirituality.

Some are unpleasant to deal with, as negative forces (demons, I think) seem always to congregate in attack around me before a more important Pilgrimage ; but OTOH my fellow Parishioners seem to be more enthused by the project than in the past, in their discrete and respectful manner ; and yesterday I bumped by (hrm !!) "chance" into my friend and fellow ex-Pilgrim and fellow Parishioner who walked I think in his late 60s & into his 70s in stages from Le Puy to Compostela. He needed only that one Camino, but the peace and wisdom that it has given to him is almost palpable.

Blimey !! I've known that this was definitely restarting for several months by now, but the fact that it's not months or weeks now, but days, is an exciting one indeed.

I do understand that for all reading this, not everyone can just pack up from one day to the next and go as I can, which saddens me (without the Covid test necessity I'd be off even faster) -- but remember, the proper spiritual pilgrimage in life day-to-day will in virtually all instances be more important and significant than this silly foot pilgrimage on these silly dirt tracks. Only for we weird and strange "True Pilgrims" does the state of being a Pilgrim exactly define who we are, to both good and ill.
 

JabbaPapa

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Well, it's definite now -- I'm leaving to get back onto the Camino on Wednesday. Friday will likely be Day 78.

Went down for the silly PCR test this morning, result tomorrow ; but frankly, even whatever else I'm still going, and as far as I can tell Spain has stopped demanding it for foot travel over the land border. Which is how I will be re-entering Spain. Even supposing that it is still a requirement, which I doubt.

Probably four trains on Wednesday (five?) (and a stop in the brilliant Pilgrim Albergue at Perpignan) ; then four buses next day, plus the kind of 5AM -ish start I'm typically allergic to.

Though if I can catch an el cheapo Menú del Peregrino at Seu d'Urgell, that day will be better by far.
 

JabbaPapa

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Can think of basically nothing else, nor concentrate on anything which isn't the Camino.

Guess that's as good a sign as any that at last it's time !!

Last Holy Mass at the Parish in the morning (Traditional Latin Mass), see my godfather later, get many train food & drink supplies, farewell to and last drinks with my neighbour, last minute spring cleaning, unpack/repack the backpack, then get not enough sleep.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Traditional Latin Mass this morning, very beautiful, our PP is not a pointless liturgical formalist.

Trains tomorrow -- sleeping in Perpignan.

Crossing the border on foot on Thursday, up between Bourg-Madame and Puigçerda -- then buses to Lleida, and hopefully a kindly Pilgrim Menu at Seu d'Urgell.

Walking on Friday.
 

JabbaPapa

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Day 78 -- Lleida

Well !! Finally !! Of course the trip back here didn't go as planned, starting when I temporarily misplaced my credit card and missed the early train. Instant three hours' travel time lost ; 90 minutes wait in Marseilles, then the train out from there had a mechanical fault which gobbled up another hour, and then it was massively too late to get into the Refuge at Perpignan.

So I ended up just carrying on to Cerbere and slept in the port there, which was less comfortable of course but OK. Beautiful place.

There are NO tourists along the whole French Mediterranean coast, which is extremely weird.

Yesterday morning I walked over the border from Cerbere to Portbou ; tarmac up, trail down. The new pair of army boots finally has Camino dust !! The views up and down are gorgeous, somewhat steep as one is crossing the Crest of the Pyrenees. Crossed the border 71 hours 30 minutes after my PCR, hooray, but nobody cared as the only people up there were two guys clearing deadwood from a driveway.

Stopped in Portbou for a cerveza, got a proper tapa (free), li'l toasted ham bocadillo. Then train to Girona, bus to Lleida. The pilgrim lodging here is the youth hostel ; decent, four bunk beds though of course I'm alone ; great shower, an older place but all perfectly good. Right next to the bus station.

Backpack is chunky, but starting to settle down.

Today first hiking stage, short, to Alcarràs. Perhaps a possibility to sleep indoors, we'll see. Temps are in the 30s, but nothing like how bad it became in that terrible 2019 extreme heat. A week after I just returned home, temps near Lleida got up into the high 40s !!

Happy to be back on the Camino in these better conditions.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Day 78 -- Alcarràs

Today started out well, on my favourite sort of terrain, good pace (by my present "standards"), and blimey I'm walking on the Camino !!

But the pathway along the river out of Lleida is infested with tiny winged carnivores, and as I have not the resistance to them that the locals have, I turned into their menú del dia. Nastiest by far were the flying ants.

And as I had made the mistake of no cerveza in my backpack, to ease the pain in my knees, they were able to treat my veeeeeeeerry slowly advancing self as an eat all you like buffet meal.

Things began improving after I finally reached Butsènit -- no menú del dia for me after having been one all morning ; but they did get me one beer, a slice of tomato bread and a ham one for a decent enough 6€. Also no more insects !!

That is also where the waymarkers and yellow arrows began again.

Sky was overcast 'til just the last bit, so temps were good.

Wasn't too bad to no idea what the place is called, but then at last three cervezas !! First Pilgrim sighting (I think -- a strange one) ; zoomed past loudly pronouncing Vivat Peregrinos !! Vivat el Camino !!

Walking the last K from there on was easier from the liquid pain relief ; Sun came out so it was hotter, but really just normal Summer Camino temps.

I rested a while after reaching here, and a pleasant chat with a local. Then after a few false starts, got hold of local Police and they set me up with this place. Free, far outside the pueblo, prefab basic though I've stayed several times in significantly more Spartan.

Thing is, locals here are much more nervous about the Covid than I've seen anywhere ; but well it's exactly here, between Lleida and Zaragoza that was THE worst hit area in Spain

Not sure how far tomorrow, though most likely just to the next pueblo, Fraga.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Day 80 -- Fraga

Well !! These two days were "fun" !!

I had twisted my ankle late on 78, thinking little of it at the time, as there was no pain ; but it woke up during the night, so that in the morning, I was hobbling.

The lodging provided by the Ayuntamiento was also 2K from the pueblo, plus 1K wandering about the village looking for stuff meant 3K walking, but 0K advancement. The ankle forced me into early rest stops -- and then I felt the early warning signs of sunstroke.

So I set myself down in the shade of a farm building, and promptly slept two hours. Only thing that works against sunstroke. Then when the shade moved, over to the side for another hour or two. Managed to get moving, another 1K or so, just 'til a better spot, then more sleep.

Probably 7-8K walking, which would be OK normally in those circumstances, except only 4-5K advancement in real terms.

At least that meant that due to a day spent basically sleeping, I ended up waking at 2AM ; and started walking at 3. And that was fine 'til about 9AM, though I was on a slower pace than even my usual. The ankle was improved, though still a little tender, and all traces of impending sunstroke were gone.

The Camino there is tarmac alongside a motorway, and after I found a bottled water machine things were looking up ; but the start of the day's heat at about 9AM (today was an absolute 37°C scorcher) hit me really bad ; I did make it most of the way to Fraga, but after 1PM (yes, my pace is that slow), I just could not carry on, but good news I was able to catch a lift for the rest of the way.

So I got here Yay!!, spent a couple of hours just plastered there in the shade of the main street, with chilled water and chilled beer ; almost fell asleep but not quite ; then got moving to local Police to see about somewhere to sleep.

Turns out it's financed by the Ayuntamiento, but organised by the Parish ; and I could rendezvous with the priest at 7PM, hooray two extra hours to recover, though I moved away from the noisy and somewhat rowdy main street towards the church ; where I found a bar that was open, ice-cold chilled beers in frozen glasses, strange that the foam on top takes on the consistency of snow !

Saw the priest, got my sello, and it turns out it's a free hotel room. Sweet. A pleasant end to two rather tough days.

And I am in Aragón !!

--------------------

But I realised that I am physically incapable of hiking the next ultra-stage to Candasnos, even splitting it up as I was planning to. It's just open sun-blasted track next to a main road and not a square yard of shade. Had I got to this point in 2019, when I was better in training, and it had been normal hot weather not that exceptional weeks-long heatwave, I could have managed it. But not now, just a few starting days into Stage 3 of this Camino.

So I'm going to have to trash one of my core principles by force majeure ; and skip the stage by bus.

Except I'm told the only bus thataways is express to Zaragoza.

...

Oh well, as they say in cockney dialect : Ad impossibile nemo tenetur.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Day 81 -- Fraga

I really am annoyed at having to bus the next bit ; I just want to get out and walk !!

But the mini heatwave makes it impossible, 37°C til Wednesday, then things cool down a bit.

Sigh, that's twice the weather has affected this Catalan Way of mine, though at least this time it's not forcing me to return home.

I did at least manage to walk through the whole of Catalonia itself, from the French border to Aragón.

Hooray !!

EDIT -- It really is just the heat making the Candasnos stage impossible, combined with my current slow hiking speed. If temps were in a more normal high 20s ⁰C, I'd already be out there, not typing in here.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Day 81 -- Bus

It's not as bad as I was told, the bus goes through all the pueblos.

Avoiding everything I cannot do in this weather, so I'm going to Pina de l'Ebro, and not being forced to go all the way to Zaragoza.

I'll see if I can get any walking done later, but dunno yet.
 

JabbaPapa

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Day 81 -- Zaragoza

Oh well, the Pina de l'Ebro stop turned out to be a few K away from the pueblo, so that walking there would have defeated the entire purpose of the bus, i.e. not hurting myself in these conditions.

I saw from the bus what that part of this Camino is like, between Fraga and Pina, and it's simply brutal -- the meseta on steroids. I could have and would have walked it in different conditions, so as things stand now both better Camino legs after a month of hiking or more, plus better weather.

And I could certainly have done it when I was 29-30 and walking 40K as a matter of course.

But that Bujaraloz to Pina de l'Ebro stage is a good candidate to be the single most difficult Camino stage of any Camino.

I clearly made the right decision by avoiding all that, but it certainly feels strange.

Oh well, guess I'll search for a menú del dia, then see about where to sleep ...
 
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JabbaPapa

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Day 81 -- Zaragoza

Well, after 28 years on these Pilgrim Ways, I finally have a "worst albergue experience ever" story. I think even that time, NOT on any Camino, when I slept in a shelter for tramps & drunks, some of them moaning in their sleep "I want to die" was not worse, because all who were there still cared if I was OK, and there was general respect each for the other.

The worst on a Camino so far was on my 1994, a concrete hut with two sleeping alcoves and no door ; to share with, again, a drunken tramp.

At least that place taught me that sleeping outdoors is better than some places indoors ; but again, there was care and respect.

Here ? They have shut down the normal youth hostel " because of COVID" and never mind that Spain opened up a month ago.

I have to ask permission to exit and enter, even to get stuff out of my backpack. Nobody in there shows any curiosity or care, or respect -- except one chatty gossipper whose advice to me was "oh you shouldn't go out, you should stay in here" ...

There's nothing wrong with the bed, I have electric outlets, the showers look fine ; but the place is creepier even than the retreat house for priests who had gone crazy ; and that I stayed in on my Way to Rome in 2000 -- for starters they fed me and nothing wrong with the cooking, quite the opposite in fact ; mostly though, I had my own totally independent sleeping cell "for pilgrims" (also clearly to protect the norms from the disturbed) attached to but entirely independent of the main building. Plus in all those other cases, I felt natural compassion for these people suffering from the ills of the world.

Here ? You're just treated like garbage.

It is more pleasant to sleep outdoors in the open with just a sleeping bag through a thunderstorm -- for the thunderstorm is a blessing to all the surrounding life.

It is more pleasant to put your inflatable mattress and sleeping bag on wet leaves in January sub-zero, because you yourself are there to count on, and the next day will be better.

It is better to sleep in the street in front of the Roncesvalles albergue having been falsely accused of being a liar and refused lodging.

Because in none of these other circumstances is your own self-respect so directly despised.
 
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JabbaPapa

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You are on the camino @JabbaPapa !
Cause for rejoicing.
Absolutely !!

One should not take my sense of humour and my writing style too seriously !!

Nor, I suppose, midnight couscous feasts in the dormitory ...

Day 82 -- Zaragoza

No hard plan for today except back on the Camino. This place, at least, is basically on top of it. My understanding is that the youth hostel will start functioning normally again, or close enough, end of June, early July.

Pueblos anyway are located much more closely, so less risk of getting myself stuck. Though the next albergue, proper Pilgrim one, is 20K which I doubt I'll manage -- still going to reach 34⁰C this afternoon -- cooling down again from Thursday.
 
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Hang in there JP.
Give me cold any day over heat.
Ice under the hat helps.
Seriously.
When you take a break to cool off, put a few cubes in your hat before you head back out the door. It works wonders.
(And maybe see if it makes a difference to save the cerveza for post walk refreshment. Alcolhol both is diuretic and messes up thermoregulation. Plain zumo de naranja or zumo and soda half-half will hydrate and cool you down better in that heat.)
 

JabbaPapa

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And maybe see if it makes a difference to save the cerveza for post walk refreshment.
If I've no cerveza, the pain is so bad, it makes long-distance walking basically impossible.

But that's OK advice for others ; just not me.
Alcolhol both is diuretic and messes up thermoregulation. Plain zumo de naranja or zumo and soda half-half will hydrate and cool you down better in that heat.)
Orange juice I have to studiously avoid, except when I need a quick sugar delivery system. It, and many other things, will directly worsen my inflammation, and therefore increase my pain.

Soda sugar drinks would be even worse.

(Although my dietary requirements are VERY atypical, and nothing in this is advice to others.)

Best hydration as always is from water.

Thank you for the concern though !! :)
 
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Give me cold any day over heat.
Ice under the hat helps.
Seriously.
When you take a break to cool off, put a few cubes in your hat before you head back out the door. It works wonders.
Me, too. Heat zaps my energy.🥵
I wrap those ice cubes in a bandana and wear it around my neck for relief. I then later saturate the bandana with cold water at any stream, faucet, trough, or other water source which definitely helps.
 

JabbaPapa

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Or some salchichón ...

Day 82 -- edge of Zaragoza

Weather is more bearable, though I made too late of a start.

I personally think of the whole stretch between Béziers and Logroño as the Catalan Way, though here of course it is anyway the Camino del Ebro.

Just at the outset it feels more like the Francès than it did further East. People are saying Buen Camino, things seem better maintained, the waymarking is more familiar.

The walk along the river out of the city is very pleasant, many benches and water founts. Shade here and there, and spots like this one for your peregrino picnic lunch.

Still slow of course, but that won't change for a few weeks longer.
 

JabbaPapa

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Day 82 -- towards Monzalbarba

I am so sloooooooow .....

I can make it there, but who knows how long that will take ... Still, from there it's about 1K to Utebo, maybe after it cools down a bit ; or maybe not.

Scuttling from one shaded spot to the next, it's the heat of the afternoon.
 

SabineP

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Day 82 -- towards Monzalbarba

I am so sloooooooow .....

I can make it there, but who knows how long that will take ... Still, from there it's about 1K to Utebo, maybe after it cools down a bit ; or maybe not.

Scuttling from one shaded spot to the next, it's the heat of the afternoon.

Hope you are ok? I hope the albergue in Torres de Berellen is open?
Otherwise Alagon is a nice small town to stay the night. From what I remember the people at the Oficina de Turismo are very nice.

The waymarking back in 2013 was a bit iffy just after Alagon.

Excellent place for later is the wonderful muni albergue in Gallur ( old trainstation ) with very friendly people who also manage the adjacent bar.
For good food in Gallur there is Hostal / Restaurante El Colono.
 
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Second @C clearly's idea; I walked once with someone who had Lupus and couldn't take any sun at all. It made their camino possible. And where I am now, no-one in their right mind goes out in the hot season without one. It makes a huge difference.
 

JabbaPapa

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Have you considered using an umbrella for the sun? Just asking.
Would make no difference compared to my Stetson ; once I overcome a potential trail sunstroke problem, that's always been that, and once only, for each Camino.

No, the problem is slow hiking speed from the handicap, and that only ever improves from daily hiking and after a few weeks ; though my back is already starting to feel stronger.
 
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C clearly

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Would make no difference compared to my Stetson
Well, maybe, but you need all the help you can get! With an umbrella you would have more air circulating around your head. Maybe I shouldn't talk, because I have never used an umbrella for walking in the sun - it hasn't yet won in the weight-versus-function assessment for me. However, I would definitely consider it if I were walking in summer conditions.
 

JabbaPapa

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Sabine, I'm fine -- though you may be overestimating my current daily K numbers !! :p

Day 82 -- Monzalbarba

Well, that "only" took 8 hours !!

Never mind my slowness, the riverside sports promenade of the day's hike was very pleasant. And frankly, if I had started earlier from having slept in a non-insane albergue, where people didn't have midnight feasts in the dormitory nor loudly played 3AM prayers on their smartphone, much of the walk on the small, tarmac country road would have been fine too -- it's the exact sort of road that in earlier years I would eat up like hot cakes, and blast through the Ks as if they weren't there.

Things did get better weather-wise after it clouded over at 5PM, and I managed to scrounge some water. I did get a friendly lift for the final 1K to the village, which mainly just meant that I had cerveza numero uno a little earlier.

Great, friendly little family bar-restaurant here ; they gave me a tapa with the second ; looked like, was made like, tasted exactly like a pintxo, but when it's simply given in this manner, anything becomes a tapa, and that's that. And they gave me the third. Plus they are discussing their memories of the Camino among themselves as they leave me in peace to type this. A diametric opposite to that albergue of horror.

Well, anyway, this Pueblo is one that I find excellent, so that I'm liable to sleep outdoors here somewhere, including for an early start.

Pueblos come hard and fast from here, especially if I diverge from the "official" route, so regardless, tomorrow is liable to be a good day. If the cloud cover persists, even more -- the lower temps predicted for Thursday could come earlier ; and indeed clouds are predicted for tomorrow. Hooray !!
 
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SabineP

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Good to hear about the warm reception!
Gosh this heat! When I walked that part the region was flooded but at least it was a balmy 15 C.
Hope you find a safe spot to sleep.

Here are the details of the albergue in Torres de Berellen.
And the one in Gallur is open.According to a search just on the internet.
 

JabbaPapa

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Yay, got my utility "hand-held device" that I'm using basically as a mini-tablet connected to my Windows Phone's internet :cool:
 

SabineP

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JabbaPapa

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Day 83 -- Utebo

Sleepier little pueblo, church still intact -- seems to have been converted from a mosque after the Reconquista. The church tower looks similar to the one in Monzalbarba, though there the tower is all that remains.

Easy walk over, 2K rather than the 1K I had thought it was ; and cloud cover is still up there.

Slept OKish, just bothered by itchy insect bites ; might take a while for my body to readapt to these Iberian species, so they let me alone.

Not much else, going hors piste for a bit to Casetas, then back on track to Sobradiel.

Have to be a bit more careful with food today, have eaten a few too many times from my avoid list.
 

JabbaPapa

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Day 83 -- Casetas

Utebo on the other side of the railway is a lot less sleepy, though if you follow the way marks you would not see that. It was actually quite lively, children playing in parks, elderly out for their strolls, many bar terraces, even an industrial zone.

Walking this morning has been reminiscent of suburbia in the South of France, earlier in this Camino.

Back onto the track to Sobradiel, and cloud cover is mostly holding, though it is warming up a bit. Should be OK.

See about the end stretch when I get there.

Casetas seems to be some kind of compromise between the two halves of Utebo.
 
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seems to have been converted from a mosque after the Reconquista. The church tower looks similar to the one in Monzalbarba, though there the tower is all that remains.
Thanks for mentioning this, because it led me here; this church tower is very beautiful, and very interesting!:

La torre de la iglesia de Utebo es de las más espectaculares del Mudéjar en Aragón
Situada apenas a unos 10 kilómetros de la capital, Utebo es en la actualidad la localidad más populosa del área metropolitana de Zaragoza, contando con unos 18.000 habitantes que la convierten, tras la propia ciudad y Calatayud, en la tercera población de la provincia demográficamente hablando.

Pese a su moderna expansión al amparo del poder de atracción que ejerce Zaragoza, Utebo ha sabido conservar en su primitivo casco antiguo la iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, sin duda, una de las obras más relevantes del mudéjar aragonés.

Erigida probablemente sobre una obra anterior, presenta el templo actual dos partes bien diferenciadas: una primera datable a mediados del siglo XVI que comprendería el cuerpo de la nave y el campanario; y una segunda fase barroca en la que se sustituyó la cabecera y se dotó al conjunto de un revestimiento a base de capillas laterales y un portal de ingreso de tipo clasicista.

En ocasiones, la propia belleza y magnificencia del campanario provoca que tienda a menospreciarse el resto de la fábrica, en la que, pese a las reformas tardías y al hecho de quedar algo asfixiada por construcciones anejas, se observan restos de la obra original, como cornisas, contrafuertes y óculos dotados de celosías caladas de gran interés.

Cuerpo superior
Al interior, cuenta con una sola nave cubierta con bóvedas de crucería a la que abren, a cada uno de sus lados, capillas entre contrafuertes, conservándose en ellas restos de su azulejería original en zócalos y arrimaderos. El tramo cabecero, que bien pudo ser en origen de planta poligonal, fue substituido por una nueva cabecera dieciochesca.

La torre campanario es, con diferencia, el elemento más destacable de la parroquia de la Asunción de Utebo, pudiendo equipararse en su estilo y monumentalidad con las mundialmente reconocidas de la ciudad de Teruel. Responde al reiterado modelo aragonés del tipo de los alminares almohades, con su machón central, caja de escaleras y revestimiento murario exterior.

Consta de un primer cuerpo cuadrangular subdividido a su vez en dos registros separados entre sí por una sobresaliente cornisa. El primero de ellos despliega paneles de arcos entrecruzados prolongados a modo de red de sebka, una malla a base de rombos, y casetones rehundidos. El segundo, de mayor sencillez, presenta una nueva banda de arquillos entrecruzados y arcos de medio punto doblados a modo de hornacinas.

La combinación entre las formas geométricas de los ladrillos y la cerámica es muy efectista
Llama poderosamente la atención también en este primer cuerpo la existencia de una banda epigráfica sobre azulejo en la que fue plasmada la fecha en que finalizó su construcción (1544), y la identidad de su artífice (Alonso de Leznes).

Tras el segundo cuerpo, la estructura del campanario se torna poligonal, razón por la cual, hay quién ha interpretado que podría tratarse de una ampliación, hipótesis descartada por la mayoría de especialistas.

Este cuerpo alto, de apariencia mucho más ligera y esbelta, reitera los paneles decorativos a base de formas geométricas en convivencia con una considerable profusión de ornamentación a base de azulejería cerámica en tonos blancos, verdes y azules. Es precisamente ese brillo que le confiere a la estructura la gran cantidad de azulejos incrustados la que ha hecho merecedora a la torre de Utebo del apelativo del "campanar de los espejos".

Looks deceive, as they were cleary meant to. ;)
The Reconquista ended for Zaragoza and Utebo in 1118. This was constructed between the 16th and 18th century. Turns out it was never a mosque and is 400-600 years younger than the reconquista!
 

SabineP

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@JabbaPapa : hope you reached Sobradiel or maybe Torres de Berellen well?

@VNwalking : I have a picture of the same church tower but honestly I do not remember much of the town of Utebo. Very strange.
 
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Day 83 -- Torres de Bellerren

Sobradiel is a very kind, and rather bourgeois pueblo, and yet somehow all natives, not imports or retirees from elsewhere (the latter seem all to have moved to the more infrastructurally convenient Utebo).

The walk from Casetas to Sobradiel was dead easy, given the cloud cover and more temperate temps.

The clouds did eventually go away though -- but by that time it was 6PM, and so too late for the Sun to really heat things up. The last 2-3K hike into Torres went well enough anyway, though I did get a bit hot, and I was tiring somewhat as well.

By then it was pretty late, and I was unsure how I could find the keys to the Albergue. But sometimes my brain just works stuff out in the background.

I went into the local Association club locale (I.e. bar) and mentioned that I was looking for those keys, and please can I have a large cerveza ?

How long have you been walking ? Oh, I started from home to Lleida in 2019, total now 83 days.

So they made gestures, don't worry we're on the case ; then ten minutes later, a large quite irate woman appears, shouting her head off, clearly having been corralled against her will ... the albergue is closed, it's not open, it shouldn't be open, follow me, and a lot more shouting I couldn't understand ... aimed pretty extensively at me.

But as I said, sometimes my brain just does these things, and I myself am often just a spectator of it.

I do anyway feel sorry for the poor lady -- and it is very clear that they were definitely not expecting pilgrims, particularly as these pueblos were all still in municipal lockdown 'till a week or two ago.

The Albergue is anyway comfortable enough ; modern and clean.

Just going to do a short one tomorrow, think I need the R&R. No idea what weather is forecast.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
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Sabine, it's unsurprising that you remember little of Utebo, given that the waymarked trail avoids about 95% of the barrio.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
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Sabine, it's unsurprising that you remember little of Utebo, given that the waymarked trail avoids about 95% of the barrio.

And in Alagon ( where you will be tomorrow ) I had the same with entering and leaving ( bad waymarking then and I had a mix up with a local walkingroute ) the old town.

BTW in Alagon I stayed at Pension Mari Carmen where I had a whole appartment to myself for 15 € ( 2013 ).

All the best for tomorrow.
 

JabbaPapa

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Day 84 -- Torres de Bellerren

The lady was in a far better mood this morning :)

It's raining, but not much, I'll see if it's enough to "justify" using the great big black pilgrim cape. (that much less weight on my back if so)

Torres is somewhat odd in that its street plan is more maze than anything else. Other aspects of the pueblo are typical, but it's unusual that yellow arrows are necessary to show the precise way to go in such a small place.

Just a short day, though the clement weather would certainly allow a longer one. As to Alagón, I'll try and sleep at the Convent.

One advantage of the albergue being "closed" is they didn't charge anything. My guess is I'm the first pilgrim they've seen since the municipal reopening from restrictions, and they'll not take too long after this to get things back to normal.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
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some and then more. see my signature.
One advantage of the albergue being "closed" is they didn't charge anything. My guess is I'm the first pilgrim they've seen since the municipal reopening from restrictions, and they'll not take too long after this to get things back to normal.
Things will get back to normal of course ( and good so ) but even then this is a lonely route so they will not see much people anyway.

Seeing it is a municipal albergue the cleaning will be most likely for soneone whom is already working for the municipality.
Was there not a donativo box?
When we walked the Vasco Interior we stayed in the municipal of la Puebla de Arganzon and there was a donativo box so we were able to put some money in it. A small token of appreciation for the volunteer who opened the doors for us.
 
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JabbaPapa

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Day 84 -- Alagón

Well, this place is basically a bust.

The Convent fathers may once have helped pilgrims, but no longer. Pension Maria Carmen is full. Local Police is closed. Outside then ...

Started late out of Torres de Bellerren, mainly from tired legs, Sun was out. Not a hard walk but I was tired. So it was longer than my usual.

Aragón caught the edge of the massive storms that have hit Spain (Zaragoza got it badly), and when the local storm hit, the downpour was so sudden I had to really scramble for my cape.

Hooray !! My replacement big black pilgrim cape has finally had its first Camino outing !!

But it really was pouring cats and dogs.

Though thanks to the Saints and Angels, right there was a concrete hut with a couple of wooden benches (and adorned with a yellow arrow) for immediate shelter, so I barely got wet. Guess I'll have to look for somewhere with cover to sleep then.

I was tiring on the end stretch, when along came a pilgrim !!

Antonio started today from Zaragoza, and he was kind to keep me company 'till the pueblo, despite my slowness. I'm glad he's staying with a friend here.

I've little to say about Alagón, except I don't like this place, it's weird even. Sweet shops every 50 yards, strange and unusual bars, had to basically walk to the other side of town to find some more or less normal people, which reminds me of so many similarly bizarre places in France.

And looks like outdoors 'til Gallur.

Frustrating -- though I was most happy to meet Antonio who was on Day 1 of his 1st Camino. That alone makes all this antecedent nonsense worthwhile. Buen Camino, I wished him. He'll be fine -- his Day 1 was a decent 28K. 👉
 
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JabbaPapa

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No donativo box, Sabine, as it's a fixed price Municipal. That I stayed there on a Free basis, was most certainly a rare exception to normal rules ; but as I am a fairly poor pilgrim, I really do need to remain humble in acceptance of whatever kindness I do receive ; and conversely in situations like here, where I do not.

As a Pilgrim, you accept the Way as it comes to you. And so tonight, outside.

---

The Camino is strange ; one night, you might sleep in the dust of an abandoned chicken coop, whilst the next will be in an incredibly comfortable three star hotel. And that is not mere hyperbole.

I remain truly grateful that most pilgrims have not the health and financial problems that I have ; and I am grateful too that I can just up and return to the Camino without the hoops that most need jump through.

At least outdoors has decent rent ...
 

JabbaPapa

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Yay, got my utility "hand-held device" that I'm using basically as a mini-tablet connected to my Windows Phone's internet :cool:
This system is working very well indeed.

It frees me from the tyranny of "hay la wifi", whilst also maximising my Windows Phone battery.
 
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2019
Sweet shops every 50 yards, strange and unusual bars, had to basically walk to the other side of town to find some more or less normal people, which reminds me of so many similarly bizarre places in France
Haha, @JabbaPapa , look at all of us. Who's 'normal?' Certainly not we who take to the road for days on end. And sweet shops every 50 yards? Bring 'em on! Sustinence for the times when the bottom drops out and there's still a monster hill to climb before day's end.

I hope you got enough rest wherever you landed last night! Buen camino, peregrino. 🙏
 

JabbaPapa

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Day 85 -- Alagón -- Rest day

Somehow, I am very tired today - it feels like accumulated muscle fatigue. So I'm not going anywhere.

Didn't even manage to move from where I slept before 11AM ... It was an OK spot, but I'll seek better this evening, and closer to where the Camino sets out.

The weather is much better, more like the expected for turn of the season from Spring to Summer. It's supposed to rain a little tomorrow as well.

Guess I can catch up with some videos.
 
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