Search 62305 Camino Questions

LIVE from the Camino From Huelva to Santiago

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Ambling aimlessly through central Huelva, I noticed some tourism posters advertising Galicia. A closer look showed that it was the office of the local amigos of the camino. By the luckiest fluke, a couple of them were inside and eager to help one of the relatively few pilgrims who start from here. They gave me an up to date list of accommodation and more chat about potential problems and things not to miss. They were so kind and helpful that, when one of them committed my blackest of bêtes noirs - that Extremadura means "extremely hard" - I somehow ignored my red mist and managed not to contradict him.

The next morning, slightly before dawn (gone 8am this far west) I swam out of the warm calm Atlantic waters onto a little beach by the huge Río Tinto company staithes.

5-6km pleasant walk along the splendid esplanade takes you to the Columbus monument. Seeing the huge bulk approaching - it's 37m tall - I assumed it was a Franco era work, but it turns out that it was by Gertrude Vanderbilt and a gift from the American people to Spain in 1929.

Columbus sailed west from here, but I started my long walk northwards, ending the day at a pleasant dormitory town called Trigueros, full of noisy children enjoying the start to the weekend.

On the way I was lucky to pass the 13th century Pinete abrevadero. Its claim to fame is that the donkey Platero, in Nobel literature laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez' "Platero y Yo", drinks from it and suffers a bloody mouth from the leach he ingests with the water. I suffered no such problem as the trough is firmly dry at the moment. The author, living and dying in exile after the civil war, was later buried in his hometown, nearby Moguer.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_20220930_125821.jpg
    IMG_20220930_125821.jpg
    3.8 MB · Views: 435
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

mspath

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Ambling aimlessly through central Huelva, I noticed some tourism posters advertising Galicia. A closer look showed that it was the office of the local amigos of the camino. By the luckiest fluke, a couple of them were inside and eager to help one of the relatively few pilgrims who start from here. They gave me an up to date list of accommodation and more chat about potential problems and things not to miss. They were so kind and helpful that, when one of them committed my blackest of bêtes noirs - that Extremadura means "extremely hard" - I somehow ignored my red mist and managed not to contradict him.

The next morning, slightly before dawn (gone 8am this far west) I swam out of the warm calm Atlantic waters onto8 a little beach by the huge Río Tinto company staithes.

5-6km pleasant walk along the splendid esplanade takes you to the Columbus monument. Seeing the huge bulk approaching - it's 37m tall - I assumed it was a Franco era work, but it turns out that it was by Gertrude Vanderbilt and a gift from the American people to Spain in 1929.

Columbus sailed west from here, but I started my long walk northwards, ending the day at a pleasant dormitory town called Trigueros, full of noisy children enjoying the start to the weekend.

On the way I was lucky to pass the 13th century Pinete abrevadero. Its claim to fame is that the donkey Platero, in Nobel literature laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez' "Platero y Yo", drinks from it and suffers a bloody mouth from the leach he ingests with the water. I suffered no such problem as the trough is firmly dry at the moment. The author, living and dying in exile after the civil war, was later buried in his hometown, nearby Moguer.
alansykes,
Futherto reading of your successful encounter in Huelva and seeing Gertrude Vanderbilt's sculpture of Columbus I saw on line a pdf file
Huelva y América. Cien años de Americanismo
which you might enjoy scanning/reading also.

I look forward to reading all your posts as you continue walking on this new adventure.
Stay safe, Carpe diem and Buen camino!
 
Last edited:

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
Ambling aimlessly through central Huelva, I noticed some tourism posters advertising Galicia. A closer look showed that it was the office of the local amigos of the camino. By the luckiest fluke, a couple of them were inside and eager to help one of the relatively few pilgrims who start from here. They gave me an up to date list of accommodation and more chat about potential problems and things not to miss. They were so kind and helpful that, when one of them committed my blackest of bêtes noirs - that Extremadura means "extremely hard" - I somehow ignored my red mist and managed not to contradict him.

The next morning, slightly before dawn (gone 8am this far west) I swam out of the warm calm Atlantic waters onto a little beach by the huge Río Tinto company staithes.

5-6km pleasant walk along the splendid esplanade takes you to the Columbus monument. Seeing the huge bulk approaching - it's 37m tall - I assumed it was a Franco era work, but it turns out that it was by Gertrude Vanderbilt and a gift from the American people to Spain in 1929.

Columbus sailed west from here, but I started my long walk northwards, ending the day at a pleasant dormitory town called Trigueros, full of noisy children enjoying the start to the weekend.

On the way I was lucky to pass the 13th century Pinete abrevadero. Its claim to fame is that the donkey Platero, in Nobel literature laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez' "Platero y Yo", drinks from it and suffers a bloody mouth from the leach he ingests with the water. I suffered no such problem as the trough is firmly dry at the moment. The author, living and dying in exile after the civil war, was later buried in his hometown, nearby Moguer.

Another Camino walked vicariously by me.

Thanks for sharing your journey.

Keep posting.

Buen camino.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Trigueros to Valverde del Camino

My breakfast tostada came with some of the tasty, slightly peppery local olive oil. Shortly after dawn I was back on the camino de los molinos de agua. Quickly the plastic polytunnels of the coast gave way to prairie, vines, olives and garrigue. A shell sign told me I was 1025km from Santiago, moving steadily uphill on the track of the Riotinto company's old railway line. There are no villages en route, and no fuentes, so it was a relief, with the temperature nearing the mid 30s, when a roadside truckstop appeared, and I was able to fill up with lots of water - and a delicious cuttlefish salad.

Valverde del Camino is very proud of its leather riding boots - to the extent that there is a 6' high sculpture of one on the outskirts of town. A sader statue, just outside my hotel, commemorated young local poet Juan Manuel Feria, shot here by the fascists in 1937.


IMG_20221001_092851.jpg
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
A sader statue, just outside my hotel, commemorated young local poet Juan Manuel Feria, shot here by the fascists in 1937.
We'll never know what that generation of poets in Spain would have written, had they been been allowed to live. Very sad. Perhaps that village made jack-boots too, back in the day.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Valverde del Camino to Minas de Riotinto

Rising steadily up, the Vía Verde passes into a much less manicured landscape, with the occasional flock of goats eating the scrub, and the delicious scent of dried cistus everywhere. I had hoped for some long views back down onto the Atlantic, but it was very hazy - even if it hadn't been, the surrounding aleppo pines and regular railway cuttings often made any view a short one.

The heat was again becoming oppressive (c35C) and I had again run out of water when I arrived at El Campillo at c3pm, 24km from Valverde. On the outskirts of town was a shack in a field doing a very busy Sunday trade - everything from simple tapas to full lunch. My original plan had been to stay in El Campillo's town hall, but roughly a litre each of water, clara and salmorejo so restored my forces that I decided to carry on the 3-4km to Minas de Riotinto, through the handsome Parque Natural de los Cipreses.

The upper reaches of the río Tinto have been mined since Roman times, but the really major scars in the landscape - including what was once the largest opencast mine in the world - started in the 1870s, when the mineral rights were sold to a newly formed British outfit, the still existing Ríotinto Company. They built some handsome buildings for their staff, including the Club Inglés, still going strong with its billiards table, library and tennis courts. Being Brits, they had to bring their obsession with ball games with them, with the result that the area boasted Spain's first golf course and tennis courts, as well as its first football club, now called Río Tinto Balompie. They also brought cricket with them but, for inexplicable reasons, a game which involves standing around in the summer sun for 8 hours a day somehow failed to catch on in Andalucía.

IMG_20221002_083133.jpg
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Create your own ad
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.

walkabouts

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2023
Thanks Alan for posting your journey, we really appreciate your observations. We know it is a great effort at times to do this at the end of each day. We are just planning the same route for next April and your description of the route is very welcome. Our goal is to walk from Huelva to Astorga and then through the Salvador to Gijon on the northern coast - ocean to ocean.
Safe travels
 
Last edited:

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Minas de Riotinto to Aracena

Leaving Minas de Riotinto is one of the most horrible camino stages I've ever done, worse than the few km from Ávila on the Levante. Heavy traffic and a narrow main road, sometimes with virtually no verge: mostly, fortunately, clinging to the other side of a crash barrier - uncomfortable, but safe. Passing through a Martian landscape of red earth and red water, once the world's largest opencast mine. Fascinating and strangely beautiful. The Huelva amigos had strongly recommended getting a taxi to Campofrio to avoid this stretch, and I would have done only the local taxi driver was taking somebody to Seville airport. So it goes.

After Campofrio things calmed down, with the camino mostly going through hot dehesa, and the stretches on the main road being largely traffic free. Despite seeing roadsigns to Jabugo, and 100s of holm oaks dripping with acorns, I've still not seen any pigs.

Aracena is a really lovely pueblo blanco tucked into the hillside beneath its castle. I was soon enjoying a delicious plate of anchovies with a glass of clara, before collapsing, fairly drained, onto my hotel bed. After several days of really nasty hard, heavily chlorinated water down towards the coast, it was such a relief to find untreated mountain springs to drink from up here. I was warned that the drought has dried up some fuentes heading north, so to make sure I carry plenty - in this heat I'm getting through 5 litres a day easily, even of the nasty stuff.

IMG_20221003_083926.jpg
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Aracena to Cañaveral de León

After the scary traffic from Riotinto, it was a relief to walk through almost deserted countryside, almost entirely off tarmac. I left before dawn with my headlamp on, as when I spoke to the mayor of Cañaveral de León, she said the town hall shut at 3pm, and they would give me the key to the town's gym, where I could sleep. She said she would do it herself if I arrived after 3, but I hoped not to have to disturb her.

Leaving early meant no coffee, but it was also almost cool walking on dehesa tracks through the slowly gathering light. About half way, mapy.cz said I should spend several km beside the Aracena reservoir. Not as such, as it is only 18% full. Walking over a long bridge that's supposed to cross it, I saw an ancient usually submerged bridge, and the river that's supposed to feed the reservoir almost entirely dried up. Surreally, in a field, a sign prohibiting swimming and boating. I was starting to flag a little after the early start and lack of caffeine. As it was my last full, very sunny, day in Andalucía, I thought the sunnier of Mozart's two Andalucian operas might put a slight spring in my step. It did, and the count was apologising yet again for being a sod as I swung into Cañaveral de León shortly after 2.30pm. As it happened, the mayor insisted on taking me to the polideportivo herself anyway, so I needn't have rushed. My first pilgrim acogida of this camino. Very comfortable, with judo mats to sleep on, and lots of hot water in the shower, donativo. Cañaveral is suffering from the drought, most noticeably in that what must be a really pretty little artificial laguna in front of the ayuntamiento, which also serves to irrigate people's allotments, was completely dry.

IMG_20221004_111211.jpg
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Del Estrecho, Ruta Fray Leopoldo,
Vía Serrana, Camino Francés
Cañaveral is suffering from the drought, most noticeably in that what must be a really pretty little artificial laguna in front of the ayuntamiento, which also serves to irrigate people's allotments, was completely dry.
@alansykes, as always, I am thoroughly enjoying your trip reports. The water situation sounds dire. When we were in Cañaveral de Léon in 2015 (cycling on the GR-48), the laguna in front of the ayuntamiento was completely full.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 12.50.26 PM.png
 
Last edited:
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino

walkabouts

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2023
Aracena to Cañaveral de León

After the scary traffic from Riotinto, it was a relief to walk through almost deserted countryside, almost entirely off tarmac. I left before dawn with my headlamp on, as when I spoke to the mayor of Cañaveral de León, she said the town hall shut at 3pm, and they would give me the key to the town's gym, where I could sleep. She said she would do it herself if I arrived after 3, but I hoped not to have to disturb her.

Leaving early meant no coffee, but it was also almost cool walking on dehesa tracks through the slowly gathering light. About half way, mapy.cz said I should spend several km beside the Aracena reservoir. Not as such, as it is only 18% full. Walking over a long bridge that's supposed to cross it, I saw an ancient usually submerged bridge, and the river that's supposed to feed the reservoir almost entirely dried up. Surreally, in a field, a sign prohibiting swimming and boating. I was starting to flag a little after the early start and lack of caffeine. As it was my last full, very sunny, day in Andalucía, I thought the sunnier of Mozart's two Andalucian operas might put a slight spring in my step. It did, and the count was apologising yet again for being a sod as I swung into Cañaveral de León shortly after 2.30pm. As it happened, the mayor insisted on taking me to the polideportivo herself anyway, so I needn't have rushed. My first pilgrim acogida of this camino. Very comfortable, with judo mats to sleep on, and lots of hot water in the shower, donativo. Cañaveral is suffering from the drought, most noticeably in that what must be a really pretty little artificial laguna in front of the ayuntamiento, which also serves to irrigate people's allotments, was completely dry.

View attachment 134264
Alan, you capture your thoughts and observations so well that we can almost see what you describe. The judo mats at the end of the day would seem a welcome surprise for a weary walker. I am following your track on Google Earth using the Dutch gpx files of all caminos in Spain. However, it doesnt show where you seem to be walking. For example, from Aracena to Canaveral, the track is shown to be all on the road and not as you describe. What gpx track are you using, if any? unless the local camino office has provided a different track?
Keep up with the interesting posts, we love following your progress on this lesser traveled route.
 

walkabouts

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2023
Possibly you are neglecting the last step. You go to this page, and then need to click the orange Download button near the top of the page.
Thank you, I found the download button where I wasn't looking. Accommodation options are certainly not abundant but I am sure they will welcome the foot traffic. A number of places prefer a call two days before arrival so they can prepare for your arrival. Plan ahead before you walk!
 
Last edited:

amancio

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Possibly you are neglecting the last step. You go to this page, and then need to click the orange Download button near the top of the page.
indeed, that was it, thanks! not intuitively located in the page, I must say, but this information is very welcome!
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Cañaveral de León to Fuentes de León

Merce, the charming mayor, was already at her desk when I dropped the key off in the dark at 8am. I mentioned I'd been through some seriously de populated parts of Soria and Guadalajara provinces last year, and this area seem more stable. She said it was, but was still slowly declining - almost every year a few old people die and young ones leave and aren't replaced. 400 now, down from 600 in 1990, and a thousand in the late 1950s.

The official camino goes entirely on road all the way to Fuentes de Ebro. The Huelva amigos suggest a much longer but prettier route, going up to the ridge which marks the Andalucía-Extramadura border, then slowly down. Virtually no tarmac virtually no people - although an eagle joined me near the top, and I finally got to see some iberíco pigs busily turning acorns into jamón. Also fabulous views of the wide empty sierra, although not distant views, as the haze was very thick.

Only 15km, but quite hard work on the ups and the downs, and a bit of bushwacking when I lost the path. So, with a 70s era hostal offering itself to me in Fuentes de León, I decided to stay. The dueña was soon pouring food into me: no nonsense about a menú, or any choice - eat what's put in front of you and like it. I did, very much - a tasty meaty soup, probably involving trotters, and a nice plate of fish with rice. And some extremely rough tinto. Just right.

However, it doesnt show where you seem to be walking. For example, from Aracena to Canaveral, the track is shown to be all on the road and not as you describe. What gpx track are you using, if any? unless the local camino office has provided a different track?
I'm using mapy.cz, which has a blue line which shows the camino del Sur, and which is also the track marked with yellow arrows. I'm also keeping my tracks with a fitbit (?) my son gave me for Christmas. This is the path I walked from Aracena to Cañaveral de León, closely following the mapy.cz blue line near the (dry) Aracena reservoir. Other than a few km by the reservoir, it was almost all dirt tracks rather than tarmac.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/9727361635?share_unique_id=8
 
2023 Camino Guides
The 2023 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Fuentes de León to Valencia del Ventoso

Not much tarmac, and a lot of lovely dehesa. Segura de León was the first stop, only an hour or so from Fuentes, with its imposing hilltop castle visible from far both coming and going. I bumped into somebody repairing some drystone walls, and he told me the río secco I'd just crossed was dry for the first time in his over 60 years. A hoopoe crossed the path with its dipping flight, always an uplifting sight, as was the later swarm of hen harriers circling lazily overhead - six of them at once: I'm lucky if I see a pair a month back home.

Valencia del Ventoso is another improbably pretty pueblo blanco. Unfortunately, it's on top of quite a steep hill, and the last 2km are on quite a busy narrow road. So it goes - it's worth it when you get there. It also boasts the first proper albergue of this camino - three bunks in a room opposite the very fine order of Santiago castle. The hospitalero warned me against drinking the tap water, and I was soon filling my bottle and stomach from the fuente on the far side of the castle. Utterly delicious, certainly the best water of this camino - up there with the water from the aptly named río Dulce on the Lana, my gold standard for camino drinking water. An added bonus was that the trough turned out to be a recycled megalithic menhir.

IMG_20221006_114000.jpg
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Valencia del Ventoso to Zafra

Another lovely lonely day in the lovely dehesa. Slightly lost, at one point I found myself sitting with my water under a wide oak tree with the undulating landscape stretching forever in every direction, and just an eagle for company. Add a slight breeze, and it was pretty close to perfection.

I remember one year, after Fuente de Cantos, some of the streams were so fast flowing and deep I had to take my shoes off and wade knee deep in water. Certainly not this year - occasional muddy pools, but no water flowing at all. At one point I was pleased to see a pure bred Suffolk ewe standing by herself. And later, a young toro bravo sitting peacefully in the shade of a tree, looking very like Ferdinand the Ferocious from the children's book.

Medina de las Torres, half way to Zafra, allegedly has an albergue, but it was firmly closed. The church has a modern mural of Santiago doing a bit of matamoros. It's a bit ridiculous, as they've copied the horse from David's picture of Napoleon on Marengo crossing the Alps.

At some point, slogging through the lengthy suburbs of Zafra, I must have joined the Vía de la Plata and ended my Camino del Sur. 180-odd km of often very lovely countryside, with several sights of interest along the way, especially once clear of the coastal plain and up into the glorious Sierra de Aracena. I would have enjoyed it more if the temperature hadn't regularly reached the mid 30s, but so it goes.

IMG_20221007_111318.jpg
 

walkabouts

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2023
Alan, many thanks for your posts on your journey, they made good reading. I am rather surprised that this late in October that the temperatures are still in the mid 30s, tough walking indeed in the dehesa. But this has been an exceptional year for weather records everywhere Also many thanks for the mapy.cz suggestion, quite a lot better than the kml file I had downloaded earlier.

It is a pity about the albergue in Medina de las Torres being closed. From the accommodation list provided by the amigos in Huelva, this camino seems not so well supported by reasonably priced places to stay. How did you find it on this camino? Was it difficult to sort out a place to stay at the end of the day? We will be walking with the two of us.

Safe travels on your next adventure, we will follow your intrepid steps.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
From the accommodation list provided by the amigos in Huelva, this camino seems not so well supported by reasonably priced places to stay. How did you find it on this camino? Was it difficult to sort out a place to stay at the end of the day?
There was never a problem and I never booked ahead. Mostly stayed in 20€—35€ hostales and B&Bs. Could easily have cut costs by staying in a couple more polideportivos (eg El Campillo and Campofrio, and a local "camino angel" will put you up and feed you in Valverde del Camino, but by the time I was sure I was staying there, it seemed too little notice to give him, and it was a weekend, and so on).

I'm currently in Mérida trying to work out whether to go to Badajoz and join the Caminho Nascente in Estremoz, or carry on to Cáceres and pick it up at Castelo Branco. Only seen a group of four very nice Spanish pilgrims between Zafra and Mérida (and 4 possible bicigrinos whizzing past), so perhaps my fear of crowds was unnecessary and I can stay on the Plata for another few days. The Spanish pilgrims stopped early on Saturday and stayed at the albergue turístico La Almazara (only about 15km from Zafra) which they described as "un paraíso". I carried on to a truckstop in Villafranca de los Barros. It was closer to Inferno, or at least Purgatorio. Norman Bates would have been shocked.
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
3rd Edition of this popular highly acclaimed book.
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Zafra to Cáceres

1000s of words have been written about this part of the VdlP, many of them by me, so there's not much to add. For the second, or even third time, I caught a nasty cafard on the 2-3 days between Zafra and Mérida. It's abnormally hot this October - "veronillo de membrillo", as I heard it called more than once - and that, combined with the arrow straight Roman road and almost complete lack of shade and fuentes can make for uncomfortable walking. But Mérida is such a delight that I soon recovered, with a day spent getting maximum value out of the access all Roman areas combined entrance ticket.

North of Mérida is a huge improvement on the previous days, with dawn over the aqueducto as one of the unforgettable sights of the Plata, of any camino, as is the solitary serene beauty of visigothic Santa Lucía del Trampal. And the glory of Cáceres, so different from the grandeur of Mérida, but just as memorable. I love the Plata, my first ever camino and significant parts of many others I've walked. I'll be very sad to miss Cáparra, Baños de Montemayor and the rest, but I decided to turn left onto the Vía de la Estrella at Cáceres, going into Portugal and joining the Caminho Nascente.

DSC_0000_BURST20221012081807716.JPG
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Cáceres to Arroyo de la Luz

The Vía de la Estrella starts at the Arco de la Estrella in the walls of the old town. A few km of the new town on a quiet, still dark, Sunday morning and the route is quickly in open country. A few km later and you finally bid goodbye to the A66 motorway which has shadowed the Plata from Seville, often out of sight, but less frequently out of earshot. At Malpartida de Cáceres you are in the "pueblo europeo de la cigüeña", with remarkable efforts being made to encourage them, including a field of tall stakes put out for their convenience. At Malpartida the route finally leaves the main road for proper countryside, with a mediaeval bridge over a (dry) river, and occasional flocks of sheep and goats. The river in Arroyo de La Luz was not dry, but was virtually stagnant and a dark green colour. The irrigation ponds in both Malpartida and Arroyo de la Luz were mostly nearing empty, and everybody in the bars was complaining about the drought, and the lateness of the setas and hongos.

Irritatingly, after a mostly pleasant walk, there was nobody at the municipal albergue, and no answer from the land-line or mobile numbers, and nobody in town knew where to find them (and the túrismo was closed for a fortnight, and the town's hostal was up for sale and so on), so I went back to Malpartida (fortunately only 7km) and stayed in a very nice truck stop on the main road. So it goes.

DSC_0156.JPG
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Arroyo de la Luz to Brozas

By fluke, my truck stop was opposite the bus stop, and a Monday bus went from Malpartida de Cáceres to Arroyo de la Luz at 8.15am, so I was back on the trail by 8.45, barely later than if I'd stayed at the albergue.

A really really lovely day, easily 4*, with varied countryside, a light breeze and total solitude once away from Arroyo de la Luz' new stations of the cross, clearly a popular early morning stroll.

The path is almost entirely off tarmac, and almost entirely on a wide (37.5m wide, according to a panel) vía pecuaria. Holm oaks started giving way to cork ones, and gaps in both showed distant views to the sierra to the south. Briefly an eagle joined me, and later a pair of kites. I worked out the first view of Brozas was from about 8km, just as the trees were giving way to open prairie. There was a slightly awkward moment when a group of vacas bravas and their calves tried to stare me down when I came to a gate, but once I'd skirted round the side of them they lost interest. At the top of the hill a deceit of lapwings was acrobatically tumbling across the sky, one of my favourite sights. The village was full of impressive architecture and narrow stone streets around its churches and hemmed-in castle. In the bar somebody said there had been something in the paper about a camino de Santiago passing through but I was the first pilgrim they'd met.

Nervous after the frustration of the previous day, I'd booked into the Hotel Laguna, over a km on the wrong side of town. It was perfectly pleasant, but it looked as if the Pousada, in the centre, would have been much more convenient (and, probably, cheaper: although 48€ for dinner, bed and breakfast, all three of them more than decent, ain't bad - just make sure you use their website not booking.com, which I think suggested 70€ plus just for the bed).


DSC_0178.JPG
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Brozas to Alcántara

Another 4* day. Sadly, possibly the last before the weather front finally hits me, but well worth enjoying while it lasts.

Trajan's bridge at Alcántara must be one of the most famous in the world, but it was still jaw-dropping to see its arches for the first time, dramatically striding over the narrow Tajo gorge. The reservoir was at less than 40% of capacity, almost the lowest in its 60 years, hugely reducing hydroelectric capacity.

I arrived in town on the 4th centenary of local lad made saint San Pedro de Alcántara's beatification, so the town was in full fiesta, with parades, feasts, food and drink festivals and a really impressive half hour of fireworks lighting up, and echoing up and down, the valley. Quite what the famous ascetic would have made of the exuberant festivities is difficult to imagine.

_20221020_203607.JPG
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
3rd Edition of this popular highly acclaimed book.
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
It sounds like a joy, Alan - even though by now some bands of wet will have likely caught up with you. Your skills at finding new and untravelled ways are enviable. At some point you'll run out of places like this but it's a joy to know they still exist:
I was the first pilgrim they'd met.

There was a slightly awkward moment when a group of vacas bravas and their calves tried to stare me down when I came to a gate, but once I'd skirted round the side of them they lost interest.
Just slightly.
Fortunately you did not join @timr in living to tell a todo toro tale.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Segura to Idanha-a-Nova

Another day, another bridge from Trajan's day. This one crosses the border into Portugal. Coffee smuggling was a popular local pursuit, according to somebody I met in a bar the previous day. Makes a change from cigarettes or drugs.

To my surprise, the marking for the caminho da Estrela is just as good, if not better, in Portugal as it is in Spain. The route goes up on to wide open empty heathland. The first Portuguese coffee was at a village called Zebreira, where the first rain of this camino started to fall, and fall relentlessly. The camino officially goes to Alcafozes, but I suspected there was little chance of finding anywhere to sleep there (a suspicion later confirmed). So I got mapy.cz to find a route to Idanha-a-Nova. Luckily it was a fairly straightforward track, as soon after I left the café it started raining properly, and my glasses being covered in rain made visibility tricky, and my hands and the screen of the mobile being wet made the latter unusable. I didn't bother to put on my waterproofs, as the rain would have got in anyway, and it's better to be just wet than wet and sweaty. Four fairly miserable long hours later and I was luxuriating in a hot bath in a very nice hotel in Idanha, hoping that my clothes would be dry by morning.

The receptionist at the hotel - appropriately named the Estrela - was initially bemused when I asked her to stamp my credencial. And then thrilled to find she was (almost) on a caminho, and insisted on calling her colleague over from the bar to show all the stamps from Huelva.


_20221021_181046.JPG
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Idanha-a-Nova to Orca

There were three of us breakfasting in a huge room, heavily outnumbered by the staff. Which made me wonder if I hit lucky that this place was open at all, and whether ones further up the caminho might be closing down. The breakfast was delicious, reminding me how good Portuguese bread usually is, and usually so much better than (most) Spanish.

The Roman archaeological site of Idanha-a-Veilha is one of the highlights of the caminho da Estrela. Apparently. Having left the official trail, I had no especial wish to detour back onto it in the teeming rain - archaeological sites usually need a good bit of daylight to "read" properly. Ruins in the rain do not work as well as dry ones.

My mapy.cz route took me probably 50% on agricultural trails and I ended the day at Orca, at a very nice warm pensión/B&B, where the staff again seemed to outnumber the guests. Seeing me buy a newspaper, a passer-by assumed I must speak Portuguese. It was difficult to explain that I wasn't trying to work out how Liz Truss had pushed my great-grandfather down to fifth place in the league table of shortest serving British prime ministers, and was just planning to use it to help dry out my trainers.

The landscape moved slowly from the empty heath - a panel claimed the area as one of the last European nesting sites of the Imperial Eagle - to more fertile valley, with loads of ripe quinces crying out to be turned into membrillo.

_20221022_181826.JPG
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Orca to Ferro

Despite the gloom on the weather forecast at breakfast - yellow warning for rain, storm Beatrice about to hit the coast etc - it was a not bad morning, with only occasional squalls. It looked as if the landscape was gulping down the recent water, and turning greener almost in front of my eyes. A young agriculture student I bumped into in a bar (speaking outstanding English) said there had been some heavy dews before the recent rain, which mostly explained the greener landscape. And that it would take a few days for the rain (the first real rain here since April, he said - wow) to convert into mushrooms. He mentioned a particularly delicious local variety, tasting slightly of truffle: it sounded like crias delicias, but Dr Google failed to find me anything when I tried to look it up.

Ferro has a pleasant albergue and the charming young hospitalero quickly turned up with the key. It hasn't been used much this year and was a bit damp, so I was glad I was mostly dry and didn't need to dry out sodden clothes, as on previous days. Some inconsiderate former visitor had left the kitchen bin overflowing with beer bottles and food wrappers, which I quickly removed to the nearby recycling place. Curiously thoughtless - Álvaro Lazaga, in his excellent camino youtube videos, always makes a point of showing himself removing his rubbish from unstaffed albergues: it's not difficult.

There's a friendly bar in a little park by the recycling place, complete with a megalithic phallic menhir.

IMG_20221021_184738.jpg
 
2023 Camino Guides
The 2023 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Ferro to Belmonte

The little bar opens at 7, so I got my caffeine fix and left in the watery dawn, hoping to get as many km as possible done in the (forecast) mostly dry morning.

Cherries are big in this area, with 15 different varieties of tree, and 50,000 trees on one 56 hectare farm alone. The spring blossoms must be utterly spectacular. Moving further down the valley, thirstier apples started to take over, and olives, and maize, and vines - I had a little midmorning snack of some grapes which had been missed in the vendange, and were half way to becoming raisins. The vine leaves are already turning autumnal, as are some of the elegant avenues of plane trees.

The rain, and a nasty biting wind, was setting in when I saw the sign for Belmonte. A huge relief. Except that it was Belmonte Gare, down in the valley, and Belmonte village was an agonising nearly 4km further on, and 150m up. A long procession of antique cars was making its way up to the castle, and several of them tooted their horns or waved at me, which was friendly.

Luckily some of the local restaurants were still serving Sunday lunch quite late, and didn't appear to mind the dripping I was causing on the floor. So I was soon tucking into a huge casserole (easily enough for two) of warming slow cooked wild boar and potatoes in a thick rich red wine sauce. Yum.


_20221024_213233.JPG
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
Oh to walk here in June when all those cherries are fruiting! Thank you for these vignettes, Alan. Every day they're revising my inaccurate preconceptions of the landscape you're walking through.

didn't appear to mind the dripping I was causing on the floor
This is always so embarrasing - but one of the joys of pilgrim life is that no-one ever seems to mind. Sometimes quite the opposite.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Belmonte to Guarda

The official caminho Nascente takes 2 days and about 35km going to Guarda, taking in what sounds like some fabulous scenery, and a lot of cumulative ascent. The cloud cover being down into the valley meant that the scenery would have been fairly moot. So I got trusty mapy.cz to find me a different route. It was only about 25km. Still mostly in cloud, but a good part along forest tracks running parallel to the motorway, along the Serra de Vale Mourão. A few mushrooms starting to appear, but I couldn't identify any edible ones - mostly wax tops, not poisonous, but not tasty either. The smell of wet pine was another plus, even if the wet wasn't. Sadly, there appeared to have been some areas hit - this year by the looks of it - by forest fire.

Early on, before the rain set in seriously, I passed the mysterious multi-windowed and doored 1st century AD Torre de Centum Cellas, 3 stories and 12m high. An information panel asked whether its purpose was military, as a prison, as a house, as a forum or as a temple. The huge number of openings made me think you could dismiss prison, fort or house. It also doesn't in the least resemble any other temple or forum: so my theory is that it was a rich man's Folly, a precursor to the many built in 17th and 18th century England. But the panel's answer, "enigmático para sempre!?" is probably right, despite the redundant exclamation mark.

Guarda remained enigmatically shrouded in cloud until I was well into its suburbs. It's then another couple of km of fairly gruelling ascent, mostly by staircase, but at least with a few bars for caffeine and rests before the next attack, finally taking you up over 1000m.

The centre's lovely, with the forbidding cathedral and remains of the castle towers - although I resisted the temptation to take a special glass elevator to the top of the Torre dos Ferreiros to see the "vista panóramica", as I thought I'd seen enough panoramas of the inside of a cloud for one day.

Taking advantage of there being a Decathlon in town, I bought myself a new raincoat, as the current one seems to have lost pretty much all its waterproofing, and is about as much use as wearing a wet shopping bag.


_20221025_203134.JPG
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Guarda to Celorico da Beira

The cloud was so thick first thing you could barely see the cathedral from across the square. A sharp squall of sleat sent me scurrying back inside for a last pastel de nata before setting off.

The first few km are on Roman road, possibly the best Roman road I've ever seen - certainly up there with the section from Baños de Montemayor on the Plata. Unfortunately, just as steep, and steeply downwards for longer, and unpleasantly slippery in the continuous rain. I was really glad of my sticks today, as I don't think I could have done this section without them, certainly without going arse over tip. And my new coat kept me much drier and more comfortable than its predecessor.

Once down at ground level the cloud decided to lift, the rain stopped and let me enjoy the lush countryside - green pastureland with cows and the occasional slightly decaying manor house.

Celorico da Beira is big on cheese, with its own cheese museum, sadly shut, and a recent food festival centering on the local "serra da Estrela" brand. I did have some with my lunch: a slightly unlikely pairing with bacalhau and golden onions, but surprisingly delicious. When I queried the bill at the end, the waitress said my soup wasn't included as it was free. What a civilised country.

The sun was now shining as I had a quick ratch around the town's castle, with its Impressively well preserved enceinte and outstanding views of the surrounding mountains.

DSC_0267.JPG
 

walkabouts

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2023
Guarda to Celorico da Beira

The cloud was so thick first thing you could barely see the cathedral from across the square. A sharp squall of sleat sent me scurrying back inside for a last pastel de nata before setting off.

The first few km are on Roman road, possibly the best Roman road I've ever seen - certainly up there with the section from Baños de Montemayor on the Plata. Unfortunately, just as steep, and steeply downwards for longer, and unpleasantly slippery in the continuous rain. I was really glad of my sticks today, as I don't think I could have done this section without them, certainly without going arse over tip. And my new coat kept me much drier and more comfortable than its predecessor.

Once down at ground level the cloud decided to lift, the rain stopped and let me enjoy the lush countryside - green pastureland with cows and the occasional slightly decaying manor house.

Celorico da Beira is big on cheese, with its own cheese museum, sadly shut, and a recent food festival centering on the local "serra da Estrela" brand. I did have some with my lunch: a slightly unlikely pairing with bacalhau and golden onions, but surprisingly delicious. When I queried the bill at the end, the waitress said my soup wasn't included as it was free. What a civilised country.

The sun was now shining as I had a quick ratch around the town's castle, with its Impressively well preserved enceinte and outstanding views of the surrounding mountains.

View attachment 135618
Great to follow your travels, we really appreciate the effort you make each day to post your highlights. We follow your walk on various maps and of course Google Earth to get a sense of where you have wandered along the trail. A winter trip has its challenges with the cloud and rain. Hang on to those walking sticks! Cant have you down and out.
 
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino
Donation to the Forum
A donation to this forum helps it continue to exists and also removes all ads for you.

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Celorico da Beira to Trancoso

What a difference a dry day makes. Anybody walking a camino in autumn knows (or should know) they're going to get wet at some point, probably cold and wet. But it doesn't mean it's not much nicer to walk on a sunny autumn morning, with turning colours making the landscape even prettier.

An hour or so from Celorico is its unusual 10th century necropolis, of São Gens. Dozens of graves cut from the rock, fanning out from a huge central boulder pivoting on a tiny base. Still down in the fertile lowlands, I was surprised to see (and smell - yum) honeysuckle still flowering - at home mine's finished in late July. Also, an almost perfect quincunx of about half an acre of interlocking apple trees - not usually the most efficient planting system, but often the loveliest.

And then a sharp ascent, back up onto open heathland, with panoramas - visible today - of the range of mountains all around. There might have been a light dusting of snow on a north-facing serra, but it could just have been an outcrop of white stones. Really lovely, although it wouldn't have been any pleasure at all walking it in the previous morning's rain.

The chestnuts are starting to shed their nuts as well as their leaves. Most of the village gardens are now being put to bed for winter, with just the cabbage patches still producing.

At Trancoso, the caminho Nascente joins the camino de Torres. The two approaches really couldn't be more different. From the Torres, Trancoso's castle is visible from 20km, and plays the irritating trick of looking quite close nearby at first, and then exactly as far away four hours later. From the Nascente you don't see any sign of the town at all until a road sign tells you you're there. Except that it's then a long slog past tractor sales depots and stuff before you even hit the first café. On the plus side, 20-30 years ago, somebody planted a 2km avenue of broadleafed lime trees to make the approach prettier. At one point the exposed trees on one side of the road were already in their pale gold autumn shade, but the ones on the other side, sheltered by a bank, were still deep green.


_20221027_220925.JPG
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
To Lamego

Eating dinner in in central Trancoso, I noticed the restaurant claimed to be in the house where Padre Costa died in the 15th century. This Boccaccian cleric, the locals claim, fathered 299 children with 54 different women. The astonishing fecundity was made even more implausible by the claim that his partners included his sisters and his cousins and his aunts, even his own mother - the Borgias themselves were never accused of incest with their mother. Indeed, Alexander VI would certainly have drawn the line at that.

Having already walked the Torres parts of this camino, and running slightly low on time, I decided to skip ahead to Lamego. The town appears to have spruced itself up a lot in the five years since I last walked through. The beautiful central double alley of giant limes, dripping their leaves into several fountains, leads to a series of flights of stairs taking you up to the baroque santuario de Nossa Senhora de Remedios. 600 steps, by my count, although I think I came to a completely different tally last time I walked up - eleven double flights of stairs, anyway. According the the tourist office, there's a new albergue in the polideportivo near the top, but they seemed to imply that it was only for people doing the Caminho Portugués del Interior, not the Torres. It wasn't a problem as I'd already (again) decided to stay in the Solar de Sé, right by the cathedral.

IMG_20221027_181320.jpg
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Lamego to Peso da Régua

A short day, only about 14km by my route, but a spectacular one. I started by detouring to the tiny visigothic chapel of São Pedro de Balsemão, possibly dating from 588. Astonishing, as with almost everything that survived the conquista and the reconquista. Waiting for the custodian to turn up at 10am, I translated the first few lines of a recycled temple insciption holding up part of the outside wall as "Claudius Caesar Germanicus, Pontifex Maximus, Tribunicia Potestas" and then couldn't read the rest. The custodian could, saying it said the work was done in August 43AD - a few of months after Claudius invaded Britain.

DSC_0289.JPG

The interior is dominated by the magnificent sacrogaphus of Afonso Pires, a 14th century Bishop of Porto. His life sized sculpture is wearing his mitre and holding his crozier, his feet resting on a pair of dogs, and the whole held up by five fierce lions.

DSC_0291.JPG

Beautiful corinthian columns and carvings, and some fine sculptures including a heavily pregnant BVM, and Saint Peter in full papal crown - it's the oldest church in the Iberian peninsula dedicated to St Peter.

A few km further on, after a wonderful aerial view of the mediaeval Bridge over the Varosa,

DSC_0309.JPG

you rejoin the camino proper at Sande. Then a few easy km, mostly downhill, to the Duoro crossing at Peso da Régua. I love all my camino Duoro crossings (well, technically, this is my only one, as the other 7 are all of the Duero in Spain), but the high pedestrian bridge is very special.

DSC_0311.JPG

I took the afternoon train up the river to Pocinho, had a glass of port in a bar there, and then back down again. One of the world's great train journeys, three hours very well spent.

DSCPDC_0003_BURST20221028164210071_COVER.JPG
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
5-star post, Alan, thank you.
The boat ride for a glass of port sounds like the cherry on top of a fine day. São Pedro de Balsemão looks pretty gussied up on the outside, but the inside seems to look more its age. It definitely looks worth the detour.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Peso da Régua to Mesão Frio

A short day, mostly spent in a cloud. After a leisurely late breakfast in Régua, vaguely hoping the cloud would lift or the rain let off, I finally set off. Back up hill, with the wonderful vine terraces on every side, climbing up to the heavens, or at least into the clouds. The road is mostly tarmac or cobblestones, slippery in the rain. Slippery too with a surprising number of vivid fruit falling from the many strawberry trees on the verges. Also loads of prickly pear cactuses tempting whatever it is they tempt. And, despite the evident prosperity of the multi-national wineries in the valley, some of the small villages higher up were partly falling down and looked only semi-inhabited, or with shut up holiday homes.

I was installed in a restaurant in Mesão Frio in time for a late lunch, deliciously moist baked bacalhau with loads of slightly over-boiled potatoes and vegetables. The town seems pleasant enough, and probably looks better when the cloud lifts. I'm staying in a B&B about a km from the centre, which isn't ideal, but the local hostal is boarded up, and there's little other choice. The owner of my B&B is very nice and speaks excellent French, and left out a carafe of local port for me to sample for a nightcap - although neither of us can work out how to use his hugely expensive espresso machine to make my early morning caffeine. The cloud did briefly lift shortly before dusk to show an impressive view of the Duoro and the terraces from my bedroom window, with, later, one of the large cruisers heading upstream with its cargo of tourists. I think I'm probably lucky to be getting away from the river before the Bank Holiday.

IMG_20221030_212906.jpg
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Mesão Frio to Amarante

The kind owner left out a couple of cheese rolls and some fruit for me, as the changing of the clocks meant I had to leave at around 7am, the new first light here.

The Duoro was still covered in a river of cloud, but I was soon up in the sunlit uplands. Something like 800m of gradual ascent over the first 10km, fortunately punctuated by a coffee break at a café about an hour in. The upland heath, deserted except for a few hunters and some wind turbines, looked very beautiful in the autumn sun, with the cloud line over the Duoro valley below. I wouldn't have liked to have walked this way in the previous day's cloud and rain.

From the Quintela peak, the highest point of the Torres, it was mostly continual gradual descent virtually all the way the Amarante. In the distance you could see the motorway cutting across the mountains, heading to Vila Real and the Trás-os-Montes of Bragança, surprisingly busy with Sunday traffic. A few patches had been burnt by forest fires, but most were still in autumn glory.

With a km or so of dirt track right at the top and a stretch nearing Amarante, virtually the whole day (c28km) is spent on tarmac or cobblestones. I've walked longer days, but I don't think I've ever spent so much time on hard surfaces, really sole destroying [sorry]. I reduced the road walking slightly by ignoring a scallop marker to turn right to Larim, and following the blue Torres line on mapy.cz past the Adega Regional Cavalhinho restaurant and on towards Padronelo. Long suburbs, sometimes on the narrow side of a busy national road, finally lead to the attractive town centre, with its parks, tree-lined riverbank and handsome mediaeval bridge over the Tâmega. The bridge was allegedly built by São Gonçalo, 13th century local saint and pilgrim (to Rome and Jerusalem - not, as far as I can see, Santiago). When his workmen were hungry he got the fishes to jump out of the river to feed them. The bridge was the scene of determined Portuguese resistance to Napoleon's troops in 1809.



20221031_211620.jpg
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Amarante to Felgueiras

Another day of cloud and rain. So lucky it was not for yesterday's high pass, just a fairly straightforward not especially hilly not especially long day. My hotel, the Navarra, served an excellent breakfast, so I gloomily watched the rain pour down and delayed my departure with yet another miniature pastel de nata. Around about 9am it did let up a bit, so I got myself underway, and was soon back in a cloud, after crossing the Tãmega and passing São Gonzalo's tomb.

At first the trail seemed likely to be on dirt tracks, but I was soon disappointed and back on the mixture of cobbles and tarmac. Difficult to understand how the Torres can be 80-90% off tarmac all the way from Salamanca to Portugal, even to Trancoso, and 80-90% tarmac ever since. At least it was mostly on roads with little or no traffic. I've seen some really bad drivers recently, and it can be quite frightening having to jump into the ditch to avoid getting squashed by a speeding numbskull. Doing a little idle googling when I got to my hotel, I was not surprised to find that (according to WHO figures) the Portuguese are the most dangerous drivers in Western Europe - over 60% more road deaths per capita than Spain, more than double the English rate and treble the Scandinavian. It will be a relief when the camino ceases to share space with the main roads.

Felgueiras was pleasant enough, with some stations of the cross zig-zagging up the hill to a look out at Santa Quitéria's Church above the main drag, where I headed for a watery sunset, and a half moon rising. The path passes the cemetery, with people already putting out flowers, and with candles flickering in the dusk. There was a florist next door to my hotel and the owners, shutting up shop when I walked by, looked completely exhausted - presumably their busiest day since All Hallows' Eve the year before covid.

IMG_20221030_193828.jpg
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
Also loads of prickly pear cactuses tempting whatever it is they tempt
People, for starters. Pop a fork into a ripe fruit, and peel it while it's still attached to the plant - then whack it off into a bowl with a coup de grace. They're a bit ike a dragonfruit - juicy and sweet, but without much complex flavor.

It will be a relief when the camino ceases to share space with the main roads.
May that be soon!
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Camino Maps
A collection of Camino Maps from the Camino Forum Store

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Felgueiras to Guimarães

A much better day. Virtually no rain, and even had to dig my battered sun hat out again. Early in the day the way passed the partly romanesque monastery of Pombeiro, tightly shut up of course. The nearby cemetery was the first of several I passed, busy with people putting flowers and candles on the family graves, and chatting to their neighbours. One, in the outskirts of Guimarães, was overflowing with a crowd of sombre-looking people - perhaps a burial on All Souls' Day itself.

Other than a short stage near the Vizela (preceded by another section of well preserved Roman road) with a busy weir, a mediaeval bridge and a ruined watermill, it was again virtually all hard surface, and a lot on quite busy narrow roads. Again the arrows and my blue Camino Torres trail on mapy.cz diverged - at the watermill, in fact - with the the arrows going left, and the blue line turning right to join the "pista de cicloturism Guimarães-Fafe". The surface would probably have been hard, but sharing a road with cyclists, even on a holiday, is preferable to sharing one with badly driven cars. Unfortunately I only noticed the choice when I was already a couple of km further on the left hand way.

Anyway, I got to bustling Guimarães soon after noon, and found a nice B&B by the central Alameda Gardens almost immediately.

I liked Guimarães very much indeed. Arriving on a sunny holiday obviously helped, with the town busy with people returning from the cemeteries and the restaurants full of families happily reminiscing about their loved ones. Wide attractive tree-lined streets. And the amazing castle, looking slightly more like a film set than any real castle should. I was installed at the bar of a friendly restaurant in good time to enjoy a really good crema de mariscos and, ordered, without having a clue what it was, a main course of rojões à moda da Braga - delicious and mostly involving the insides of a pig. Also some light vinho verde, which the entertaining waiter poured theatrically from a great height - almost like an Asturian cider pourer - making the wine briefly very pétillant. Yum.

A great place, and a great day to enjoy it for the first time.

_20221102_215849.JPG
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I had not realized that this was your first time into Guimaraes. I loved it, too, and I was surprised that even in late September it was mobbed with tour groups. Mainly French and German, it seemed. Waiting to hear where you will head from Braga, but I’m betting on the Geira. ;)
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Guimarães to Braga

Two really great cities, both of which I hope to come back to one day - perhaps when Braga is European Capital of Culture in 2027? "Una ciudad a repetir", Álvaro Lazaga says of Braga in his video, but it applies to both. Sadly, they are joined by 22km.of mostly not so nice mostly tarmac. One pleasant little park by the Río Ave, full of dog walkers and joggers and a busy weir, but only 0.5km long. And the Roman road up to the day's summit - looking straight down onto Braga - but again, not that long.

Braga was bustling with students, and full of well used public spaces. In the evening there was an energetic paseo, and the air was full of the blue-grey smoke of the chestnut roasters - one of my favourite smells, one of my favourite tastes.

Sadly I wasted a couple of hours in the afternoon rushing out to catch the inside of Sâo Fructuouso before closing time. I got there with a good hour to spare, but it was firmly shut up. The parocco's house next door was a building site (complete with £1000 a day big crane, so something major is clearly underway) and, of the three numbers on the church door, the two mobile ones were disconnected, and the land line went unanswered. Sigh. The tourist office people were a bit embarrassed they'd given me a bum steer, but I got the impression it was not a first.

So I went back into town and ate some chestnuts, and had a plate of pulpo, preceded by my first caldo gallego of this camino. First time I think I've ever had one out of Galicia - except when I tried unsuccessfully to recreate it at home.

Braga to Santiago de Caldelas

My first day on the Caminho de Santiago da Geira e dos Arrieiros. A lie in, as it is a short day, and it was pouring with rain first thing. So I had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, before wandering around the largely deserted wet streets.

The Geira's first 10km are all on road through Braga's less than exciting suburbs - with competing arrows for various different caminhos not helping. Finally, at the decaying monastery of Santo André de Rendufe, you get back into proper countryside, and onto the Roman road again. The autumn colours are getting more spectacular every day. Lots of liquidambar, apparently in flames, the muddy brown chestnuts, limes partly green and partly golden. I saw a persimmon tree, dripping with fruit, shedding leaves of almost crimson red. And the vines of course are all turning, some leaves my favourite shade of almost black red, some pure gold. On a bit of waste, there was an extraordinary display of lantana's improbably polychromatic flowers - presumably once a house's garden, as I doubt they self-seed?

Nearing Caldelas, I bumped into a mother and daughter out picking mushrooms. A good haul of parasols. We agreed garlic and oil was the best way to cook them - the mother spoke fluent French. They also had a decent collection of chestnuts, and yesterday got a few ceps. The mother wouldn't agree with me that a few lardons, rendered down, before adding the garlic and the ceps, is the best way, but the daughter seemed keen to try it. After muttering that I shouldn't be walking on my own, they "bom caminho"-ed me on my way, warning me that tomorrow will be gruelling.

Caldelas has the only albergue on the Geira. A very pleasant building, just behind the post office, whose manager is also the charming and efficient hospitalera - 90 pilgrims have stayed here this year, she said, some in the last week. And then a huge bit of bacalhau in a posh but deserted restaurant in town, before walking back to my solitary splendour, with Jupiter chasing the 3/4 moon to the west, and Cetus lurking in the background - the clearest night sky I've seen in 2 weeks in Portugal.


IMG_20221103_134551.jpg
 
Camino Maps
A collection of Camino Maps from the Camino Forum Store
2023 Camino Guides
The 2023 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
What a day, what a day, what a day (emphasis on a different one of the three words on each repetition). Pretty much as good as it gets. It started well, with the café up the road open at 7am, which I didn't really expect. Not only open, but my tostada came with a generous slice of possibly the best home made membrillo ever - up there with the pâté de coing I made on the Larzac 40 years ago, and Padre Blas' membrillo at the albergue at Fuenteroble.

A swift but not excessive rise - 400 or so metres up in 4km along, takes you to another open bar, in the middle of nowhere. My wikiloc claims that I did over 2000m of cumulative ascent today, but I think that's bollocks. After the initial rise up to the Roman road it was really relatively, well, not flat, but certainly not strenuous. The miliarios, milestones, were astonishing, occasionally in clumps of four. Up to 8' tall cylinders, presumably several feet extra underground. Many with inscriptions celebrating the Flavian emperors, but with some for colourful baddies like Heliogabalus and Caracella, and some short term emperors I'd never even heard of - Caro (282-283) anybody? The mile was fairly elastic, ranging from a bit under 1600m to nearly 1700m.

At first you could hear the church bells down the valley ringing the hours, and the occasional tooting of a horn announcing the bread or fish delivery van. But the road was in total solitude. Quite a lot of mushrooms. I saw parasols and a lovely tempting clump of chanterelles. Having seen a fierce sign in Soria province the previous year, saying that unauthorised mushroom pickers would have their transportation confiscated, I didn't cut any - I really need my legs. No ceps today, but a few pretty fly agaric. The streams flooding the road were sometimes a bit tiresome, but rarely actually dangerous, and my only fall was more of an enforced sit down. Unfortunately onto some prickly gorse, but so it goes.

A few boar tracks on the way, and some deer, but not a single person for 20km. Arriving in Campo de Gerês shortly before dusk. there was a brief worrying moment when it looked as if there was no accommodation, but the almost invisible bar also runs a B&B (B, really, as breakfast won't happen until I'm long gone) so I was soon happily installed there. And later enjoyed a bowl of soup and a delicious plate of about 5 different cheeses sitting by the bar's warming fire playing with their absurdly furry and cuddly marmalade cat. Jupiter is now really close to bumping into the moon.

A gruelling day, as I'd been warned, but a five star one. Up there in the 25 or so of my top 10 camino days.



IMG_20221104_122554.jpg
 

walkabouts

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2023
Portuguese are the most dangerous drivers in Western Europe
That may be so, but the New Zealand drivers would be a close second. We have made such an art form out of bad and dangerous driving, it has become part of the kiwi culture.

We follow your detailed journey with great interest, checking your path on mapy and we look forward to our daily fix of your descriptions of the local fare. I find myself adding new words to my lexicon every day, many thanks for that. :)

We especially liked your description of the Douro valley trip. We took a last minute day cruise up to Pinhao and back to Porto by train, the best value "tourist" trip we had been on, food and wine galore.
the air was full of the blue-grey smoke of the chestnut roasters - one of my favourite smells, one of my favourite tastes
Also my favourite, I can smell it from here.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
What a day, what a day, what a day (emphasis on a different one of the three words on each repetition). Pretty much as good as it gets. It started well, with the café up the road open at 7am, which I didn't really expect. Not only open, but my tostada came with a generous slice of possibly the best home made membrillo ever - up there with the pâté de coing I made on the Larzac 40 years ago, and Padre Blas' membrillo at the albergue at Fuenteroble.

A swift but not excessive rise - 400 or so metres up in 4km along, takes you to another open bar, in the middle of nowhere. My wikiloc claims that I did over 2000m of cumulative ascent today, but I think that's bollocks. After the initial rise up to the Roman road it was really relatively, well, not flat, but certainly not strenuous. The miliarios, milestones, were astonishing, occasionally in clumps of four. Up to 8' tall cylinders, presumably several feet extra underground. Many with inscriptions celebrating the Flavian emperors, but with some for colourful baddies like Heliogabalus and Caracella, and some short term emperors I'd never even heard of - Caro (282-283) anybody? The mile was fairly elastic, ranging from a bit under 1600m to nearly 1700m.

At first you could hear the church bells down the valley ringing the hours, and the occasional tooting of a horn announcing the bread or fish delivery van. But the road was in total solitude. Quite a lot of mushrooms. I saw parasols and a lovely tempting clump of chanterelles. Having seen a fierce sign in Soria province the previous year, saying that unauthorised mushroom pickers would have their transportation confiscated, I didn't cut any - I really need my legs. No ceps today, but a few pretty fly agaric. The streams flooding the road were sometimes a bit tiresome, but rarely actually dangerous, and my only fall was more of an enforced sit down. Unfortunately onto some prickly gorse, but so it goes.

A few boar tracks on the way, and some deer, but not a single person for 20km. Arriving in Campo de Gerês shortly before dusk. there was a brief worrying moment when it looked as if there was no accommodation, but the almost invisible bar also runs a B&B (B, really, as breakfast won't happen until I'm long gone) so I was soon happily installed there. And later enjoyed a bowl of soup and a delicious plate of about 5 different cheeses sitting by the bar's warming fire playing with their absurdly furry and cuddly marmalade cat. Jupiter is now really close to bumping into the moon.

A gruelling day, as I'd been warned, but a five star one. Up there in the 25 or so of my top 10 camino days.



View attachment 136217

Do pen a camino book.

Love your write-ups.

Buen camino.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Campo do Gerês to Lobios

Wow. Just wow. Another belter of a day, possibly even better than yesterday, certainly equal. No coffee to start, but virtually no traffic on the roads first thing, and I was onto dirt tracks by the reservoir just as the sun was catching the higher slopes of this hills on the other side. A bit chilly, and I was almost regretting not having dug my gloves out from the inner recesses of my rucksack.

The milestones were even more impressive between mile XXXI and XXXVI than yesterday - often clumps of over a dozen of them; in one case with emperors stretching from Titus to Constantine's sons, vía our old friend Caro - news of the Truss-like brevity of his reign obviously took a while to reach this part of Gallaecia.

Once unfettered by the reservoir dam, the Río Homem became much more melodious, up past a couple of ruined Roman bridges, and some really lovely waterfalls - now the sun was higher and brighter, "gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy".

Today's half-way point was at the Porta do Homem border crossing. The café on the Portuguese side was just opening up as I got to it so I finally had my morning coffee, and also a pastéis de nata - ensuring that I'd had at least one for every day spent Portugal. I shall miss them.

The caminho follows the río Caldo down from the frontier. Not quite as dramatic as the Homem earlier, but still really lovely, and two bicyclists were the only people I saw on the trail all day.

The balneario at Os Baños looked very posh. I was tempted to stop there and have a bathe, especially as I shall miss my usual hot bath at Ourense this year. But it was such a glorious afternoon it seemed foolish not to keep walking - especially as rain is forecast for tomorrow, so best keep it as short as possible. I did have a plate of pulpo a feira (and a glass of deliciously fruity godello - yum), as I suspected (rightly) that they'd have stopped serving lunch by the time I got to Lobios. The paprika they used was really deliciously smokey. When I asked the waitress about it she was a bit surprised, but said the owner's sister lives near La Vera, and brings bulk supplies every time she visits.

Losing an hour crossing into Spain means I'll be getting up in the dark again, after the more sensible Portuguese time zone.


IMG_20221105_074613.jpg
 
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Lobios to Castro Laboreiro

Running out of superlatives. Jaw-dropping, breath-taking, mind-bending beauty. The 70km between Candelas and Castro Laboreiro must be amongst the loveliest of anywhere in Europe.

Today started badly, which doesn't usually translate into a 5* day. Drizzle, the first rain to fall on me in Spain since setting off in late September. It was nice to have my first tostada con tomate for breakfast, but sad about the lack of pastéis de nata. The camino moves off the GR which it has been following from the border and which concludes at the visigothic church of Santa Comba de Bamba. Only 16km. Some other day, dv.

Enforced tarmac takes you across the Limia reservoir. Then off road. The cloud was mostly low, with occasional tantalising flashes of sunlight, and the drizzle stopped very soon after setting off. Mostly off tarmac, moving steadily uphill on golden forest tracks, mostly strewn with oak leaves, but a few chestnut, and (very few) pine.

A coffee break after about 8km was welcome. But the greatest pleasure came very suddenly. The woods came to an end and simultaneously the clouds lifted. I found myself on an immense empty boulder-strewn heath with a ring of beautiful jagged mountains emerging from and disappearing into cloud. Underfoot was flowering heather - a surprise to me, as at home mine is all done by early August - as well as gorse and those pretty autumn crocuses.

DSC_0435.JPG

There was no perceptible border with Portugal, except that an old gadgy in an apparently otherwise deserted hamlet said bom día and I noticed my watch had gone back an hour.

The caminho quickly joined the beautiful silvery green rushing noisy waters of the rio Castro Laboreiro, a very enjoyable companion. A couple of impressive bridges. One was flat, of huge flagstones crossing at a wide point, and presumably completely underwater during flooding. The other was a glorious soaring mediaeval single arch.

DSC_0441.JPG

And all with the ever-changing surrounding mountains. One peak in particular seemed to get an unfair ration of sun, and turned out to be the Castelo itself of Castro Laboreiro.

A sharp climb takes you finally up to the village - 1 in 7 incline, at one point - but the extra hour changing into Portugal meant I was enjoying some roast kid by 1.30pm. And then a really lovely hour ratching around the deserted castle - mostly cut from the surrounding rock, with a few strategically placed walls to help the natural defenses and apparently deliberately made not to be prominent from a distance. The clouds had dropped down a bit, but the surrounding hills were still spectacular in the ever changing light.

Back over 1000m as well, for the second and last time on this camino/caminho. Not as often as usual - this day last year I was heading up over the 2000m puerta del Reventón in knee-deep snow. Today was different, but just as beautiful, just as satisfying - just as hard work.

What a day. Wow. It can't carry on.

IMG_20221106_120048.jpg
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Castro Laboreiro to Filguiera

Surprised to learn that there are eighteen Brazilian pilgrims in town. And that they appear to have booked every room in Cortegada, where I had hoped to sleep tonight.

The village bakery, slightly shell-shocked at finding itself invaded by Brazilians, opens at 7am, more or less first light. After that it was quickly back out onto the glorious open heath. Bumped into a nice old gadgy walking his dogs and keen to try out his rusty French. He told me he'd spent seven years on the production line at Renault near Paris, before having to come back and take over the family farm when his father fell ill. Apparently his Renault and French state pensions for seven years working in France come to more than his pension for farming for 40 years in Portugal.

Downhill virtually the whole day. Once below the tree line again, the camino follows quite a narrow stone path downwards, slippery with leaves, and frequently slippery with following a running stream, and difficult to pass through fallen oak branches in a couple of places. By good fortune, the three most recent hotels I've stayed in have all had old fashioned metal radiators, so very much more effective at drying out wet shoes than the ambiant temperature control of most modern places.

The border is even more inconspicuous than usual - just a hop and a jump over the Río Trancoso, and you've lost an hour and are back in Spain after the 4th border crossing of this camino.

Shortly before, I was briefly menaced by three agressive loose cattle dogs, the last time I'll be barked at by a Portuguese dog this year. And soon afterwards was again being barked at by Spanish ones. The descent, something like 1300m in total, is really quite hard work. Fortunately the rain held off, and there were even occasional views through the trees of sunlit lowlands.

Crossing the Miño is always a pleasure. This was my third different place. Following another steep descent on the Invierno at Belesar, surrounded by high vine terraces. Many times over the Roman bridge at Ourense on the Sanabrés, and in thick woods here on the Geira. Just over the bridge is the railway station of Filgueira, which has an afternoon train to Ribadavia, 10 minutes upstream. I was soon installed in the Plaza pensión, with a balcony looking over the very attractive Plaza Major. And shortly afterwards the rain, which has been threatening on and off all day, started seriously chucking it down - although later the almost full moon put in a watery appearance.

_20221107_214612.JPG
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Shortly before, I was briefly menaced by three agressive loose cattle dogs, the last time I'll be barked at by a Portuguese dog this year.
I consider myself very fortunate to have not come into contact with any aggressive loose dogs on the Geira! Loving your posts, @alansykes.

Cortegada is a very sad little town, imho, so not spending the night there is not so bad. The bath building down on the river has been renovated and is quite pretty, but seems oddly out of place in such a sad town.

I had some pretty bad rain coming into Ribadavia, but I loved that place!
 
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Filgueira to Berán

The train back to Filgueira isn't an early one, so a late breakfast watching the rain pelt down - over 40m overnight, according to the TV news in the bar. But it slackened off, and had virtually stopped by the time I got off the train. Decided to stay on the north side of the Miño, partly because it's shorter, and mainly because it goes near the preromaníca church of San Xes de Francelos. The path along the north bank of the river is about half off road, or on roads with virtually no traffic. The off road bits aren't nearly as muddy as I'd expected. San Xes is a real treat. A tiny little low rectangular building with amazing carvings by the porch. Handsome capitals, rope motif carvings and a remarkable lattice window, all from around 900AD. But the crowning glory is a pair of reliefs showing a donkey with human figures, probably showing the flight into Egypt and Christ's entry into Jerusalem. Wonderful.

_20221108_160642.JPG

A couple of km further on and I was back in Rivadavia, drying itself out and looking more handsome, but still a little depressed. The church of Santiago has a fine wooden shell-decorated door, and the rest of the historic centre was worth a wander, especially the judería.

_20221108_161545.JPG

Moving on, the path swaps the Miño for the río Avia. Greener and swifter flowing than the deep dark Miño.

_20221108_161829.JPG

Last week's flowers in the cemeteries are starting to fade and blow. Except the increasing number of plastic ones, of course.

The path climbs slowly through the vines, and I reached the hill village of Berán just in time for a late lunch at Casa Lucíta, where I'm spending the night. A slight element of the "bar that time forgot", but I quite like that. A paper napkin was put in front of me, and food arrived, without discussion or choice. Possibly the best caldo I've ever eaten. Made with white cabbage rather than green and very few alubias, and really rich stock. I asked whether the caldo blanco was a local speciality and the dueña shrugged, but the only other person eating with me said it was. Her husband, who showed tendencies to be surly when I arrived, opened up when I, asked about the wine - seriously delicious. Which he made himself, all picked by hand from vines up to 40 years old. The number of hectolitres the hectare drops a little every year, but the quality rises. He expects this year to be one of the best yet, as he had a good soaking in late August, despite the drought, so was able to harvest in the first fortnight of September (sometimes as late as early October). He's going to try this year's wine for the first time on Friday. Wish I could be here with them.

IMG_20221108_131605.jpg
 

OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Oct/Nov 2022_Mozarabe from Almeria
a beautiful description @alansykes
I’m watching the rain here now (Baena) in Andalucía.. (Camino Mozárabe ) just finishing a delicious homemade pudding with the menu de dia .
I believe the rain was forecast all through this region for today. I wasnt walking in it tho. Return to sun ☀️ tomorrow.
Buen camino., you can sure get the picture across.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Berán to Beariz

Casa Lucita is perhaps not for the more fastidious. I don't mind an occasional trip back to the 1950s, but my wife would have refused to let our dog sleep there (he is quite a fussy dog). I was fortunate to arrive on a dry day, as there is no heating in the bedrooms. I was also fortunate to be the only occupant, as there is only one bathroom/loo for the 15 bedrooms.

Anyway, I enjoyed my lengthy and eventually over-bibulous chat about vine tending and wine making, and was in bed much later than usual, and in less than usual state to care about the surroundings, or the fact that the metal windows don't shut properly.

Breakfast was served promptly at 7.30am, as today is a lengthy and fairly gruelling one. They insisted on showing me the cellar where the wine is made before I left. Several old oak barrels, and the presses and so on, and that gorgeous heady, almost literally intoxicating, smell of mascerating grapes and wine musk. Their equipment would have looked old fashioned when I worked in the vines in the French Midi as a teenager in the late 70s, but it still does the job.

On the far side of Berán is the sculpture which marks 100km to Santiago. And soon after the trail is back in beautiful deep woods, and I was greeted by a watery golden sunrise over watery golden trees.

There is quite a lot of up and down today - about 1150m of up and 730m of down, to be precise. But it was mostly relatively straightforward - one section of one in seven up, and another of following a running stream over slippery rocks down were the main exceptions. Wonderful views when the clouds lifted, and not much rain - and being drizzled on when puffing up a one in seven hill is quite useful, sometimes.

At Feás, the owner of the casa rural is in hospital, so I had to carry on another 10km to Beariz. The nice lady in the local bar then horrified me by saying that 18 Brazilians had been through a couple of hours earlier. She very kindly rang through to Beariz to check if they'd block booked the village, but they seem not to have done, and the Bar Centro there has put me up in a really comfortable flat upstairs. I (quite) enjoyed my 1950s time travel, but being back in 2022 is very nice, with a hot shower, fridge, washing machine and so on.

Unfortunately the Brazilians have block booked Codeseda tomorrow night, but I've found a small town only a couple of km off the track called Forcarei which seems to have beds and all usual amenities. Can't understand how the Brazilians overtook me, nor where they're sleeping tonight.

Wow. Probably more in one place than you've seen since Huelva.
Yup, more that the rest of the camino put together. None between Huelva and Zafra. About a dozen between Zafra and Cáceres, none between Cáceres and Lobios on Sunday, and then the Brazilian invasion.

I’m watching the rain here now (Baena) in Andalucía..
I loved Baena, with the reproduction celtiberian lion on the plaza. Also got a taste for the local fino de Montilla - a desert dry sharp, even harsh, strong (but unfortified) sherry-like white.
 
Last edited:
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
This is getting oh-so-close to Santiago. I feel the end of your caminos almost as much as mine, Alan - your posts are such a vicarious treat. And I don't have to trudge up and down those hills dodging mysterious fleets of Brazilian pilgrims.

Can't understand how the Brazilians overtook me,
Wheels?
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Reading your posts brings me right back, though you say it so much better than I could! I wasn’t able to stay in Codeseda either, because the day before the owner told me he was out of town and wouldn’t be able to let me into the house till about 5 pm. I got there around noon, from Soutelo de Montes, and decided it would be ridiculous to sit around for 5 hours. So on I went to Estrada. The Brazilians can’t book you out of Estrada because there is a fairly large one star hotel there. Not sure how that will fit into a walk from Forcarei.

So sorry that you are going to be arriving in Santiago soon, @alansykes! Your posts are such a wonderful opportunity for armchair caminos.
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
3rd Edition of this popular highly acclaimed book.
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Beariz to Forcarei

Such a comfortable night in Beariz, and then one of the bars was open at 8, so didn't need to set off until the mist was a little lighter. Mostly lovely wooded paths today, occasionally up with the wind turbines. There is some dispute between the Geira camino people and the (xunta-funded) Caminho Miñoto Ribeiro (also from Braga). The people promoting the Geira are so depressed by alleged vandalism to Geira signage and arrows, especially round about where I am now, that they "recomendar que no se recorra este Camino", and have removed accommodation details etc from their website, which seems a bit defeatist. And the eximious @peregrina2000 says "nonsense", you should just follow a decent wikiloc, while Álvaro Lazaga, in one of his YouTube videos, talks about finding "un montón de flechas". Both were right. There was really no problem (unless I get hopelessly lost mañana), especially relying on my trusty mapy.cz, which has a blue line going all the way from Braga (almost all the way from Huelva, I think).

Coming down through dense woods in total solitude, I took out my earplugs and let some Bellini rip. A man resting by some timber startled me by getting up suddenly, and even more by asking "¿Norma?" He had been a music student and played violin in a college orchestra. We agreed that Norma was basically just Romeo and Juliet, but with Romans and Gauls instead of Montacutes and Capulets.

Foncarei, about 2km off the Geira, is actually on the Caminho Miñoto Ribeiro, so I've accidentally added a 7th camino to this year's pick 'n mix - Sur, Plata, Estrela, Nascente, Torres, Geira and now CMR, as the signs call it.

Foncarei is a pleasant little town with several bars and shops and not as many collapsing houses as many of the villages recently. The Pensión Paris is comfortable and warm and has a metal radiator to dry out my shoes (there was one stage again today of walking along a running stream).

I saw no sign of my Brazilians. Odd, as the mud was thick, but there's been no rain for over a day, so I would have expected to see their footprints. So the main result for me, other than not being where I expected to be, is that I can't get rid of an irritating Villa-Lobos earworm. Assuming A Estrada is no problem tomorrow, I think I'll try to make Santiago for Saturday, rather than risk hoping to spend the night at Pontvea or A Raris (where Álvaro stayed) and finding it booked out. I did not expect to find myself in a bed race, in November, on the Geira.

_20221110_202156.JPG
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
the eximious @peregrina2000
I have to admit I had to look that up. That she is.

Villa-Lobos earworm
They took all the beds and gave you Villa-Lobos? Oh, my. o_O I hope the rendition that's stuck in there is a good one.

I took out my earplugs and let some Bellini rip. A man resting by some timber startled me by getting up suddenly, and even more by asking "¿Norma?" He had been a music student and played violin in a college orchestra. We agreed that Norma was basically just Romeo and Juliet, but with Romans and Gauls instead of Montacutes and Capulets.
Have you stumbled into a weird parallel universe? A random Norma afficionado in the middle of nowhere and Brazillians who appear and disappear equally mysteriously...it sounds like Camino wonderland. God knows what you'll encounter tomorrow.

so I would have expected to see their footprints.
Definitely wheels. They're probably already humming V-L at some bar in Santiago.
 

walkabouts

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2023
You are so close to Santiago now which will sadly soon mean the end to your daily literary masterpieces. Safe travels and we will raise a glass to honour your peripatetic roaming when you arrive at your destination. So much to explore and so little time do so.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
You are so close to Santiago now which will sadly soon mean the end to your daily literary masterpieces
One particular pleasure of this Forum is Alan's yearly account of whatever off the beaten track caminos he's taking on. The threads make very good reading after the fact, too - but beware!- your list of caminos to walk will grow exponentially).
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Forcarei to A Estrada

Today is San Martiño, a fiesta in Forcarei, and in many places in Ourense province. With massed gaiteros, and civic receptions and processions. Not being a fan of the agony pipes, it was probably lucky I didn't arrive a day later. And luckier still not a day after that, as the pensión shuts for a fortnight, presumably exhausted. So I was out of the place at first light, and back on the camino and enjoying sunrise over the uplands by 8.30.

A really gorgeous day - not a cloud in the sky, hardly a breath of wind. Hadn't expected to have to get my sombrero and prescription sunglasses out again. The wide empty open uplands, with russet brown ferns turning gold in the early sun, eventually gave way to lower land, with increasingly tamer countryside and smaller fields mixing with beautiful golden woodland tunnels. And, sadly, some running streams over the path. Also a lot of fitolaca shrubs, some still with their berries. When I lived in France, one of my autumn jobs was to pick the berries and "milk" them of their Tyrian purple ink, which my artist friend would use for writing letters.

Codeseda seems a nice place, and the village bar was very pilgrim friendly, with compulsory photograph and signing of a fat visitor book. Although I was again horrified to learn that the Brazilians are only planning to walk 12km to A Estrada today. Fortunately the bar person rang the pensión there and they still have a spare room for me. I am apparently pilgrim 946 to walk this way this year.

The last section is increasingly flatter, but with a final wooded ascent that takes you right into A Estrada without the usual industrial estates and suburbs of a big (ish) town. Sadly, the architecture is really aggressively ghastly. A Alameda, the main central square, is a mix of some of the ugliest buildings I've ever seen anywhere (and I've been to Walsall). One side of the rectangle is the concello, about the only decent building in town, a c1910 town hall influenced by Eastern European civic architecture of the time. So they've planted trees close in front of it so you can hardly see it. The only explanation I could come up with was that that town council had, from 1970 to 1990, organised a competition between the 10 worst architecture schools of Europe to nominate their worst student, and the winner got commissioned to design a building for the square. Astonishing.

Anyway, the pensión Bombilla may be ugly but you can't see it from the inside, where it's perfectly OK. And the public spaces were full of children on swings enjoying the start of the weekend, and some really nice bars, one serving hot chestnuts as a tapa, and generally a warm atmosphere despite the surrounding horrors.

DSC_0498.JPG
 
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
A Estrada to Santiago

Popped out at 7am for my coffee and Mars was still bright to the south, not far from the waning moon. By the time I set off shortly before sunrise, it was obvious that it was going to be a perfect, cloudless, glorious autumn morning. Almost too warm, with a few flies still buzzing around - in November?

12km of fairly dull countryside gets you to Pontevea, with its handsome late mediaeval bridge over the Ulla, taking you into A Coruña province, my sixth and last of this camino. The only camino I've been on not to set foot in Castilla y León.

Road signposts to places very familiar from the Sanabrés - Silleda, Lalín - kept appearing over the last couple of days. And yesterday a bump on the horizon looked very like the Pico Sacro. "That's much too close", I thought, must be a lookalike. But it was the real thing, and there were some great views of it from a woodland trail on high ground, before the camino dropped down into Santiago's suburbs. And the suburbs are long, and pretty tedious - although I was very impressed by the new (to me) bus station, which seems a huge improvement on the old one (which admittedly, I'd only ever used about twice).

The first view of the twin towers is always a thrill, this year from about 6km out. Last year the cloud was so low you couldn't see the tops of them from the praza. Hoards of happy pilgrims in the praza when I finally arrived, such a good sight.


IMG_20221112_142826.jpg
 

walkabouts

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP 2023
Well done Alan. Such an interesting and very different walk and one that may hopefully become more popular. Many thanks for allowing us to share your trials and tribulations along the way from Huelva. Great inspirational reading. We really enjoyed following your route on mapy.cz to see where you walked and places where you stayed. Enjoy the completion of your journey with a few glasses of Spain's finest. Safe travels on your homeward leg.
 
Last edited:
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
Beautiful, just beautiful. And a fitting conclusion of a superb walk. Unless you intend to go sea to ocean?

But it was the real thing, and there were some great views of it from a woodland trail on high ground,
The viaduct is a giveaway. A lovely view of where the Sanabres/invierno goes, too.

Gracias, Alan. I'm sorry it's done so soon. Safe travel home to you.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
And yesterday a bump on the horizon looked very like the Pico Sacro.
I had the very same experience — as I was leaving Estrada, I thought I saw it in the dawn light but thought it was impossible. But going up through that eucalyptus wood a few hours later, it kept popping out at me and I was convinced. I think it was you who once wrote about the legend, and ever since I’ve wanted to go up there on my own two feet but have never made it.

Enhorabuena, Alan, another camino as seen through the eyes of one with a tremendous gift for the written word. Buen camino, Laurie
 

Attachments

  • F0F7B7AA-7091-4C1C-80E4-3B6957B0269B.jpeg
    F0F7B7AA-7091-4C1C-80E4-3B6957B0269B.jpeg
    1.5 MB · Views: 15
  • 14646C02-0589-45E1-ADA7-A6ECD44C775F.jpeg
    14646C02-0589-45E1-ADA7-A6ECD44C775F.jpeg
    1.9 MB · Views: 29
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

mspath

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
alansykes,

Félicitations on completing your latest camino! It was such a daily pleasure to follow your route. Thank you for sharing your experiences, thoughts, and photos with all your digital followers.

Stay safe and Carpe diem!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2021; CSS/CP 2022
Beariz to Forcarei

Such a comfortable night in Beariz, and then one of the bars was open at 8, so didn't need to set off until the mist was a little lighter. Mostly lovely wooded paths today, occasionally up with the wind turbines. There is some dispute between the Geira camino people and the (xunta-funded) Caminho Miñoto Ribeiro (also from Braga). The people promoting the Geira are so depressed by alleged vandalism to Geira signage and arrows, especially round about where I am now, that they "recomendar que no se recorra este Camino", and have removed accommodation details etc from their website, which seems a bit defeatist. And the eximious @peregrina2000 says "nonsense", you should just follow a decent wikiloc, while Álvaro Lazaga, in one of his YouTube videos, talks about finding "un montón de flechas". Both were right. There was really no problem (unless I get hopelessly lost mañana), especially relying on my trusty mapy.cz, which has a blue line going all the way from Braga (almost all the way from Huelva, I think).

Coming down through dense woods in total solitude, I took out my earplugs and let some Bellini rip. A man resting by some timber startled me by getting up suddenly, and even more by asking "¿Norma?" He had been a music student and played violin in a college orchestra. We agreed that Norma was basically just Romeo and Juliet, but with Romans and Gauls instead of Montacutes and Capulets.

Foncarei, about 2km off the Geira, is actually on the Caminho Miñoto Ribeiro, so I've accidentally added a 7th camino to this year's pick 'n mix - Sur, Plata, Estrela, Nascente, Torres, Geira and now CMR, as the signs call it.

Foncarei is a pleasant little town with several bars and shops and not as many collapsing houses as many of the villages recently. The Pensión Paris is comfortable and warm and has a metal radiator to dry out my shoes (there was one stage again today of walking along a running stream).

I saw no sign of my Brazilians. Odd, as the mud was thick, but there's been no rain for over a day, so I would have expected to see their footprints. So the main result for me, other than not being where I expected to be, is that I can't get rid of an irritating Villa-Lobos earworm. Assuming A Estrada is no problem tomorrow, I think I'll try to make Santiago for Saturday, rather than risk hoping to spend the night at Pontvea or A Raris (where Álvaro stayed) and finding it booked out. I did not expect to find myself in a bed race, in November, on the Geira.

View attachment 136707
“Spargi in terra quella pace!” Absolutely loving your posts Alan. Joining the chorus of those who clamor for the book version…bom/buen caminho/camino!
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
, if you look at hoards, you might groan...
No hoards today, normal Galician service resumes. Good day not to be walking. Although if I find myself in a bed race again I might switch allegiances and accept Pollione's invitation to "vieni in Roma", or back to lovely empty Guadalupe.

I've succumbed, for the first time, and taken a selfie. This is a screen grab of me in the praza, taken a couple of hours ago from the crtvg webcam, just as the rain started - I'm in the red waterproof trying to get my wet camera to work.

Screenshot_20221113_154119_com.android.chrome.jpg
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
if I find myself in a bed race again I might switch allegiances and accept Pollione's invitation to "vieni in Roma", or back to lovely empty Guadalupe.
Given your predilections you should be safe from that many other pilgrims all at one time - that can only happen once as a result of stochastic bad luck. Like a lightning strike.

That selfie is classic Santiago. Oy.
 

How to ask a question

How to post a new question on the Camino Forum.

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

This site is run by Ivar at

in Santiago de Compostela.
This site participates in the Amazon Affiliate program, designed to provide a means for Ivar to earn fees by linking to Amazon
Official Camino Passport (Credential) | 2022 Camino Guides
Top