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LIVE from the Camino Invierno June 2024

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja — 16km

After flying Rome-Madrid on Monday and then bussing Madrid-Ponferrada yesterday, we were ready to finally start our Invierno today. But first, the sky above Ponferrada put on quite a show late yesterday afternoon!

IMG_8521.jpeg

After much discussion on how to begin this camino, we opted for a short day to Villavieja to get us into the rhythm, though it was probably a bit too short. Although overcast for most of the day, it was a pleasant walk and we are happy to be back in Spain and on the camino after being ultra focussed on Italy for most of the last year. Wild cherries and the scenery around Villavieja were the main highlights today, and we also enjoyed passing through villages throughout the stage (a rarity on recent Italian walks) and having short interactions with friendly locals.

IMG_8556.jpeg

We only met two pilgrims on the trail (Italians!) and thought we would have the albergue at Villavieja to ourselves, but one other pilgrim rocked up at 5pm. As others have reported, the albergue is great, with everything you need and views to boot. Just as we were about to head to the castle in the afternoon, it started raining, so that’s on hold for now. Unfortunately the forecast is not great for Las Médulas tomorrow, but so be it — we will take whatever this camino gives us.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
...and ship it to Santiago for storage. You pick it up once in Santiago. Service offered by Casa Ivar (we use DHL for transportation).
I'm a day behind you. Start tomorrow (Thursday) . looking forward to hearing your experiences!
We are starting off a bit slowly so you may catch us! We’re taking three days to get to O Barco de Valdeorras instead of the two Gronze stages.
 
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Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja — 16km

After flying Rome-Madrid on Monday and then bussing Madrid-Ponferrada yesterday, we were ready to finally start our Invierno today. But first, the sky above Ponferrada put on quite a show late yesterday afternoon!

View attachment 172637

After much discussion on how to begin this camino, we opted for a short day to Villavieja to get us into the rhythm, though it was probably a bit too short. Although overcast for most of the day, it was a pleasant walk and we are happy to be back in Spain and on the camino after being ultra focussed on Italy for most of the last year. Wild cherries and the scenery around Villavieja were the main highlights today, and we also enjoyed passing through villages throughout the stage (a rarity on recent Italian walks) and having short interactions with friendly locals.

View attachment 172638

We only met two pilgrims on the trail (Italians!) and thought we would have the albergue at Villavieja to ourselves, but one other pilgrim rocked up at 5pm. As others have reported, the albergue is great, with everything you need and views to boot. Just as we were about to head to the castle in the afternoon, it started raining, so that’s on hold for now. Unfortunately the forecast is not great for Las Médulas tomorrow, but so be it — we will take whatever this camino gives us.

Will you be staying at Casa Rosa in Puente de Domingo Flórez? I cannot figure out why they disappeared from Gronze, but they should be open, and it is a five star albergue.
 
...and ship it to Santiago for storage. You pick it up once in Santiago. Service offered by Casa Ivar (we use DHL for transportation).
Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja — 16km

After flying Rome-Madrid on Monday and then bussing Madrid-Ponferrada yesterday, we were ready to finally start our Invierno today. But first, the sky above Ponferrada put on quite a show late yesterday afternoon!

View attachment 172637

After much discussion on how to begin this camino, we opted for a short day to Villavieja to get us into the rhythm, though it was probably a bit too short. Although overcast for most of the day, it was a pleasant walk and we are happy to be back in Spain and on the camino after being ultra focussed on Italy for most of the last year. Wild cherries and the scenery around Villavieja were the main highlights today, and we also enjoyed passing through villages throughout the stage (a rarity on recent Italian walks) and having short interactions with friendly locals.

View attachment 172638

We only met two pilgrims on the trail (Italians!) and thought we would have the albergue at Villavieja to ourselves, but one other pilgrim rocked up at 5pm. As others have reported, the albergue is great, with everything you need and views to boot. Just as we were about to head to the castle in the afternoon, it started raining, so that’s on hold for now. Unfortunately the forecast is not great for Las Médulas tomorrow, but so be it — we will take whatever this camino gives us.
I'll be there in a week or two! Hoop weather is a little better, buen camino and I follow your thread☀️
 
Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja — 16km

After flying Rome-Madrid on Monday and then bussing Madrid-Ponferrada yesterday, we were ready to finally start our Invierno today. But first, the sky above Ponferrada put on quite a show late yesterday afternoon!

View attachment 172637

After much discussion on how to begin this camino, we opted for a short day to Villavieja to get us into the rhythm, though it was probably a bit too short. Although overcast for most of the day, it was a pleasant walk and we are happy to be back in Spain and on the camino after being ultra focussed on Italy for most of the last year. Wild cherries and the scenery around Villavieja were the main highlights today, and we also enjoyed passing through villages throughout the stage (a rarity on recent Italian walks) and having short interactions with friendly locals.

View attachment 172638

We only met two pilgrims on the trail (Italians!) and thought we would have the albergue at Villavieja to ourselves, but one other pilgrim rocked up at 5pm. As others have reported, the albergue is great, with everything you need and views to boot. Just as we were about to head to the castle in the afternoon, it started raining, so that’s on hold for now. Unfortunately the forecast is not great for Las Médulas tomorrow, but so be it — we will take whatever this camino gives us.
Follow your thread!
 
Train for your next Camino (or keep the Camino spirit alive) on Santa Catalina Island
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
I am wondering when Casa Rosa started up?

I walked Invierno in November of 2019, at short notice, and without a huge amount of pre-planning - maybe a day? My main memory is of it raining virtually all day, every day for my time there, although I did enjoy it.

I cannot remember what guide I used, but I think it was the old CSJ guide from 2011 by @Rebekah Scott a pdf guide from @peregrina2000 (Jan 2019) and the @wisepilgrim app. I see I also have an online CSJ guide from 2019/20.

After I had booked my outward flight, I then remembered a longstanding engagement in Wales, which meant I was going to be short of a day, so I had to gain a day while walking, so I walked from Ponferrada to Puente de Domingo Flórez on that first day. (Jealous of your expansive first few days @jungleboy ;) )

But apart from mention in the guide of two hostals called La Torre (I & II) no meniton of any albergue in PdDF.

I stayed in the polideportivo - of the very old school variety! :) There is a small bar opposite, where I obtained the key. It is a HUGE building, like a hangar, looking then as if it might have been abandoned some years previously. There were metal roller shutters over all the doors, and i had to try several before finding the one I had the key to. There was cold water and a toilet.There were hundreds of slim mattresses/thick mats which you might have used for some kind of exercise and that was it!! There were dozens of small birds flying around inside and I remember it was particularly hard to find any light in the main arena.

But I have to say, that it was dry and secure, and a walk of 33+km promotes a good night's sleep!

I am feeling a bit nostalgic - but I think if I were to go again I would be looking for Casa Rosa.

Library - 1 of 3.jpegLibrary - 2 of 3.jpegLibrary - 3 of 3.jpeg
 
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Train for your next Camino (or keep the Camino spirit alive) on Santa Catalina Island
I'm a day behind you. Start tomorrow (Thursday) . looking forward to hearing your experiences!

We are starting off a bit slowly so you may catch us! We’re taking three days to get to O Barco de Valdeorras instead of the two Gronze stages.
Nick, we are doing the same with 3 days to O’Barco. That was quite the climb to the Albergue in Villaviejo. But feels like a 5 star hotel. I was planning on staying at the donativo in A’Rue but have no luck in getting a reply. I’m relying on WiFi for my comms. I’m also waiting for rain to stop to visit castle. Safe journey!
 
But I have to say, that it was dry and secure, and a walk of 33+km promotes a good night's sleep!
@timr, remembering and sharing so many minute details of that day on the Inveirno, even if possibly referring to old notes, brings back memories to the forefront of our minds; making us feel as though we were just there "yesterday". I always enjoy recalling particular days on the Camino, and each one is special in some way when it is triggered by a forum thread; including the more difficult days. It's probably a big reason I participate on the forum so often.
 
Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja — 16km

After flying Rome-Madrid on Monday and then bussing Madrid-Ponferrada yesterday, we were ready to finally start our Invierno today. But first, the sky above Ponferrada put on quite a show late yesterday afternoon!

View attachment 172637

After much discussion on how to begin this camino, we opted for a short day to Villavieja to get us into the rhythm, though it was probably a bit too short. Although overcast for most of the day, it was a pleasant walk and we are happy to be back in Spain and on the camino after being ultra focussed on Italy for most of the last year. Wild cherries and the scenery around Villavieja were the main highlights today, and we also enjoyed passing through villages throughout the stage (a rarity on recent Italian walks) and having short interactions with friendly locals.

View attachment 172638

We only met two pilgrims on the trail (Italians!) and thought we would have the albergue at Villavieja to ourselves, but one other pilgrim rocked up at 5pm. As others have reported, the albergue is great, with everything you need and views to boot. Just as we were about to head to the castle in the afternoon, it started raining, so that’s on hold for now. Unfortunately the forecast is not great for Las Médulas tomorrow, but so be it — we will take whatever this camino gives us.
Would love if you could comment on the difficulty of the hills throughout your camino. Try to see it through 70 year old legs ;) :) As I for one never enjoyed a really long and steep climb, which I have obviously had to endure many times haha.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja — 16km

After flying Rome-Madrid on Monday and then bussing Madrid-Ponferrada yesterday, we were ready to finally start our Invierno today. But first, the sky above Ponferrada put on quite a show late yesterday afternoon!

View attachment 172637

After much discussion on how to begin this camino, we opted for a short day to Villavieja to get us into the rhythm, though it was probably a bit too short. Although overcast for most of the day, it was a pleasant walk and we are happy to be back in Spain and on the camino after being ultra focussed on Italy for most of the last year. Wild cherries and the scenery around Villavieja were the main highlights today, and we also enjoyed passing through villages throughout the stage (a rarity on recent Italian walks) and having short interactions with friendly locals.

View attachment 172638

We only met two pilgrims on the trail (Italians!) and thought we would have the albergue at Villavieja to ourselves, but one other pilgrim rocked up at 5pm. As others have reported, the albergue is great, with everything you need and views to boot. Just as we were about to head to the castle in the afternoon, it started raining, so that’s on hold for now. Unfortunately the forecast is not great for Las Médulas tomorrow, but so be it — we will take whatever this camino gives us.
Just finished Saturday. Was the only person in albergue in Silleda. Went three days at one point w/o seeing another pilgrim on the road and eleven days without meeting another native English speaker. You'll want to pack some food if not stopping in larger towns. Can be hard to find open restaurants, cafes, supermarkets in smaller ones even where google maps shows them. Buen Camino.
 
Nick, I don't know yet if the Inveirno is in my future, but what I do know is that I will be following your Camino on this thread with enthusiasm, and look forward to your updates and photos...as always!
Thank you!

Even though it’s only a small sample size so far, I think the Invierno could be a great option for you. It’s a good length for being away from home for less than a month, and it seems like there are options for shortening stages.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Would love if you could comment on the difficulty of the hills throughout your camino. Try to see it through 70 year old legs ;) :) As I for one never enjoyed a really long and steep climb, which I have obviously had to endure many times haha.
My legs are older than yours, and I don't like hills either. Sure there are hills on the Invierno, but for me they were not a major problem since I take my time and walk as slowly as necessary. The one piece I haven't walked is the stage from A Rua to Montefurado, since that would have made a longer distance than I wanted for the day.
 
Casa Rosa is on both the Wise Pilgrim and Buen Camino apps.
The son in the family checked us in and, for what it’s worth, he said his parents asked to be removed from Gronze because they wanted to have more flexibility regarding the publication of their opening times, eg to not necessarily open and close for the season the same time every year etc.
 
Thank you!

Even though it’s only a small sample size so far, I think the Invierno could be a great option for you. It’s a good length for being away from home for less than a month, and it seems like there are options for shortening stages.
Nick, you have gotten to know me quite well, virtually. 🤗🙂👍
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
was planning on staying at the donativo in A’Rue but have no luck in getting a reply
I stayed there last night. There were only two of us, and the hospitalera was friendly and helpful. She cooked a good communal dinner. You should have no problem getting a bed there - reservations are not accepted and hospitaleros/as are volunteers.

The sign says that they open at 4 pm. I arrived around 2 pm, and no one was there. I went for lunch, and when I returned a little past 3 I rang the bell and was let in.
 
Went three days at one point w/o seeing another pilgrim on the road and eleven days without meeting another native English speaker.
Good to know. As we are a couple, we don’t mind quiet routes, and we are happy to not meet other English speakers as we enjoy speaking different languages where possible. Although any Spanish speakers in the area should note that Wendy is instituting a unilateral ban on castellano in favour of galego once we cross into Galicia tomorrow!

You'll want to pack some food if not stopping in larger towns. Can be hard to find open restaurants, cafes, supermarkets in smaller ones even where google maps shows them.
Good tip, thanks. Being vegans, we are used to carrying food with us on camino just in case, so business as usual there but we will be mindful of supermarket closures in particular.
 
My legs are older than yours, and I don't like hills either. Sure there are hills on the Invierno, but for me they were not a major problem since I take my time and walk as slowly as necessary. The one piece I haven't walked is the stage from A Rua to Montefurado, since that would have made a longer distance than I wanted for the day.
Would love if you could comment on the difficulty of the hills throughout your camino. Try to see it through 70 year old legs ;) :) As I for one never enjoyed a really long and steep climb, which I have obviously had to endure many times haha.
It general wasn't a lot of rolling hills one after another but felt like when they came they often tended to be long and/or steep stretches. Every time you come down to level of Sil River, as you do with some frequency, you realize you're going to end up climbing again.
 
Train for your next Camino (or keep the Camino spirit alive) on Santa Catalina Island
Day 2: Villavieja to Puente de Domingo Flórez — 23km (with some alternative routes and a missed turn)

IMG_8589.jpeg

A fabulous stage today with some wonderful scenery, the Médulas lookout/tunnels, cherries (obvs) and better weather than we expected.

IMG_8603.jpeg

In the early morning the sun was out and we went up to the Cornatel castle and had some silhouette views against the light before continuing on our way and beginning our slightly convoluted series of alternate paths. We took the La Chana variant that skips Borrenes and enjoyed it; between Paradela de Muces and La Chana the path was in a beautiful forest. After La Chana, on the ‘standard’ Borrenes alternative, we missed a turn and that cost us 20-25 minutes as we had to backtrack (look for arrows on the road!), but soon we were back among really lovely scenery and the sun was still out.

By the time we reached the Orellán mirador it had clouded over but it was still a spectacular view, and we also enjoyed going into the gallerias. As Wendy pointed out, we visitors tend to think of the landscape here as a wonder of nature but the destructive process by which the Romans actually created it means it might be better described as an environmental disaster.

IMG_8578.jpeg

After the mirador we stayed high (albeit descending a bit) and skipped the village of Las Médulas, rejoining the main path just after the Mirador de las Pedrices. It rained on and off in the afternoon but it wasn’t anything too bad, and now we’re happily at the lovely Casa Rosa with the same one other pilgrim as last night. She went up and down from Las Médulas village to the mirador and generally had a difficult way-finding day, so I think it’s a good idea to plan out how you want to do this section more than usual.
 
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Would love if you could comment on the difficulty of the hills throughout your camino. Try to see it through 70 year old legs ;) :) As I for one never enjoyed a really long and steep climb, which I have obviously had to endure many times haha.
You’ve received some good replies already. Only two days in for us but so far the hills have been fine. Hard to simulate 70-year-old legs so the best we can do is that Wendy can offer 48-year-old ones with plantar fasciitis!
 
...and ship it to Santiago for storage. You pick it up once in Santiago. Service offered by Casa Ivar (we use DHL for transportation).
Would love if you could comment on the difficulty of the hills throughout your camino. Try to see it through 70 year old legs ;) :) As I for one never enjoyed a really long and steep climb, which I have obviously had to endure many times haha.
I have a few years to go before my legs hit 70, but I've been surprised that my legs haven't really complained so far on the Invierno. Last year my calves were really screaming on the Norte and Primitivo. I'm three days ahead of @jungleboy.
 
You’ve received some good replies already. Only two days in for us but so far the hills have been fine. Hard to simulate 70-year-old legs so the best we can do is that Wendy can offer 48-year-old ones with plantar fasciitis!
I'm not sure I'm the best judge, though. Going uphill actually relieves my plantar fasciitis pain, so I like hills!
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
I just finished the Invierno last week. Casa Rosa is an absolutely wonderful albergue one of if not my favorite albergue. Be sure to stay for breakfast!

View attachment 172716
At what time is breakfast served? I'm sure I've asked them already but don't remember... I stayed there twice but left so early in the morning I didn't have breakfast. Seeing this, I know I have to return..! 😋
 
he said his parents asked to be removed from Gronze because they wanted to have more flexibility regarding the publication of their opening times, eg to not necessarily open and close for the season the same time every year etc.
Well, that seems odd to me, because they can change from open to closed to open at will with a quick note to Gronze. Not being in gronze seems like a real drawback, but I guess they are doing fine with word of mouth.

Glad you are having a good camino — crossing the river tomorrow will put you in full galego mode!
 
Train for your next Camino (or keep the Camino spirit alive) on Santa Catalina Island
Would love if you could comment on the difficulty of the hills throughout your camino. Try to see it through 70 year old legs ;) :) As I for one never enjoyed a really long and steep climb, which I have obviously had to endure many times haha.
Am following this all with interest as I want to walk this Camino with my 70+ legs as well ;)
 
Day 2: Villavieja to Puente de Domingo Flórez — 23km (with some alternative routes and a wrong turn)

View attachment 172705

A fabulous stage today with some wonderful scenery, the Médulas lookout/tunnels, cherries (obvs) and better weather than we expected.

View attachment 172706

In the early morning the sun was out and we went up to the Cornatel castle and had some silhouette views against the light before continuing on our way and beginning our slightly convoluted series of alternate paths. We took the La Chana variant that skips Borrenes and enjoyed it; between Paradela de Muces and La Chana the path was in a beautiful forest. After La Chana, on the ‘standard’ Borrenes alternative, we missed a turn and that cost us 20-25 minutes as we had to backtrack (look for arrows on the road!), but soon we were back among really lovely scenery and the sun was still out.

By the time we reached the Orellán mirador it had clouded over but it was still a spectacular view, and we also enjoyed going into the gallerias. As Wendy pointed out, we visitors tend to think of the landscape here as a wonder of nature but the destructive process by which the Romans actually created it means it might be better described as an environmental disaster.


After the mirador we stayed high (albeit descending a bit) and skipped the village of Las Médulas, rejoining the main path just after the Mirador de las Pedrices. It rained on and off in the afternoon but it wasn’t anything too bad, and now we’re happily at the lovely Casa Rosa with the same one other pilgrim as last night. She went up and down from Las Médulas village to the mirador and generally had a difficult way-finding day, so I think it’s a good idea to plan out how you want to do this section more than usual.
Thanks for the helpful and inspiring notes. I’m planning to walk in September with the same slow start. As a a 70+ native English speaker (with only a little Spanish) I’m going solo on this one and all the feedback helps build anticipation.
 
My legs are older than yours, and I don't like hills either. Sure there are hills on the Invierno, but for me they were not a major problem since I take my time and walk as slowly as necessary. The one piece I haven't walked is the stage from A Rua to Montefurado, since that would have made a longer distance than I wanted for the day.
I was hoping that you would reply. I know that you and @peregrina2000 have tackled some serious caminos, difficulty wise and I know that you are the age of a very, very slightly older sister :) . It is a camino I have wanted to do for a long time. I am thinking of incorporating it next year as my final leg. Do the Mozarabe and then bus or train north to Ponferrada. Gronze puts it at almost 900K. A good distance for me. Maybe finish up with a short walk to Muxia. Love that camino. After warming up on the Mozarabe it should be fine. Thanks!
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
I have a few years to go before my legs hit 70, but I've been surprised that my legs haven't really complained so far on the Invierno. Last year my calves were really screaming on the Norte and Primitivo. I'm three days ahead of @jungleboy.
Good to hear! My legs were screaming when I walked the Norte and that was 2018. But wow what beauty! I am sure the Invierno has wonders and beauty abounding.
 
Day 3: Puente de Domingo Flórez to O Barco de Valdeorras — 18km

Today’s stage took us into Galicia, above the Sil river and into the wine country of O Barco. It didn’t reach the heights of yesterday, but it was still a pleasant day featuring some friendly villages and soft trails underfoot.

IMG_8659.jpeg

To start with the least pleasant part, there was quite a bit of industrial activity on the other side of the Sil river that created some eyesores and noise pollution throughout the first half of the stage.

But moving on, the villages were quite nice. Pumares had a pilgrim spirit to it with some murals and a self-serve stamp, the abandoned hamlet of Nogueiras was a great spot for a rest, and Wendy even had a conversation in Galego with a local woman while we were having lunch next to the bridge in Éntoma.

My favourite part of the actual trail was after Éntoma, when we walked through vineyards, saw our first cork trees of this camino and had some good views. Overall the scenery today couldn’t match that of yesterday, but this was the nicest part in my view.

IMG_8644.jpeg

Now we’re resting up at Pensión O Lar and are about to head out for some riverside drinks and dinner in the afternoon sun!
 
My favourite part of the actual trail was after Éntoma, when we walked through vineyards, saw our first cork trees of this camino and had some good views. Overall the scenery today couldn’t match that of yesterday, but this was the nicest part in my view.
I especially love the view in your second picture, and in addition, blue skies most always are a plus (if it's not too hot).🫠
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I especially love the view in your second picture, and in addition, blue skies most always are a plus (if it's not too hot).🫠
Thank you — I’m a blue sky demon so I definitely agree! It was the middle of the day at the time of that second picture so a bit washed out and not as deep blue as I really like, but I’ll take it! Plus the plane trail lines (which I usually can’t stand) all coalesced to make a funky cloud!
 
Pilgrim update: we saw one today (Spanish) towards the end of the stage and we were the first pilgrims he’d seen on the Invierno, having left Ponferrada yesterday morning. Our count is 4 pilgrims seen in 3 days, so I think it’s safe to say the Invierno isn’t overrun yet!
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Train for your next Camino (or keep the Camino spirit alive) on Santa Catalina Island
Thanks for the helpful and inspiring notes. I’m planning to walk in September with the same slow start. As a a 70+ native English speaker (with only a little Spanish) I’m going solo on this one and all the feedback helps build anticipation.
This 76 English speaking person is so tempted!
 
Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja — 16km

After flying Rome-Madrid on Monday and then bussing Madrid-Ponferrada yesterday, we were ready to finally start our Invierno today. But first, the sky above Ponferrada put on quite a show late yesterday afternoon!

View attachment 172637

After much discussion on how to begin this camino, we opted for a short day to Villavieja to get us into the rhythm, though it was probably a bit too short. Although overcast for most of the day, it was a pleasant walk and we are happy to be back in Spain and on the camino after being ultra focussed on Italy for most of the last year. Wild cherries and the scenery around Villavieja were the main highlights today, and we also enjoyed passing through villages throughout the stage (a rarity on recent Italian walks) and having short interactions with friendly locals.

View attachment 172638

We only met two pilgrims on the trail (Italians!) and thought we would have the albergue at Villavieja to ourselves, but one other pilgrim rocked up at 5pm. As others have reported, the albergue is great, with everything you need and views to boot. Just as we were about to head to the castle in the afternoon, it started raining, so that’s on hold for now. Unfortunately the forecast is not great for Las Médulas tomorrow, but so be it — we will take whatever this camino gives us.
Following! We will be ending our French Way with the Invierno in August.
 
We finished the Invierno yesterday. Nine days from Ponferrada. Saw only three Pilgrims till the merge with the Sanabres. Beautiful route but of course limited services make this a harder route. And that's coming from a guy who did the Madrid last year and the San Salvador and Primativo the year before. Highly recommend no matter what the age.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Day 4: O Barco de Valdeorras to A Rúa — 18km on an alternate route

Why walk a 12km stage when you can walk an 18km stage instead and end up at the same place? Because adventure!

Today’s regular stage seemed a bit uninspiring (and very short, with no accommodation options further on to lengthen it to a more standard distance), so we took the @peregrina2000 variant instead. We crossed the river straight away at O Barco this morning and walked past an abandoned palace/castle and then climbed on nice trails through forests and occasionally overgrown vegetation to an impressive waterfall.

IMG_8696.jpeg

Before and after the waterfall, we took in some nice views and chatted with friendly locals, especially around Correxais. There was a bit of ascent and descent on this variant compared with the normal stage, but it wasn’t difficult. It felt like a little adventure even though it’s quite well-signed, and we’re super happy we did this variant! (See this thread for details.)

IMG_8704.jpeg

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A Rúa seems about as ‘bottlenecky’ as the Invierno gets, so there are seven six pilgrims at the new albergue and we also met two others who are staying elsewhere. The (temporary) hospitalera at the albergue is making a communal dinner for everyone tonight, which should be fun!
 
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A note on the entry into A Rúa:

There is an alternate path from the dam to A Rúa that avoids the road for the last 2km or so into town. We hadn’t seen discussion of this before (eg in the 2021 planning thread), so we assume it’s quite new.

Shortly after the dam, there is an information board on the left side of the road giving two options for entering A Rúa and recommending the alternativa as the safest one, so that’s what we took. It’s a bit longer (10-15 mins) and adds a bit of climbing but it’s much more pleasant than the road option as it’s all on dirt paths until the very last part, initially in a forest and then next to vineyards above the highway. You go through tunnels under the main highway at the start and end of this variant, so you don’t have to cross that road. It’s also clearly signed as an alternate path.

I’ve marked it in yellow below (red is the camino, orange is the highway) for anyone taking notes!

IMG_8721.jpeg

And this is the information board:

d0e60958-4747-4673-8def-c6d37ec7e0ae.jpeg
 
so there are seven pilgrims at the new albergue and we also met two others who are staying elsewhere
Send them further along the Camino - I could use some company! When I stayed there, and in Quiroga and A Pobra do Brollón it was just me and Fransisco! And now Francisco has gone farther today than me
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I am wondering when Casa Rosa started up?
I think they are just two years on the go. They have created a very quirky, cosy place. Wonderful hospitality, incredible breakfast, real spirit of the camino!
 
As Wendy pointed out, we visitors tend to think of the landscape here as a wonder of nature but the destructive process by which the Romans actually created it means it might be better described as an environmental disaster.
I thought the same.. the Romans left quite a mess behind them at Las Medulas, but hasn't nature reclaimed it beautifully!
Only two days in for us but so far the hills have been fine.
Wait til you cross the Minho at Belesar and you'll find a proper hill waiting for you!
I'm not sure I'm the best judge, though. Going uphill actually relieves my plantar fasciitis pain, so I like hills!
..and a treat for you, so!😄
 
@Wendy Werneth Well done with the Galego!

I thought of you when I saw this coming up on Netflix..Clanes - Gangs of Galicia

However it is in Castellano, but as it is set in Galicia, around Cambados, you would hope there would be some local language!

I am sure you don't need to be watching Netflix these days, but winter will come around! ;)
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
There is an alternate path from the dam to A Rúa that avoids the road for the last 2km or so into town
Thank God.

it’s much more pleasant than the road option
That roadside option was really no fun. And dangerous. No shoulder, a drop-off on the left, and the cars coming out of town flying around the curve aimed at you like giant balls in a game of dodgeball. I didn't like it one bit.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
@Wendy Werneth Well done with the Galego!

I thought of you when I saw this coming up on Netflix..Clanes - Gangs of Galicia

However it is in Castellano, but as it is set in Galicia, around Cambados, you would hope there would be some local language!

I am sure you don't need to be watching Netflix these days, but winter will come around! ;)
Thanks! It's always a struggle to get people to speak to me in Galego, but I've had a couple of successes on this Camino. For historical and cultural reasons, some Galegos think of their language as being suitable for speaking at home with friends and family, but not with doctors, other professionals, foreigners, etc.

Since I acquired Portuguese citizenship last year, on this trip I've been telling people that I'm Portuguese and therefore speak Galego better than Spanish. It sometimes works.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Day 5: A Rúa to Quiroga — 29 (?) km

Well, that was a pretty epic day! How far was it? Gronze says 26km, Wise Pilgrim 27, the mojones indicated 29-30, Wendy’s phone said 36 but it’s notorious for significantly overestimating distances (mine said 26 but it tends to underestimate).

In any case, it was a full-on day 10.5 hours door-to-door filled with the spirit of the camino, from the animal art signage around Albaredos to the tour we received at the church of Montefurado to being welcomed into the house of Ana and Charlie in Bendilló for a drink to the camino symbols we saw throughout the day (shells on houses etc).

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It was also the hottest day we’ve had so far at 27 degrees Celsius, though as we always say, better heat than rain. We had some great views of the Sil valley throughout the day, saw a castle near the end of the stage and then spent much of the night at San Xoán festivities in Quiroga.

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In short, we’re pretty wrecked now and ready for bed!
 
the tour we received at the church of Montefurado to being welcomed into the house of Ana and Charlie in Bendilló for a drink
Enjoying your commentary!!
A lady appeared out of nowhere to give us the tour of the church in Montefurado also last year.
Also… it’s good to read that Ana is still there in her home in Bendilló to give a welcome and offer food /drinks etc to pilgrims.
 
to the tour we received at the church of Montefurado


I missed the tour of the Montefurado church (And a forum member has told me there is an “unofficial” coffee/snack site there, which I was also unable to find).

I forgot to ask you to check up on Casimiro, whose house is up on the left as you get close to the river to turn right into the hamlet. His “ecologico” stand looked like it hadn’t been visited in a while. Did you happen to notice anything?


IMG_3057.jpegIMG_3058.jpeg
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

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Enjoying your commentary!!
A lady appeared out of nowhere to give us the tour of the church in Montefurado also last year.
Thank you and same! We had just passed from Ourense into Lugo, and she told us that the local government in Lugo had committed to opening several churches for pilgrims and offering tours. That’s a great initiative, as we all know that many churches on the camino tend to be closed when we pass them.

Also… it’s good to read that Ana is still there in her home in Bendilló to give a welcome and offer food /drinks etc to pilgrims.
Two British men ahead of us who enjoy a beer or three while on the trail were positively astounded when she yelled ‘Cerveza!’ out the window to them!
 
I missed the tour of the Montefurado church (And a forum member has told me there is an “unofficial” coffee/snack site there, which I was also unable to find).
We didn’t see the snack site but there is something that meets that description in Os Albaredos so maybe that’s it?

I forgot to ask you to check up on Casimiro, whose house is up on the left as you get close to the river to turn right into the hamlet. His “ecologico” stand looked like it hadn’t been visited in a while. Did you happen to notice anything?
We didn’t see him but the stand was there, with cherries and water, so I think it’s still operating.
 
...and ship it to Santiago for storage. You pick it up once in Santiago. Service offered by Casa Ivar (we use DHL for transportation).
Enjoying your commentary!!
A lady appeared out of nowhere to give us the tour of the church in Montefurado also last year.
Also… it’s good to read that Ana is still there in her home in Bendilló to give a welcome and offer food /drinks etc to pilgrims.
A woman popped out of the church and beckoned me over as I was walking by and gave me the tour.
Unfortunately Ana had a sign up "cerrado por asuntos propios" the day I walked by last week. 😟

We didn’t see the snack site but there is something that meets that description in Os Albaredos so maybe that’s it?
Yes, it was in Is Alberados, and was complete with a Nespresso machine. I had brought plenty of food and water, so I only took a photo.

20240624_065603.jpg
 
I missed the tour of the Montefurado church (And a forum member has told me there is an “unofficial” coffee/snack site there, which I was also unable to find).

There is a Centro Social in front of the church, but I only caught it open once. And a sign nearby about "coffee", "stamps" somewhere but I never saw anything.
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
I missed the tour of the Montefurado church (And a forum member has told me there is an “unofficial” coffee/snack site there, which I was also unable to find).

I forgot to ask you to check up on Casimiro, whose house is up on the left as you get close to the river to turn right into the hamlet. His “ecologico” stand looked like it hadn’t been visited in a while. Did you happen to notice anything?


View attachment 172901View attachment 172902
Just to add to what @jungleboy has said, I asked the church guide about Sr. Casimiro, since we had seen his stand but not him. According to her, he is alive and well, 95 years young.

Also, I believe the volunteer church tours are organized by the local diocese rather than the government. Apparently they also do them at the church in San Clodio, but we didn't pass through there. She said they used to give afternoon tours of the church in the "monumental complex" a little before Quiroga that's mentioned in Gronze and in the PDF forum guide. They stopped doing tours there though, because no one ever came, since it's not on the Camino. Apparently it used to be, but the Camino has since been rerouted away from it. The woman who gives the tours in Montefurado does have the key to it and would have offered to meet us there if it had been a different day, but as it was Sunday she was returning to her home in A Coruña that afternoon. I mention it here because I know people in this forum have expressed interest in this complex. Her description of the church as "a Romanesque church inside a subsequently built Baroque church" sounded intriguing.

Finally, we expected to find no places for food or drink on this stage, but in fact there were three: Ana's house in Bendilló, the bar in Soldón near the apartments, and a delightful looking place called A Casiña da Ruta da Encomenda just after the Torrenovaes.
 
Ok, I arrived in Tamarite de Litera before noon. I don't know what to do here all day. Maybe I can drag myself into Monzón after all. This time I will not whine about it afterwards. I think...
Bad Pilgrim ???
Did you mean to post this msg in your live thread : BP on the Catalán ?
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Just to add to what @jungleboy has said, I asked the church guide about Sr. Casimiro, since we had seen his stand but not him. According to her, he is alive and well, 95 years young.
Thanks, Wendy! He is wonderful! This is the home where he was born and raised. It has been in his family for many generations. He survived 3 wives, still performs his own chores. In November 2021 he still had his Huerta, took care of his trees, made cherry orujo, used his small mill. His sons moved to Barcelona & Madrid, if I remember correctly, and monitor him with cameras. Neighbors keep an eye out for him! Once he spots you he loves to tell stories and spin a yarn or three. I am so glad to hear he is doing well!
 

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The woman who gives the tours in Montefurado does have the key to it and would have offered to meet us there if it had been a different day, but as it was Sunday she was returning to her home in A Coruña
What, what? She lives in A Coruña and gives tours of Montefurado? That's so touching.
Gratitude...
(The place was deserted when I walked through in 2019.)

Finally, we expected to find no places for food or drink on this stage, but in fact there were three
Wow, times they are a changin'!
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
Thanks, Wendy! He is wonderful! This is the home where he was born and raised. It has been in his family for many generations. He survived 3 wives, still performs his own chores. In November 2021 he still had his Huerta, took care of his trees, made cherry orujo, used his small mill. His sons moved to Barcelona & Madrid, if I remember correctly, and monitor him with cameras. Neighbors keep an eye out for him! Once he spots you he loves to tell stories and spin a yarn or three. I am so glad to hear he is doing well!
Thanks for sharing that! The cherry orujo looks like the ginjinha that's popular in Lisbon and Óbidos. Perhaps it was for the best that we didn't have a chance to partake. As it was, we arrived in Quiroga at 6pm, and I doubt the orujo would have made us any faster! Sorry that we missed Sr. Casimiro, though.
 
Ana's house in Bendilló,
In Oct 2023 we saw this msg pinned to a post 1.5klms before Ana’s place in Bendilló. Walking thru Bendilló… the way passes directly in front of her home. There was a small similar note I think pinned to her window. We hesitated a moment and she was home. I don’t believe it’s a guaranteed ‘open always’ stop but look out for it - you can be lucky.
 

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What, what? She lives in A Coruña and gives tours of Montefurado? That's so touching.
Gratitude...
(The place was deserted when I walked through in 2019.)


Wow, times they are a changin'!
Yes, her main home is in A Coruña, but I believe she spends a few days a week in Montefurado. I was very appreciative of the tour and found it insightful (I think she does them only in Spanish, though). From the church plaza, she also pointed out the tunnel built by the Romans to divert the Río Sil and collect gold.
 
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Tour of church in Montefurado

From the church plaza, she also pointed out the tunnel built by the Romans to divert the Río Sil and collect gold.
The volunteer (in Oct2023) who showed us through the church, also pointed out this tunnel & explanation above in Wendy’s post.
Her name was Marisol (pic below on steps of church ) .. (not the one from Borrenes).. I asked about Sr. Casimiro at that time too and she said that he didn’t come up that far much anymore but that he was still with us and well.
 

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Tour of church in Montefurado


The volunteer (in Oct2023) who showed us through the church, also pointed out this tunnel & explanation above in Wendy’s post.
Her name was Marisol (pic below on steps of church ) .. (not the one from Borrenes).. I asked about Sr. Casimiro at that time too and she said that he didn’t come up that far much anymore but that he was still with us and well.
Yes, Marisol was our guide too!
 
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Day 6: Quiroga to A Pobra do Brollón — 23km

Today started out a bit rough but got better as it went on, even as the temperature rose to 30 degrees Celsius by mid-afternoon.

We were feeling a bit worse for wear upon leaving this morning after a long day yesterday (and a few drinks last night). The first 6km were on asphalt and then the biggest climb of the day began. Right around this time, some gnats started buzzing very close around us for several kilometres, and we both swallowed one, which wasn’t the breakfast we were hoping for!

But the day got better. First there was a nice, if brief, forest descent, described perhaps over-enthusiastically by Gronze as ‘suave y magnífica’.

IMG_8781.jpeg

At Carballeda de Lor we had a nice conversation with some elderly villagers as we rested at the lavadoiro (Wendy spoke Galego; I spoke my new Italian-infused Castellano). Then I really liked an abandoned wood-fired oven we saw soon afterwards, and the medieval bridge over the Lor river was also very nice. Having not started as early as we would have liked, we were happy to still arrive in Pobra at 3pm and be able to rest more than yesterday.

IMG_8791.jpeg

In the planning thread someone said today we would enter ‘full-on Galicia’, related to nature and industry (e.g. dairy from now on and no more slate). I found that interesting because I also feel like it hasn’t been full-on Galicia so far, but I was thinking more from the point of view of the lack of those (perhaps surface-level) markers of Galician culture you see so often on camino: hórreos, cruceiros and gallerías. And while we did spot an hórreo and cruceiro leaving Quiroga this morning, those cultural touchstones have been few and far between. Perhaps the lesson here is that Galicia is more diverse than I had given it credit for, and that reducing it to a few stereotypes doesn’t do it justice!

Meanwhile, we thought we’d be the only pilgrims at the new (2023) and good albergue in Pobra, as four of the six pilgrims from A Rúa two days ago continued to Monforte. But the other two, one of whom is 79, walked 30km in the heat today after only going as far as Soldón yesterday and arrived in Pobra a few hours after us — impressive!
 
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A couple of practical notes from today’s stage:

Firstly, the forum PDF guide refers to only one water source today, at Carballeda de Lor, but there are two more: one on the climb after the bridge and another near the rest area in Castroncelos.

Secondly, the albergue in Pobra is south of the town centre, and the camino enters town from the south-east. To save time/energy, turn left off the camino after Castroncelos at the Piñeiros sign and approach from the south, as indicated below (where the camino is red, my suggested way is yellow and the albergue is where the blue arrow is). You could also turn off even earlier from Castroncelos.

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A selection of Camino Jewellery
Gronze maybe refers to the situation before the wild fires a couple of years ago. There was a larger portion of those trees before. I hope nature will reconquer the area...
Oh yes, that might be it, thanks. I was a bit surprised to see they rated both today and yesterday a 3/5 in ‘paisaje’ when I thought yesterday was quite a bit more impressive on that front.
 
a full-on day 10.5 hours door-to-door filled with the spirit of the camino,
Sounds wonderful. If I follow you this autumn, I was thinking of going directly Quiroga-San Clodio-Augas Mestas-Salgueiros/Rozavales [sic]-Monforte de Lemos. About 32km. Allegedly also very beautiful and following the Sil more closely. Had you heard it suggested locally?
 
Sounds wonderful. If I follow you this autumn, I was thinking of going directly Quiroga-San Clodio-Augas Mestas-Salgueiros/Rozavales [sic]-Monforte de Lemos. About 32km. Allegedly also very beautiful and following the Sil more closely. Had you heard it suggested locally?
No, I hadn’t heard about that possibility. Three pilgrims did Quiriga - Monforte the regular way today, about 35km. So your way would shave off a couple of kms and also might have less elevation, I’m not sure. I don’t think there’s anything unmissable on the normal route, so if you think the Sil way might be a better option, go for it!
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
A couple of practical notes from today’s stage:

Firstly, the forum PDF guide refers to only one water source today, at Carballeda de Lor, but there are two more: one on the climb after the bridge and another near the rest area in Castroncelos.

Secondly, the albergue in Pobra is south of the town centre, and the camino enters town from the south-east. To save time/energy, turn left off the camino after Castroncelos at the Piñeiros sign and approach from the south, as indicated below (where the camino is red, my suggested way is yellow and the albergue is where the blue arrow is). You could also turn off even earlier from Castroncelos.

View attachment 172941
You would then enter A Pobra on the LU-653 road and miss going over the stone rocks over the river, unless after the rotonda that is before the bridge at the entrance to A Pobra you detoured a little to the right @ Av da Feria & then a little left to Rua Abaixo, and over the fun rocks.
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In Oct 2023 we saw this msg pinned to a post 1.5klms before Ana’s place in Bendilló. Walking thru Bendilló… the way passes directly in front of her home. There was a small similar note I think pinned to her window. We hesitated a moment and she was home. I don’t believe it’s a guaranteed ‘open always’ stop but look out for it - you can be lucky.
This sign is on the wall in the albergue in A Rúa.

1000029379.jpg
 
But the other two, one of whom is 79, walked 30km in the heat today after only going as far as Soldón yesterday and arrived in Pobra a few hours after us — impressive!
FYI for those coming this way, it turns out after talking to them, they had wanted to stay near the medieval bridge at Pensión Pacita, but it was closed so they had to continue. Per Gronze, Pacita is the only accommodation on the camino between Quiroga and Pobra.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
You would then enter A Pobra on the LU-653 road and miss going over the stone rocks over the river, unless after the rotonda that is before the bridge at the entrance to A Pobra you detoured a little to the right @ Av da Feria & then a little left to Rua Abaixo, and over the fun rocks.
Yes, we missed the rocks but we have seen rocks before ;)
 
I forgot to ask you to check up on Casimiro, whose house is up on the left as you get close to the river to turn right into the hamlet. His “ecologico” stand looked like it hadn’t been visited in a while. Did you happen to notice anything?
Hello Laurie.
This year I was finally able to greet him and talk to him.

IMG_20240511_094447_HDR (1).jpg
 
Train for your next Camino (or keep the Camino spirit alive) on Santa Catalina Island
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.

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