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LIVE from the Camino @khiker9 on the Invierno!

Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
I am currently on the Invierno, so for those who asked I will list my shorter stages & observations along the way. Please keep in mind I am a “seasoned “ pilgrim & haven’t done a Camino in 2+years!
Day 1 - Ponferrada to Villavieja- ~16K - 2 bars open in Toral de Merayo; 2 bars open In Villalibre slightly off Camino but you continue straight up the road & it rejoins the Camino. Nothing open beyond that in Priaranza or Santalla where I had hoped to get a Coca Cola & a beer to take to the Albergue. Glad I saved a half of a sandwich from lunch in Villalibre. The Albergue was very nice & clean, fluffy towels & real sheets & washer & dryer.
Day 2 - Villavieja to Las Medulas -~13K - this was Saturday & at about 9:30 the Castle was not yet open. On to Borrones & at 11:30 - 12:00 nothing was open. On to Las Medulas I planned to take the crossover to Mirador de Orellan & Las Medulas the site but these first two days seemed much longer than the guide book distances, the temps were in the 70’s but the sun was blaring, & I had to drop my pack at the hotel & have a refreshment before going up. It was a holiday weekend & the whole area was packed. It seems you can no longer go inside the mines - with my limited Spanish I think they said it was no longer safe. It is a beautiful area but will just have to live vicariously thru Sara’s 2019 YouTube video of the tour of the mine.
For me these first two days were brutal - constant ups, & yes my pack was too heavy having to carry water & food - but I was talking to myself & expecting the buzzards to circle any minute! As everyone else says about the Invierno - be prepared. In my opinion the way marking left a little to be desired until I reached Galicia & then great!
More to come.
 
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peregrina2000

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Staff member
Good to have another live Invierno thread!

And I’m very happy to hear that the albergue in Villavieja is operating, did you meet the new hospitalero/a?

@khiker, is it possible the mine‘s galleries in Médulas were closed for lunch break? Nothing I’ve seen on the internet describes them as closed, but of course you may have the breaking news. The schedule is given as 11 - 1:40 and 4 - 6:40. I’ll keep an eye on the Médulas sites and see if something is added to confirm the closure.

And you are not the first person to find the first 29 km to Las Médulas very strenuous. Good thing you broke it into two days, because some forum members who didn’t found they just didn’t have the energy to go see the site from the Mirador de Orellán or otherwise visit the area. And it is a World Heritage Site!

Where did you sleep in Las Médulas?

Sorry to bombard you with questions, but it’s great to have yet another on the ground resource in real time! Buen camino, Laurie
 
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Next up 2022?
I echo @peregrina2000 's enthusiasm and comments. Those first hills are pretty intense. I broke them up by staying in Borrenes.

Very interesting that you found LM to be packed. It just goes to show how everyone's experience is different and you can't generalize. When I was there on a June Tuesday, it was a ghost town. The hotel was closed, restaurants were closed, and there were hardly any people. I'm glad to know that is not always the case!
 

Maggie5859

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primitivo, Sevilla, Sanabres, Via Augusta, Finisterre, Muxia
I am currently on the Invierno, so for those who asked I will list my shorter stages & observations along the way. Please keep in mind I am a “seasoned “ pilgrim & haven’t done a Camino in 2+years!
Day 1 - Ponferrada to Villavieja- ~16K - 2 bars open in Toral de Merayo; 2 bars open In Villalibre slightly off Camino but you continue straight up the road & it rejoins the Camino. Nothing open beyond that in Priaranza or Santalla where I had hoped to get a Coca Cola & a beer to take to the Albergue. Glad I saved a half of a sandwich from lunch in Villalibre. The Albergue was very nice & clean, fluffy towels & real sheets & washer & dryer.
Day 2 - Villavieja to Las Medulas -~13K - this was Saturday & at about 9:30 the Castle was not yet open. On to Borrones & at 11:30 - 12:00 nothing was open. On to Las Medulas I planned to take the crossover to Mirador de Orellan & Las Medulas the site but these first two days seemed much longer than the guide book distances, the temps were in the 70’s but the sun was blaring, & I had to drop my pack at the hotel & have a refreshment before going up. It was a holiday weekend & the whole area was packed. It seems you can no longer go inside the mines - with my limited Spanish I think they said it was no longer safe. It is a beautiful area but will just have to live vicariously thru Sara’s 2019 YouTube video of the tour of the mine.
For me these first two days were brutal - constant ups, & yes my pack was too heavy having to carry water & food - but I was talking to myself & expecting the buzzards to circle any minute! As everyone else says about the Invierno - be prepared. In my opinion the way marking left a little to be desired until I reached Galicia & then great!
More to come.
Thanks for this! I am a few days from starting Camino Invierno and I’m interested in what accommodations are open. Buen Camino!
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Good to have another live Invierno thread!

And I’m very happy to hear that the albergue in Villavieja is operating, did you meet the new hospitalero/a?

@khiker, is it possible the mine‘s galleries in Médulas were closed for lunch break? Nothing I’ve seen on the internet describes them as closed, but of course you may have the breaking news. The schedule is given as 11 - 1:40 and 4 - 6:40. I’ll keep an eye on the Médulas sites and see if something is added to confirm the closure.

And you are not the first person to find the first 29 km to Las Médulas very strenuous. Good thing you broke it into two days, because some forum members who didn’t found they just didn’t have the energy to go see the site from the Mirador de Orellán or otherwise visit the area. And it is a World Heritage Site!

Where did you sleep in Las Médulas?

Sorry to bombard you with questions, but it’s great to have yet another on the ground resource in real time! Buen camino, Laurie
Laurie - I did not meet the hospitalero - I WhatsApp’d with Leticia & saw the cleaning man when I was leaving.
An English/ Spanish speaking couple told me a guide said it was closed! It was a 4 day holiday weekend- I’ll attach a pic of all the cars just parked along the road! Everything showed booked through Booking.com & direct to the property. I kept checking & finally found available a quad room at Hotel Medulio & grabbed it - ~$100 but that was where I wanted to be - average it with 10€ the night before at the Albergue & 18€ the next night at BarMar! The waiter at Hotel Medulio said during the week it is normally dead!
I was really surprised that nothing in Borrenes was open!
 

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Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
I echo @peregrina2000 's enthusiasm and comments. Those first hills are pretty intense. I broke them up by staying in Borrenes.

Very interesting that you found LM to be packed. It just goes to show how everyone's experience is different and you can't generalize. When I was there on a June Tuesday, it was a ghost town. The hotel was closed, restaurants were closed, and there were hardly any people. I'm glad to know that is not always the case!
Just from reading on the Forum, I wanted to experience Villavieja, the castle, & Orellan& Las Medulas once!
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Thanks for this! I am a few days from starting Camino Invierno and I’m interested in what accommodations are open. Buen Camino!
I would imagine the later into October you get, the harder it may be - call ahead.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Css as mini Invierno -
Day 3 - Las Medulas to Sobradello- 17.5K - into Puente de Domingo Florez right before the bridge a Bodega with tapas kind of down in a hole appeared to be open but right past the bridge was a barCruce (I think) that was open . Glad I stopped because I didn’t see anything else open not even the Dia - granted it was Sunday. There was nothing else to Sobradello & it was a long slog into the center. BarMar - Manuel could not have been morel accommodating & the food was good. The accommodations leave a little to be desired but I think it is the only game in town- at least that I could find.
Day 4 - Sobradello to A Rua - 23K - since the distances had been longer & it was a long industrial type slog out of Sobradello & into O Barco, Manuel drove me to mid- O Barco ~8K & didn’t even want to take any money! About half way when you get close to Vilamartin there it is an old train depot & a hotel across the tracks & the highway. I hesitated to go not knowing if it was open when the homeowner where I was sitting on his bench said it (A Lastra) was open & told me how to get across. That made for a nice break in the day because I saw nothing else. Once you reach A Rua it was still a 45 minute walk to the other end of town on the official Camino route to hotel Pillaban where I stayed. Very nice hotel/restaurant/bar & a short walk to more bars & grocery. This was Monday night before Tuesday, today, the nat’l holiday, so the partying & the church bells until midnight were a bit noisy.
Day 5 - A Rua to Soldon - 20K - holiday - had to go down the street for cafe con leche. I also found a taxi because the distances & I am nursing a bad blister on the end of my toe, to take me over the first big hill ~9K - 10€. He was also transporting mochillas from A Rua to Quiroga 28K for 30€! I am staying in Apt O Muino - very nice & peaceful in the middle of nowhere with nothing- bring all food! I forgot to get a Coca Cola & beer & asked if they had any I could buy & they were very gracious & just gave me one on each!

I have encountered 3 pilgrims the first night & saw them only at the Albergue. A couple the second night & then saw him on the trail a second day later. The third night there were 3 young Spanish girls whom I will never see again (fast!) and a Spanish couple who were also staying at the same place the next night& we walked together some today before they moved further ahead.

More later.
 
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Next up 2022?
Amazing photos, @khiker9. Dead is definitely what I saw. What you experienced is the total opposite! Just wow. And word to the wise that it might be crowded on holiday weekends. I wonder if it also has anything to do with it being chestnut season?
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Amazing photos, @khiker9. Dead is definitely what I saw. What you experienced is the total opposite! Just wow. And word to the wise that it might be crowded on holiday weekends. I wonder if it also has anything to do with it being chestnut season?
Yes, that too - I saw several people with bags. Yet in the Las Medulas site areas were taped off saying don’t collect, something about a black ink disease???
 
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2012
Hmm, last time I walked the “castanada” path down from the view point the trees were all taped off but the grass and underbrush had all been cleared ready for harvest. Different families will own different trees.

I remember a sign erected on the plantation slopes below the Brecon Beacons in Wales that read: “Keep Out. This area is Infested with Pinus Sylvestris”.
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for the posts, I always love following along from afar when a forum member walks the Invierno.

I hope your blisters heal quickly, @khiker9. No fun to walk with blisters.

I very much liked the Pillabán in A Rúa. Did you eat there?

The apartments in Soldón looked very nice the last time I walked through and talked with a father and son doing cleaning and maintenance. But I have never stayed there. I know some forum members said it looked kind of dismal, but it sounds like you enjoyed it. I’ll bet you were pretty much alone in the village, though.

Enjoy, @khiker!!!!
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Thanks for the posts, I always love following along from afar when a forum member walks the Invierno.

I hope your blisters heal quickly, @khiker9. No fun to walk with blisters.

I very much liked the Pillabán in A Rúa. Did you eat there?

The apartments in Soldón looked very nice the last time I walked through and talked with a father and son doing cleaning and maintenance. But I have never stayed there. I know some forum members said it looked kind of dismal, but it sounds like you enjoyed it. I’ll bet you were pretty much alone in the village, though.

Enjoy, @khiker!!!!
Laurie - I almost always get a little blister here or there & just tape it up & go on. This one is on the end of the toe next to my big toe & that toe is not longer! But I guess with so much downhill it got worse & the blister has gone under the toenail - I will definitely lose it! I googled it & it said to drain it & put antibacterial cream & stop doing what caused it! Ha Ha! Maybe there will be a pharmacist or medic in Quiroga that can look at it.
I did not eat at Pillaban. I got in right at the end of their lunch service & had a bowl of chips with my cerveza. When they started serving again at 8:30 I just couldn’t do it that late. I had even gone the few blocks to the other bars & no one was serving until 8:30. I got some cheese at the grocery store for the next day & had some of that !
The apartments are very nice & Maria & Luis are very accommodating but there is nothing here but a little rest area with picnic tables & geese by the little river. There were a couple of people as we entered the village but I haven’t wandered around any - I’ll see if I missed something on the walk out later.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for this! I am a few days from starting Camino Invierno and I’m interested in what accommodations are open. Buen Camino!
Hi, Maggie,
People have walked the Invierno in winter, in years before the private albergues we now have (Médulas, Monforte, Chantada, Puente Domingo Flórez) and were able to find places to stay. It’s the private albergues that might be most likely to close. The other private accommodations are not pilgrim-oriented. Pensiones and hotels in towns like Médulas (Agoga is open all year, I can confirm that), O Barco, A Rúa, Quiroga, Chantada, Monforte, etc. seem to be generally open now. So with some planning, I think you will be fine

Any specific questions about a particular place in a particular town?
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Day 6 - Soldon to Quiroga - ~12K - a very gentle day for a change. Stopped by the castle Novais & then a walk thru shaded paths & vineyards. I went to the pharmacist about the blister & she sent me to the medic. They just cleaned it up & wrapped it & said keep it dry. No stop walking orders! 👏👏👏 They took all my passport info, did not want my medical insurance but wanted to know if I had travel insurance & took that info. Would not let me pay at all! I had heard this from others. Hostal Quiper is very nice & Rst Aroza is very good - best home made flan I’ve had! Enjoying this beautiful weather before predicted rain comes on Saturday or Sunday!
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
For vegetarians it's fine but nothing special.
But I missed the flan!
That said they were extremely pilgrim-friendly, a lovely place.
OK, I think I can still say that I’ve never heard a bad word about the place. Even though “fine“ is certainly not a rave.

VN, would you put the Aroza in a category that’s out of the ordinary for a typical meat-based Spanish restaurant, or are you just saying they’ve got the same old ensalada, grilled vegetables, maybe some soup and maybe an omelette?

And I agree with you that the family is special. And very pilgrim friendly.
 
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Next up 2022?
would you put the Aroza in a category that’s out of the ordinary for a typical meat-based Spanish restaurant, or are you just saying they’ve got the same old ensalada, grilled vegetables, maybe some soup and maybe an omelette?
The latter. Had there been grilled veggies I would have offerred more of a rave review, but they were not on offer. But come to think of it, I should have asked for them off-menu. It was such a friendly place, they probably would have made them.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Camino Invierno -
Day 7 - Quiroga to Castroncelos - passed by Casa Pacita & it is definitely still closed for now. Jose Luis from Salanova in Salcedo will pick you up from the trail & return you there in the morning. This is a nice place with a heater in the bathroom & a nice terrace. The food was good & he could not have been more accommodating. Even had a few more pilgrims staying there! The weed eating crew had been out in full force working on the trail from Quiroga to Monforte.
Day 8 - Castroncelos to Monforte de Lemos - stayed at the recommended Mon Comey which is a snazzy little place. Their restaurant is only open for breakfast & until 2:00. They directed me to the Cardenal with open restaurants & close to the Puente Romano & the Pilgrims office where the Camino starts up again. The hotel Puente Romano did look a bit “tired” from the outside. On the way out of town, the roundabout prevents the way markers from being very visible but there were some trusty locals to direct me.
Day 9 - Monforte to Torre Vilarino - the first half was road/asphalt walking & the second half until right at the end was forest paths. Torre Vilarino is a very nice CR with a restaurant about 450M off the path. I am here on Saturday & local tourists were dining at the restaurant. I got a few sprinkles during the day but managed to avoid the rain that came in shortly after I did.
Here again not much in the way of services. Only once in the last three days did I have a coffee from the time I left in the morning until I arrived at my destination. Thank goodness for those slightly chilled Coca Colas that I have taken along the way to give me a little buzz!
Buen Camino
 
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Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Camino Invierno -
Day 10 - Torre Vilarino to hotel Vilaseco just past Chantada. The rain the night before had cleared for beautiful skies. A steep, treacherous downhill on wet stones to Belesar & and an equally as steep uphill to Chantada. This hotel is a short way off the Camino but a gem!
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Camino Invierno -
Day 11 - Vilaseco to Rodeiro - steep climb up to the stations of the cross. And then a climb down & up through the wind turbines. One bar, O’Peto, open about 30 minutes into the day & then one open, O’Recanto, almost at the end - take a Coca Cola! Going into Rodeiro, Brierly’s guide book says at the 50 KPH sign go left to Las Carpenterias & actually it’s a 30KPH sign & the directional part their sign is broken but Luis said soon to be fixed. Very nice accommodating place with washer/dryer in the Albergue portion.
Day 12 - Rodeiro to Lalin - more rolling than steep ups & downs - again nothing along the way but in Lalin Caso do Gato is well known for good pizza!
Day 13 - Lalin to Bandeira - beautiful walk out along the stream with many locals out getting their exercise! Signage at the old bridge was a bit confusing to me. Even though there was a yellow & white X on the tree, that is the way to go. With the Via de la Plata route coming in at A Laxe, there were more services along the way.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@khiker9, your camino days are numbered! So great to hear these updates. I noticed that you mentioned seeing a few pilgrims here and there, so would you say that it has moved off the “solitary camino” list and on to something else?

Now that you’re on the Sanabrés, have you noticed an increase in pilgrim numbers?

Hoping that your last days of this camino continue to go well, buen camino, Laurie
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Hey Laurie - there were just the occasional pilgrims I mentioned until the Sanabres.
Day 14 - Bandeira to Lestedo Casa de Casal - there is a treacherous part before Ponte Ulla that is very steep downhill & with a little rain earlier very slippery. Even a sign warning bikers of the grade! I was being very cautious but down I went - ouch! My friends who had done this 3 years ago had the same problem - the husband went down! Nothing broken but very sore. It will be a slow walk into Santiago tomorrow! Beware!
Today I saw 5 pilgrims & 4 small groups of bikers! I think it’s still pretty solitary especially if you want it that way.
Casa de Casal is beautiful & it is much more quickly off the Camino than it appears in the guide book. It’s a lovely ending to the walk before entering the hustle & bustle of Santiago though I’m looking forward to it!
 
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Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
On a gorgeous day.
Congratulations, @khiker9 !
I hope you have no negative consequences of that fall.
Thank you! It has been glorious weather 98% of the time. I must say I have a very sore butt & going uphill is painful! Just thankful I could finish the walk!
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
@khiker9 Thank you very much for your post and detailed descriptions. We followed your posts with great interest. Peregrino2000 did an excellent thread on the route with great participation from other Invierno pilgrims last year. The Invierno is still on my bucket list but the number of closures you mentioned is concerning for us.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
@khiker9 Thank you very much for your post and detailed descriptions. We followed your posts with great interest. Peregrino2000 did an excellent thread on the route with great participation from other Invierno pilgrims last year. The Invierno is still on my bucket list but the number of closures you mentioned is concerning for us.
I think you will be fine knowing to plan ahead. I followed peregrino2000’s thread but did not quite understand some of it until I was there - “ah, that is what they meant!” Once you pass Lalin, there are a few more services. Buen Camino!
 

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