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Leon to Astorga..and beyond

Acuario

New Member
Day 1 18th September.
We arrived in Leon train station at 9am and eventually set of at 9:45.
The weather is perfect for walking, shorts and t-shirts. Hope it stays like this!
We arrived at Villadangos del Paramon at 15:30 - not bad for the first day.

We are in the Albergue here which is well equipped, clean and comfortable - they have cooking facilities so chilli-con-carne is on the menu tonight.

Tomorrow I guess the aches and pains set in - we´ll see :D

Nigel

Forgot to mention a couple of things (only get 15 mins of time on the internet!)
Firstly, watch out when you leave Leon on the N120 - there is a bit where you need to be on the left hand side of the road as the route goes off down a track there - if you don´t look out for it you may (as we did) miss it. Fortunately a friendly local pointed us in the right direction.
Secondly, on the way (about lunchtime so San Miguel and on the left hand side of the road) some kind local has put out produce from his garden, biscuits and nuts for the ´Peregrinos´ to help themselves to - just a notepad and pen to leave a comment, not a sign of anywhere to leave money... how kind the locals are!

As I write now, at 7:40pm, it´s just started raining.. hope it doesn´t last!
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Re: Leon to Astorga

Good to hear from you Nigel! Enjoy your chilli con carne...

The weather man says it will stay nice until Sunday, then we will get some rain (in Santiago at least).

Enjoy!

Buen camino,
Ivar
 

Acuario

New Member
Re: Leon to Astorga (we made it!)

Day 2: 19th September 2008 - Arrive in Astorga
I learnt 2 things today;
1. 6am exists - really... I had forgotten, and at this time of year it´s still dark but at least there was a moon..
2. You can break both legs while sleeping, they heal but you are left with the pain (or so it seems) - I guess this is what comes as a result of 5 minutes of preparation walking from the house to the car each day :roll:

Anyway, we went to sleep really early (around 9pm) and woke well before the birds or sunrise, sufficiently refreshed to continue... Maybe I exaggerate about the broken legs a bit - ok, some aches but after 20+ Km on day 1 and little preparation (I didn´t joke about the house to car) I guess that´s what you should expect....

We left Villadangos about 7:45 ish, not quite the last to leave, and it was still dark and chilly but the stars were out (a good sign). At the end of the village it´s a bit confusing - there is a cross roads and an arrow (yellow) pointing right to follow the canal to a camping - it didn´t feel right, and it wasnt, we should have gone straight on, fortunately not far along was a track to the left which joined the road we should have been on so no problem.. it was dark after all...

After a long (and I must admit a bit boring) treck along the side of the N120 we arrived at San Martin del Camino, at the local Alberge - breakfast for 3 euros.... by the time we left it was light but still chilly..jumpers and shorts/trousers.

Another long treck following the National until we split away (at last!) to Villares de Orbigo - great place for photos of the somewhat impressive and long bridge that crosses the various courses of the river Orbigo. The municipal Alberge is closed at the moment (not sure if this is temporary?) but there are several others there). As you walk through, you come to a crossroads where it is signposted to the right for camping/Alberge - of course we wrongly went down there... and ended up being redirected by a local to the right path... (I knew we should have studied the map more).. anyway, little time lost...

At the end of the village you have the option of follow the National or take the scenic route - we took the scenic one... a case of ´Follow the Yellow brick road´ very well signed in numerous places with copious blobs of yellow paint... well done to the ´Amigos´...´. It´s a long route, no fonts to refill your water bottles etc. but well worth it for the scenery and to see how well the Spanish grow stones in the fields, I´ve rarely seen stones grown so well.....

The last descent fron the ´Vista de Astorga´is a bit steep if you have dodgy knees, but not too bad as it´s all concreted so no problems slipping on loose stones. Just a pity that at the top where the cross is it appears someone(s) have emptied the rubbish bins all over the ground :(

The last bit is always the worst... the 4Km or so to arrive at Astorga and some joker has decided to build a damn steep hill at the very last 200M or so... just what stiff feet, sore backs, aching legs want....

Anyway, we arrived about 3:15 which wasn´t too bad.. we opted for an Alberge more in the city than the first one we came to (which is small and has limited places). The price, a hefty 4 euros for the night - not bad at all. It´s well equipped, clean, has everything you could want (including 2 internet pc´s) and a well equipped kitchen. It´s a 5 minute walk to the shops and there is a supermarket that is open all day close by.

The weather today; lovely. The sun came up and stayed out all day. Sun cream was an essential - we´re going to have to walk the Camino in reverse to get even sun tans :)

My feet are fine (a surprise as I only bought my walking shoes 2 days ago) but Arancha has a couple of blisters - we are hoping they don´t cause too much of a problem. We bought socks that reduce the risk of blisters and plaster copious amounts of vaseline on dry feet each morning, hopefully this is enough.

It´s a fair treck from Villadangos to Astorga - 22Km according to one map, 36Km according to ours (certainly feels more like 36 to me).

Tomorrow Rabanal del Camino (or less) we´ll see...

For interest, so far we are spending 15 euros each per day on Alberges, food (we are cooking our own meals, well I´m cooking and Arancha is washing up :) ) and drinks..

Nigel
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Re: Leon to Astorga

I am loving your account! And by my book, Villadangos to Astorga is 30km, so you had quite a hefty day.... I think it was Hospital de Orbigo with the long bridge, where you split away from the highway, then Villares de Orbigo is a small village along the cross-country route that you took by turning right from the end of Hospital. And that cross-country route was also one of my favourite parts of the Camino!

Yeah, I found that last bit into Astorga, when you had already seen the view from on high, was a killer too, especially as it turned really hot that day. I laughed at your description of that last bit of climbing into Astorga. I remember feeling disbelief that there wasn't a final cable-car to replace my legs there.....

By walking from Leon to Hospital de Orbigo you have walked one of the least pleasant bits of the Camino imo, beside the main road for so long..... but from now on, the landscape will probably start to steal your heart away. I really enjoyed the walk from Astorga to Rabanal, and the welcome at the CSJ albergue, Gaucelmo, was just wonderful when I stayed there. (Brendan from this forum was one of the hospitaleros that fortnight...) All the best, and I look forward to reading more...
Margaret
 

Acuario

New Member
Re: Leon to Astorga...and beyond!

Day 3: Astorga to Rabanal (yes we made it!)
Thanks Margaret, yes the last bit yesterday nearly killed us :(
Today started well being woken (once again) well before dawn after a night enjoying the continually changing ´song´of a snoring German... oh well, it all adds to the overall experience.

The countryside has changed a bit, the stones are orangy red (from the Iron I guess) and the fields are a bit browner (can they get much browner?)

I´m glad to say, still no rain - the sun is still shining and the tan on the left hand side is improving..

When you get to Santa Catalina, look out for the short, dark Spaniard who is obviously a superb buisness man, he will accost you (in the nicest possible way!) and sell you an authentic shell and walking stick.. I think he lives in the last house when you exit the village as, guess what, you can buy them there too!

We arrived at Rabanal around 3:30 - the Alberge is clean and well equipped (5 euros) but no internet so I´m in anothe place in the centre (not much time!)

More tomorrow!

Nigel
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
Re: Leon to Astorga

For me, Hospital de Orbigo signals the arrival of the most beautiful part of the Camino - from there to Santiago. The scenery changes daily: the mountains, the Bierzo region, arriving in Galicia, the Galician forests with their mist and cool dampness...
By the time you read this, NIgel, you will be finished for the day, but today you are passing three of my favourite places on the Camino: El Acebo - fabulous parrochial albergue and a site for one of the most beautiful sunsets I ever saw on the Camino; Riegos de Ambrós - nice alberge, church and cafe, with some of the prettiest stone houses, patios and gardens plus the spectacular grove of chestnut trees as you leave; and Molinaseca with its magnificent midieval bridge, narrow streets nestled in the mountains.
Enjoy your days!
Buen Camino,
 

Acuario

New Member
Re: Leon to Astorga

Day 4 and 5 (no internet last night!)
Day 4: Rabanal to Molinaseca
Another early start. For a change we were the first to start the getting up process.. we didn´t stay in the municipal Albergue so I guess you can sleep in later. But now the early rising habit has kicked in and the aches and pains lessened so we were off before dawn..

Breakfast was at Foncebadon - an amazingly abandoned village that I´m sure only exists thanks to us peregrinos. The Cuban lady (who is so full of life, and 72 years old) was quite concerned that Arancha didn´t want a drink other than water, and tried all her persuasive techniques to get her to have something, until I explained she was from Aragon (a maña) and they are the most stubborn of all. She then recounted the tale of her friend who refused (also stubbornly) to pay more than 25 centimos for bread... a lovely story of stubbornness gone mad...

The ascents and descents take their toll and the ´goat trails´are difficult for those not sure footed, but the scenery is wonderful...

Eventually we arrived in Molinaseca and, as it was Sunday, decided to treat ourselves and stay in a hostel (I had arancha purring in my ear instead of the snoring foreigners - she is a Leo by the way)

We ate at the restaurant next to the river, although we had to eat inside as it was raining - the menu del dia (the normal one, not the peregrino one) has lamb, and highly recommended! Lamb in the North of Spain is renouned for being much better than from other parts - living in Cataluña I can certainly confirm this.

Tomorrow, if it´s still raining a short day - only to Ponferrada...

Day 5:
It chucked it down all night so we slept in. Eventually at around 10 is started to improve so we made our escape. Within 10 minutes it stopped and the rest of the day up until the last hour was dry and reasonably sunny, even to the suncream and sunglasses level. First day of Autumn so not too bad!

Fairly uneventful day, Ponferrada is an interesting place but it seems Mc Donalds is too far from the centre to be worth walking to :(

We Arrived in Cacabelos about 4:30 in the municipal Alberge - no kitchen but hey, you can´t always win...

We´ll see how far we get tomorrow... there´s a queue for the internet so have to go..
Nigel
 

Acuario

New Member
Re: Leon to Astorga...and beyond!

Day 6: A short day as Aranbcha isn´t feeling well :(
It rained loads last night, but it seems we are lucky as today as, so far, it has been dry and even sunny, while the rest of Spain is being drowned.

We set off at around 8am, at the pace of a tortoise as Arancha woke almost glowing with a temperature. A paracetamol and Ibuprofen later and she felt well enough to start walking.
It´s a fair walk up the hill out of Cacabelos along a hazardous road - fortunately it was light but I wouldn´t like to walk it in the dark. We arrived about an hour later at Pieros where we found a very enterprising old Spaniard who has set up a bar/cafe in his garage. Breakfast of ´Bizcocho´and coffee was 2 euros - not a cheap price but well needed! There are two other pit-stops in the village, the first (which looks more ófficial´was closed, and the second deserted - obviously the first one has captured the market!

The smell of the wild fennel this morning was amazing, it has the heady scent of aniseed and is quite refreshing. This time of year the Camino gives up it´s fruit and we have eaten loads of blackberries from the hedges. The scenery is very like England, the trees, bushes and wild fruit, elderberries, blackberries, chestnuts and even sloes (now where can I buy some Gin?)

As Arancha was slowly dying, and the pace was slowing to that of a snail with a crutch, we decided to stop in Villafranca, from where I´m now writing while she rests and hopefully, with the aid of a tablet or two, recovers enough so we can continue tomorrow.

We´re staying in the Albergue de la Piedra which is a private Albergue and has a couple of double rooms. Clean, well looked after and comfortable. Cooking facilities are a bit limited but never mind, we´ll go and get a menu somewhere and cook in the microwave tonight..

I´m hoping the weather holds out as so far it hasn´t been too bad. At the moment the sun is shining and the world looks rosy, I hope it continues....

Nigel
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 7: Villafranca to Vega de Valcarce
Today started well, Arancha was no longer cooking in her own sweat and the sun was, once again shining. We had a light breakfast in the Albergue and set off at the speed of rabbits. Amazing what a paracetomol or two can do!

The first part of the day was almost all uphill but after the initial climb, which isn´t too taxing, the ascent is fairly gradual. The weather is holding out for us, we have been watching the floods on Spanish tv, 320litres per sq metre in Valencia and hardly a drop here - we are very lucky!

The walk follows the main road with the occasional deviation off through some of the villages where we went for a coffee and relax.

For some reason some sort of latent muscle that I probably haven´t used for the last 30 years decided to come to life and my knee has been giving me real grief today - I wasn´t expecting that after nearly a week.

Anyway, the countryside is changing, the leaves are going brown and falling and the mornings are cooler for longer but eventually it warms up and we are having a great walk.

After yesterday, and as my knee is playing up we decided to stop at Vega de Valcarce, we have walked 17.5Km so not too bad. We are in the Refugio Municipal and, after fixing the computer, I managed a bit of time to write this.

The village is lovely and the surrounding countryside impressive. We´re going to go and have a walk round later and see what we can find.

It´s amazing how many people there are on the Camino at the moment. From what we have been told this time of year there are normally a lot less but the Albergues are almost always full and there are more people arriving here as I write..

Tomorrow onwards and a few more kilometres. There is a new Albergue opened up in Fonfriá so we´re hoping to make it there tomorrow.

Nigel
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Great to read of your progress...... Things don't always go to 'plan', but when you finish, those days are all part of your own unique Camino.
Hope you get some good weather to enjoy the views from O'Cebreiro, but what will be, will be!
Margaret
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Great to hear from you Nigel!

The weather report says that you might get some showers on Sunday, except for that you have sun, sun and sun coming up. :D

Greetings from Santiago,
Ivar
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
How about a little report on the new place in Fonfria?

And thanks for your enlightening report. I hope Arancha is feeling better by now, and your knee is back to normal.

rebekah
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
I know the "panqueque" woman in Fonfria :D I ran into her last year... she was lovely, and SO gracious. Her crepes were delicious and we had a great chat - and then she asked for her Euro for the pancake! haha I was caught! NO escape. But what the heck... I was hungry and they were good... and I was happy to give my money to her... and I didnt' have to stop until Samos!

The new albergue in Fonfria looks nice - but I didnt' stop there. It would be great to get a report!
Buen Camino,
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
I stopped and had a very tasty breakfast at the Fonfria albergue. It was just what was needed on a cool drizzly day. The hopitalero was cheerful and friendly and the facilities looked ggod. Janet
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
We also got 'caught' by the pancake lady but we were starving so were delighted with her offer of fresh pancakes. I gave her the South African pin from my hat and heard a few weeks later that she was still wearing it and showed it to South African pilgrims who passed by.
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 9: To O Cebreiro
The knee was no better but the rest of the aches and pains had gone and Arancha was feeling better. we set off at a bit more than the pace of tortoises as it´s up-up-up. The scenery has changed and it was extremely chilly walking in the early morning in the valley. We had spoken to some Spaniards who had walked before and they had said that this was the coldest dampest part of the Camino.

At one point we thought that we were going to have to stop at the first Albergue we came to but after a brief rest in a bar my knee was a bit better (the paracetamol/ibuprofen mix had kicked in) we decided to continue ever upwards but at a pace that didn´t hurt too much :(

It seems in the valleys that Autumn is taking grip, the insects are buzzing around in the last throes of mad passion before they die, the leaves are falling like snowflakes when the wind blows and all around you see signs of the fruits of summer, it really is a wonderful time to walk as although the mornings are a bit chilly and I´ve finally succomed to wearing long trousers instead of shorts, the mornings quickly warm when the sun hits you and the days don´t get too hot.

We slowly arrived at O Cebreiro, at long last in Galicia, and what a surprise and view! I think we were expecting a slightly(!) bigger place but it is very small and has over the recent years, been fully re built from almost ruins. The houses and shops were bustling with life, unlike many Spanish villages.

The Albergue looks like it has only recently been built and is clean and has a huge kitchen (although pots, pans, crockery and cutlery are in somewhat of a short supply!)

They are giving out covers for the beds and pillows at the moment - maybe this has something to do with the recent problems with bed bugs?

The views are fantastic and we were treated to a wonderful sunset.

Tomorrow onwards....
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 10: O Cebriero to Triacastela
We woke to a fantastic view of mist hanging in the valley - it looked like the valleys were full of snow, with the hills around bathed in sunshine.

Body bits seemed to have recovered after a good nights sleep, Arancha hardly has a cough now and is feeling almost human again, so off we went, in the wrong direction :( Fortunately we hadn´t gone far when we met up with some others who had also gone the wrong way (following the road instead of continuing on past the Albergue). We were quickly back on the right path..

It didn´t take long before my knee started playing up again :( so the going got progressively slower. Uphill is fine, as is along the flat, but downhill is an absolute killer and today was almost all downhill (or so it seemed!)

We did think of staying in the new Albergue in Fonfria but we arrived around mid day and it doesn´t open until 3pm so I struggled on - only 9Km more to Triacastela...

I´m glad we aren´t the only ones who have been taken in by the lovely old lady and her delicious pancakes! Mind you, we were hungry... we did chat to her for a few minutes but I didn´t notice if she was still wearing a pin.. Arancha recounted a well known advert where the ´traditional old lady´served beans to city dwellers - they couldn´t believe how wonderful these traditional beans tasted - they had, unknown to the townies, come from a tin she had bought in the local supermarket! I´m sure the pancakes were authentis though..

We struggled slowly on to Triacastela and opted for a private Alberge as the municipal doesn´t have any cooking facilities. We are next to the ´Tandy´supermarket - there are two supers here and they are well stocked.

We may take a break tomorrow to recuperate and rest my knee (130Km to go and I don´t fancy hobbling all the way!) We don´t have a return ticket so we arrive when we arrive....

Nigel
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
On my first Camino, I foolishly thought that the pancakes were a generous and spontaneous offering on the part of a good-hearted Spanish countrywoman, and so quickly noshed it and was on my way, quite unaware that a euro was expected. I am certain that she appreciated my heartfelt thanks. On two other Caminos I sailed by, cheerfully waving as she waved pancakes in my direction, enticing me.... but I had figured it out by then, courtesy of a Maryland pilgrim who was greatly amused by the innocence of my encounter. Next time, if I am spared, I will plead that I am a vegetarian.
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 11: Triacastela to Sarria
The camino splits into two routes at the end of Triacastela and, like many others, we opted for the shorter 18Km or so route that goes through the woods. We wisely asked the hostess at the Albergue what the terrain was like. ´It goes up for a bit but it´s quite a gentle walk´, she knowingly advised us. We both agree that the last time she walked it she was a lot younger than she is now and had, quite obviously, forgotten that it is actually very steep in places and goes uphill for what seems forever....

My knee is still giving me grief, although less than before, but was still very painful going down any hills which, of course, after you have gone up you have naturally to go down.... Atancha was also puffing like a train and the constant ascent in the early morning chilly air made her cough almost constantly.

You do finally get to the top though and there are some lovely views of the countryside and smells of the cattle - especially when you pass through some of the farms - it´s not an unpleasant smell, rather sweet and heavy, especially when as fresh as some that we have smelt!

You really notice the difference in the ´locals´ when you walk from a village to a city. In the villages all the people speak and say at least ´Hola´ if not more, but when you get to the city it is as if you are invisible. Does this have something to do with the villagers isolation and desire to share their thoughts with anyone they encounter? We met one lovely cattle farmer just as he was about to move his heard of 9 cattle from one pasture to another. He proceeded to tell us all about his cattle, which were for milk, which for meat, where they were feeding and so on.. it was a pleasant diversion for the time we walked alongside him.

13Km or so after starting we passed the first Albergue - it was very closed and deserted as we were quite early, and it looks a bit far from any shops/restaurants etc. so we carried on to Sarria.

We got to Sarria about 2:30 which wasn´t so bad considering our speed - we don´t make a habbit of stopping at every bar for a coffee like some others so we are comparing ourselves with the old ´Tortoise and hare´story.. we actually do seem to arrive earlier than some who set out before us.. it´s not a race though, of course.

We are staying in the Municipal Albergue tonight - once again it seems someone decided to play a joke by putting a huge flight of stairs at the very last stage just when we needed it..

Tomorrow we may take a day off - now we are in a city and everything is at hand we might take advantage, the legs and feet definitely need it after 11 days...

The weather is still fantastic - not a cloud in the sky and quite warm when the sun gets going...

Nigel
 

Acuario

New Member
Sorry for the delay in posting... lack of internet and enjoying the Camino too much!

Day 12:
Sarria to Portamarin
Our idea was to stay in the city for a day but we woke to a dull, foggy, cold morning. We left the Albergue and went and sat in a cafe with a coffee and pack of cards for an hour, hoping the fog would clear a bit - it didn´t, and eventually we got fed up with the smell of the toilets and the depressing day so left about 10am to find somewhere more accomodating.

We walked through what appeared, especially with the fog, to be a ghost town, very depressing, and so we decided, aches and all, to start walking, somewhat late but better late than never.

We quickly found our way to the Camino and started the ascent out of Sarria, which is a good climb. When we reached the top of the hill out of Sarria the fog started to clear and we ended up with yet another glorious day.

We certainly noticed there were a lot of new faces, the ´100 Club´as we have nicknamed them, walking the last 100K to be eligible for the Compostela. There are, of course, the regulars and we keep bumping into them, normally in the numerous cafes and bars en-route. Everyone has their own pace, some walk fast and take numerous stops, others like us slowly plod onwards - tortoises and hares.. Eventually we all seem to end up in the same place.

We decided to have a ´night off´in Portomarin in a hostal or pension to take advantage of a washing machine and double bed. We keep talking about having a day off but, with the glorious and unusually good weather we seem to be having, it´s hard. The walk to Portamarin takes you through some lovely countryside and the flowers in the gardens are wonderful to see. The climate in Spain is such that you seem to get spring twice a year, flowers and, dare I say, weeds take full advantage. Dandylions which, in England, are out only in March/April, are in full flower.. I keep telling Arancha how wonderful Dandylion wine is but I´m sure she thinks I´m just teasing her..

The last descent to Portamarin is a killer if (like me) you have a bad knee :( but then you reach the bridge across the reservoir which, at the moment, is quite low. It is at an almost dizzy height and at times you need to look straight ahead for fear of falling over. At the end, once again a joke, a set of 48 + steps to climb! I´m sure the pilgrims of old (and new) arrived totally knackered!

Our plan for a night in a hostel didn´t work out - it seems the only place with a washing machine is the municipal.. never mind, we got a full load washed and dried which we really needed to do.. the socks were almost doing the camino on their own...

Tomorrow onwards....

Nigel
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 13: Portamarin to Palas de Rei
The mornings in the Albergues seem to follow a similar routine. As someone who only normally sleeps 6 to 7 hours a night, going to sleep at 10:30 is a bit early and I do tend to wake well before kick out time. Generally what happens is: Around 6:30 or so someone wakes up and decides to go to the toilet. For some reason they make a lot of noise when they return and wake other people. From there starts a chain reaction of people getting up, rustling around in their plastic bags, falling over rucksacks and shoes that were abandoned the night before and so on. Eventually, either automatically as in some cases, or through sheer desperation in others, the lights get switched on and the day (although at this time of year it´s still pitch black) starts.

I had the ´pleasure´of sharing a dormitory with 9 women and 2 young guys - it seems the women aren´t quite as keen to get up as quickly as the men and it was a while after the lights came on before the groans subsided and the dorm came to life. Take note: if you want to maximise the sleep time chose a dorm that has predominantly women!

We left Portomarin as it was starting top get light. We had to go down and across another interesting bridge (I imagine anyone who suffers with vertigo would hate it!) before starting the climb once again. Does every stage start with an invigorating climb? it seems so..)

It was a long way to breakfast and the ´100 Club´has certainly swelled the numbers - it´s the most we have seen on the camino since starting. About an hour or so out of Portomarin we came across the first énterprising´Spanish bar, the poor chap seemed somewhat stressed out by the numbers descending on his bar at the same time, but he and his wife coped very well in providing a tasty ham omlett sandwich and coffee.

The weather for most of the morning was grey and foggy but not really cold. Eventually the fog burnt off to leave us another (for Galicia this has to be a record!) wonderful day.

The flowers and fauna you encounter along the way range from the mundane to the exotig, the verges of the paths are currently inundated with Crocuses, their delicate flowers and sought after stamens for colouring paella are in great abundance. The sweet chestnuts are ripe and are starting to fall from the trees and, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, acorns are likely to fall like hailstones onto your head (I´ve been hit by several)

The Camino meanderes through some real traditional villages. We stopped by the side of a plain, low, concrete block wall to take a drink of water and take off our jerseys. To our amazement, the other side of the wall, there were more cockerels than I think I´ve ever seen in my life.. dozens of them.. The lady who owned them was in her kitchen so I asked her, for confirmation, if they were all cockrels. Yes, she said. ´´There are 5 of us in the house, we have 50 cockerels for meat, 1 a week, 5 pigs that we kill through the year, our own cow and sheep, cats, dogs, vegetables and fruit trees.´They are almost self sufficient for their food but we think their cholestorol levels are probably a bit on the high side!

We arrived in Palas de Rei around 3pm and, following our abandoned Portomarin night in a hostal, checked in to a hostal for a night ´away from it´. We went for a menu del dia and ended up meeting up with a crowd of fellow pilgrimmers and, rather than the Siesta we had planned, drank and chatted the afternoon and evening away.... what better!

Tomorrow, onwards... not far to go!

Nigel
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 14: Palas to Arzua (but it wasn´t planned!)
A quick post as I´ve been typing nearly an hour and, one finger typing isn´t quick...

We left Palas de Rei late, at 10am and intended on walking only 26(!) Km, me still limping profusely and Arancha still coughing on every ascent..

The day passed slowly and, as we left so late, we hardly saw anyone on the Camino. We planned to stop at the Albergue just outside Arzua but, as we were so late, it was full so we had to hobble on to Arzua where, guess what, the municipal was also full.. We have found another Albergue not too far away and, although the intention was to cook, we have gone to a restaurant for a menu. Great food too! The mixed barbequed meat was absolutely lovely!

Tomorrow onwards, who knows where we´ll get to but at this rate we expect to be at Santiago on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.. We´ll see....

Nigel
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 14?: I´ve lost count somewhere I think but we´re 20Km away!
20Km to go.. it seems so close now. The weather has held out, the mornings aren´t too cold and by the time we arrive in the Albergue we´re totally exhausted so sleep well.. what will we do next week when we aren´t faced with a 6 to 8 hour walk? What is life like after the Camino? What do people do after such a wonderful, albeit in places painful, experience? Does life just return to normal? We have been asking ourselves these questions and still don´t have the answers.

We set off just after light at 8: something from the Albergue in Arzua. After a descent the compulsory ascent for a kilometer or two to build up the heart rate and get the body warmed up and ready for the rest of the walk.

It´s quite a hike to the first cafe/bar which was so crowded we continued on to the second where there were only a few people - it wasn´t far to go.

The Camino starts following the main road with the odd diversion through villages here and there - I guess very soon we will leave the countryside and all it´s beauty for the concrete and tarmack of the city.

We were both amazed at the number of pilgrims that we saw this morning, some obviously fresh from a recent start, others ´day trippers´, obvious from their lack of backpacks, and of course the odd regular we have become accustomed to seeing most days. As all the Caminos have now merged into one we are also seeing people who are walking at the same rate as us that have been walking the other caminos. We are thinking of walking the Camino del Norte next year so I guess we´ll experience the same then.

We arrived in good time at the Municipal Albergue in Pedrouzo which, by mid afternoon, was full. We couldn´t have walked much further today so were glad we arrived in time..

Tomorrow, the last stretch - 20Km to Santiago...

Nigel
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 15:Santiago - we made it!
We sto off at first light, aching feet and full of anticipation from Pedrouzo. We couldn´t believe it - yet another lovely sunny day!

The camino goes through some beautiful woods and some rather steep climbs and descents before you eventually arrive at something like civilisation and the concrete jungle streatches ahead of you... It´s a long way to the first place where you can get something to eat, and by the time we arrived we were both starving.

A sandwich and drink later off for the last stage - the somewhat depressing trudge through the jungle of concrete, cars, people and noise to the cathedral.

The centre of Santiago is, I´m glad to say, a lot more pleasant than the outskirts and reminds me of some of the Cotswold towns in Gloucestershire where I grew up. The streets are reminiscent of Bath and the the place is bustling with people from all nations. We met a couple of people we had seen previously on the camino and wished them well etc.. some are continuing on to Finisterre but we are optiong for the bus as I don´t think I could walk another 4 days with my knee still giving me grief!

We now, so I´m informed, entitled to our places in heaven as we have our Compostelas (or is this reserved just for the religious walkers?) I haven´t studied the small print yet :)

Tomorrow, Finisterre, but by bus.

Nigel
 

Acuario

New Member
Day 16: The end of the world...
We caught the bus at 9am to Finisterre - the weather unbelieveably is still holding although a few drops of rain had fallen overnight.

After we arrived we did walk to Faro and, what appears to be the graveyard of 100,000+ boots.. is it tradition to burn/leave your boots when you arrive?

It´s well woth the trip there after coming so far - it almost felt, yesterday, like we hadn´t really finished in Santiago - now we have..

Tomorrow we´re homeward bound via La Coruña to Barcelona and Tortosa respectively.

I´ll add some more thoughts to this posting when I get home, but I hope you have enjoyed reading up to now.

Nigel
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Congratulations Nigel! It has been great following your progress as you have walked. Enjoy the bus ride to Finisterre!
Margaret
 

Rose Louise

Member
Nigel & Atancha

Thanks for the great posts of your walk. What will you do after the Camino? Enjoy the memories of the wonderful and sometimes painful experiences that have unfolded along the way for you.

Cheers Rose Louise
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
Congratulations Nigel and Arancha on completing what you set out to do - especially with the problems of knees and health. I have really enjoyed reading your postings - they have brought back many memories. Thank you, Janet
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Great picture - were you using two mats or were you being kind and carrying Arancha's mat for her?
 

Acuario

New Member
Well there's a story to this.. isn't there always?

I read about the bedbugs and one of the pieces of advice was to put a mat between your sleeping bag and the bed, so we took mats.

I used mine the first 3 or 4 days, along with essential lavendar oil, but Arancha didn't use hers at all (at this stage we were carrying our own). In Rabanal del Camino she decided it was 'excess baggage' so wanted to abandon hers. I thought this was a bit excessive so carried it onwards. A few days later she remembered a friend of hers, who walked the camino about 6 years ago, had stayed in an Albergue without beds and had slept on the floor, so it was a good idea to carry on with them (I carried on carrying them I hasten to add!)

When we got to Sarria Arancha decided we really didn't need them and they really were 'excess luggage' and, as I hadn't used mine either, it was time to add them to the Albergues collection of abandoned mats.

So, there they stayed, in Sarria. So next time you stay in the Municipal Albergue in Sarria you may come across them.

Nigel
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I recognize the albergue. We had a wonderful meal at Marcel's albergue (Vegetariano) in La Faba which consisted of fresh produce picked from the field opposite the albergue. Unfortunately his beds were all taken so we stayed at the German albergue although he did offer us the Teepee in the field!
 

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