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LIVE from the Camino Lindsey’s Belorado to Sarria Adventures (Camino Frances Part II)

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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
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Note from the mods: Part 1 of @Lhollo’s camino can be found in this earlier thread.
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At last I’m back on the Camino Frances!

This is the continuation of my Camino which began last August/September here

We arrived in Madrid on Friday and spent that afternoon and the morning of Saturday there before getting the 3pm bus to Belorado.

We stayed at the Hostel.B, which is where we finished our Camino last year.

Today, we walked from there to Agès. And that is where I’ll begin 😃

I’d been concerned about the first stage of our return, because it’s a long walk at 17 miles/28km, there’s a steep and quite long uphill, my pack is heavier than last year, and I haven’t prepared as much as I intended too because I’ve had injuries and health problems yet again in the last few months. Some of you may recall that I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The latest manifestations of this are a rib that partially dislocated many times each day, a cough and slight breathlessness that’s gone on for months (not Covid) and seems connected to the rib trouble, neck spasms, hamstring trouble. And I still have an old jaw problem which… and a shoulder that… and I won’t bore you further…

Long story short, today has been amazing. What a beautiful section of the Camino it is! I also can’t believe how much greener the landscape is that it was in August. This may seem obvious, but to immerse oneself in it at such length really brings home the difference. Last night, I walked up to the castle at Belorado—up through the long green grass and poppies, between redpolls flitting from tree to tree—and took photos from the same viewpoints as those I took last year. Yellow versus green! I’ll try to attach some to show the difference.

The walk to Villafrance Monte de Oca was an easy and beautiful 12km. We got out early at before 7am and, with regular stops for photos, we’re able to have a leisurely coffee break in Villafranca and begin the ascent by 10:30am.

I was very struck by the birdsong. We saw stonechats and yellow wagtails and heard cuckoos. Wildflowers cluster around the sides of the way. There were plenty of other pilgrims but never a crowd.

I found the first part of this climb, where there is no shade and it’s steep, quite tough and needed ‘photo breaks’ (breathers!) but actually covered the ground pretty quickly. I was surprised that, upon reaching the pine forest, most of the ascent was out of the way.

The Oasis de Camino, toward the end of the high part of the woods, was an absolutely wonderful break! I’d just fallen over—I was filming, and misjudged a patch of damp earth which was in fact very slick clay; I ended up unhurt except for my pride, given that one shoe and my bum was covered in mud—so after the fall, to walk straight into the oasis with its lounge music, fresh fruit, painted totem poles, and lovely conversation, truly was an oasis.

Suddenly the pine woods gave out onto green fields and San Juan de Ortega came into view. I saw a black kite here and watched it for a while through my new pocket monocular, which I’m thoroughly enjoying! I have it on a hip-pack belt. A little extra weight but worth it for me.

I thought San Juan de Ortega a lovely, charming, tranquil village. A cow with its bell ringing, almost nose to nose with a mule. People gathering around the two restaurants. Others walking through but stopping to say Hola and take photographs.

We kept on and took the fork through the woods to Agès. Along here, we stopped for a somewhat unnecessary lunch because we’d bought cheese and bread and didn’t want to waste it, plus we knew we only had a short way remaining. We enjoyed sitting on the grass, exchanging greetings with other pilgrims, talking about the day and how strange, yet oddly bit at all strange, it felt to finally be back in the Camino. Almost as though the last eight months hadn’t happened and we were in fact here just yesterday.

Again the landscape changed as we reached Agès along the ridge, with rolling colourful fields—some ploughed, some unripe wheat, some rapeseed, undulating below us.

We’re staying at El Pajar de Agès, and I’m impressed by how welcoming this place is. They go out of their way to help, and the rooms are lovely, modern but homely, and clean.

We ate at El Alquimista, which I’d recommend because it’s so friendly but also quirky, with the lady who I presume owns it also cooking everything table by table. There’s no menu, they just tell you your options in Spanish.

We spent quite a while talking with the woodcarver here. Please go and see him, if you come to Agès! He’s brilliant! 85 years old, he’s only been doing the woodcarving for eight years and none of it is for sale, except small tokens, but he’ll show you the ins and outs of each building he’s created and they’re full of details! It’s a real labour of love, and I thought him a wonderful man, not without a little humour!

After that we walked down to the river to see the 12th century bridge. Both the river and bridge are small but it’s an enchanting, largely hidden spot, and you pass a real olde-worlde wishing well on the way. The woodcarver gave me directions to it.

I’ll leave this here and aim to update again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try to be briefer then…or maybe not! 😳
 

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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
Here are some photos comparing the view from the castle at Belorado in early September 2021 with now, late May 2022. I expected more greenery but still found the difference striking in terms of how the atmosphere—the whole perception of what the place is like—is different, for me at least. 658EE37F-2874-47E2-B925-89601DA5EF0A.jpeg 8B336738-F973-4786-BC73-DDBDFCF3E5A4.jpeg 3E1150B0-B52F-42F6-9111-D58E1DDB4F29.jpeg CB08EDA1-C56D-4719-95D2-5D76BA640A3B.jpeg
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
The walk to Burgos from Agès felt like I was in a different country to the previous day, largely because the weather has suddenly shifted to being colder. We headed into a slightly misty Atapuerca, threading through a beautiful field of what seemed to be Lupins. I noticed most people were wearing long trousers and jackets whereas I was in shorts and a tank top! I was fine though, but did put on some wrist warmers and put my buff around my head. My ears and fingers are the worst when it comes to cold. The climb up from Atapuerca was atmospheric, entering the low trees with mist around. The cross at the top was cloudy. I was mindful of the battle there in 1054. I wonder how that played out, whether the trees were then so low, the rocky ground problematic for people in chainmail, or for their horses. The place seems a combination of wild and fresh yet, yesterday, chilly, and it was hard not to think it was also hushed with unspoken stories.

I was very struck by the soundscape again, mostly skylarks!

We stopped for coffee and Neopolitanas in Cardeñeula Riopico. Many pilgrims gathered there around this time, 9:30am. A village later and after the overpass, we took the left turn, to use the river detour into Burgos. Last year, we spent a night in the city at the end of our ‘Camino Part One’, and the next day had a long walk out through the suburbs. I didn’t want to repeat that, particularly knowing how pleasant the area by the river and cathedral is. I had a feeling that Burgos might open up to me more this time, somehow… now that I’m a proper pilgrim and entered on foot! 😃 All of the pilgrims ahead of us went straight on and missed the turn for the river route, or chose not to do it. Some of those after us seemed surprised we’d turned off—the turn currently isn’t marked, and the first part of the path has construction hazard signs along it—but others then turned and we saw them some way behind us. I noticed the Buen Camino app one isn’t as good as the Wise Pilgrim one, which follows a longer section of river. Either way, I really can’t recommend the river detour enough, albeit I imagine I’m talking to the converted here! Does anyone not prefer it?

We arrived in Burgos at 12:30 and spent some time resting before going around the cathedral; that had been another part of Burgos that was ‘closed off’ to us last year when we weren’t ‘real pilgrims’ 😃. What a stunning cathedral it is! I particularly enjoyed seeing the tomb of El Cid, having been genning up on his history recently.

We ate at Bonfin on the plaza Rey San Fernando: the only place serving a menu of the day at 6:30pm, or anything other than tapas or fast food. We sometimes simply can’t do the Spanish ‘eat when you arrive then just have something light later’ because… there are things to do at the room, and then cathedrals to see. And I’ve rarely seen all the Spanish people eating huge meals in the middle of the day! I think they’re a myth!

We’ve talked with a few other pilgrims but we’re aware that those we’ve got to know most will now stop in Burgos for a day, whereas our first rest day will be in León, so I expect we’ll now meet a group of new pilgrims… when we finally get on the road to Hornillos. More about that in a moment…!

We walked up to the Solar del Cid… I thought it a curious monument to the likely site of his house, being a series of bollards around three monument stones with heraldic shields at the top, the central one being El Cid’s.

On the way back to the hotel we saw a stork nesting at the top of the Arco de Fernán Gonzalez. I was surprised to come across both the stork and the Arch, because it’s simply a facade with nothing around it and seems incongruous. A couple of times, I saw a baby stork (a storkling?!) pop it’s head up a little over the rim of the nest.

Last thing last night, my partner went to get cash out at the Santander cash point just down from the Santa Maria gate, on the river section, and the machine swallowed his card. I spoke with someone inside the bank (amazed they’re still staffed at 9pm!) and we’ve been told we can get it back at 9am. So… it’ll be a late start for us when we head off for Hornillos del Camino. At least we won’t hit it in scorching weather, now that it’s quite chilly.

The only other news is that I have quite a badly chafed hip, which I don’t understand at all because I have the same clothes, same backpack, almost the same load, and am the same shape and size as every other time I’ve used the backpack including the Camino Part 1… so why on earth I now have a partly raw hip is beyond me. For want of a better solution, I’ve been using cream I was given at a pharmacy for leg/ankle chafing last year, and whacked a comped on it. I know compeed often aren’t good solutions for blisters, but they’ve helped protect chafed areas for me in the past. So… fingers crossed.







2F4DB6B8-866E-42BE-837C-7155C42A5963.jpeg
 

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Suddenly the pine woods gave out onto green fields and San Juan de Ortega came into view. I saw a black kite here and watched it for a while through my new pocket monocular, which I’m thoroughly enjoying! I have it on a hip-pack belt. A little extra weight but worth it for me.
@Lhollo - I'm enjoying your posts and beautiful photos and especially hearing about the birds you're seeing! Thank you!! I'm very curious about your pocket monocular. I've had thoughts about bringing binoculars but a monocular would be much easier and lighter! Wondering what brand you have?
 
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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
@Lhollo - I'm enjoying your posts and beautiful photos and especially hearing about the birds you're seeing! Thank you!! I'm very curious about your pocket monocular. I've had thoughts about bringing binoculars but a monocular would be much easier and lighter! Wondering what brand you have?
Glad you’re enjoying them! My monocular is an Opticron 8 x 25 T4 Trailfinder. (I see you’re in Canada, so maybe this link: https://www.amazon.ca/Opticron-T4-Trailfinder-8x25-Monocular/dp/B074ZDZZ4J ). It weighs around 140grams and comes with a very lightweight pouch that can be attached to a belt. I have it on my hip-pack. It came in very handy today when we entered the meseta (I’ll post more about that soon!) but also yesterday, looking at details inside the cathedral in Burgos.
 
Glad you’re enjoying them! My monocular is an Opticron 8 x 25 T4 Trailfinder. (I see you’re in Canada, so maybe this link: https://www.amazon.ca/Opticron-T4-Trailfinder-8x25-Monocular/dp/B074ZDZZ4J ). It weighs around 140grams and comes with a very lightweight pouch that can be attached to a belt. I have it on my hip-pack. It came in very handy today when we entered the meseta (I’ll post more about that soon!) but also yesterday, looking at details inside the cathedral in Burgos.
This is fantastic - thank you so much! I hadn't considered the possibilities beyond birding - cathedral / architectural details! ...and so much more!
 
Past OR future Camino
CF-05/23
The walk to Burgos from Agès felt like I was a different country to the previous day, largely because the weather has suddenly shifted to being colder. We headed into a slightly misty Atapuerca, threading through a beautiful field of what seemed to be Lupins. I noticed most people were wearing long trousers and jackets whereas I was in shorts and a tank top! I was fine though, but did put on some wrist warmers and put my buff around ny head. My ears and fingers are the worst when it comes to cold. The climb up from Atapuerca was atmospheric, entering the low trees with most around. The cross at the top was cloudy. I was mindful of the battle there in 1054. I wonder how that played out, whether the trees where then so low, the rocky ground problematic for people in chainmail, or for their horses. The place seems a combination of wild and fresh yet, yesterday, chilly, and it was hard not to think it was also hushed with unspoken stories.

I was very struck by the soundscape again, mostly skylarks!

We stopped for coffee and Neopolitanas in Cardeñeula Riopico. Many pilgrims gathered there around this time, around 9:30am. A village later and after the overpass, we took the left turn, to use the river detour into Burgos. We spent a night in the city at the end of our ‘Camino Part One’ last year, and had a long walk out through the suburbs. I didn’t want to repeat that, particularly knowing how pleasant the area but the river and cathedral is. Last year, most of my experience of Burgos was built-up, and not too pleasant, but I knew there was more to it. I had a feeling it might open up to me more this time, somehow. Now that I’m a proper pilgrim and entered on foot! 😃 All of the pilgrims ahead of us went straight on and missed the turn for the river route, or chose not to do it. Some of those after us seemed surprised we’d turned off—the turn currently isn’t marked, and the first part of the path has construction hazard signs along it—but others then turned and we saw them some way behind us. I really can’t recommend the river detour enough, albeit I imagine I’m talking to the converted here! Does anyone not prefer it? And the Buen Camino app one isn’t as good as the Wise Pilgrim one, which follows a longer section of river.

We arrived in Burgos at 12:30 and spent some time resting before going around the cathedral; that had been another part of Burgos ‘closed off’ to us last year when we weren’t ‘real pilgrims’ 😃. What a stunning cathedral it is! I particularly enjoyed seeing the tomb of El Cid, having been genning up on his history recently.

We ate at Bonfin on the plaza Rey San Fernando: the only place serving a menu of the day at 6:30pm, or anything other than tapas or fast food. We sometimes simply can’t do the Spanish ‘eat when you arrive then just have something light later’ because… there are things to do at the room, and then cathedrals to see. And I’ve rarely seen all the Spanish people eating huge meals in the middle of the day! I think they’re a myth!

We’ve talked with a few other pilgrims but those we’ve got to know most will now stop in Burgos for a day, whereas our first rest day will be in León, so I expect we’ll now meet a group of new pilgrims… when we finally get on the road to Hornillos. More about that in a moment…!

We walked up to the Solar del Cid… I thought it a curious monument to the likely site of his house, being a series of bollards around three monument stones with heraldic shields at the top, the central one being El Cid’s.

On the way back to the hotel we saw a storm nesting at the top of the Arco de Fernán Gonzalez. I was surprised to come across both the stork and the Arch, because it’s simply a facade with nothing around it and seems incongruous. A couple of times, I saw a baby stork (a storkling?!) pop it’s head up a little over the rim of the nest.

Last thing, last night, my partner went to get cash out at the Santander cash point just down from the Santa Maria gate, on the river section, and the machine swallowed his card. I spoke with someone inside the bank (amazed they’re still staffed at 9pm!) and we’ve been told we can get it back at 9am. So… it’ll be a late start for us when we head off for Hornillos del Camino. At least we won’t hit it in scorching weather, now that it’s quite chilly.

The only other news is that I have quite a badly chafed hip, which I don’t understand at all because I have the same clothes, same backpack, almost the same load, and am the same shape and size as every other time I’ve used the backpack including the Camino Part 1… so why on earth I now have a partly raw hip is beyond me. For want of a better solution, I’ve been using cream I was given at a pharmacy for leg/ankle chafing last year, and whacked a comped on it. I know compeed often aren’t good solutions for blisters, but they’ve helped protect chafed areas for me in the past. So… fingers crossed.







View attachment 126185
Glad to see you are back to it! I really enjoyed your videos last time, I hope you will gift us with more. My wife and I and another couple actually compiled a spreadsheet of your hotel choices in prep for our may '23 CF. Buen Camino!
 
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino
Learn how to Get "Camino Ready " 2nd Edition. In English, Spanish, German and Korean

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
We left Burgos late, around 9:45, after the problems with the bank. We did get the card back but only after the poor woman at the bank had shredded her arm, trying to liberate the card from the machine. We were seriously impressed by how professional, committed and kind the staff were. On the way out of the centre, I did something impulsive and arguably stupid, and bought the smallest size of El Cid’s chest I could find in a souvenir shop. I have a bit of an interest in history, and the El Cid period and figure has hooked me. So now I’m carrying a treasure chest along the way, as though I need the extra burden/joy. 😃

I think I recognised the place where, in “The Way”, Martin Sheen’s character and his friends say goodbye to the Romany man and his son, who stole the backpack. It’s a tree lined area leading out from a park through a large gate, which opens onto the older university buildings. I’ve attached a photo below. Am I right?

On the subject of that park, and also in Hornillos, there are literally millions of white fluffy seeds—I don’t know from which tree or plant—blowing around like snow. They carpeted that park.

We were glad to leave behind the city and get steadily back into the countryside, one underpass at a time.

We walked through Tardàjos and stopped instead for lunch in Rabé de las Calzadas. It was a wonderful experience in particular because I had a long chat with a Spanish man who’s done a few caminos but always on either a very tight budget or without any money at all, when he was young and homeless. Now, he’s in his fifties and tries to juggle the need to make a living and earn some sort of stability, and his other need for the Camino, and to help pilgrims and sometimes gives them gifts. He’d walked to Rabé from Burgos just for the day, and we wished him well as he headed back. He’s a fast walker, reckoning on 30km in five hours.

What a different world opens up after Rabé de Las Calzadas! Every tree, a skylark! Literally every tree! We also saw a male hen harrier—I don’t know how endangered they are in Spain but in the UK they’re very endangered, largely as a result of game shooting—and a Rock bunting, which is a new one for me. I am VERY glad of the monocular I’ve brought.

The wild flowers really are something! Although the landscape is incredibly green now, the edges of the way are spangled with red, yellow, blue, white, purple, pink… I know some of the flowers but not nearly enough!

As Hornillos del Camino came into view, we saw and then talked with a young couple from Germany, walking the Camino with a huge double pram/buggy that they push in front of them. They had two toddlers, probably twins, running ahead of them, until one fell and howled.

We stayed at La Casa del Abuelo, in a private room, as we’re doing throughout. I used my new sleep system for the first time which came out of a reply to the question I asked in this post. It was really necessary, and worked brilliantly!

I thought La Casa del Abuelo a lovely place. We ate outside with an interesting and diverse group of mostly younger hikers who are doing longer distances together but also adopting a ‘see what happens’ attitude. Two men fromFrance, one a sommelier, the other a fireman, a physio from The Philippines/Washington DC, and an osteopath from Germany. We sat around chatting with them until bedtime. It felt like a little haven, so nestled in the green hills.
 

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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
I meant to add that the bank thought there was a problem with my partner’s card that caused it to get stuck in the machine, and advised us not to use it in cash machines from now on, but instead to use the code-only option. We tried that and he couldn’t get it to work with his app. So… we’re on the meseta and very low on actual cash, as in notes. We can do transfers to my own account if necessary but it’s not ideal: he wants to use his own card, plus even then, I’d need to find a cash point that works for me, although I’ve never had prívela. With them before. I’m wondering whether there are other options for accessing cash on the meseta, perhaps in Carrión de los Condes?
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
Glad to see you are back to it! I really enjoyed your videos last time, I hope you will gift us with more. My wife and I and another couple actually compiled a spreadsheet of your hotel choices in prep for our may '23 CF. Buen Camino!
I had completely forgotten that I’d mentioned here about my YouTube channel, in fact I thought I’d kept it quiet! On the first day here, walking from Belorado, two different groups came up to me rather tentatively and asked if I had a YouTube channel because they subscribe to it. It was really lovely but I was completely stunned by it. I haven’t developed the channel much at all and there aren’t yet many videos. Anyway, I’m very glad it was helpful for you! Thank you for telling me that! I am indeed videoing every day now that I’m here again. I’ll edit it all when I’m home. There’s a lot. I’m pretty obsessive with it, but love cameras, always have, and seeing the world and recording it in that way. I hope it might be enjoyable and maybe helpful for people, though. I treat it partly as something I do for my own record-keeping, but also as something I’d say to myself, if I were another person wanting to know about what a place is like.
 
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I had completely forgotten that I’d mentioned here about my YouTube channel, in fact I thought I’d kept it quiet! On the first day here, walking from Belorado, two different groups came up to me rather tentatively and asked if I had a YouTube channel because they subscribe to it. It was really lovely but I was completely stunned by it. I haven’t developed the channel much at all and there aren’t yet many videos. Anyway, I’m very glad it was helpful for you! Thank you for telling me that! I am indeed videoing every day now that I’m here again. I’ll edit it all when I’m home. There’s a lot. I’m pretty obsessive with it, but love cameras, always have, and seeing the world and recording it in that way. I hope it might be enjoyable and maybe helpful for people, though. I treat it partly as something I do for my own record-keeping, but also as something I’d say to myself, if I were another person wanting to know about what a place is like.
Yes, we 4 were obsessed. Until seeing your videos, we hadnt seen videos of pilgrims staying exclusively in private rooms. We were sad when they stopped, we are overjoyed that you're back. Have a safe camino!

Jim
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I meant to add that the bank thought there was a problem with my partner’s card that caused it to get stuck in the machine, and advised us not to use it in cash machines from now on, but instead to use the code-only option. We tried that and he couldn’t get it to work with his app. So… we’re on the meseta and very low on actual cash, as in notes. We can do transfers to my own account if necessary but it’s not ideal: he wants to use his own card, plus even then, I’d need to find a cash point that works for me, although I’ve never had prívela. With them before. I’m wondering whether there are other options for accessing cash on the meseta, perhaps in Carrión de los Condes?
Try Fromista. Banks there.
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
The walk from Hornillos del Camino was one of my favourites of the Camino so far. Where to begin…

The morning started less than ideally when I plugged in the coffee machine at La Casa del Abuelo and it blew the fuse, so the lights went out in a couple of rooms. Oops! There was no one around and I couldn’t see a fuse box so for want of a solution, we decided to forego coffee and just get on the road. Before we left, someone fixed the fuse; another pilgrim, I think.

It was just beginning to get light when we were leaving the village. As we climbed the hill behind it, and then the next hill and the next, I felt we were being folded into greenness, layer after layer. The skylarks were again present but as we came to a hidden valley I saw first a female hen harrier, then a male. We watched the two of them together for a while. It was the beginning of what would become the theme of the day!

We stopped at Fuente Sidres for a short coffee break, lured mostly by the stunning location on an outcrop, surrounded by poppies and wild flowers, but also by the jazz they were blasting. We then stopped in Hontanas for lunch in the lovely outdoor grassy area at Albergue Juan de Yepes—omelette for me, a bocadillo for Andrew—and chatted with other pilgrims: the group we met in Hornillos, and a lady from Derbyshire originally, then Australia.

Leaving Hontanas, we walked a stretch of road which was wonderfully peaceful: cuckoos calling, skylarks ever present, and no one else around for the first time in a while… and then I double-checked the Buen Camino app… and realised that we shouldn’t have followed the cyclist who wished us Buen Camino at the junction, and that the Camino was up the hillside. It was easy to join back up with it further down, though, and we actually really loved the quiet part along the road.

I spotted a Roe deer lying down in a wheat field at this point. Just its head was sticking up. I don’t know what made me look at it through my monocular—it was a tiny brown dot with the naked eye—except that the brown dot seemed out of place among the wheat. We watched it for a little while, as it gazed around, safe in the knowledge that it was some way above the stream of pilgrims.

We looked around the monastery of San Anton—an atmospheric place—and said goodbye to a German pilgrim we’d been chatting with, before heading on to Castrojeriz.

Along the way, we took the chance to walk a short way into a field, for a completely stunning view of Castrojeriz with poppy fields in the foreground. I saw what I think could be a piece of Roman pottery there, which wouldn’t be surprising what with the proximity of the Roman Way, and of the Roman village that was near to the church of Santa Maria del Manzano.

I’ll skip forward a little here and just say… Castrojeriz!… What an utterly incredible place!… I wish I had another day there… or a house there…

First, there was the Hoopoe, wandering around near some flowers beside the street, as though that’s a usual thing for Hoopoes to do. Then, after we visited the castle, I saw a bird I’ve always wanted to see on the basis that it’s in my European bird books but listed as extremely rare, and also because it looks like an artist’s dream. It was a Bee Eater, swooping around below the castle. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Are they usually in Castojeriz?! I presume they must be, at this time of year at least? I say ‘they’ because after the first, we saw another, and then another two or maybe more. To me, this is utterly bonkers. My phone camera won’t zoom well so I’ve taken photos of the back of my other camera. Later, when we went back to our room for a rest, both the Hoopoe and a Bee Eater gave a fly-past of my bedroom window. Ridiculous!!!!! I love Castrojeriz!! Plus there were lots of other little birds, at least one of which I can’t identify: larger than a sparrow, a little smaller than a blackbird. Black with a blue tint. Russet under the tail. A faint grey stripe down the crest. Does anyone know it?

The castle was also fascinating. On the way up, I spotted—or nearly tripped on—a chunk of terracotta tile jutting out from the path. It seemed to have a pattern on it so I dug it out, and photographed the location so it’d be documented. Back at the hotel, I cleaned it up, then took it to the tourist info place. I had a long chat there with the lovely man working there, who showed me various aerial photos of the Roman sites—the lines of the building’s walls are visible on Google Maps—as well as about the Beaker Culture history in the town. I left the piece of tile with him, and he’ll pass it on to someone to look into. It may be recent, because of the reconstruction work, but the location where I found it suggests it might be older. Either way, I’m glad they have it, and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the man.

We stayed in a room at A Cien Leguas, and I can’t recommend it enough. Utterly lovely people, who went out of their way for us, and there was everything we could need there.

I hope to catch up with this record soon because I’m a day behind with it (we’re now in Frómista). To summarise for now: we managed to get cash here, using my own card. There seems to be a problem with Andrew’s, but it’s fine for use in shops. My hip is still sore and is red above the top of the compeed I put on; I think this is just because of the weight of the pack pulling the skin there, but it’s still obviously a problem. I’ve covered it with wool for more padding and then zinc oxide tape, which I remove for showering and then replace, although I’m low on tape now. Other than that, we have the usual minor aches but generally the going is very good! I’ll post about the walk to Frómista soon!
 

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First, there was the Hoopoe, wandering around near some flowers beside the street, as though that’s a usual thing for Hoopoes to do. Then, after we visited the castle, I saw a bird I’ve always wanted to see on the basis that it’s in my European bird books but listed as extremely rare, and also because it looks like an artist’s dream. It was a Bee Eater, swooping around below the castle.

Plus there were lots of other little birds, at least one of which I can’t identify: larger than a sparrow, a little smaller than a blackbird. Black with a blue tint. Russet under the tail. A faint grey stripe down the crest. Does anyone know it?
Ohhhh... so wonderful! I would love to see a Hoopoe. And a Bee-eater! @hagans recently mentioned seeing Bee-eaters near Pumares on the Invierno.
 
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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
I was sad to leave Castrojeriz, as you might have gathered, even though the lure of the unknown Camino ahead draws me on.

We left early and strode out toward the hill and mountain pass of Mostelares, only to get waylaid by… yup, it’s that theme again, there were birds that I just couldn’t walk past. It’s funny because, when I’m at home, although I’m interested in wildlife, I don’t think of myself as a total bird nerd or anything extreme. I just love nature, the surprises of new animals appearing, the activity of trying to see and photograph them, and learn about them. There’s also something wonderful about the way they carry on their lives regardless of humans.

On this occasion, the birds were around the stream and ponds at the bottom of the hill. I’ve never heard their call before. They sounded almost like frogs: not the obvious ‘ribbit’, more a chorus of frogs. It was hard to see any of the birds but eventually one came close. I took some video but no photos, and am not sure how clear the video will be. Through the monocular, the bird looked a little like a warbler but I’m not sure the sound could be described as a warble! I watched its mouth open wider than I thought possible, so it’s whole throat seemed visible.

Then that hill. I was a little daunted by it but somehow got talking to a fellow photographer and writer who’s working on a commissioned photo book about the Camino and who’s also about to have a novel published in Spanish. We were then at the top before I knew it. What a wonderful vista! The poppy fields stand out so boldly from a distance. I wonder how they seem for colourblind people, though; perhaps still different but not overly striking?

We ran down some of the hill… ok, much of the hill… and I do know this is not advisable but… it was fun 😳.

We spent much of the next section talking with a lady from Canada. She offered to take photos of us and I’ll attach one here. I think she’s on this forum so perhaps she’ll pop up in this thread! As we chatted, we looked for the spot from which the Brierly book cover was taken, thinking it must be along that stretch, but we couldn’t pinpoint it exactly.

I asked at the San Nicolás hostel about the foot washing that used to take place there. I wasn’t aware that it had been stopped, and asked what had happened: was it stopped during Covid, or some time earlier? I sensed that they didn’t want to answer this, but they offered me coffee, for which I was very grateful by that point, and I thought the building itself very atmospheric.

We stopped in Itero de la Vega for lunch outside the little supermarket that’s attached to Albergue Hogar del Peregrino. It’s a lovely couple that run this place. I was surprised by how well they catered to us given it really is just a very small local store, but we had cafe con leche brought to the table, a local pan de atún (I think she said it’s called this?) fresh nectarines, and a sandwich made from our own selection from their deli.

Both my partner and I realised yesterday that we were feeling oddly aware of time, and not in any specific way. Maybe this is something to do with the Camino? There’s a sense of losing track of the days but also of racing against… one’s own body? The need to have sufficient time after walking, to recuperate, shower, read… the need to think? Somehow running out of time, even though it shouldn’t be the case. And the. There’s the odd sensation that we’re on occasion finding it hard to remember what we did when—how could x or y place *possibly* have been only two days ago?!—where we are, where we’ve been…and who… and how…? And what’s my name again? 😃Writing this is helping to keep it all organised and memorised! Does anyone else experience this?

I’ll skip ahead a little and say that we passed right through Boadilla del Camino and on to Frómista, via the long and very beautiful canal section. I was keen to get to Frómista by this point—the temperature had climbed again after the last few cooler days—but still couldn’t resist stopping to take photos. We heard the frog-birds again on this section. I was surprised not to see birds swimming on the canal, though. There are canals where I live and there are always many ducks, moorhens, sometimes swans, etc.. Perhaps, here, they steer clear of the heat? Or maybe there’s another reason for their absence?

We stayed at the Hostel San Pedro, in a double room again, which we though absolutely wonderful. I visited the pharmacist to get more dressings for my hip (my own wool-and-microporous-tape plus compeed solution has caused further problems because I appear to be sensitive to microporous-tape!). We also managed to get cash from a cash point then.

Someone recommended Garigolo’s pizza cafe, and we had wonderful stone baked pizzas there on the terrace.

I’m still one day behind with these posts and have a couple of long days ahead, but I’m hoping to catch up. We’re in Carrión de los Condes, though, which I love!
 

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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
At Población de Campos, we took the alternative route to avoid the road. I was in a vaguely ridiculous mood. Singing as we went along and generally happy as an elf. We’d been in a long line of pilgrims but only two were on this alternative stretch with us. We thought it a lovely stretch: quiet, except for the sound of the trees, skylarks, our feet. After a while, we saw more pilgrims behind us.

At Villovieco, we turned into the town, imagining we might find a cafe open near the plaza mayor, but we walked right through it to the church of Santa Maria at the far side, finding nothing. We stopped to take off layers (it seems incredible given the heat now that I was still wearing a down jacket then) and put on sun screen. On the way out of the village, we spotted the haven that is El Chiringuito de Villovieco, so we stopped there for cafes con leche, and my partner had a hot dog too.

We kept on along the alternative route, following the line of poplars and the little river Ucieza past Villarmentero de Campos, until the turn by the Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Rio (I love imagined the bells there ringing of their own accord when the relics of St Martin arrived, as per the legend) which led us into Villalcázar de Sirga. Two things here: first, the lovely cafe opposite the cathedral of Santa Moria de Blanca—what a lovely place, and many pilgrims all gathering there, plus the Camerero was wearing a La Casa de Papel T-Shirt of which I greatly approved 😃, and secondly, the cathedral itself. What an amazing, special place. I talked for quite a while with the lady in attendance there, and her passion for the importance of the building, place and it’s history was very apparent. I could imagine passing a very pleasant night in this small town, and was struck by the cleanliness, brightness and number of facilities.

And then there was the long road section to Carrion de los Condes. I actually rather enjoyed this part, but imagine it must have been quite a monotonous day for those pilgrims who stuck to the road earlier on. Perhaps they saw things I can’t know about, though. Either way, it was pleasant to have a simple stretch, and to feel part of a procession of pilgrims as far as the eye could see in both directions, all heading into the town.

That’s something I haven’t yet mentioned. As I think is evident from this forum, the Camino is *busy*, although never overwhelmingly so. I find we’re rarely alone, in the sense that there’s almost always another pilgrim or two in sight, and often many more. I like this, though, because we’re getting to know people through seeing them repeatedly, probably more than we did last year, and also often meeting new faces.

Carrión de los Condes itself is a gem, isn’t it? We stayed at the Hostel La Corte, right opposite the entrance side of the Santa Maria church, and I’d really recommend their rooms. They went out of their way not only to give me the extra pillows I’d enquired about many at months ago, but to put them in my room so they were ready for me, and tell me about it so I didn’t need to ask. These little things are just so lovely.

We spent the afternoon resting then walking around the town, and seeing the exhibitions of statues and art relating to the Virgin Mary in both churches. Dinner was at La Cerve, which was recommended to us by the lady at the lovely deli next door. The fact she suggested it and used the word ‘casero’ was all I needed to hear! It was wonderful! I had a massive Caesar salad with patatas bravas. I’ve been craving more fresh salad, fruit and veg for a while so this was perfect.

…And I’m still behind by one day. I’m going to skip ahead by missing out some detail where there’s relatively little….
 

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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
Today, we walked to Ledigos. It was long, mostly very straight, and lovely in many ways: glorious views, tractors throwing up clouds of soil that looked like dust devils, a hen harrier, stops at the two oases where we chatted with pilgrims we’re getting to know. One part of the conversation that I do think worth mentioning is regarding the ‘comfort break’ situation for women on this section. When it’s this busy, where on earth are women supposed to go?! I managed ok myself, but I think at other times I’d have really struggled with it.

Another thing today was that my partner is using the Picture This app to identify plants and trees, and discovered that the odd looking purple-sprouting plant at the side of the road was in fact ‘Deadly Carrot’, and just touching the root can cause a severe skin reaction (a good thing it isn’t the leaves or stem that’s the problem!). I found this vaguely hilarious. A deadly carrot 🥕😆

It was hot today, but pleasant, with a breeze. It wasn’t a very long day, but despite this, the last two miles for some reason really gave me problems. Tomorrow is our longest day of all, at 17.8 miles/33km—we’re opting for the Roman route to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos—and I’ve got muscle spasms in my legs. I had a massage here at La Morena, where we have a room. I highly recommend the masseuse! He’s a very muscly gentleman but an absolutely lovely person who really knows his stuff. We had a good natter, including about the football (my nearest city is Liverpool, and they’re playing Madrid today in the Champions League Finals). He gave me excellent advice along the lines of my usual physio back home, who’s the only person I really trust when it comes to my wayward body. Even so, I’m nervous about the walk to Calzadilla tomorrow. I know it’s a tough one with little shelter, few services for the second half, and now the muscle trouble could really be a problem. But… I usually push through and come out the other side.

The food here at La Morena is also absolutely fantastic! We had the menu of the day at 2:30pm, so we can have a really early night… which is what I’m about to do after I’ve posted this 😃 🌙 💤
 

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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
My husband served at the albergue de peregrinos in Cdl Hermanillos last fall. You will likely stay at Via Trajana or the casa rural instead since you are choosing private rooms. There is a tiny store in town usually run by Monica. Also an outside park museum with Roman items on exhibit. Enjoy this peaceful way.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
The restaurant at la Morena should get 4 stars. Your photos are so crisp and clear, what kind of camera phone are you using? You are so lucky with the weather you are walking in currently. Today you will be walking through Moratinos, you should stop by Peaceable to give Reb and Paddy a shout out!
 
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Have been following your Camino for the last several days, really enjoyed reading your views and also seeing your pictures. 3 years ago my husband and I left off in Burgos, we’ll start again from there on Ebikes this Saturday, so eventually may be on the Camino at the same time. If you see a couple of bicigrinos please say hello 😍
 
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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
We left Ledigos at 6:30am, ready for our longest stage, taking the Roman route/Via Trajana to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. My legs, amazingly as far as I was concerned, had recovered, and I left in very good spirits. We’d loved everything about La Morena; it obviously healed me well!

We decided to avoid the most direct routes along the main road, and enjoyed the curving lanes as the sun rose. We didn’t stop in either Terradillos de Templarios or Moratinos (too late, I spotted @biarritzdon’s suggestion that I stop there!). By San Nicolás del Real Camino we wanted coffee, and remembering the sign on the way into the village which quoted Socrates, “…and the second bar is the coolest” (or similar) we passed the busy first bar and found a lovely table beneath shady trees outside the Albergería Laganares. I was impressed by their range of veggie food! I’m not veggie but am flexitarian—I try to cut down on meat, particularly red meat, and often opt for veggie meals—and have been repeatedly surprised by meat popping up in things I thought would be veggie such as a chickpea salad. We plumped for the coffee/juice/bread with tomato, cheese and olive oil option, and the whole thing was utterly wonderful, including the atmosphere and the Spanish music.

We stopped briefly at the half way point outside Sahagún—taking photos for another pilgrim, who also took one of us—then headed into the town, and had more coffee and neopolitanas at the cafe Asturcón, where we chatted with familiar faces.

Leaving there around 10:50am, we headed to the junction where we’d go into Calzada del Coto, and separate from the main Camino route through Bercianos del Real Camino and El Burgo Ranero. We spoke to no other pilgrims who were taking the Roman route, which both surprised me and didn’t.

I headed for the drinking fountain at the far end of Calzada del Coto but got distracted by the sound of frogs in the nearby pond, so sat to watch and film them for a while, dodging the sprinklers each time they came my way! Swifts were swooping over the water to drink and catch insects, and I failed miserably to photograph them! We ate cheese and bread at the picnic benches there.

The section from that point was remarkable for how quiet it was in comparison with the route we’ve walked until now. It’s not that we haven’t had quiet sections, because we have. The difference I think was that the horizons are large in this stage, and still, there were mostly no other visible pilgrims.

At one point, we noticed a local man walking up behind us. We stopped briefly and he passed us, greeting us in English, and we realised we’d seen him in some albergues, and that he wasn’t a local man at all. We were concerned because he had no backpack or bag, nor any visible water, and didn’t look in particularly great shape. A little later, we found him at the side of the road, and he asked us if he was still on the Camino. By this point, we were only about two miles from Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, so I suggested he walk on to there, because people would be able to help him ( @JWillhaus, I remember well your thread when your husband was volunteering at the donativo there, and recalled the close network of communications in the village). He had to take a phone call and assured us he had water (we offered!) so we left him there.

Entering Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, I was surprised by how tucked away the location is but also by how green the little valley is there. The architecture of village is different from anywhere else I’ve been too, with so many houses made from hay and mud (I imagine this has a name but I wasn’t told it).

We were immediately welcomed as we entered the village by a gentleman outside the Via Trajana. He said we must be tired, and that we could rest now we’d arrived. Everyone we encountered was welcoming in a similar way. It felt very different to everywhere else, and perhaps this is down to the reduced footfall, together with an awareness that the walk there isn’t the easiest, or perhaps that it has required a deliberate decision? I don’t really know. The reaction of the people stood out to me, though.

We stayed at Casa El Cura. What an utterly marvellous place! It felt like being greeted as guests in someone’s home. They brought us freshly picked strawberries from the garden. Later, Gemma, the owner, spent a long time going through—wait for it—a book of local birds and wildlife, and talking to me about them all. From the terrace there, I’d seen what was almost certainly an eagle but we weren’t sure which type. I have, however, now discovered that the birds I couldn’t identify in Castrojeriz were Black redstarts.

We had a fantastic meal at Casa El Cura. We talked over dinner with a lady who is doing the Camino over 84 days; isnt it brilliant, that people really do do the Camino in so many ways, each in the way that suits their own needs? I’ve been really struck by this recently. But back to the meal. Leo, Gemma’s husband, the chef, clearly has a great passion for fresh ingredients and home cooking. They’re utterly lovely, characterful people. We’d actually like to return there for a full week, just to relax, write, wander, read, etc.

I’m behind by a day again but will update this again tomorrow!
 

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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
The restaurant at la Morena should get 4 stars. Your photos are so crisp and clear, what kind of camera phone are you using? You are so lucky with the weather you are walking in currently. Today you will be walking through Moratinos, you should stop by Peaceable to give Reb and Paddy a shout out!
I absolutely agree about the restaurant at La Morena! I really needed it that day too; we hadn’t even checked in before I set about ordering the menu of the day.

I’m glad you like the photos! My phone is an iPhone 13. I also carry a little Canon G7K with an external microphone, and use that for mostly video. I find the still photos from the iPhone good enough, but sometimes wish I had a telephoto.

I read your post when I’d arrived in Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, but would have stopped in at Moratinos if I’d read it sooner! Sorry!
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
My husband served at the albergue de peregrinos in Cdl Hermanillos last fall. You will likely stay at Via Trajana or the casa rural instead since you are choosing private rooms. There is a tiny store in town usually run by Monica. Also an outside park museum with Roman items on exhibit. Enjoy this peaceful way.
A few months ago, when I had more or less decided to opt for the Roman route, I read your full thread about your husband’s time there, in leisurely detail! It was absolutely wonderful! Every day, I was hoping he’d have pilgrims, or that he’d have firewood, or a saw to cut it with, m or that the lady at the shop would have some nugget of local information passed down from Sahagún. I carried that thread with me into Calzadilla de los Hermanillos yesterday, in an abstract way of course, but it really did inform my experience there. Thank you for it, and your husband too!
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
Have been following your Camino for the last several days, really enjoyed reading your views and also seeing your pictures. 3 years ago my husband and I left off in Burgos, we’ll start again from there on Ebikes this Saturday, so eventually may be on the Camino at the same time. If you see a couple of bicigrinos please say hello 😍
Ooooh, how exciting, that you’ve been following this thread and will soon be here too! You must say hello if you spot me. Please do. I always have a Buen Camino for cyclists.

I hope your preparations and early stages go brilliantly! Buen Camino in advance, for Burgos onwards!
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
We stayed at the albergue where you ate in San Nicholas, but ate at Casa Barrunda which our best meal on the Camino. Glad you enjoyed Casa de Cura and the via Romana/Trajana! Thanks for taking the way less traveled.
 
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Loving your enthusiastic account, Lindsay! Thank you.
And all the birds. (Were those Reed Warblers you saw at the stream before the climb out from Castrojerez?)

I loved Casa el Cura too. It was definitely a highlight. Such wonderful people.

Buen camino!
 
Ooooh, how exciting, that you’ve been following this thread and will soon be here too! You must say hello if you spot me. Please do. I always have a Buen Camino for cyclists.

I hope your preparations and early stages go brilliantly! Buen Camino in advance, for Burgos onwards!
Thanks so much! I shall look out for you 💕
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
I wanted to post something sooner than this but a combination of events have caused me to delay until now. I’d expected to have time during my rest day in León: this didn’t happen, because of a medical issue. Im also trying to let myself relax fully and not worry about not writing down what I’ve done, even though I both want to share it and want to write it down at least for my own memory. So, bearing that in mind…

This is a condensed update! (Please overlook any typos. I’ll try to edit them later but want to get this posted, and find it hard to type on my phone quickly without stupidities creeping in).


Calzadilla de los Hermanillos to Mansilla de las Mulas

The main, initial stretch of Roman road was both wonderful and a little gruelling. Wonderful because it was genuinely remote, with no services of any type, and allowed time for reflection, but was also full of wildlife all around. It was both strange and a relief to be away from the procession of pilgrims, at least for a short while. We saw many more deadly carrots! 😃🥕😱 I also loved the wetland areas with frogs and… yes, Reed Warblers. Thank you @VNwalking , you’re absolutely right about those we saw and heard on the way out of Castrojeriz, and they reappeared on this day. We saw hardly any other pilgrims until the end of the stretch, when several groups of French pilgrims passed us at the only rest spot. We were eating crisps at a picnic bench and waved to them with a Buen Camino. I enjoyed thinking about the Roman history, and had a new appreciation for the fortitude of Roman legions, and the vision of their engineers.

Reliegos… well, this boils down to Bar Torre/Bar Elvis (why does it have two names?!). It was closed, so I read the graffiti outside including the newspaper articles about the owner. I’d seen a man coming out, who’d told me it was closed, and suddenly realised that the person in the newspaper photos resembled that man. He returned soon after and again told me it was closed but I simply asked if he was Elvis (??? Some things are just so peculiar) and this sparked a one hour conversation in Spanish, with some singing, many stories, and became one of my most memorable experiences so far. What a character! And a really lovely person.

Mansilla de las Mulas... We walked into the town with the man we’d found lost the day before. I mentioned him in my previous post, because he’d taken the wrong turn and ended up on the Roman route instead of walking to Bercianos Del Real Camino. We spotted him in Reliegos and I immediately asked how he was and whether it had all worked out ok. He’d ended up turning back, despite being just 2 miles from Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, and walked 44km that day. Despite this, he seemed in good spirits on the way to Mansilla de las Mulas. He hadn’t yet had a rest day since SJPDP, and isn’t a spring chicken. I have much respect for him!

I loved Mansilla itself. We stayed at Los Soportales, which I found clean and very comfortable. I liked the town itself but the highlight was the river. We saw huge fish—trout perhaps? Some were green and blue, others orange, brown and yellow—basking in the shallows, staying in one place by swimming into the current. We walked down through the park, trying to reach them, but it was too overgrown. I did bathe my feet in the lively cool water. We had a large early lunch at the Albergue del Peregrinos, then just ate fruit in the evening.



Mansilla de las Mulas to León

I mostly want to skip writing about this section because it felt longer than it should have (I’d expected an easy 12-13 mile day) and although there were many lovely moments… well, there was a lot of road, and a lot of urban or suburban sprawl. A highlight was a large snack at the Horno Rústica in Puente Villarente: fantastic empanadas, and our first experience of copious free pastries with coffee, which seems to be a León speciality. Along the route that day, I enjoyed seeing storks in random places, short sections of woodland, greeting other pilgrims, using my monocular on various large birds, and stopping at the water fountain just into Arcahueja: it was a quiet but tranquil spot, and I liked the old stone ‘no potable’ fountain with weeds growing in it, the chess set stone table (why don’t we have those in parks in England?!) and the little sparrows that got into a tussle in a puddle by the fountains, and did actual roly-polyies. I’ve never seen a bird do gymnastics before. Bundles of ridiculous tweeting feathers!

León… what a beautiful city! We took time by the walls then walking through the Puerte Moneda, and up to the cathedral, then photographing and filming the exterior. After a drink, we went on to our hotel, which I have to confess was the Parador… because it’s not as though we’ll visit Leon for the first time ever again, plus I had a voucher for Booking.com, plus… well, I love the look of the place and figured that maybe a treat wouldn’t go amiss. I also suspected I might need some medical help by this point, and wasn’t wrong. My sciatica has flared up, which causes referred pain in my feet, and to some extent also legs (oddly not my lower back). This is the thing that, in 2020, stopped me from walking at all, and caused the huge search for shoes even after the one that I posted about here.

I’ll cut the story short and explain that my rest day consisted of: massage, exploring the Parador, going to El Corte Inglés to buy new shoes because the foam has collapsed in my old ones and I’ve been super-gluing it, dinner and then bed. I have to say though, the Parador in León is *amazing*. I mean, I knew it looked a wonderful building but it’s a palace! I met an English couple with suitcases, wandering around by the entrance to the garden, looking at their phones then back to the garden, then to the facade. I asked if they were looking for something. “The Parador hotel” they said. I pointed to the entrance and said, “Oh yes, this is it”. “Really?” the man replied, “We thought it too magnificent”. The original paintings and tapestries inside are mind boggling for the way they’re just there, with all the hotel and restaurant hustle and bustle going on around them. It was a bizarre but wonderful experience


León to Villavante.

This brings me to today. I am exhausted and was in a lot of pain when I walked into Molino Galoches a little earlier today. My new shoes (New Balance Hierros) are better but are an unknown quantity and I’m not convinced they won’t cause blisters—they haven’t yet, and I do know how shoes for me should feel, but my feet are so sore, the pains come and go all over the place—so I’m still carrying my old Nike shoes, even though it’s extra weight.

The walk out of León was as you’d expect for a walk out of a city, albeit not as long as some, because that side of the city gives out after just a few miles onto countryside, via the southern Camino route. I really enjoyed that first section to Chozas de Abajo: it reminded me of the Roman road route, for the openness, yellow track, stones underfoot, but it was far busier with pilgrims, many we’d got to know but also many new faces. We stopped in Chozas de Abajo for a snack, and while we were there, a man who is doing the whole Frances with his donkey stopped for lunch too. Later, on the road into Villar de Mazarife, I talked with him quite a lot. He said it took about 15 days at first, to teach the donkey to walk well on roads and through towns. Twice, at first, it ran away. I’d watched it nuzzling him over lunch, and commented that they seemed to have a closeness, almost friendship, and he said that it was getting to be that.

Most people we know are staying there tonight rather than doing what we’ve done with the extended walk here to Villavante, but I’m glad not to have a long walk to Astorga tomorrow, with little energy left to see the town (although that may still happen 🤞 ).

The section from Villar de Mazarife seemed a little interminable. I don’t mean it was uninteresting because I loved many aspects of it, in particular the frogs, croaking with great urgency from the ditches beside the road. The route was punctuated by joys such as eating cherries and a peach, watching storks and black kites, and various conversations. But a lot of it was very straight, and in such a way that the end of the road seemed to keep moving further away. There were mirages. All of this, and the mental processes involved, were themselves interesting. But… my feet seemed by this point to be pounding on rock instead of gently rolling over a path the way they normally do, plus various other pains. I tried to ignore all this…

…And then we made it to Molino Galochas, and the lovely lady here brought us drinks and suggested I put my feet in the fast flowing water channel they have beside the water mill here, and that she’d bring me a towel to dry off… and I wasn’t going to turn down such a suggestion… and the relief of the cold water on my feet hit me so fully that I had a total wobble about the whole business of what I’m doing with this Camino walking malarkey, but in a good way, mostly, rather than a bad one.

This is a marvellous Hotel Rural. This evening, we ate outside at the table and benches by our bungalow here. The people are incredibly kind and intuitively know what’s needed. I think they not only look after their guests but almost nurse them… or they’ve done that in some way for me, at least.

Tomorrow… a shorter day (thankfully!) to Astorga… and I really hope I can walk, and more than that, have energy left for the Gaudí palace, and the next days too.
 

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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
Loving your enthusiastic account, Lindsay! Thank you.
And all the birds. (Were those Reed Warblers you saw at the stream before the climb out from Castrojerez?)

I loved Casa el Cura too. It was definitely a highlight. Such wonderful people.

Buen camino!
You’re spot on with the Reed Warbler. I’ve been listening to videos of them, and zoomed in on my photos in my other camera. Thank you for your lovely comment! I’m very glad you’re enjoying my accounts 🙏😃
 

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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
@Lhollo sorry for the foot soreness. I have to say that for me, soreness was/is also an issue every time despite good shoes that are comfortable, supportive and fit me well. For me it is just part of the Camino. Hope your back improves. Glad you are seeing many birds.
 
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My sciatica has flared up.
Oh, no. I hope it calms down, because that is miserable. And sore feet are no fun, but for me that's part of the package.
The section from Villar de Mazarife seemed a little interminable.
Endless. You describe it perfectly.
The asphalt is part of the challenge.
I have to say it's vastly easier if you walk it first thing in the mornining rather than at the end of a too-warm day.

Ah great, my guess was right.
(If you want a good app try dowloading Merlin bird ID and get the Iberian bird pack.)
 

Sheesh

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2009, 2013, (2022)
Gosh I sure hope this flare up of sciatica is short-lived Lindsay. I'm really enjoying your posts, so descriptive and evocative: what a vivid picture you paint for your reader.

Wishing you and Andrew a continued Buen Camino.
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
@Lhollo sorry for the foot soreness. I have to say that for me, soreness was/is also an issue every time despite good shoes that are comfortable, supportive and fit me well. For me it is just part of the Camino. Hope your back improves. Glad you are seeing many birds.
Ah, I should have explained that the foot pain is referrred pain from the sciatica! I’ve edited it above. I didn’t mean the usual foot pain, it’s more foot nerve pain, and the shoes do make a difference to it. Thanks for your kind wishes! 🙏
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
Oh, no. I hope it calms down, because that is miserable. And sore feet are no fun, but for me that's part of the package.
Sorry! I should have explained that the foot pain is referrred pain from the sciatica! I’ve edited it above. I’ve explained it a little more in my reply to JWillhaus just above, because she’d also picked up on my oversight. 🙏
 
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I wanted to post something sooner than this but a combination of events have caused me to delay until now. I’d expected to have time during my rest day in León: this didn’t happen, because of a medical issue. Im also trying to let myself relax fully and not worry about not writing down what I’ve done, even though I both want to share it and want to write it down at least for my own memory. So, bearing that in mind…

This is a condensed update! (Please overlook any typos. I’ll try to edit them later but want to get this posted, and find it hard to type on my phone quickly without stupidities creeping in).


Calzadilla de los Hermanillos to Mansilla de las Mulas

The main, initial stretch of Roman road was both wonderful and a little gruelling. Wonderful because it was genuinely remote, with no services of any type, and allowed time for reflection, but was also full of wildlife all around. It was both strange and a relief to be away from the procession of pilgrims, at least for a short while. We saw many more deadly carrots! 😃🥕😱 I also loved the wetland areas with frogs and… yes, Reed Warblers. Thank you @VNwalking , you’re absolutely right about those we saw and heard on the way out of Castrojeriz, and they reappeared on this day. We saw hardly any other pilgrims until the end of the stretch, when several groups of French pilgrims passed us at the only rest spot. We were eating crisps at a picnic bench and waved to them with a Buen Camino. I enjoyed thinking about the Roman history, and had a new appreciation for the fortitude of Roman legions, and the vision of their engineers.

Reliegos… well, this boils down to Bar Torre/Bar Elvis (why does it have two names?!). It was closed, so I read the graffiti outside including the newspaper articles about the owner. I’d seen a man coming out, who’d told me it was closed, and suddenly realised that the person in the newspaper photos resembled that man. He returned soon after and again told me it was closed but I simply asked if he was Elvis (??? Some things are just so peculiar) and this sparked a one hour conversation in Spanish, with some singing, many stories, and became one of my most memorable experiences so far. What a character! And a really lovely person.

Mansilla de las Mulas... We walked into the town with the man we’d found lost the day before. I mentioned him in my previous post, because he’d taken the wrong turn and ended up on the Roman route instead of walking to Bercianos Del Real Camino. We spotted him in Reliegos and I immediately asked how he was and whether it had all worked out ok. He’d ended up turning back, despite being just 2 miles from Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, and walked 44km that day. Despite this, he seemed in good spirits on the way to Mansilla de las Mulas. He hadn’t yet had a rest day since SJPDP, and isn’t a spring chicken. I have much respect for him!

I loved Mansilla itself. We stayed at Los Soportales, which I found clean and very comfortable. I liked the town itself but the highlight was the river. We saw huge fish—trout perhaps? Some were green and blue, others orange, brown and yellow—basking in the shallows, staying in one place by swimming into the current. We walked down through the park, trying to reach them, but it was too overgrown. I did bathe my feet in the lively cool water. We had a large early lunch at the Albergue del Peregrinos, then just ate fruit in the evening.



Mansilla de las Mulas to León

I mostly want to skip writing about this section because it felt longer than it should have (I’d expected an easy 12-13 mile day) and although there were many lovely moments… well, there was a lot of road, and a lot of urban or suburban sprawl. A highlight was a large snack at the Horno Rústica in Puente Villarente: fantastic empanadas, and our first experience of copious free pastries with coffee, which seems to be a León speciality. Along the route that day, I enjoyed seeing storks in random places, short sections of woodland, greeting other pilgrims, using my monocular on various large birds, and stopping at the water fountain just into Arcahueja: it was a quiet but tranquil spot, and I liked the old stone ‘no potable’ fountain with weeds growing in it, the chess set stone table (why don’t we have those in parks in England?!) and the little sparrows that got into a tussle in a puddle by the fountains, and did actual roly-polyies. I’ve never seen a bird do gymnastics before. Bundles of ridiculous tweeting feathers!

León… what a beautiful city! We took time by the walls then walking through the Puerte Moneda, and up to the cathedral, then photographing and filming the exterior. After a drink, we went on to our hotel, which I have to confess was the Parador… because it’s not as though we’ll visit Leon for the first time ever again, plus I had a voucher for Booking.com, plus… well, I love the look of the place and figured that maybe a treat wouldn’t go amiss. I also suspected I might need some medical help by this point, and wasn’t wrong. My sciatica has flared up, which causes referred pain in my feet. This is the thing that, in 2020, stopped me from walking at all, and caused the huge search for shoes even after the one that I posted about here.

I’ll cut the story short and explain that my rest day consisted of: massage, exploring the Parador, going to El Corte Inglés to buy new shoes because the foam has collapsed in my old ones and I’ve been super-gluing it, dinner and then bed. I have to say though, the Parador in León is *amazing*. I mean, I knew it looked a wonderful building but it’s a palace! I met an English couple with suitcases, wandering around by the entrance to the garden, looking at their phones then back to the garden, then to the facade. I asked if they were looking for something. “The Parador hotel” they said. I pointed to the entrance and said, “Oh yes, this is it”. “Really?” the man replied, “We thought it too magnificent”. The original paintings and tapestries inside are mind boggling for the way they’re just there, with all the hotel and restaurant hustle and bustle going on around them. It was a bizarre but wonderful experience


León to Villavante.

This brings me to today. I am exhausted and was in a lot of pain when I walked into Molino Galoches a little earlier today. My new shoes (New Balance Hierros) are better but are an unknown quantity and I’m not convinced they won’t cause blisters—they haven’t yet, and I do know how shoes for me should feel, but my feet are so sore, the pains come and go all over the place—so I’m still carrying my old Nike shoes, even though it’s extra weight.

The walk out of León was as you’d expect for a walk out of a city, albeit not as long as some, because that side of the city gives out after just a few miles onto countryside, via the southern Camino route. I really enjoyed that first section to Chozas de Abajo: it reminded me of the Roman road route, for the openness, yellow track, stones underfoot, but it was far busier with pilgrims, many we’d got to know but also many new faces. We stopped in Chozas de Abajo for a snack, and while we were there, a man who is doing the whole Frances with his donkey stopped for lunch too. Later, on the road into Villar de Mazarife, I talked with him quite a lot. He said it took about 15 days at first, to teach the donkey to walk well on roads and through towns. Twice, at first, it ran away. I’d watched it nuzzling him over lunch, and commented that they seemed to have a closeness, almost friendship, and he said that it was getting to be that.

Most people we know are staying there tonight rather than doing what we’ve done with the extended walk here to Villavante, but I’m glad not to have a long walk to Astorga tomorrow, with little energy left to see the town (although that may still happen 🤞 ).

The section from Villar de Mazarife seemed a little interminable. I don’t mean it was uninteresting because I loved many aspects of it, in particular the frogs, croaking with great urgency from the ditches beside the road. The route was punctuated by joys such as eating cherries and a peach, watching storks and black kites, and various conversations. But a lot of it was very straight, and in such a way that the end of the road seemed to keep moving further away. There were mirages. All of this, and the mental processes involved, were themselves interesting. But… my feet seemed by this point to be pounding on rock instead of gently rolling over a path the way they normally do, plus various other pains. I tried to ignore all this…

…And then we made it to Molino Galochas, and the lovely lady here brought us drinks and suggested I put my feet in the fast flowing water channel they have beside the water mill here, and that she’d bring me a towel to dry off… and I wasn’t going to turn down such a suggestion… and the relief of the cold water on my feet hit me so fully that I had a total wobble about the whole business of what I’m doing with this Camino walking malarkey, but in a good way, mostly, rather than a bad one.

This is a marvellous Hotel Rural. This evening, we ate outside at the table and benches by our bungalow here. The people are incredibly kind and intuitively know what’s needed. I think they not only look after their guests but almost nurse them… or they’ve done that in some way for me, at least.

Tomorrow… a shorter day (thankfully!) to Astorga… and I really hope I can walk, and more than that, have energy left for the Gaudí palace, and the next days too.
Catching up with your super reports. I was delighted to see @Theatregal has been following along, given her great interest in birdwatching. Thanks for taking the time to write. Mind yourself, you need your feet as you well know, and not just for the duration of the camino you are walking.👣
 
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino
2022 Camino Guides
The 2022 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I stayed at Molino Galochas several years ago and it was run by a lovley couple, Mercedes and ?, I heard they were selling it. Are they still there or is there a new owner? I was there when the cherry trees where full of fruit, I could have picked a bushel basket if I wanted.
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
I stayed at Molino Galochas several years ago and it was run by a lovley couple, Mercedes and ?, I heard they were selling it. Are they still there or is there a new owner? I was there when the cherry trees where full of fruit, I could have picked a bushel basket if I wanted.
Mercedes is still there! She’s utterly wonderful isn’t she? I saw her husband but didn’t speak with him. A younger lady, Cristina, was there too. I presume she’s their daughter but am not sure. There were poppies all around, and their veg garden was looking very healthy, but no cherries at this time of year.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances SJPP-Fisterra (2014_18). Burgos-Astorga (2019). Sarria-Santiago (Jan 2020).
I wanted to post something sooner than this but a combination of events have caused me to delay until now. I’d expected to have time during my rest day in León: this didn’t happen, because of a medical issue. Im also trying to let myself relax fully and not worry about not writing down what I’ve done, even though I both want to share it and want to write it down at least for my own memory. So, bearing that in mind…

This is a condensed update! (Please overlook any typos. I’ll try to edit them later but want to get this posted, and find it hard to type on my phone quickly without stupidities creeping in).


Calzadilla de los Hermanillos to Mansilla de las Mulas

The main, initial stretch of Roman road was both wonderful and a little gruelling. Wonderful because it was genuinely remote, with no services of any type, and allowed time for reflection, but was also full of wildlife all around. It was both strange and a relief to be away from the procession of pilgrims, at least for a short while. We saw many more deadly carrots! 😃🥕😱 I also loved the wetland areas with frogs and… yes, Reed Warblers. Thank you @VNwalking , you’re absolutely right about those we saw and heard on the way out of Castrojeriz, and they reappeared on this day. We saw hardly any other pilgrims until the end of the stretch, when several groups of French pilgrims passed us at the only rest spot. We were eating crisps at a picnic bench and waved to them with a Buen Camino. I enjoyed thinking about the Roman history, and had a new appreciation for the fortitude of Roman legions, and the vision of their engineers.

Reliegos… well, this boils down to Bar Torre/Bar Elvis (why does it have two names?!). It was closed, so I read the graffiti outside including the newspaper articles about the owner. I’d seen a man coming out, who’d told me it was closed, and suddenly realised that the person in the newspaper photos resembled that man. He returned soon after and again told me it was closed but I simply asked if he was Elvis (??? Some things are just so peculiar) and this sparked a one hour conversation in Spanish, with some singing, many stories, and became one of my most memorable experiences so far. What a character! And a really lovely person.

Mansilla de las Mulas... We walked into the town with the man we’d found lost the day before. I mentioned him in my previous post, because he’d taken the wrong turn and ended up on the Roman route instead of walking to Bercianos Del Real Camino. We spotted him in Reliegos and I immediately asked how he was and whether it had all worked out ok. He’d ended up turning back, despite being just 2 miles from Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, and walked 44km that day. Despite this, he seemed in good spirits on the way to Mansilla de las Mulas. He hadn’t yet had a rest day since SJPDP, and isn’t a spring chicken. I have much respect for him!

I loved Mansilla itself. We stayed at Los Soportales, which I found clean and very comfortable. I liked the town itself but the highlight was the river. We saw huge fish—trout perhaps? Some were green and blue, others orange, brown and yellow—basking in the shallows, staying in one place by swimming into the current. We walked down through the park, trying to reach them, but it was too overgrown. I did bathe my feet in the lively cool water. We had a large early lunch at the Albergue del Peregrinos, then just ate fruit in the evening.



Mansilla de las Mulas to León

I mostly want to skip writing about this section because it felt longer than it should have (I’d expected an easy 12-13 mile day) and although there were many lovely moments… well, there was a lot of road, and a lot of urban or suburban sprawl. A highlight was a large snack at the Horno Rústica in Puente Villarente: fantastic empanadas, and our first experience of copious free pastries with coffee, which seems to be a León speciality. Along the route that day, I enjoyed seeing storks in random places, short sections of woodland, greeting other pilgrims, using my monocular on various large birds, and stopping at the water fountain just into Arcahueja: it was a quiet but tranquil spot, and I liked the old stone ‘no potable’ fountain with weeds growing in it, the chess set stone table (why don’t we have those in parks in England?!) and the little sparrows that got into a tussle in a puddle by the fountains, and did actual roly-polyies. I’ve never seen a bird do gymnastics before. Bundles of ridiculous tweeting feathers!

León… what a beautiful city! We took time by the walls then walking through the Puerte Moneda, and up to the cathedral, then photographing and filming the exterior. After a drink, we went on to our hotel, which I have to confess was the Parador… because it’s not as though we’ll visit Leon for the first time ever again, plus I had a voucher for Booking.com, plus… well, I love the look of the place and figured that maybe a treat wouldn’t go amiss. I also suspected I might need some medical help by this point, and wasn’t wrong. My sciatica has flared up, which causes referred pain in my feet, and to some extent also legs (oddly not my lower back). This is the thing that, in 2020, stopped me from walking at all, and caused the huge search for shoes even after the one that I posted about here.

I’ll cut the story short and explain that my rest day consisted of: massage, exploring the Parador, going to El Corte Inglés to buy new shoes because the foam has collapsed in my old ones and I’ve been super-gluing it, dinner and then bed. I have to say though, the Parador in León is *amazing*. I mean, I knew it looked a wonderful building but it’s a palace! I met an English couple with suitcases, wandering around by the entrance to the garden, looking at their phones then back to the garden, then to the facade. I asked if they were looking for something. “The Parador hotel” they said. I pointed to the entrance and said, “Oh yes, this is it”. “Really?” the man replied, “We thought it too magnificent”. The original paintings and tapestries inside are mind boggling for the way they’re just there, with all the hotel and restaurant hustle and bustle going on around them. It was a bizarre but wonderful experience


León to Villavante.

This brings me to today. I am exhausted and was in a lot of pain when I walked into Molino Galoches a little earlier today. My new shoes (New Balance Hierros) are better but are an unknown quantity and I’m not convinced they won’t cause blisters—they haven’t yet, and I do know how shoes for me should feel, but my feet are so sore, the pains come and go all over the place—so I’m still carrying my old Nike shoes, even though it’s extra weight.

The walk out of León was as you’d expect for a walk out of a city, albeit not as long as some, because that side of the city gives out after just a few miles onto countryside, via the southern Camino route. I really enjoyed that first section to Chozas de Abajo: it reminded me of the Roman road route, for the openness, yellow track, stones underfoot, but it was far busier with pilgrims, many we’d got to know but also many new faces. We stopped in Chozas de Abajo for a snack, and while we were there, a man who is doing the whole Frances with his donkey stopped for lunch too. Later, on the road into Villar de Mazarife, I talked with him quite a lot. He said it took about 15 days at first, to teach the donkey to walk well on roads and through towns. Twice, at first, it ran away. I’d watched it nuzzling him over lunch, and commented that they seemed to have a closeness, almost friendship, and he said that it was getting to be that.

Most people we know are staying there tonight rather than doing what we’ve done with the extended walk here to Villavante, but I’m glad not to have a long walk to Astorga tomorrow, with little energy left to see the town (although that may still happen 🤞 ).

The section from Villar de Mazarife seemed a little interminable. I don’t mean it was uninteresting because I loved many aspects of it, in particular the frogs, croaking with great urgency from the ditches beside the road. The route was punctuated by joys such as eating cherries and a peach, watching storks and black kites, and various conversations. But a lot of it was very straight, and in such a way that the end of the road seemed to keep moving further away. There were mirages. All of this, and the mental processes involved, were themselves interesting. But… my feet seemed by this point to be pounding on rock instead of gently rolling over a path the way they normally do, plus various other pains. I tried to ignore all this…

…And then we made it to Molino Galochas, and the lovely lady here brought us drinks and suggested I put my feet in the fast flowing water channel they have beside the water mill here, and that she’d bring me a towel to dry off… and I wasn’t going to turn down such a suggestion… and the relief of the cold water on my feet hit me so fully that I had a total wobble about the whole business of what I’m doing with this Camino walking malarkey, but in a good way, mostly, rather than a bad one.

This is a marvellous Hotel Rural. This evening, we ate outside at the table and benches by our bungalow here. The people are incredibly kind and intuitively know what’s needed. I think they not only look after their guests but almost nurse them… or they’ve done that in some way for me, at least.

Tomorrow… a shorter day (thankfully!) to Astorga… and I really hope I can walk, and more than that, have energy left for the Gaudí palace, and the next days too.
Thank you for your fab reporting! I will be walking to Villar de Mazarife next Tuesday and delighted to read your experience of this route. Hope your pain recedes and the new shoes are trouble free. ¡Buen Camino!
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
I’m sorry I haven’t updated for a few days, yet again! I think part of what I’m trying to process during this part of my Way relates to time, and to what I record and why I write. I’m trying to message people at home, too, and really don’t know where the spare hours go!

To jump forward a little, I’ll say now that we’ve had a rest day in Villafranca del Bierzo, and I’m writing now from there. I hope to get this up to date now, with two further posts after this one!

So, back to Villavante and Molino Galoches…

We had the little bungalow at Molinos Galoches and I’d barely been awake when I heard Mercedes at the door with our breakfast. I think I said it in my last post, but again, what an utterly wonderful place Molinos Galoches is. Mercedes showed us the shortcut through the garden to the Camino and we headed off at 7:30am, intending to push on for a while before having our next break.

We’d heard from other pilgrims that an annual carnival would take place in Hospital de Órbigo in the afternoon and evening. I wished we could have delayed, to stay there and see the festivities. I suspect a few pilgrims did linger there—particularly those who the night before stayed in Villar de Masarife instead of Villavante—because we haven’t seen them since. We crossed the bridge there, looking out on round medieval tents and a jousting area. The town was hung with heraldic banners and felt lost in time because we were walking behind the donkey-and-owner we’d encountered the previous day. I walked with him for a little while. He’s laden with panniers, camping equipment, etc, but is in extremely good condition and, according to how owner, never wants to stop walking each day.

We stopped briefly for coffee and a banana each in Villares de Órbigo before heading on to Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias. Climbing the hill from there, we had some mild rain but not enough to crack out the ponchos. It soon stopped, but left a stunning rainbow.

Climbing further, (still with the donkey just behind us, although it was the last time we’d walk near him) I chatted for a while with a man from Barcelona who is doing the Camino Frances for the fourth time. At first, we talked about the black kites above us (I was trying to find the name for them in Spanish) but then we talked more generally about the Camino. “It gets better after this,” he enthused, “once you’re away from the flat areas it’s much more beautiful”. I told him I’m nervous about O Cebreiro and he shrugged. He didn’t seem to think it too bad.

I loved this section’s higher areas with the red soil, woodland and the distant mountains’ promise, or perhaps their question marks. At the flat, high section shortly before the descent, we were drawn into La Casa de los Dios, largely because a pilgrim, who we’ve since come to know, was playing Don’t Worry Be Happy on a tiple (a ten stringed ukelele-like instrument). A small crowd had gathered round the large donativo table which was laid with all manner of foods: watermelon, cheeses, oranges next to a press for juice, hard boiled eggs, cured meats, bowls of nuts, seed bread, sliced white bread, grapes, cherries… and it goes on… and that’s without listing what was on the drinks and yoghurts table! We decided to stay around for lunch, (leaving a good donation): to linger in such a nice place, enjoy such lovely food, and to save time by not needing another stop. I chatted briefly with—not the owner of the donativo, because he insisted that the owner is God or the Gods—but at least the person responsible for such a wonderful place.

We went through San Justo de la Vega, singing Don’t Worry Be Happy all the way. I still have it in my head and it’s become the soundtrack of this part of the Camino for us.

Entering Astorga, I was mindful of the Peregrino Torture Tower being on this part of route, and had in my mind the directions in the pdf that’s downloadable here. Still, what with chatting with another pilgrim, we were upon it before we knew it, but it was easy to backtrack to the little path and cut across the train tracks. On the other side, we heard an Irish voice shout ‘That’s cheating!’ from the bridge. We turned to see the smiling face of the tiple-player whose singing had stayed with us since the top of the hill. We walked with him and his girlfriend into Astorga. They’re camping most nights but very appreciative of their occasional nights indoors with a bath.

In Astorga, we were surprised to find that our room at the Casa de la Tepa was in fact in a building that’s belonged to the current owner’s family for 220 years, since the time of Napoleon, who once stayed there. It’s a fascinating building inside, full of character, and all of the family who run it were very happy to talk or help in any way they could. I wish we’d had longer there! The garden alone deserved a few spare hours with a book or journal. But instead, we went around the Gaudí bishop’s palace (I’m a Gaudí fan). I found the backstory of the creation of the building particularly interesting: the months Gaudí spent there, how he had to change his designs, and that the local administrators didn’t pay him for four years, despite several royal orders from the Queen!

I was relieved at the end of the day, that I felt better rather than worse than the day before. As is often the case, the power of the body quickly to heal, amazes me. I was concerned about the climbs ahead, even so, and we got quite an early night.
 

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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
I woke early and checked the weather in Foncebadon—our destination for the day—to see that ‘light thundershowers’ were due at 12 noon, followed by ‘thunderstorms’ at 1pm. We couldn’t pack fast enough!

Because we hadn’t had breakfast, we stopped briefly on the outskirts of Astorga for coffee and Neopolitanas. I’m glad we did, because the extra fuel seemed to power us through the next section. I had intended to spend longer in Valdeviejas (I wasn’t sure where Denise’s memorial was but thought I’d see a sign along the way; I don’t know how I missed it). We were through the area before we knew it, and into the lovely gently sloping area with low trees on either side and yellow broom in flower. The sky ahead was deep cobalt but the sun on the flowers was golden. I saw another Bee eater here, which you can probably imagine kept me very happy 😃

We kept on through Murias de Rechivaldo and Castrillo de los Polvazares, stopping instead in Santa Catalina de Somoza, for more coffee and orange juice. I found this quite an odd place: lovely in terms of the architecture suddenly changing, but the cafe was… a little peculiar. The lady behind the bar seemed rushed off her feet but was chatting with a local who was having some personal problems. The toilets had no paper so I had to linger there for a while, as the poor lady rooted through all sorts of cupboards trying to find more. There was a selection of knives for sale on the bar. None of this means anything in particular but it was all… well, the mind can play tricks… and outside the clouds were drawing in by the moment so everything was growing dark literally as well as psychologically!

We had to stop at the top of the hill out of the village to put on ponchos. We’ve brought just two disposable ponchos each but we realised that everyone else has brought either proper ponchos or raincoats and backpack covers. The rain was quickly fierce, with a biting wind, and probably thanks to the display of knives for sale, I could help imagine tiny ice daggers piercing my arms. This is a downside to disposable ponchos: no arm protection, and I was wearing a tank top. I powered past the walking stick seller, who was at the top of this section. I’d been hoping to see him at some point in the Camino since we first began, and I was horrified that he was up there of all places, in a storm, when we really couldn’t easily stop and chat. Gah!

I thought the storm would last all day, given that the forecast was for it to hit Foncebadón at noon and this wasn’t yet even 9am, so I was focusing on keeping moving to keep my temperature up, but also wondering whether I’d exhaust myself.

In El Ganso, I suggested we look for shelter in the doorway of the church, but inside it, we found a gentleman called Geronimo who sells gem jewellery. He patted the stone bench on the dry side of the doorway, the other side being in the rain, and Andrew sat while I, instead, looked at the jewellery. I felt somehow that Geronimo was a gift. I chose a carnelian pendant with a carving of a rabbit or hare. I thought about the association of hares and spirits. After this, the rain lifted. Coincidence? 🤔 😊

From that point on, the theme of otherworldly legends seemed to take hold of the day. I kept seeing things to do with witchcraft: brujas, brújula, messages on stones that fitted uncannily with the theme. And that’s before we think about Foncebadón but I’m getting ahead of myself!

The sun came out fully and we stopped outside Rabanal del Camino to put on sunscreen. We ate outside La Candela, chatting with pilgrims who were staying either there or further into the village.

Walking on, I was surprised by how steep the village of Rabanal del Camino is, but also how surprisingly large… and how very pretty. I couldn’t believe how much the architecture had changed from the previous days. There is slate!

We kept on up the hill, looking back and marvelling at how the storm clouds loomed over the lower areas but we were again in luminous sun… and then the rain began, and the ponchos reappeared, except that this time the rain was warm, the air too, with little wind. It was hot but not unbearable, walking uphill wearing basically what amount to plastic sheets. And then we had hail. I’ve since been sent an article about how, on that day, they had hail the size of marbles in Huesca. Our hail was smaller, lighter, and seemed to bounce. I’m not convinced it wasn’t polystyrene/styrofoam and some sort of strange heavenly joke!

The hail passed, the rain lessened, and then the rain started again with more energy as we at last reached Foncebadón. We sheltered outside El Trasgu, where we had a room, and watched the rain for a moment before checking in.

A little later, as thunder rolled around the valley, I looked out from our room window and saw the poor donkey in the field, moving his leg about and flicking his ears. A few minutes later, he’d been moved. I took two photos of the view from our room, one during the thunder at 7:30pm, and one just a bit later, at 8:45pm. It is hard to believe that the later one, which looks like a sunny afternoon, is the same day, let alone later in the evening!

I was intrigued to see ‘Druids Cave’ marked across the street from us in Google maps, and then enchanted to learn that ‘El Trasgu’ means ‘The Goblin’. I asked the owner of our hostel about this, and he showed me a book of local myths about creatures: goblins, and a ‘woman of the knives’, among others. I bought the little book, because it seemed fateful!

The other thing that left me incredulous was when I looked up info about the next stage, to see what I could expect. I’m sure many of you here will be surprised, to say the least, that I was as ignorant as I was going into Foncebadón… I’d been a bit concerned, during the climb from Rabanal del Camino, because it was a bit steep in places but I knew it would be nothing like as bad as the uphill section I’d have the following day, going to the Cruz de Ferro. Yup, that’s right, I thought the ‘big climb to the cross’ was the next day. So… this type of total ignorance is one way to push through it, I suppose!



I may have to leave this here for now. To skip ahead, as I mentioned, we had a rest day today in Villafranca. Spoiler alert: the walk from Ponferrada to here was really hard for me and I’ve decided I need to ship forward a small portion of my belongings, particularly things I’ve accumulated… like little books about goblins… and old shoes which I’m still lugging around. Also another spoiler alert: How weird is it, that I absolutely loved the downhill from the Cross de Ferro—I do love downhills anyway, and the scenery is just gorgeous, but I know I’m in a huge minority!—and then to really struggle with the slog from Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo because it’s flat… when I live in a flat region and walk mostly on the flat anyway?!

I think the reason for the Ponferrada to Villafranca trouble is partly my backpack—I just couldn’t get it to sit right that day, so it felt heavier than usual and aggravated the sciatica>leg>foot issues—and also because I sat up sending updates to family, so didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Lack of sleep = never a good thing on the Camino, I think?

Anyway, right now, I’m pretty nervous about tomorrow’s stretch to O Cebreiro because the last walk was frustratingly tough. I genuinely don’t know whether I can do it.

Have any of you done O Cebreiro from Villafranca despite injury trouble? Or… well, just generally, I’d appreciate any thoughts you may have about that stage.
 

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amancio

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
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Note from the mods: Part 1 of @Lhollo’s camino can be found in this earlier thread.
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At last I’m back on the Camino Frances!

This is the continuation of my Camino which began last August/September here

We arrived in Madrid on Friday and spent that afternoon and the morning of Saturday there before getting the 3pm bus to Belorado.

We stayed at the Hostel.B, which is where we finished our Camino last year.

Today, we walked from there to Agès. And that is where I’ll begin 😃

I’d been concerned about the first stage of our return, because it’s a long walk at 17 miles/28km, there’s a steep and quite long uphill, my pack is heavier than last year, and I haven’t prepared as much as I intended too because I’ve had injuries and health problems yet again in the last few months. Some of you may recall that I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The latest manifestations of this are a rib that partially dislocated many times each day, a cough and slight breathlessness that’s gone on for months (not Covid) and seems connected to the rib trouble, neck spasms, hamstring trouble. And I still have an old jaw problem which… and a shoulder that… and I won’t bore you further…

Long story short, today has been amazing. What a beautiful section of the Camino it is! I also can’t believe how much greener the landscape is that it was in August. This may seem obvious, but to immerse oneself in it at such length really brings home the difference. Last night, I walked up to the castle at Belorado—up through the long green grass and poppies, between redpolls flitting from tree to tree—and took photos from the same viewpoints as those I took last year. Yellow versus green! I’ll try to attach some to show the difference.

The walk to Villafrance Monte de Oca was an easy and beautiful 12km. We got out early at before 7am and, with regular stops for photos, we’re able to have a leisurely coffee break in Villafranca and begin the ascent by 10:30am.

I was very struck by the birdsong. We saw stonechats and yellow wagtails and heard cuckoos. Wildflowers cluster around the sides of the way. There were plenty of other pilgrims but never a crowd.

I found the first part of this climb, where there is no shade and it’s steep, quite tough and needed ‘photo breaks’ (breathers!) but actually covered the ground pretty quickly. I was surprised that, upon reaching the pine forest, most of the ascent was out of the way.

The Oasis de Camino, toward the end of the high part of the woods, was an absolutely wonderful break! I’d just fallen over—I was filming, and misjudged a patch of damp earth which was in fact very slick clay; I ended up unhurt except for my pride, given that one shoe and my bum was covered in mud—so after the fall, to walk straight into the oasis with its lounge music, fresh fruit, painted totem poles, and lovely conversation, truly was an oasis.

Suddenly the pine woods gave out onto green fields and San Juan de Ortega came into view. I saw a black kite here and watched it for a while through my new pocket monocular, which I’m thoroughly enjoying! I have it on a hip-pack belt. A little extra weight but worth it for me.

I thought San Juan de Ortega a lovely, charming, tranquil village. A cow with its bell ringing, almost nose to nose with a mule. People gathering around the two restaurants. Others walking through but stopping to say Hola and take photographs.

We kept on and took the fork through the woods to Agès. Along here, we stopped for a somewhat unnecessary lunch because we’d bought cheese and bread and didn’t want to waste it, plus we knew we only had a short way remaining. We enjoyed sitting on the grass, exchanging greetings with other pilgrims, talking about the day and how strange, yet oddly bit at all strange, it felt to finally be back in the Camino. Almost as though the last eight months hadn’t happened and we were in fact here just yesterday.

Again the landscape changed as we reached Agès along the ridge, with rolling colourful fields—some ploughed, some unripe wheat, some rapeseed, undulating below us.

We’re staying at El Pajar de Agès, and I’m impressed by how welcoming this place is. They go out of their way to help, and the rooms are lovely, modern but homely, and clean.

We ate at El Alquimista, which I’d recommend because it’s so friendly but also quirky, with the lady who I presume owns it also cooking everything table by table. There’s no menu, they just tell you your options in Spanish.

We spent quite a while talking with the woodcarver here. Please go and see him, if you come to Agès! He’s brilliant! 85 years old, he’s only been doing the woodcarving for eight years and none of it is for sale, except small tokens, but he’ll show you the ins and outs of each building he’s created and they’re full of details! It’s a real labour of love, and I thought him a wonderful man, not without a little humour!

After that we walked down to the river to see the 12th century bridge. Both the river and bridge are small but it’s an enchanting, largely hidden spot, and you pass a real olde-worlde wishing well on the way. The woodcarver gave me directions to it.

I’ll leave this here and aim to update again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try to be briefer then…or maybe not! 😳
actually, just out of curiosity, what model is your new pocket monocular?I might be interested in something like that...
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
The donativos spot you encountered before Astorga is a camp that David has kept for years. It grows year after year thanks to his and other's generosity.
Regarding the climb to O'Cebrerio, why not consider renting one of the horses to take you up the hill. It is unique experience. You can book ahead and they will transport your bag forward so you don't have to carry while you are riding. The horse ride up the trail is no swifter than the pilgrims slogging up the hill.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I woke early and checked the weather in Foncebadon—our destination for the day—to see that ‘light thundershowers’ were due at 12 noon, followed by ‘thunderstorms’ at 1pm. We couldn’t pack fast enough!

Because we hadn’t had breakfast, we stopped briefly on the outskirts of Astorga for coffee and Neopolitanas. I’m glad we did, because the extra fuel seemed to power us through the next section. I had intended to spend longer in Valdeviejas (I wasn’t sure where Denise’s memorial was but thought I’d see a sign along the way; I don’t know how I missed it). We were through the area before we knew it, and into the lovely gently sloping area with low trees on either side and yellow broom in flower. The sky ahead was deep cobalt but the sun on the flowers was golden. I saw another Bee eater here, which you can probably imagine kept me very happy 😃

We kept on through Murias de Rechivaldo and Castrillo de los Polvazares, stopping instead in Santa Catalina de Somoza, for more coffee and orange juice. I found this quite an odd place: lovely in terms of the architecture suddenly changing, but the cafe was… a little peculiar. The lady behind the bar seemed rushed off her feet but was chatting with a local who was having some personal problems. The toilets had no paper so I had to linger there for a while, as the poor lady rooted through all sorts of cupboards trying to find more. There was a selection of knives for sale on the bar. None of this means anything in particular but it was all… well, the mind can play tricks… and outside the clouds were drawing in by the moment so everything was growing dark literally as well as psychologically!

We had to stop at the top of the hill out of the village to put on ponchos. We’ve brought just two disposable ponchos each but we realised that everyone else has brought either proper ponchos or raincoats and backpack covers. The rain was quickly fierce, with a biting wind, and probably thanks to the display of knives for sale, I could help imagine tiny ice daggers piercing my arms. This is a downside to disposable ponchos: no arm protection, and I was wearing a tank top. I powered past the walking stick seller, who was at the top of this section. I’d been hoping to see him at some point in the Camino since we first began, and I was horrified that he was up there of all places, in a storm, when we really couldn’t easily stop and chat. Gah!

I thought the storm would last all day, given that the forecast was for it to hit Foncebadón at noon and this wasn’t yet even 9am, so I was focusing on keeping moving to keep my temperature up, but also wondering whether I’d exhaust myself.

In El Ganso, I suggested we look for shelter in the doorway of the church, but inside it, we found a gentleman called Geronimo who sells gem jewellery. He patted the stone bench on the dry side of the doorway, the other side being in the rain, and Andrew sat while I, instead, looked at the jewellery. I felt somehow that Geronimo was a gift. I chose a carnelian pendant with a carving of a rabbit or hare. I thought about the association of hares and spirits. After this, the rain lifted. Coincidence? 🤔 😊

From that point on, the theme of otherworldly legends seemed to take hold of the day. I kept seeing things to do with witchcraft: brujas, brújula, messages on stones that fitted uncannily with the theme. And that’s before we think about Foncebadón but I’m getting ahead of myself!

The sun came out fully and we stopped outside Rabanal del Camino to put on sunscreen. We ate outside La Candela, chatting with pilgrims who were staying either there or further into the village.

Walking on, I was surprised by how steep the village of Rabanal del Camino is, but also how surprisingly large… and how very pretty. I couldn’t believe how much the architecture had changed from the previous days. There is slate!

We kept on up the hill, looking back and marvelling at how the storm clouds loomed over the lower areas but we were again in luminous sun… and then the rain began, and the ponchos reappeared, except that this time the rain was warm, the air too, with little wind. It was hot but not unbearable, walking uphill wearing basically what amount to plastic sheets. And then we had hail. I’ve since been sent an article about how, on that day, they had hail the size of marbles in Huesca. Our hail was smaller, lighter, and seemed to bounce. I’m not convinced it wasn’t polystyrene/styrofoam and some sort of strange heavenly joke!

The hail passed, the rain lessened, and then the rain started again with more energy as we at last reached Foncebadón. We sheltered outside El Trasgu, where we had a room, and watched the rain for a moment before checking in.

A little later, as thunder rolled around the valley, I looked out from our room window and saw the poor donkey in the field, moving his leg about and flicking his ears. A few minutes later, he’d been moved. I took two photos of the view from our room, one during the thunder at 7:30pm, and one just a bit later, at 8:45pm. It is hard to believe that the later one, which looks like a sunny afternoon, is the same day, let alone later in the evening!

I was intrigued to see ‘Druids Cave’ marked across the street from us in Google maps, and then enchanted to learn that ‘El Trasgu’ means ‘The Goblin’. I asked the owner of our hostel about this, and he showed me a book of local myths about creatures: goblins, and a ‘woman of the knives’, among others. I bought the little book, because it seemed fateful!

The other thing that left me incredulous was when I looked up info about the next stage, to see what I could expect. I’m sure many of you here will be surprised, to say the least, that I was as ignorant as I was going into Foncebadón… I’d been a bit concerned, during the climb from Rabanal del Camino, because it was a bit steep in places but I knew it would be nothing like as bad as the uphill section I’d have the following day, going to the Cruz de Ferro. Yup, that’s right, I thought the ‘big climb to the cross’ was the next day. So… this type of total ignorance is one way to push through it, I suppose!



I may have to leave this here for now. To skip ahead, as I mentioned, we had a rest day today in Villafranca. Spoiler alert: the walk from Ponferrada to here was really hard for me and I’ve decided I need to ship forward a small portion of my belongings, particularly things I’ve accumulated… like little books about goblins… and old shoes which I’m still lugging around. Also another spoiler alert: How weird is it, that I absolutely loved the downhill from the Cross de Ferro—I do love downhills anyway, and the scenery is just gorgeous, but I know I’m in a huge minority!—and then to really struggle with the slog from Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo because it’s flat… when I live in a flat region and walk mostly on the flat anyway?!

I think the reason for the Ponferrada to Villafranca trouble is partly my backpack—I just couldn’t get it to sit right that day, so it felt heavier than usual and aggravated the sciatica>leg>foot issues—and also because I sat up sending updates to family, so didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Lack of sleep = never a good thing on the Camino, I think?

Anyway, right now, I’m pretty nervous about tomorrow’s stretch to O Cebreiro because the last walk was frustratingly tough. I genuinely don’t know whether I can do it.

Have any of you done O Cebreiro from Villafranca despite injury trouble? Or… well, just generally, I’d appreciate any thoughts you may have about that stage.
Yes I walked that with tendinitis, and found uphill better than down. Last time we rode the horses, and although it was different from walking, I wouldn't say it was easier because we weren't used to riding, and I was thankful to get off that horse.
 

Embee12

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
First time: Fall 2022
I had completely forgotten that I’d mentioned here about my YouTube channel, in fact I thought I’d kept it quiet! On the first day here, walking from Belorado, two different groups came up to me rather tentatively and asked if I had a YouTube channel because they subscribe to it. It was really lovely but I was completely stunned by it. I haven’t developed the channel much at all and there aren’t yet many videos. Anyway, I’m very glad it was helpful for you! Thank you for telling me that! I am indeed videoing every day now that I’m here again. I’ll edit it all when I’m home. There’s a lot. I’m pretty obsessive with it, but love cameras, always have, and seeing the world and recording it in that way. I hope it might be enjoyable and maybe helpful for people, though. I treat it partly as something I do for my own record-keeping, but also as something I’d say to myself, if I were another person wanting to know about what a place is like.
What is the video channel name?
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
actually, just out of curiosity, what model is your new pocket monocular?I might be interested in something like that...
Sorry for the slow response! My monocular is an Opticron 8 x 25 T4 Trailfinder. I wouldn’t be without it on the Camino now. I have a larger one which I use at home, when extra weight is often just good Camino preparation 😊
 
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Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
You may have gathered that I gave up on the Live thread while I was on the Camino! I didn’t mean for that to happen but found I relaxed more into the Camino when I fully stopped worrying about having to do things at each destination. I will add to this thread, though, when I have clear time, so it will become a complete record.

You may also have gathered that I have a YouTube channel—Lindsey Holland Walks—and have been filming the Camino.

I have somewhere in the region of 25 hours of footage which I’m currently editing. This is my best form of notetaking! It’s quite a mammoth task right now but I’m adding roughly a video each day. It’s currently up to Burgos. I hope you might enjoy it. Anyway, more here soon, once my decks are a little clearer. And spoiler alert: I don’t have a case of the glums after returning this time! I’m in a really good place. Can’t wait to return, mind you 😃. Already planning it!

Thanks for your interest here, in my Camino. It’s a wonderful thing, this forum. 🙏
 
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