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My August 2021 Invierno: Thoughts, Observations, Notes

NadineK

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2014)
Norte/Primitivo (2015)
San Salvador (2016)
Le Puy-Cahors (2017)
Aragonés (2019)
Hello forum members! I’m back in the States after about 4-weeks in Spain, and I’m ALREADY missing the Camino. I walked the Primitivo, then took a train to Astorga and walked for a few days on the Francés to Ponferrada, where I branched off onto the Invierno.

This forum was invaluable in planning my Invierno; many thanks to the great Invierno guide and especially the recent posts from those who walked, it was so helpful to have a sense of what to expect when I walked.

This Camino was anything but straightforward for me; I mean, going in, I had it all planned out! Stages, notes on places to stay, where to eat, what to see, etc. But as soon as I got started (quite literally), I got struck with food poisoning. The symptoms weren’t so bad at first so I kept walking, but things did not progress well and I dragged myself into Puente de Domingo Florez with every last bit of energy I had, and holed up in a hotel for three nights until I felt well enough to continue walking.

I lost two full days of walking, and then a third day when I split a stage that I’d planned to do in one go. So, by consequence, I had to take a train to skip over a stage in the middle (A Rúa to Quiroga), and end in Lalin, about two days short of being able to walk into Santiago. There was a point (when still feeling bad with the food poisoning) when I seriously considered scrapping the Invierno, and going to some place where it would be easier to walk shorter stages. But I persevered on the Invierno, and was very pleased that I could come up with a new plan that still allowed me to take in some of the spectacular sights. And, I was so grateful to get my strength back and still be able to walk!

Overall, I ended this Camino feeling really good and quite sad that I had to stop in Lalin, though it took me a little while to find my stride (no doubt the food poisoning incident did not help with this.) It was also an adjustment to come from the Primitivo which had just the perfect number of pilgrims for me, and led to such nice connections and interactions. I love solo walking and don’t mind day after day of little to no social interaction, but coming off the Primitivo to a route where it took four days to see another pilgrim, took some adjusting.

I don’t speak Spanish (well, I’ve developed some ‘pilgrim-Spanish’ I suppose), and this made things a little more challenging at times, but I wouldn’t tell someone that they should not walk this route if they can’t speak the language. Certainly I missed out on conversation and interaction with the locals (there were several who really, really wanted to talk to me, and went ahead and tried to have a conversation but I wasn’t able to contribute much!!), but I was always able to figure out what I needed and communicate it as well. I made reservations a day or two in advance as I walked (I used WhatsApp when I could, but also had to phone places and just muddle through the Spanish); the only spot that couldn’t accommodate me was Hostal Quiper in Quiroga, otherwise each place I contacted had a bed/room for me. However, I told myself that when I walk this route again, I WILL learn Spanish or at least be able to have basic conversations, because it would enhance the experience so very much.

Here are what my stages ended up looking like, along with a few notes:

1. Ponferrada to Santalla del Bierzo, 12.5km

I’d planned rather poorly and didn’t attempt to contact anyone about staying in the albergue in Villavieja until the day before I was due to arrive. I couldn’t get an answer on the numbers that I repeatedly tried, and it was too late to send an email. I’d walked from Molinaseca to Ponferrada in the morning and had planned to continue on to Villavieja, but worried that I’d have to postpone my walk and stay in Ponferrada until I could find a place to stay (it was August and it was the weekend and everywhere was booked up!) In the end I tried Airbnb and found a room in a woman’s house in Santalla del Bierzo. It was a little pricey for pilgrim standards but such a comfortable bed and fabulous house, plus an incredibly kind host who prepared a great breakfast. So, an unexpected solution came through! Also, from the very start, I noticed that the way-marking was excellent. Arrows, signs, mojóns everywhere!

2. Santalla del Bierzo to Puente de Domingo Florez, 27.6km

I had no business walking this stage, but walk I did. My food poisoning symptoms started the day before but weren’t too bad; on this day, they progressively got worse, and I’m not sure that I actually SAW anything on this stage. I just pulled myself through, one step at a time. I missed the gold mining sites completely; a reason to come back. I had a reservation at Hostal La Torre in Puente de Domingo Florez, and ended up staying three nights to recover from the food poisoning. Thank goodness there was room at the inn! And really it was perfect: a comfortable bed, a little balcony, a big bathroom, a tienda in a gas station around the corner stocked with cold Aquarius.

3. Puente de Domingo Flores to O Barco, 18km

I’d initially planned to walk from Puente to A Rúa (about 30km) but knew I wouldn’t have the energy to do such a big stage right away, so I split that stage into two, and walked 18km to O Barco. I thought this section had some really pretty walking! I was moving a lot slower than normal, pausing to take lots of photographs and to take a rest on every bench I came across. The only place where I lost the arrows on this entire Camino was in Entoma; I was admiring the metal sculpture and must have missed the arrows pointing towards the right, and instead, I continued walking straight and out of town. Something felt off so I checked a map and then doubled back to take a much more scenic path out of the town.

In O Barco I stayed in Hostal Mayo. No complaints!

4. O Barco to A Rúa, 12km

This was a largely uneventful stage; I was really getting my energy back at this point and wanted to walk a longer stage. I briefly looked into skipping over this section and walking from A Rúa to Quiroga on this day instead, but Hostal Quiper in Quiroga was full and Pension Fabio in A Rúa got back to me to say they had a room, so my choice was made. It was probably all for the best and gave my body more time to heal, but I felt as those the kilometers flew by, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself for most of the day in A Rúa. Luckily there's a beautiful river and a park with benches to take in the views! Pension Fabio was a nice place to stay- I arrived to an empty reception area, dialed a number, and eventually a young kid, maybe 15, ran downstairs to give me a room key. He was so kind and didn’t seem all that concerned about taking my money, which made me chuckle.


*** train from A Rúa to San Clodio, skipping a stage

5. San Clodio to Monforte de Lemos, 35km

Just before I left Pension Fabio, I tried to get a coffee from the vending machine in the hallway, only to discover that the machine wasn’t working! I was catching an early train to San Clodio, so I walked to the station uncaffeinated. But I’d read reports that Hotel Las Vegas in San Clodio could be a place for a coffee stop, but when I arrived, the place was all shut up. There wouldn’t be another place with services for 20+km, and just as I started to worry, I came across a very local and very open bar in the little town. Friendly service and a grande café con leche later, I was off. 35km might have been a little ambitious following the food poisoning and recovery time, but luckily my legs felt strong and it was such a good day.

I stopped for a drink in A Pobra do Brollon and encountered my first pilgrims! I was walking by the bar, looking for an open table when two pilgrims already seated caught my eye and wished me a Buen Camino. I have to say, feeling strong enough to walk a full stage and meeting other pilgrims was a turning point for me: this was the moment I felt like I was truly on the Camino de Invierno.

I believe this was the stage with the angry, chained up dog, and I’m sorry to report that he’s still around, as angry as ever. There were two dogs when I passed by, both chained, but one retreated to a corner and didn’t make a sound. The other, well, the reports are true: straining and lunging and jumping and barking. I do wonder if he’s on a tighter chain, because he wasn’t able to lunge into the road at all, and there was plenty of room to pass. I wasn’t too scared (well, maybe a little) but I can certainly understand how it’s a frightening spot.

In Monforte I stayed at the brand new albergue, and I loved it! The only drawback is that it’s located a bit outside of the city center (though in the morning, it’s easy to pick the Camino back up). But the place is sparkling clean, modern and comfortable, with beds in separate pods, a small but well-stocked kitchen, a nice outdoor space, complimentary tea and coffee, and the kindest hospitalero who kept making sure that I had everything I needed.

6. Monforte to Chantada, 29.7km

The highlight of the stage for me was Belesar; I’d stopped for a lunch break in Diomondi (lots of loud construction going on at the church so it wasn’t the most peaceful break), then continued down that old road where I was barraged by little flies and bugs. 2km of swatting them away and trying to watch every step later, the path opened up onto such a gorgeous, stunning view. Oh, those terraced vineyards! I was so charmed as I walked down to Belesar, and then met another pilgrim who was resting at a fountain. The riverside restaurant was open and so I had (more) lunch, and the people working there were so, so kind to me. I must have had a little brain fog because it didn’t entirely occur to me that, after a heavy lunch, I would have to walk back up the other side of hill to continue onto Chantada. At the point on my Camino, the afternoon heat had settled in, and it was a slog up the hillside.

In Chantada I stayed in Hostal Gamallo… 15 euros for a private room and private bathroom, but I can only imagine that pilgrims tend to be put in the less “attractive” rooms. But how can I complain? There was hot water for my shower and a bed to sleep in, I didn’t need much more.

7. Chantada to Rodeiro, 25.8km

The walk up to Monte Faro was great, and I was able to get something to eat and drink at the bar in Penasillas before the climb (a lovely spot for a break, plus a cat who tried- repeatedly- to steal my eggs!)

In Rodeiro I stayed in the albergue at Hostal Carpinteiras, and I thought it was nice. New and clean, with three separate bunk rooms. There were four other women (a group) staying there; they weren’t pilgrims, and they were in a separate room so I had a space to myself. The restaurant downstairs typically serves meals but didn’t on the weekend that I was there (and maybe never on weekends? I’m not sure). But there are other restaurants in town and a kitchen in the albergue.

8. Rodeiro to Lalin, 22km (ended up around 27km with a 4.5km walk to train station)

I had to end my walk in Lalin and take a train to Santiago, so I missed the last few stages and couldn’t walk into Santiago. The train station in Lalin isn’t actually IN Lalin (or, not the city center which the Camino takes you through), and I had to walk an additional 5km to get there. But it was straightforward walking down a not-too-busy road, and got me to Santiago when I needed to be there, so all worked out.

Before catching my train I stopped at A Casa do Gato, run by the same people who also run Albergue Lalin Centro. I’d planned to stay at this albergue and saw that other pilgrims were checking in, and while I can’t speak for the albergue itself, the man running this place was so kind. I ordered a big pizza, ate every last bite, then ordered some coffee and was given a bottle of brandy to go with it, plus a magnet and a big smile. It was such a nice ending to my Camino.

***
Apologies for such a long post, but hopefully there were some little nuggets in here that could be helpful for future pilgrims! I think I saw about 5 pilgrims in total on my walk, and a couple more checking into the albergue in Lalin. I was lucky with the weather- beautiful, misty mornings and clear afternoons, no rain. I’m hoping that one year I’ll be able to come back and do this walk again, especially to really take in what I missed on those first stages.

I've been posting YouTube videos from the Primitivo, and in the next few days am going to start to share what I took on the Invierno, in case anyone is interested: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiYVkjL4gqcNxv8AaiOgVtQ

Thanks again to everyone on this forum who have contributed such thoughtful and helpful information, it helped me in my planning so much!

belesar.JPG breakfast invierno.JPG chantada.JPG church in fog.JPG Invierno Day 6.JPG Invierno foggy morning.JPG monforte albergue.JPG monte faro.JPG tunnel invierno.JPG wild blackberries.JPG
 
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Flog

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Thank you for taking the time to post up your stages and notes! I too am walking from Astorga and taking the Invierno in less than two weeks time, so it is timely and useful all round!

I'm sorry your trip was curtailed by your food poisoning episode.. I can sympathise, I had a similar experience on the Salvador a few years ago: I had already been walking a few weeks so was in good shape, when a sudden (is there any other?!) bout of food poisoning sapped all of my energy and I remember struggling to walk just a few kilometres and feeling and thinking I'd never get to my bed. The kindly hospi in Buiza, I think it was, allowed me to rest and rehydrate for a couple of days..

I was supposed to walk the invierno last year, I'm really looking forward to it now, and thanks to all the recent contributors on here for their up to date accounts and info on this route..
 
Wonderful to read your post Nadine and see your beautiful photos. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your journey. Wow! What a time you had - so good that you took those days in Puente de Domingo Flores which enabled you to recover from food poisoning and continue on!
Ohhh the continuing situation with the angry chained up dog before Barxa do Lor 😟
Yes - I hope you will be able to return to walk the beautiful Invierno again and have a chance to experience it in good health. But again... Well done for continuing on!!
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Hello forum members! I’m back in the States after about 4-weeks in Spain, and I’m ALREADY missing the Camino. I walked the Primitivo, then took a train to Astorga and walked for a few days on the Francés to Ponferrada, where I branched off onto the Invierno.

This forum was invaluable in planning my Invierno; many thanks to the great Invierno guide and especially the recent posts from those who walked, it was so helpful to have a sense of what to expect when I walked.

This Camino was anything but straightforward for me; I mean, going in, I had it all planned out! Stages, notes on places to stay, where to eat, what to see, etc. But as soon as I got started (quite literally), I got struck with food poisoning. The symptoms weren’t so bad at first so I kept walking, but things did not progress well and I dragged myself into Puente de Domingo Florez with every last bit of energy I had, and holed up in a hotel for three nights until I felt well enough to continue walking.

I lost two full days of walking, and then a third day when I split a stage that I’d planned to do in one go. So, by consequence, I had to take a train to skip over a stage in the middle (A Rúa to Quiroga), and end in Lalin, about two days short of being able to walk into Santiago. There was a point (when still feeling bad with the food poisoning) when I seriously considered scrapping the Invierno, and going to some place where it would be easier to walk shorter stages. But I persevered on the Invierno, and was very pleased that I could come up with a new plan that still allowed me to take in some of the spectacular sights. And, I was so grateful to get my strength back and still be able to walk!

Overall, I ended this Camino feeling really good and quite sad that I had to stop in Lalin, though it took me a little while to find my stride (no doubt the food poisoning incident did not help with this.) It was also an adjustment to come from the Primitivo which had just the perfect number of pilgrims for me, and led to such nice connections and interactions. I love solo walking and don’t mind day after day of little to no social interaction, but coming off the Primitivo to a route where it took four days to see another pilgrim, took some adjusting.

I don’t speak Spanish (well, I’ve developed some ‘pilgrim-Spanish’ I suppose), and this made things a little more challenging at times, but I wouldn’t tell someone that they should not walk this route if they can’t speak the language. Certainly I missed out on conversation and interaction with the locals (there were several who really, really wanted to talk to me, and went ahead and tried to have a conversation but I wasn’t able to contribute much!!), but I was always able to figure out what I needed and communicate it as well. I made reservations a day or two in advance as I walked (I used WhatsApp when I could, but also had to phone places and just muddle through the Spanish); the only spot that couldn’t accommodate me was Hostal Quiper in Quiroga, otherwise each place I contacted had a bed/room for me. However, I told myself that when I walk this route again, I WILL learn Spanish or at least be able to have basic conversations, because it would enhance the experience so very much.

Here are what my stages ended up looking like, along with a few notes:

1. Ponferrada to Santalla del Bierzo, 12.5km

I’d planned rather poorly and didn’t attempt to contact anyone about staying in the albergue in Villavieja until the day before I was due to arrive. I couldn’t get an answer on the numbers that I repeatedly tried, and it was too late to send an email. I’d walked from Molinaseca to Ponferrada in the morning and had planned to continue on to Villavieja, but worried that I’d have to postpone my walk and stay in Ponferrada until I could find a place to stay (it was August and it was the weekend and everywhere was booked up!) In the end I tried Airbnb and found a room in a woman’s house in Santalla del Bierzo. It was a little pricey for pilgrim standards but such a comfortable bed and fabulous house, plus an incredibly kind host who prepared a great breakfast. So, an unexpected solution came through! Also, from the very start, I noticed that the way-marking was excellent. Arrows, signs, mojóns everywhere!

2. Santalla del Bierzo to Puente de Domingo Florez, 27.6km

I had no business walking this stage, but walk I did. My food poisoning symptoms started the day before but weren’t too bad; on this day, they progressively got worse, and I’m not sure that I actually SAW anything on this stage. I just pulled myself through, one step at a time. I missed the gold mining sites completely; a reason to come back. I had a reservation at Hostal La Torre in Puente de Domingo Florez, and ended up staying three nights to recover from the food poisoning. Thank goodness there was room at the inn! And really it was perfect: a comfortable bed, a little balcony, a big bathroom, a tienda in a gas station around the corner stocked with cold Aquarius.

3. Puente de Domingo Flores to O Barco, 18km

I’d initially planned to walk from Puente to A Rúa (about 30km) but knew I wouldn’t have the energy to do such a big stage right away, so I split that stage into two, and walked 18km to O Barco. I thought this section had some really pretty walking! I was moving a lot slower than normal, pausing to take lots of photographs and to take a rest on every bench I came across. The only place where I lost the arrows on this entire Camino was in Entoma; I was admiring the metal sculpture and must have missed the arrows pointing towards the right, and instead, I continued walking straight and out of town. Something felt off so I checked a map and then doubled back to take a much more scenic path out of the town.

In O Barco I stayed in Hostal Mayo. No complaints!

4. O Barco to A Rúa, 12km

This was a largely uneventful stage; I was really getting my energy back at this point and wanted to walk a longer stage. I briefly looked into skipping over this section and walking from A Rúa to Quiroga on this day instead, but Hostal Quiper in Quiroga was full and Pension Fabio in A Rúa got back to me to say they had a room, so my choice was made. It was probably all for the best and gave my body more time to heal, but I felt as those the kilometers flew by, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself for most of the day in A Rúa. Luckily there's a beautiful river and a park with benches to take in the views! Pension Fabio was a nice place to stay- I arrived to an empty reception area, dialed a number, and eventually a young kid, maybe 15, ran downstairs to give me a room key. He was so kind and didn’t seem all that concerned about taking my money, which made me chuckle.


*** train from A Rúa to San Clodio, skipping a stage

5. San Clodio to Monforte de Lemos, 35km

Just before I left Pension Fabio, I tried to get a coffee from the vending machine in the hallway, only to discover that the machine wasn’t working! I was catching an early train to San Clodio, so I walked to the station uncaffeinated. But I’d read reports that Hotel Las Vegas in San Clodio could be a place for a coffee stop, but when I arrived, the place was all shut up. There wouldn’t be another place with services for 20+km, and just as I started to worry, I came across a very local and very open bar in the little town. Friendly service and a grande café con leche later, I was off. 35km might have been a little ambitious following the food poisoning and recovery time, but luckily my legs felt strong and it was such a good day.

I stopped for a drink in A Pobra do Brollon and encountered my first pilgrims! I was walking by the bar, looking for an open table when two pilgrims already seated caught my eye and wished me a Buen Camino. I have to say, feeling strong enough to walk a full stage and meeting other pilgrims was a turning point for me: this was the moment I felt like I was truly on the Camino de Invierno.

I believe this was the stage with the angry, chained up dog, and I’m sorry to report that he’s still around, as angry as ever. There were two dogs when I passed by, both chained, but one retreated to a corner and didn’t make a sound. The other, well, the reports are true: straining and lunging and jumping and barking. I do wonder if he’s on a tighter chain, because he wasn’t able to lunge into the road at all, and there was plenty of room to pass. I wasn’t too scared (well, maybe a little) but I can certainly understand how it’s a frightening spot.

In Monforte I stayed at the brand new albergue, and I loved it! The only drawback is that it’s located a bit outside of the city center (though in the morning, it’s easy to pick the Camino back up). But the place is sparkling clean, modern and comfortable, with beds in separate pods, a small but well-stocked kitchen, a nice outdoor space, complimentary tea and coffee, and the kindest hospitalero who kept making sure that I had everything I needed.

6. Monforte to Chantada, 29.7km

The highlight of the stage for me was Belesar; I’d stopped for a lunch break in Diomondi (lots of loud construction going on at the church so it wasn’t the most peaceful break), then continued down that old road where I was barraged by little flies and bugs. 2km of swatting them away and trying to watch every step later, the path opened up onto such a gorgeous, stunning view. Oh, those terraced vineyards! I was so charmed as I walked down to Belesar, and then met another pilgrim who was resting at a fountain. The riverside restaurant was open and so I had (more) lunch, and the people working there were so, so kind to me. I must have had a little brain fog because it didn’t entirely occur to me that, after a heavy lunch, I would have to walk back up the other side of hill to continue onto Chantada. At the point on my Camino, the afternoon heat had settled in, and it was a slog up the hillside.

In Chantada I stayed in Hostal Gamallo… 15 euros for a private room and private bathroom, but I can only imagine that pilgrims tend to be put in the less “attractive” rooms. But how can I complain? There was hot water for my shower and a bed to sleep in, I didn’t need much more.

7. Chantada to Rodeiro, 25.8km

The walk up to Monte Faro was great, and I was able to get something to eat and drink at the bar in Penasillas before the climb (a lovely spot for a break, plus a cat who tried- repeatedly- to steal my eggs!)

In Rodeiro I stayed in the albergue at Hostal Carpinteiras, and I thought it was nice. New and clean, with three separate bunk rooms. There were four other women (a group) staying there; they weren’t pilgrims, and they were in a separate room so I had a space to myself. The restaurant downstairs typically serves meals but didn’t on the weekend that I was there (and maybe never on weekends? I’m not sure). But there are other restaurants in town and a kitchen in the albergue.

8. Rodeiro to Lalin, 22km (ended up around 27km with a 4.5km walk to train station)

I had to end my walk in Lalin and take a train to Santiago, so I missed the last few stages and couldn’t walk into Santiago. The train station in Lalin isn’t actually IN Lalin (or, not the city center which the Camino takes you through), and I had to walk an additional 5km to get there. But it was straightforward walking down a not-too-busy road, and got me to Santiago when I needed to be there, so all worked out.

Before catching my train I stopped at A Casa do Gato, run by the same people who also run Albergue Lalin Centro. I’d planned to stay at this albergue and saw that other pilgrims were checking in, and while I can’t speak for the albergue itself, the man running this place was so kind. I ordered a big pizza, ate every last bite, then ordered some coffee and was given a bottle of brandy to go with it, plus a magnet and a big smile. It was such a nice ending to my Camino.

***
Apologies for such a long post, but hopefully there were some little nuggets in here that could be helpful for future pilgrims! I think I saw about 5 pilgrims in total on my walk, and a couple more checking into the albergue in Lalin. I was lucky with the weather- beautiful, misty mornings and clear afternoons, no rain. I’m hoping that one year I’ll be able to come back and do this walk again, especially to really take in what I missed on those first stages.

I've been posting YouTube videos from the Primitivo, and in the next few days am going to start to share what I took on the Invierno, in case anyone is interested: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiYVkjL4gqcNxv8AaiOgVtQ

Thanks again to everyone on this forum who have contributed such thoughtful and helpful information, it helped me in my planning so much!

View attachment 107413 View attachment 107414 View attachment 107415 View attachment 107416 View attachment 107417 View attachment 107418 View attachment 107419 View attachment 107420 View attachment 107421 View attachment 107422
Tremendous write-up. Thanks.
 

Victor Auletta

New Member
Past OR future Camino
October 2017
Hello forum members! I’m back in the States after about 4-weeks in Spain, and I’m ALREADY missing the Camino. I walked the Primitivo, then took a train to Astorga and walked for a few days on the Francés to Ponferrada, where I branched off onto the Invierno.

This forum was invaluable in planning my Invierno; many thanks to the great Invierno guide and especially the recent posts from those who walked, it was so helpful to have a sense of what to expect when I walked.

This Camino was anything but straightforward for me; I mean, going in, I had it all planned out! Stages, notes on places to stay, where to eat, what to see, etc. But as soon as I got started (quite literally), I got struck with food poisoning. The symptoms weren’t so bad at first so I kept walking, but things did not progress well and I dragged myself into Puente de Domingo Florez with every last bit of energy I had, and holed up in a hotel for three nights until I felt well enough to continue walking.

I lost two full days of walking, and then a third day when I split a stage that I’d planned to do in one go. So, by consequence, I had to take a train to skip over a stage in the middle (A Rúa to Quiroga), and end in Lalin, about two days short of being able to walk into Santiago. There was a point (when still feeling bad with the food poisoning) when I seriously considered scrapping the Invierno, and going to some place where it would be easier to walk shorter stages. But I persevered on the Invierno, and was very pleased that I could come up with a new plan that still allowed me to take in some of the spectacular sights. And, I was so grateful to get my strength back and still be able to walk!

Overall, I ended this Camino feeling really good and quite sad that I had to stop in Lalin, though it took me a little while to find my stride (no doubt the food poisoning incident did not help with this.) It was also an adjustment to come from the Primitivo which had just the perfect number of pilgrims for me, and led to such nice connections and interactions. I love solo walking and don’t mind day after day of little to no social interaction, but coming off the Primitivo to a route where it took four days to see another pilgrim, took some adjusting.

I don’t speak Spanish (well, I’ve developed some ‘pilgrim-Spanish’ I suppose), and this made things a little more challenging at times, but I wouldn’t tell someone that they should not walk this route if they can’t speak the language. Certainly I missed out on conversation and interaction with the locals (there were several who really, really wanted to talk to me, and went ahead and tried to have a conversation but I wasn’t able to contribute much!!), but I was always able to figure out what I needed and communicate it as well. I made reservations a day or two in advance as I walked (I used WhatsApp when I could, but also had to phone places and just muddle through the Spanish); the only spot that couldn’t accommodate me was Hostal Quiper in Quiroga, otherwise each place I contacted had a bed/room for me. However, I told myself that when I walk this route again, I WILL learn Spanish or at least be able to have basic conversations, because it would enhance the experience so very much.

Here are what my stages ended up looking like, along with a few notes:

1. Ponferrada to Santalla del Bierzo, 12.5km

I’d planned rather poorly and didn’t attempt to contact anyone about staying in the albergue in Villavieja until the day before I was due to arrive. I couldn’t get an answer on the numbers that I repeatedly tried, and it was too late to send an email. I’d walked from Molinaseca to Ponferrada in the morning and had planned to continue on to Villavieja, but worried that I’d have to postpone my walk and stay in Ponferrada until I could find a place to stay (it was August and it was the weekend and everywhere was booked up!) In the end I tried Airbnb and found a room in a woman’s house in Santalla del Bierzo. It was a little pricey for pilgrim standards but such a comfortable bed and fabulous house, plus an incredibly kind host who prepared a great breakfast. So, an unexpected solution came through! Also, from the very start, I noticed that the way-marking was excellent. Arrows, signs, mojóns everywhere!

2. Santalla del Bierzo to Puente de Domingo Florez, 27.6km

I had no business walking this stage, but walk I did. My food poisoning symptoms started the day before but weren’t too bad; on this day, they progressively got worse, and I’m not sure that I actually SAW anything on this stage. I just pulled myself through, one step at a time. I missed the gold mining sites completely; a reason to come back. I had a reservation at Hostal La Torre in Puente de Domingo Florez, and ended up staying three nights to recover from the food poisoning. Thank goodness there was room at the inn! And really it was perfect: a comfortable bed, a little balcony, a big bathroom, a tienda in a gas station around the corner stocked with cold Aquarius.

3. Puente de Domingo Flores to O Barco, 18km

I’d initially planned to walk from Puente to A Rúa (about 30km) but knew I wouldn’t have the energy to do such a big stage right away, so I split that stage into two, and walked 18km to O Barco. I thought this section had some really pretty walking! I was moving a lot slower than normal, pausing to take lots of photographs and to take a rest on every bench I came across. The only place where I lost the arrows on this entire Camino was in Entoma; I was admiring the metal sculpture and must have missed the arrows pointing towards the right, and instead, I continued walking straight and out of town. Something felt off so I checked a map and then doubled back to take a much more scenic path out of the town.

In O Barco I stayed in Hostal Mayo. No complaints!

4. O Barco to A Rúa, 12km

This was a largely uneventful stage; I was really getting my energy back at this point and wanted to walk a longer stage. I briefly looked into skipping over this section and walking from A Rúa to Quiroga on this day instead, but Hostal Quiper in Quiroga was full and Pension Fabio in A Rúa got back to me to say they had a room, so my choice was made. It was probably all for the best and gave my body more time to heal, but I felt as those the kilometers flew by, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself for most of the day in A Rúa. Luckily there's a beautiful river and a park with benches to take in the views! Pension Fabio was a nice place to stay- I arrived to an empty reception area, dialed a number, and eventually a young kid, maybe 15, ran downstairs to give me a room key. He was so kind and didn’t seem all that concerned about taking my money, which made me chuckle.


*** train from A Rúa to San Clodio, skipping a stage

5. San Clodio to Monforte de Lemos, 35km

Just before I left Pension Fabio, I tried to get a coffee from the vending machine in the hallway, only to discover that the machine wasn’t working! I was catching an early train to San Clodio, so I walked to the station uncaffeinated. But I’d read reports that Hotel Las Vegas in San Clodio could be a place for a coffee stop, but when I arrived, the place was all shut up. There wouldn’t be another place with services for 20+km, and just as I started to worry, I came across a very local and very open bar in the little town. Friendly service and a grande café con leche later, I was off. 35km might have been a little ambitious following the food poisoning and recovery time, but luckily my legs felt strong and it was such a good day.

I stopped for a drink in A Pobra do Brollon and encountered my first pilgrims! I was walking by the bar, looking for an open table when two pilgrims already seated caught my eye and wished me a Buen Camino. I have to say, feeling strong enough to walk a full stage and meeting other pilgrims was a turning point for me: this was the moment I felt like I was truly on the Camino de Invierno.

I believe this was the stage with the angry, chained up dog, and I’m sorry to report that he’s still around, as angry as ever. There were two dogs when I passed by, both chained, but one retreated to a corner and didn’t make a sound. The other, well, the reports are true: straining and lunging and jumping and barking. I do wonder if he’s on a tighter chain, because he wasn’t able to lunge into the road at all, and there was plenty of room to pass. I wasn’t too scared (well, maybe a little) but I can certainly understand how it’s a frightening spot.

In Monforte I stayed at the brand new albergue, and I loved it! The only drawback is that it’s located a bit outside of the city center (though in the morning, it’s easy to pick the Camino back up). But the place is sparkling clean, modern and comfortable, with beds in separate pods, a small but well-stocked kitchen, a nice outdoor space, complimentary tea and coffee, and the kindest hospitalero who kept making sure that I had everything I needed.

6. Monforte to Chantada, 29.7km

The highlight of the stage for me was Belesar; I’d stopped for a lunch break in Diomondi (lots of loud construction going on at the church so it wasn’t the most peaceful break), then continued down that old road where I was barraged by little flies and bugs. 2km of swatting them away and trying to watch every step later, the path opened up onto such a gorgeous, stunning view. Oh, those terraced vineyards! I was so charmed as I walked down to Belesar, and then met another pilgrim who was resting at a fountain. The riverside restaurant was open and so I had (more) lunch, and the people working there were so, so kind to me. I must have had a little brain fog because it didn’t entirely occur to me that, after a heavy lunch, I would have to walk back up the other side of hill to continue onto Chantada. At the point on my Camino, the afternoon heat had settled in, and it was a slog up the hillside.

In Chantada I stayed in Hostal Gamallo… 15 euros for a private room and private bathroom, but I can only imagine that pilgrims tend to be put in the less “attractive” rooms. But how can I complain? There was hot water for my shower and a bed to sleep in, I didn’t need much more.

7. Chantada to Rodeiro, 25.8km

The walk up to Monte Faro was great, and I was able to get something to eat and drink at the bar in Penasillas before the climb (a lovely spot for a break, plus a cat who tried- repeatedly- to steal my eggs!)

In Rodeiro I stayed in the albergue at Hostal Carpinteiras, and I thought it was nice. New and clean, with three separate bunk rooms. There were four other women (a group) staying there; they weren’t pilgrims, and they were in a separate room so I had a space to myself. The restaurant downstairs typically serves meals but didn’t on the weekend that I was there (and maybe never on weekends? I’m not sure). But there are other restaurants in town and a kitchen in the albergue.

8. Rodeiro to Lalin, 22km (ended up around 27km with a 4.5km walk to train station)

I had to end my walk in Lalin and take a train to Santiago, so I missed the last few stages and couldn’t walk into Santiago. The train station in Lalin isn’t actually IN Lalin (or, not the city center which the Camino takes you through), and I had to walk an additional 5km to get there. But it was straightforward walking down a not-too-busy road, and got me to Santiago when I needed to be there, so all worked out.

Before catching my train I stopped at A Casa do Gato, run by the same people who also run Albergue Lalin Centro. I’d planned to stay at this albergue and saw that other pilgrims were checking in, and while I can’t speak for the albergue itself, the man running this place was so kind. I ordered a big pizza, ate every last bite, then ordered some coffee and was given a bottle of brandy to go with it, plus a magnet and a big smile. It was such a nice ending to my Camino.

***
Apologies for such a long post, but hopefully there were some little nuggets in here that could be helpful for future pilgrims! I think I saw about 5 pilgrims in total on my walk, and a couple more checking into the albergue in Lalin. I was lucky with the weather- beautiful, misty mornings and clear afternoons, no rain. I’m hoping that one year I’ll be able to come back and do this walk again, especially to really take in what I missed on those first stages.

I've been posting YouTube videos from the Primitivo, and in the next few days am going to start to share what I took on the Invierno, in case anyone is interested: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiYVkjL4gqcNxv8AaiOgVtQ

Thanks again to everyone on this forum who have contributed such thoughtful and helpful information, it helped me in my planning so much!

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Love the post despite that I’m not doing this route. So enjoyed the details. Thanks!
 
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NualaOC

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Thanks Nadine for this super-helpful post!

I can really relate to your food poisoning episode - I had a similar experience at the start of the Primitivo a few years ago. It's so frustrating when morning after morning, you realise that another day of Aquarius and rest is needed.

I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and reflections - both here and in your Instagram posts. My other half and I hope to walk the Invierno in October and I've made lots of notes.

I hope you're well rested and settling back into post-Camino life.

Nuala
 

thistleamy

Camino Portuguese - 2019; CF - 2021
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portuguese (2019); Camino Frances (2021)
Wonderful post Nadine - I am so sorry you were sick but I suppose we have to take whatever the Camino throws at us - but you were brave to carry on and with such a positive attitude. Ultreia! Your video's and pictures are also a joy - I will be walking the CF from Burgos in October. You have adequately prepared me for the rain that will be in store for me. (smile emoticon!) Also happy belated birthday!
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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Good memories of my 2019 Invierno. I hope to walk it some day when it is not continually raining.
 

Oregon's Mark

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
In July, I took a brief break from the Camino Frances, to spend a few days on the Invierno. Wow, what spectacular sights! And, one of the greatest albergues---Casa Rosa, in Puente de Domingo Flores! Dace and Agris(and their children) were wonderful hosts in their home/albergue. The food was the best. If you are on the Invierno, you will love Casa Rosa.
 

Ernie Fraser

New Member
Hello forum members! I’m back in the States after about 4-weeks in Spain, and I’m ALREADY missing the Camino. I walked the Primitivo, then took a train to Astorga and walked for a few days on the Francés to Ponferrada, where I branched off onto the Invierno.

This forum was invaluable in planning my Invierno; many thanks to the great Invierno guide and especially the recent posts from those who walked, it was so helpful to have a sense of what to expect when I walked.

This Camino was anything but straightforward for me; I mean, going in, I had it all planned out! Stages, notes on places to stay, where to eat, what to see, etc. But as soon as I got started (quite literally), I got struck with food poisoning. The symptoms weren’t so bad at first so I kept walking, but things did not progress well and I dragged myself into Puente de Domingo Florez with every last bit of energy I had, and holed up in a hotel for three nights until I felt well enough to continue walking.

I lost two full days of walking, and then a third day when I split a stage that I’d planned to do in one go. So, by consequence, I had to take a train to skip over a stage in the middle (A Rúa to Quiroga), and end in Lalin, about two days short of being able to walk into Santiago. There was a point (when still feeling bad with the food poisoning) when I seriously considered scrapping the Invierno, and going to some place where it would be easier to walk shorter stages. But I persevered on the Invierno, and was very pleased that I could come up with a new plan that still allowed me to take in some of the spectacular sights. And, I was so grateful to get my strength back and still be able to walk!

Overall, I ended this Camino feeling really good and quite sad that I had to stop in Lalin, though it took me a little while to find my stride (no doubt the food poisoning incident did not help with this.) It was also an adjustment to come from the Primitivo which had just the perfect number of pilgrims for me, and led to such nice connections and interactions. I love solo walking and don’t mind day after day of little to no social interaction, but coming off the Primitivo to a route where it took four days to see another pilgrim, took some adjusting.

I don’t speak Spanish (well, I’ve developed some ‘pilgrim-Spanish’ I suppose), and this made things a little more challenging at times, but I wouldn’t tell someone that they should not walk this route if they can’t speak the language. Certainly I missed out on conversation and interaction with the locals (there were several who really, really wanted to talk to me, and went ahead and tried to have a conversation but I wasn’t able to contribute much!!), but I was always able to figure out what I needed and communicate it as well. I made reservations a day or two in advance as I walked (I used WhatsApp when I could, but also had to phone places and just muddle through the Spanish); the only spot that couldn’t accommodate me was Hostal Quiper in Quiroga, otherwise each place I contacted had a bed/room for me. However, I told myself that when I walk this route again, I WILL learn Spanish or at least be able to have basic conversations, because it would enhance the experience so very much.

Here are what my stages ended up looking like, along with a few notes:

1. Ponferrada to Santalla del Bierzo, 12.5km

I’d planned rather poorly and didn’t attempt to contact anyone about staying in the albergue in Villavieja until the day before I was due to arrive. I couldn’t get an answer on the numbers that I repeatedly tried, and it was too late to send an email. I’d walked from Molinaseca to Ponferrada in the morning and had planned to continue on to Villavieja, but worried that I’d have to postpone my walk and stay in Ponferrada until I could find a place to stay (it was August and it was the weekend and everywhere was booked up!) In the end I tried Airbnb and found a room in a woman’s house in Santalla del Bierzo. It was a little pricey for pilgrim standards but such a comfortable bed and fabulous house, plus an incredibly kind host who prepared a great breakfast. So, an unexpected solution came through! Also, from the very start, I noticed that the way-marking was excellent. Arrows, signs, mojóns everywhere!

2. Santalla del Bierzo to Puente de Domingo Florez, 27.6km

I had no business walking this stage, but walk I did. My food poisoning symptoms started the day before but weren’t too bad; on this day, they progressively got worse, and I’m not sure that I actually SAW anything on this stage. I just pulled myself through, one step at a time. I missed the gold mining sites completely; a reason to come back. I had a reservation at Hostal La Torre in Puente de Domingo Florez, and ended up staying three nights to recover from the food poisoning. Thank goodness there was room at the inn! And really it was perfect: a comfortable bed, a little balcony, a big bathroom, a tienda in a gas station around the corner stocked with cold Aquarius.

3. Puente de Domingo Flores to O Barco, 18km

I’d initially planned to walk from Puente to A Rúa (about 30km) but knew I wouldn’t have the energy to do such a big stage right away, so I split that stage into two, and walked 18km to O Barco. I thought this section had some really pretty walking! I was moving a lot slower than normal, pausing to take lots of photographs and to take a rest on every bench I came across. The only place where I lost the arrows on this entire Camino was in Entoma; I was admiring the metal sculpture and must have missed the arrows pointing towards the right, and instead, I continued walking straight and out of town. Something felt off so I checked a map and then doubled back to take a much more scenic path out of the town.

In O Barco I stayed in Hostal Mayo. No complaints!

4. O Barco to A Rúa, 12km

This was a largely uneventful stage; I was really getting my energy back at this point and wanted to walk a longer stage. I briefly looked into skipping over this section and walking from A Rúa to Quiroga on this day instead, but Hostal Quiper in Quiroga was full and Pension Fabio in A Rúa got back to me to say they had a room, so my choice was made. It was probably all for the best and gave my body more time to heal, but I felt as those the kilometers flew by, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself for most of the day in A Rúa. Luckily there's a beautiful river and a park with benches to take in the views! Pension Fabio was a nice place to stay- I arrived to an empty reception area, dialed a number, and eventually a young kid, maybe 15, ran downstairs to give me a room key. He was so kind and didn’t seem all that concerned about taking my money, which made me chuckle.


*** train from A Rúa to San Clodio, skipping a stage

5. San Clodio to Monforte de Lemos, 35km

Just before I left Pension Fabio, I tried to get a coffee from the vending machine in the hallway, only to discover that the machine wasn’t working! I was catching an early train to San Clodio, so I walked to the station uncaffeinated. But I’d read reports that Hotel Las Vegas in San Clodio could be a place for a coffee stop, but when I arrived, the place was all shut up. There wouldn’t be another place with services for 20+km, and just as I started to worry, I came across a very local and very open bar in the little town. Friendly service and a grande café con leche later, I was off. 35km might have been a little ambitious following the food poisoning and recovery time, but luckily my legs felt strong and it was such a good day.

I stopped for a drink in A Pobra do Brollon and encountered my first pilgrims! I was walking by the bar, looking for an open table when two pilgrims already seated caught my eye and wished me a Buen Camino. I have to say, feeling strong enough to walk a full stage and meeting other pilgrims was a turning point for me: this was the moment I felt like I was truly on the Camino de Invierno.

I believe this was the stage with the angry, chained up dog, and I’m sorry to report that he’s still around, as angry as ever. There were two dogs when I passed by, both chained, but one retreated to a corner and didn’t make a sound. The other, well, the reports are true: straining and lunging and jumping and barking. I do wonder if he’s on a tighter chain, because he wasn’t able to lunge into the road at all, and there was plenty of room to pass. I wasn’t too scared (well, maybe a little) but I can certainly understand how it’s a frightening spot.

In Monforte I stayed at the brand new albergue, and I loved it! The only drawback is that it’s located a bit outside of the city center (though in the morning, it’s easy to pick the Camino back up). But the place is sparkling clean, modern and comfortable, with beds in separate pods, a small but well-stocked kitchen, a nice outdoor space, complimentary tea and coffee, and the kindest hospitalero who kept making sure that I had everything I needed.

6. Monforte to Chantada, 29.7km

The highlight of the stage for me was Belesar; I’d stopped for a lunch break in Diomondi (lots of loud construction going on at the church so it wasn’t the most peaceful break), then continued down that old road where I was barraged by little flies and bugs. 2km of swatting them away and trying to watch every step later, the path opened up onto such a gorgeous, stunning view. Oh, those terraced vineyards! I was so charmed as I walked down to Belesar, and then met another pilgrim who was resting at a fountain. The riverside restaurant was open and so I had (more) lunch, and the people working there were so, so kind to me. I must have had a little brain fog because it didn’t entirely occur to me that, after a heavy lunch, I would have to walk back up the other side of hill to continue onto Chantada. At the point on my Camino, the afternoon heat had settled in, and it was a slog up the hillside.

In Chantada I stayed in Hostal Gamallo… 15 euros for a private room and private bathroom, but I can only imagine that pilgrims tend to be put in the less “attractive” rooms. But how can I complain? There was hot water for my shower and a bed to sleep in, I didn’t need much more.

7. Chantada to Rodeiro, 25.8km

The walk up to Monte Faro was great, and I was able to get something to eat and drink at the bar in Penasillas before the climb (a lovely spot for a break, plus a cat who tried- repeatedly- to steal my eggs!)

In Rodeiro I stayed in the albergue at Hostal Carpinteiras, and I thought it was nice. New and clean, with three separate bunk rooms. There were four other women (a group) staying there; they weren’t pilgrims, and they were in a separate room so I had a space to myself. The restaurant downstairs typically serves meals but didn’t on the weekend that I was there (and maybe never on weekends? I’m not sure). But there are other restaurants in town and a kitchen in the albergue.

8. Rodeiro to Lalin, 22km (ended up around 27km with a 4.5km walk to train station)

I had to end my walk in Lalin and take a train to Santiago, so I missed the last few stages and couldn’t walk into Santiago. The train station in Lalin isn’t actually IN Lalin (or, not the city center which the Camino takes you through), and I had to walk an additional 5km to get there. But it was straightforward walking down a not-too-busy road, and got me to Santiago when I needed to be there, so all worked out.

Before catching my train I stopped at A Casa do Gato, run by the same people who also run Albergue Lalin Centro. I’d planned to stay at this albergue and saw that other pilgrims were checking in, and while I can’t speak for the albergue itself, the man running this place was so kind. I ordered a big pizza, ate every last bite, then ordered some coffee and was given a bottle of brandy to go with it, plus a magnet and a big smile. It was such a nice ending to my Camino.

***
Apologies for such a long post, but hopefully there were some little nuggets in here that could be helpful for future pilgrims! I think I saw about 5 pilgrims in total on my walk, and a couple more checking into the albergue in Lalin. I was lucky with the weather- beautiful, misty mornings and clear afternoons, no rain. I’m hoping that one year I’ll be able to come back and do this walk again, especially to really take in what I missed on those first stages.

I've been posting YouTube videos from the Primitivo, and in the next few days am going to start to share what I took on the Invierno, in case anyone is interested: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiYVkjL4gqcNxv8AaiOgVtQ

Thanks again to everyone on this forum who have contributed such thoughtful and helpful information, it helped me in my planning so much!

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Thanks for the notes on the Invierno - these are very helpful.
 
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Becky 59

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
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Thanks for that wonderfully detailed post! I leave in a few weeks for my own Camino, and this helps add to my anticipation!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
So very sorry to hear about the food poisoning, but with the much more serious thing you could have had, I’d say it’s the lesser of two evils!

I think you’re the first forum member to stay at the new albergue in Monforte, so that was really good to hear about.

Gronze doesn’t include San Clodio on its website (since the arrows just take you over the river, through San Clodio and then back over the river, and they call it “ridiculous”. So I am having trouble seeing if the Hotel/Bar Las Vegas is open or closed for covid. Because the times I’ve passed by, the bar has been open early to accommodate train passengers.

I know you’ve got lots and lots of caminos to walk, but based on what you say here, it seems like you would really enjoy heading back, maybe after the albergue in Diomondi is open.

Thanks for all the updates and glad you are feeling fine again.
 

NadineK

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Thank you for taking the time to post up your stages and notes! I too am walking from Astorga and taking the Invierno in less than two weeks time, so it is timely and useful all round!

I'm sorry your trip was curtailed by your food poisoning episode.. I can sympathise, I had a similar experience on the Salvador a few years ago: I had already been walking a few weeks so was in good shape, when a sudden (is there any other?!) bout of food poisoning sapped all of my energy and I remember struggling to walk just a few kilometres and feeling and thinking I'd never get to my bed. The kindly hospi in Buiza, I think it was, allowed me to rest and rehydrate for a couple of days..

I was supposed to walk the invierno last year, I'm really looking forward to it now, and thanks to all the recent contributors on here for their up to date accounts and info on this route..
I'm so happy you'll be on the Invierno soon, I hope you have a wonderful experience (I'm sure it will be!!)

You're so right about food poisoning... when is it NOT sudden? And my walk on the day I wasn't feeling well was like an exercise in visualization, I trained all of my thoughts on the image of a bed, and told myself that it was all I needed to do. To walk to the hotel and then crawl into bed. It seemed like I would never make it, but then I did :)
 

NadineK

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Wonderful to read your post Nadine and see your beautiful photos. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your journey. Wow! What a time you had - so good that you took those days in Puente de Domingo Flores which enabled you to recover from food poisoning and continue on!
Ohhh the continuing situation with the angry chained up dog before Barxa do Lor 😟
Yes - I hope you will be able to return to walk the beautiful Invierno again and have a chance to experience it in good health. But again... Well done for continuing on!!
Thank you so much @Theatregal, I'm also so glad that I was able to take extra days in Puente de Domingo Flores to heal and recover. AND pleased that I was able to continue on- the second half of my walk was when I finally settled in, and now makes me want to redo the first half to see what the experience could be like when I'm feeling more like myself. But, well, things like this can happen on any Camino, and it's all part of the experience!
 
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NadineK

Active Member
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Thanks Nadine for this super-helpful post!

I can really relate to your food poisoning episode - I had a similar experience at the start of the Primitivo a few years ago. It's so frustrating when morning after morning, you realise that another day of Aquarius and rest is needed.

I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and reflections - both here and in your Instagram posts. My other half and I hope to walk the Invierno in October and I've made lots of notes.

I hope you're well rested and settling back into post-Camino life.

Nuala
I do hope you'll both make it onto the Invierno in October, I can imagine it would be so beautiful then! I hope you keep us posted :)

I'm not sure if it makes me feel better that others can relate to the food poisoning incident (well, it does make me feel not so alone!), or badly that it's happened to others. Yup, a day in bed, with Aquarius... kind of felt like Groundhog's Day for awhile there.

Trying my best to settle back into post-Camino life, which I'm sure you know can be a challenging thing!
 

NadineK

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Wonderful post Nadine - I am so sorry you were sick but I suppose we have to take whatever the Camino throws at us - but you were brave to carry on and with such a positive attitude. Ultreia! Your video's and pictures are also a joy - I will be walking the CF from Burgos in October. You have adequately prepared me for the rain that will be in store for me. (smile emoticon!) Also happy belated birthday!
Thank you!! It's true, being sick is never fun (and in the moment it feels just awful), but I tried to take the food poisoning in stride, and just focused on trying to get better. And, eventually, I did! I'm glad you've enjoyed the videos and photos, I just have so much fun taking them! And I'm so happy to hear that you have a Camino coming up, October will be a beautiful time to walk I think!
 

NadineK

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Good memories of my 2019 Invierno. I hope to walk it some day when it is not continually raining.
@Albertagirl I think I read a post of yours or saw photos of your walk on the Invierno when you seemed to be in constant rain, oh my. Even though I got sick on this one, I have to say that the weather came through in a big way. A little hot on a couple of afternoons, but just such beautiful days and clear skies, which can help so much!
 

Flog

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
And my walk on the day I wasn't feeling well was like an exercise in visualization, I trained all of my thoughts on the image of a bed, and told myself that it was all I needed to do. To walk to the hotel and then crawl into bed. It seemed like I would never make it, but then I did :)
Yes exactly! When we're sick we realise how vulnerable we are and how simple are needs are..
 

NadineK

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2014)
Norte/Primitivo (2015)
San Salvador (2016)
Le Puy-Cahors (2017)
Aragonés (2019)
In July, I took a brief break from the Camino Frances, to spend a few days on the Invierno. Wow, what spectacular sights! And, one of the greatest albergues---Casa Rosa, in Puente de Domingo Flores! Dace and Agris(and their children) were wonderful hosts in their home/albergue. The food was the best. If you are on the Invierno, you will love Casa Rosa.
I'd thought about trying to stay in that albergue, but it ended up being better (for me, anyway) to stay in a private room when I got hit with the food poisoning. Next time I walk this route, I'd love to stay in Casa Rosa! Thanks for the tip, this will be good for future pilgrims!
 
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NadineK

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2014)
Norte/Primitivo (2015)
San Salvador (2016)
Le Puy-Cahors (2017)
Aragonés (2019)
Thanks for that wonderfully detailed post! I leave in a few weeks for my own Camino, and this helps add to my anticipation!
I'm glad this helps with the anticipation of your walk!! Which Camino route will you be on? I hope you have an amazing time!
 

NadineK

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2014)
Norte/Primitivo (2015)
San Salvador (2016)
Le Puy-Cahors (2017)
Aragonés (2019)
So very sorry to hear about the food poisoning, but with the much more serious thing you could have had, I’d say it’s the lesser of two evils!

I think you’re the first forum member to stay at the new albergue in Monforte, so that was really good to hear about.

Gronze doesn’t include San Clodio on its website (since the arrows just take you over the river, through San Clodio and then back over the river, and they call it “ridiculous”. So I am having trouble seeing if the Hotel/Bar Las Vegas is open or closed for covid. Because the times I’ve passed by, the bar has been open early to accommodate train passengers.

I know you’ve got lots and lots of caminos to walk, but based on what you say here, it seems like you would really enjoy heading back, maybe after the albergue in Diomondi is open.

Thanks for all the updates and glad you are feeling fine again.
I agree, I breathed a BIG sigh of relief when I got my negative COVID test result back before flying home. Being sick and on the Camino is never fun, but with all the walking I've done over the years, sometimes you just get a little unlucky. And this was definitely the lesser of two evils.

I noticed that Gronze doesn't include San Clodio, and since I took the train there and didn't walk through Quiroga, I'm not sure how much extra "ridiculous" walking it would lead to... but I have to say, I was a bit charmed by San Clodio! Maybe it was that delicious café con leche and the very warm and sincere 'Buen Camino!' when I left the bar, or the flower arrangements lining the streets, or the early morning light as I walked over the bridge and out of town, but I thought it was just such a pretty little place. But the Hotel Las Vegas was definitely closed when I passed by- no sign on the door but very shut up.

And yes, I'd read your reports here about a possible albergue in Diomondi, I would load up my pack with food and stay there in a heartbeat! And also try to stop in Casa Rosa in Puente de Domingo Florez, too. And actually spend time in Las Medulas, and, and.... oh, I'm already Camino dreaming, and I've just returned!!
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I agree, I breathed a BIG sigh of relief when I got my negative COVID test result back before flying home. Being sick and on the Camino is never fun, but with all the walking I've done over the years, sometimes you just get a little unlucky. And this was definitely the lesser of two evils.

I noticed that Gronze doesn't include San Clodio, and since I took the train there and didn't walk through Quiroga, I'm not sure how much extra "ridiculous" walking it would lead to... but I have to say, I was a bit charmed by San Clodio! Maybe it was that delicious café con leche and the very warm and sincere 'Buen Camino!' when I left the bar, or the flower arrangements lining the streets, or the early morning light as I walked over the bridge and out of town, but I thought it was just such a pretty little place. But the Hotel Las Vegas was definitely closed when I passed by- no sign on the door but very shut up.

And yes, I'd read your reports here about a possible albergue in Diomondi, I would load up my pack with food and stay there in a heartbeat! And also try to stop in Casa Rosa in Puente de Domingo Florez, too. And actually spend time in Las Medulas, and, and.... oh, I'm already Camino dreaming, and I've just returned!!
@NadineK
Did you see or hear anything about Pension Pacita, except for that sad little note on a sign that it was closed? It was one of my favourite places on the Invierno and I am hoping that it has survived the pandemic.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I noticed that Gronze doesn't include San Clodio, and since I took the train there and didn't walk through Quiroga, I'm not sure how much extra "ridiculous" walking it would lead to... but I have to say, I was a bit charmed by San Clodio! Maybe it was that delicious café con leche and the very warm and sincere 'Buen Camino!' when I left the bar, or the flower arrangements lining the streets, or the early morning light as I walked over the bridge and out of town, but I thought it was just such a pretty little place.
As far as how much distance it adds, it is essentially two crossings of a bridge over the River Sil. You cross, turn right and walk through the town, and then cross the bridge again at the other end of the town. So I am not sure how it earns the description of “ridiculous.”

I agree with you that it is a nice place. And there’s even a kind of hodge-podge church with some romanesque elements for those who share that interest. I stayed in the Hotel Las Vegas the last time I was on the Invierno and after a nice lunch in their shaded garden, I walked down to the “river beach” (you’ll see signs that say “praia fluvial”). It´s a popular community spot, lots of families, playgrounds, and of course a café bar. It was very nice to spend the late afternoon there after a long and sometimes hot walk.
 

NadineK

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2014)
Norte/Primitivo (2015)
San Salvador (2016)
Le Puy-Cahors (2017)
Aragonés (2019)
@NadineK
Did you see or hear anything about Pension Pacita, except for that sad little note on a sign that it was closed? It was one of my favourite places on the Invierno and I am hoping that it has survived the pandemic.
I'm sitting here, trying and trying to remember if I saw anything. I *think* that I saw a sign indicating the way to Pension Pacita, with no mention of it being closed but I could be wrong. But I seem to remember thinking that I could take a detour if I wanted to try for some food, but I knew I could get a bite in A Pobra so I kept going. Maybe future pilgrims- @Flog ?- might be able to give us a report?
 
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Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
It's a little eerie reading this account. The first time I walked the Invierno path (I think it was 2009?) I staggered into Puente de Domingo Florez and checked into that same hotel, where I stayed for two days with a horrific stomach bug, fever, the works. I was delerious. Did I imagine a little zoo of exotic birds and animals along the riverbank behind the cafe?
I found the medical center; the doctor there wrote me an order for the emergency room at O Barco, which got me a free train ride and taxi transfer, yippee! (and a cool medical sello on my credential). I spent a few hours there on an IV drip. I learned I was suffering from giardia, a bug I picked up, probably, from a mountaintop spring coming into Las Medulas from Penalba... eeugh.
My husband got on a train to come and get me, we met up at Monforte de Lemos and checked into the fabulous parador there -- the haunted tower room! I remember very little about it, except the fabulous huge bathtub. I did eventually finish that camino... and went back a couple of times to write the English guide for it in 2010 or 2011. It is a beauty of a trail, but it just doesn't feel like a Camino to me.
Maybe it was the bacteria.
How strange to see someone else expriencing the same thing at the same place, year later!
 

khiker9

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Nadine - Thanks for the posts. I am planning the Invierno from Monforte mid-October but my walking buddy has had to drop out. I guess I am looking for some reassurance that the route is "comfortable" enough for a senior, solo woman pilgrim. I have done parts of the Frances & Norte solo & feel comfortable as long as the waymarking is clear! Thanks for any further input.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Nadine - Thanks for the posts. I am planning the Invierno from Monforte mid-October but my walking buddy has had to drop out. I guess I am looking for some reassurance that the route is "comfortable" enough for a senior, solo woman pilgrim. I have done parts of the Frances & Norte solo & feel comfortable as long as the waymarking is clear! Thanks for any further input.
I walked the Invierno, starting from Ponferrada, solo, in the fall of 2019. It was a very wet walk, but otherwise pleasant, and I did not find that there were any particular challenges in walking that route alone at the age of 71. I had started in Madrid, to Sahagun, then the Frances to Ponferrada and on to the Invierno. I found the crowds on the Frances the most challenging part of the walk. If you are, in general, comfortable in walking caminos alone, you will not find that route particularly difficult.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Nadine - Thanks for the posts. I am planning the Invierno from Monforte mid-October but my walking buddy has had to drop out. I guess I am looking for some reassurance that the route is "comfortable" enough for a senior, solo woman pilgrim. I have done parts of the Frances & Norte solo & feel comfortable as long as the waymarking is clear! Thanks for any further input.
Hi, khiker,

Nadine has been there more recently than I but I have walked the Invierno three times, always alone. Most recently was 2019, a few months before @Albertagirl. I can think of two other forum members who also walked the Invierno alone that summer, and I know they loved it. Like @Albertagirl, I’m a 70 yo female and have never had any reason to feel insecure or threatened. The way marking is probably the best of any camino I’ve been on. I take a GPS when I walk remote caminos and in 2019 I walked the Vasco and Olvidado before the Invierno. I had tracks for those two but didn‘t even bother to download Invierno tracks because it is so well marked. I think that since you are comfortable walking alone, the Invierno will be a wonderful camino for you.
 
Nadine - Thanks for the posts. I am planning the Invierno from Monforte mid-October but my walking buddy has had to drop out. I guess I am looking for some reassurance that the route is "comfortable" enough for a senior, solo woman pilgrim. I have done parts of the Frances & Norte solo & feel comfortable as long as the waymarking is clear! Thanks for any further input.
Hello @khiker9
I walked the Invierno solo in June 2019 and echo the above comments from @peregrina2000 . The route was very well marked and I felt safe and comfortable all along the way. In fact, it was attention from local people that went a long way to helping me feel that way. Many times, local people (especially women) would make a point of stopping to say hello, ask about my journey and wish me well. It was these interactions / kindnesses that really gave me a sense of security along the way. This doesn't mean that I let go of my common sense and awareness always of what was around me, but I never felt fearful. Wishing you a Buen Camino for October!
 
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NadineK

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2014)
Norte/Primitivo (2015)
San Salvador (2016)
Le Puy-Cahors (2017)
Aragonés (2019)
Nadine - Thanks for the posts. I am planning the Invierno from Monforte mid-October but my walking buddy has had to drop out. I guess I am looking for some reassurance that the route is "comfortable" enough for a senior, solo woman pilgrim. I have done parts of the Frances & Norte solo & feel comfortable as long as the waymarking is clear! Thanks for any further input.
I don't think I need to add anything to what @Albertagirl @peregrina2000 and @Theatregal have already said, because I agree with it all! I never felt unsafe on this Camino, and it's true, the waymarking might have been the best on any Camino I've ever walked. Truly, there are arrows and signs everywhere! I think if you're feeling like you want to carry on with your plan for the Invierno, you'll find so many beautiful moments on this Camino.
 

NadineK

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2014)
Norte/Primitivo (2015)
San Salvador (2016)
Le Puy-Cahors (2017)
Aragonés (2019)
It's a little eerie reading this account. The first time I walked the Invierno path (I think it was 2009?) I staggered into Puente de Domingo Florez and checked into that same hotel, where I stayed for two days with a horrific stomach bug, fever, the works. I was delerious. Did I imagine a little zoo of exotic birds and animals along the riverbank behind the cafe?
I found the medical center; the doctor there wrote me an order for the emergency room at O Barco, which got me a free train ride and taxi transfer, yippee! (and a cool medical sello on my credential). I spent a few hours there on an IV drip. I learned I was suffering from giardia, a bug I picked up, probably, from a mountaintop spring coming into Las Medulas from Penalba... eeugh.
My husband got on a train to come and get me, we met up at Monforte de Lemos and checked into the fabulous parador there -- the haunted tower room! I remember very little about it, except the fabulous huge bathtub. I did eventually finish that camino... and went back a couple of times to write the English guide for it in 2010 or 2011. It is a beauty of a trail, but it just doesn't feel like a Camino to me.
Maybe it was the bacteria.
How strange to see someone else expriencing the same thing at the same place, year later!
Eek!! This IS a bit eerie, what if we even stayed in the same room??? I also looked up the medical center and was very close to going (a friend in Madrid called for me to see if I needed to make an appointment or could just show up); I told myself that if I didn't feel better by the morning (after 3 days of symptoms!) I would go get checked out. Luckily I DID feel better, so no need for the medical center, phew.

Your experience sounded like such a long, scary ordeal, but very glad to hear it worked out okay, and involved a large bathtub in a Parador!
 

khiker9

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, '12; Frances, '14; Port, '15; Frances, Norte, Fisterre, '16; Ingles, Fisterre/Muxia '17
Thanks ladies - @Albertagirl @peregrina2000 @NadineK - that was all what I needed to hear. I'm ready to book my flight! I've had a Camino every year since 2012, so it was very hard missing last year and so far this year, so I must get this one in soon! Hoping for the Via de la Plata in the spring! Buen Camino to all.
 
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2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
Chiming in late to add to the enthusiastic chorus.
I was spooked by this camino for years, but found all that anxiety to be completely untethered from the reality I encountered. From start to finish this was a wonderful camino.
My minimal Spanish worked fine, the only downside being that I couldn't have real conversations with the elderly folks along the way.
Buen camino @khiker9 !
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
Re. the stomach bug.. I always get a prescription for Ciprofloxacin before I travel. If you take it at first sign of symptoms, it will knock out the majority of the bugs that cause cause stomach issues. Valuable to keep in a first aid kit.
 
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