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On the Camino de Invierno

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Well, two days in, and things are going very well. I´m in Barco de Valdeorras in the Hostal Tortuga that Reb´s guide recommends. I saw several other pensiones in town but just thought there must be good vibes coming from that place, so I went there. Let me say, though, that although it is true that the Hostal Tortuga is number 38 on the main drag, it´s not the FIRST number 38 on the main drag, which changes names and hence numbers many times. As Reb said in her guide, this town goes on forever.

I have been taking lots of notes and will post them when I´m home, but some general comments and impressions so far:

No one in Ponferrada knows or cares about the Camino de Invierno. The hospitaleros in the albergue were very critical and thought it was a stupid idea to leave the Francés. Well, I did have my doubts, I had met a bunch of very nice people on the Francés, but the albergue in Ponferrada has all its 180 beds filled two nights ago, so imagine what things will look like from here on.

The Invierno is spectacularly well marked, with mojones, from Ponferrada to Puente de Domingo Florez (last town in Leon/El Bierzo). From Puente de Domingo Florez to Sobradelo, there are freshly painted yellow arrows. From a few kms later until Barco de Valdeorras there are commercially printed camino markings (with the stick figure pilgrim, the stick figure conch shell, and an arrow at the bottom), but they are not at every place you´d like them to be. I´m taking notes and will post with details later. Based on Reb´s guide, it looks like things could get tough in the next few days, and I am an expert at getting lost.

So far this is spectacular. Day one had a couple of steep ascents (totalling over 800 m), first to a castle built on an impossible peak, then down, then to the Roman gold mines of As Médulas which is an astonighing place. Today´s walk was less spectacular, but beautiful -- through chestnut forests and cherry orchards and vineyards, and along the Sil River. An old woman in one of the towns told me which cherry trees to pick, as they were in abandoned properties. OMG, the cherries are wonderful!

So, if you are tempted by the Invierno, keep it in mind. Reb´s guide is incredibly helpful and even I haven´t gotten lost once yet! Buen camino, Laurie
 
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CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Oh Laurie, how exciting! Another branch of the Camino to explore. If this keeps up, I'll be walking until I'm 100!

Can't wait to read your notes! Do you have a blog?

Buen Camino!

Annie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Short day today, only 14 kms into A Rúa, a center of wine production with lots of tasting rooms (suggestion for afternoon activity?). I got lost a couple of times today but never too disastrous, and I´ve got lots of scribbles to transcribe.

This is beautiful country, development is a bit of a hodge podge and industry sometimes mars the beautiful views of the Sil River, but all in all it was quite a nice walk.

When I got to town I first went to the ayuntamiento (they call them Casa do Concello here in Galicia) for my sello and information on internet. On my way down the street to find the internet, which is in the library as usual, I heard someone shout "Laura" -- turns out it was Ramón, the president of the Amigos of the Camino de Invierno here in A Rúa. He deposited me here so I could write up my notes while the route was fresh in my mind and is coming back to walk me up to the private albergue. We had had a few email exchanges before I started out, and he is a delightful, enthusiastic peregrino supporter. He promised to give me lots of tips on the next few stages, and I will give him some information on places where arrows would be greatly appreciated!
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
see signature
wow! that really puts me into the frame to just start already!

it looks that things are improving nicely on camino invierno. I am looking forward to your notes, laurie, I am sure they will come handy when I embark on my camino next year. you notes on waymarks have already been dully noted. :D

there is now a private albergue in a rua?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Caminka,

Yes, there is a private albergue in A Rúa. It´s run by a woman named Asunción, and her 88 year old mom Manuela. They have just recently restored their 700 year old home which, they say, has been in the family since construction. And there are Roman things everywhre, like a big column sticking up about 2 feet from the ground, whose base they have never digged far enough down to see, and a channelization system that sends water all over this pretty little part of A Rúa. The albergue is very comfortable, 9 E for a bed with sheets and bath, 7 € for a meal -- I had lunch with them and it was quite good, simple, filling, and with things from their garden.

Today´s walk was 28 km, nearly all within sight of the Sil River. It was fabulous, beautiful, and not much asphalt.

Tomorrow on to either Monforte (33 km) or Puebla de Brollón (23), depending on my feet. It would be nice to have a bit of company, but the computer here in the Casa de Cultura is an acceptable alternative. I am thinking that this Camino just needs a bit of publicity and a few albergues, because the marking is quite good and the scenery spectacular!
 
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caminka

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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whoa, that sounds amazing! and the history! I definitely need to stay there. *drools*
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
Yes, I can recommend Ascuncion and Manuela´s place. It wasn´t open yet when I went through, but Ascuncion came downtown and had drinks with us, showed us round the house, and took a couple of us with her up to the top of the hill for a quick, quiet tour of the local lord´s ancient pazo. She knows everybody, and where to get a good dinner with lots of Valdeorras Godello!

She´s a true camino character, she made the town come alive. (If you stay down on the flat, which you tend to do after a long walk, you never see the good stuff.)

Reb.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Well, is this day 5? I had a long walk today from Quiroga to Monforte, 33 pretty strenuous kms, but made it here by 3 or so. (starting around 6:15). My 18€ room in Hostal Quiper came with the added benefit that the owner left a thermos of boiling water outside my door, and at 6 a.m. it was still plenty hot enough for my envelope of nescafé and squirts of condensed milk in a tube. Just like gasoline, I was good to go.

It´s a day with three ascents, and of course 3 descents, but luckily they go from hardest to easiest so you can handle them. It was a beautiful day of old growth, rivers, and a fair amount of cultivated pine forest. The Sil River is gone, but I´ve been walking near the Lor and Saa, and think that tomorrow I´ll hit the Miño.

Three more days and then I´ll join up with the Via de la Plata, so the silence will end. Like some of the others who know the Camiño de Inverno, I sort of hate to be part of its commercialization, but it is such a beautiful route that it just seems like it deserves its fair share of the traffic.

Buen camino a todos, Laurie
 

Ribeirasacra

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
the highway
Laurie,
How did I miss these posting? :oops:
I have been reading your blog, but not visited the forum for some time... I think today you have reached SdC.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Ian and other peregrinos,

Not only have I made it to Santiago, but I am now in Madrid. I´ll be heading home to the US tomorrow, and will post my notes on the forum.

The Camino de Invierno is an absolutely beautiful, remote, and lonely camino. With one private albergue and several pavillones de deportes available to peregrinos, however, it´s there for all those who want a detour off of the masificado Camino Francés. As of the past spring, it has been exceptionally well marked and there are just a few places where arrows are needed.

If you are planning to walk on the Invierno in the near future, PM me and I can supplement Rebekah´s outstanding guide, which is all you need for a buen camino on the Invierno.

Buen camino, Laurie
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, ribeirasacra,

I've just spent some time writing up general descriptions of my stages and will post them. I guess I was incredibly lucky with the weather. Those temps sound like they've come from the Via de la Plata,not the Invierno. But someone (maybe it was you) told me that Ourense has some of the hottest temperatures in all of Spain -- go figure. I hope that things have cooled off a bit.

Laurie
 

Ribeirasacra

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
the highway
The weather did break, and we had all of 30 mins of rain plus some thunder. Temps are creeping back up again, but for the time being they are very comfortable. Of to read your other posting about this Camino.
 

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