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On the Camino, on this date in February...


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Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Here's the thread to post pictures, musings, etc. for any dates in February from any year, and for any Camino route.

When you respond, please mention the year, route you were on and where you walked (or rested) that day. Thanks!
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On this date in 2020, I believe it was Belorado to Ages. It was intended to be Belorado to San Juan Ortega, but the municipal alburgue was closed, so it was onto Ages. I was thinking of stoping in Villa Franca de Montes de Oca, both alburgues were closed and I could not find a pension open, so I continued on.
Our second day on the Rota Vicentina (south west Portugal, from south to north, between Vila do Bispo and Carrapateira). YES, this is really FEBRUARY! I'm on the right. (3 February 2016.) Got to Santiago de Compostela on 12 March.

Ages to Burgos. Arriving at the alburgue, there was a sign stating that the Municipal alburgue in Hornillos del Camino was closed (more on that tomorrow). Attended Mass at the cathedral for the Feast of St Blaise, but they did not do a blessing of the throats.
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Our second day on the Rota Vicentina (south west Portugal, from south to north, between Vila do Bispo and Carrapateira). YES, this is really FEBRUARY! I'm on the right. (3 February 2016.) Got to Santiago de Compostela on 12 March.

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pitter patter of my heart, you know I love the RV!!!! and you had so much influence on that!!!... it is ALWAYS calling me!!!!
I didn’t know that was you!!! Wow what a small world!!! Ahhhh I think of that night and CLEAN SMELLING laundry. They took all of our clothes and washed them and our noses were in our laundry for days!!!
2020 CF Burgos to Hontanas. As per the previous post the alburgue in Hornillos was closed. Walked 20miles/32kms. The Koreans in the picture I met in the park as just about you enter into in the Meseta about 7miles from Burgos. I believed they stayed at a pension or Air BnB in this town (name?), as this was last chance to stay anywhere until Hontanas. In the municipal alburgue in Hontanas I met 3 men who all said they walked from SJPdP to Roncesvalles via the Napoleon Route. As you may very well know, this is closed during the winter months and very dangerous, etc. The first mentioned he had no problems crossing, the second said he got caught in a storm for about an hour, the third said he slept in the hut on the mountain top for the night. Obviously they all survived. Found out a pilgrim I met a couple days later, Fabian from Germany, said when he walked from Burgos to Hontanas, when he got to Hornillos, he started banging on people's doors and some one took him in for the night.



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Did a double take. Seen on the side of the trail, near the castle at Aljezir, on this day in February 2016, on the Rota Vicentina.

2020 CF. Since i had walked 20 miles from Burgos to Hontanas, the next couple of days were short in comparison. A year ago today, it was Itero de Vega to Fromista, about 10 miles.


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A year ago today I had a 2 night stopover in Lisbon on my way to my next camino, so I took a train to Sintra for the day – yet another beautiful day in Europe in February . . . .

Hmm, not many of us walking in February 🤔 . A year ago today I crossed the bridge into Pontedeume on the second day of the Camino Ingles.

It was about 4 pm and I had to wait for the tourist office to open at 5 pm to pick up the key to the albergue, so I found a small bar up the road, sat on a bar stool, and ordered (in Spanish) a beer.

A man sitting on another bar stool asked (in English) if I was English. I said: Is my Spanish that bad? And he replied: No, it’s just that only English people say “por favor” when ordering a drink 🤣. We then chatted for the next hour or so, which passed the time most enjoyably.

At the albergue the bathroom was downstairs and all the beds were upstairs, except for one very rickety bunk bed. As the place was spotlessly clean, and recently mopped, I pulled a mattress onto the floor. There was no window, so it was pitch dark at night. Slept like a log.
And 2 years ago today, a stunningly beautiful February 11th to start my walk from Santiago to Rome, after calling in on Sybil at Egreria House for the loan of a hiking stick, which may one day make its way back to Santiago from Castres in France, where I left it. Thanks Sybil, it was a very trusty companion!
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24 February 2016: Arrive Madrid

After several grueling months of work, this trip was my reward…an attempt at the Invierno!

Came into Madrid from Seattle via Heathrow with arrival late afternoon, airport clearance by early evening. Made my way across town to Hostal Oriente (4 stars, btw) using only public transport as I was trying to test my retention of Spanish. (I passed - - barely.)

After settling into my room, I went out into a drizzly dark evening. The only picture I have for the day was from a small shop/café where I tucked into some Gambas Aioli, Patatas Fritas, and some Vino Tinto. Then back to the room to snooze in comfort before a morning bus to Ponferrada.



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Villafranca Montes de Oca,
February 25, 26, 2006

Here is my blog re a famous snowstorm 15 years ago.

By the time I trekked 10 k to Villafranca Montes de Oca the Camino was covered with 2 or 3 inches of snow. Walking had become dangerous. After a copious hot lunch in a busy truck stop, I went to the municipal albergue opposite the church on the N120 highway.

The front door and one dorm were open.
No one about nor heat, but piles of blankets and a hot plate were available. Considering the weather it was GREAT!

Mid afternoon I snuggled into my sleeping bag; outside the white-out steadily intensified. As night fell the radiators started up. How lucky I was!

About 9 pm. the front door banged open followed by steps on the stairs. Resembling snow-covered yetis, two pilgrims stood at the foot of my bunk! One guy was French, the other Brazilian. We introduced ourselves and shared many cups of hot tea.

Early next morning, 26/02, the Frenchman left.
Outside was a winter wonderland. Dense snow continued to fall. The Brazilian, S., and I bundled up for walking. Plastic bags over socks served as makeshift gaiters.

Outside the snow reached mid-shin. All was treacherous. No trail could be seen; only a few markers affixed to trees were apparent. We started to slowly climb.

Suddenly at a junction S. and I were intercepted by the Guardia Civil in a four-wheel drive. Firmly stating that our lives were imperiled the police insisted on returning us to the albergue

Back in the albergue S. cooked pasta. In a cupboard of leftovers we discovered a half full bottle of Rioja wine; no rare vintage ever tasted better! While playing cards and chatting. S. told me his life story.

. ...By mid-morning the next day, 27/06, the storm was over and the highway plowed; we went on to Burgos by local bus since the Montes de Orca path was still covered in deep snow."

Proof positive of that 2006 snow and me!...

Villafranca Montes de Oca 26.02.2006.jpg

“Where are the snows of yesteryear?/Mais où sont les neiges d’anten? ” François Villon
25 February 2016: Madrid to Ponferrada

Woke up early and made myself look “pilgrim-presentable” before scouting out coffee and a small breakfast. After checking out of the hotel, it was a short walk to catch a bus down to Estancion Sur to await boarding transport to Ponferrada.

As my exertions proved to be more than a match for the breakfast inhaled earlier, I indulged in the pilgrims’ time-honored tradition of a “second breakfast” at the station along with a few con leches as I waited.

A pleasant ride to Ponferrada with a brief walk thereafter to check into Aroi Bierzo Plaza (5 stars! IMHO) left me a little daylight to get shell, staff, and some trail snacks. As dusk fell, it was time to get a bite to eat before heading back to the room and organizing the pack for an early departure. Then, another luxurious night of sleep to burn off remaining jet lag.

Before that first sip of wine, I had to get a picture of the direction to be walked on the morrow.



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25 Feb 2019 - guess where ?!

26 February 2016: Ponferrada to Las Medulas

Up, refreshed, and ready to go about 06:30. Time to go out and check the weather!

Here’s what the plaza looked like after a cleansing rain. Hmmm. Okay, time to go back in for breakfast. While enjoying a sumptuous meal, I reviewed Laurie Reynolds excellent guide and committed items to memory so that I wouldn’t destroy my copy in the rain.

I set out into a steady drizzle under a hat, rain jacket, and rain paints pulled down over the tops of waterproof boots. A couple hours later near Toral de Merayo was the last time that day that I pulled out the camera. (The bar in Toral, btw, was very friendly and served a great coffee and croissant.) From there on? uninterrupted deluge that Noah might recognize for the rest of the walk to Las Medulas. Visibility rarely exceeded 15-20 meters for the next 6 hours. In the prior fifty years of hiking/walking, I had never seen anything like this…and have not again.

My new, though inexpensive, woolen gloves disintegrated to balls of wet yarn within two hours. Then it was time for a change-out from sodden socks. Two hours later and it was time for another sock change. One more change near Borrenes where I could find a little protection from the rain. Oh, and there was NOTHING open between Toral and Medulas as I walked…I saw one other soul the entire time, they were bringing in the cat.

The only lodgings available at Las Medulas were with Casa Socorro - - a lovely couple who were clearly astonished that anyone was out in the weather. So there I was, all socks completely soaked, boots sodden, and clothes distinctly moist.

Pre-shower, a foot exam revealed stage 1 Trench Foot. Double-plus ungood. A review with the couple revealed a lack of drying facilities…not just in Medulas but, by their reckoning, for the planned next two stages. Hmmm.

I went down to the only open bar for Lentejas, Fritas and Tinto to ponder my situation. Upon my return to Socorro the owners and I discussed ordering up a taxi for a trip back to Ponferrada the next morning. The gentleman was adamant that I accompany him as he was going anyway. “Breakfast at 08:00 and then we go, okay?”

Not much else that I could do considering the circumstances. I needed to be off my feet for at least a day and I really needed dry socks/boots, if nothing else. “Okay, Invierno – you win this round!”



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27 February 2016: Ponferrada Redux

Last night’s host was going right past the castle and so it made for an opportune drop-off point. After a brief argument about “gas money” (he did not want any), I dropped 30 euro on the driver’s console while retrieving my pack and was rewarded with a bark of disapproval….and a smile.

After a careful walk up the hill I made time for coffee on the plaza at the Cathedral’s front, nine o’clock had not yet struck and I wanted to be somewhat alert when I returned to the Aroi to beg a room. The somber, though kindly faced, barman went out of his way to bring a plate of small croissants and Danish to my table. I protested (mildly) whereupon he pointed at my pack and said “Pilgrim – eat!” I ordered another coffee to make it worth his while…and tucked a few euro under the plate before I left.

The hotel gladly welcomed me back at the same discount rate of my original booking. I did not ask for the reduced rate, they were pleased to offer. They then steered me to a laundromat (KWL?) just west of the bridge on Avenue Puebla. It was an outstanding recommendation.

The rest of the day was largely taken up with laundry, review of weather reports, and pondering a new plan. Pretty sure that there was more coffee, snacks, wine, and an evening meal in there as well.

By the time I retired for the evening there was no plan developed and I was content with that. “We’ll make up our mind in the morning.”



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28 February 2016: Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo

It was not a completely uninterrupted sleep. The plaza erupted with people sometime after I went to bed which was a surprise (to me anyway) on a Saturday night in February. I drifted off again almost immediately and felt pretty “old” about passing on the party.

At rising, my boots were still dampish despite all my efforts. That had me leaning toward the Frances rather than a repeat on the Invierno. Even a mild rainstorm was going to get them sodden again and my feet, though better, really would not tolerate much abuse for awhile.

After a breakfast that could not be beat (again), I checked out to find a western lookout. Yep, definitely Frances as the southwest horizon was much darker. But, no rain so far…

The path out of town was familiar and easy though there were plenty of icy patches to avoid. The path along the LE-713 was okay but the roadway was very icy at the edge. Being Sunday this posed a problem of listening for cyclists overtaking me on the path (bells, who needs bells?) and being aware that they could yet wipe out on the road and take me with them. This was no longer a problem after a coffee at Camponaraya.

All in all, it was pleasantly brisk day with low clouds scudding across a generally clear sky. My gait was kept deliberately slow and careful the remainder of the walk and I arrived at Ave Fenix around 15:30. I joined eight other souls huddled around a small wood heater until a hearty meal of bread, lentejas, tinto, and I think cookies were dessert. Nationalities represented were Polish, German, French, Korean, Sardinian, and USA (me).



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29 February 2016 (yep…”Leap Year”): Villafranca del Bierzo to Las Herrerias

After a better than usual albergue breakfast, a few of us stragglers helped the hospis put things away. Feet still needing a bit of care, I straggled a bit longer than the rest and was last out the door. A hunt for coffee was rewarded at the edge of town.

Blessed with a deep sea-colored sky and temperature just perfect for walking, my speed never exceeded “ambling”. Maybe just before Trabadelo one started to be wary of chestnut-slicked paths and roads. Ever since my first Camino, this profligacy of chestnuts stirred minor jealousy of the Spanish. At home these beauties go for north of $20/kilo; here they are road trash? Only much later did I discover, from a local at La Faba, that they were very selective about chestnut harvest - - some trees provided palatable nuts while others were sub-standard. Upon reflection, this makes sense in a wild crop but I had just never thought about it before.

Last night’s companions were well ahead of me and the stops for coffee at Trabadelo and Vega de Valcarce widened the distance again.

Though feet looked good this morning, my boots remained not-quite-dry. Opting for a short day made sense and Casa Polin in Herrerias retained a warm spot in memory from years before. Upon arrival just past mid-afternoon, they were happy to welcome me. And, for just a bit more coin, they offered to wash and dry my laundry. (“Yes, please!”)

Laundry handed off, a shower, short nap, and e-mail chores before an evening meal with a tasty rustic rabbit stew, home-baked bread, Caldo, tinto and flan for dessert. Memory suggests that an orujo might have been consumed to aid digestion.

After that it was time to organize the pack with freshly clean clothes before hitting the pillow.



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From my blog for the first week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 1, 2008
Villafranca Montes de Oca

After leaving the rather depressing town of Belorado which in winter resembled a deserted village in an old western movie, Polo and I walked across rolling farmland on dirt/gravel camino paths.


Mid-morning we stopped for hot ColaCao in Villambistia at the Albergue Saint Roque which had an open cafe and a pleasant, lonely hospitalero who was eager to chat in French; he recounted much local camino gossip and casually mentioned that a storm had been forecast for the next days.

ex apse, San Felices.jpg

Two hours later when passing this ex apse of San Felices monastery the sky was heavy with clouds and the air much colder.

After walking 10 km total from Belorado we arrived at the Villafranca Montes de Oca municipal albergue where I had stayed on each of my past caminos; it felt like home.

Villafranca Montes de Oca.jpg

Within a repurposed school on the N-120 route, this municipal albergue was simple, but definitely sufficient.

The front door was open.
In the entry was a pilgrim registry to sign with a simple welcome notice stating:
.....The dorm was up the stairs,
.....Choose a bunk upon arrival,
.....The hospitalera would stamp/collect later

Furthermore showers were on the ground floor and toilets next to the dòrm. Shower water was hot, radiators were warm and blankets were plentiful.

...Nothing else was necessary; what more could any pilgrim need or want?

For tonight I am glad that there are bunk beds on legs. Floor sleeping isn't easy, or more accurately getting off the floor in the dark of night isn't that easy.

After unrolling sleeping bags to mark/claim a chosen bunk we went to eat at my favorite nearby resto/truck stop, El Pajaro. Their copious 'menu de dia' featured mountain trout stuffed with ham. Delicious!

During lunch the dining room staff and clients intently watched more ominous weather forecasts on TV. I then told Polo about my being snowbound here in Villafranca Montes de Oca for three days during a now famous 2006 late February blizzard when it was quite impossible to safely walk to/from the albergue.


After we returned to the albergue
the friendly hospitalera who lived across the street came to stamp our Credentials. She remembered me and that 2006 storm.

Thus once again I will fall asleep in the same dorm wondering about the weather to come and very grateful to be safely sheltered tonight.
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From my blog for the first week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 2, 2008
Villafranca Montes de Oca and Agés

In the morning at our truckstop breakfast we double checked the local weather forecast; nieve ligera, todas las rutas abiertas/light snow, all routes open.

Thus we set off; walking behind the Iglesia de Santiago Apostel and following calle l'Hopital to the CF path. This junction was the same area where in 2006 I was stopped by the Guardia Civile from attempting to walk in very deep snow.

Since today's snow was not dangerously deep Polo and I continued to walk

At the Monument to the Fallen/ Monumento La Pedraja we both were shocked to learn that in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War 300 people had bèen shot here in the forest.

Monumento La Pedraja.jpg

At the Alto de la Pedraja we stopped to admire the snowy view; the traffic on N 120 could be heard but not be seen through the dense forest.

Polo, 2. 2, 2008.jpg

As we walked I worried that patches of slick ice might be hidden beneath the snow. Of course we both wore good solid goretex lined boots with proper soles but Yaktrax would have offered an additional grip on any ice. If I walk again in winter they will be a must.

near San Juan de Ortega.JPG

Eventually the camino path widened into a more open area.The snow had disappeared and on the distant horizon could be glimpsed the monastery of San Juan de Ortega/St John of the Nettles. This St John was a helper of St Dominic of Calzata and like him built hospices and roads for medieval pilgrims.

In 2004 I had stayed in this monastery
during my first camino.

San Juan is buried here within a splendid Gothic mausoleum in the Romanesque monastery church.
Romanesque capitals top the lofty interior columns. One four-sided capital is truly extraordinary. As described by Dom Millan Bravo Lozano in his Practical Guide to Pilgrims , "..showing the Annunciation, Visitation, Joseph's Dream, and Christ's Nativity. Each equinox(21March and 22nd September) at precisely 5pm solar time, a single shaft of sunlight strikes this capital, illuminating it alone in the surrounding gloom and causing the marvelous illusion that the Holy Ghost is alighting on Mary's belly. Miracle or artifice, it is clear that this is no ordinary place."

What a feat of medieval faith and engineering this is and how splendid it would be to watch an equinox on this site.

Before we left the monastery site Polo and I tired, cold and very hungry ate at the simple Bar Marcela. Open even in winter they offered good, hearty, hot food for lunch. As always their homemade morcilla/blood sausage was great!!

Fortified we continued walking on frozen mud through more woodland 4 km further to Agés. Most albergues were closed.

Ages, Casa Caracol .jpg

By chance we found a private pilgrim place, Casa Caricol/House of the Snail.

Agés 2.2.2008.jpg

Paz, the gracious hospitalera, carefully drew/dated each "stamp" into our Credentials. For supper she prepared a delicious thick hot vegetable/pasta soup on the wood-burning stove; there was no other heat.

Later in the frigid dorm wearing much winter gear ie. knitted hats, mufflers and gloves Polo and I pondered how important it is on the Camino and in life to just relax and take it as it is, to let it be. Easy does it. Be a snail.

"Slow but determined" might be a good motto.
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From my blog for the first week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 3-4, 2008

Ages, south bridge.jpg

Up early we hoped to get to Burgos by walking a meandering route. From the south side of Iglesia de Santa Eulalia in Agés we followed a farming path/dirt road which crossed the rio Vena via this bridge.

bridge, south of Ages, 01.11.2011.jpg

The dirt road continued to Zalduendo on Estrada Logrono Vigo / route N 120 where an old camino path parallel to that highway goes west to Burgos.

At Ibeas de Juarros, after staggering into a cafe/resto, Rutas Vertas, at Calle de la Carretera de Logroño, 39, it was a pleasure to sit on a chair for a big second breakfast. Unfortunately it began to rain heavily.

Wet, cold, and tired we continued following the old camino parallel to N 120 on and on into Burgos and across the drenched city.

Tonight Polo and I are the only pilgrims at the rustic municipal albergue located in the large Parque El Parral near the Monasterio de La Huelgas and Burgos University on the far western edge of the city.

Burgos municipal albergue 2008.jpg

This urban cabin has bunks for 20, one toilet/shower combo, a tiny kitchen and a computer with Internet. The young Spanish hospitalero has just turned up the heat. With the rain pouring down outside the warming interior feels very cozy. ...And now to sleep after 24 km in cold rain I am very tired.

February 6

Camino 1 2004.jpg

Revisited the cathedral/museum and admired once again this exquisite mid-15th c. reliquary/figure. Roughly 30cm. high, clad in vermeil/ gold plate on silver, Saint James wears a pilgrim hat complete with shell atop his delightfully precise curls. Sainthood is depicted by the flat halo behind his head. He grips his pilgrim staff and from one shoulder hangs a tiny traveling bag known as a scrip also decorated with shells....Perfection.

The highlight of our afternoon in Burgos was meeting a charming French speaking hospitalera for a guided visit at a restored 15th c. palace, Casa del Cordón, presently used as a bank/exhibition space.

Burgos, Casa del Cordón.jpg

The name Casa del Cordón is due to the heavy ropes/cords carved in stone which surround the building’s main door. Past visitors to this sumptuous palace at Plaza de la Libertad, hosted by the catholic Monarchs Fernando II and Isabel include Christopher Columbus (!!) on his return from his second voyage to the New World in 1497.

Tonight, our second in the municipal albergue cabin, is free of charge. There are three new pilgrims; a fellow from Antwerp and a couple from Korea. All are anxious to use the albergue's one available computer before lights out.
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From my blog for the first week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 5, 2008
Hornillos de Camino

Polo and I left early walking west through the El Parril park to the Ermita de San Amaro and the Hospital del Rey, Burgos' most important medieval pilgrim hospice, which now houses the university law faculty. These 16th c. protected structures exist as magnificent cameos within the contemporary campus. Old and new are successfully blended; similar materials used, window shapes repeated and roof levels kept.

West of Burgos the camino passed a large prison. For me it was always a philosophic shock to see these two barriers, the rio Arlanzón and the prison wall separate two groups; pilgrims free to walk one side of the river/wall and prisoners who must stay within the other side.

west of Burgos.jpg

The CF next crossed farmland and wood bordering sections of unfinished highway with only a few yellow arrows pointing(?) the way.

near Tardajos.jpg

One such haphazard arrow was this near the junction of the rio/canal Arlanzón at the entrance to Tardajos.

Cold and slightly weary Polo and I stopped for hot chocolate con churros at the comfy Bar El Camino and bought basic non perishables at La Tienda de Tardajos before continuing to Rabé de las Calzadas where we rested again by the side wall of the Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Monasterio sheltered from the fierce cold wind.

Rabé de las Calzadas.jpg

It was another tiring slog up the dirt/gravel path to finally see a view of Hornillos de Camino.

towards Hornillos del Camino.jpg

Unfortunately once we entered Hornillos nothing was open! Nada; the only resto was closed until spring, the one food shop was padlocked, worst of all the albergue door was locked although a notice read "abierto14:00".

Thus Polo and I sat huddled in the church portico next to the albergue and watched as the world did not go by. At least we were out of the incessant wind.

After 16:00 a car stopped and the driver waved as he quickly mounted the stone steps to the albergue and church. Apologizing for the delay he identified himself as the hospitalero who as an MD on vacation, had been called to an emergency a few hills away.

As he unlocked the albergue door the Hospi explained that it was being renovated and that new heating had just been installed. Inside all was wonderfully warm. I laughed in delight.

 Hornillos de Camino 5.02.2008.jpg

Luckily Polo and I had bought food in Tarjados. We and the Hospi cooked/shared/ate together; there were no other pilgrims. Drinking many mugs of hot tea we 3 happily chatted in French about winter walking pleasures/difficulties, ie what to eat, wear, and expect.

I said I never expected but always hoped. Some albergues are heated, some not. Often the heat will be turned off during the coldest hours of the night!! However wearing winter tights, a long sleeve shirt and loose socks as well as a warm hat to sleep was helpful when in cold place.

I also mentioned that the coldest I had ever slept on the camino was late February 2006 when in this exact then unheated space my breath hung white in the frigid interior and ice formed in the toilet bowl!! Thank gòodness that the new heating was a success.

Relaxed in that delicious heat we 3 went to bunk early.
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2/6/2014. Camino 5. A ten year break since the last in 2004.

The Camino is my caretaker. Of which I recently became aware. I can lay aside dramas, others needs, where do I go from heres, and just walk.

I walked Saint Jean Pied de Port to Valcarlos.

I had an early thirty something walking mate from NZ out of SJPP to stores then he indulged in his organic strength inducer. Saw him not again until Pamplona.

Valcarlos albergue I was tucked into bed. Solo peregrina there.

Then, car lights shone through refugio windows.

Gravel crunch crunch. Turned key. A bit nervy I.

Flashlight in face. Name requested.

My male inquirer retraced his steps. I overheard him tell someone they found me. Did not know I was lost.

Everytime I have walked the way camino angels always find me. Even when thought I was already found.


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From my blog for the first week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 6-7, 2008
Castrojeriz, Itero de Vega

West of Burgos the immense wind-swept Castillian plateau known as the Meseta especially between Hornillos del Camino and Castrojeriz is magical. However today in winter it was frigid.

Polo and I walked 20 km this mornig in a low fog across beige hills with nothing in sight.


We are now in Castrojeriz which evolved from an antique castrum to an important pilgrim stop/major municipality of interconnected levels along the slope of a broad hill during 1000 years of history. At the entrance to Castrojeriz the camino turns west continuing for 1200 m. as the longitudinal urban spine; thus, it took us nearly half an hour to traverse the town, which has one long "main street", the camino.

La Taberna, Castrojeriz.jpgLa Taberna.jpg

We stopped for coffee at La Taberna, 43 Real de Oriente, a bar/resto with a Brazilian connection where I have often stopped during past walks. The owner, always the diplomat said he remembered me from past years. Their pilgrim dinner was always varied, excellent and cheap so we booked places for tonight.

Castrojerez 6.02.2008.jpg

Now in the San Esteban municipal albergue on the plaza Mayor all is quite comfortable. There is one other pilgrim, a Spanish fellow, who has walked to Jerusalem(!) and worked for several years as a hospitalero in Santiago. Interesting guy with many Camino tales; some good some terrifying. I invited him to join Polo and me for dinner...

February 7, 2008
Itero de Vega

After a delicious breakfast at La Taberna and a hearty hug and Buen camino from the barista/owner came the steep ascent up the Mostelares plateau.

leaving Castrojeriz .jpg

However, the gravel path was broad and the panorama from the top superb!

east towards Castrojeriz .jpg

One could see widely for many kilometers; to the east the path we had taken and to the west the path we would take.

towards Itero de Vega..jpg

It was a brief, perfect moment.

Continuing along this Via de Vida or Way of Nothing only the singular ribbon-like path of the camino crossed the vast emptiness. For several kms no built thing nor anyone else could be seen.

Itero de Vega .jpg

After arriving in the region of Palentia at Itero de la Vega we stopped at a simple inn on the east of town which offered an albergue/dorm. It was only 6€ each and not bad at all. The food, however, was nothing to rave over.
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I just love rickety bunk beds on camino.

This night we pilgrims were placed in a small room on main floor with heat laid on. Not to hot. Not to cold.

Happy. After ten year hiatus back on the way.
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Today. A few km north of Calzada de Bejar on the Via de la Plata. Two of these close together in a field at the side of the path. I don't know what the Spanish term is but in Arabic they are called shadoof. A very simple elegant technology to make raising water from wells easier. A design which has lasted 5,000 years so far. Very appropriate when I have been walking for much of today on a road built nearly 2,000 years ago and passing many milestones left by the builders. A tremendous sense of continuity over time today.

Today, 2/9/2014, I walked ever so far from Jesus and Maria albergue in Pamplona to Albergue Maribel in Cizur Menor.

Knocked on her door about 10am. She hollered out of second floor window “cerrado”. Then asked if I was sick. A bit I was. Way of women pretty bad. I neglected to factor that into to camino start.

Maribel opened her doors. She offered food. Heat was on. I was so comfortable. I cooked pasta with chorizo.

Picked out single bed next to window.

And, slept, and slept, and slept.

It was a good day.


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This morning. Fuenterroble de Salvatierra. Via de la Plata.

I have been walking for over a week since last seeing another pilgrim. Until lunchtime yesterday when I was joined at my table in a bar by an older man originally from New Zealand. After a little general chat he told me to keep my eyes open for a young French man walking to Santiago with three donkeys and six goats. An easy enough party to spot! Sure enough about 1km before Fuenterroble this morning I heard a small sound behind me and turned to find this group only a few feet away. My Kiwi informant had failed to mention a dog too. We exchanged a few words before the man led his small flock/herd on to a wide verge for a little rest and rumination. Not a sight to be seen every day even on the VdlP.
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The From my blog for the second week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 8-10, 2008

Poblacion de Campos, Clarrion de Los Condes, Calzadilla de la Cueza

towards Fromista.jpg

The sky was a clear blue this morning and although it was cold with spots of ice on the ground the pale green of winter wheat(?) was starting to grow. It was a pleasant/easy 8 km to Boadilla del Camino.

Boadilla del Camino.jpg

At Boadilla del Camino we passed this splendid richly carved column, known as a Rollo, which marked a 15th c. jurisdictional/territorial boundary.

Next the camino meandered towards the Canala de Castilla. Constructed 1753 -1849 to transport wheat by barge the Canala de Castilla was popular 1850 -1870. Declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 1991; today it irrigates 48 municipalities. Canalside pathways are used for recreation; sections of the Canal flow past sections of the Camino Frances.

pilgrim near Fromista.jpg

Here Polo and I met a Korean pilgrim who was happy to chat and walk with us into Fromista where we three took photos of the perfect, small 11th c. church, San Martin.

Fromista early morning.jpg

On the exterior several hundred carved figures decorate the eave corbels below the roof; the unconsecrated interior is now a museum .

In the afternoon Polo and I continued across the flat farmland to Poblacion de Campos walking on the CF gravel/dirt path parallel to Palencia route P-980; in total we covered 18 km.

Población de Campos 8.02.2008.jpg

Now we are the only pilgrims in the very cold municipal albergue.

At times like this I am so glad that I have a clean second set of dry/warm "evening clothes" for sleeping; winter tights, short sleeve technical tee shirt, long sleeve technical tee shirt, plus loose night socks. This combo plus a polyester liner in my sleeping bag and a knitted wooly hat keeps me snug in any bunk.

February 9, 2008
Carrion de Los Condes

Arriving mid morning at Villalcazar de Sirga. we visited the massive/austere fortress-church, Santa Maria la Blanca built in the 13th c. by the Knights Templar.

Villalcazar de Sirga..JPG

We also ate a wonderful lunch at an unforgettable restaurant El Meson des Templiers. Filled with antiques it appeared quite expensive. However, we sat four steps lower that the majority of the diners, ie. truly below the salt and enjoyed a copious and delicious pilgrim menu for 11€ .

Villalcazar de Sirga.jpg

Afterwards Polo sat down to have silent chat with the founder of the resto.

Thus it was a rather boozy 6 km to Carrion de Los Condes and the Albergue Santo Espiritu, place San Juan, 4.

Carrion de Los Condes , 9.02.2008.jpg

In this dorm with beds not bunks all the other pilgrims are men, Spanish long distance walkers with big packs.

February 10, 2008
Calzadilla de la Cueza

old Roman route.jpg

Today's 18 km to Calzadilla de la Cueza was bleak, flat and very windy. Much of the straight path followed an old Roman road which once linked Bordeaux and Astorga.

Calzadilla de la Cueza%0A10. 02. 2008.jpg

The hospitalero is a nice Italian guy who speaks English and will make us dinner since the only restaurant in town is closed until the season.

One other pilgrim is here who began 4 days ago in Burgos and has huge blisters. Like most first timers he thought that the daily distances cited in the guidebooks were sacred and tried to do 40 km his first day. Now he can hardly move.

Whatever one's age/fitness this is NOT a walk in the park! Anybody any moment can fall or pull or break anything. The most common injury is the result of trying to walk too far too quickly carrying too much! Easy does it until your body has found its way.
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Up to Alto de Perdón from Maribel’s in Cizur Menor.

Down other side. Literally. I slipped and fell twice. Sprained ankle second time.

Hobbled along for a bit.

Hitched another ride.

This pilgrimage quickly became far different and more camino providing than other times.

I shared a communal meal cooked by two guys: EZ from NZ and Korean guy. About seven of us chowed down.
It was a good day.
This afternoon. Waiting for the hospitalero to open up the albergue in Salamanca where I expect to be the only pilgrim again. A wonderful location - a cul-de-sac called Archdeacon Street right next to the cathedral. I remember this as a beautiful well-equipped albergue on a previous visit. Sometimes the provision for we pilgrims is so beautiful and generous it is hard to describe to others. Walking the Via Francigena I once had an entire Tuscan castle to myself. I was handed the keys and told where to leave them in the morning. Wandering along the battlements with the keys in my pocket - the only person in the building - was an awesome experience. And mine for €11.
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From my blog for the second week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 11,12,13, 2008

Sahagun, El Burgo Ranero, and Mansilla de las Mulas

Somewhere mid-morning the halfway point to Santiago from St Jean Pied de Port was crossed. Hence now I am on the 'other side' of my mental map with only +/- 387 kms until Santiago.

Roughly 7 km east of Sahagun in San Nicolas del Real Camino, Polo and I stopped for a hearty lunch at Casa Barrunta, a very pleasant bar/resto at Calle Otero, 11.

San Nicolas de Camino, restaurant.jpg

I've happily eaten there on earlier caminos.Their daily menu is always delicious and a great value. An eclectic mix of varied mementos provided the background ambiance while tbe staff were VERY pilgrim friendly.

We continued to Sahagun which for centuries had once been home to the most powerful Benedictine monastery in Spain, equivalent to Cluny in France. ‘Facundo’, the name of a local martyr, became ‘Sanctum Facundum’, the name of the monastery, which evolved into ‘Safagun’ and later ‘Sahagun’. Most of the huge monastery complex was destroyed in a 19th c. fire.

Sahagun, sculpture%0A.JPG

This clever contemporary metal sculpture of Saint James dressed as a pilgram (his head is a garden spade) marked the entrance to the municipal Albergue Cluny which is in the repurposed ex-Iglesia de la Trinidad on the calle Juan de Sahagun.

Sahagun 2008.jpg

Upstairs plywood partitions divided the huge space into alcoves with four bunks in each.

Sahagun, bunk.JPG

Unheated it was too cold to try a shower. We were 7 pilgrims; 6 men and me. As usual I brewed tea for all and related my October 2007 adventure. Shocked each fellow later came to my bunk and said "Senora please don't worry I'll take care of you".

February 12, 2008
El Burgo Ranero

Next day 4 of us continued for 18km; leaving Bercianos del Real Camino
we passed this homemade sign pointing our way.

Bercianos del Real Camino, sign.jpg

The weather was foggy, cold, windy and wet.

towards El Burgo Ranero.JPG

At least this new, wide path built by the regional government was flat, although the terrain was rather boring.

While walking/pondering that day I came to the conclusion that each day is a 6 way juggle mixing topography and weather plus your own health, pack weight, tenacity and endurance. No 2 days are ever the same; neither are any 2 caminos even on the same terrain.


At El Burgo Ranero the usual albergue was closed; I found an open, private one. If it were up to the guys we would still be standing on the street; none seem to be able to ask a question or interact.

Now at midnight this private albergue is almost full with a noisy group; furthermore the "door" to the loo/showers is wooden beads which made a tremendous noise when anyone passes by.

February 13, 2008
Mansilla de las Mulas

storks, Mansilla de las Mulas .jpg

After crossing a vast monotonous plateau dotted with arroyos (gullies) it was surprising to see these storks nested on roof tops as we entered Mansilla de las Mulas. The etymology of the town’s name is mano en silla, hand on saddle of the mule; there is a rich tradition of livestock fairs and horse sales, many vernacular buildings are adobe.

Mansila 13.02.2008.jpg

The municipal albergue in Mansilla de las Mulas, calle Puente 15, is also the tourist bureau. When signing in the friendly hospitalera, Laura, remembered me from last year. Built around a central open patio the albergue has several small dorms.

We four plus a new Japanese guy
shared a jolly, common, ad hoc supper in the attractive kitchen and for warmth are now all together in one dorm with a space heater.

It is cold. Nevertheless I am toasty in my sleeping bag and wonderful, almost never removed, technical Tee shirt.
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From my blog for the third week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 14,15, 2008

Leon and Villadangos del Paramo

From Mansulla de las Mulas it was a long, cold 17 km slog to Léon. Furthermore it was dangerous since at Puente Villarente the camino crossed the rio Porma on an old, historic bridge far too narrow for two lanes of N 601 traffic plus pilgrim pedestrians. Dashing amidst the traffic was nerve wracking for both Polo and me!

Leon 14.02.2008.jpg

After crossing much of commercial eastern Leon arriving once again at the albergue in the convent of the Santa Maria de Carbajalas nuns was a great relief. Located at plaza Santa Maria del Camino, 3, near the cathedral it is calm, clean, and heated.

Leon, albergue.jpg

Most of the other pilgrims were young fellows who really relished the baskets of free cookies on the commons table this winter afternoon.

February 15, 2008
Villadangos del Paramo

Leon, cathedral interior.jpg

This morning I briefly showed Polo the
jewel-toned stained glass windows
within the vast dim interior of Santa Maria cathedral. ...As always it was a privilege to be in such a glorious space.


Before crossing the river we stopped at the plaza de San Marcos to rest next to another pilgrim admiring the splendid San Marcos parador which had been built 12th/16th c. as a pilgrim shelter/hospice and mid 20th c. became a super-deluxe hotel.

Leon, parador.JPG

We then crossed the pedestrian Puente San Marco and continued following the camino as it very slowly meandered west through urban streets.

bodegas west of Leon.jpg

In Trobajo del Camino the view was more rural with partly underground wine cellars or bodegas appearing on the hillside. Some were surprisingly large with space to sit, eat and drink.

La Virgen del Camino, exterior.JPG

In the sprawling village, La Virgen del Camino, named for a famous 15th c. figure of the Virgin holding the dead body of Christ, we visited this splendid 20th c. church. Designed in the 1960s by a Dominican monk, Francisco Coello, a follower of the Brutalist style of Le Corbusier, it now holds the figure of the Virgin.

Located directly on the CF at Ave. Astorga, 87, in the midst of a chaotic suburb the church is a superbly maintained architectural gem as well as a haven of peace. Deep yellow windows light the interior of this extraordinary structure.

La Virgen del Camino.jpg

Polo and I continued on the CF following the noisey route N120 through suburban sprawl to Villadangos del Paramo.

Villadangos del Paramo 15.02.2008.jpg

We are alone in the municipal albergue with free internet but no heat; there is a drumlike fireplace but no wood. It is freezing! Since it is so cold I'll skip a shower. Each of us is now making a yurtlike tent with some extra blankets for sleeping.
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Today. Granja de Moreruela. Via de la Plata.

Choices! Today I reached the great fork in the road of the VdlP. Left for the Camino Sanabres and Ourense or right for Astorga and the last stages shared with the Camino Frances. I'm usually a fan of the road less travelled so I headed west along the Sanabres branch. But more than once today it struck me how fortunate I am to have such choices to make: where to live, where to visit, where to stay, what to eat and so on. A modest but adequate bank balance and a freedom from work and home responsibilities gives me a great deal to freedom to choose day by day. Something I hope I don't take for granted.

Ask me why I did not attend to my sprained ankle. After a few more weeks I finally did.

Anyway, I trekked long and hard on cool hard packed earth through flat flat terrain then up a bit.

A kilometers long trek: Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Grañon. 7.5 kilometers to be exact.

I had sprained ankle on down slope of Alto de Perdón.

Grañon was hosting a hospitalero training session. One of the speakers volunteered with me in Ponferrada 2002. That was his first stint. Now he’s lesson giver.

Communal meal was nice. Then we all attended a play in town hall.
Wonderful day.
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I really must proof posts.

Yesterday was to have been Grañon to Belorado but albergue was closed. Onto Espinosa.

Today Espinosa Del Camino to Ages.

In Ages three of my camino family were in attendance. Two early twenty something Dutch girls, and Fran from Germany.

We dined together.

Then we gals four slept in attic of Albergue San Rafael.

It was a good day.
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From my blog for the third week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 16-17, 2008

Astorga and Santa Catalina de Samozo

Next it was a 26 km slog to Astorga crossing higher and higher hills.

 towards Astorga.jpg

We walked from Villadangos del Paramo to Hopital d'Orbigo and then turned right/north to follow a rolling rural path via Santibanez de Valdeiglesias.

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Somewhere after passing this folkart pilgrim statue and before San Justo de la Vega Polo and I lost each other within a dense wood.

where we may have been lost.jpg

Since we usually walk Indian fashion, ie. separately, and not side by side, I assumed that Polo was way ahead of me. Luckily I had told him about the Siervas de Maria albergue on a hill as you enter Astorga. He ended up hitching there; later I arrived exhausted on foot.

Astorga 16.02.2008.jpg

The hospitalero remembered me from 2007 when I was the second pilgrim/ first woman (!!) to stay in the remodeled convent which is the Amigos albergue.

Located on the CF on the east side of the city near the Roman ruins, open all year and heated in winter this is a pleasant stop with great showers, good pilgrim kitchen facilities and several small dorms. I had a small dorm room for myself which was a GREAT treat.

February 17, 2008
Santa Catalina de Samozo.

Roman mosaic, Astorga.JPG

Leaving the albergue we passed this Roman mosaic.

leaving Astorga.jpg

Next came the great cathedral and Gaudi's archbishop's palace, which is now a museum.

Before finally leaving the city we went to a bank ATM for cash in small denomination bills since breaking a 50€ bill in a remote village might be difficult.

Then we set out towards the Maragato region and the mountains following a bleak walk on CF parallel to LE 142 passing the Exce Homo chapel in Valdeviejas before crossing over the busy super highway A6.

Murias de Rechivaldo.jpg

At Murias de Rechivaldo we stopped next to this church for a welcome second breakfast at the tiny Casa Botas plaza Mayor, 4; this was a welcome, simple pilgrim stop although much of this hamlet seems to have become "suburban chic".

east of Santa Catalina de Somoza.JPG

Crossing very orange soil the camino was now a gentle path with distant snow visible far to the southwest.

Distant snow.jpg

Near the church in Santa Catalina de Somoza, an authentic mountain village, we met two fellows who came with us to the small private albergue at the San Blas bar, calle Real, 11.


Since I had eaten/stayed here during earlier caminos the barman/owner gave me a big hug of recognition when I entered with 3 guys. We all shared a good hot meal in the bar and many camino tips.

Tomorrow begins the real climb up towards the higher peaks; I hope all goes well.
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Hmm, not many of us walking in February 🤔 . A year ago today I crossed the bridge into Pontedeume on the second day of the Camino Ingles.
View attachment 93288

It was about 4 pm and I had to wait for the tourist office to open at 5 pm to pick up the key to the albergue, so I found a small bar up the road, sat on a bar stool, and ordered (in Spanish) a beer.

A man sitting on another bar stool asked (in English) if I was English. I said: Is my Spanish that bad? And he replied: No, it’s just that only English people say “por favor” when ordering a drink 🤣. We then chatted for the next hour or so, which passed the time most enjoyably.

At the albergue the bathroom was downstairs and all the beds were upstairs, except for one very rickety bunk bed. As the place was spotlessly clean, and recently mopped, I pulled a mattress onto the floor. There was no window, so it was pitch dark at night. Slept like a log.
View attachment 93289

LOL I was trying to remember if this was the same place I stayed in Pontedeume in November 2015.

Looks like it:



Was it the same bar?

I didn't take any photos of it ... but there was a bar just a bit up the road I went to for dinner and drinks. Was quiet for people but they had "The Offspring" on repeat for about 2 hours while I was there and it got a few songs stuck in my head for the whole English Camino lol.
No pictures.

I took so few pics. All I have are stamps.

Anyway, 2/18/14, I walked Ages to Burgos.

We four, three gals and me, decided to head out before dawn. Fun a walking down tarmac with headlamps on and rising sun warming our backs. After a bit one group splintered into three.

Took, I, industrial path not intentionally. Wasn’t paying attention. Then, I got lost looking for albergue. It had been ten years since last camino. I almost headed out of city center to find albergue in the park. But, I noticed an albergue sign and suspiciously followed. Really liked new municipal location.

I passed the day with camino family: late 20’s Fran from Germany, and two Dutch girls in early 20’s. We toured Cathedral. Ate. Washed ourselves and clothes. Ate. Nighty, night.
This morning. Requejo de Sanabria. Via de la Plata. It was the word "Refugio" which caught my eye. You don't often see it these days now "albergue" is the near-universal term for pilgrim accommodation. But it suits the small simple places that are common on the VdlP. In lots of ways the VdlP is close in spirit to the Camino Frances of 20+ years ago.

From my blog for the third week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 18-19, 2008

Rabanal del Camino and El Acebo

What a happy surprise it was to find
outside the dorm door a big urn of hot coffee, plus buns and hard boiled eggs with a note stating that the bar would only late in the morning and wishing us all Buen camino.

Thus we 4 pilgrims happily ate before shaking hands and setting off in the frosty morning air.

Polo and I walked slowly; this area known as the Maragata had for centuries provided transport mules and muleteers. The weather was glorious with a bright blue sky.

El Ganso door%0A.JPG

On the dirt CF track the orange earth was as vibrant this door in El Ganso.

east of Rabanal.JPG

The path then started to gently rise; the once distant mountains came into view. Nothing would be flat for the next week or so.

Rabanal del Camino 18 02 2008.jpg

In Rabanal del Camino we were the first pilgrims of the day at the only open albergue, Nuestra Señora del Pila, plaza Jerónimo Morán. On arrival our hostess, Isabel, hugged me tight while recalling my earlier 2007 visit.

Now there are about 10 pilgrims including many guys with bad blisters and one young Japanese girl.
Isabel and her mother kindly cooked hot pasta for those who wanted an ad hoc meal. Polo and I did and then went to bunk early.

...Tomorrow will be tiring as we cross Monte Irago, the highest elevation on the CF; trepidatious I wonder how it all will evolve.

February 19, 2008
El Acebo

setting off to El Acebo.jpg

The weather has changed; skies are heavy/grey and the air cold.

On our way up the mountain Polo and I stopped in Foncebadon for a second breakfast at the albergue Monte Irago which has recently been restored.

cafe, Foncebadon.jpg

Three years ago on Camino 2 it was a ruined stone house, now, remade/ repurposed there is a cafe, shop, and dorm. Some year I hope to stay here.

Next we were immersed in dense fog with a bit of snow on the frosty ground.

Cruz de Ferro.jpg

At the famous Cruz de Ferro I tossed a stone from our garden at home onto the immense pile while silently giving thanks for being able to walk a fourth camino and for my life with Bill in France.

Polo and I next walked along route L 142 until the highest point on the CF, 1505 m.; to the right/north was a gated, dirt lane to a closed (?) military base. Sharply turning left/south could be seen these distant snow covered mountains.

descending towards El Acebo.JPG

We descended via the L 142 road to El Acebo or more correctly El Acebo de San Miguel/Saint Michael's Holly.

El Acebo.jpg

Here little has been 'gussied up'; much is authentic. Mountain slate covers the roofs; upper floor porch galleries provide exterior storage/drying space opening onto the single street, the CF.

Upon arrival at 4 pm, cold, wet and tired after crossing the mountain we stopped at a friendy bar/restaurant, Meson El Acebo, calle Real, 16, which has an albergue dorm upstairs.

El Acebo 19 02 2008.jpg

They offered a delicious pilgrim menu de dia of fresh trout stuffed with air-cured ham in butter sauce.

There are 5 other pilgrims sharing the dorm. Two Spanish women, one guy from Nantes, one guy from Brussels, and another from Italy. We all hope that the heat works!

Another plus is that the Internet is free if you sit in the bar/cafe. Hence I am happily typing while drinking another glass of Bierzo!
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2023 Camino Guides
The 2023 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Yesterday (19 February 2022) at the Galicia border on the Via de la Plata.

A very strange welcome to Galicia with a very ambiguous expression :) About 100m or so further on is another odd sight - a shoe tree. When I last passed this way I saw it in mist and snow and it was a strangely eerie sight. Even in bright sunshine I found it a bit disconcerting!

From my blog for the last week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 20-22, 2008

Ponferrada, Villafranca del Bierzo, and Ruitelan

Since much of the descending trail is very steep and crosses rock Polo and I walked down from El Acebo on the verges of route LE-142 through snow flurries, rain, and a bit of sun.

After 16 km we stopped at Ponferrada. The city had been so named after iron supports were added in the 11th c. to an older bridge crossing the river Sil used by pilgrims on route to Santiago.

castle, Ponferrada.jpg

Overlooking the river in the 12th c. the Knights Templar, an order who protected pilgrims, had built this magnificent fortress castle with crenellated towers and turrets. It is presently being restored.

We stopped nearby at the pleasant, friendly cafe Liebana at avenue El Castello, 131, for a hearty second breakfast.

Ponferrada 20.02.2008.jpg

Mid afternoon when the parish albergue St Nicolas de Flue, calle Obispo Camilo Lorenzo, 2, opened we checked in.

Although they offer 186 places unfortunately it seems crowded with about 25 pilgrims jammed into 6 small dorms. All use the same coed toilet/shower facilities; thus the waiting lines are quite long! There are no blankets but it is well heated which is most welcome since outside is a rough mix of cold rain/dense fog....However, the free Internet is great and can be accessed until lights out (10:30pm) from the large second story reading room, where I am now busily writing alone.

February 21, 2008
Villafranca del Bierzo.

Leaving urban Ponferrada took a long time; getting through the maze of suburbs also took quite a while.

Columbrianos, mural.jpg

In Columbrianos on the CF this colorful mural is painted on one side of the Ermita/ Hermitage de San Blas et San Roque; two saints whose lives spanned 1000 years. Behind high on a pole is a stork's nest.

San Blas/St Blaise was a 4th c. physician born in Armenia and is associated with curing throat disease.

San Roque/St Roch was born in 14th c. Montpellier, France; he went as a mendicant pilgrim to Rome and is
associated with curing the plague

As the CF slowly began to climb higher through orchards and vineyards spotting any route marker was more and more difficult; the path crossed endless acres of Bierzo vineyards.

east of Villafranca del Bierzo. .JPG

After 27 km we stopped in Villafranca del Bierzo.

Puerta del Perdón.jpg

During the middle ages pilgrims who arrived at this door of the Iglesia de Santiago too ill to continue were given the same indulgences as those valid pilgrims who made it all the way to Santiago. Hence the door is known as the Puerta del Perdón.

Villafranca del Bizero 21.02.2008.jpg

We stayed nearby in the "atmospheric" private albergue Ave Fenix, which has tidied up a bit since my last visit. There are now hot showers from thermal heating on the roof, but the coed toilets are still outside in the courtyard down a flight of slippery stairs!!

Villafranca del Bierzo, albergue.jpg

For an upbeat change of mood/setting Polo and I ate dinner at a hostal/resto/bar La Puerta del Pardon, Plaza de Prim, 4, named for the nearby church door. I had eaten there last year.

La Puerta del Perdon resto.jpg

When Polo and I entered the diplomatic owner/manager, a veteran pilgrim, greeted me exuberantly "Bienvenue, c'est un plaisir de vous revoir/Welcome back it is great to see you again!!"

We enjoyed a delicious pilgrim dinner for 10 € each including wonderful Bierzo wine. It was truly memorable.

February 22, 2008

Today as the camino steadily grew steeper villages were more and more remote; Polo and I slowly climbed up the Valcarce River valley 17 km to Ruitelan.


We are the only pilgrims in the refugio, Pequeno Potala run by two gracious Spanish Buddhist men. After last night's crowded conditions this is a haven of cleanliness and peace. A small bell tinkles when you enter; soothing music is playing in the background. Internet is also available.

All is calm and very ecumenical. On an unpainted wooden wall hang a Christian cross, pictures of the Dalai Lama and a card hand lettered, shalom, the Hebrew word for peace.


Our supper, cooked by Carlos, the hospitalero, served on a scrubbed wooden table, included carrot soup, rice, fried eggs, cheese, bread, wine and fruit. This, too, was a memorable pilgrim meal.

Polo and I ate a lot for energy tomorrow during our big climb.... Now I am slightly nervous since I know it will be long, difficult trek.
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Today. Laza. Via de la Plata.

At the gate of the very smart albergue in Laza. One of the increasingly rare images of the 1999 Holy Year mascot. An image I've mentally named as "Malign Mickey": the blank staring eyes and odd geometric design always make me think of Mickey Mouse reinterpreted by Picasso or Miro after one absinthe too many :)

I walked Rebe de Las Calzadas to Castrojeriz.

Once again I missed staying in Hontanas. This time I thought albergue was closed. At least this third time in Castrojeriz I hadn’t walked from Burgos.

I passed two Dutch girls in Hornillos. They teased me for walking on eggplant. My swollen ankle.

Once at albergue with the steps tough to assail on tired legs I was given top bunk with a picture window overlooking valley.

A good day.
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Once again I missed staying in Hontanas.
One of my favourite places on the Frances. I love the way it just appears miraculously out of the ground in front of you after miles of meseta looking like the set for a Sergio Leone spaghetti western :) It's also where I first encountered patxaran courtesy of a very kind Spanish pilgrim. I loved it so much that now I make my own at home in Wales whenever there is a decent crop of sloes in the autumn. Luckily 2021 was an excellent year and I made a gallon!
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One of my favourite places on the Frances. I love the way it just appears miraculously out of the ground in front of you after miles of meseta looking like the set for a Sergio Leone spaghetti western :) It's also where I first encountered patxaran courtesy of a very kind Spanish pilgrim. I loved it so much that now I make my own at home in Wales whenever there is a decent crop of sloes in the autumn. Luckily 2021 was an excellent year and I made a gallon!

What is patxaran?
2/22/14. Day 17. Castrojeriz to Itero de la Vega. 11 kilometers.

The climb out of Castrojeriz always leaves me huffing and puffing. Today was no exception.

This pic was taken August 22, 2001. I nearly revisited asthma attack land at rise of hill. Over twenty years had elapsed since last attack. Hands on chest. Prayed. Chest opened. I breathed.


Anyway, due to eggplant, my still untreated very swollen sprained ankle, 2/22/14, I hobbled into Itero de la Vega and stopped at first spotted lodging. The bar had a nice albergue attached. Single rooms with TV I believe. A quiet day.



Bar pic off FB.

Stamp pic all mine.

Funny, this pilgrimage was my last prior to my life-altering diagnosis. Before mom’s ailments. Before dad’s dawn of age challenges.

Today, my camino family was hither, thither, and yon.

But, that was okay.

Eggy and I walked at a snails pace but we were there.
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From my blog for the last week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 23-25, 2008

O Cebreiro, Tricastela, and near Saria

The wind was cold, but under blue sky/bright sun Polo and I slowly climbed 15 km up the old route N VI to O Cebreiro; a way slightly longer than the CF, but gentler.

O Cebreiro.jpg

This picturesque hamlet is composed of a pre-Romanesque church and a handful of granite buildings.

As usual I found arrival at this mythic place, associated with a medieval miracle when sacramental wine and bread became blood and flesh, overwhelming.

O Cebreiro, candles.jpg

Within the spotless little church many small red candles were flickering. I sat for a while offering my thanks for getting this far,

grave of Elias Valina Sampedro.jpg

and paused at the grave of Elias Valina Sampedro, the local priest well known for
much historic camino research and for painting the first yellow arrows late last century which we all so diligently follow.

Later Polo and I ate a very good celebratory dinner in the local resto/cafe owned by the local relatives of the priest.

Do Cebreiro 23 02 3008.jpg

We plus a handful of Spanish guys and 2 German girls are spending the night in the recently refurbished, very comfortable, Xunta albergue. At 3 € for a bunk with good heat (!!) and great new showers it is a bargain.

February 24, 2008

Today we have crossed the last high peak and are on our slow way down into Galicia. Our views towards the west were superb walking the verges of route LU 633 from O Cebreiro to Triacastela.

towards Triacastela.jpg

At the Alto de San Roque this contemporary sculpture of a pilgrim faced west towards the open horizon.

Polo and I stopped for a welcome second breakfast at the bar atop the Alto de Poio, the last high mountain pass of the Camino. The owner and her daughter greeted me as an old friend happily recalling that in March 2007 I had stayed in a room above their bar when the nearby albergue was closed.

After the Alto de Poio the route descended through a series of switchbacks and easy tree-lined paths down to Triacastela. Now the scenery has changed; low stone walls divide vast meadows into smaller plots.

Berce do Camino 24 02 2008.jpg

Tonight in Triacastela Polo and I are staying in the same private albergue, Berce do Camino, av. Camilo José Cela, 11, that I have used for the last 2 caminos. We each have an individual, heated room, the water is hot and the showers spotless. Plus there is free Internet. This is another bargain for 7 € each.

The owners also have a small bar-restaurant almost next door. Now after their good hot menu de dia I am going to take a very long siesta.

February 25, 2008
San Mamed do Camino, east of Sarria

Kipling poem.jpg

Leaving Triacastela it was a surprise to find a Spanish translation of Rudyard Kipling's famous poem If prominently posted in the square. Although written to inspire men to fight during WW1, much is appropriate for the Camino or even ordinary living.

Polo and I walked about 15 km today across rolling verdant countryside but his knees gave out.

25 02 2008.jpg

We stopped in a wonderful, new private albergue Paloma y Lena on LU P 5602, just east of Sarria in San Mamed do Camino.

At 10 € per it is truly a find and was not opened when I last walked past. We are the only pilgrims.

The owners who speak many languages are rightly proud of this place. Each dorm holds 4 and has its own shower/toilet.

east of Sarria, private albergue.jpg

The common spaces are very handsome and all is well fitted. Their dinner was delicious.

A large open porch screens the front of the one storey building and would provide welcome summer shade; however at the moment I hope that the heat works during the night

... If all goes well within a week we should be in Santiago!! This camino will soon end; thus each new day during this coming week will be more precious.

Happily I always have had the luxury of unlimited time to walk. It would be so sad to rush or bus ahead in order to keep to some preset timetable. Part of camino pleasure is savoring each moment; how could you savor rushing? Then these precious days would just be dross.
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2/23/14, I walked Itero de la Vega to Fromista. 16 kilometers.

The albergue in Fromista was ice cold. Hospitalera said no heat for two. My fellow peregrino donned a bright yellow jumpsuit for bed. Kinda like a sleeping bag with legs and arms. I was toasty in my bag.

2/24/14, I took bus from Fromista to León. Yesterday’s walk was too much for eggplant the swollen and sprained ankle. I meant to seek care for ankle sprained weeks ago in this big city called León.

At albergue nuns supplied cookies for tummy and ice for eggy. That’s all the help eggplant received. My fault alone.

Attended nuns evening service. Before then looked in awe at Cathedral León within and without. It’s just breathtakingly beautiful.

A nice day.
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This morning. Last day of February and the final day of my VdlP journey. Santiago de Compostela.

This morning I came across a cafe named after my wedding anniversary. Also the wedding anniversary of two of my oldest and closest friends who did me the great honour of asking me to preside at their marriage only a few days after my ordination. My first and most memorable wedding. I think the date may have some other significance locally though... :cool:

From my blog for the last week of February 2008 on the Camino Frances.

February 26-27, 2008

Ferreiros and Portomarin

Up early on a cold misty morning to follow LU P 5602 to Sarria. We crossed the city and had a coffee at the Meson Camino Frances, 19 rua Mayor/CF. This is a simple friendly spot where I had always stopped in Sarria.

After the Ponte Aspera over the rio Pequeno and traversing a railway track Polo and I arrived at a magical oak wood.

west of Sarria.jpg

Here the camino path and age-old trees were wrapped in misty fog.

Meandering gently the path passed through fields, woods and tiny hamlets; one place was called Xisto, the Galician word for slate.

near Ferreiros.jpg

At Brea we passed this 100.5 km marker.

Nearby at Ferreiros in the Middle Ages blacksmiths and ironmongers serviced the pilgrims’ horses, we stopped for the night.

Ferreiros 26.02.2008.jpg

Set amidst a beautiful landscape this small Xunta albergue has one dorm with only 11 bunks/22 places. I chose a bottom bunk by a window next to a working radiator (!!) and the shower/loo. ..Perfect.

The only other pilgrim is a friendly Swiss guy, Peter, who worked in the US for 10 years.

Tacked to the dorm door was a handwritten note/map for a "nearby good resto". Thus we 3 followed the map and ate a copious good cheap meal down the hill next to the local church at a very friendly resto/bar, Meson Mirallos.

February 27, 2008

The 3 of us started off towards Portomarin following route LU P4203 from Ferreiros and bits of the CF .

Moutras, Horreo 16.03.2009.jpg

At Moutras .wrapped in mid-morning fog this two story wooden hórreo or corn crib appeared almost magical.

Unfortunately the mist turned into torrential rain as we splashed on towards Portomarin.

Crossing the high bridge over the reservoir to get here was nerve-wracking so we 3 walked in the middle of the bridge facing traffic !

We did not climb the high steps at the entrance but walked up the avenue de Sarria to arrive at the remade Potemkin-like village.

This new town of Portomarin replaced an important medieval site, which had been flooded in the 1960s during the construction of a reservoir on the river Mino. Although one small church had been moved stone by stone from the lower old site and rebuilt up on the new, I found the general atmosphere of the new town center to be stiff and unappealing.

Portomarin 27.02.2008.jpg

In Portomarin we 3 stayed in the very crowded recently renovated Xunta albegue. There were about 30 pilgrims including one man walking for the 12th time at 74. Very proud of his efforts he appeared rather peeved that I, a woman (!!), was catching up with him in age.
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From my blog for the last week of February 2008

Palas del Rei and Melide

Polo, Peter and I followed route LU 633 out of Portomarin. Near Gonzar we passed this horreo/granary where the CF crosses the wood at the junction of routes LU 633
and LU P 4905.

horreo near Gonzar.jpg

As we continued much of the CF paralleled the highway. There were many little lanes and tiny hamlets with wayside chapels, crucifixes and crosses.

Ventas de Narron.jpg

Such as this chapel at Ventas de Naron and this cross .

towards Palas de Rei,wayside cross.jpg

Several new "pilgrims" also appeared. While only walking the final 100km, they had sent their packs by taxi and, hence, bounced quickly past the rest of us trudging along.

My fellow long haulers are now collectively rather shabby. We all need haircuts, the guys need to shave and everyone's clothes need to be boiled clean!

east of Palas de Rei.jpg

Just east of Palas del Rei the pathway vegetation was especially lush.


We 3 are staying in a nice, new albergue, Os Chacotes, recently opened on the edge of a sports ground east of Palas del Rei.

Next door the resto, La Cabana, calle Doctor Pardo Ouro, 4, had excellent food and Internet. Set within a cluster of timber cabins; they also offer pilgrim rooms. The daily menu del dia was tasty and the staff very friendly. In warmer weather their large veranda would be a delight where one could eat/drink and check the web.

February 29, 2008

After crossing Palas del Rai we passed through many small hamlets and saw many horreos/granaries such as this in Casanova.

horreo, Casanova.jpg

We ate a big second breakfast in Coto at the casa rurale Los Somozas, directly on the CF/calle O Leboreiro as it joins route LU P 4001. A large tent with bar serving food is set up to welcome passing pilgrims in the garden.Their historic building has 10 rooms and good food. Although I have never stayed here I have often eaten here. The barman/owner is always very jovial and kind.

The walk to Melide took about one hour following a late winter yet newly verdant CF.

west of Coto, east of Melide.jpg

Located on the CF in the next small village, Leboreiro, was a typical cabazo/granary in the form of gigantic basket used to preserve corn.


Near Melide the CF left the picturesque to parallel highway N 547; within the industrial strip, Parque Empresarial de la Madanela, several large stellae commemorate the Chevaliers de Santiago from recent time...This is quite a clash of cultures!!

Now were are in Melide and
the final camino province, La Coruna

Melide marker.jpgMelide 29.02.2008.jpg

Tonight the Xunta albergue, calle San Antonio, needs refurbishing; about 12 pilgrims are jammed into one airless, small dorm.

It is 51 km from here to Santiago, but we will need 3 days to easily cross the final hills.

Both Polo and Peter are curious how it will be off the camino and back in ordinary life. Personally I always have found re-entry uncomfortable and slightly depressing; the difference between camino simplicity and ordinary chaos is huge.

To continue this walk see March 2008
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Yesterday eggplant and I arrived in Ponferrada.

Dutch girls gave my ankle sprained the nickname.

The hospitalero recognized me from Grañon. There was a Hospitalero training seminar happening when I had arrived a bit ago. He opened doors early.

I asked him to tell Father Miguel Angel hello from me when he next saw him.

Within a few hours I heard footsteps coming upstairs and Father’s booming voice. He remembered me. I had been a hospitalera in 2002 at Nicolas Del Flüe albergue.

We talked of life. I showed off ankle.

Next day hospie and I off to hospital. At Padre’s insistence. I was only pilgrim previous night freeing hospie to care for me.

Female doctor taped ankle. Told me to attend Salud clinic in a few days. She kept laughing at pilgrims mad desire to walk no matter what.

I always wear Nike’s on camino. Bad idea for winter.

Taped ankle.

Nikes no longer fit.

Back at albergue my “miracle” boots were sitting atop pile in pilgrims continuum bin.

The were nearly brand new, waterproof, exactly my size and could accommodate a taped ankle. I wore those boots every step Ponferrada to Fisterra.

Still have them.

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