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Sporadic Notes on Camino Frances from Leon to Santiago

Camino(s) past & future
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
Again, a few sporadic notes I took along this walk:

Alburgue de Jesus in Vila de Mazariffe was a wonderful place to stay! A fully equipped kitchen. A SWIMMING POOL!!! 3 or 4 places to do laundry. Sleep in dorms or out on the veranda where it's cool. Very cool art all over the walls done by pilgrims. No exit time. Sleep all day if you want! We just loved this place!

We visited the "Camino Museu" which turned out to be a studio for a local dying artist. It was sad to see him, oxygen tube in his nose, and I felt guilty that I did not have the cash to purchase anything or the desire to carry it. I felt a little "lied to" because I thought I was going into a museum, and instead it was a gallery where they strongly encouraged you to buy his works.

We attended Mass here. It was very short but lots of standing :D I find it interesting that Mass is different in each parish, unlike in the USA where it's pretty standard everywhere I've been.

Hospital de Oribiga. The parochial Refugio here is INCREDIBLE! Beautiful, clean, shaded courtyard, murals, stoneworked floor, comfie seating, and free fruit for only $5. Our nice hospitalera was a sweet woman named Frida. I slept out in the yard in my screen tent under the Full Moon. Beautiful! Lots of beds, about 8 to a room, if I recall. A very nice, but small, kitchen. Several grocery stores in town. The bar at the end of the bridge is open for coffee in the morning.

Astorga. We were not very happy with St. Javier when we discovered they KNEW they were infested with bedbugs and yet continued to let people in. They actually sheepishly gave me back my money when I decided to go elsewhere after finding bugs in my bed!

We slept in the Municipal Alburgue which was very clean, and nice. They have a wonderful kitchen and a beautiful veranda where you can eat or drink and look out over the valley. Astorga has some great sight seeing. There is an archeological museum which is very nice, several Roman "digs", a great park, and lots of good places to eat. Several grocery stores.

Santa Catalina de Somoza We stayed in the first Alburgue on the right "El Caminante" at Calle Real No 2. It was $5 and there were 6 beds to a room. Dinner was $8 and included soup, pork steaks, potatoes, bread, ice cream and wine. Very good food!

Rabanal Stayed at Guacelmo Refugio. Opens at 2 pm. Bought 2 beers and a pincho of tortilla for $4.40 and groceries for a fish dinner for $6.60 at the little store down the street. The Alburgue is $4 and includes breakfast. This is a nice alburgue and we enjoyed it very much. The monks were "on holiday" so there was no singing, but a Czech priest who was walking did Mass in the back yard. It was very sweet.

Molinaseca had chinchas for $5 so we slept outside.

Manjarin. Not to be missed, in my opinion. Not for the squeamish or prissy. No water, outdoor squat toilet. You sleep up in the attic on mattresses. Cozy. Not pristine. A lovely dinner and generous breakfast given by a sweet spirited Templar named Tomas. Interesting and a very positive experience.

Cacabellos has a very cool alburgue encircling the church with 2 beds in each chamber. Nice but many people with chinchas. We sprayed and prayed... and slept very well. They have a computer but it is not running well this trip. There are grocery stores around. No kitchen here.

My notes are a little confused here because I note that Elizabeth thinks her purse is stolen but this is in another place where there is a bridge and we slept outside on bunkbeds... was it Molinaseca?


Leaving Cacabellos, you come across a little cafe in a garage at Valtuille de Arriba. The walk is gorgeous through vineyards and farmland.

Ave Felix in Villa Franco del Bierzo is a very cool alburgue, but alas, they were infested with bedbugs. The hospitalero was so frustrated because just two days ago they had taken all the mattresses out, sprayed them, and literally burned the metal frames with a blowtorch in their attempt to get rid of the bugs.. But traveling pilgrims continue to bring them in, probably from irresponsible alburgues such as the one at St. Javier in Astorga! There's really not much they can do, I guess... it's a Camino experience. The bugs are avoidable, however, if you want to take the time, which we did. The hospitalera gave us the name of a couple who hosted pilgrims and this couple picked us up. We had a lovely stay with Andreas and Frederika. Slept on a n old sheepwool mattress and except for falling into the middle it was great! We had breakfast, then he took us back to the Camino where we'd left off. They have horses, and help pilgrims who want to do the Camino with horses.

Vega de Valcarce
was a nice municipal. There is another nice clean Brazilian alburgue here which is very popular, but we didn't want to spend the money (which is worth the dinner she serves). There is a grocery and a bar. The kitchen here is nicely stocked. Be sure to watch as the elderly people of the village walk UP UP UP the mountainside to their little den to hold "Parliment" each evening and watch the sunset. It's a sweet experience to see. The hospitalera here has a funny little chihuahua who walks on his front legs only. Nobody taught him, he just does it. He entertained us for hours!

O'Cebreiro.
KOWABUNGA! Don't make me EVER do that climb again! The village is charming. The alburgue is clean but the kitchen is NOT stocked at all, I imagine to encourage you to eat in the village. We had Caldo Verde in town and it was very good. There is also barbecue and many nice restaurants. We bought local cheese, membrillo (quince jelly), salcichon and ate in after eating the soup for lunch. It gets cold as the sun goes down here. There was a man working, making thatching for the roof. Be sure to go and see inside a thatched roof house.. they have a 1 Euro tour.

I'll continue in another post.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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
Continued...

Casa Xato is a few kilometers out of O'Cebreiro and is a lovely place! There is a simple sign on the door as you pass by one alburgue and right as the road bears left, the Casa is off to the right. It is a working farm. We paid $36 for lodging for two plus a meal of Caldo Gallego, Pan, Vino, Coffee, one beer con limon. The lady who owns the place is very kind. The room had 2 beds and a sofa bed, and was ensuite. Lots of cows, goats, moscas, but much nicer than an alburgue.

Samos ... the walk to Samos is my favorite of all the Camino. So lush and green along the river all the way. We looked into the monastery which had 70 beds in one room. We chose instead to stay across the street at the hostal there for 8 Euro. We bought groceries and will eat sandwiches and fruit for dinner, although they do serve food at the Hostal/cafe. There is a 3 Euro Spanish tour of the monastery and pilgrims may attend Vespers at 8 pm.

Sarria. Last time we stayed in a private alburgue. This time we stayed in the Municipal and I'll never do it again. It is one of my least favorites. It was dirty and crowded. The showers were pools of dirty water.The only saving grace was a window opening onto a courtyard, which a mean old German dude refused to open. Apparently he was afraid of fresh air!

This is one of my pet peeves on the Camino. They stuff you into these rooms with 50 people, all snoring, farting, and exhaling hot air.... and some people just are AFRAID to leave the windows open. So instead of nice fresh air, you breathe warm stale exhalation. It's gross. By morning, the windows are dripping with it. I tried my best to get a window bed each time so I could control the opening of it.

After Sarria, you come to Casa Morgade. Many people stop here for lunch, but I wanted to sleep here. It is a lovely place. A bed in a room with 4 other people is $8. Dinner was $7.50 and excellent. A lady did our laundry for $3. This has a sweet terrace where you can have coffee in the back and inside is full of flagstone architecture. Nice place!

Portomarin. We stayed in the brand new Albergue Ferrameniero here. It was VERY clean and well kept. There are LOTS of bunk beds in each room, but they're space far enough apart that you don't feel like you're sleeping with the person next to you. The showers and bathrooms were exceptionally clean, as was the kitchen, dining area. The kitchen was really well-stocked with pots, pans, dishes, silverware. I liked this place a lot. There are several good markets in Portomarin so if you want to cook for yourself, this is a good place to do it. The lounge has a large television, which was blaring football when we were there. I think I recall a drink machine.

Ligende Walking down the alley OUT of Ligende, this albergue was the last building on the left. What a joy it was! The regular hospitalera was on leave, and Luisa was there, full of good humor and love! She taught me some Gallego and I taught her some English. This is a small place with approximately 16 beds. The bathroom / shower was clean. There is a kitchen, but were no pots/pans/plates. I'm not sure if the stove actually worked. There is a nice table and a place to wash clothes, and a picnic area outside. A short walk up the road and you are in Eirexe. There is an albergue there (larger) and a bar with good food. The hamberguesas and cervezas are great!


Casanova was a really nice albergue, but my gosh, it was so HOT and STUFFY! They have heated floors and it's just too much with 10 pilgrims in the room! They had nice laundry facilities outside, and a nice little kitchen/dining area that was big enough for about 6 people. Mosquitos carried me away and ronquedoros stole my sleep. Paired with the loud bombing from the Fiesta until 4 am.. I was a grouch next day! We seemed to be following the Fiesta circuit...yikes!

Ribadiso was a sweet little albergue. Good restaurant here. Lots of showers, clotheslines, and I got a good rest.

Albergue de Santa Irene was overrunning with bedbugs, so we kept walking. We found Casa da Gallega at Rua No 22 in Arca O Pino and it was a joy! A wonderful house kept by the lady to the right as you look at the house. 30 Euros for a double. Nice clean bathroom with hot shower. Nice large stocked kitchen. Great place to stay!

IN Santiago I have a secret place I love. But I will tell you that if you can find the Library, you can use the computer there for FREE for one hour. Otherwise there is internet in the old part of town.

If you have time, take the train from Santiago to Vigo, then Vigo to Ourense to Leon. I got on it by mistake but it was a fantastic trip! The scenery was spectacular! Vigo is a nice town with internet close to the train station and lots of good places to eat. It would be a great "in one day and out the next" trip if you have time.

From there I took the train back to Leon, where I spent a night again in the convent. By the way, if you're traveling by train, be sure you know where your stop is, because THEY DID NOT ANNOUNCE ONE SINGLE STOP and in the dark, it's impossible to see where you are.

I jumped around a bit here, on my way to the Aragonese Route... I stayed in Pamplona at Alburgue Casa Paderborn. What a sweet place! 26 beds, $7 includes breakfast. No cooking facilities, but nice showers and laundry. They have a DRYER.

I'll put notes from the Jaca to Pamplona stretch in that section of the forum.
 

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