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Walking in winter

polmaja

New Member
Hi everyone!

My husband and I are planning to do the Sevilla - Santiago route starting in December 2009 or January 2010. We have done the Camino Frances a few years ago, in March, and had great fun.

We would like to know a few things from someone who has done de la Plata before:
- are majority of refugios open during the winter months?
- how cold does it get - on the camino and in refugios?
- should we carry a tent? (we would like to avoid that if not necessary)
- any other "winter advice" will come handy!

We have enough time (more than 2 months) and we do speak decent basic Spanish, so that should help.
Thanks in advance!
Maja & Dean
 

VERONIKA.68

New Member
Hello,
I am sorry I don't any advice for you. On the contrary I am seeking the answers on the same topic.
I have decided to spend my week off on la Via de la Plata. I am planning to start walking either 30.12. or 1.1....so we might meet on the track
regards
Veronika,27 currently living in Andalucia
 

polmaja

New Member
Hi Veronika! :D

Thanks for your post, I was glad to learn about your plans. Your New Year's resolution is a good one. Check the first overnight places well in advance because of the holidays! Are you walking alone? I would not bet that we will meet, but Camino is always full of surprises.
I suspect there should be no serious trouble in winter... Maybe we should be more careful with finding the right path because of the weather (snow!) and less daylight in winter; when dark falls it is not easy to spot the yellow arrows anymore as I experienced.
And I don't like cold - brrrrrr, so my pack will probably weight a ton! (well, that's why we drag husbands along, heh heh heh :wink: ).
Let me know how you are getting ready and I hope we will get some wise advice from an experienced Caminista...

Many happy trails!
Maja
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Hi - In 2006 I set off from Sevilla early in January. I broke the journey in Salamanca taking it up again a few weeks later.

Read about that here:

http://johnniewalker-santiago.blogspot. ... r%20Camino

I encountered no problems obtaining a bed every night, although some people were surprised to see me this early in the year. Hospitaleras know what is open ahead in my experience.

I took rain gear and also needed sunscreen. I had a set of layers and needed them especially in the evening but I also needed shorts and a t shirt to walk in some days. I took a woolie hat for the cold and had to use a bandana as sun protection.

I hope tis helps.

John
 

hewink

New Member
Hey Polmaja,
I'm going to be doing the same hurdle - leaving in mid-December 2009 (in 5 weeks!) and into January 2010. Hope to see you on the trail!
~hannah
 

johnie99

New Member
If last winter is anything to go by, expect harsh conditions - or a proper winter, as we would call it.

We walked VdlP between Dec 11, 2008 and Jan 23, 2009. The first 3 weeks had near perfect walking conditions with sunshine and cool temps. Last 3 weeks the gods threw everything at us, freezing rain, snow, wind, ice, etc. No problem for us, as we were mostly prepared. Temps went down to about -10C at times or even lower (not official, but I know my temps!).

Albergues seemed to be open, apart from a few. We mostly camped, but stayed in albergues sometimes. Some were very cold and damp - much better to stay in tent (smaller space, body heat makes big difference). If the albergue has heating, it may not be on when u arrive, so it will be ineffective for hours. Actually, we found that hospitaleros seem to "pimp" a lot for business. Some are expecting your arrival and will often approach you in the town.

If conditions are bad, some towns/villages completely shut down. A bit of snow on the road and suddenly the townhall is shut! So no internet maybe.
Carry enough food for at least 2 days, more if camping.
Dark at 6pm, shorter walking hours.
Wear proper waterproof gloves - we used rubber gloves when snowing or raining.
Gaiters a must for walking through snow.

Be willing to change your plans - thats most important.

The next one might be surprising for some - Ignore the advice given by locals about the weather. Medio Ambiente or other officials should be listened to of course. The locals may know where to get bread but are clueless about the weather. When conditons are bad, they stay inside so they won't necessarily have the latest actual conditions at hand. Their knowledge will come from the tv!! On many occasions we were told that the tracks were impassable, only to find that was not true. They all like to think that the current time is the worst in 40 years and that a humble pilgrim couldn't possibly walk through some snow. they think we are all from the city!!

any more questions, just ask, John.
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
polmaja said:
Hi everyone!

My husband and I are planning to do the Sevilla - Santiago route starting in December 2009 or January 2010. We have done the Camino Frances a few years ago, in March, and had great fun.

We would like to know a few things from someone who has done de la Plata before:
- are majority of refugios open during the winter months?
- how cold does it get - on the camino and in refugios?
- should we carry a tent? (we would like to avoid that if not necessary)
- any other "winter advice" will come handy!

We have enough time (more than 2 months) and we do speak decent basic Spanish, so that should help.
Thanks in advance!
Maja & Dean
19 November, 2009
Hola, greetings from Salamanca. It is now the 19 November, 2009, only a couple of weeks away from when you propose starting. Here's an update:

Merida - Salamanca
*Relentless winds for two days before Merida.
*The temperature plummeted a couple of days before Salamanca.
*There are now biting frosts which burn off within an hour or two.

Each day I set off at first light wearing several top layers. Within an hour I stripped down to longsleeve silk undershirt, wicking tee shirt and trousers. When needed I added a merino wool hoodie.

When resting outdoors and in the evenings I find that I need to wear everything I own. This includes extra woolens and fleecy. Peregrinos I meet along the way seem to get by wearing much less than I, but then they are all men. Perhaps their body temperature is higher. I don´t have the best circulation in my hands and feet. My hands turn yellow-blue if I´m not careful.

Re- ´we do speak decent basic Spanish.´ Hey, I started out from Cadiz with only ten words in Spanish. I´m having a ball. Everyone I meet laughs along with me and teaches me a few words along the way. Of course, it is impossible to have deep and meaningful conversations, but, hey, I´ve had a few too many of those in the past and it's time for rest.

All the best with your planning. I´ll give you a weather update once I hit Galicia in December.

Regards,
Lovingkindness.
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
24 November (?), 2009
Hi from Zamora, two days after Salamanca. I am having a rest day. Outside there is a freezing wet all-day fog. Inside it is cold, too. I survive by wearing all my winter layers. I need more clothing when at rest than when walking with my pack on.

Cheers, Lovingkindness.
 
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isabelle304

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPP-Santiago) (Oct-Nov 08)
Santiago to Finisterre (Nov 08)
Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (Sevilla-Santiago via Ourense) (Oct-Nov 09)
Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Santiago) (Sep-Oct 14)
lovingkindness said:
Hi from Zamora, two days after Salamanca (24 November, I think). I am now surviving a freezing, wet all-day fog and wearing all my winter layers. However, I am having a rest day so my need for insulation may be greater than when I get going again with my pack on. Cheers, Lovingkindness.

Hi Lovingkindness

Now following your progress with interest. As you know, I just got to Santiago from Seville yesterday and for me the journey is over. I reached Zamora on 1 November - up to then things had been "lovely jubbly" as far as the weather went - but it´s from Zamora that the weather started giving me a hard time (strong cold winds from Zamora to Puebla de Sanabria, and then the rain from A Gudiña onwards) and that I had to wear all my layers and even then that was not enough.

Cover up well and keep warm - and dont´forget to always pick the bed nearest to the heater once you get to the albergue !!!

Isabelle
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
2 December. 2009
Greetings from the hilltop village of Puebla de Sanabria, a short distance from the Galician border: medieval castle, picturesque stone dwellings and free internet access!

It is already snowing in Galicia and the mountain range which has been in view since Olleros has a dusting of snow, enough to send shards of dread down the spines of any silly peregrino/peregrina still out here on the Way.

My days have altered drastically since leaving Salamanca. Before, I struggled with the blistering heat and distances which were far too long. Now I am faced with high humidity and freezing temperatures, icy drizzle, and frigid winds.

The refugios and albergues are so cold that I´m crying in my sleep and frequently I find they are dirty, full of dust and condensation. So much so that instead of resting up after a hard day outdoors I´m spending hours scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms to stave off an asthma attack and allergies.

From Zamora to Puebla de Sanabria the daily challenge has been to regulate body heat, to avoid perspiring first thing in the morning when I set out as wet undergarments and chill winds equal certain ´death´ or sickness and the end of my Camino.

To conserve energy and rest up a little I have decided to slow down, doing half the distance each day that I originally thought that I would do. This is giving me more time to enjoy the scenery, to take photos, to disappear into that elusive creative space where nothing, not even the cold can deter me from attaining that beautiful moment when I am so captivated, so engaged that nothing else exists.

Coping in this kind of weather is a new challenge for me. I have decided to be cautious. All the other peregrinos whom I briefly met between Salamanca to Zamora have long gone and I am alone, pining and longing for their presence. They will probably be in Santiago de Compostella days before me and I´ll never see them again.

Regards,
Lovingkindness.
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Lovingkindness - I found your post really moving. There are difficulties to be encountered and overcome on every pilgrimage - perhaps more so on the VdlP at this time of the year. But as you say the rewards in terms of time for deep relfection in beautiful countryside are also there.

It is important that you keep putting your health and personal safety first - the motto for winter walking must be get warm, keep warm and keep dry.

Buen Camino - we are all thinking about you. Keep us posted please.

John
 

isabelle304

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPP-Santiago) (Oct-Nov 08)
Santiago to Finisterre (Nov 08)
Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (Sevilla-Santiago via Ourense) (Oct-Nov 09)
Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Santiago) (Sep-Oct 14)
lovingkindness said:
My days have altered drastically since leaving Salamanca. Whereas before I struggled with the blistering heat and distances too long, now I am faced with high humidity and freezing temperatures, icy drizzle, and frigid winds. The refugios and albergues are so cold that I´m crying in my sleep and frequently, I find, they are so dirty, so full of dust and condensation that instead of resting up after a hard day outdoors I´m spending hours scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms to stave off an asthma attack and allergies. From Zamora to Puebla de Sanabria the daily challenge has been to regulate body heat, to avoid perspiring first thing in the morning as I set out, as wet undergarments and chill winds equal certain ´death´, or sickness and the end of my Camino. To conserve energy and rest up a little I have decided to slow down, doing half the distance each day that I originally thought that I would do. This is giving me more time to enjoy the scenery, to take photos, to disappear into that elusive creative space where nothing, not even the cold, can deter me from attaining that beautiful moment when one is so captivated, so engaged that nothing else exists. Coping in this kind of weather is a new challenge for me so I have decided to be cautious. All the other peregrinos whom I briefly met between Salamanca to Zamora have long gone and I am alone, pining and longing for their presence. They will probably be in Santiago de Compostella days before me and I´ll never see them again. Regards, Lovingkindness.

Hang in there LovingKindness! Remember that although you have "lost" some fellow pilgrims who are now ahead of you, there will be others behind who will catch up with you. Like you I struggled with adaptation to the drastic change in temperatures (I felt really hot till Zamora, then really cold after that). As regards the albergues - you have nearly reached Galicia - from A Gudiña the albergues are Xunta-run and therefore cleaner (although I can't say the heating is always satisfactory in them!). Both albergues in Ourense and Cea are extremely well heated, so those are two you can look forward to!

Not sure what route you are intending on taking from A Gudiña (ie the high one through the vendas/Laza, or the low one through Verin), but if you do take the high one and you encounter bad weather between A Gudiña and Laza, you can always stop overnight in Campobecerros, there is a casa rural there (Casa Nuñez) which is part of a bar, they have 4 double/twin rooms and charge 20 euros per person if you are on your own, 15 euros if you are sharing the room with someone else. They have central heating and you can also have dinner - when I stayed there, with a Japanese woman I had met in Puebla, we were given an obscene amount of food (empanadas, paella, pork chops and chips, and lots of fruit, all that in quantities sufficient for 4 people, + all the wine we could drink), for only 7 euros per person. We were not asked what we wanted to eat but were just given what we were given, but had no complaints! We ate at the same time as the family who owned the bar, in the same dining room as them - it was really enjoyable.

From Campobecerros to Laza it is then only 14 km, mainly on a car-less downhill road, and very easy. In the Laza albergue the heating is on some kind of timer, when I was there it did not come on till about 8pm, which was a bit of a pain.

My thoughts are with you - keep warm, and keep sane!

Isabelle

ps: The Ourense albergue is not only very warm, it also has free, fast internet access :D However be aware that when I was there there were ants in the kitchen. I made the mistake of leaving my rucksack on the floor there overnight near one of the heaters to dry it, and when I left the next morning I was carrying many tiny stow-aways who got attracted to a bottle of fruit juice located in the side pocket - it took me ages to get rid of them (I was still finding ants in my rucksack by the time I got to Santiago)!
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Courage, lovingkindness! My thoughts are with you !

lynne
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
lovingkindness said:
It is already snowing in Galicia and the mountain range which has been in view since Olleros has a dusting of snow, enough to send shards of dread down the spines of every silly peregrino/peregrina still out here on the Way....Coping in this kind of weather is a new challenge for me

Courage! When you get to Galicia you'll find most albergues are well heated. Drying wet clothes overnight is much easier there. I've just come back, so can reassure you of that. Some albergues I stayed in before reaching Galicia had no heating, so here are two tips for drying clothes overnight in places with no heating.

1. Sleep on the LOWER bunk bed in an albergue and rig up a washing line running back and fore above your bed (i.e. slung underneath the top bunk where your body heat will help to dry the clothes). Then use albergue blankets as curtains tucked under the top bunk mattress and to surround and enclose the space to keep your body heat inside the drying 'cabinet' you have constructed.

2. Most albergues (heated or not) provide some blankets. Lay a blanket over the bed, spread out your damp clothes. Lay a second blanket over the top (i.e. a blanket sandwich with clothes between). Find a bin bag or plastic carrier bags as a protection of your sleeping bag and sleep on top of the blanket sandwich.* Your clothes may not dry completely, but they will be dryer than previously, and even if still damp, they'll be WARM if you put them on straight away in the morning.

*Important to leave any blankets you have dampened by this method hanging up to dry when you leave!

Most refugios are pretty primitive, but I've found that in winter private albergues are worth considering, as many have better heating, washing machines and dryers. Finally, when you reach Monte de Gozo, there are washing machines and dryers galore! Keep hold of that vision... :D

Gareth
 

andy.d

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
Hi Lovingkindness,
I echo what Isabelle said. I walked the route in October and my stages are here:

http://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/stages/

As far as I remember, everything was heated except Oseira Monastery, but there is an albergue with heating at Castro Dozon. Get advice from the locals, especially the hospitaleros. They will know what is safe or reasonable in the weather you are walking in.

Andy
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
Hi there, Gareth. I´m laughing as I consider the inventive ways in which you tried to get your sopping laundry dry. What initiative. I haven´t had any problems thus far with drying clothes but will definitely try out the four-poster-bed blanket-drapes that you recommend. Cheers, Lovingkindness
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
4 December, 2009
Hi there amigos de forum. The sun is shining on me! It has been a day of golden bronze and other-world tranquillity, meandering past silent pueblos full of crumbling dwellings and moss-covered staircases, along a trail carpeted in a fall of chestnut tree leaves and wild oak.

After 13 km´s uphill to the Padornelo Tunnel I reached heaven - a Hotel with central heating. I had forgotten how it felt to be truly warm, what life was like before this crazy adventure full of climactic assaults. I walked into the bar and slumped. I dumped my gear and sat staring out the panoramic windows drinking, Por favor, Senor: cafe con leche, grande, muy caliente, y donut. Muchas Gracias. How´s that! My Spanish vocab is increasing in proportion to my appetite for sickly things and my craving for addictive substances has not decreased in the slightest since leaving NZ.

Perhaps I need to take a break, to escape the torments of peregrino life and detour into luxury for a day or two. Perhaps when I reach Ourense where there is a Roman termes, I´ll hole up in a cheap pensione and stay in bed for a few days reading the funny adventures of Don Quixote. Then again, the stoic in me -my perfectionist other self that demands that I always take the hardest path, may win over and I´ll find myself conscientiously walking ´til I finally reach the arms of Santiago.

In Galicia the weather report for this weekend is for rain, and lots of it. The Guardia Civil and the lady at the Officina de Tourismo in Puebla de Sanabria advised me to take the N 525 and cyclist route as far as Lubian and so that is what I did. Cheers, Lovingkindness.
 
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skilsaw

Veteran Member
Lovingkindness,
Your posts are poetic. Given the wet, cold and wind, I am glad you are showing lots of common sense. Heroic suffering is stupid. I learned during elementary school that British explorers were masters of it. We were taught that it was glorious and somehow patriotic. "Close your eyes and think of England." What BS! Franklin ate his crewmates, and Scott died one day before finishing his journey back from the south pole. How sad!

Frostbite, hypothermia and chillblanes are clear signs that thing have gone too far.
You are into the final push. Be safe and enjoy the journey.

I look forward to your post from Santiago.

David, Victoria, Canada.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
skilsaw said:
Heroic suffering is stupid. I learned during elementary school that British explorers were masters of it. We were taught that it was glorious and somehow patriotic. "Close your eyes and think of England." What BS! Franklin ate his crewmates, and Scott died one day before finishing his journey back from the south pole. How sad!

Excuse me? :shock: Heroic suffering is not stupid: it is character forming and very British. We may be a nation of loonies but we are not wimps.

Gareth
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
7 December, 2009
Hola, hi there CSJ friends. I am now ´swimming´ in the mountains of Galicia wishing that I had a wet suit, goggles and oxygen tank.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the couple who initiated this thread, about their desire to go camping along the Camino and wondering just how they would survive in Galicia. Would they embrace the stoney sodden ground and the winds that leave you gasping for breath? How would they get their washing done, let alone get it dry in this hostile clime? In Morille I encountered a German peregrino with tent, a man of extrordinary fortitude who had already hiked 4,000 kms this year and spent much of his life in India doing yoga. I see from entries in the Peregrinos Libros that since reaching Galicia even he has taken to staying in Refugios.

I am having a magnificent time: Imagine yourself in front of a huge white canvas, walking on a treadmill in heavy boots and wet-weather gear, with 10 -12 kilos of rocks on your back. Add dry ice and a manic sprinkler system then walk for 5 hours. That was my day from Lubian to A Gudina, with the exception of one glorious moment when the fog lifted and I found myself enthralled by a pallete of velvet greens, browns, greys and blacks. The scenery before O Pereiro was utterly gorgeous.

From A Gudina to Campobecerros the rain was torrential and the only resting place, the steps of an old man´s house where I sureptitiously sat until his angry dog howled me off and the old man came out his door. All the way to Campobecerros, for 20 kilometers in the driving rain I dreamed of white sheets in a heavenly bed, radiator heaters going full bore and an enormous dinner with so much food on my plate that I couldn´t eat it, a vision inspired by Isabelle 304´s account of her recent experiences at Casa Nunez.

And when I arrived it was much like that, but minus the food. Food probably was on offer but I was so tired I couldn´t understand what the kind people were saying to me and by 8.30 pm, when I think they said they were eating, I had flaked out, asleep beneath a pile of blankets and soft linen.

And then there was today...I am soaring. Visibility was superb all the way from Campobecerros to Laza and it took me 6 hours to walk what really can be done in just a few. I felt that I was back hiking on the Penine Way, or hiking across the Lake District on Wainwrigth´s Cosst to Coast or some place high in the misty mountains of China where every vantage point is a stunner and the colours so mesmerising. I wish I had a more expansive vocabulary. I find words so limiting when faced with such beauty. Perhaps an artist or photographer could do a better job.

I hope this helps any of you out there who are considering a Winter Camino. Adios, Lovingkindness.
 
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A

Anonymous

Guest
lovingkindness said:
I am having a magnificent time. ...the kind people... ...I am soaring.

I wish I had a more expansive vocabulary. I find words so limiting when faced with such beauty.

Believe me, lovingkindness, you are writing poetry! And in among all the hardship, you are coming across powerfully positive! Ultreïa, peregrina! You are now in my daily prayers for a successful completion of your pilgrimage.

Gareth
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
10 December, 2009

Hola and hi. There are so many stories to tell on a journey like this that sometimes it is hard to know where to start but as this thread is mostly about the weather perhaps that is where I ought to begin. However, life can be too full of what we should or ought to do that for a little moment I think I´ll just deviate and have some fun.

Love on the Camino: Part One
Every good adventure has to have at least one romantic moment or a rosy, glowing love story to make everyone else out there feel happy and at peace in their own part of the world. ´Love´ on the Camino is definitely elusive. If it appears, it´s flowering is random and it´s effect like a golden, bewitching haze dished out by a mischievous, fickle god, by a Whim or a sprite who likes nothing better than to toy with the oddest possibilities and unite the most unlikely pairs.

For a curious moment, for a heightened second in time I became the focus of a manic, terminally ill but otherwise fascinating peregrino. When he met me, after weeks of trailing behind from one albergue to the next he told me with awe in his eyes that I really was most beautiful, and ´How do you do. S......., I presume?´ At least five times in a single afternoon, and at least the same number of times the next day he told me that I was unlike any other woman he had ever met and my words were driving him crazy. He decided I was a genius and powerful and no matter what I uttered, however ridiculous or frivolous, he hung on every word with applause.

This continued for about a couple of days until one evening, after dining on tenderised oxtail lumps and oily fried potatoes, after downing an expensive bottle of white wine, he abruptly changed his mind. Suddenly, I was too complicated. I was a most irritating person and definitely, definitely for sure had some kind of personality disorder! (And he ought to know because, as he had already told us, he was a highly esteemed psychologist). As he voiced his assassination of my character, before an audience of myself and three others, I was definitely not amused. I thanked him as politely as I could for his criticisms and said I would consider his words very carefully. I felt rigid with embarrassment, and speechless with pain.

The story didn´t end there, though, because being a thoughtful, soul-searching peregrino this poor man suddenly came to his senses at 3 o´clock in the morning. No longer inebriated and addled by alcohol and powerful pain killers he became frantic with remorse. Feeling that his behaviour had been most shameful he cried out to the heavens and rushed off to pen his despair in the Peregrinos Libros. Then at 6 am in the early hours this tragic, lovely man sought me out to apologise. So, we had a little chat and a big heartfelt hug, and that was the end of that. He is now long gone and I haven´t heard from him since.

´Every day
I wake some few hours
from this long unending night
and I continue walking
blind as always
no matter how much light I am given.
This very night
I woke up
and saw into the darkness
that embraces us all
and I felt the shame
the guilt I have to carry
with me as a heavy burden
for being so blind.
So, I am so sorry,
and I try my best
not to burden all of you
and especially those I love
those I need to and am given to love
with my blindness
and my shame.´
(24.11.09 Peregrino)

Love on the Camino: Part Two
Anyway, ´Love on the Camino´ does happen to other peregrinos out there and one day I came across two star-crossed lovers. I met Chica and Pierre (not their real names) in Santiponce near the Roman ruins of Italica, both attired in a combination of skin-tight form-revealing lycra cycling suits and much-worn often-washed cotton coloured tee-shirts.

One day, three years ago Pierre walked out his front door in the south of France and decided there and then that he must walk to Santiago. No reason, just a powerful urge to go immediately. When he reached Roncevalles, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees he saw a beautiful young Spanish girl and fell madly and explosively in love. The lovely Chica took one look at him and said ´ no way, Hosé´ get lost.

Pierre chased Chica all the way across the north of Spain, pleading and begging and wooing her determinedly in the way only an older French gentleman can do. Not until the very last moment when they reached the cathedral in Santiago de Compostella did Chica, a girl raised in a devout exclusive religious sect suddenly say ´Yes!´. And now they are living happily ever after on Pierre´s old age pension. Chica is about age 30.

Needless to say her mother was not at all pleased, but as her father had died years ago, there was not much anyone else could do. So there we have it. Pierre, a very happy older man living out his old age idyll and Chica finally free from the circle of her youth, where sadly there were few, if any, eligible young men. Pierre and Chica now spend their days hiking and cycling the routes to Santiago, in a lover´s dreamworld expounding the latest miracle of Santiago -their love.

The weather for the past three days has been very mild. The fog has lifted, the clouds have scudded mostly away and on arriving in Ourense it was 13 degrees celsius. Cheers, Lovingkindness.
 
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Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
You are going to have to write a book!


Bridget
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
11 December, 2009
As I am now within a few day of reaching Santiago de Compostella it has been on my mind to evaluate the effectiveness of the equipment I have hauled for the past 1068 km´s in preparation for Galicia in December -for snow storms, blizzards, torrential rain and white out-fog, and the hurricane winds that I anticipated would greet me when here.

I haven´t reached journey´s end yet but can say wholeheartedly that one of the most practical things I carry is a Petzl Tikka headlamp. Not only does it double up as a reading lamp and ´weapon´ for those times when assailed in the night, this headlamp has been a true life-saver when road walking in fog -when visibility is reduced to a few feet and a precipice lunges to the left and you´re forced to balance on a slippery verge as you are charged by fearsome oncoming traffic.

The biggest nuisances in my kit have been my Meindl Lady Vermont Gortex boots with tough Vikram soles, 2 pairs of wool-mix hiking socks, and my waterproof poorly ventilating poncho. The boots are superbly designed for the terrain in Galicia but proved a torture in the heat and flats from Cadiz to Merida. The wool-mix hikers sox gave me a livid heat rash up the back of my calves from Cadiz to Caceres, and the waterproof poncho, I found/am finding, leaves me wetter on the inside than it ever does on the out and is a battle to put on when there is no one there to help, which is always.

On other journeys I have worn a gortex jacket in the rain plus pack cover, and, apart from the pockets filling up like balloons in a deluge, it rates higher in my estimation for overall effectiveness.

Ideally one can own two pairs of boots and four pairs of sox -those for the furnace on the plains and those for the mountains, but this peregrina is not that rich.

The other piece of equipment that I highly value is a piece if origami plastic which cleverly folds into a dinner plate and doubles up as a cutting board. Few albergues from Cadiz to Galicia have kitchen utensils, and even in Galicia this can be a problem.

Tomorrow is a new day and I do not know what the weather will bring, but I have had a delightful stay in Ourense and can´t wait to get back out there on the track.

Cheers, Lovingkindness.
 
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KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
From one Palmerstonian to another- go well in your last few days lovingkindness..... it has been great to follow your progress. What extremes you have known in climate!
Margaret
 

isabelle304

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPP-Santiago) (Oct-Nov 08)
Santiago to Finisterre (Nov 08)
Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (Sevilla-Santiago via Ourense) (Oct-Nov 09)
Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Santiago) (Sep-Oct 14)
LovingKindness
I have mixed feelings about you being now so close to Santiago. On the one hand I am glad (for you) in that you have nearly reached your goal on this long and at times difficult trip from Cadiz. On the other hand I am a bit sorry (for me!) as I am really going to miss your wonderful evocative posts.

Isabelle
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
13 December, 2009

I am sitting huddled over a tiny computer on loan for 5 minutes ONLY.

It has been an amusing experience observing modern day peregrinos along the Way, the ones who come equipt with all the latest pocket-size gadgets to help them survive in solitude: mobile phones, GPS receivers with all kinds of extras, digital cameras the size of a peanut, and pintsize computers that weigh in at only 1 kilo.

Today´s sophisticated peregrino need never leave home or any other place they are wholeheartedly attached to. But right now, I am grateful and full of thanks for this little machine and the space-age peregrino who is sharing my day because how else could I tell you that it is below zero outside and we are shivering to death, fully clothed in a lovely little albergue in Castro Dozon, where there is just enough heat pumping out the box on the wall to ensure that we avoid refrigeration.

The weather has been superb since climbing up out of the vapours and mists that hang over Ourense. For two glorious days I have been hiking along ancient lanes and racing up and down stony ascents and difficult inclines, the kind of challenge I really enjoy. Every where is carpeted with fallen leaves and emerald grass. There is also a huge amount of surface water coursing down the easiest routes which in this neck of the woods happens to be the Camino. So, if you find yourself out here this time next year, make sure you have good waterproof boots. That´s it. My 5 minutes is up.

Adios. Lovingkindness
 
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andy.d

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
Go well Lovingkindness. In October all the albergues from now on had decent heating. You are bringing back so many memories for me - although I didn't meet any peregrinos with such technology; all we had were cameras and compasses!

Enjoy these last days,

buen camino,

Andy

PS - in Bandeira we had bad reports on the albergue which is a few kilometers from the Camino. There are several cheap hotels in Bandeira. I stayed in the Hostal Conde Rey which was warm and comfortable and had good food. It was €15 for a shared room.
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
14 December, 2009

Hola!
Such a pretty day: clear skies and a frozen dawn with bracken, fallen leaves and foliage covered in crystal.

The plumbing at Castro Dozon albergue is frozen. The forecast for tomorrow, according to the barman in A Laxe is snow. That should be interesting.

Thanks for the info on Bandeira, I´ll probably head for the ´soft´option, and stay in a hostal. Cheers, Lovingkindness.

ps all day my thoughts have been scattering. I´ve been chasing tangents and composing stories but now that I have time to write there is nothing to say. My head is ´all over the show´ and my inner self knows that very soon it will be time for re-entry, to embrace that other world of decision making and rational thought and I am resisting.
 
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KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
May the re-entry be a gentle one. I have enjoyed what you have shared here while you have been walking.
Margaret
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
15 December, 2009 Hola, greetings from Bandeira.

A hoare frost! Today has been altogether lovely and I have been transfixed by the beauty of it all. No snow, as predicted by the barman at A Laxe, but air cold enough to peel the skin off your face and plenty of warming rays later in the day to make a peregrina think it were Spring.

As this adventure comes to a close I have been considering whether there might be something practical I could contribute to the body of wisdom out there for today´s peregrino, and I have decided there is: here are a few dietary and culinary tips for those who are inwardly challenged.

Desayuno (Spanish for breakfast!)
2 dsp oat bran
1 dsp linseed
1 dsp sesame seeds
1 dsp pumpkin seeds
a handful each of raisins and raw almonds (skins on)

Cook in about 3/4 to 1 cup of water: 2 minutes in microwave or, if using a hotplate, until it is the consistency of porridge. Add fresh fruit, then enjoy. (If you are not used to a high-fibre diet, try it out a week or two before leaving home otherwise you might get a shock)

If there isn´t a microwave or hotplate in the albergue, add the above to natural yoghurt, which can be bought everywhere in Spain (and Europe). Yoghurt is high in calcium and great for aiding digestion. I have been eating this, first thing, for years and whenever transient or hiking I carry a two-week supply in my bag, packaged in single portions in re-sealable lunch bags (about 1-2 kilos). If I am hiking for longer than two weeks I send breakfast ahead by Post Restante or the Spanish equivalent, Lista a Correos. As said, it is high in fibre and, if eaten with bananas has an excellent calorific value.

Although I was able to purchase linseed, almonds and raisins whilst hiking the Camino Frances (from Le Puy en Velay, 2004), from Cadiz to Seville and along the Via de la Plata, I have found these difficult to find (in Ourense: Mihlflor shop). I know this breakfast isn´t for everyone but for a few of us, keepìng this particular inner journey at peace is essential.

Dinner, courtesy of a genuine, love-struck Spanish chica:
100g Torizo
Tomate Friso (soup)
Beans -any kind
Corn kernels
Peas
an onion (fried in olive oil or raw if there isn´t any in the albergue)
Potatoes, cooked and cubed (if no hotplate, have pasta or eat a packet of potato crisps)

Combine all the above, heat then eat......

And gleaning food from the fields
The weather and the seasons really do have a powerful effect on one´s constitution and one day, after heavy rain and pyrotechnic lightning I came across Juan Carlos, a Spanish peregrino who owned his own fig trees, who ate copious amounts of jamon and queso, and who was full of fascinating local yarns. Juan Carlos was a sunburnt chico of the fields, someone who knew which berries and vegetation could be eaten along the Way and which hallucinogenic toadstools to avoid. Not only did he introduce me to a wild kind of blue berry much loved by Spanish bears (very sour but with a hint of sugar), he also suggested I indulge in Polvarone, a traditional Christmas sweet which has to be squeezed in the palm of one´s hand, and Ovieja, a mildly flavoured, sheep´s cheese -something we don´t have in NZ. Ovieja doesn´t have the acrid bite of goats cheese. It is quite a specialty and in places like Mombuey in Zamora, where there is a fascínating romanesque tower with protruding cows head gargoyle, one can sample a huge variety -something for the peregrino to look forward to!

As I am talking about food I think I might as well include Juan Carlos´ philosophy in life. It is twofold: The first part is, ´Happiness ´and the second, ´Every monkey has his own banana´.

Pursuing Happiness sounds like a universal thing to do and, mostly, all good and fine, but I asked him, What if one man´s happiness is another man´s sorrow? What about the dictators of this world who delighted in genocide and the thugs that aided them in their joy? He said he´d have to think about that.

As to the other half of his philosophy, this is where the fun began. According to Juan Carlos every peregrino out on the Camino is pushing their own ´wheelbarrow´, passionately expounding their own particular view on the world and trying to convert others to it.

I must say that I have met one or two along the Trail like this but the best example I ever met was Juan Carlos himself. All the way from Banos de Montemayor to Fuenterroble de Salvatierra, within five minutes of talking to the locals, the word banana would pop up. The person would became transfixed´, flames would fly from Juan Carlos´ voluable mouth and power from his eyes. Juan Carlos spent much time stuffing his philosophical bananas down the ears of any poor soul in his orbit and none of us could easily escape, not even Don Blas (local priest in Fuenterroble d.s.) and his interesting collection of house guests. Juan Carlos was a delightful addition to my Camino, and for all that I learnt from him I am grateful.

Cheers, Lovingkindness.
 
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bjorgts

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos in Spain, France, Portugal, Germany since 2003. Last: Malaga - Cordoba November 2019
I have followed you all the way from Cadiz - here on the Forum (!) - and will just say: Thak you very, very much! I have a dream: Walking from Cadiz to Muxia in 2012. Then I will be 60 years old. I hope it will be posible. Time will show. But following you have been wonderful. Ones more: Thank you very mech! Bjørg
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
16 December, 2009: 9.30 am Centre de Cultura, Bandeira
Today will probably be the last opportunity I have to communicate with you all before reaching Santiago de Compostela (Hallelujah! and Ultreia!). So I´ve dropped in to the local Centre de Cultura for a last minute email fix.

It is raining steadily outside and overnight there must have been snow and hail because there is slush on the roads. In a perverse kind of way a tiny part of me is glad because now I can satisfy my curiosity and try out johnie99´s practical tip posted earlier on this thread -using rubber gloves in the rain and snow.

It just so happens that I always carry a pair of rubber gloves and now I´m about to try them out , over a pair of wicking liner gloves. I do own a pair of excellent waterproof gloves (Sealskinz), which claim to be suitable for all kinds of mountaineering weather, but in 2007 when I was hiking the Penine Way, when all the North of England was flooded and 50,000 people made homeless, I found that over an extended period of time (12 days, in fact) they became waterlogged and my hands warmly wet. so, today I am kean to explore something new. Thanks Johnie99. Regards, Lovingkindness.
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
16-19 December, 2009

....And the Heavens raged as angels howled in discontent over the agonies and sorrows of this world, and in my dreams I drowned as I swam to Santiago, a peregrina solita to the end. And then it was Dawn and the evidence of tears lay in puddles beneath my feet, and with utter disbelief the clouds disappeared and a radiant sun accompanied me all the way to Santiago d C. And what a welcome! I arrived in the cobbled streets of Santiago to the exquisite strains of a Chopin Ballade floating down from above, and as I reached the cathedral archway a Gaitero was piping with such passion, so evokatively that I wept, and for the rest of the day I was a joyful wreck, full of wonder and oscillating emotion. And later as I gazed from above, standing outside the Porta de Gloria, there, so full of hope and experience, arrived many others like me! -as many precious peregrinos that a solita from the Via de la Plata could ever have possibly wished -from the Camino Frances, from Portugal, from the North and the East, and they all converged on the albergue at Monto Gozo to great rejoicing and the welcoming smiles of Manuel. The End (or maybe not).

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Anos Nueva y Buen Camino!
 
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KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Ahhhhhhh Manuel.... he is still there...... it must be the same Manuel I think..... because the Manuel I met at Monte de Gozo also had such a welcoming smile.....

'Congratulations' never seems quite the right word for reaching Santiago.... peace.... you have finished... for now anyhow!!!
Margaret
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Lovingkindness

We have all followed your pilgrimage and admired your courage, endurance and perceptive comments on the experience. You have reached the destination but as you say yourself perhaps it continues.

" Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning."

Enjoy Santiago, warm beds, hot meals and dray clothes!

Hasta la proxima

John
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
23 December, 2009 P.S.

Now that a few days have passed perhaps there is just enough space left on this thread for a Post Script. Way back in November, El Senor, who sees all and knows all, perceived that this peregrina would be at a loose end and a little bemused once she reached Santiago de Compostela. In His great loving-kindness He placed it in the mind of the estimable Don Blas (local priest, Fuenterroble de Salvatierre) to invite her for Navidad and a rest. So, that´s what I have decided to have. I am now doing the Via de la Plata etc. in reverse, but this time in comfort, viewing El Camino through the fogged-up windows of an over-heated bus. For anyone out there who needs to know, snow is on the ground from just after Montemarta (Zamora) to at least A Guidina. As the bus detoured via Verin on the flats, I´m not sure of snow beyond A guidina but figure that there most probably is. And true to what an elderly man from Mombuey said to me way back then.... it is colder in the region of Zamora than in Galicia and there is more snow his side of the Padornello Tunnel than beyond. So, adios amigos de CSJ Forum. I´m off to Fuenterroble de Salvatierre to experience fiesta, to revisit the whimsical fascinating decor of the Casa Paroquia/albergue and the extrordinary sculptures in the Iglesia, but most of all to enjoy the hospitable hearts of the locals. Hasta luego, Lovingkindness.
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Ah Lovingkindess you haven't heard the last of us lot yet - we want to you keep coming back to the fourm for a long time to come.

Padre Blas is the very definition of "Pilgrim Friendly" - give him all of our regards from here on the Forum and we hope you, he and all of the others in Fuenterroble have a wonderful Christmas and a riotous New Year ( well I AM Scottish :) )
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Please tell Don Blas that Rebekah y Padre de Moratinos bid him a Felices Fiestas! And watch out: that man is downright inspiring. Hang out there long enough and your life will change, guaranteed!

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. You are a true pilgrim!

Rebekah
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
7 April, 2010 Three months later...

Yes, I am still here in Fuenterroble de Salvatierre at the Casa Paroquia/Albergue and loving it! Three months have passed and my life has been turned up-side-down, as Rebecca S. suggested it might. I am still sporting peregrina garb as I sleep beneath a stack of blankets, clinging to the comfort of a below-zero duck-down sleeping bag. It is fiercely cold at nights and in the mornings there are frosts and sometimes ice, but finally Spring has come and there is a little heat in the afternoon sun.

How the peregrinos have suffered this Winter. From December ´til late March every peregrino seeking shelter arrived exhausted with tales of trecherous conditions: chest-high rivers outside of Seville; coping in freezing fogs with knee-deep snow and ice; incessant rain and relentless mud; the horrors of dead and dying cattle floating in lakes of water.

One peregrina slipped and broke her finger and others, we heard, turned back and flew home. Another set out from Seville only to end Day One with torn ligaments. Rather than give up he purchased a donkey and weeks later hobbled into Fuenterroble where he stayed a while, regaling us with funny stories. He is probably still out there somewhere prodding and shoving his stubborn mule making only 10 kms per day


For the past 7 days I have been taking ´time out´ from life in the ´fast lane´ at the Casa P. I am currently hiking the Via de la Plata in reverse, from Astorga down to Fuenterroble de Salvatierre. For those of you thinking of walking from Zamora via Astorga to Santiago de Compostella the following may be of use:

*much of the Camino past Zamora is on or parallel to tarmac roads. The route is flat and, compared to the Camino Sanabres via Ourense, dull.
*The albergues in Benevente and Alija del Infantado are currently closed but the refugio in Villabrazaro, 8.2 kms after Benevente, is open.
*Signing seems to be non existent from just before Benevente to Villabrazo so I followed the motorway signs out of town and walk beside the road. Perhaps there are yellow arrows on this stretch but, walking in reverse, I seem to have missed them all.
*The albergue in La Baneza is excellent but finding it is difficult. It has all-night central heating, lots of hot water and a kitchen. When you arrive at the outskirts of La Baneza just to the right of the ´La Baneza´ sign, and near a water tower, is a dirt road descending. It crosses a railway line and links to a tarmac road. A while later there is a left turn . If you look back at this point you will see two yellow arrows pointing the way to the albergue. Alternately, ask a local and you may find, as I did, that they offer to take you there by car.

Cheers, Lovingkindness.
 
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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
This was the first time I had read your posts, Lovingkindness, and I DO hope you write a book.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Lovingkindness -

Good to hear from you again - it has been moving and fascinating to read of your continuing adventure.

It was you whom I thought of when I read Sil's call for camino stories. Your writing is very lyrical and very evocative and I think a broader readership would love it as much as we do! So??

Cheers,

lynne
 

lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
Walking in Winter: Photos by Lovingkindness
Winter will come again, maybe not immediately, but for those of you out there who are contemplating a chilling experience perhaps you might like to view a few photos. I began in the frying heat (Cadiz, 20/08/2009) and by the time I reached Galicia it was below zero.

Regards, Lovingkindness

[link to photos edited]

0101.jpg
 
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freescot

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
La Plata (2010) Portuguese from Coimbra(2010) Levante (2011) La Lana (2013) Francés from Roncevalles to Molinasaca then the Camino de Invierno (2014)

Even in May, the higher parts can be cold. This year spring was unusually cold, often with strong winds. I had set off with very thin gloves and I had the idea of buying some plastic gloves for doing the washing up to put over them These compessed my thin gloves to nothing and the plastic conducted the heat right through. They were finger refrigerators, but they kept out the damp.
 

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