We begin to descend…

Our trek past O’Cebreiro takes us through little hamlets and rural areas.

2014caminoblog-1070391Wash day for this family with a  l-o-n-g clothesline.

2014caminoblog-1070395The chickens don’t seem to mind pilgrims trekking through their turf. As if to say, Whatever…

2014caminoblog-1070403The Iglesia San Esteban in Liñares was built prior to 1120 and restored in 1963.

2014caminoblog-1070407I read about problems with mean dogs along the Camino route, but we have Randy, A.K.A The Dog Whisperer, so we pass by with ease.

2014caminoblog-1070411Beautiful mountain scenery which includes small hay fields.

2014caminoblog-1070412This wood pile has a Celtic design. Solution to roof issues doesn’t seem to be period correct, however.

2014caminoblog-1070413Reminds me of The Bear Went Over the Mountain song we use to sing in kindergarten.  And what do you think he saw?  He saw another mountain…

2014caminoblog-1070416We arrive and take off our boots for the night at Albergue Reboleira in Fonfria which has 86 beds and a nice patio area for relaxing and visiting. Entertaining conversations with German soldiers walking the Camino and a German woman from Minnesota complete a delightful Camino day.

2014caminoblog-1070414Taking advantage of multiple clothes lines and strong sunshine. Watch your step when you take the clothes off the line, or you may find an unpleasant surprise on the bottom of your shoes!

2014caminoblog-1070418Pilgrim meal is served in this old Celtic style building across the road from the albergue.  The village gets its name from its fountain Fons Frigida or cold spring. During the 16th century there used to be a pilgrim hospital in Fonfria that would give heat, salt and water and a bed with two blankets to healthy pilgrims and to the sick a piece of bread, eggs and butter as well. ~ galiciaguide.com

2014caminoblog-1070427The room is quiet at first…

2014caminoblog-1070421 …but the wine begins to flow and soon the air is humming with conversation.

2014caminoblog-1070422Here we meet Al, a personable Spanish gentleman from Madrid that has worked in Iowa and Texas and is walking the Camino before he moves to Lima, Peru.

Salud!

camino-frances-26o-cebreiroIt’s the end of day #7 and we have walked about 25 kilometers, or 15 1/2 miles up the mountain and now we are working our way down. No wonder I’m so tired and ready so crawl into my cozy bunk bed.

 

Walking with the herd…

O’Just to refresh your memory…

camino-frances-26o-cebreiroWe tackled the mountain so we are feeling exhilarated and no worse for wear. Now we enjoy the rural mountain views, hike through small dairy herds and milking facilities while aiming our sights on Fonfria to rest our weary bones for the night.

2014caminoblog-1070372Milking attire waiting to be put to use.

2014caminoblog-1070375

2014caminoblog-1070377Randy and St. James, don’t lose your hats in the wind!  Large bronze statue of St. James facing Santiago (apparently on a windy day).2014caminoblog-1070389

Time to herd the cattle down the path.  Not quite like the Running of the Bulls…  Below are a couple of short videos:

Galicia and O’Cebreiro

2014Camino-1070328dmvcrWe are now officially in Galicia. This part of the country has an economy based on fishing, farming, agriculture and increasingly tourism.  While the population is Spanish, they see themselves primarily as “Gallegos.”   When the Galicians talk about nationalism, they are generally referring to the “nation of Galicia”  rather than the nation of Spain.  ~ http://www.galiciaguide.com

2014caminoblog-1070340In O Cebreiro, all roads lead to the village church. Founded in the year 836, Santa María la Real (Royal St. Mary’s) is supposedly the oldest church on the entire French Road of the Camino de Santiago. The building is embedded into the ground, with sunken floors that added protection against winter storms.

2014caminoblog-1070342 At a desk, a clerk stamps pilgrims’ credentials and sells votive candles.

2014caminoblog-1070343The building is quite spacious inside.

2014caminoblog-1070347Many are only short-term pilgrims and are dropped off by large tour buses that wait while they explore the village and pay their respects with a candle purchase.

2014caminoblog-1070350 Villagers lived in stone huts called pallozas until as recently as the 1960’s.  Upon entering a palloza, which typically housed a dozen people (and their animals), you’ll find two simple rooms: the only “private” room in the house, belonging to the parents, and a living area around a fire. Surrounding the fire are clever benches (which were also used as very hard beds) with pull-down counters so they could double as a table at mealtime. Cooking was done over the fire using a chain hanging from a big beam, while giant black-metal spirals suspended from the ceiling were used to smoke chorizo.

2014caminoblog-1070352Attached to the living area is a miniature “barn,” where animals lived on the lower level, and people — kept warm by all that livestock body heat — slept on the upper level. Thanks to the ideal insulation provided by the thatch, and the warmth from the fire and animals, it was toasty even through the difficult winter.  ~ Thank you, Rick Steves, for the fun facts to know and tell.

2014caminoblog-1070356It was a little on the cool side and this cat has found a nice sunny spot to guard the beer crate in back of an old cafe.

2014caminoblog-1070360Shopping is available at the horreo (granary).

2014caminoblog-1070361… and here it is, but store is closed.

2014caminoblog-1070358Have no fear!  Gypsies decide to set up shop right by a cafe sign so I guess I can shop, after all!

2014caminoblog-1070362  I’m taking photos of the cute dog, right?  Oh, and there just happens to be Gyspies in the background.

2014caminoblog-1070367Group shot just outside O’Cebreiro as we begin our descent to the other side of the mountain. We’ve enjoyed our little noon break in this quaint village with so much Celtic influence and history.

Now it’s back to hiking with Fonfria as our destination.  We enjoy conversations with other Pilgrims, but I can’t say the trail is over-crowded.

Milking time is done… for now.

Camino de Santiago Day #6 continues up the mountain, O’Cebreiro…

The path passes through a small dairy farm and we arrive just after morning milking.

2014Camino-1070308dmvThe girls are milked and it’s time to mo-o-o-o-ve on.

2014Camino-1070313dmvLooks like Grandma has kid duty and a strong grasp on her charge. Don’t even think about it, Nino!

 

O’Cebreiro, you’ve been waiting for us

It’s Day #7.  We are up with the chickens since we have a long day and a mountain ahead of us.

camino-frances-26o-cebreiroOur path goes from right to left.

This mountain is the original reason we are back since we have unfinished business.  In March of 2013 a snowstorm stopped us in our tracks.  It is August now so we should be clear to go, but we must get an early start to make it all the way to Fonfria today.

A group of rambunctious teenage boys out and about at 5:30 a.m. seem suspicious at first, but we quickly realize they are just playing pranks on a cafe employee opening up for the day. She is not amused and we pass by with ease.

The video is a little jiggly because I didn’t want to be left behind, all alone, in the dark!

2014Camino-1070286Indiana Joan is ready to head up the mountain.

2014Camino-1070282dmvcrWe begin the climb.

2014Camino-1070278dmvWe find a self-service concession stand utilizing an honor system.  We also see these in western Minnesota, along the highways, when someone has garden produce available for purchase and they are not able to tend the stand.

2014Camino-1070289dmvcrFountain in a little hamlet along the way.

2014Camino-1070290dmvTranslation:  Despite the breath (as he says), I have to laugh. Let’s say you smile, laugh, because I can not.  I really don’t feel that out of breath and the legs feel great.

2014Camino-1070300dmvWork to do on the mountain… or is he in charge of crowd control?

2014Camino-1070301

camino2014-1070302Looking back, the views are breathtaking.

camino2014-1070304The path is cut down into the ground and, above us, we now enjoy the open views of pastures and cattle grazing contentedly as the sun begins to warm the air.

Ah-h-h-h-h… this is the life and not a snowflake in sight!

 

 

 

 

 

End of Day #6 – Strolling Ambasmestas

camino-frances-25vegaMap reads from right to left.

We started at Villafranca del Bierzo and stop for the night at Ambasmestas, Spain, one kilometer from Vega De Valcarce which is situated at the bottom of the mountain, O’cebreiro.   It is a quaint, little village with plenty of local color, but not many people.

2014Camino-1070242cr 2014Camino-1070243crWho’s the creeper in the window?

2014Camino-1070244dmvkpcr

2014Camino-1070246bg

2014Camino-1070247dmv

2014Camino-1070248dmvcr

2014Camino-1070250dmvcr

2014Camino-1070251dmvcr

2014Camino-1070255dmvcrIt’s a pleasant evening for conversation.  Probably discussing politics or those crazy pilgrims.2014Camino-1070256dmvcr

2014Camino-1070257dmvcrInteresting albergue.  They do allow pets, however.2014Camino-1070262crIt’s a nice, warm evening so we are able to hand wash and dry our clothing in the window.  We meet two lovely sisters from Australia and share Camino experiences with them.  I will soon find out that snapping photos can be helpful when tracking down pilgrims on the trail.

 

Day 6 ~ It’s the climb… for some.

2014Camino-1070204dmvWe notice a very cool mural across the street from the bus station loading area.  Translation:  Human race is the only.

2014Camino-1070202dmvcrWe are boarding a bus for a 25 kilometer (about 16.5 miles) ride to Villafranca del Bierzo where we will start walking again.

2014Camino-1070208We immediately find a fork in the road and aren’t sure of the route.  Hmmm…. this way?  …or that way?

2014Camino-1070205dmvWe ask some friendly locals who cheerfully guided us through town, down steps, past the church and point us to the road on the other side of town.  This route joined up with the other road so either one would have been fine, but you never know and it doesn’t hurt to ask.  This one was more interesting due to the challenge of the language barrier, and interesting local character .   They did not push us to tour the church for a donation, so it appears they are just plain friendly folks.  A smile is a smile in any language.2014Camino-1070212Our path is now alongside the highway, but our group has split up.  Randy, Liz and Bryon take the harder path, Dragonte, that winds up and around the mountainous area.

0820140401dmvcrLooking back over Villafranca del Bierzo

0820140420dmvcrThe path is incredibly steep, Randy’s legs are taxed, as if saying “That’s what you get for taking a day off.”

0820140414dmvcrBack in the medieval times this was the path taken to avoid robbers and thieves.  The government then decided to make it a toll road and charged travelers that chose this route.  Some may say highway robbery was involved with both routes.

0820140542dmv4x6We are happy to report that there were no toll booths for either route today.

0820140631dmvcrTheir views are spectacular both far away and close-up as they admire this walking stick insect.

2014Camino-1070215dmvkp50Meanwhile, Joan and I are wandering through little villages in the Valcarce Valley, where there is work to do.

2014Camino-1070217dmvcr I have a wheelbarrow similar to that one at home except mine doesn’t have a rubber tire. I still use mine, too.

2014Camino-1070221dmvI don’t think this albergue is open today.

2014Camino-1070226dmvcrWe meet young families that are transporting their kids in a stroller and behind a bike.  We visit often throughout the next few days with the parents of a one year old from Germany using the stroller.  Walking the Camino with little kids has got to be a challenge.

Amazingly, our two groups meet up right about where the path comes together again.  What timing.

2014Camino-1070238dmvcrRandy’s motto most days.

2014Camino-1070241dmvcr15 kilometers later we arrive at our destination. (9.3 miles, but closer to 10 miles for the challenging route)  Liz has booked beds ahead so we don’t have to worry about the bed race.

2014Camino-1070249A-a-a-h-h-h-h… home, sweet, home and the welcome mat is out.

We come from a land down under…  Why is this song by the Australian group, Men at Work, running through my head right now?