Strolling Santiago de Compostela

2014Camino-1070857dmvView from our small third floor room with 5 bunk beds for a total of 10 persons in our room. Cozy…

 

2014Camino-1070858plcrWe call Roots & Boots our home for two nights. It is in the old part of town, three levels of multiple rooms down narrow hallways with as many bunk beds as they can possibly put in each room.  We had two bathrooms for our floor, so we had to be patient or find an open bathroom on another floor…maybe.

We shared a room with sheep farmer from Portugal, college students waiting for housing and a grandfather/grandson pair (Sweden? ), as well as another silent partner that did not converse with us.
2014Camino-1070813dmvcrRandy is wearing his strolling attire today, so let’s start exploring.
2014Camino-1070810dmv Interesting, but I don’t think I’ll put these sculptures on my deck.

2014Camino-1070830plThank you, Random Strolling Ladies, for following the photography Rule of Three and Odd Numbers.

2014Camino-1070832dmvcrShe must be my relative since Pemble women are known to wear bright red attire.

2014Camino-1070834dmvObviously, she draws the attention of old and young alike.

2014Camino-1070838dmvcrSign reads:  Painter looking for work urgently – I’m hungry. 

2014Camino-1070881dmvcrYou’re going strolling whether you want to, or not!

2014Camino-1070829plBeggar outside the coffee shop.

2014Camino-1070855dmvNeighborhood near our hostel.

2014Camino-1070871dmvWe crossed through Alameda Park several times as it was between our hostel and the city center. The origin of the park goes back to the donation of the grounds to the city by the Counts of Altamira around the middle of the 16th century.

2014Camino-1070824plcrHarry Potter influence here?

2014Camino-1070867dmvWe see many monuments amidst the garden area of the park.  Mirador da Alameda.  Translation: Viewpoint of Alameda

2014Camino-1070883dmvWe are thrilled to meet up with Al, our Spanish friend that we met at the pilgrim meal in Fonfria just past O’Cebreiro. I sincerely hope he is doing well with his new job in South America.

2014Camino-1070889dmvThese Italian pilgrims are all smiles and glad to be done with their journey.  We shared the trail frequently with them the past few days. A smile is comprehended in any language.

2014Camino-1070841dmvWe attend the Pilgrim Mass and they did not swing “the thing.”( Botafumeiro) We are 0 for 2 on this, so if I ever return to the Camino experience again I will not be leaving until they do swing “the thing.”

2014Camino-1070845dmvOutside the church, I notice this beggar who is prepared for rain with an umbrella tucked behind her.  I’m guessing she is a Gypsy, which is a slang term for the Romani people that frequent European countries.  More to come on this topic in future blog posts.

2014Camino-1070826plcrThese gypsies appear to be quite stern.  Is this an omen?

 

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A planned fast forward on Day #5: Pamplona to Ponferrada

It’s the morning of Camino de Santiago day #5 and we pack cookies purchased in a quaint little cookie shop last night in Pamplona.

2014Camino-1070180dmvNo, we didn’t buy all these cookies.

2014Camino-1070181dmvcrThrough the dark morning air, on our walk to the bus station, we pass a life-size monument depicting the running of the bulls.

map_dotsThe black dots mark our route via bus today.

2014Camino-1070183dmvWe notice the drier appearance of the terrain on the flat plains on the plateau of central Spain which is referred to as the Meseta.  I have read that this section is challenging in a way that is more mental than physical, but can also be beastly hot in August.  Since we don’t have enough time to walk this section, we are fast-forwarding by taking a bus today to Ponferrada, Spain.  Maybe this would be a good region to tour on a bicycle rather than walking?

2014Camino-1070188dmvkpOur bus arrives in Ponferrada, which is surrounded by mountains and is the capitol city of El Bierzo in the province of Leon, Spain. In 1178, Ferdinand II of Leon donated the city to the Templar order for protecting pilgrims on the Way of St. James who passed through El Bierzo on their road to Santiago de Compostela.  The castle hosted the Knights Templar’s Grand Master of Castille.  The Templars were only able to enjoy the use of this fortress for about twenty years before the order was disbanded and its properties confiscated.  ~ Wikipedia

Seems like a lot of work for just twenty years.

2014Camino-1070197dmvcrEven though we spent the day on a bus, we still seem to have an appetite and find a cute little bar/restaurant with a personable owner. It appears as though the locals frequent this establishment, so that should be a good sign.

2014Camino-1070192dmvcrRussian Salad – a cold, vinegar potato salad.  It’s not only pretty, but delicious, too!

2014Camino-1070193dmvCocido, a hearty chick pea stew with pork.

2014Camino-1070196Cochinillo (roast suckling pig)  Pork dishes are common in this region.

The mural above brightens the street near our hostel as we dream of the adventures that lie ahead. We will be taking a short bus ride in the morning to Villafranca del Bierzo where we will start walking again.  Oh, it will feel so good to drink in the surroundings and just walk again…

 

 

 

 

Down, down, down… to Roncesvalles

Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.
~ Ed Viesturs

We continue on the 2nd day of our Camino through the fog with the chilling rain cold on the fingers.

2014Cam-18dmv

2014Camino-1060980Keep smiling!  Here’s one for Liz’s blog called  Fashion Backwards.  Click link to see what that is all about!

2014Cam-24dmvcrRoland, commander of the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army, was defeated by the Basques in 778.  It was fought here in Roncevaux Pass, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain.  While oral tradition has the Christians defeating Muslims, both sides, actually, were Christian.  ~Wikipedia

Decision time… take the longer, but easier, hike along the highway or this steep trail risking a tumble down the path.

Pyrenees-36-road-down-and-shell-stoneWe opt for the steeper trail and Joan is the lone highway hiker of our group and we hope she doesn’t get lost.   It’s raining, the trail is difficult and I just plain forget to snap a shot, so the camera stays in the pouch. (Image above from rscottd13.blogspot.com) It is a tough descent down to the village and I find it helpful to grab tree branches (tip from another hiker at the top) to keep from sliding down.

2014Camino-1060994Challenging, but worth it for the colorful view.

2014Camino-1060997Slugs were plentiful on the trail and were quite entertaining, serving as a good excuse for a rest break.

2014Camino-1070010-2plWe arrive at our destination, Albergue Roncesvalles, and hope for a bed.  The available beds fill up quickly so the slow pokes may not be in luck. We are able to score enough beds in the newer three floor albergue which is set up in cubicles of 2 bunk beds each. 183 beds total.  They open the old church albergue for overflow (120 beds) and some will be sleeping in little box-like houses resembling fish houses near the grounds.  Unfortunate pilgrims arriving too late are forced to either sleep outside or keep moving on down the trail.

2014Camino-1070012-2dmvIn order to help pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees along the St James’ Way, around 1127, the Bishop of Pamplona, requested by King Alfonso I ‘the Battler’, founded the Roncesvalles Hospitality Institution.

Now, it’s time to sign up for the Pilgrim meal so we can be assured that our evening is complete.

2014Camino-1070026-2dmvWe take time to visit this small early Gothic chapel, The Chapel of Holy Spirit, built in the XII century. It is the oldest building in Roncesvalles.

2014Camino-1070025-2crSome legends state that the Frankish warriors killed in the battle of Roncesvalles in 778 were buried here and that fact was the reason to build that chapel. Some scientists and researchers say that is very doubtful and the Chapel of Holy Spirit was built in XII century. Pilgrims and Augustinian canons that died in Roncesvalles used to be buried here.  ~ Virtual Tourist

2014Camino-1070016-2pldmvcrWe attend the Collegiate Church Pilgrim Mass at 6 p.m. to see what that is all about. Built in the XIIIth century, pews filled up quickly plus people stand all around the back.  Air in the chapel is damp and chills to the bone after walking in the cold rain.2014Camino-1070015-3

2014Camino-1070009-2The stairwells are open between floors so we hear  fun conversations (In other languages) upstairs in the kitchen until light must go out.  It’s time to settle in for the long night and by now expect to be lulled to sleep by a serenade of snores.  I’ve been told that I am also a member of that choir.

Tomorrow we begin day three.

…at the end of Day #1.

Tired and hungry, we look forward to the Pilgrim meal at the end of day one in the Albergue Orrison.  The albergue host asks each group to introduce themselves, say which country they are from and where the Camino will take them.    We are fortunate to sit next to a delightful family (mother, father with four children) from Normandy, France.

At the bottom you will find a Youtube link that will feature my attempt at a video of the Pilgrim introductions. I apologize for always struggling to find the right spot on the camera to stop recording which results in some wild movements. (…and I can never keep my mouth shut!)

2014Cam-1060902I am amazed at how many people from other countries can speak English, while I pretty much mutilate the Spanish language in order to get my point across.

2014Cam-1060903Delicious vegetable soup and the next course was roast beef.  Excellent!

2014Cam-1060904dmv