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?

 

Camino de Santiago ~ Lucky Day #13

Or, maybe not so lucky for some…

2014Camino-1070727dmvTranslation: Parents and students in defense of the nusa (neighborhood?) school. We see this as we leave the town of O Pedrouzo.  Destination ~ Santiago de Compostela!

2014Camino-1070730dmvThe path leads us through wooded areas…

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2014Camino-1070733dmv…and small farms

2014Camino-1070735dmvSmall hay bundles

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2014Camino-1070742dmvThe path is now closer to the road.

2014Camino-1070746dmvcrOne last photo opp before we enter the city.  Thank you, Random Pilgrim, for taking our picture! Liz and Bryon hiked at our pace so that we could arrive together.

2014Camino-1070751dmvpopFence next to the Santiago Airport is full of crosses made from branches. Lavacolla is recognized today more for the name of the international airport than the place where medieval pilgrims came to wash lavar and purify themselves before entering the city.

2014Camino-1070759dmvcrWe still see livestock and small farms.

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2014Camino-1070774dmvWizard of Oz?

2014Camino-1070778dmvMonte do Gozo (Mount Joy)  The monument commemorates the visit of Pope John Paul II.

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2014Camino-1070780dmvThere it is… Santiago! We can see it!

2014Camino-1070784dmvcrWe pass by the ruins of an old church. Spooky…

 

2014Camino-1070786dmvCity limits?

2014Camino-1070790dmvpopHere we go!

 

2014Camino-1070805dmvcrTa-Dah!!  What?  Under construction?  Seriously?  Oh, well…

Might as well drink in the celebration…

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2014Camino-1070814pl 2014Camino-1070817plBuen Camino! After 165 miles of hiking, we look forward to new adventures and challenges after a good nights sleep.  A bunk bed at Roots & Boots is calling my name… hmmm, wonder who our roommates will be tonight?

I have a feeling we won’t be the only ones counting sheep tonight!

 

The Rain in Spain…Camino Day #12 ~ Arzua to O Pedrouzo

I look down from the albergue window as a lone, wet pilgrim shuffles down the dark street below. A-a-a-rgh!!
2014Camino-1070700bgI am also dismayed by the bathroom situation this morning.  Rule of albergue ettiquette:  When sharing a bathroom with twenty-some people, do not spread out a whole trunk load of make-up and proceed to tie up the bathroom and sink for 40 minutes.  Nobody cares what you look like on a wet, miserable day like today!  End of rant…

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2014Camino-1070713dmvGenerally speaking, the stage goes along dirt tracks, with some stretches through secondary roads and also through paths parallel to the road. Yes, this must be Galicia because it is raining.

2014Camino-1070718dmvNot sure I’d want to push a stroller, with a little one, across northern Spain in the rain.  …yet, he smiles.

2014Camino-1070719dmvDefinitely a rain coat kind of day.

2014Camino-1070721dmvMeanwhile, we seek refuge from the elements in a cafe with hot coffee. Not many photos taken today due to the wet conditions.  The rain did let up long enough for a short video:

2014Camino-1070725dmvThese speedy hikers arrive early and find a window seat to enjoy the view of wet hikers strolling past them. It looks like Bryon’s new insoles are helping the blister situation.

2014Camino-1070723dmvHooray!  After about 18 kilometers, we arrive at our destination, O Pedrouzo, and check into Pension A Solaina.

One more day of hiking to go.  Am I happy or forlorn?  Both?

 

 

 

 

 

Camino Day #11 ~ Melide to Arzua

palas-de-rei-to-arzua-elevation-map2(Map reads left to right)
2014Camino-1070637dmvWe leave Melide, Spain with a little extra spring in our step since today will not be a 30 mile day.

2014Camino-1070640dmvA good day to chit-chat along the way while drinking in the views.

2014Camino-1070647dmvMeanwhile, a couple of tough guys make their way up the hill. Blisters are plaguing Bryon due to the 30 mile hike yesterday.

2014Camino-1070653dmvWell, Madre, time to get Bossy.

2014Camino-1070656dmvclShe obliges her owner and dutifully follows as she does every day at milking time.

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2014Camino-1070662dmvPilgrims take a break by the river near Ribadiso, Spain.

2014Camino-1070668dmvcrYour rug is beautiful!

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2014Camino-1070673dmvA graffiti filled tunnel provides reading material.

2014Camino-1070674dmvRocks and flowers left by pilgrims alongside this farmyard.

2014Camino-1070677dmvAnother good drying day, but will it last?

2014Camino-1070688dmvWe arrive in Arzua, Spain and look for our albergue.

2014Camino-1070678dmvYep, here it is.  Ah-h-h-h-h… home at last (for tonight)

2014Camino-1070683dmvWe settle in (looks like we’ll have several neighbors) and decide it’s time to do some laundry.

2014Camino-1070679dmvRandy washes.

2014Camino-1070680dmvJoan hangs clothing to dry while I take pictures. We all have our roles in life!

2014Camino-1070696dmvMmmmmm… Paella  on display right on the sidewalk. Not sure if this is enticing if it has been here all afternoon.

2014Camino-1070695dmvWe decide it’s worth the risk and go for it and order paella.  They must have been expecting us since the menu is in English.

(I should have lined my body up with the picture of the good looking gal on the ad so it looked like it was me!)

Another pleasant day, but the air is cooler and the sky is darkening.  Makes me wonder what tomorrow will be like?

 

 

 

 

Day #9 ends in Portomarin

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Some unfortunate pilgrim has taken an alternate route.

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Hard working folks.

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We finally arrive at our destination today, Portomarin. In the 1960s the Mino River was dammed to create the Belesar Reservoir, putting the old village of Portomarín under water.

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In March of 2013 we crossed this bridge while strong, cold wind gusts pushed us around making it hard to balance. Today we have no wind and pleasant temps.

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We soon will tackle the 52 steps that will get us into the arch of the ancient Roman bridge, the entrance of the city.  These steps are challenging after a tiring day of walking with a backpack on. We do muster up enough energy to smile for the photo.

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Indiana Joan is especially elated to reach the top.

800px-Portomarín_IglesiaThe most historic buildings of the town were moved brick by brick and reconstructed in the new town, including its castle-style main church: Church of San Juan of Portomarín. This is an unusual late Romanesque temple as it is designed to be both a church and a castle and so has architectural characteristics of both buildings. The church was relocated to its current position from the valley in the 1960s when the river was flooded to form a reservoir. ~Wikipedia

Albergue FerramenteiroAlbergue Ferramenteiro has 130 beds and 5 have our names on them!  Hooray!

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Nice laundry facilities in our albergue so many pilgrims decide to clean up, including us.

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The albergue is filled to capacity tonight so we’ll be joined by many other pilgrims as we slumber.

Ah-h-h-h… home, sweet, home.

 

Italy meets Minnesota & a cattle drive

Meet our Italian friends from the area of Romeo and Juliet.  We have absolutely no Italian language skills and they are equally lacking in English-speaking skills.  However, we made it work even though Randy was kicking himself for not bringing along a little translator that could help with our communication.

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Google Earth to the rescue! Wonderful group filled with fun and laughter. We will see them often the next few days and share a cheerful greeting:  Minnesota!  Italia!

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Using a smart phone, they show us their home and we locate our farm zooming in so close we could see the junk behind our grove of trees. Green Acres is the place to be. Too bad Google doesn’t let us know ahead of time so that we can spiff up the yard for the satellite picture.

I may have to learn some Italian in case they come to visit since our address is in their phone.

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What are you looking at? Crazy pilgrims…

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One cow decides she wants to explore a different path so Randy, the experienced cattle man, blocks the way so she must now follow the rest. Good try, Bossy.

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!

 

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?

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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?

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…