West Highland Way: Milngavie to Drymen

8-29-2015:  Our long awaited start to the West Highland Way has finally arrived.
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We stroll down to a cute little dining area with flags at the tables to identify our country. Kind of glad this part of the world isn’t upset with the U.S.A. right now as our flag towers over the table. 

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Living large at Best Foot Forward Bed & Breakfast this morning as we fuel up for our first day of hiking with granola cereal, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, toast, juice and most importantly… coffee.

The air is peppered with light conversation as we visit with neighboring tables with flags from Scotland, Germany and Holland. All are here for the same purpose ~ to hike the West Highland Way.

WWW_Day1_E-1090153eWe thank and bid farewell to our hosts and they seem to especially giggle when Randy tells them his name:  I’m Randy! 

WWW_Day1_E-1090167eReady or not… here we go!!

Destination:  Twelve miles down the trail to Drymen, Scotland.

A Map of the West Highland Way

 

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12 miles later… Ahhhh, home sweet home as we receive a Scottish welcome at Glenalva Bed & Breakfast. We discover that we may be able to eat our evening meal at the oldest pub in Scotland, but we’d better get our names in as soon as we can.

Can’t miss an opportunity like that, so we drop our backpacks and walk into town. Our list of B & B rules says we must be in by 10 p.m.

Not a problem.

Click on the link below and you’ll view a short slide show/video of the scenery on this day. Locals say the views the first couple of days of the West Highland Way are boring, but I’m quite enjoying the sights.

 

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

 

Almost there, but not there… Melide

Today is going to be the longest day of the trip as we cover about 30 miles or close to 50 kilometers.
Portomarin-to-Palas-de-Rei-Elevation-MapPortomarine is a couple of kilometers to the left of the map above.

Palas-de-Rei-to-Arzua-Elevation-Map Randy, Bryon and Liz start walking and their destination is Melide which requires walking the full distance of the top map and half-way into the next stage.   Will the feet survive?

2014Camino-3 Adios,  Italia!!! 

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2014Camino-1070620nrFoggy day in the woods.

2014Camino-1070625crOccasionally a cement picnic table will appear to facilitate a quick break.

2014Camino-1070627dmvThe path is worn down from centuries of pilgrims walking to Santiago.

2014Camino-1070632dmvcrWhy can’t we stay here?   In March of 2013 we did stay here and woke up to fresh snowfall.

Have Joan and Joyce been kidnapped?  Where could they be?  Um-m-m-m… shopping?

2014Camino-But first we go to the Church of San Juan since it is Sunday. This church was reconstructed brick by brick when the dam flooded the town to build a hydroelectric power plant and they were forced to relocate the city of Portomarine.

We say a little prayer for the other three trudging down the 30 mile path today.
IMG_20140824_042957_700dmvNow we hop into a cozy taxi for a joyride to Melide where we check our group into the albergue.   Every Sunday in Melide you will find a fruit, meat and cheese market where farmers bring their produce in to sell. Randy took my camera so I’m stuck with a low-end cell phone camera and Joan’s Ipod to document the day.

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IMG_20140824_043511_793dmvcrPigs feet?  Not sure how I’d cook them so I’ll pass this time.

IMG_20140824_043540_275dmvcrThis little piggy went to market…

IMG_20140824_043601_120dmvcrNorwegian cod caught in Spanish waters. Is this like lutefisk?

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IMG_20140824_043740_452dmvcrThe air is filled with noisy chatter.

IMG_20140824_060430_499dmvcrJoan negotiates our transaction and we will be supplied with delicious cheese straight from the farmer for the next several days.  Delish!

IMG_20140824_060507_631dmvJoan and I have the great plan to walk back on the trail to meet the rest of the gang to show support.  We walk and walk, but don’t see pilgrims.  This can’t be right?  We go back, find the right road out-of-town, and wait for them…and wait…and wait… and wait some more.

Finally, after almost every pilgrim has gone by, we finally make radio contact and walk to meet them. The last 10 miles have been brutal and Randy, Bryon and Liz finally limp into town, too tired to take pictures.

Painful feet, blisters and exhaustion dictate the mood tonight.

How about some cheese with that wine?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

Waking up with the monks… Day #3

It’s 6:00 a.m., the lights go on along with the repetitive sound of chanting monks wafting throughout the Roncesvalles albergue. (Click on video) No alarm needed when 183 people get ready to start their day.

Stage 2Our goal today is to get five beds in either Zubiri or Larrasoana which will be between a 22 and 25 km walk.  Many pilgrims walking and biking today so we may be homeless, when it’s all said and done.  Should we have packed tents, too?

2014Camino-1070032popWe say our goodbyes to Roncesvalles and start down our path for Camino de Santiago day #3.

2014Camino-1070028plThe air is crisp and talk is minimal as most put their heads down and concentrate on loosening their muscles for the day. Come on, aspirin, kick in!

2014Camino-1070063dmvcrThe early morning fog creates a surreal feeling.

 

2014Camino-1070033dmvpopTime to fortify our lunch supply as we stop at a little grocery store as we near Burguete.

2014Camino-1070034dmvI hope the birds don’t decide that Joan is their lunch, too!

2014Camino-1070035kpdmvThe path continues as farms mix in with the small village buildings.

2014Camino-1070039dmv2014Camino-1070041dmvThe first town to appear along our route is Burguete, renowned for its sturdy Pyrenean style farmhouses.   The author, Ernest Hemingway, stayed here in 1924 and 1925 while on fishing trips and also describes the village in the book, The Sun Also Rises.

2014Camino-1070050dmvBurguete is a cute little village with flower pots near many a doorway or window sill.

2014Camino-1070048dmvcrThere had once been a witch’s coven in the Burguete area in the sixteenth century. The surrounding forested region, part of the province of Navarre, was known as the Wood of Sorginaritzaga or Oak Grove of the Witches. Medieval people had believed that the presence of a white cross would save them from such evil. Spain had repressed witchcraft in this Auritz-Burguete area and eastward around Roncesvalles more fiercely than anywhere else in the country. Long before the Spanish Inquisition began in 1478, a major raid against witches took place here in 1329. This resulted in the burning of five alleged witches in a village square.  ~http://www.heatherconnblogs.com/tag/auritz-burguete/

2014Camino-1070057kpcrOur path wanders through pastures as this farmer checks his cattle.  Just like home.

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2014Camino-1070075plThe path turns to gravel with rolling hills.  Not a bad hike today!

2014Camino-1070078dmvWe wind through a small village to find a meticulously stacked woodpile, a clothesline and a neatly placed row of flower pots. To me, that is a beautiful sight and I know I could never stack wood that neatly.

2014Camino-1070080dmvThe path becomes more challenging as we proceed to Zubiri.

2014Camino-1070083dmvThe views make it worth the walk.

2014Camino-1070084dmvMaybe this should be our mantra today!

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Puente de la Rabia ~ Google

We arrive in Zubiri, which means “village of the bridge,” after crossing the Puente de la Rabia (Rabies Bridge).  In days gone by, they believed that you could walk a rabid animal three times around the central arch and cure it of rabies.   ~Brierley   

We are happy to arrive in Zubiri as we hope to stay here, but sad to find that we are homeless…

Hmmm…  what to do?  Maybe if we walk around the bridge three times we will find beds to sleep in?  Well, at least we won’t have rabies.

 

 

 

Dance on the prairie…sing to the skies.

Winter has finally succumbed to the ever persistent nudges of spring.  Dance on the prairie… sing to the skies.

Rejoice.

Prairie Dancer (Gary, SD Cemetary View)

Prairie Dancer (Gary, SD Cemetery View)

Canon 5D Mark 2 ~ ISO 200 ~ F 8.0 ~ 1/200 ~ 70-200 IS Canon L lens zoomed to 200