Adventures beyond time

Adventures beyond time

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Camino Day 16 to Portomarin

Cool breezes, sunshine, cafe/bars, cows and sheep marching toward us on the trails on their way to their fields to munch breakfast, stone churches, a golden eagle, gentle uphills and downhills, stronger legs, feet, and backs, fresh mowed hay, sneezes, mushy cow poop on the trails, pilgrims with blisters and ace bandages...not us, happily...more penitential steps to climb, beer before noon on the plaza in Portomarin, a 30 euro room with shiny, Woolworth-pink and black bedspreads and everything else one needs...not yesterday´s quaint farmhouse but its own funky charm.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Camino Day 15 to Morgade

The sun gods continue to smile on us, in fact it is hot enough to be Florida...pushing 90 degrees today, we´d guess. This part of Spain, Galicia, has Celtic history and we are told looks something like Ireland. It is green and usually wet, happily not this week. There are many, many family farms. The fields are marked by stone fences. People are working the fields...hoeing and weeding and transplanting. We passed one old couple weeding and drinking red wine.

We chatted with a Spanish woman tending her cows. She told us about her church, which we had just visited. It is romanesque and very beautiful in its simplicity. When the Feast of Santiago comes in July, pilgrims come from all over to the church. The alberque isn´t big enough, so they camp in the fields. She loves meeting all the foreigners.

Another woman tried to get Peg to put on long sleeves against the sun. She said her skin was too white and would get ugly and fall off...mostly that was in effective pantomine. She asked if we´d been to Puerto Rico and then showed us how they dance there, twirling Peg around the street while singing. We told her we were from florida and her grandson said...Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse! She loved that.

Our Pension in Sarria turned out to be the 3rd floor of an apartment building, Sarria being a pretty big city. Our room was colorful and quiet. Nice.

Morgade is a "town" of ONE house and that is where we are staying. It is a lovely spot in the middle of green fields...lots of nice pilgrims including a 74-year old woman from England who is walking a slightly younger French woman, with the mother of her daughter´s husband. They walking from Normandy...2000 kilometers. The French woman did it alone two years ago!

Happy trails, great views. Wish we could post photos, but we´ve had no opportunity for days and days!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Camino Day 14 to Sarria

Unbelieveably...another sunny, cool mountain day. About an 8 mile hike in the mountains, though farms and liitle villages, along wooded mountain trails, real wilderness feel. Sarria is a fair size city...apartment buildings, stores, supermarkets, cars instead of cows. And internet cafes!

Camino Day 13 to Samos

The day started with breakfast with Olga, our hostess at the casa rural in Triacastela. She told us that the "casas" have been completely full every night in May. Some places have remained at the albergues, but no private rooms have been free at the end of the days. Spanish stay more in the albergues, she said, and May is a month for foreigners. They they stop coming until about September.

Sun and mountain breezes, panoramas and bucolic trails highlighted our ascents and descents today. We followed the Rio Oribio all the way. Really, really pretty.

Samos has a HUGE monastery, with a grim albergue/dorm. We did not stay there...although we saw that two baby pilgrims were staying there...correlation?... not really.

We spent the afternoon at the Cafe/Bar rehydrating and enjoying some Irish pilgrims at the next table.

We washed hiking pants and shirt, pinned them with handy/dandy safety pins to the curtins, and dangled them out the window to dry...worked great! good day.

Day 12 to Triacastela

We walked 14 or 15 miles today on a sunny, cool mountain morning. Cebriero was a real favotire spot, along with Rabanal and foncebadon. Today was mountain panoramas, enchanting old villages, song birds, friendly pilgrims, and lots of steep downhill trekking. We went from 4300 feet to 2000 feet, climbing a couple of ridges in between.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Camino Day 11 to O Cebriero

Today, our 11th day of walking--out of 22 days planned, was momentus for other reasons. It also marked our half-way point in terms of distance to Santiago, and incidentally was our 14th day of 28 devoted to the Camino. If these weren´t enough in terms of milestones, we finished what is reputed to be the most strenuous leg of the Camnino, and passed from the Kingdom of Castilla-Leon to the Kingdom of Galicia.

The climb (probably a total close to 1,000 meters or approximately 3,000 feet in elevation climbed) was difficult, but we did well and felt very good about it. O Ceribrieo is charming, though cold, and we post this message as we sip glasses of excellent local wine.

Camino Day 10 to La Portela de Valcarce

A shorter day, only about 10 miles...gradual uphill, rain and drizzle, but no downpours. The route was between a fairly busy roadway and a very pretty, rushing river...through 2 wonderful old villages, at one of which we had breakfast.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Camino Day 9 to Villafranca del Bierzo

We had our first rain, but not a wash-out. Yipee!

Early in the walk, we passed through a tunnel under a roadway. A pilgrim was sitting there playing his mandolin for all the rest of us to enjoy as we passed.

We walked 14 or 15 miles without much elevation change but many uphills and downhills that were not fully expected when we planned this longer walk. We arrived tired and happy. There were two periods with enough rain so we donned our ponchos. We passed through 6 quaint villages, vinyards between them, had orange juice and shrimp for lunch in a little bar, cafe con leche and sweet bread for a second rest snack at another little bar in another of the villages. Good conversations with many pilgrims along the way. Wine with some very fun Brits, now living in Toronto. Pilgrim dinner of local specialty foods...various cured meats and, of course, cheese.

Went to see a romanesque church before dinner and a pilgrim was there chanting "alleluias" Special!

Camino Day 8 to Ponferrada

Last night, in Acebo, we saw many related little dogs wandering around. At 2 in the mnorning one decided to bark...for about an hour, until a big wond storm came through which took over the task of keeping us awake. The weather changed with the wind, although there seemed to not be a lot of rain. It was impressive sounding, even in our very old stone room. The innkeeper predicted a day of rain for us, but lucky for us he was wrong. We started with jackets, and shed them at breakfast 2 hours later. We walked 10 or 11 miles in steep downhills, losing about 2000 feet of elevation. On a very narrow steep rocky path, in a string of 20 or so pilgrims, we were met by a bike team coming up the hill...about 100 of them! We did our best to climb the walls of the path and avoid being run over or hit by flying stones from their wheels. They were greatly struggling to stay on their bikes and not have to walk. It was a long, long wait for them to pass. Arriving in Ponferrada, we came up a hill, around a corner, and there rose in front of us the huge Castle of the Knights Templar. Quite a sight to see.

Camino Day 7 to Acebo

Fanatastic day of sun, breeze, flowers, and alpine vistas! The wildflowers along the trail are overwhelmingly beautiful. The air is almost yellow and lavendar in color from the flowers. The hillsides totally are painted with the color of the flowers. The uphills give us little trouble, but the precipitous downhills made our feet and knees sore. Our room in El Acebo at had centuries old, field stone walls.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


We are in Rabanal. It was quite a climb, but tomorrow will be much more. The sun is warm and the sky is clear. Yeah! Today we gained about 300 feet in elevation, but did so by going up then down then up then down, so we actually climbed about 400. We did great for flatlanders! Tomorrow we must climb almost 1000 feet, go down 300, go back up 200. It will be an exciting day. We are getting ready mentally!

The photos from the past few days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Camino Day 6

Today we walked only 6 or 7 miles on the trail, but then wandered around town for another couple of miles. We left Astorga about 8 this morning. The route was downhill initially through the city outskirts...all on sidewalks. We passed several groups of local joggers breathing hard, coming up at us. A few had enough breath to wish us a Buen Camino.

First rest was at a restored medievel pilgrim hostel with a pretty chapel. Lots of pilgrims had already signed in ahead of us...from Holland, Austria, France, Germany, Australia, Bolivia... The trail became a gravel path all the rest of the way.

Our second stop was in a little Maragata village typical of the region. No one seems quite sure of the history of the Maragata, but they are the dominant culture in this area...their special food, dress, architecture dating to before medieval times.

We stopped at a bar for cafe-leche, and three delightful foods, new to us...a tortilla espanol...sort of a potato omelet, pan con tomates..bread with tomatoes, olive oil, and sea salt, and a sweet thing with eggs, flour, and honey...fried!

The Camino was uphill from there to here, Santa Catalina de Samosa.We have a nice albergue/inn. We took pictures which we will post when we have a computer that is not euro fed, checked email, posted to the blog, and re-hydrated on beer and water.

Only 50 people live here. There are more pilgrims than residents.

The local police from Astorga showed up and took photos of all of us pilgrims...or maybe of the tables where we sat in the road.

Mountains loom for tomorrow.

Camino Day 5

I cannot remember what day it is! Must be a good Camino! I have 9 minutes left after checking email on the black 1 euro computer at our inn.

No rain makes a huge difference! We walked about 10 or 11 miles yesterday again across the highh plains. We saw very old grape vines just starting to leaf out, hops growing (there is a worldwide shortage we hear), wheat looking spindly but growing, pine trees just starting to grow in a tree plantation...crummy soil like on the way to Cedar Key. We walked by a farm with cows running to be fed or milked, and through one with newborn heifers. We saw farmers hoeing fields.

The trail was clay and dry, full of pilgrims. We were never alone. Irish pilgrims shared their figs and a German his crackers...we shared our apricots. Lots of potassium in them!

In the morning we had a slow start because I left all our needed and possibly needed medicines at the Tio Pepe. We got a taxi to take us to reteive them...25 euros and half an hour to go round trip what we walked in 4 hours one way the day before.

The route was hilly...good practice for the coming mountains. We went up to 2500 feet, down to 2400, up to 2700, down to 2500, and up to 2700 again. We arrived in Astorga weary and foot sore...glad to be in better shape than several of the pilgrims we passed who seemed to be favoring blistered feet or pulled muscles.

We are staying here not yet being willing to do the bunk bed thing.

Arriving in Astorga was not very pretty...industrial on the way in. But the city is lovely. (One minute to go eeeeks.) Signing off for now so I don´t lose this.

Photos another day when we are not working on a black box, euro fed computer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Camino Day 4

Unbelievable...another fantastic hiking day! The sun is bright, the paramo is welcomingly flat. Along the trail we have irrigated fields of corn, wheat, potatoes, turnips...most just coming up. The mountains are in the distance and have snow on them...but hopefully those are not the very ones we will trek over.

Last night we met three pilgrims at dinner. Graham from the UK, Marian from Atlanta, and Lucia from Turin, Italy. Each is hiking alone. Marian said she´'d come to Spain on a tour 9 years ago and learned about the Camino. She's been wanting to do it ever since. Next year is a Holy Year...when the Feast of Santiago falls on a Sunday...and 300,000 are expected to do the Camino. So she decided to come this year with fewer people. But there are lots of people and the thought among the pilgrims is that many had the same idea as Marian.

Lucia is a mountain hiker. He has been hiking about about 25 to 30 miles a day on the Camino. He started in France, at St Jean Pied de Port, and came over the Pyrenees on the Napoleon Route the first week in May. It snowed!!! He said people were crying along the trail... they were so cold. Hard to believe you'd hike up the Pyrenees in a snow storm!

Now we are in Orbigo, staying at this wonderful inn

Click here for an Audio Report: The Legend Behind the Bridge at Orbigo

The photos show the Bridge here in Orbigo, the restaurant at our inn Tio Pepe, Storks nesting on a church tower, and a group of kids we saw crossing the street.'ll need to double click to enlarge...that they are in a 'chain gang.'