A Travellerspoint blog

March 2018

Day 27, Molinaseca


View Deb's Camino de Santiago de Compostela on Deb Godley's travel map.

Omelet and zumo naranja for breakfast after great views of the morning sky. I walked up, way up, to Foncebadon in the dark this morning. I felt alone with the sky, but of course could see lights ahead of me and conversation drifting up behind me. I kept turning around to see the sunrise.

I walked a short way with Grahame from London UK, who was in Cats last year on the Oasis of the Seas, which I told him was our favorite ship and that we had seen Cats on Oasis, but I couldn't rember the exact timing. Grahame said he started in Cats in April 2015, but was in the Fly Away with Me show in March. I think we were on Oasis in Februrary that year.

He's planning on going back for another tour because he says it's a great lifestyle and, with room and board included and tax-free income at sea, it's good money as well. Very interesting. I hadn't considered it, but when at sea for a year with no home base, to what country would you pay taxes? The things you learn on the Camino.

I'm off to the Cruz de Ferro, just 2k ahead to place the stones. I arrived at the cross, climbed to the base and left the stones with my prayers, following the line of other pilgrims carefully leaving their own stones and prayers.

The descent to El Acebo, was a tough descent, but beautiful views. I have walked 17 km and have about 8 to go.

11:50 am: I am sitting in the backyard terrace of a small bar. I can see the mountains - I still have quite a bit of descent left to Molinaseca. There has been a constant buzz of flies all morning. I feel like I will never again hear silence, as if the flies are now inside my head. Also, with the hard work of the descent, the humidity, and the heat, I stink of sweat. At the moment I am stinking alone.

This is a less popular bar, but there were no seats out of the sun, so I walked past the full bars to find this one where the terrace is completely hidden in the back. The internet is great, though. I'm just having an agua con gas with my shoes and socks off and my feet propped up on a chair.

Luckily, there's been no rain, but it looked like rain on distant hills. I really felt like I was walking in the mountains today and some of the path was lovely with purple flowers. I tried to capture the path in the pics, as well as the beauty of the sun through the clouds.

Today was a long day. The 25 km felt much longer. I am no longer on the flat Maseta! I left in the dark at 6:25 and arrived In Molinaseca at 2:30 pm. Even with breaks, this was a longer haul. Paul tells me I can put my feet in the river, so I plan to do that once my clothes are done and look around town, too.

The descent today was very tough on my knees, but now that its done they feel OK. I ascended from 1150m to 1515m, but then descended to 600m at a much steeper pace, at times on loose gravel and/or sharp rocks. The next two days should be relatively flat followed by the most difficult hill - O Cebreiro.

In town, I found some stairs, they reminded me of San Francisco, but I didn't have to climb these. Also, I filled my first credenciel and have started a second one.

The weather turned stormy with very strong winds after Acebo (but no rain!). Happily, the flies that had stuck with me all morning were powerless against the wind and then couldn't find me again, so the ear-buzzing was first replaced with a howling wind and then by silence. Lovely.

On an email tip from Paul, I am staying at the albergue Compostela, which is very nice. I just had a shower with a rain showerhead - I love those! I paid 2€ extra for a bed rather than a bunk.

On another note, it is so easy to lose things. So far, I have unintentionally left behind (forgotten on the clothes line or dropped somewhere):
- the bottoms to my zip-off shorts
- a 2nd bra (Marta saw it but didn't know it was mine)
- an earplug holder + several earplugs

I'm wearing and washing the same clothes every day, so the losses are not too troublesome, but I'll be stuck if anything happens to the remaining clothes. I might just see what they have in town, especially in the bra dept.

5:30pm : the thunder and rain has started.

6pm the storm is over. I am having a beer that I thought would be darker, but shockingly my Spanish is not sufficient to convey what I want.

Molinaseca looked much bigger from the mountain view. There are a few bars, but I've alreafy walked the round trip up one street and down the other. I took the switchback route to reach the church and took a few pics, as usual. The storm has been raging on. Heavy rain, thunder, presumably lightning. Tomorrow early afternoon looks similar no matter where I stop.

I may just play it by ear and stop before the storm, if that's possible. I'd rather not be out in a lightning storm. Nor in heavy rain if I can avoid it.

7:45p and it suddenly stopped and is sunny again.

I'm on the 2nd floor of this albergue and it is warm and humid up here. Not going to be great for sleeping and I'm not sure there's a window to let in cooler night air. We'll see how this goes.

Sunrise in Foncebadon

Sunrise in Foncebadon

Breakfast in Foncebadon

Breakfast in Foncebadon

Stones carried from Canada

Stones carried from Canada

Cruz de Ferro

Cruz de Ferro

Stones carefully placed

Stones carefully placed

Descent to el Acebo

Descent to el Acebo

Descent to el Acebo

Descent to el Acebo

Stairs

Stairs

Molinaseca

Molinaseca

Molinaseca

Molinaseca

Molinaseca

Molinaseca

Posted by Deb Godley 17:18 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 26, Rabanal del Camino


View Deb's Camino de Santiago de Compostela on Deb Godley's travel map.

9:00 am, I am sitting with Suzanne from Gatineau in Susana's bar in Santa Catalina de Somoza about 10k into today's walk. No free internet here, but a quick hello. I have set up the power monkey to be charging, so we'll see how that goes.

I walked with Suzanne all the way to Rabanal del Camino this morning, arriving about noon. Suzanne has carried on for another 6k, but this spot is perfect for me.

I have checked in to the albergue, the first person to arrive today. Incidentally, yesterday, the first person to arrive was also Canadian. I have had a lovely shower in a full bathroom, my clothes are drying on the line in the very hot sun (there have been heat wave warnings), and I have found a nice nest to while away an hour or so in the shade.

From my comfy spot I can hear the music from the bar attached to the albergue, I can see my clothes (and ensure the breeze is not dislodging them from the line), and the wifi appears to be working. I have a bottle of water and a snack. What more could a person want? Hmm. Well, the 60 minute massage for 20€ is tempting. But there's no qualifications and some people have found they have ended up feeling more injured after Camino cheap massages. So I decided not to take a chance. I massage my own feet and I'm not having any problems. It does sound good, though, but I want to be cautious.

Marta from a day or so ago has just decided with another new friend, Isabella, to also stay at my albergue and, once they are showered and ready, we'll all walk into town to find lunch. I think my comfortable, relaxed demeanor convinced them to stop walking in the heat.

Marta, Isabella & I are at the albergue bar. We've had a nice lunch. I had spaghetti & meat sauce with mushrooms added. We're enjoying each other's company and are going to walk into town to take a look.

There is an advertised Gregorian chant at 7 tonight for the pilgrims, which sounds interesting. We walked from one end of town to another, taking a look at the other albergues, which also look very nice and saying hello to David, who is staying at the monastery as he'd planned.

Partway up the hill, there is a small chapel filled with gold altarpieces on every side. This strikes me as if these were moved from the church to this new location. Then, there is the church attached to the Benedictine monastery, which has no trace of gold and very little ornamentation inside or out. The inside was very cool, a welcome change from the heat. And it was so quiet, the silence was quite deafening. My ears felt full of the silence; it was like having ear plugs in. This will be the location of the Gregorian chants tonight. I am looking forward to that.

With the chanting from 7 to 7:30, I thought it wise to have a quick meal and I noticed they have craft beers. So I've ordered a simple sandwich with a banana and a cerveza Kadabra - red ale. Good flavor and an armadillo on the label.

The church was packed with about 40 people at the Gregorian Chant, which was nice. There were also pilgrims who read a prayer in their own language - English, French, German.

Then, there was a mass in English presided by David, the Priest from ND. I asked him before the mass if he needed any help and so I did the reading and the psalm (I elected not to sing the psalm). There were only 5 of us who stayed for the english mass, so it was very intimate and informal. David did a good job of it.

Also, tomorrow we will arrive at the Cruz de Ferro, where we traditionally leave the stones representing our troubles and worldly cares. This spot is one of the highest elevation points and leaving the stone is meant to be a token of love and blessing and symbolizes leaving burdens at the foot of Christ to ask for relief and aid. I have 3 stones to leave, one for myself and my family and two others given to me by friends for their families. I am looking forward to that.

We've been talking about the weather tomorrow. The next section has some steep up and even steeper down sections and we have thunderstorms likely at some point. I don't want to be going down the slippery steep section in the pouring rain. Staying here means arriving at 9am or so. Walking to the next town will mean arriving at this important symbolic place in the early morning dark. It also means the difficult climb is left for the cooler morning when we are fresh.

Suzanne and I

Suzanne and I

Marta, Isabella and I

Marta, Isabella and I

Medieval dressed person with bird and credential stamp

Medieval dressed person with bird and credential stamp

Chapel

Chapel

Church

Church

Church

Church

Rabanal

Rabanal

Posted by Deb Godley 17:13 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 25, Astorga


View Deb's Camino de Santiago de Compostela on Deb Godley's travel map.

Started out at 6:45 on my own this morning but was soon joined by Margareta from Sweden. We are having breakfast together in Hospital de Orbigo, both writing in our blogs. :) Which I followed with a chocolate croissant, sharing with Margareta.

We just spoke with a pilgrim who took the alternate route that I had considered yesterday and is just now joining back to the regular route. Conversation is a bit difficult, but he was clear that it was not a nice path. So I'm glad I stuck with the route I did.

It's now 10:30am and I'm halfway to Astorga, stopped in Santibanez de Valdeiglesias, having my usual agua con gas y limon. Only 10km to go today. Margareta left the last stop before me and I haven't passed her, but I think she walked the alternate route by the road, while I have taken a more scenic route. She is following a different guidebook and I think it only shows the shortest (and less interesting) routes.

I walked the last 10 km today with David (ND) continuing along the scenic route. David is very pleasant company and we walk at a similar pace.

First we passed a pilgrim statue/memorial, where we had our picture taken together. Next we passed a pilgrim's oasis, which is a rest and refreshment stand run by another David. There was various juices, included his own fresh made watermelon juice, which was fantastic. He also had cookies and other snacks and told everyone who arrived that it was free. He encouraged us to have more juice and enjoy. We spent 15 minutes or so sampling the juices. There was a very discreet, unlabeled donation box so I was generous and thanked him for the great hospitality.

At the highest point today there was a cross and great view of Astorga before the descent into town.

My albergue was at the start of the route through Astorga, so David and I parted, sure to see each other again over the next day or so. He is planning to stay a few days in Rabanal, so we may be too far apart after tomorrow.

My first order of business, after picking a lower bunk and showering was to find a farmacia for my bites. Apparently, today is a festivo in Astorga, so most everything is closed (including the Museo de chocolate - damn!). However, the helpful hospitalero was able to locate and give me a map to the only farmacia open today. I quickly made my way across town and have some cream for bites.

Coming back from the farmacia, I was more observant of my surroundings, now that the important business was taken care of. The festival in Astorga looks similar to the one in Bayonne. White shirts, red bandanas at the neck and lots of young people milling about with alcohol. A couple of differences. The shirts seem to have writing on them - varying hand written messages and the bands of youth are armed with water pistols and big water guns. I was sprayed on the back on my way by. All in good fun.

Now, back at the albergue, I have my clothes in the dryer and I'm wearing my sleep shorts. Pilgrims arriving late this afternoon when I was doing laundry were complaining about the heat. I just checked and at 6pm the temp is currently 36, with a severe heat warning. Tomorrow is showing 11 in the early morning when I'll leave, but quickly heating up to a high of 37. I'll be wanting to finish early tomorrow for sure.

I told Mary to fly out and meet me in Sarria. She was implying a desire to be here. It'll be interesting to see her response. It would be super fun if she showed up..

Happily, I found that both the Cathedral and Palacio del Gaudi were open, so I bought a combo ticket before finding food for dinner. The interior of the cathedral was perfumed with flowers at the alter. Lovely. The palace included basement exhibits as well as the interesting building design and art.

Then I stopped into the tourist office and found out that today's festival is about bull fighting. The writing on the shirts is about the various teams and combatants, both man and beast. And the coloured neckwear is red, black or yellow depending on the team. Some wear yellow or green team shirts.

I am currently sitting in the plaza de Eduardo de Castro and I've ordered spicy sausages and grilled mushrooms along with a cerveza tostado, which is a bit darker and yummy. I'm writing this while enjoying my seat in the plaza.

I watched the town setting up for some sort of event this evening. Here's a picture, but no idea what they're planning. You can see some weird props on the ground, including roof tiles and cement blocks. And a chess tournament.

I wasn't able to get one of the limited albergue plugs earlier today, so I recharged using the power monkey. Now, I've found a comfortable spot with a plug and am charging first the phone and then I'll put some power into the monkey. Tomorrow I'll try to top it up with the solar charger.

David and I, pilgrim statue/memorial

David and I, pilgrim statue/memorial

Plaza with milling youth

Plaza with milling youth

Gaudi's Palacio

Gaudi's Palacio

Astorga Cathedral

Astorga Cathedral

Pilgrim's oasis

Pilgrim's oasis

Sword in the stone

Sword in the stone

Corn ready for harvest

Corn ready for harvest

Villares de Orbigo

Villares de Orbigo

Villares de Orbigo

Villares de Orbigo

Canal we keep crossing

Canal we keep crossing

Astorga Cathedral

Astorga Cathedral

Statue of a pilgrim drinking from a fuentes

Statue of a pilgrim drinking from a fuentes

View approaching Astorga

View approaching Astorga

Town setting up for unknown event

Town setting up for unknown event

My albergue

My albergue

Posted by Deb Godley 17:03 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 24, San Martín del Camino


View Deb's Camino de Santiago de Compostela on Deb Godley's travel map.

Breakfast in the parador is spectacular. Starting with fruit, yogurt and muesli. Then I'll have bacon/sausages and eggs. Then there's pastries and desserts. Multiple types of juices. And they've just brought me hot water. Lovely. Really lovely. :)

After the fantastic breakfast, I turned right outside the Parador and immediately crossed the bridge onto the Camino route, which was a couple of km closer than most of the albergues, giving me the feeling of having a good start even though the breakfast made me later than usual.

After four km I reached La Virgen del Camino, a decision point that would impact today and tomorrow. There is an interesting, more remote alternative route that is part of the original Camino route. It is lesser used and takes you away from the busy road, so it is nicer. I was torn between the nicer experience and the risk that with so few pilgrims some facilities would be closed. What if I couldn't get food or a bed?

So, I decided to continue on the regular route. I'd already been told that this was now "winter season" because there are so few pilgrims. There certainly have been far fewer than I expected! Already some bars and albergues have been closed and, on top of that, it's Sunday when more places are closed anyway.

I decided that given the big breakfast, I would wait for my break, just stopping briefly to use a gas- station bathroom in La Virgen del Camino. It turned out that my planned break point had no bar; therefore no bathrooms. Eek. I had to walk 18 km (3.5 hrs) without a bathroom break.

The upside was that I met Marta from Madrid, who also spent a year living in Montreal. We walked the last 5 km together and just had a pilgrim's meal for lunch (salad with tuna; beef stew with fries, rice pudding, and white wine). Between the big breakfast and late lunch, I think I'm done eating for the day.

The albergue has an interesting bathroom/shower set up. The light is on a timer, so it turns off before you are finished whatever you're doing, resulting in showering mostly on the dark. Good thing I know where all my parts are and can wash in the dark!

If someone happens to come in while you're showering in the dark, they'll usually turn the light on, which is good and bad. Good to have light, but the shower stalls are almost completely clear and see-through, so not quite so nice to have company. At least the men's and women's showers are separate here.

Pictures: an iron cut-out of Santiago as a pilgrim with a shell; and a bell tower with nests in Vaverde de la Virgen. All the bell towers are similar with large birds' nests.

Another beautiful day, although a bit cooler < 30 degrees. My mosquito bites are swelling up just like they did last year in Milan. I've been using the leftover cream I bought in Milan, but the Italian cream isn't working on the Spanish bugs bites. I'll be looking for a farmacia in Astorga, which will be a bigger place than here. It only seems to be on my legs.

I'm going to see what is open in town (and I use the word 'town' very loosely here), now that siesta is over. Sometimes places open after siesta on Sundays, sometimes not.

Pilgrim iron cut out

Pilgrim iron cut out

Bird nests

Bird nests

Bug bites

Bug bites

Posted by Deb Godley 16:59 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 23, Rest day in León


View Deb's Camino de Santiago de Compostela on Deb Godley's travel map.

I have to say goodbye to Luisa this morning. I already said goodbye to Paul yesterday. I hadn't anticipated how tough it would be to keep having to say goodbye to people along the way...

I left the albergue Unamuno at 8, intending to drop off my backpack at the Parador and return later to check in. When I arrived, though, they had a room ready for me. I'm on the 4th floor with a balcony. The room key weighs as much as a bottle of water. This is very nice. And the WiFi is free, with no password.

I plan to walk around and see Leon today - walking without a pack is so easy. After a short break in my Parador room, I walked along the river in a beautiful park and then wandered through Leon back to Plaza Mayor for the Sat morning market. I liked that the McDonald's had a drive-through labeled McAuto.

The market encompassed the plaza plus several side streets focusing on clothing or antiques. I saw some nice things, but nothing I was willing to ship home and/or carry for another 2 weeks.

I am currently sitting at a cafe table having agua con gas y limon (fizzy water with lemon) and trying the free sausage tapa that came with it. It's very common here to receive a small bite with the drink.

For lunch today, I want to get La Mary, which was recommended to me as an excellent restaurant. I'm sure it was meant as a dinner, rather than lunch, suggestion. It will be open from 1:30-4pm for lunch and then 8:00pm-later for dinner, so lunch works better for me. I'll let you know how lunch goes...

I arrived at La Mary after getting lost in the twisting streets. I used my map, but with few street names, I had to use the GPS and it had trouble finding my position, even with the locator turned on.

Anyway, I sat in the rear terrace of the restaurant and was impressed with the variety and prices on the menu. I had aubergines with aioli sauce, followed by Thai chicken and then a creamy, chocolatey ice creamy dessert. Yum. It was all good and less than 20€. Other restaurants often only have the "pilgrim's menu" for less than that and this food was much better - no fries!

After lunch, I strolled back to the Parador for a break. There's a nice inner courtyard here, with gardens and statue.

This evening, I attended a 7pm pilgrim's mass at San Isidoro church. To be able to participate a bit better than last time, I downloaded a Spanish mass with side-by-side English. So, I was able to follow really well, although, of course, I still don't know what the readings or sermon were about. Then there was a blessing and a hymn. Very nice.

Now I'm having some mussels and agua con gas, since I ate lunch at 3pm. With bread to dip into the sauce. Yummy.

Splurged on the fancy Parador

Splurged on the fancy Parador

Prayer and hymn from mass

Prayer and hymn from mass

Parador interior

Parador interior

Parador courtyard

Parador courtyard

My room

My room

My balcony

My balcony

Heavy room key

Heavy room key

Leon park

Leon park

Leon park

Leon park

McAuto

McAuto

Market

Market

Cathedral

Cathedral

Posted by Deb Godley 16:52 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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