My Camino Route in 2016

My Camino Route in 2016
This year, I will be walking Camino Madrid from El Escorial through Segovia and Valladolid to Sahagun. I will have a few more days of walking and am currently thinking I might then walk from Astorga to Zamora on the portion of the Via de la Plata that I did not walk in 2014. In all it w=should be about 18 days and somewhere between 250 and 300 miles of walking.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lezama    August 30



14 miles today that was mostly on wooded trails and farm lanes, except for the last 2 miles of highway walking. I swear that this camino is 49% uphill, 49% downhill, and 2% level. It is very much harder than the Camino Frances or Portugues. Still, I think Greg and I are doing quite well. We plan to walk only 7 miles tomorrow to Bilbao. We want to have enough time at the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Museum where the building itself is as much a work of art as the art displayed there.

We had an interesting experience the other day in Deba. While waiting for the albergue to open, the two British brothers asked a policeman some questions in Spanish. After a perfunctory reply and their response of "Muchas gracias", he proceed to let them know that we were not in Spain, but in Basque country and taught them how to say thank you in Euskadi, the Basque language. Greg and I happenned to see him again 45 minutes later and wanted to ask him when the tourist office opened. I told Greg that he should try English, that at worst he would not understand. Greg did so and his reply was in perfect English and very courteously delivered. So one must be careful in this region. There is still much resentment against the Franco regime and even with the present government. All signs are in Euskadi, only sometimes are there dual signs with Spanish.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gernika  29 August



We just walked into Gernika about 3 pm. 17 miles today, seemed like lots more hills than the map profile showed. Hmmm. It seemed harder than yesterday, but maybe because I did not take any ibuprofen. We went to the youth hostel since there is no albergue here. They took us old guys, just charged more.

Greg and I walked around the city, saw the peace monument and the replica of the Picasso Guernica mural, a sporting goods store, and the grocery store. It is such a beautiful city. It is hard to imagine the shock of the people as the German bombers flew over the green hills in 1937.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Markina. 28 August

Today's walk was steeper and longer than yesterday's, about 14 miles.  But we both feel less sore. Maybe we are finally starting to get into better shape. The elevation change was about 1600 feet from our sea level start to the highest point. But the ascents and descents are so steep. Today's descent was muddy, too, to make it harder.

We ran across a church which had a few large boulders stacked  on each other with an open place underneath fir the altar. No way could they have been moved there when the church was built hundrerds of years ago. The church was built around and over them. Probably was a pagan ceremonial site long before Christian times.

We are at the point in our journey that we are seeing many of the same fellow pilgrims during the walk and in the albergues and restaurants. Most people walk about the same distance each day, so you get into a group of people, some of which you may be with all the way to Santiago. Interesting group dynamics.

Found free wi fi outside the local library, so will take advantage and post this now.

Deba 27 August



13 miles today but several steep ascents with descents just as steep. Elevation changes from sea level to 600 to 800 feet in a matter of a mile or so. The Spanish coast in this area is mountainous with a river coming through those mountains every few miles. As a result, the camino path is constantly a series of river crossings with mountain climbs between.

Our leg muscles, calves especially, are sore as we try to get ourselves fully into shape. Plus the downhill causes a lot of banging of the toes against the front of the shoe. My fourth toe on the right is getting sore and the nail is starting to discolor so I imagine that the nail will eventually fall off. Today's walk is rated medium difficult. Tomorrow's is about the same distance but with a high elevation of 1500 feet is rated highly difficult. Ugh!

After two days of sardine and cheese sanwiches for our lunches, we changed to fabadas asturianas (white beans with sausage and ham, Asturian style). They were good out of the can, but I suppose they would have been better if there was a way we could have heated  them. Our dinners out have been menus del diĆ” and fairly decent. I had fish both nights and an ensalada mixta with various seafoods including tuna and shrimp one night and a seafood paella the other.

We are resting up in the albergue now and plan to take the elevator down to the grocery store later. This town is so steep that there is a series of two outside elevators to take us from the albergue about 300 feet higher than and overlooking the city center and harbor. The views are fantastic. 

It looked like it would rain midday and we felt a few drops. It is clear now without a cloud in the sky. I hope I can find someplace with wi-fi to post this today.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Zarautz 26 August



First off, birthday congrats to Greg, who just turned 69 today. Happy birthday!

Our hospitelero turned lights on at 7 am and opened the windows to reveal strong winds and pouring rain. By the time we started walking half an hour later, the wind died down, but the rain continued another two hours before finally letting up. It was a bit of an irritation, but no real problem, as both of us have have good rain gear. It keeps our packs dry, but under that gear, we still get damp from the sweat generated by walking. 

The first seven or eight km. got us into and through San Sebastian. By then the rain was over and we were on a nice country track paralleling the sea. Still a little muddy, but mainly lots of steep inclines up and down. We walked on this path most of the day, seeing only a few hikers and other pilgrims and some local farmers. Around 2 pm we reached the town of Orio and made a mid afternoon stop for cafe con leche with a retired German couple that we met during the day. From there it was another 7 km to Zarautz and into the albergue just after it opened at 4 pm.

After the usual shower and clothes washing, we walked down to the beach. It was oacked with people. That's where everyone in town was, sunbathing, youth basketball tournament, drinking in the beachside bars, even gathered around the dead whale that the storm washed in. They were measuring the thing and attaching a cable to pull it back out to sea. We checked out some restaurants for later and had a beer, but of course, none of them serve dinner until after 8, so we will be back later.

We walked a bit further today, about 18 or 19 miles, but by getting to Zarautz, we are back on my original schedule. Yes we are a bit sore and tired and keeping the ibuprofen manufacturer's busy, but nothing to complain about and loving the spectacular scenery.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pasajes de San Juan

The international bridge between Hendaye (France) and Irun (Spain), This was the start of our camino.

The view of Hendaye and Irun from the hills on the way back to San Sebastian.

One day of walking done and only 825 km to go.

The plan was to go to Irun today then walk back to San Sebastian, a distance of about 19 miles. Didn't quite make but I think we still did pretty good for a couple of old guys.

We did get a good 8 hours of sleep, so I think we are pretty much on Spanish time now. We had a two mile walk back to the bus station, only to find there were no buses to Irun until afternoon. So half a mile back to the train station and there was a train leaving in 20 minutes. We missed the Irun stop and ended up at the last station just over the border in France. So we started walking from there, back over the International Bridge, maybe an extra kilometer or so. After two or three km of Irun, it was out in the country and a very steep climb on Mount Jazkibel, actually the highest point of the trail along the Camino Norte, so that's good, I guess. The path was a stony dirt track with a few other hikers but no other pilgrims in sight. By the time we reached Pasajes, we had walked a total of 17 1/2 miles of lots of ups and downs. It was 4:30.  We decided to stop at the albergue here, part of an old church high on the hill overlooking the inlet and harbor- a miilion dollar view from a donativo albergue. We were both getting a bit sore and tired and decided not to overdo it the first day. 

The scenery and the views are fantastic. I am posting from my iTouch ad we are enjoying our first Spanish wine in a bar with wi-fi. Taking lots of photos and will post some when I can. We will walk back through San Sebastian tomorrow and on beyond. It looks like like Greg just fell asleep in his bar chair, so I better post and wake him up so we can find some dinner.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

Made it to Madrid a few hours late. Sat on the airplane in Philadelphia for three hours while they fixed the cabin pressurization.  It was a long ten hours on the plane. But It worked okay since Greg arrived on his flight half an hour after mine. We took the subway downtown to the bus station.  Now, we are on the way to San Sebastian on the northern coast. 

This bus is cool with free wi-fi and it also included a ham and cheese sandwich and a drink. Passing through the meseta around Burgos is bringing bac memories of our Camino Frances pilgrimage in 2009. A lot of walkers would skip the high plains of the meseta, but I loved the wide open snd hilly, rocky farmland-the wheat has been harvested and the sunflowers are still a little green, along with the occaisional vineyard or cattle or hog operation.

After a 6 1/2 hour bus ride, we made it to San Sebastian on the northern coast. The bus had wi fi and lunch included. Tomorow we take another bus to the French border, then start walking west. Some of the terrain loks steep!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Set to go!

Plane leaves tomorrow. I've been scrambling around the past few days to get all the things done that need to be done before I go. Now I am packed up and looking forward to doing some walking! I hope you will want to folllow my progress over the next 500 or so miles.