My Camino Route in 2019

My Camino Route in 2019
This year (2019), I will be walking on the Camino Requena and the Ruta de la Lana (Wool Route). Starting point will be Valencia on the Mediterranean coast and ending in Burgos on the meseta (high plains) in Northern Spain.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Camino 2013 Final Post

I have been home almost a week now,but want to wrap things up with one final posting for this 2013 Camino of mine. After Cordoba, I took the train back to Madrid, where I visited the Prado and Reina Sofia art museums, also took a half day trip to Toledo and visited another favorite spot, the cathedral in Madrid.

The high speed (180 mph) train that I took from Cordoba to Madrid. The transit systems in Spain are fantastic

It is not a major city in Spain unless there is some sort of demonstration going on. This group in Madrid was protesting Monsanto's transgenic seeds.

Here is the interior of Madrid's cathedral. I like it because it was only completed in the twentieth century and has such a modern feel to it.

To wrap things up, a friend of mine just emailed me to mention that I never really said why I am doing camino after camino. It made me stop and think and put it down in words. Here is what I wrote back to him:

I am afraid my blog can be a bit boring at times, since I usually just talk about the ease or difficulty of the day's walk and maybe mention the food or something else that caught my attention. I refrain from talking very much about the many people that I meet as sometimes I may not have the nicest observations to make and I don't want to hurt any feelings since they sometimes read my blog, too. That said, I am glad you enjoyed following along.

Why do I walk the various caminos? Good question that I am not sure I can really answer satisfactorily, but there are several reasons why I continue to do it.

Religious? Definitely not now, perhaps to some extent, my first one in 2009, but seeing the effects of organized religion (the Inquisition, harsh treatment of the Moors and Jews, and other violence committed in the name of religion) has made me a firm agnostic.

History? Yes, I love seeing the various cathedrals, bridges, castles, etc. and it is always a source of wonder that these were built hundreds of years ago without the modern equipment we have today.

Spiritual? I suppose this would be the discovering oneself part. Perhaps I have to some extent, especially in regard to the religion question, but not really something that I think about a lot. Walking alone for hours does give a person lots of thinking time. I prefer to walk alone and I rarely listen to music while I am walking. I think I am generally a happy, well-adjusted person anyway, so there is not something that I am trying to find or some problem that I am hoping to get an answer for. I have not had any great revelations along the way. I know there are a lot of pilgrims there that are walking for these reasons.

Exercise? Well, I am glad that I am physically able to walk 14-22 miles a day, day after day. I think that perhaps only 5 % of the population, all ages, would be able to do that. I am thankful that I can, but the only way to know that I can is if I go out and do it. It is always a challenge year after year to see if I can still do that and so far I have been able to. One of these years, I know that will not be the case.

Why do some people such as I go on multiple caminos? This is a question that has been discussed many times on a camino forum that I subscribe to. As one other pilgrim on this forum put it-
"Not walking itself, but continuing to walk caminos. I can speak only for myself, of course, but I regard it strictly as another manifestation of OCD. How else can I explain doing something that is costly, unproductive, and taking up time from more responsible endeavors. Cheap vacation?? Ha! Trips to Europe are not cheap no matter how cheap the lodging might be. I live in an area that is the destination of a great many tourists from around the world and I can find plenty of low cost places to visit within one or two day's drive. I can only view the camino trips as an addiction and not necessarily a healthy one, not even physically."
I don't know if I agree totally with his outlook, but I know I do not have the starry eyed feeling that some people have and I am probably a bit more realistic about my expectations in completing the walk. Sometimes it can be a bit unnerving walking on a long road with traffic and sometimes boring, when you are just tired of reading another book on Kindle and its not time yet to eat or go to bed. But all in all, the people you meet from all over the world (not too many Americans), the scenery, the food, it is all enjoyable.

Bottom line? I enjoy walking and I enjoy Spain. The infrastructure is there for these extended walks in a way that it is not in other countries. The food is great, the people are great, I enjoy seeing how their agriculture is different than ours. It is even fun walking in the rain once in a while, but not too often. I don't want to do wilderness backpacking trips anymore carrying 50 pounds of food, tents, stoves, etc. but I do like carrying my 25 pound pack knowing that I will be able to spread out my sleeping bag on a cot under cover (even if there are 10 to 50 other people in the same room) and go out for a nice restaurant meal pretty much every day, too.

So why do I do it? I give any compellingly good reasons. I just enjoy it.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Córdoba tourist 11 October

At its 8:30 am opening, I was at the cathedral, which is named la Mezquita, here in Córdoba. It is totally different from any of the numerous cathedrals that i have previously seen in Spain. First the total area is probably 5 times that of the normal cathedral. This is because it started out at a mosque around the year 800. The original ceiling is also flat and not nearly as high as one might think. After Ferdinand and Isabella's successful reconquista, it was converted to a Christian cathedral, with the center part razed and a much higher building made for the cathedral part. It's hard to describe, and hard to get good photos in the generally dim interior lighting, but I hope my photos can convey some of the sense of the place. I also visited the Jewish synagogue, a much more modest building that is maybe 30 by 50 feet. It is significant because it is one of only three Jewish synagogues n Spain dating to the Middle Ages. I also visited the Alcazar, the former Muslim fortress converted to a living quarters by Ferdinand and Isabella. Aside from the buildings, the formal gardens were imposing. One can see that in a hot climate like Cordoba (it was 88 degrees today in mid October), cool, shaded gardens are a necessity. I also walked across the Roman bridge, found the track of the Camino Mozarbe, visited the Museum of Fine Art (which had a nice interactive display of Federico Lorca's 'Pequeño vals vienés'. Tomorrow, I am headed back to Madrid for two days.

Part of the original mosque in the Mezquita

The center part that was added to make the Mezquita into a cathedral.

When they added the cathedral arches, they did not always line up with the mosque arches.

The synagogue

View from the Puente Romano back towards the Mezquita.

View from the Rio Guadalquiver of the Puente Romano and the Mezquita.

Waymarking symbol for the Camino Mozarbe to Santiago.

A view of the gardens in the Alcazar.

Another view of the gardens in the Alcazar.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Córdoba10 October

Today was mostly a travel day and what a change of scenery! From cool and moist Galicia in northwestern Spain to warm and dry Andalusia. I took the regular train from Santiago to Madrid arriving mid afternoon, then the superfast AVE train (speeds up to 180 mph) to Cordoba. I had a tight connection in Madrid, complicated by the arrival in the first train in Chamartin station and the AVE train leaving from Atocha station. I was able to get a free transfer between stations on the cercania (local) train and luckily had about 20 minutes to spare.

I arrived at 6 pm in Cordoba and then walked down to the old town district. It was not possible to find a room in a pension or hostal, but I did get a bed in an albergue type hostal that has wifi and a lot of space. I spent a bit of time walking around the old quarter scoping out the sights to see for tomorrow, so that I will be prepared to be a tourist.

Lots of pilgrims headed back to Madrid on the morning train.

A view of the Mezquita from the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano). I will go inside the Mezquita tomorrow. It is the cathedral here that was converted from a mosque.

Night scene in Cordoba about 8:30 pm. Like most all Spanish cities, young and old alike are out after dark enjoying it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Santiago, otra vez 9 October

It was a very nice walk into Santiago for the first 11 of the 16 km.It was hard to believe that it was mostly a dirt path through the pine and eucalyptus forests with not another person around; a nice end to my last day of walking as a peregrino.

The final 5 km was through the industrial area, then the outer residential area north of Santiago, not all of it very well waymarked. I did find my way partly by watching the sun to make sure I was headed in a southerly direction, since one does not get a long distance view of the cathedral spires on this route. I easily found my destination of the Hospedaje San Roque, where I will stay tonight. Afterwards I went to the pilgrim's office to get my second compostela of this trip, since I qualified by walking the 120 km from Ferrol.

I have a few days left in Spain. I could do more walking, perhaps to Finisterra, but I have done that twice before. Since I have already seen most of the destinations around both Santiago and Madrid, I decided last night to visit Cordoba. Along with Sevilla and Grenada, it was one of the big three cities with strong Moorish influence in Spain. I have always wanted to visit it, so here is my chance. I have a train ticket for Cordoba and will travel there tomorrow.

Less than five miles from the cathedral and still out on the forest path.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sigüeiro 8 October

Well, the restaurant did deliver last night to the out in the middle of nowhere albergue, so I had grilled salmon and ensalada rusa. Not the greatest, but I was hungry and it was better than the meager supply of groceries that I carried in. There was a group of 6 Spanish pilgrims, plus one more solo, for a total of eight of us last night. They all left by 7 am, I don't know why they want to leave so early as it is still dark until almost 8:30 here. I passed up the group of six in the first bar 7 km down the walk, where I also stopped for a cafe con leche. Then passed the other about an hour later. Today's walk was fairly easy, 24 km or about 15 miles, with no really steep grades.

I was not sure what to expect here in Sigüeiro, whether it would be another village out in nowhere or what. It turns out it is a good sized suburb of Santiago, with many restaurants, food stores, and the hostal that I am staying at tonight. I will sleep in tomorrow as it is only a 10 mile walk into Santiago.

Shortly after I started, I came across this artist/sculptor's creations. This one is two tractors welded to a framework. He also had other farm art plus whimsical rock carvings, including a 25 foot tall Santiago Peregrino. Sorry about the photo quality as it was still kind of dark.

Hospital de Bruma 7 October

Todays walk was 28 km or 17 miles. I originally thought to split it into two days walk as there was supposed to be a pension in the middle. I never saw it, so just kept walking. At the 18 km mark, was the Cafe/Bar Casa Julia where I stopped for a needed ham and chesse bocadillo and a large beer. This was the first place to eat since Betanzos. We are now away from the sea and heading higher inland. There was a steep 10% climb today, 350 meters continuous gain in a little over 3 km.

Tonight's albergue is in a little village also out in farmland with nothing else around. I did order a menu del dia, which will be delivered around 8 pm, but I'm hungry now at 5:30. Seven other pilgrims, all from last night showed up so far, but they all took off for a while, maybe to walk to the village that is two km away to visit the bar. Also, no unsecured wifi here, so will be posting this at least a day late.

From here it is 40 km to Santiago-I plan to walk 24 km tomorrow, then 16 km the next day.

Here is the Casa Julia, my lunch stop.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Betanzos 6 October

Since I went off the camino track yesterday to be able to find the pension in Campolongo, it meant 6 km of walking the shoulder of the highway to Minos, never a fun prospect, but since it was Sunday morning, there was very little traffic and next to no truck traffic, so it was not too bad. After I arrived in Minos, I found a cafe for cafe con leche and tortilla, then got directions to orient myself back on the camino track. With all the recent rain and the closeness to the water, it was at quite foggy at 11 am, but, no problem, at least it was not raining. My beach photos are not too clear, though.

The rest of the day's walk was in the hills on the way to Betanzos: little farming villages with mostly eucalyptus and now I am seeing more grapes in small vineyards. I also passed up the Spanish pilgrim that I met yesterday. Then a short time later, I ran across an American pilgrim from Baltimore. We stopped in at another bar for a cafe con leche (his fortified with arujo) and chatted a bit before we both walked on. I arrived in Betanzos (a very steep city that would put San Francisco to shame), found the albergue, took care of shower and clothes, then down to the town square for a menu del dia of tortilla (the best yet, fresh and moist), followed by calamares with patatas fritas and a torta chocolate. After I went back to the albergue, the other two pilgrims had arrived, with a report that we might expect two peregrinas from New Zealand later.

The foggy beach at Minos.

The little farming villages with the small vineyards.

The steep streets of Betanzos.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Campolongo 5 October

The day started out well with the morning walk pretty much at the edge of the water which became the Ria Ferrol outside of Ferrol. This seems to be a wide tidal mud flat, so walking along the water's edge is a lot farther than the actual distance between town and was mostly flat. In the afternoon, the walk was in some of the hills along the edge and a bit more difficult. I did not see a single other pilgrim all day until after I arrived in Pontedeume and he was headed out to the next albergue in Mino.

This post was supposed to be from my destination, Pontedeume, but that was not to be. When I arrived in Pontedeume after 29 km (18 miles) of walking, there was no one at the locked albergue and a sign that it would not be opened until 7 pm. Next, I checked out the three pensions in town. One was closed for vacation and the other two were also locked up tight. I decided to have my mid day meal at a close by restaurant and the lady there said one of the pension owners was away at a wedding, don't know about the third one. Anyway, since it is no longer tourist season, I guess the owners of these accommodations are not so anxious to keep them open for the occasional customer like me. My options were to walk on to the next albergue 10 km away or to try to find a place in the next town about 3 km away. I lucked out in the next town and found a decent pension on the highway, but this was the closest I've come to maybe not finding a place and sleeping under the stars. I am tired tonight, but at least my walk tomorrow will be shorter (should be only 11 or so miles).

A view of the walk just outside of Ferrol.

The walking path along the edge of the water.

The tidal mud flats of the Ria Ferrol.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ferrol 4 October

Today is the real rest day and I felt that I needed it after pushing several 20 mile plus days in the past week. After 10 hours of sleep, I took my time walking to the Estacion de Autobuses in Santiago and took the 11 am bus to Ferrol. It was an hour and a half ride, much of it a preview of where I will be walking for the next five days on the Camino Ingles.

Ferrol is straight north of Santiago on the north coast. It has been an important fishing and shipping port for centuries and also has a large base for the Spanish Navy. It is important in camino history because many ships carrying English, Norwegian, and other Northern European pilgrims docked here and those pilgrims then started their caminos from this city. It is a much more beautiful city than I thought it would be, with a compact old town close to the port. The old town has many plazas and parks some with panoramic views of the harbor and the sea. Ferrol is also famous (or maybe infamous) for being the birthplace of el Caudillo, otherwise known as Francisco Franco.

It was raining as I left Santiago this morning and there were still some showers and thunder here in Ferrol this afternoon, but it is supposed to be clearing up for the next few days, so hopefully, I will be able to walk without donning the rain gear. I can see that much of the first three days walk will be along portions of the coastline, so should be quite scenic. Like I said, I did take it easy today with a mid afternoon meal and a walk around the port and town, including the start of the camino. Tomorrow will be back to serious walking again.

Here is one of me in front of the cathedral in Santiago.

Here is a view in Ferrol of the Spanish Navy's shipyard.

And this is a view of the Port of Ferrol with both pleasure and fishing boats.

This is the marker at the start of the Camino Ingles at the port in Ferrol.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Santiago de Compostela 3 October

The weather forecast was 80% chance of rain today. Rain it did on the 19 km (12 mile) walk into Santiago, plus howling winds. It was the first time on this Camino that I have had to walk through so much rain, but it was doable. I rewarded myself with a stay in a pension (Hospadaje San Roque) instead of an albergue, so I will be able to enjoy some privacy for once. I also went to the noon pilgrim's mass, the highlights of which are the nun singling in her clear soprano and the swinging of the botafumeiro.

The plan for tomorrow is to take the bus to Ferrol, north of here, then to start Saturday on a different camino, the Camino Ingles, a five day walk back to Santiago.

Pedrouzo O Pino 2 October

I decided to take an alternate route to bypass the town of Arzua. It added about 6 km to the days walk, but allowed me to end up in Pedrouzo, the next days stage on this camino. It ended up being a long walk of 7 hours and 22 miles, but I am glad I did it. I felt like it was more corn, cows, and eucalyptus, just like much of the rest of northern Spain. I think my next camino will need to be the Camino Madrid from Madrid or the Via de la Plata from Sevilla, so I can see some different (and drier) landscape. I also intersected with the much more heavily travelled Camino Frances, definitely a shock after the much less travelled caminos.

I was also introduced to orujo, a Galician liqueur that is made by distilling the refermented pomace left over from wine making. I can attest that it is potent after two glasses on an empty stomach. The introducees were an Englishman working in Alicante and an Uruguayan, both fellow peregrinos.

A note from yesterday's stay at Sobrado dos Monxes. I went to the evening service in which the monks sang and prayed in near darkness by flickering candlelight. Nice.

More corn, cows, and eucalyptus, although only the endless groves of eucalyptus can be seen here.

I must have passed up a hundred or so pilgrims in the 5 km after I reached the Camino Frances.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sobrado dos Monxes 1 October

I thought today's walk would be more difficult, but it really was not so bad because the elevation change was gradual. Today elevation change about 1200 feet and today's distance about 16 miles. I figure two more days to walk into Santiago. We have been unbelievably lucky with the rain. I has been raining late afternoons and evenings after we are in the albergue, with only some light drizzles during the day. Hope that holds out!

The albergue here is quite different as it is housed in a Cistercian monastery dating from the year 952.

A dead fox I saw on the road today. Also saw a dead badger.

The Cistercian monastery in Sobrado dos Moxes

My segundo plato of the afternoon menu del dia, raxos. It is a galician specialty, beef with garlic and ?

Miraz 30 September

Today's walk was my longest yet at 22 miles, but it was through the mountain valley with no serious uphill or downhill, just a lot of little up and downs. I stopped in Baamonde about 11:30 for a big draft beer and ham and cheese bocadillo, plus free tapas (fresh sardines, tomatoes, olives, onions), so it was a satisfying lunch. I also stocked up at the food store, because there is nothing else here in this village.

I wanted to get to this point today, because tomorrow's walk will have a serious elevation gain to reach the highest point on this camino. I figured roughly that I am around the 200 mile point now, with about 60 miles to reach Santiago. Thinking about which other caminos to walk after I reach Santiago and I am leaning towards the Camino Ingles, which starts due north of Santiago in both Ferrol and A Coruña.

No wi fi in Miraz at all, so will be posting at least a day late. This albergue was an interesting change. It is owned and run by the British confraternity of Saint James, so the hospiteleras made British tea and bread pudding for everyone last night.

Hard to see in the photos but those are a line of eólicos (wind driven electrical generators), a common site here on the ridge tops where it is the windiest.

On the camino, one passes many empty houses and other buildings with for sale or for rent signs. It is clear that Spain is still deeply in its economic recession.