Posted in Travel sparks

Days 10 and 11 on the Camino

Days 10 and 11 were pretty good walkin’ – around 25km each day and not too hilly. Walking in the heat and over a lot of rocky terrain is pretty tiring and we’re all starting to walk like cowboys by the time we slow down at our albergue, with a range of foot, leg and ankle troubles.
Without wanting to sound like a spoilt brat, the landscape has become a little boring – the sunflowers are a highlight as we pass through all of the golden fields.
We ended Day 9 at Redecilla del Camino – a tiny town, where Steph and I were the only ladies in the bar. Also at the bar was a peculiar little kid eating an ice cream and sporting a long rat’s tail hair-do. Other than that, highlights included finding out the nationality of the blonde supermodels we had seen at the previous albergue (Lithuanian) and another delicious Dave & Tom meal – chorizo and apple stew (with cider).

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Day 10 saw us head to Villafranca Montes de Oca, where we were welcomed to the fantastic looking hotel & albergue by a nutty sort of chap who kept interrupting Dave’s translations. We met an Australian guy, Charlie, who sounded as though he was being held hostage by his German walking pals – only allowing a 15 minute stop on a 30km walking day. Made us glad that we’re walking fast, but taking time for photo stops, breakfast and lunchtime picnics along the way.
As it was lovely Tom’s last evening with us (before heading home to London) we had a great pilgrim’s meal at the hotel restaurant to celebrate our time together. Good wine, good food, good company – a great Camino experience.
Day 11 started in very thick fog, making the moonlit walk up and down the steep hills very interesting. We walked with Luis, a Spanish guy who could only converse with Dave (and with me via Dave’s translation) – he was looking forward to a bocadillo for breakfast at the first town we visited (“9 o’clock is a good time for a sandwich”). Steph was very excited to find some German Ritter Sport chocolate in one of the little shops on the way today. We finally found out more about the German family with whom we’ve been keeping pace for a few days – a javelin thrower & her archeology-studying, discus-throwing sister, their Mum and coach Dad.
We’re an imaginative bunch, so we do spend quite a bit of time making up back stories about the people we see along the way. It’s always interesting to find out the truth about people – sometimes as fascinating as we’d imagined, sometimes not.
Ended the day in Cardenuela, at a fantastic albergue with a large sunny terrace. We met Chris from Texas, an electric cigarette-smoking graphic designer travelling the world for a year. The guy who runs the albergue has just brought us a jug of sangria to enjoy while we sit around chatting. Life is good!

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Posted in Travel sparks

Camino 9

Our ninth day was another relatively easy walking day – nice and cool, with only a few uphill stretches in the 26km to Redecilla del Camino. Passing through fields full of sunflowers (some more with faces carved into them – still kinda creepy) and now the vineyards have been replaced by golden cornfields.
At one stage today, a huge flock of sheep crossed the path, blocking several pilgrims in their way.
Nothing else too exciting to report today – German Andy clipped his wings and walked with us, mostly to disprove our suspicion that he catches a bus to beat us to the next town. Somehow, we always seem to arrive around 2pm, looking slightly battle-weary, and Andy appears at the hostel (‘Hey guys!’) looking fresh as a daisy.
Andy also has the endearing habit of answering, ‘of course!’ to most of the questions asked of him: Do you wear lederhosen? Of course! Do you eat the deer that you shoot in your neighborhood forest? Of course! (NB, he carries them to the butcher for ‘processing’ first.)
If only world leaders would walk the Camino, I think it’d go a long way towards global peace & understanding…

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Posted in Travel sparks

Day 8 on the Camino

Day 8 was another pretty easy day – about 26km to Azofra. We pretty much had a whole albergue to our gang of five last night, with only one other German bike rider with us in our large dorm. Was great to get a good night’s sleep without snorers or loud talkers! It definitely makes a difference to how we feel in the morning, that’s for sure.
A beautiful sunrise this morning and a day of wandering through more beautiful vineyards – not too hot for the most part, which was great. One of our gang, Dave, had an ankle injury that looked like ending his Camino (this is his second), which made us all pretty quiet this morning as he had to walk on in immense pain. Fortunately, he seems to be feeling a lot better and it looks as though he will be able to continue with us.
This albergue is pretty great – small rooms of only two beds (with a door for privacy) and a large courtyard with a small pool/fountain – though practical pilgrims have made the courtyard into a washing area, with lots of lines of clothes blowing in the breeze.
We calculated an average of 25km per day so far, which is pretty good – we’re walking at a good pace, but stopping to enjoy the sights and food along the way. Hard to believe it’s a week since we left St Jean – sometimes feels like yesterday, but then this routine has become so familiar, it feels like we have been doing it for years!

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Posted in Travel sparks

Camino 5,6,7

It’s honestly so difficult to remember what happens and where we go every day, but hopefully this post will catch us up to today! I mean, the ‘what happens’ every day is clearly a whole lot of walking, but we are travelling through different landscapes, meeting lots of interesting new people and seeing so many amazing things that it’s hard to keep track.
The heat and fatigue mean that when we reach our destination, we focus on finding a place to stay, then a much needed shower to freshen up, then fixing our medical probs (blisters, sore muscles, aching feet), then washing our dusty, sweaty clothes. The routine is actually pretty nice.
We generally arrive at about 2pm, as we stop during the day for morning tea and then lunch – and to fill our water bottles from the fountains we pass along the way.
Day 5 saw us leave the cute little town of Cirauqui by moonlight and start a long walking day. We visited the famous wine fountain past Estella, which provides free red wine for passing pilgrims, from what looks like a normal water fountain tap. Definitely a Camino ‘experience’ and a nice drink to have with our picnic lunch in the park. Our albergue in Villamayor de Monjardin was run by Dutch volunteers and we were lucky to have a room for our gang of five, complete with our own private balcony with an amazing view…

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Day 6 was a walk to Viana – a good walking day and another perfectly sunny (but quite cool) summer day in Spain. We passed through Los Arcos, greeted by a strange small farm and comprehensive sign about the town’s attributes. The hostel in Viana was interesting – three-tiered bunks and we all got sent to the tops of our bunks, which was quite the gymnastic feat, I tell you.

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Day 7 was the day that a French girl had told us would be so great that our bodies would feel fantastic and we could skip along the path. No such luck and we’re all pretty tired and sore today, so settled for a town 22km along, rather than pushing on closer to 30km. A good move to take it easy and enjoy a nice afternoon and then tapas dinner in Navarette. Today we passed through the beautiful Logrono – including a massive park and very friendly people. And a giant sort of Snakes & Ladders, Camino-version. We met up with our funny German pal, Andy, but otherwise we’re seeing lots of new pilgrims as more people start on the way to Santiago. Now it’s 10pm – time for bed!

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Posted in Travel sparks

Buen Camino – days 3 & 4

Our third day started by moonlight (let’s just presume they all do from here on in – we leave at 6.30am). A big change today as we walked through urban areas and saw people & cars instead of cows & sheep that we’d been sharing the path with so far.

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We passed through the bustling city of Pamplona, with some very cute streets & buildings and some very scary giant baby head sculptures.

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Stayed the night at a hostel run by the Knights of Malta, where we met Janet & Fred, a couple from the USA walking the Camino to celebrate Janet’s recent 75th birthday. Amazing.
The next morning was overcast and a little cooler, thankfully, and saw us reach the wind farms and wrought iron pilgrims of Alto del Perdon. Our guide book suggested a 19km day, but we said boo to that and walked 26km. Passed through some beautiful olive groves and vineyards along the way to the cute hilltop town of Cirauqui. Where the church bells toll every half an hour – right through the night. And our hostel was right across the square, so no danger of losing track of time!

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