Monday, June 29, 2009

Camino de Santiago (Part 7)

Day 29 (Portomarin to Palas del Rei - 25 km): In Palas del Rei...and only 65 km to go (to Santiago!)

Day 28 (Sarria to Portomarin - 22 km): Walked up an down numerous mountains, and ended up in a beautiful pueblo high on a mountain overlooking the river.

Day 27 (Fonfria to Sarria -28 km): Even on the Camino we have a few parties...we celebrated Ivan´s (a fellow pilgrim from Tarragona, Spain) birthday. Stayed out until 1:00 (well, Mom called it quits a little earlier) and woke up at 5:30. Who needs sleep when you are only walking 22 km the next day?! haha

Day 26 (Vega de Valcarce to Fonfria - 25 km): We entered Galicia today...we are on the homerun stretch!!!! First town in Galicia is O Cebreiro which rests at the very top of one of the tallest mountains and is surrounded by stunning views. Absolutely gorgeous. And even better yet, less than 150 km to go to Santiago!

Day 25 (Cacabelos to Vega de Valcarce - 24 km): Lovely easy walk today. Unfortunately mostly along the highway, but very little traffic. The day was topped off with a "quemada" a typical Galician tradition that involves a spell and a intoxicatingly sweet alcoholic drink (brewed just like a real witch´s brew).

Day 24 (Molinaseca to Cacabelos - 23 km): Spend the night in a bungalow type albergue...two to a room. Enjoyed the privacy, but had quite a bit of a walk to the restrooms and showers. Rained a bit (luckily only once we arrived). However we made some good out of it and just sat in a covered area listening to a friend play the flute.

Day 23 (Rabanal to Molinaseca - 25.5 km): Had a huge climb today! Almost as challenging as the first day (in the Pyranese) but not quite as bad. Ended up in Molinaseca, had a wonderful evening with a huge group of friends...bathed our feet in the river, went out for a "light" dinner and came back to the Albergue at 11:00 pm. Probably the best night of the whole trip...wish I had the time to give details.

Day 22 (Astorga to Rabanal - 20 km): ... Started climbing again today - you can definitely tell we are approching Galicia, one of the most mountaneous regions of Spain. Quite a beautiful a day, sunny, but humid. Rabanal is a darling little town nestled up in the hills, surrounded by tall pines.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Camino de Santiago (Part 6)

Day 21 (San Martino del Camino to Astorga - 22 km): Decided to take a shorter day today as well sine in the next few days we will be climbing some massive mountains. Astorga is a beautiful city, and home to yet another famous building by Gaudi (Episcopal Palance of Astorga) (,_Spain) and an ancient Cathedral. The city has its roots in the Roman era, and there are many Roman ruins throughout the city. They have taken care to preserve and mark all ruins and historic sites. We have truly seen some beautiful sites and have loved exploring the small towns and larger cities along the Camino.

Day 20 (Leon to San Martino del Camino - 24 km): Long stretch leaving the city...mostly through the suburbs and industrial area of León. However, it is always neat to see the architecture and various neighborhoods. Once out of León, we were in a land of fields and aquaducts (sp??) again. We have never seen such an intricate and advanced agricultural water system in our lives. It is truly impressive. Ended up in San Martino del Camino...nothing too exciting. Not even a public telephone. Or a restaurant. Just two bars. Enough said.

Day 19 (Mansilla de las Mulas to León - 20 km): Short walk to Leon (a beautiful, historic city and capital of León). We climbed our first hills today after a lengthy 6 day stretch of flatness. However, from the top of the last "hill" we were able to see León in the distance. We reached León at approximately 10:30 am, and were able to check into a hotel and have a leisurly look around in León. We explored the Cathedral, Basilica of San Isidoro, and Casa Botines (a palace constructed by the Catalan architect Antonin Gaudi). The Cathedral is one of the most impressive structures I have ever seen in my life and is truly a sight. The ratio of stone to stained glass is almost 50-50 ( After a "touristy" day, Mom and I went back to the hotel, went to the hotel spa (free!) and soaked our tired little feet. Quite a pleasant day.

Day 18 (El Burgo Ranero to Mansilla de las Mulas - 26.3 km): Undoubtedly one of the hottest walking days so far. We continued along lengthy stretches of fields without any shade, and miles and miles of flatness. To our surprise, the Camino has followed or actually been directly on the road/highway. The countryside is still beautiful, but the road traffic does slightly detract from the whole experience. We stayed in a not-so-nice albergue in Mansilla de las Mulas. It was beautiful from the outside, and fairly clean...however, all showers and toilets were downstairs and outside. Absolutely no privacy. But, then again, we are quite accustomed to that by now.

....on a different note...we are starting to wonder if we will ever eat bread, ham, chicken or eggs again. Most restaurants and bars have what is called a "Pilgrims Menu" which is supposed to be a cheaper option for pilgrims, but frankly we think it is a fabulous way to take advantage of pilgrims. It is getting quite pricey, and we eat the same things daily...even though we make an effort to find other things. But, such is the life of a pilgrim, right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Camino de Santiago (Part 5)

Day 17 ( Terradillos de Los Templarios to El Burgo Ranero -31 km) Today was definitely one of the most challenging days so far. Although we had really been looking forward to the flat stretches, we realized today that flat means absolutely no shade and as such makes for a much more grueling and challenging walk. We walked some 30 kilometers today without shade, along a part of the Camino known as being the "loneliest" part of the Camino. Thank goodness we have each other...right? We had actually planned on stopping at a village at approximately 24 kilometers, however we arrived to find the Albergue closed until 1.30. Rather than wait two hours in the blistering hot sun, we decided we might as well walk 7 more km and make some progres (albeit in the blistering hot sun as well). Days like today really make you feel humble...and at the mercy of the elements. But we made it another day, and are another day closer to our final destination.

Day 16 (Carrion de los Condes to Terradillos de Los Templarios - 25 km) Walking from Carrion de los Condes we faced a 17 km stretch of nothingness. No towns to pass through, no bars, no water, no shade. Just kilometers of land, fields, and tired pilgrims. However, we managed to keep our spirits high, and eventually trailed into Terradillos de Los Templarios...only to realize the Albergue was basically the whole town. Sometimes it is a little frustrating after walking for 6 to 8 hours to find yourself in a town with absolutely nothing other than an Albergue. There is nowhere to eat, to pick up a sandwich (or bocadillo) or any snacks. So you usually end up paying the high prices at the Albergue. However, we are learning to accept the circumstances and are still smiling.

Day 15 (Boadilla to Carrion de los Condes - 26 km) Beautiful day for walking, but incresingly warmer. Pretty flat trail today, nothing too complicated. Flat days are nice welcome breaks from the up and down trails the past few days. Once we arrived in Carrion de los Condes we made our way to one of the Albergues (which actually happened to be a convent still run by nuns). Turned out to be very clean and a nice set up...but not ideal when you have a lot of laundry to do. We hand wash all our clothes and hang them to dry, and usually in a few hours they are dry. Not today. After being out ALL day and then brought in at night (and hung in the hallway) we still woke up to wet wool socks and undergarments. The Camino can be a little challenging at fact, walking long distances sometimes is the easy part. Haha. However, in Carrion de los Condes we bought a 9 euro box of cookies from the local monestery that were to die for. Abolutely incredible little bites of heaven. To be honest, it was probably the best part of the day!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Camino de Santaigo (Part 4)

Day 14 (Hontanas to Boadilla - 28 km): First day of real rain...but not complaining at all! We were thrilled! We have not had shade the past 7 every bit of cloud cover is appreciated!

Day 13 (Burgos to Hontanas - 30 km): Long walk but absolutely beautiful. Felt as if we were on top of the world as we were crossing kilometer after kilometer of high plains. Fields filled with crops and bright red poppies. Truly impressive!

Day 12 (Atapuerco to Burgos - 21 km): Burgos! Our first visit to an incredible city originally founded in the 800s. Talk about history! Mom and I were pretty tuckered out...and arrived before the albergue was open. So we decided to stay in a quaint old hotel. Don´t tell anyone, but we both took two showers! :) Then we took an hour or so to explore the cathedral (constructed in 1212). After that, we decided our feet had had enough, so we hopped on a little red "chu chu" tourist train and went throughout the city. Absolutely incredible.

Day 11 (Tosantos to Atapuerco - 24 km): Climbed up a fairly steep mountain this morning...and then went for 12 kilometers along a perfectly flat, dry, HOT, section at the top of the mountain. Eventually made it to a town (what seemed like 100 km later), and then decided to keep going for another 6 km. We must have been nuts. It was quite warm, and the 6 km stretch was along the road. Once we entered Atapuerco, however, we were greeted by a lovely new Albergue, and a fabulous lunch (with arroz con leche to die for!!!). It is a historic town...if interested, google Atapuerca Man.

Day 10 (St. Domingo de la Calzada to Tosantos - 27 km): Lovely walk today, but quite long. Small towns were far apart, but welcome sites when we arrived. Decided to push it a little further than normal and went to a small town called Tosantos to spend the night. The only albergue there happened to be a "Pilgrims hospital" and was quite small...and well...rustic. We slept on mats on the floor, cooked our own dinner (in tubs that peoples feet had previously been soaking in.... ... ...), but surprisingly we are still alive and Mom is still smiling. Quite an experience.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Camino de Santiago (Part 3)

Day 9 (Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada - 21 km): Nice walk today. Arrived pretty early into Santo Domingo de la Calzada. A beautiful large town with quite a history with pilgrims. Entered the albergue and thought we had entered a hotel. It has only been open for a couple months and is absolutely beautiful. Rooms only have 20 beds, which is nice considering the last one had over 80 beds in the main room. There are a lot of showers too!

Día 9
(Najera a Santo Domingo de la Calzada - 21 km): Un buen camino hoy. Llegamos temprano al Santo Domingo de la Calzada, un pueblo precioso con una historia large con los peregrinos del Camino de Santiago. Entramos en el albergue municipal pero pensábamos que entramos en un hotel o algo. Es un albergue nuevo, y es increíble. Solo ha estado abierto un par de meses. Las habitaciones solo tienen 20 camas (que es mucho mejor que 80 camas como los otros albergues). Hay muchas duchas también!

Day 8 (Logroño to Najera - 29 km): Took off on another extremely long trek to Najera today. Passed through Navarette, a beautiful little town, but decided to make up some ground and proceed on to Najera. Got in a little late, missed lunch (but grabbed a few tapas), and stayed in a hot, smelly, and not so great albergue. Still pushing forward though.

Día 8 (Logroño a Najera - 29 km): Empezamos otro camino muy largo a Najera hoy. Pasamos por Navarette, un pueblo muy bonito, pero decidimos seguir hasta Najera. Llegamos un poco tarde, no había ningun sitio abierto para almorzar (pero encontramos un bar y algunas tapitas). Quedamos en un albergue no tan bueno...pero no pasa nada, seguiremos.

Day 7 (Los Arcos to Logroño - 30 km): We left at 6:00 am this morning, the earliest we have left yet. As such, we arrived in the suggested destination at around 10 am. It seemed like a waste to stop so early, so we explored the town, had a nice relaxing coffee break, and continued our trek to Logroño (another 10 km away). We arrived around 2:00 and ran to the albergue to get beds, but didn´t have much luck checking in. So we ended up staying in the Cathedral. Just as good, cleaner, and had two "meals" provided. We had hoped to relax a little, but instead ended up running around town to find a post office to ship some "uneccessary" items home. Then we tried to find someone who could help with mom´s feet. Needless to say, we saw almost ALL of Logroño and got absolutely no rest. Such is life. On a positive note, there was a local we got to see some pretty neat costumes and festivities.

Día 7 (Los Arcos a Logroño - 30 km): Salimos a las 6:00 de la mañana, lo más temprano que hemos salido jamás. Por eso, llegamos muy temprano al pueblo dónde se sugieren quedar la noche. Parecía tonto parar de andar tan temprano, pero exploramos el pueblo, tomamos unos cafés, y seguimos hasta Logroño (otro 10 km más). Llegamos a las 2:00 y fuimos a coger algunas camas en el albergue. Pero no tenemos suerte. Fuimos al catedral, y quedamos la noche allí. Era limpió, bonito, y allí nos han dado dos comidas! Esperabamos encontrar tiempo para relajar, pero estuvimos corriendo a todos lados a buscar un correos para enviar algunas cositas de nuestras mochillas a los EEUU. Después, buscabamos un sitio dónde se podrían ayudar mi madre (y sus pies). Por casualidad, hemos visto todo Logroño...andando. Así es la vida. Pero había una fiesta (Día de la Rioja) y veamos algunas cosas guay!

Day 6 (Ayegui to Los Arcos (21 km): Bit of a "short" walk today, but long enough being as though our legs and feet have had enough. It is not stopping us by any means, but it does make the walk a little less pleasurable. I suppose that is what this is about, in a way. Mind over matter, learning to accept a bit of suffering to see a lot of beauty. I will say in 6 days I have already learned to appreciate my feet and legs more than I ever have. Oh, and chairs too. I have never appreciated chairs so much in my life (and local bars too...haha). Beautiful day walking, and Los Arcos was a darling little town with a beautiful old cathedral and a whopping 2 restaurants.

Día 6 (Ayegui a Los Arcos (21 km): Un "paseo corto" hoy...pero suficiente. Nuestros piernas y pies nos duelen mucho...y no quieren andar. Sin embargo, seguimos andando aunque el Camino podría ser mucho mejor sin el dolor. Pero supongo que eso es una parte de la lección, ¿no? La mente tiene que aprender no pensar del dolor, y que tienes que aceptar sufrimiento para ver tanta belleza. Os digo que en 6 días ya he aprendido apreciar mis pies y mis piernas más que nunca. Oy, y sillas/bancos también. Nunca en mi vida he apreciado las sillas tanto como ahora (y bares tampoco!). Un día bonito para andar, y Los Arcos era un pueblecito bonito con una catedral preciosa y 2 restaurantes. jaja

Day 5 (Puente la Reina to Ayegui - 24 km): Puente la Reina turned out to be a beautiful town in central Navarra. Here, two of the Camino de Santiago routes there were quite a few people starting off in the morning. However, my mom walks pretty quick (and her 22 year old daughter can barely keep up) and we were able to outrun most. We pushed on a few kilometers further than the recommended destination, and encountered a monastery and winery which give pilgrims free wine. Unfortunately I am not much of a wine fan, but mom certainly enjoyed it! We ended up finding ourself in a darling little log cabin (part of a camp ground facility). For the first night in 5 days we got some privacy, a looong hot shower, and washed our clothes! :)

Día 5 (Puente la Reina a Ayegui - 24 km): Puente la Reina es un pueblo muy bonito en Navarra. Aquí se unen dos rutas del camino de santiago, asi que había mucha más gente andando por la mañana. Aunque la destinación sugerida fue Estella, decidimos andar un poco más y encontramos un monasterio y bodega, las cuales dan vino gratis a los peregrinos. ¡Qué pena que a mi no me gusta el vino...pero mi madre, sí! Ella lo ha disfrutado mucho. Con suerte, encontramos un camping, y quedamos ahí por la noche en una casita! La primera noche en 5 días sin otra gente!

I have to say that I am starting to ask myself why I am doing this walk. I still dont quite have an answer. I think I am doing it just to know I can, and I did. But this seems like a silly reason to me. Without a doubt it is the most difficult think I have ever done in my life. And so far I am only 9 days and 215 km into it, and still have another 20 some days and 600 km until Santiago.

Tengo que decir que estoy empezando preguntarme porque estoy haciendo este camino. Todavía no tengo respuesta. Creo que lo estoy haciendo para saber que puedo. Pero me parece una respuesta y una razon tonta. Sin duda es la cosa más difícil que he hecho en mi vida. Y solo llevo 9 días y 215 kilometres...y faltan 20 algo días y 600 kilometres...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Camino de Santiago (Part 2)

Day 4 (Cezor Menor to Puente la Reina - 21 km): The landscape continues to be breathtaking. Took off bright and early this morning (6:30 am) to head to Puente la Reina. Morning was cool and extremely foggy which inhibited some of the views, but also added to the splendor of the landscape. Had our first experience with rain...a little challenging but not too bad...yet. Bodies are still moving, but the feet and legs are certainly suffering a bit. Housing (and sleeping with a minimum of 10 strangers) is getting to Mom. I guess I am used to it from the dorms, but must admit a little (or ANY) privacy for 5 minutes would be welcome. :) Will continue trekking forward tomorrow. We have covered about 85 some kilomters and still going strong.

Día 4 (Cezor Menor to Puente la Reina - 21 km): El paisaje es incredible todavía. Salimos a las 6:30 esta mañana andando hacía Puente la Reina. Hacía calor por la manaña y había muchas nubes, pero todavía bonito. tengo tiempo terminar este blog, así que mañana escribaré.

Day 3 (Zubiri to Cezor Menor - 24 km): Zubiri turned out to be a very nice (although extremely small) pueblo. Third day walking was not as challenging, so it seems our bodies are getting used to the stress. We had a beautiful and sunny day for walking...but it was almost too hot for comfort. Hence why we continue to leave around 6:30 in the morning. Before arriving in Cezor Menor, we passed through some beautiful little pueblos, and once again passed through Pamplona. We stopped to explore a few historic sites, and grabbed some cool drinks to tide us over. Somehow we managed to make it to Cezor Menor where we found a darling little hostel to spend the night.

Día 3 (Zubiri to Cezor Menor - 24 km): Zubiri fue un pueblo (aunque muy pequeño) muy bonito. Nuestro tercer día andando no fue tan difícil como los anteriores, así que parece que nuestros cuerpos son acustumbrando. Fue un día precioso y hacía mucho sol...pero hacía demasiado calor. Por eso, seguimos saliendo a las 6:30 de la manaña. Hemos cruzado un montón de pueblos bonitos, y otra vez pasabamos por Pamplona. Ahí exploramos un poco, y seguimos hasta Cezor Menor donde hemos quedado la noche.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Camino de Santiago (Part 1)

As most of you know, my Mom and I are walking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James). We are walking 800 kilometers from St. Jean Pied de Port (France) to Santiago de Compostela (Spain) where the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried (according to legend), and will end in Finisterre (Spain), which some once claimed was the end of the earth. I will be updating my blog as often as possible, so check back for updates on our progress. I am writing in both Spanish and English, so scroll down (every other paragraph is in English). If you want to learn more about the Camino de Santiago, visit the following site:

Como sabeis, mi madre y yo estamos andando el Camino de Santiago. Vamos a andar 800 kilometres desde St. Jean Pied de Port (Francia) hasta Santiago de Compostela (España) y terminarémos en Finisterre (España)...el fin de la tierra. Voy a intender conectar a mi blog a menudo, así que debes visitar mi pagina cuando puedas. Estoy escribiendo en ingles y español. Disculpad mis errores por favor. :) Si quieres aprender más sobre el camino, visitad esta pagina web:

Day 0: From Madrid my mother and I (barely) caught a train to Pamplona. Once in Pamplona, we ate lunch, explored a little of the historic section (walking on the same streets the bulls run during the Fiesta de San Fermin), and then caught a bus to Roncesvalles. From Roncesvalles, we took a taxi to St. Jean Pied de Port where we spent the night in our first albergue (in a room with 12 strangers).

Día 0: Desde Madrid, mi madre y yo cogimos un tren a Pamplona. Una vez que estuvimos en Pamplona, exploramos la parte antigua (andando donde corren los toros durante la fiesta de San Fermin) y después cogimos un autobus hasta Roncesvalles. Desde ahí, cogimos un taxi a St. Jean Pied de Port, donde quedamos la noche en nuestro primer albergue (en una habitación con 12 desconocidos).

Day 1 (St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles - 26 km): We woke up at 6 in the morning, ate breakfast, and began the most challenging part of the Camino at 7:15 in the morning. The Camino is divided into 30 some days/stages, and the first is without a doubt the most difficult. With my Mom and I both carrying 20 pound backpacks, we began the walk and encountered our first hill. We climbed extreme vertical hills from the moment we walked out our door until 1:30 pm (ending in Roncesvalles at 2:30). The first downhill section we encountered was the descent down to Roncesvalles. And to my surprise, there is nothing easy about downhill either. It was an excruciatingly difficult day, but perhaps the most beautiful as well. It truly felt as though we were climbing to heaven. We climbed mountain after mountain, wandered past beautiful green fields with hundreds of grazing sheep, cows, and horses, and looked down on the clouds. Words truly cannot express the incredible views. The Pyranese Mountains are breathtaking.

Día 1 (St. Jean Pied de Port a Roncesvalles - 26 km): Despertamos a las 6 de la mañana, comimos el desayuno, y empezamos la parte más difícil del Camino a las 7:15 de la mañana. El Camino esta dividida en 30 días/etapas, y el primero es lo más difícil sin duda. Con mochilas que pesan 13 kilos (cada una) mi madre y y empezamos a andar. Desde el momento que salimos, estuvimos andando cuestas verticales...todo arriba hasta la 1:30. La primera cuesta abajo era cuando estuvimos llegando a Roncesvalles (a las 2:30). Pero a mi sorpresa, andar en cuesta abajo tampoco es fácil. Fue un día increiblemente difícil, pero precioso. En los pirineos, nos sentimos como estuvimos andando hacía el cielo. Habia montaña detras de montaña, y hierba verde, y muchas animales (caballos, vacas, y ovejas) comiendo por todas partes. Las palabras no pueden describir el bonito que era. Las Montañas Pirineos son increible.

Day 2 (Roncesvalles to Zubiri - 22 km): After spending the night in a one room albergue with 120 other pilgrims, we took off for Day 2 at 6:45 in the morning. It started out flat, which was a very welcome surprise. After an hour walking, we decided to stop and get breakfast. We continued along the Camino, passing through various small towns and enjoying the cool morning air. As we continued, we ran into some large cows along the path, but they were kind enough to move out of our way. :) While today was much much MUCH easier than the first day, it was still a slight challenge (our bodies are still getting used to this crazy idea).

Día 2 (Roncesvalles to Zubiri - 22 km): Después de quedarnos la noche en un albergue donde había 120 más pirigrinos (todo en una habitación), empezamos día 2 del camino a las 6:45 de la mañana. Empezaba plano (y eso nos ha gustado). Después de una hora, desayunamos. Durante el día, hemos pasado muchos pueblos pequeños y hemos disfrutado del aire fresco por la mañana. Habían algunas vacas grandes en el camino, pero todas nos han dejado pasar sin problema. :) Aunque la ruta hoy era mucho mucho MUCHO más fácil que lo de ayer, todavía fue un desfío (nuestros cuerpos todavía no son acustumbrados a esta idea loca).