Thursday, July 7, 2011

Do you remember an Inn, Miranda, do you remember an inn?


As I lay in the bunk at Ribadiso do Baixo last month, I remembered a poem from my youth.  Tarantella by Hilair Belloc.  "Do you remember an Inn, Miranda, do you remember an inn?"

I especially chose the albergue at Ribadiso as the only 'traditional' albergue for our group to experience on their three week walk of the Camino Frances.  I chose Ribadiso for two reasons.  It is large enough to accommodate a group of 14 people and it is old - very old!  The albergue is in the renovated 13th c pilgrim hospice of San Anton which won an architectural award when the dilapidated stone buildings were resurrected about 12 years ago aso that they could once more welcome pilgrims on the road to Compostela.

I remember staying in Ribadiso in 2002.  We thought we would walk to Arzua from Palas de Rei - some 30km - but when we saw pilgrims sitting on the green lawns in front of the albergue, dangling their feet in the river which flowed under the Roman bridge we decided to stop.  There was nothing else around, only a few farm houses on the distant hills and lots of cows.  As we walked through the large wooden doors into the cobbled courtyard one could almost hear the echo of horse hooves of pilgrims past.  All albergues in Galicia were 'donativo' (donation) and although we dropped a few euro into the box we saw a few young people bypass the donation box. 
We showered in the cabins at the back of the albergue and did our washing before joining the other pilgrims on the lawn by the river. Sitting in a field, chatting to other pilgrims, sharing bread and blister plasters is almost gospel-like and I felt the soul of the Camino, finding shelter after a long day's walk and sharing with fellow pilgrims.
By evening it was getting cold so we moved into the diningroom and gathered around the large wooden table.  The walls are almost a meter thick and the doorway is low so we had to duck to get into the room.  A huge fireplace, blackened by a few hundred years of fire, dominated one end of the room. 
There was nowhere to buy food and we were starving.  I had a box of instant tagliatelli in my pack and a quick search of the kitchen revealed a half packet of pasta, a quarter bottle of oil, salt, some onions and a few other odds and ends.  An elderly woman in her eighties and her middle-aged daughter came into the kitchen also food hunting.  They had two tomatoes and another pilgrim had bread. Soon there were more hungry pilgrims so we pooled resources and started cooking on the rather temperamental stove.  We carried the plates of food through to the diningroom and lit a few candles.  Nobody had wine but we had water and soon we were chatting and laughing and breaking bread and telling stories in a Camino-lingua around the table, one couple demonstrating how they had danced with a procession in a fiesta.
It was a wonderful evening of camaraderie and sharing and I wanted my group to exeprience that - to experience the soul of the Camino. 
But, it didn't turn out that way.  Since 2002 a new cafe-bar restaurant has opened right next door to the pilgrim shelter with plastic chairs and tables and umbrellas, a wellstocked bar and an extensive menu.  50m further up the road is a brand new albergue with laminate flooring, washing machines, television, wifi and internet.
Only 6 of our group checked into the albergue (the others carried on to Arzua where they booked into a hotel) paying the required €6 each.  A few other pilgrims arrived but only one of the stone rooms was full.  I walked down to the river and even though it was a beautiful day there were no pilgrims sitting on the grass, I could hear them all next door in the courtyard of the cafe bar.  I watched a blue dragonfly flutter about in the reeds and then went to have a look at the diningroom.  As I ducked under the stone doorway, I found the diningroom empty, the cavernous fireplace black and cold.  There was no laughter there, no singing, no impromptu dancing - no soul. 

Tarantella
Do you remember an Inn,
Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Glancing,
Dancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in--
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?
Never more;
Miranda,
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar;
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom




Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ode to the amaWalker pilgrims








 























We had two married couples who got on really well and who were a great delight.
Our senior citizen was Roy, a musical chap who carried and played his large and small organs (which were often the butt of risqué jokes and innuendos!)
He even entertained us and other diners in Santiago by playing the grand piano in the Casino R
estaurant – once the domain of gentlemen only.   His wife Kay is a bubbly, happy, cheerful Aussie who enjoyed her beers and even a Spanish version of a frosty, slush-puppy Guinness.

Charles was quieter but became the story teller in the group and after a Brandy and coke responded to the pleas of the younger ladies by regaling them with tales of his shipwreck off the Seychelles and his many canoeing escapades.
 His wife Barbara was our poet and mystic who spread calm and serenity and off the road. Excepting one night when Charles suggested they share a top or bottom bunk. (She put his daring suggestion down to the number of beers he had that day!)

Linda was our wild child – setting the pace by walking alone from St Jean Pied de Port the day before we arrived in Roncesvalles and also doing a solo hike up to O Cebreiro when we all got the taxi up the hill for breakfast.

Janet – the only US member of the group – was our invaluable translator of menus and notices stuck on doors, and telephone-whizz who was able to call hotels, taxis and transfer companies on our behalf. She learned the 12 South African slang words given to her and delivered an amusing speech all about ‘kak hills’ and ‘vrot rocks’ ‘blerry blisters’ and ‘lekker’ food. She is an Honorary South African with a badge to prove it.

Kim Francis was our morning song bird who woke up singing a Yoga tune, laughing and smiling like a breath of fresh air all along the Camino.

Sally, her roomie, was the quieter one, often comparing herself (mostly her aches and pains) with everyone else’s. Sally proved to herself that she is stronger than she thought she was.

Kathy was our girl scout, always in front, forging up or down the mountains and arriving first at the town or village, sussing out the easiest route to our overnight accommodation and then sending directions ahead.

Rayna, her roomie, was the carer on the team, always ready with a travel sick pill or a blister plaster when a pilgrim was in need.






Carole and Kim – our Jo’burg girls – skipped and ran, hopped and giggled their way across the Camino often surprising us by dashing past us and leaping into the air just ahead of us like Springboks!! They trekked an extra 70km up and down the Cebreiro hills like two gazelles and sent an sms to Syl, “Thank you for giving us our wings (angel wings) for this wonderful walk!”

Eugenie, Syl’s roomie, went from walking 0km to hiking 30km and surprised everyone (including herself) by setting the pace, often leaving the younger women behind in her dust.
Syl was the planner and organiser who made sure everyone had a bed at night, a meal and someone to help cart their heavy baggage to the next overnight stop. She was often the sweeper and made sure that no-one was left on the road.

Pami spent 9 days on the Camino with the group. Unfortunately she had to leave us to return home when her sister became critically ill in Cape Town. But, she left us with her deep spirituality and love of the Camino, making sure that she was in our thoughts and hearts as we continued on without her.


PS:  Pami's sister Joy passed away peacefully on Sunday 3rd July.  The whole amaWalker group send their deepest condolences to her and her family.  Rest in peace Joy.






Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday evening

This blogging bug has bitten! but it also whittles away the time .... so here I sit at RSU (whatever that means) at Madrid airport in an internet cafe telling you more stories.

Interesting that Liz says its cold and wet back home in Durban. I´ve just left a very hot Santiago .... weather like we probably were wishing for at times when we walked, so that we could have got that lovely nut tan ... but what we had served us well, as we often covered long distances and the scorching heat would have killed us I think. Watching pilgrims come in yesterday, I saw that they´d got so sunburnt, and were all red, hot and puffy! So maybe what we needed weather wise was what we got. There was also a huge fire just outside Santiago yesterday afternoon, and the blue gum forest was burning fiercely - was quit exciting watching helicopters flying in water and letting it out over the plantation and then going off to top up again. I don´t read enough (read any!) Spanish, but the pictures in the papers this morning made it look quite sertious, and people were evacuating their houses. It was however all back to normal this morning. When alone I´ve taken to ´reading´the Spanish daily newspaper while I wait for, then drink my coffee. I feel quite sophisticated, but certainly don´t look it by Spanish woman´s standards ... they are natty dressers!

I went to the pilgrim museum in Santiago today and it was so interesting. Can´t tell you that I remember much to tell you now, but I really found the set up interesting and it caught your attention, and they had English manuals for each room so that one could read about evertything in the room. Somebody or group has really gone to a lot of effort to make it as user friendly and informative as possible. So if you ever get to Santiago, make sure you go there and do some browsing.

Otherwise not much to tell you, except that I find this part of the journey .. traveling by plane on my own, much scarier than walking on my own ... On the walk its about trusting the signs, and I was reminded of that every day, and concentrating on your surroundings so that you notice whats going on, and where the yellow arrows are pointing to. I rarely went wrong, and when I did I was quickly on track again. But this finding my way around airports slays me! ... anyway .. only need to find my Madrid boarding gate (plane leave just after midnight), and then I´m just about home.

Kathy





Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday afternoon

Hello All
This might be my last blog till I get home. Am safely back in Santiago, after catching the local service bus from Muxia this morning at 06h45. The bus got in at about 08h45, and then I nearly had a little hissy fit, as it didn´t stop where I thought it might stop (at the autobus station near our monastry hotel) ... and I had to find my way into town again - luckily I recognized the Camino route and walked in again like we did last Thursday. I have now really got the sniffles, but not feeling too bad and have already visited a Farmacia for some help (the Pharmacists speak goodish english and are very helpful),

I have already visited our old haunt - the Casino - I feel like a regular! and had ravioli, bread, tonic water and coffee for lunch, but have decided to eat ´in´tonight with fruit andyoghurt in my room. Haven´t been up yet, but its on the 4th floor of the seminary building. Wonder if its any different from the 1st floor we occupied last time' For 23 · it includes breakfast. Tomorrow morning to waste time before going to the airport I will walk to el Corte Anglais. Have detailed instructions, and it will take me 30 minutes apparently. will report back on my return.

For Sylvia and Pam - the route to Finisterre and Muxia is wonderful to walk, and could be included in your schedule for future groups .... but beware .. it seems to be really getting more popular, and I heard this morning from others on the bus that the municipal refugios quickly filled up (and were in fact full when some got there), and that Muxia is on on the bandwagon, because when these pilgrims went looking for other accommodation they were quoted anything up to 50 E for a room. Muxia not as well served by private albergue´s as Finisterre is I think. Lots of tour bus pilgrims too - but don´t think there is pack transfer yet.... and Finisterre very touristy. Many more pilgrims seem to walk Hospital to Muxia to Finesterre, rather than the way I did it ... Hospital, Finisterre, Muxia. There are lots of youngsters walking this Camino. Many of the other older (read my age and up) pilgrims who had come in to Santiago on less popular routes (seeking quiter experiences probably) noted that the albergues in Negreira, Olveiroa, Finesterre etc were very noisy and busy with the younger set. Many of the older people were pleased that the Camino has ´taken ´off with the younger set, but were also sorry that much that made it a special quiet reflective journey was being lost. There is a definite tension here. The San Roche albergue was mentioned by a number of people as being very special as the hospitaleria prepared a meal for them, and there was breakfast. Many of the albergues on the various routes apparently have lovely kitchens, but no cooking utensils, so forcing pilgrims to purchase meals from local bar etc. Another observation from these pilgrims was that a growing number of youngsters are walking the camino with tents, putting these up uotside already full albergues, then further putting pressure on the toilet facilities. I think I get back to an earlier post when I sid that before you set out you need to be sure what it is you want from and during the camino, and these observations of the albergues can further aid your decision making.

Anyway.

I´ve already thought about where I want to walk next .... did that yesterday on the way to Muxia. this walking bug has bitten good and solid, and another walking holiday in 3 or 4 years time beckons. I need to start saving and exploring options........

See you all soon! I´m bringing Santiago tart to session on Monday girls. See you there
Kathy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The long road home ...

Hello All
Now just after 4, and the town is waking up. I'm staying at Hostal La Cruz, right on the beach front (just the main road seaparates us), and the view from my room is magnificent. The hotel, like many others we've used, has seen better days, and obviously enjoyed its heyday, but it is clean, functional and convenient. It has one of those funny sits baths - that one can't really bath in, unless you like to sit all squashed up, and a very old and rather holey shower head ... but got by, and then had a lie down as I think I know why I feel off .. my throat is now really sore. Have just spoken to my pharmacist sister (she is always so helpful in these situations) and she says apart from getting a throat lozenger, I should take an anti inflammatory, as that will help too! .... so waiting for the Farmacia, then will get some dinner in a bar (nice and early) and retire to bed for the day.

Some observations:
1. Despite the fact that there are stray cats and often homeless dogs running around, we didn't see any animals killed on the roads. Either people are careful, or the animals have some road sense. Iḿ reminded of this again as this place is crawling with desperate cats, Lots of cats with Siamese colouring seen in Spain.
2. I would never go into a cafe bar at home and just order without asking about the price, or looking at the menu. Here we just went in, ordered, and payed later. Not that we have cafe bars anyway
3. A Zebra crossing is fantastic. You can see we come from SA .... we hesitate, but here you can step off the pavement at a Zebra crossing and cars STOP! they stop. No question. I think we confused a zillion Spanish drivers with our hesitating .... they expected us to just walk. I better watch out at home. Don't however try and cross the road elsewhere in Spain, you will get run over. I had an experience when crossing a main road out in the country. I saw a truck coming, so stopped to wait for it to go past .. when the driver stopped for me! ... it was a main pilgrim crossing point, so they seem to know about those too. Also all Spanish drivers WEAR their seatbelts beacuse they have to. No question, no argument, no bucking the system ....
4. Spain is generally quite clean, but there are often strange and grim drain smells around .. they seem to have a drain problem! Much of my walking yesterday on the beach and into town found my nose pulling up at drain smells. The sea is however lovely and clean, and an azure colour like you can't describe. Also everywhere where I looked at the sea there were hundreds of fish swimming. I even had my feets in the Atlantic ocean. Too cold to swim, although many Spaniards were out there swimming.

Like when Rayna, Sylvia (and Val and Marion) and I walked in Rome I thought a little about what I'd miss and what I wouldn't miss - So, what am I not going to miss?
- hand washing my clothes and having them drying in my bedroom, draped on everything possible
- the cats and dogs .... many seem to have a grim life.

What am I going to miss?
- the freedom to just walk, alone in safety .... where else can a woman do that? Today I walked for about 12km without seeing another pilgrim or anybody else ... I never once felt unsafe. the only issue I has was maybe missing a marker and losing my way ... but safe I was. everybody might not agree ... and Iḿ sure there are places that aren't safe, or instances where woman have been harassed, but I felt safe.
- the time out from daily routine, work, studies, other commitments. Thank you to everyone concerned who had to take up some slack while I was away. I think I speak for the whole group when I say this! we all had family and or friends etc who took up the slack an did without us for a while.
- the coffee. A fellow pilgrim on the way into Santiago, an Italian, laughed and scoffed when I said the coffee was good. He was of the opinion that Italian coffee was the best. I said it was better than what I drink at home! and it is. So milky anf yummy. I love one of those coffee machines in my house and some of these coffee beans.

My walk in Spain has come to an end. I essentially start making my way home now from tomorrow morning. See you all soon!

I have been so blessed on this journey. God is good.
Kathy

Muxia

Ola, for the last time on the walking route.
I've arrived in Muxia after a slog of a day. Lovely walking setting, wet again ,,, but I was one of 3 things. 1. Tired because I didn't have a rest yesterday - I seem to spend the day walking as it was just so glorius walking on the beach, going up to the lighthouse, into town again, and agai, and again ... 2. Tired, because like the last km of any race, no matter what the distance, the last km (read last days walking) just went on and on and on .... or 3. I have a sore throat that Iḿ wishing away as I hope its not the start of anything. Anyway .... I'm here in Muxia. Have found the info spot and gotten my certificate and have access to this computer till 1 when they shut shop for siesta time. This is a fishy working town, with a specialness about it, but I'll explore later when I've had a bite to eat and taken these wet clothes off. The bus for Santiago is at 06h45 near here so will also get my bearings for that. Walked about 27km to this spot today ... no cafe bars open the whole way (there were supposed to only be 2 anyway) so luckily carried some supplies .. but did miss a nice coffee. Going to find one now.Over and Out!
Kathy reporting from Muxia

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Finesterre ... later

Hello

Found lunch - macaroni with tom sauce and cheese, water and ice cream (sort of menu style). For those back home menu = meal of the day. Its set, but you often have a choice of first and second course, comes with pud, water or wine and bread. If you want to order al la carte, you ask for the carte! (card) ... not the menu like we would back home. Why macaroni? It was just safer as there is LOTS of fish here ..... any kind and variety ... fry squids, cry fish, cuttles fishes, salt cod, sardines, crubs and I didn´t want to get into trouble by eating any. Tuna still standard with any vegetable dish, bocadillo or sandwich and in the omlettes ... so macaroni nice and easy although not so regional or special.

After lunch did my shopping for tomorrow at the supermecado (bananas, yoghurt, the nicest apricots, a fanta orange, some water and an orange to carry on the way). There don´t seem to be too many bars on the way tomorrow, and its a 29km walk to Muxia. I´ve already eaten the apricots, so I might have to walk back into town and home (1.5km!) to get some more. Will decide.


Soon I´m going to walk up to see if I can find my route for tomorrow - think I might be able to get onto it from behind my hotel, so will go exploring - then I´m going to out my feet in the water on the 2km stretch of beach that is outside the hotel accross the main road - the Langosteira beach.


Sylvia - got my Finesterre certificate, and Begona is still working at the Albergue. I asked the helpful hospitaleria if she was Begona, and she said Si Si ... so said hello from you to her ...


The bus leaves from Muxia for Santiago at 07h00 on Friday morning, so I´ll have an early strat back to Santiago. But thats ok. There are a couple of things I need to do in santiago, I want to do some shopping, and I might go exploring the gardesn that I didn´t get to do last time. Then Saturay at 4pm I start my homeward trek.


Thats all for now. Time for walk about again as if I havem´t done enough.


Kathy

Finesterre


Hello

I´m here! in Finesterre. Woke up late for me ... 06h30, and left Cee in the most glorius weather this morning. The first time I set off without a long sleeve shirt on. It was beautiful! Must just tell you that there were some sea gulls oon the roof of the house next door - 3 stories high, that were very noisy and chasing other gulls away, and I got a little irritated as their cry is quite mornful and almost distressing. Then I saw that they had babies! 3 flighless chicks that were grey in colour and being allowed to scuttle around the roof under the very watchful eye of mommie or daddie. It was rather cute. Here´s hoping they all survive and don´t fall off or run off the roof before they can fly.


Anyway, late yesterday .. about 5pm, the sun came out and I ventured out to the little Cee beach, only to be entertained by all the local dogs, out for walks with their owners. There were labs swimming, poms running around, other braks (local hounds like beagles) digging holes and chasing each other everywhere ... it was rather special. All the mons were out with prams, children on bicycles, and a group from the local home for intellectually handicapped individuals were also out in force all walking the promenade. I bought a King Cone and sat on the beach watching all the activity. I also sussed my way out of town for the mornning, and explored the local shopping centre before going back to my hotel. I´d bought fruit and yoghurt earlier in the day so made a sort of fruit salad in my cup with yoghurt for supper and eventually got to bed at about 8. I also bought a banana (plantain american) and yoghurt for breakfast so was ready for an early start.


Sylvia, I walked past your Algergue at San Roche and got a stamp there in my passport. Unsure if they were there when you served as hospitaleria there, but there were 3 very fat happy cats also having breakfast when I arrived, and some of the pilgrims I´d met briefly on the route were still there having breakfast. These looked about the happiest Spanish cats I´ve seen to date. Funny, the cats here don´t respond to kitty kitty or kitsy kitsy .. they obviously only know their home language.

It was 10 km into Finesterre and my hotel, which is rather lekker! am pleased. 35E and well worth it by the looks of it. AND they do laundry. So put everything in the packet and sent it off. Price later!! but who cares at the moment as I don´t think everything is all that clean. Yesterday in the all the rain even my walking clothes inside my rain coat got soaked as I said, and at times I watched little soap suds run down my trousers on the outside ... so I´d obviously not rinsed something I was wearing properly. Once I´d put my back pack down at the hotel and sorted out what needed to be sent for washing, I set off for the lighthouse at Finesterre and am just back in town - having walked another 10km there and back. The weather is fantastic! and I got a couple of photos taken of myself at the 0.00km bollard. I didn´t want to venture into the hotel there for tea ... I think it could have been quite extensive. So when I´m done here I will find lunch and then go and see if I can get my Finestere compostela thing. The Albergue, where it is issued, opens at 1.

There are lots of tourists here .. they are actually a pain. Anyway .. suppose I´m a kind of tourist too. Lots of knick knacks for sale at terrible prices, so can´t wait to ge going to Muxia tomorrow morning. where my walking will formally end.

I´m sorry too that yesterday the keyboard I was using was so funny as I had these really important thoughts about doing a camino walk like we just did. All since forgotten (maybe luckily) - but I think its about deciding before one goes, what one hopes to get from the trip and how one wants to do it. I was very clear about why I wanted to do this section, how I wanted to do it, and what I wanted from it .. and its living up to all that. So while I carry my full pack, I´m enjoying knowing that I have a bed at the end in a hotel (although there is a cost involved) and I´m really enjoying the time on my own .. making contact when I want to. There are probably as many reasons for undertaking a camino as there are pilgrims, and to each their own way of undertaking the Way. I´m really happy with how I´ve decided to do it! .....

I will probably come back here later an post some more.....

Off to find lunch now as the tummy is grumbling. I hope this is typed ok. I sat on my glasses last night and broke one of the arms off ... so must look really funny with them balanced on my nose. Typed today without them and so far so good.

Am looking around for another pair and will see what I find as I do need them for reading.

Love to all.
Kathy

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CEE - Tuesday

Hello All
this is going to be a shorter post than I planned, as this keyboard is old and badly behaved. The S and D key don´t work so well (and a few others!!), and it makes for tough typing!

Am safely in Cee, at the sea. 20km walk today in rain all the way. It was not a happy day, and I was a little GV on the way. Visibility on the route down to 50 m I think, so could not see any of the vista´s promised, and the path near the end was very rough. My hotel room at Hotel Larry is decorated with wet clothing everywhere, and I´m hoping it gets dry before tomorrow morning! I didn´t even wash the walking clothes I wore today. Just took my clothes off and rolled them in a towel to get some of the water out ... this despite wearing my rainpants and rain top all the way. Every now and then on the route I had to stop and tip my head forward to let the rain that had accumulated in my hat´s brim tip out! anyway ... thats life. If it was raining like this at home I would have sms´d that I´m not walking - and it take a lot to stop me walking as you all know.

Then quickly about lunch. I went downstairs to the diningroom thinking half a french loaf again, when the chef said no, meal of the day is Galithian stew, a house special. So water and bread was brought, and a plate - and then he arrived with his special dish, and proceeded to dish up for me ... potatoe, cabbage and spinach stew (yummy yummy), with a variety of pieces of meat - chorizo sausage, pork, beef, and his prized piece that he laid ever so carefully on my plate and putting 3 fingers to his mouth showed me that this was the best piece .... a sheeps ear!!!!!!! well. As soon as he turned his back the sheeps ear was back on the serving platter, now left on my table, and it got neatly covered with spinach! The meal was however delicious, and so nice for lunch and getting me warm again. This was followed by creme caramel (of the casa) and coffee. All for 9 euro. So I really scored I think. The room (individual) was also only 30E ... my cheapest room so far. Double bed, bath and veranda with lovely view of the sea, boats, Corcubion on the other side etc etc when the rain stops briefly and the visibility improves ... So can´t even take photos ...

Hopefully tomorrow the rain in Spain will return to the plain .... and also that I get use of a better keyboard.

Unsure of distance to Finisterre hotel tomorrow - but will leave here at about 7, then drop my back pack at the hotel, and walk unhindered to the lighthouse another 3 - 4 km away .. and the real end of the world.

Am pleased to hear that the Durban gang are home after an eventful trip home.

Kathy

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday. Kathy in the mist!

Hello All

Wish I had the facility to post photos! today has been absolutely beautiful county side .... from midlands style, to the starkness of the country side as you travel through Grabouw in the Cape, to little hamlets, to dairy farms (real small style) to mielie fields, vineyards etc etc. Frequently on the side of the path there were information boards that told the reader in Spanish and English a little about what there was to see. I saw water mills that date from who knows when, a little fortified town first known tohave been settled in 60BC!, although most of the buildings now are are reconstructed from stone available in the area, a house still standing that was built in the 1500 (apparently the oldest original house in the area), a bridge where the local monks and priests tried to keep Napolean at bay, to no avail, and they were all killed by his troops .... all the history is just overwhelming. But .....

It was a tough day. My watch gave up the ghost at 32km, so I walked a little blind, but think I did 35km today, working on 5km per hour that I seem to be managing today. The way marking was there, but one had to search for it, and I spent much of my day, evertytime I got to some kind on T junction looking for the yellow arrow or bollard with scallop shell on it. Also the paths were rough, rocky and rutted, and the little coutry roads had terrible camber and good old pot holes. But - thats the only complaint. It was also wet and Kloof rainy or misty and I never took off my 2 long sleeve tops and chill cheater all day, although the sun did pop out from the clouds for a minute of 2 every hour. There were also very few bar cafes - I knew this, but did miss a nice warm coffee now and again. I had stocked up with lunch provisions as suggested in Negreira, and at 12h30 sat on a stone by the side of the road and had a whole wheat roll with cheese and sliced tomatoe - all carried to the spot. I also had a peach, and for pùdding had half of the rock cake that I´d been carrying since Santiago. While rather tasty, I think the rock cake was probably better eaten on the day of purchase, and the blinking thing weighed a ton! I also carried extra water, so was really weighed down with luch and liquids ... but tomorrow I´m back to visiting bars. Today was a cheap round! .... 1 E for a coffee on route, and 1 E for a bottle of water at the only bar. Tonight I will have a pilgrim menu here at As Pais in Olveiroa 12 E, and they serve breakfast from 6.30... so will do that too.

This little hamlet where the accommodation is all of 6 - 8 houses, this is the only bar cafe, and this place )my accommodatio for the night) only has 4 rooms. I´m paying 42 E for the night for my individual status in a lovely room that has been lovingly and carefully decorated in a restored house from yonks ago. There are also 32 beds at the albergue. There was a mad rush out of Nergreira this morning by pilgrims knowing they had to get to the albergue before it filled up! or face walking further..... I think if I came back (when I come back?) I will really do the book ahead trick and pay the extra for accommodation. I really don´t think it can be much fun racing for beds in an albergue that is rather basic. But to each his own ...Its often a case of 5 E in an Albergue versus 42 E in a room and its an economic decision rather than anything else.

I´ve met some interesting people .... and walked a little of the way with each. A girl, my age?, who left her home in Holland at the end of Feb, and has been walking for the last 4 months. She will walk to Muxia and tavels home this weekend from Santiago. She says she has now had enough walking, is tired, and wants to return to her familiar routine. Spanish ways are getting to her she says. Late nights, bread as standard pilgrim food, dinner at 8 or 9 etc. A yound Irish lass (22) who has walked the portugeuse way (spelling!) and will also walk to Muxia before going home this weekend. Her mother came with her to Lisbon, walked 2 days of the camino with her to see what it was all about, then retuned home. She says her mom was happy enough that she could come to no real harm, was being sensible and employing her common sense, so left her to get on with it. A man from Sweden who is doing his 4th camino in as many years. He came into Santiago on the Camino North route, and is also going to Finnesterre before returning home. Interesting to note, was that while I noticed few women yesterday walking to Negreira, lots of women were out today walking this section. I think they were all determined to get a bed, and got up really early to start walking .....

So .. here I sit, showered and coffee´d out. I must go and do my washing and see where to hang it on my room to get dry. Supper is at 6.30 yes!! and an interesting pilgrim menu. Think I might just do the wine trick tonight (included in the meal), as all I have to do is climb some stairs to my room and lovely double bed. There is not that much to do here (read nothing to do here!), so will probably have a snooze before dinner, then watch some TV to improve my Spanish (joke!) and then go down and wait for supper. After supper .. its back to bed for me. I really have tired feet today.

Next time I walk here I´ve decided I´ll try and get a bird book. I´ve heard cuckoos, seen the local version of our yellow billed kites, seen crows, starling types, heard and seen red eye dove types, seen robins, mossies, and thrushes by the dozen. There are also lots of LBJs (little brown jobs) that make lots of noise but are hard to spot, and once spotted are just LBJs. I would like to know more about the birds actually. There have been lots of dogs today .. and often not tied up luckily .. they bark at me as I walk past there homes. Lots of fowl runs, horses in stables and fields, cows being milked, or walked to their day pastures, turkeys, geese, ducks and the usual barn cats.

Unsure if I told you about the local animal rescue society who were collecting money in Santiago. We had seen, and Sylvia had speoken about the many dogs that follow pilgims, stray dogs or dogs that are tired of their tough farm life maybe, to Sanigo or where ever. Its something that worries me .. but there is an organization that rescues dogs like this and tries to re-home them. Well, in Santiago on Saturday they had a stall, a few of the dogs and were raising money for this good cause. The people were all young adults, and they had posters up, were talking to interested passers by, and every dog had a little waistcoat thing on with a tin for moeny. Well. they did rather well out of me the day, and every dog got a special kathy hello. I´m so pleased that someone is doing something. Then while waiting for dinner last night I read the paper (ha ha - looked at the local spanish Sunday newspaper and tried to recognize people in the photo) and saw a lovely photo and write up of teh animal rescue societies fund raising efforts in Santiago. Lets hope animal welfare gets more coverage here.

Well ... thats all I can think of for now. So nice to see the comments! keep them coming please. Its the one way I stay in contact with ´home´. I´m so pleased so many friends back home are taking the time to read my ramblings and post a comment, and I know others are just reading. Keep up the contact and interset. If you want to know anything post a comment and ask and I´ll see if I can answer.

Tomorrow I walk to Cee and Corcubion on the coast, then Finnesterre on Wednesday. The weather predicted does not look promising )see what you learn when you watch the TV news), but I´ll continue walking as I have a warm dry bed booked for every night. I also hoping that the larger Finnesterre hotel does laundry and I´ll have a big wash there. My jeans are now standing up by themselves just about!

Kathy

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday some more ....

Hello all

Missing you all! the drinking and eating buddies are gone, and its very quiet. Nothing to do ... so went looking for some supper - with great dread I might add, as it is only just after 6pm, and I thought it would need to be bread again. BUT - I decided to go into a funny little place near the hotel that I´d seen on my earlier travels, but avoided for some reason, and I´ve just had the most beautifully presented salad with asparagus, cheese and ham (6 euros). If I think that yesterday with Linda I had a ´salad´ (5 euros) in Santiago that literally consisted of some lettuce and 4 slices of tomato (ensalada simple or something) this place deserves 5 stars for presentation and quality. But sad.ly this place has no ´road appeal´and has some funny dudes drinking beer.... anyway. AND - they have an internet machine, after I walked 4 kms in town at mid day looking for a place. Will try their coffee next.

I´m going to keep a record of my costs on this leg to help others planning to do this portion ..and will putit all out at the end of my travels. As I was unsure of what to expect, travelling on my own etc, I have booked accommodation for just about every night, so will know those costs too.

After this I´m going to bed. Didn´thave much sleep last night, and we had two late nights before that, so need my beauty sleep. Also its a long day (35km) tomorrow, so need all my stremgth.

Over and out
Kathy

Sunday in Negreira

Leaving Santiago

Hello
have been thinking along the way what I needed to say if found an internet cafe... so this will be a big jumble of things....

New learnings and insights

1. there is a lot of security and comfort walking in or with a group. Walking´alone´ is another ball game. You have to be so much more in touch with whats going on, and self-reliant. I´ve missed some markers, trusted other pilgrims (going the wrong way themselves) and generlly been a little deurmekaar on the route today. A group with you or coming up behind always made me feel safe and secure and I could just walk, knowing that a friendly familiar face was not far behind me.
Pilgrim statue at Negreira
2. I would love to have ´a Sylvia´with me all the way. Sylia - while we might not have realized it at the time, I think we all relied on you, your knowledge and common sense. Questions like, so which way to do go to get out of town tomorrow morning?, sms´s to Sylvia that asked which path did you take at this point? etc etc

3. I never relied on a guidebook up to Santiago, now suddenly thnk I need one, but it has just complicated my life. I´ve taken wrong turns, gone up and down streets etc etc, instead of just trusting the way marking ... I need to learn to trust the way marks. This false trust in a book is also complicated by a sudden urge to use the distancs given in the guidebook as the absolute truth .. and that has also caused problems. So ... at some point I put the book away, and put my watch on another screen so that I couldn´t see how far I´d gone. 200 m noted in the book before turn L, is NOT always 200m .... the sign might only appear at 300 m - and the sign is generally correct!

4. I felt a little invincible which is not good. I got into town early, and could quite easily just have continued to the next stop 30km away. I felt strong, fit, well, well watered and ready for the task. My thoughts being that Hotel Tamara where I´m staying in like a city lodge, and is opposite a large petrol garage just outside town ... not the nicest most refreshing view from my bedroom window, so maybe I must go on. Other thoughts... I now have all this time to kill before tomorrow morning and my next stage. But I slowed myslf down, and asked, what´s the rush? ...

Horreo (corn storage) at Negreira


Main road through a village

Early morning traffic
5. so, put my back pack down and walked into town to look for lunch and an internet cafe. And decided to explore a little.

6. The Spanish are apparently not great on an early proper lunch, even on Sundays. All I could get was the usaul bl&$%"$g bocadillio with ham and cheese - so today has been a breaded-out day again. I´m now starting to detest french loaves, no matter how fresh they are. I did however have very nic coffee´s and tea.

Sylvia - that lovely place on the river at Ponte Maceira was closed - so I couldn´t get a stamp there. Am sorry about that. The door had no opening times displayed so it didn´t make sense to even wait.

The walking was a breeze today despite the hill that I had to cross to get to Alto Mar do Ovellas. (45 m above sea level to 275m). Walked behind a grop of spanish men who jabbered like women all the way! .. and didn´t see another female walker at all during the time I was on the road.

so ... have done some exploring - Negreira has a lovely shopping street, and saw some lovely clothing that others in the group would have appreciated. I even tried on a bolero waistcoat thing I saw in a window in a shop.

I know how to leave town tomorrow for the 35 odd km to my next stop.

Have done some shopping for the walk tomorrrow, where it was noted in both guide books that I´m carrying that there are very few bars etc. Funny .. even on todays stretch, there was only 1 bar - the Bonka Cafe at 8km from Santiago. Otherwise nothing on the road, or open at all! If its like that tomorrow, I could have problems. I will also carry extra water. All the water points today said not suitable for drinking.

You are all in Johannesburg as I write this. Thinking of Sally on the Gautrain going to retrieve her suitcase from her friend in Sandton. Rayna, Eugenie, Syl, Roy and Kay waiting for their connecting flights to Durban, Kim back in Turkey already, Janet home in the States and trying out her bike to see if all the walking has helped get her more bike fit! Linda is on her island, hopefully having a drink. Charles and Barabara ae in the Uk with their sons.

Well .... off to wash my walking clothes, have a nap and do what ever pilgrims do while wating for the next day. I´ve brought fruit from the Negreira version of fruit and veg city so am planning to enjoy my fruit as I couldn´t get a nice salad for lunch.

Rain predicted for tomorrow - so please all hold thumbs that it holds off until I´m in at Olveiroa.

Kathy


Friday, June 17, 2011

The next portion for Kathy

Hello
It´s Friday, we´re in Santiago and its about 13h00. Just reminding myself and getting re-orientated to the time and date. Time of day, day of the week and date have been far from our minds since we strated walking.

I thought I´d just give a quick overview of the next portion of my walk.

I leave on Sunday from Santiago de Composteal to walk to Negreira (22km). Sylvia took me to show me the way out of Santiago this morning, so that I would know the start of the . route out of town. I will be staying at the Hotel Tamara in Negreira the night, and will stock up on goodies (read food) for the next day or two as there is little to buy on the next stage apparently. On Monday I walk to Olveiroa (33km), and have booked accommodation in a beautiful looking rural Casa called As Pais. 4 rooms, menu of the day on offer and breakfast .... then Tuesday I walk into Cee and Corcubion and see the sea. Its a little like walking into an 18oo Muizenburg, then walking through Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay on the Cape coast in South Africa. This night I´m still undecided about accommodation, and will either do a traditional albergue in San Roque, or treat myself to a night in a little pension in either Cee or Corcubion. Will see how I feel..... This will be a short day. I´m breaking the 32 km between Olveiroa and Finnesterre into 2 days to enjoy the majesty of the area. From Cee I will then walk into Finnesterre or Fisterra on the Wednesday. Here I will get another certificate of completion, and walk to the light house on the peninsula (imagine Cape Point but not quite as dramatic maybe) and hopefully get a photo taken of myself next to the Camino marker board that reads 0.00km!!. On Thursday I walk to Muxia (said Mooscha), 28km away and have my last night out on my big walk. Friday, I bus back to Santiago to Hostal Suso and catch up with myself, repack my bags and get ready to start my journey home on Saturday evening. Rayna has kindly offered to fetch me on my arrival in Durban on the Subday afternoon.

We had a night bus trip to Finnesterre last night to see the sun setting (sun set at 22h20!!), so got to see a little of what to expect on my walk. The bus took about 90 minutes there, we then watched the sun set, had some glorious nibbles and wine and champagne, and all boarded the bus for the return trip to our magnificent hotel (a restored, converted monastry - very simple, very plain, very understated, very special). Kathy got to bed at half past 12! ... I think its the latest I´ve been up for years.

I´m unsure about email and internet access on the next portion of my walk, but will try and keep in touch. Thank you for the comments. RWFL Pinetown girls especially have been so regular in their comments. Thank you to all of you! its really been good knowing you are reading what is written and I really feel your presence with me on my walk.

We have a night walk in Santiago planned for tonight at 22h00. Its raining and very wet at the moment, so really hope it dries up and clears, otherwise we are going to get wet and be cold. Not that we can´t cope with that! it would just be nice to have it dry. But as we saw the sun set yesterday, a special experience apparently as it is often misty and overcast in Finnesterre, and to top it all we had a full moon!, we can´t really demand no rain for today. We have been so bless´d with the the weather during the last 3 week anyway.

Over and out for now ....
Kathy

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Santiago

Hello everyone

We have arrived in Santiago.

Arriving means many things ... but some of the more practical ones are (1) collecting our bags we posted onto Santiago when we arrived in Pamplona (2) getting our Compostella - certificate of completion of the Camino (3) booking into our hotel (Sylvia, you have outdone yourself!! what a fantastic place) (4) attending the 12 o clock pilgrim mass in the cathedral (held daily) (5) getting a map and your bearings in the old part of the city (6) getting some lunch, before meeting in the main square at 3pm as arranged. Photo opportunities beckon...... what an experience the last 3 weeks have been...... (but you will have to ask your pilgrim what the experience was like for them individually). Tonight at 8. 30pm we are to be collected by taxi to go to Finnesterre to watch the sunset from there (the end of the ´known world´eons ago), before being brought back later. I think some serious retail therapy will also be taking place, some visits to places of interest etc.... as most of the SA pilgrims have until mid afternoon on Saturday before they leave for the airport to travel home. Barbara and Charles head off to the UK on Ryanair tomorrow morning, and Janet leaves for the US on Friday late afternoon. I move to Pension Suso on Saturday afternoon, for my last night in Santiago before my 5 day walk to Finnesterre and Muxia, but I´ll be back in this ancient city the next Friday before traveling home.

The walk today into Santiago was an easy one .... and while it started through the woods and small farms, we quickly found ourselves on the outskirts of the Santiago airport (which straddles the Camino Frances route) and then the outer suburbs of Santiago. Like Sylvia pointed out, Santiago is NOT the END .. it was just our destination - our walk continues.

I think I speak for all when I say thank you for following our journey. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for all of us. We certaibnly knew you were out there!

We´ll be home soon ......

Love Kathy

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A farewell speech by Janet Ploss

As background. On day 1, Janet was given 12 South African words to learn. She had to master these words in order to be given honorary status as a South African!

"It has been quite a journey with my 14 new South African friends, not a SKELM (baddie) or DOF (stupid) one among you. There were times when I was GATVOL (sick and tired of all this), but it was never becasue of you. On this Camino we struggle with our own demons.

On this walk, we ate very little BOEREWORS (local spicy sausage) and very little MIELIE (maize). And come to think of it we never had a BRAAI (barbeque). But, hey, we´re in Spain not SA. You can imagine my surprize when I realized that I´d been learning Afrikaans on a trip in Spain. I may be the first person in human history to have done so.How can I in poliote company discuss the ways in which on the Camino we got in tune with our bodily functions? Barbara says of all my vocabulary words there´s only one that I must not sayt in polite company, and that´s KAK (s&%t), but then I just said it. But that is fundamentally what all the early morning tiiming of our breaks at cafe bars is all about. I mean walking along, you can let a POEP (fart) slip out, but you have to stop in a cafe bar, buy a cafe con leche if its a sit on the toilet that you need.

I never once thought "OH YOU BLERRIE" (You bloody...) about any of you or anyone. At times I have EINA (very sore) feet and knees, but a little ibroprofen and with getting stronger, this faded into the background.

Nothing really seemes VROT (bad or terrible or rotten) to me. I have really enjoyed getting to know each of you. I thought AG MAN (oh boy) when Charles or Roy told me that in rugby, players sometimes grabbed at the genitals of their opponents (in the scrum).

The Camino was very LEKKER (nice or good) with such a fine group of South Africans. I certainly didn´t know what to expect. Having TOM (money) has made it possible to travel to Spain, but shopping has not what its been about, we have just enjoyed our time together. We have shared a wonderful experience together, and I feel so grateful to have met and gotten to know you all. If only I had not lost the DINGIS (whatever Janet lost) on the way."
Janet Ploss. 15 June 2011

Arca do Pino

Hello everyone,

This is our last night out on the route before we all walk into Santiago tomorrow morning. While we are mindful of this, we are also not thinking too hard that this part of the walk is coming to an end. And I say PART with great emphasis, as this was or is really just part of our walk through life, and we undertook it here. Walking hard everyday, either alone or part of a small group, with amawalker walkers or other pilgrims has given us each time to journey with others or alone with ourselves and to consider all that has been close to our hearts and in our minds.

We set off from our various overnight stops in cloudy cool misty weather this morning, but again walked through the local country side that defies description. Forested areas, small subsistence farms, rural hamlets, farm land ..... just too beautiful. The walk was not arduous today, but a long distance again ... about 23 km. For those of you reading this who do road races, you will appreciate my thoughts along the way .... there are concrete bollards along the route that record the distance to Santiago. At the 32km to go marker I thought- ah, just a Midmar Umgeni water 32km, at 27km, I thought, just a Verulam race, at 25km, its just PDAC, and then when I passed 21 I thought about all the 21.1km half marathons I´d done over the years and wondered what race I´d like to think about, and thought probably the Sardine Run down the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast. So ... thought about all my walking buddies today, and did what we all do on races when we have some distance to go and need to stay focussed ....

Thank you again for all the comments ... and really pleased to see Cindy´s comment. Cindy, you can all do this!

I´ll post again in Santiago. Just wanted everyone reading the blog to know where we were, and that we were all ok. As usual, washing being done, snacks for the road tomorrow being sourced and a supper place being identified. What a life!!! its going to take some change in mindset when we get back home to take up our normal duties and roles there.

Kathy


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A traditional albergue experience

Hola!
6 of us have booked into the traditional albergue in Ribadiso, the others electing to walk on 3 km to the next little settlement and book into a hotel. When booking in we were given a disposable mattress cover, another for the pillow on the bed, and will be using our sleeping bag liners tonight as bedding. Cost is 5 euros, no meals, but these we can get at a bar place next door. The bar opens at 6am tomorow morning, so we will eat there before doing our second last day before we walk into the amin square in Santiago. We walked 27.5 km today, but the next 2 days will be shorter luckily. For lunch, Sylvia had a lovely bochadillio with cheese, and I had some traditional almond cake. The others, Kay and Roy, and Barabara and Charles had slap chips that looked very nice. Some idea of costs: Syliva breakfast this morning of cola cao (hot chocolate) and a slice of home made madeira cake costs her 2 euros, and the lunch with cola cao (hot) cost 3 eoros 60. My tea often costs about 1.50 to 1.80 euros, and a can or bottle of jouice or water from a vending machine costs a euro. Dinner from a pilgrim menu is 9 or 10 euros, but consists of 2 courses (huge helpings), bread on the table and water and wine included as is a pudding - yoghurt or ice cream or tart of the house. So far the pilgrim menus have enabled the vegetarians and no shellfish or tuna eaters to get by, and the people serving us are generally very helpful and accommodating. Octopus is a regional speciality and Eugenie and Linda have tried out the dish. Talking food, we meet Gordon Bell from SA who now lives here, and he told us about an eating place in Palas de Rei that did a Plato Gordon (8.50 euors) that we shoud try. It was a hamburger served with cheese, bacon and a fried egg on the same plate and chips! what a meal. Rayna and I had that for lunch and were decidely stuffed to put it politely. That night at supper I then had a ´fruit salad´that turned out to be lettuce with tomatoe, sliced kiwi fruit, sliced apple and nectarine, and a canned pineapple ring, all served artistically arranged on a plate with oil and vinegar as a dressing. Sounds odd, but it was delicious. The food has been good, and for other pilgrims thinking about costs, 30 euros a day for meals and the odd drink etc is plenty.
On another note some of us spotted a deer today and a hare. There were lots of sheep and cows around and we walked dodging the cow pats. At some point we crossed paths with a herd of cows and I said to Sylvia I didn´t mind the dodging, but I didn´t really want a cow poepping ON my shoes so we hung back a little to let then cross. We also saw a women open her ´front door´and out walked about 10 sheep and they wealked around the corner of her house into the field. ... they know the routine!
All well in Spain. Will post again soon. We have now walked about 350km.
Kathy
PS - Dave, I´m wearing spats or gaiters so that I don´t pick up stones in my shoes. They have been a life saver.
Pinetwon RWFL girls .... I did 10 minutes a km the other day on the flats through town ... I thought I was flying!! my back pack probably weights in a 6km so was very chuffed. But its not about speed, so not really watching. Just of interest to those thinking of walking. Bank on 4 - 5 km an hour ......
Kathy

Monday, June 13, 2011

A misty walk to @alas do Rei

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This and that

We are all slowly arriving at Palace do Rei and it has rained all the way so we all look a little like drowned rats. The beds are welcome as are the hot showers.
Una asked about boots and other. This is what we are wearing. Kathy and Linda Salomon trail shoes. Roy Kay and Eugenie Asics trail and Kay running shoes. Janet has Keen hiking sandals. Rayna and Sylvia have leather top hi tec V lite hiking boots Charles and Barbara have canvas hi tec hiking boot. Charles says his are his 4th pair over the years. Sally also has hi tec brookdale boots. Everybody is very happy with what they are wearing. I think that choice of foot wear and socks is a very personal choice.
What have we lost? Very little actually. The most devastating loss was Roys camera. Socks seem to be what are lost most often and Syl lost her note book. Barbara lost her head torch, but Roy said his head torch was the most useless thing he brought, so maybe the torch is not too missed.
What is the most useful? Waist belts in various guises, walking sticks, a buff, lip ice and foot anti chafe stuff like blue steel anti chafe gel, glide or compeed stick. Linda says her cell phone has been the most useful and Kathy says her garmin forerunner watch. Eugenie said her spats. Janet was pleased she brought her own shampoo and conditioner.
What did we consider the most useless thing we brought? Revolting sandals, and a number of the group said there altus rain suits. While we have not walked in pouring rain, it has rained on a number of occasions but we have got by with rain proof tops. Kay and Roy had SA purchased rain ponchos that just disintegrated at the first wearing so pass on those. Other useless items included the little black number tops a number of people brought to wear at night and have not been used and sarongs.
What do you need to bring? A sense of humour and comaraderie. The ability to chill and lots of patience.
We have walked about 310 km now with 65 to go to Santiago.
Tomorrow we walk to Ribadiso. Here's hoping it stops raining soon.
Kathy
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday - Villafranca to Sarria via O Cebriero

The bus came to fetch us at our lovely little hotel in Villafrance del Bierzo at 9am.While we were standing around chatting a woman walked up`and asked if I was Sil. It was Annie from South Africa who I have been in email contact with for about 18 months.  She was walking past and decided to stop at the hotel for a coffee when she heard South African accents.She wondered whether this could be my group and we had a lovely meeting outside the hotel.
The bus drove us to O Cebreiro where we visited for about an hour.The weather was gorgeous - it is often shrouded in mist or rain - and the vistas were breath taking.
Then we were taken down the mountain and dropped at Sarria where we visited a few shops, had lunch and Eugenie and I sorted out her new SIM card.  We walked 4.5km to Casa Carmen in Barbadello,This is where Pami wanted us to stay so in her honour we all agreed to spend the night here.
Tomorrow we will walk to Portomarin.Hopefully we´ll be able to visit Gordon Bell at Casa Banderas on the way so that I can give him his RSA flag.
It has been a full, lovely day again today and we are all looking forward to the next section of our walk to Santiago.


110km to Santiago
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Villafranca del Bierzo

This one is for Margie Biggs - to show that we are cleaning up the Camino as we go!


Villafranca (friday)

Hello


I´ve just arrived in Villafranca del Bierzo after a 25km walk that was flatish, with the odd hill to keep one focussed! I had a number of special pilgrim ´blessings` today that I must tell you about. Blessings like this are what make the camino special. I saw squirrels and a number of small hares today while walking. Secondly, at the tourist iffice in cacebelos I saw the person that works there going in, but noticed that the offices only opened at 10h30 and it was only 10h00. I would have liked a stamp (sello) in my pilgrim passport .. so I suppose i looked upset, when the lady turned around, asked what I wanted and when I expalined in my best spanglish, she offered to get me a stamp quickly. So - one helpful tourist officer. I then decided to walk 500m back into the centre of the village to get some tea, and when I´d paid for that, the lady who served me gave me a piece of Madeira cake to have with the tea. When I offered to pay, she declined saying it was for a pilgrim. So I had a rather nice tea time treat. Then, on a lonely stretch of raod I came to a place where I had to make a decision about which way to go. A number of arrrows pointed R, but were covered with black paint, andf the was one lonely, pale arrow popinting straight. I was a little stuck!..... what does a weary pilgrim do. Just then a cyclist came past and he said he was going straight ... but it was a busy raod with very little verge. Then from literally no where another walker pilgrim af¡rrived, with a map (mapa) and we could consult that and decided on the shorter straight route 1.5km, rather than the off road 4km the round-about detour was. Both routes met up just before Villa franca, so I saved my tired feet from some extra distance. Then .... my last special moemt that actually made me laugh was as I walked into Villafranca. The cobbled roads as one hits the towns ae killers ..... tored feet really comp`lain about cobbles. I had no idea where our accommodation was, but saw a woman selling cherries at the side of the road, so again, tried out my best spanish and aske her if she knew where the place was. She got a funny look in her eyes, and pointed to the place right behind her ... I had arrived. So. One happy pilgrim who has arrived for the night. Going to find out now if the others have arrived, get something to eat and then rest. I walked into the town - its literally like walking down fieldshill, so now I have to go UP UP UP again .... what a pain, but pleased I found an internet cafe.

Pam ... hope you are reading this. thinking of you!
Kathy

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ponferrada

Eugenie in awe of the massive castle at ponferrada
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Thursday







Ola
We are in Ponferadda now, some of us walking the 8km into town, the others on a day trip to Las Medulas, a world heritage site. I must tell all our readers about the walk into Molinaseca yeterday though as it was a tough day - but like good pilgrims everybody took it in their stride and coped very well. We started out, heading for Foncebadon in the freezing cold, all layered and wearing juist about all we carry at the moment. I had 2 long sleeve tops on, a windbreaker jaCKET CUM RAIN COAT, GLOVES, BUFF AND HAT FOR WARMTH. (sorry about capitals, standing in the info centre on a funny computer that I´m battling with). Anyway, climbed from 1100 metres to 15oo in 10 km to the highest point fort the day just after the iron cross where we all left our stones or momentoes that we brought from home .... and got colder and colder and more an more wind swept. Then we started a long slow down ,that is hard to describe, except to say it looked to me like walking down a giant chocolate flaky, where the flaky kept on flaking and had grooves. Do yourself a favour, buy a flaky and take a look at it from the top down ... that was our path. We then dropped from 1500 to 550 m by the end of the 27km we had to walk yesterday. I led the pack, and talking for myself had to dig hard both physically and mentally on the terrain and in the grim weather to keep foscussed and walking. There was little chance for looking around, unless one stopped, as eyes had to be kept firmly on the road as we walked. We also had the oportunity to meet Tomas on the way. Tomas believes he is the last of the Knights Templar and offers very basic accommodation to weary pilgrims, or a welcome coffee on a donation basis. There were some other welcome cafe stops on the way, and most of the group reported finding lovely coffee, eats and even welcome onion soup in one instance. I was only able to strip all the layers at 12h30 when I walked into Molinaseca and found our wonderful hotel just on entering town. Good filling pilgrim meal again, before we all went off to bed at about 9pm in broad day light ... can´t get used to that somehow. SO - a tough walking day. Bring on the Sani Stagger race in Nov this year .... yesterdays terrain and steep drop was such good preparation for Sani.
Will keep postiong if you keep up the comments ... its lovely reading your comments everybody, as Sylvia gets them on her phone as they come in and tells us all who has sent us a comment ... so keep it up. I think I speak for all when I say that we all send lots of love to our families back home. All pilgrims well ..... eating well, getting a little sun tan and looking fit and healthy.
Kathy Mountain Goat

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rabanal del Camino

Albergue Tesin has a Posada with double rooms as well as the dorms. 5 euro for the dorms and 45 for a double room

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday ..... (unsure of the date)

Ola
Had to ask somebody what day it is, and can´t tell you the date. Maybe Spanish time and the walking routine is becoming ingrained. Spanish time a little like Africa time, and Sylvia, Rayna and I had a bit of a laugh yesterday when our bus was late, and we recalled that on the Via Francigena walk in 2006 the Italians talked about their busses being retardo (late) - and voila, our Spanish busses were oftern retardo too...... We had a walking day today again - 22km to Rabanal, after 2 days of bus trips to get us throught he mesetta (flat and boring like the Free State). I think most of the group were pleased to get walking again, as we felt out of routine and a little flat from the waiting and long bus trips. Today´s walk was from about 800 m to 1300 m over the 22km - a long slow drag áll the way up into ¨town¨. But spectacular scenary. It reminded me of the area near Gansbaai or Pearly Beach if you know the area.
Some Spanish observations: tea (say Tey) costs 1 Euro 50. and Tey con Leche (with milk) 1.80 about - thats 18 rand! we order from a card, never ask what anything will cost, trusting that we can pay for it afterwards. The prices on the card often are wrong anyway. Orange juice is freshly squeezed, and a gin and tonic can cost anything from 6 to 8 Euros as the just pour the gin in free hand and you have to say STOP! A lunch sandwich, bocadillo is a hugh bit of french loaf - at least 30cm long with Jamon on (say G, gutteral G-hamon) and cheese and takes lots LOTS of chewing. I´ve just had a salad verde (green salad) as we are all craving salad, and veges - although the salads are good here. Breakfast is often tostado with jam and butter, or Spanish omlette or the usual croisantte (excsue spelling!!) Tonight we will probably go looking for a pilgrim menu - often 3 courses including bread and wine. Val - the food is ok, and there is lots of it available.
over and out - the rest of the group here now-
Kathy

El Ganso - on the way to Rabanal

El ganso - cowboy bar
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Astorga

Eugenie in front of the Gaudi Pace
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Clavijo (Logrono)

The stunning castle at Clavijo outside Logrono
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Leon

We are in Leon. 11 of us went out to dinner in Burgos and this morning we were all up early to do some sightseeing and visit the cathedral. Taxis came to cart us and our packs to the bus station. It was a long ride to Leon - 2hr45 mins but after we'd checked into our hotel (an old family hotel, a little shabby but clean and comfortable) we walked to the cathedral and had bite to eat in the square. We had a group meeting at 7pm and some then went out for supper. I sorted my pack for tomorrow and sent a few confirmation emails to our next few nights' accommodation. We'll get a bus to Astorga tomorrow and start walking from there into the Irago Mountains. The CSJ guide says that it is a long hard 50km+ from Astorga to Ponerrada - from 266m up to 1517m at the highest point on the Camino Frances. We are all rested and raring to go!
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Burgos to Leon

On the ALSA bus to Leon
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday

Ola. We are waiting in Logrona for our bus to Burgos. Sitting at an outdoor cafe with a drink, tea for some, lemonade or coke for others and waiting. We all left our packs at the apartment we stayed in last night so that we could have an easier day and the packs will be delivered to us later here at the bus station. So an easy 9 km walk as a group into town, lunch at the laughing duck or something similar and then a taxi ride to the fortress at Clavijo. What a sight! Walls 1.5 m thick and built on a huge monolithic rock that afforded those in the castle 360 degrees view over the surrounding country side. My book tells me that according to legend St James appeared here on a white horse as Santiago Matamoros helping the christians defeat the moors at the battle of Clavijo in 844. History lesson over. We have a no walking day tomorrow to as we need to get to Leon and we then get back on the road on Tuesday. This post all jumbled ... Supper last night care of Kim from Turkey and Sally who made the bestest lentil soup and we ate that with fresh bread and polished off a few bottles of red wine. A good evening had by all with jokes a plenty from Roy and Charles. All well. Kathy
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Burgos to Leon

Janet Ploss - the only American in our group.  She is learning a few Afrikaans slang words so that she can earn honorary South African status by the time she gets to Santiago.