A Pilgrim’s Journey; starts in Andalucia.

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macasas
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A Pilgrim’s Journey; starts in Andalucia.

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:18 pm

The first time I heard about Santiago de Compostela, I was sitting in a Spanish fish restaurant being told Spanish jokes by my Spanish neighbour involving scallops shells, buses, planes and automobiles. I admit that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend the finer details of the jokes, nor did I understand the significance of Santiago as a pilgrimage route.

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That was six years ago and it was in a different world, a world where my head was always busy thinking and life was something that happened while I was making plans for the future. I was married, stressed and living in a foreign country. Today I am not! Today I am single, stress-free and living in the moment. I have returned to Spain and tomorrow I will start the 1000km walk that will take me from Sevilla to Santiago. As I look at the map I can understand why some would take the option of power assisted travel to get to the 3rd most important pilgrimage site in the Christian world after Rome and Jerusalem. However, there are also plenty like me, perhaps considered slightly crazy by some, who take to the well trodden camino that has been subjected to the pounding of pilgrim’s feet for many centuries. Every year over 100,000 walk, cycle or ride their horses along trials that so many have travelled before them but these days it’s not just for religious reasons people make the trip; sport, health and spiritual reasons are all valid reasons and some are doing it just for the challenge.

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The Camino Frances which traverses northern Spain is the most popular route and is considered by many people to be the only Camino de Santiago. However, there are many others depending on the direction the pilgrim was taking and another well trodden path starts right in the heart of Andalucia, in Sevilla. The Via de la Plata, or Silver Road, starts at the cathedral and this is where I shall be starting my own pilgrimage, leaving the city to the north-west as I head north towards Salamanca. After 6 weeks of walking the cathedral in Santiago will mark the finish of my physical journey, but hopefully my inner journey will not stop there.

There is a wealth of information regarding the history and legends of Santiago contained on the web and interested readers should start with Wikipedia and www.santiago-compostela.net an excellent site containing hundreds of photographs of all the routes.

This forum has been started to encourage open discussion and interesting debate about all aspects of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the history, the caminos, places passed on route not to mention the people that decide to take this journey, everyone has a story to tell. Please join in the discussion, especially if you have already completed the Via de la Plata, or walked the Camino Frances, if you are thinking of doing it or can’t understand why anyone would want to. I will drop in as often as I can, when internet connections permit but in the meanwhile if any of you see a pilgrim, identifiable by the scallop shell hanging from his or rucksack, be sure to give them an encouraging toot of your horn.
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Postby andalucia » Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:46 am

Best of luck Macasas.
Hope you have some sturdy boots and plenty of factor 30.

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Postby Kmoppz » Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:02 pm

Hey good luck... one day I'd love to take on a chalange like that.

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A Pilgrim's Journey

Postby Chrissie » Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:11 pm

Best of luck macasas :!: One day I shall do that walk (not ALL of it though) and not just yet :roll:
I do hope you'll manage some updates on your progress for us :?:
The past cannot be changed, but the present can be spoilt by worrying about the future

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Postby karandjon » Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:22 pm

All the best Macasas! Do let us know how you get on!

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Postby Wicksey » Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:59 pm

Good luck to you. I used to live on the route in France and often saw (usually lone and often young) men and women walking along the roadside with the scallop shell hanging from their rucksack and thought what a long journey they had ahead of them. Keep us posted.

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Support and encouragement provide energy for the soul.

Postby macasas » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:56 pm

Thank you all for taking the time to look at my posting. In just one day 186 of you have had a look. Special thanks go to those that replied and offered encouragement, on the eve on of the first day its more about the mind than the boots, but I'm sure the boots will have their say later.

I arrived in Sevilla today, Friday 13th, and after hiking through 35 degrees to the Amigos del Camino de Santiago to get my passport, I found they were closed, all day! So I checked in first and then set off to the cathedral where I got the passport as well as my first stamp, the camino has now truly begun. I have repacked my rucksack for the 3rd time since arriving in Spain, 35 degrees of heat will have that effect on most people. Today the sleeping bag went in the bin but I kept the mat. So I am packed, have a fruit and salad picnic ready and aim to set off at 6 in the morning to miss the worst of the sun. The current pace is set at 5km per hour for 6 hours, obviously stopping for food, water and stretching; I have a stretching regime put together by a very good Sports Massage Therapist back in the UK called Vicky Martin, she does work for the Olympic team, I just wish she was walking with me so I could get a professional massage whenever I need it. I have a web site address somewhere if anyone needs it.

Right, I'm of to bed for an early night, I will come back as soon as I can but until then I would love to hear whats been stopping you from doing it and from those of you that have done it, what nearly made you stop on route, aches, pains, blisters, bad weather; basically what have I got to look forward to.
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Postby Jool » Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:29 pm

Good luck - I know others who have done this and it can be a very spiritual experience - trust that you will find whatever you need along the way and it will appear, but it may be what you truly need rather than what you believe you want!!!!

Most of all do enjoy it, a wonderful experience

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Postby lis48 » Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:43 am

The pilgrim service when you get to Santiago is wonderful. I was there a couple of weeks ago and many pilgrims stood up and said a few words in different languages about what made them do the walk and were in tears talking. It was a great atmosphere. Make sure you get there on the right day to see the Botafumeiro, the incense ball swung over the congregation originally apparantly because of all the smelly feet. One of my ancestors owned a fleet of ships in the 25th century that he would charter out to pilgrims to sail from Cornwall to La Coruña, missing out all of France. That route is still known as the English route and is only 50 kns long. I asked about it and the response was always a smile of condescension, "Ah, la ruta inglesa, muy corta!"
Más vale un "por si acaso" que un "¿quién lo iba a saber?"

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Postby mijasmagic » Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:18 pm

Oh no!

My wife and I were only talking last night about, seriously, taking this on before age catches up with us. We´re great believers in fate and now this post has appeared! OH is in the middle of a book about one guy´s experiences along the Camino and it´s awe inspiring stuff (called Spanish Steps, Travels With My Donkey). The practical considerations along the way evidently shouldn´t be overlooked. Many hostels have communal bedrooms and one or two have no sanitation. Some people choose to book into a "proper" hotel once a week to freshen up.

Good luck Macasas. Perhaps you can update us on the accomodation situation from time to time?

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Postby Grouser » Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:44 pm

lis48 wrote: One of my ancestors owned a fleet of ships in the 25th century !"

I guess that would be back to the future then.
Grouser

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Postby Kathy » Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:14 pm

How has the first days walking gone?

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Postby lis48 » Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:23 pm

Grouser wrote:
lis48 wrote: One of my ancestors owned a fleet of ships in the 25th century !"

I guess that would be back to the future then.

:lol: Good point Grouser and well picked up. I meant of course 15th!
Más vale un "por si acaso" que un "¿quién lo iba a saber?"

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Just about to leave Andalucía.

Postby macasas » Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:25 pm

First of thank you all so much for your messages. This is the end of my 4th day and the first time I have been able to get onto the internet. I have been taking notes each day so apologies but you have some reading to do.

Lets start where I left off............................
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Sevilla – Camas – Santiponce – Guillena

Postby macasas » Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:26 pm

Preparation for the first days walking was continuously interrupted. I was supposed to be sleeping but the youth of Sevilla had other ideas. The bar opposite me hotel room closed around one but there were still people talking at five in the morning, and as I now recall, the Spanish say nothing unless it is sound in a loud voice. Well if I couldn’t sleep I might as well get started and as I was leaving the hotel at five thirty I wasn’t surprised to see the road completely quiet, except for a lone police car, bloody typical!

I headed for the cathedral where the camino began, couldn’t find the yellow wayward sign that is supposed to be on a lamppost opposite the statue of the perregrino so I just started west in search of the river, which I would cross and head on towards Camas. This took a lot longer than I had hoped, Sevilla is a maze and it wasn’t easy to follow the map I had bought. Perhaps there was something wrong with it, the day before a local had taken 20 minutes to locate the cathedral, you would have thought he’d have known where that was? 2 hours later I finally spotted a sign that told me I had reach Camas, good speed for a one legged donkey but I had the sun rising over my shoulder and needed to get distance between me and Sevilla before it got too hot. Just as I was telling myself not to worry, that it was my first day a cyclist wizzed past shouting “buen camino”. I’m not sure who had sent him with encouragement but I shouted “gracías” and smiled a beamer as I noticed my speed had picked up. There had been noone at the cathedral, no sending off party, just a couple of drunk teenagers on their way home but this was confirmation, I really was on the Camino de Santiago.

A few minutes later I was smiling again. This time it was because in a country like Spain you don’t expect to see much in the way of disabled signs, let alone a wheelchair lane painted on the pavement. If that wasn’t enough there was a tree right in the middle of it, so they had painted an arrow to warn oncoming chairs to move over. I could see no dents in the tree so presumably they had learnt how to avoid the tree well before the world went mad and bought too much white paint.

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All too soon it began to get hot, not like a summers day in the UK, but like a where’s the shade, sticky and why isn’t the wind blowing type of hot. So hot in fact that by the time I reached Santiponce I was ready for a break and some food. As luck would have it Santiponce not only had a tree, there was a bench under its shadow and so the breakfast table was set and I watched the locals waking to another fine day.

I was off again but it wasn’t long before my first troubles began. The straps holding the sleeping mat decided they weren’t worth the £4.99 I had paid for them and one of them snapped. The first I noticed was a change in rhythm as the roll mat suddenly took on the motion of a Sevilla youth staggering home. I had to stop; twice, because my repair attempts didn’t stop the uneven sway. I needed my rhythm back and decided a full blown pit stop was needed, except the pit I chose was already occupied by flies, ants and spiders. It’s not that I mind sharing it’s just that they obviously felt that they were there first and that justified harassing me until I left; so they did! But the job was done, my rhythm was back and I headed to the horizon trying to get away from the sun.

One of the nice things about doing the camino is supposed to be the people you meet. I smiled and waved everytime I got an encouraging toot from passing cars and lorries, but there is something a bit too serious about Spanish cyclists. Don’t forget it was Saturday today, and there were hundreds of cyclists out training for their next race, but not one of them returned my greeting, they just stared and pretended to be doing something far more important, which in their world I suppose they are.

As I reached the brow of another hill half way to Guillena I was confronted by a sea of sunflowers, reaching as far as I could see. So this was sunflower country, no oranges here! The first field was in flower, the second was completely green with the odd flower standing out from the crowd. What a sight, and the bees really were having a field day, sorry, pun intended. As I walked past them I thought they were all facing the sun, but they seemed to rotate as I walked and always be looking at me. It was like a million Mona Lisa faces, except they were smiling, and they were flowers, so it was nothing like the Mona Lisa, except they were definitely watching me, making sure I passed them by without interrupting their sun bathing. A truly beautiful sight!

When I arrived in Guillena it was about 1:30 and so hot I had to stop in a petrol station for some shade from the relentless heat. I laid down for 20 minutes before the shadow had shrunk so small I had no choice but to move on. The heat was instantly back as I crawled into town no knowing where I was going to stay. An old man appeared from no-where and asked “Donde vienes”, I hadn’t seen him appear, “perdon?”. “Hace mucho calor, vena qui sombra sombre”, he was inviting me to join him in his shade, which wasn’t much to share but shade is shade in these parts, a valuable commodity. I told him I needed to find a bed, “Hotel Frances”, sigue todo derrecho, cien metres”. Once again, just when I needed it there was my help, and cien metres along the road there was Hotel Frances where for 20 Euros I got a room with air conditioning, perfect! I’m off to catch up on a lost nights sleep, and to relax all the parts that ache, which is a list too long to repeat. My mind is buzzing from a great first day, my muscles don’t agree just yet, but they will soon! Hasta luego!
Last edited by macasas on Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Day 2 Guillena – La Lapa, Castilblanco de los Arroyos

Postby macasas » Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:28 pm

I have just woken from a 4 hour siesta. Today was hard, and it all started at 6 when the sun was still sleeping, but once again the locals were not!

The Hotel Frances was cheap and cheerful, but there was a Hotel Portugues right opposite which decided to close at midnight, good, but then open again at 4:30 Sunday morning, not so good, especially when the air conditioning doesn’t work in your room and you’ve left the window open in an attempt to keep cool. Of course the night before had extended somewhat past the hour of should-have-gone-to-bed due to Spain beating Sweden with a last minute beauty from David Villa. The result of all this was a dark 6 o’clock departure to the cheers of locals, surely they hadn’t been drinking all night.

As I waived them off I concentrated on finding the camino. Yesterday I walked mainly on the roads and don’t think I had actually seen the Camino at all. This didn’t bother me because I had reached my intended destination; but today I wanted the real camino.

A few k out of town, on what I hoped was the right road, I came across a clump of signs, it was one of those junctions with a gravel road leading into no-where, there were two unnamed arrows, one for each direction but the sign said La Lapa, so off I went. According to the map this was the direct route. La Lapa was just south of El Gergal, like two synapses hanging so close that there just had to be a path between them. Wrong! After a good hour along this track it just ended at a farm, big American style overhead gate entrance and a big sign telling me it was Private. *beep*! To my left was the river, to my right was the sun, I studied the map as the sun began to peek out from behind the hill top, the same sun I was trying to avoid by leaving early. What to do, what to do?

I decided to head down to the river, there were several dry ravines leading down the hill but it was heavy going off the track. As I descended I realised it would be even harder to get back up if there was no way through so I decided to try and get around the farm and see if there was another road the other side; stay high, keep out of sight, didn’t want to wake the dogs did I?

The going was tough, it definitely wasn’t the camino and I had to keep my head down to get good footholds. That’s when I noticed the gunshot shells, blue ones. Not sure the colour is important, just the fact the farm had a gun quickened my step, perhaps I should go back!

Sometimes in life going back isn’t an option, sometimes you have gone so far that although it is still an option you don’t chose it because it could be just around the corner, so it’s better to keep going; a bit like a crap film where you keep telling yourself it will get better in a minute. Well it didn’t, the terrain got worse, the gradients got steeper and the sweat was dripping like a leaky gutter; I told myself next time I’d take the road but I also knew there was no point in stopping or feeling despondent. The sun was only going to get hotter, so I needed to just keep going.

Eventually I reached a rough track, to me it was as smooth as a motorway. I could see the river again and even though I had lost my compass somewhere in my bag it was still on my left, the sun was still on my right, and it felt good to get back into some sort of rhythm. An hour later after passing an old farmstead that must have been El Gergal I reached a barbed why fence with a sign telling me I was entering a Reservation, looking back on the other side it read Private Property Keep Out, No Trespassers. Luckily for me it was Sunday, they had probably all been up drinking all night and I had met no-one on route, and I was leaving.

The Reservation offered no more than a long winding uphill road that lasted a couple of hours before finally reaching the main road into Castilblanco. I decided this was a good place to rest, only because it had a tree, and trees give shade, something that is very rare in these parts. As I sat there wondering why I was trying to kill myself a group of cyclists stopped, asked if I was having a good camino, noted the size of my bag, and wished me good luck. As they left a sole rider appeared from the other direction and joined me in the shade, well this was a good spot! As we tried to converse, I understood he was telling me about the camino, how it was too narrow from here and I laughed and said I hadn’t seen the camino yet. He pointed to the junction, there on the signpost was the roughest hand-painted yellow arrow, it was the first one I’d seen since the start and felt under the circumstances, and due to the quality of the artwork, I could be excused for having missed them. Next to it was a very large carved stone, over 6 foot tall and 2 foot square. At the top was the symbol of Santiago, the scallop shell, and carved vertically were the words Camino de Santiago. I had been sitting here half an hour, I would have to pay more attention in futur, as the saying goes, “heads up eyes open, you’re not in the city now!”.

The road into Castilblanco was all uphill. I had climbed 300m today and my legs knew all about it. I arrived at the aubergue de peregrinos and met an old couple who had been staying at the Hotel Frances, we had watched the football together. They were already here relaxing in the afternoon heat, they must have taken the other road!

And this is where we came in, after a 4 hour siesta I have just been out to try and find some food for tomorrow. It’s Sunday, everything is closed except the petrol station and the closest thing to fruit they have is 2 jars of baby food, I know it will taste crap but it’s either that or packets of crisps. With 26km and 250m to go tomorrow I am going for the baby food. I’m off to find more stuff to throw away, and to definitely have an early night, hasta pronto!
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Day 3 Castilblanco – Almaden de la plata

Postby macasas » Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:29 pm

Okay, perhaps it was a bit ambitious to expect internet access as I walked up through Spain, so far Sevilla has been the only place to actually know what wi-fi is, and it was free! So this will be another instalment I will upload as soon as I can.

After I signed off last night I went to bed, honest! But yet again my attempts to have an early night were dashed as the only other two people, remember the old couple, came crashing into my section of the aubergue, someone had stolen his walking boots, what, yes his boots were next to his wife’s, they had gone to the café opposite for some food and now they were gone. Now normally this wouldn’t be much of a problem, but we were walking the camino so under these circumstances this was a disaster. The next thing I know I am being questioned by a policeman, yes I had been there all night, no I hadn’t heard anything, oh well they probably just walked off on their own, eh, a policeman with a sense of humour, I must have misheard him or have sleep deprivation, except he made a finger walking impression and was gone. Suddenly I realised everyone was gone. I went next door but all their bags were still there, perhaps they had gone to another hotel for the night, this place didn’t lock so perhaps it was a safer option. I didn’t like the fact that nothing was locked through the night, so I hung a carrier bag on the door and slid a bottle underneath to make sure it made as much noise a possible if someone came in. Which they did, but it was the couple back from a police escorted shopping trip at midnight to buy the only suitable pair of brilliant white, need to be worn Green Flash look-alikes within 100 miles, and they wanted to show me. The next thing I know the 5 o’clock bells are ringing and its time to get up and go again. Everything was still there, nothing missing, except perhaps a good night sleep.

Today I had 30km to walk, rising 250m and it mentioned something about a steep climb at the end, but it was worth it for the views.

The couple left before me, we were all suffering from the heat of the sun so the race was on to get as far as possible before it got really hot. I left 15 minutes later. Obviously it was still dark but once again the bars were full of locals having a morning coffee, when do these people sleep? It was 2 hours before I caught them, they were both pensioners but boy could they move. I greeted them and asked whether his new trainers and his feet had become friends yet, obviously they had because he was flying along, and so was she. I overtook them for a bit before stopping for roadside breakfast and it was only minutes before they arrived. I only briefly spotted them once more, in the distance just as the camino turned off the road into a nature reserve. The next time we met they were tucked up in bed at the aubergue. If only, when I’m that age, do you know what I mean? In my defense, and it’s a pretty poor defense at that, I did get my first blister today, but worse 2 toes look very red and look like candidates for ingrowing toenails, I should know, I have 2 already. Anyway this little combination was starting to cause a problem so I needed to look after them.

If any of you have done this trip before you will know what’s coming, for the rest of you let me say the description “steep climb” was extremely accurate. After 28 of so km probably rising 200m they had left the remaining 50m to last. Swear words removed. When I stopped at the bottom I already had no energy due to the uphill nature of the walk so far, was low on water but did have an ensalada con atun. I finished that off and laid down for a half hour rest, it wasn’t enough! I told myself I could have the water when I got to the top, I told myself I could do it, had to do it, Almaden de la plata was just on the other side, so off I went. Within 50 meters I was down to a crawling pace, I had to stop every 20 steps to take deep breaths, the rucksack felt like a skip full of sand on my back, I had to stop again. My thighs were burning, my chest was on fire, but there was the top, I could see it. Nope, that was just a bend in the climb, ah there is the top only another 30 steps away, for sure this time.

When I got to the top I had to lay down for 30 minutes, I finished my water, and then noticed the state of the track down into town. Walking downhill is just as bad as walking up, and puts all the pressure on your toes, the very toes I was trying to preserve. By the time I got to the bottom I was exhausted again and as I entered the town I turned the first corner to find a bar.

In I went to the stares of the locals, not surprising really the state I looked, dripping in sweat and covered in grass stains from laying down. Now in this state you might think the barman would say “oh look he needs a drink”. But then you’d be wrong. He looked, saw and turned to a local and started pouring him a drink. This local wasn’t dying, didn’t look remotely like he was dying. By the time the barman got to me I was almost dead, I opened my mouth and didn’t even recognise my own voice. “Dos tinto veranos y dos copas de agua grande por favour”, “que”, this time do it slowly, I really need that drink and as he started to make them I am sure he slowed to such a pace that the ice would melt before the drink reached the bar in front of me. Two hours later I was still sitting in the same bar, I was just starting to feel like I could try and find the aubegue. That’s how much of a steep climb it was, and coming at the end of a very hard day it was all I needed.

When I got to the albergue the old couple were already there, had been there since 12, where had I got to, in the bloody bar that’s where, and what about that hill, you two are two youngsters, no, yes, well we both go mountain walking, well that might explain it!
Tonight, I am going to get some sleep, in fact right now I am going to have a siesta. Good idea they say. I have a shower and by the time I’m back they’re both asleep, and he snores like a freight train, when will I ever get some sleep again?
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macasas
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Day 4 Almaden de la plata – La Real de la Jara

Postby macasas » Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:53 pm

What does a man have to do to get some sleep I this country? I managed to get 2 hours in before the snoring got so bad I had to get my roll out and move into the kitchen; I had swopped snoring for a rattly old fridge but there was nowhere else to go. At 5 they woke me up getting their stuff from the fridge, apologised for disturbing my sleep and were off.

I got back into bed still feeling awful from the day, and night before, and slept until 7:30. When I got up I did my stretches in an attempt to actually move about, it didn’t help much! I actually felt ill, and for a moment thought about staying, but decided that I would never get there at all with an attitude like that. By the time I left the sun was already up and smiling, and even though it was a short 16km I had the feeling the vertical distance was going to be the deciding factor again.

It is true that Andalucía has some beautiful countryside, amazing views and stretches of road where you can meet no-one all day. Whoever built it however certainly didn’t want anyone to leave, well not by foot, and today was no exception and it felt like the closer I got to the border the steeper the hills became, broken up by small downhill stretches just to get my hopes up that I was on my way into town, before sending back up another hill.

Each stage so far has also been from town to the next, each just enough distance apart to be a days walking. There is nothing in between, no petrol stations, no shops, not even any signs telling how far it is to go, just countryside and the view of the next hill coming. At the start of the next hill I decided to have breakfast, it was the first time I had seen shade for a while so an excellent place to stop. The whole time I was there not a single car, lorry or bike past me by and spoiled the most peaceful breakfast of fruit and yoghurt I have ever had. The day was getting better.

Even though it was a shortish walk, my recovery day from the day before, it still took until midday to get to the Plaza de Espana in the center of town. I parked myself on the only bench under shade and laid down to rest, I had an appointment with Brenda Padilla from OCI radio, she wanted to make sure I wasn’t causing any trouble; if only I had the energy! If you missed it, I think there is going to be a link somewhere to a recording, or perhaps even a podcast!

So that’s me all setup in bed, no-one snoring and its only 3 o’clock, don’t call me in the next few hours, I really do need the sleep!
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In reply .....

Postby macasas » Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:02 pm

Thanks for all your comments so far,

as far as Albergues or Refugios go they have been okay so far, apart from Castilblanco which didn't lock, hence the stolen boots I mentioned.. the others have had basic beds, (no bedbugs yet but I have my spray) hot water showevers and basic kitchen and cooking, 3, 5 and 8 Euros so far, but you are sharing and might have a snorer.... oh yeah, you need the camino passport to get in these places.

Interesting ancestor link to the 15th or the 25th century, while they were sneering at the distance did you mention you were related, besides peregrinos started from whereever they lived in those days, they didn't get the plane to Sevilla like me, or the train and bus to St Jean de la Pied for the camino frances.....

It would appear you are never too old to do this pilgrimage. The Spanish couple I met, (you remember the snorer) were pensioners, on their 4th camino and enjoying each others company away from their 7 children. As long as you plan your distances each day, keeping an eye on the vertical climbing as well you should be okay..... according to my map it gets flatter further north so I'm hoping for some easier days... I have also heard of some people splitting the camino and doing bits of it each year.
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macasas

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Jennifer
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Posts: 392
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 10:53 am
Location: Jaen

Postby Jennifer » Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:11 pm

Hi Macasas,
Thanks for the updates, good to hear you're hanging in there. 8)
Trust you have some "rest" days planned in.
Keep us posted :D
J


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