Friday, May 30, 2014


We were walking by 7:30 AM and got to our accomodation in Astorga at 4 PM. This includes a few breaks but it was still a brutal day at 31.2 K. I can comfortably walk for 20 K and after that it becomes a chore. The feet and other body parts start to hurt. I begin to lean on my walking poles as if they are crutches. We killed off 10 K in a hurry first thing this morning. We were in scenery that reminded us of Ladner, very flat with irrigation ditches and snow covered mountains ahead of us. These mountains got closer as the day progressed and tomorrow we start climbing them. We'll see how that goes!
Around noon we entered the lovely town of Hospital de Orbigo which has the longest Roman bridge in Spain. The Camino goes right over it. We stopped in a garden cafe for an omelet which turned out to be a potato/ egg quiche. A bit bland. We are craving some decent food and are going to splurge tonight. 
After our lunch we entered a lovely, natural trail through meadows and forests. Very nice except for stretches of cobble stones. On the Camino there is a kind of dance pilgrims do. They meander from side to side, always looking for the path with the least stones. We climbed into the foothills and at a crest there was a kind of cantina run by a young couple. They were offering fruit and drinks for free or donation. We had some watermelon but felt suspicious of this gesture. We found it hard to accept something for free although the couple seemed genuine in wanting to serve the passing pilgrims.
Soon after, we saw Astorga in the distance, below us. It still was at least 6 K away so we trudged on. Like some cruel joke we had to cross a railroad via an accordian-type bridge. We managed! Up one more hill, past the city wall and there was our hotel for the night. This hotel is known for its good food so we are waiting until 8:30 (usual dinner time here) to try to get a decent meal. Yesterday we ate white bread and Nutella for dinner. Hence the splurge tonight.

The Roman bridge in Hospital de Orbigo
The camino goes over this bridge. Set up for a jousting contest soon.
Bert doing the Camino Dance.
This woman is pulling her belongings with a home made buggy!
The cantine with free food for pilgrims. Structure behind the tree is where the couple lives.
Accordian bridge over one railroad track as we entered Astoria. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Viladangos del Paramo

This morning we departed from The Leon Parador and made our way through an industrial area before hitting the scenic route that led us to Vilar de Mazarife. It was prearranged that a taxi would pick us up and take us to a town where there is a hotel. Where we are staying has the look and feel of a truckstop. It is a comedown from the elegance of the Parador. We are adapting fast. 
The walking went well today. No wind, just a bit of drizzle and good surfaces to walk on. We met some pilgrims we had not seen for days!
We are now 295.3 K from Santiago. Hard to believe!
In Villar de Mazarife this afternoon, with a fellow pilgrim.
Yesterday's pilgrim dinner. We are craving vegetables. Frozen peas, anything!
Making our way out of Leon today. Impossible to get lost with all those yellow arrows.
An underground wine storage place looking an aweful lot like Bilbo's home!
Discarded shoes at a camino marker!
Treated, again, to a flower show.
And, in Villa de Mazarife, more storks. They are migratory so we are lucky to see them everywhere.
Walking out of Leon this morning.
Some of the beauty we passed today. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Leon Rest Day Two

By hanging around like this we are losing all our momentum. I'm sure we will get this back as we are facing some very stiff hills in the coming days. This morning we explored the old city of Leon. It is quite lovely here. Most fun of all was meeting fellow pilgrims we have gotten to know over the last few weeks. 
Last night we had such a cosy evening with Joyce and Arlene joining us here at the Parador. Then this morning, an extensive buffet for breakfast. Even papaya available. It will be tough getting used to bread and jam for breakfast again! 
We are trying to give our feet a break by staying off them.  Hard to do in such an interesting city!
Enjoying a lovely evening with Arlene and Joyce!
I am sitting on the steps of Gaudi's building. One of the first secular buildings using private funds. Before that it was religious institutions or aristocracy that funded buildings like this. We think that it is a bank.
Jeff, sitting beside Gaudi who is sketching. 
Gaudi's dates
Some of the stained glass wonders in the cathedral
Great stop for a cafe con leche and treat
With all that walking we can afford a pastry, or two. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Leon Rest Day One

"One...was not only walking across space, but across time as well. " by Kerry Egan from Ultreia! Onward!

We have been reunited with Bert and Diane and are enjoying this beautiful hotel. The Spanish government has taken on the task of converting historical buildings into smart hotels. This chain is called Parador. The one we are in now was once a pilgrim's hostal. Today it is part hotel and part museum. We had fun wandering around the cloisters and statues. One plaque read that in the 1930's this property was used as an especially horrible concentration camp. Today it is a peacful retreat for tourists and pilgrims. 
Leon Parador hotel
Statue of a weary pilgrim taking a break in front of the hostal.
One of the cloisters of the Parador.
Admiring the cloisters from the interior garden.
Yes, we had lunch at a McDonalds. A nice change from all that white bread!

Monday, May 26, 2014


This morning, while the rest of the group began their walking day, I took a taxi to Leon in order to get an extra rest day. The ride took 50 minutes and covered two days worth of walking. It felt very strange to be whizzing by like that. Within the hour of leaving I was already in my hotel room. I needed to give my feet a break so I had lunch here in the hotel. I was treated like a queen and ordered a fancy salad and some soup which contained a whole poached egg. Later in the afternoon, after a bath and a nap, the phone rings and it is Jeff, downstairs! He has walked today's 24.5 K plus tomorrow's 18.6 K to be here with me. He assured me that I did not miss a thing and that the path was very stony. Needless to say, I am very pleased that he is here. It is now Monday and we don't walk again until Thursday. So, a nice break. The sun is shining, too!
This is the couple who looked after us so well yesterday. The true spirit of the camino! This place was spotless, too. The pilgrim's meal was one of the best. I had pork cheeks!
Diane and I tasting our host's homemade coffee liquer. 
Jeff taking a photo of what I missed today. Not much!
The Leon cathedral we plan to explore tomorrow. Apparently famous for its stained glass windows.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Caldzilla de los Hermonillas

We have arrived in the most charming of inns. A lovely couple run it and they bend over backwads for us. Right now we are sitting in a living room and a fire is going to make it extra cosy. For lunch they served up a beef soup that they assured us would wake the dead. Believe me, I needed that kind of soup today.
I have hit the wall. My feet hurt with each step and my body seems stuck. Last night I could not eat dinner because of exhaustion. And I love my food!
I have decided to take a few rest days in Leon. My incredible husband made all the arrangements and I will go to Leon after breakfast tomorrow. He will meet me there the following day. As will Bert and Diane.
Today was supposed to be a short day but we had to backtrack to get on the right route. We made our way through lovely woodlands and fields and were rewarded with poppies, lavender and other wild flowers. 
Last night in Sahagun we had the misfortune of staying in a rundown place. In addition, there was a wedding party below and we heard booming music until 2 PM. We also were very cold and I wore thick clothes and socks in bed. This morning we all had a laugh about our shared woes. And then Bert spotted a cockroach. Needless to say, we feel well taken care of in this neat, cosy place with these nice people.
This morning's poppy field. We managed to avoid rain and it turned out to be a pleasant day.
And the road went on and on.......
Some of the lavender we encountered.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


lToday we walked 22.7 miles to the large town of Sahagun. On the way, we had cafe con leche at the small village of Terradillos de los Templarios. This town is the half way point between St. Jean Pied de Port and Santiago. It is hard to imagine that we have already walked 400 K. It is equally difficult to think that we have another 400 K to go. However, it is going well except for some blisters that make my feet feel like minced meat at the end of the day. I am hoping my feet will toughen up really soon. The town is also famous as a former stronghold of the Knights of Templar. 
After two days of wind and rain we had a glorious day of sunshine. The route was also better with more variety and villages to stop in. In one place someone made us a crusty sandwich filled with fried egg, cheese and ham. That went down extremely well. 
Right now we are in a bit of a dump with a very small room and the tiniest of bathrooms. But I suppose we should be thankful for a private room and hot water. And we are!
Soon, we will meet Arlene and Joyce for another pilgrims' dinner at a place recommended by an Englishman from Yorkshire we met this afternoon. He is going home because his legs gave out. 
This is a very long walk and sometimes really hard. However, soon we will be in Leon for a rest day. We are all looking forward to that!

Today's walk. No wind, rain or mud. Lovely!
A typical "senda" where the camino goes beside a road. This one was pleasant with flowers and fields.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Calzadilla de la Cueza

Today we had to walk just 17.1 K so we left a little later and treated the day like a rest day. Big mistake! This is the only stretch on the whole Camino that has no villages to stop at. So it was a slog through a featureless landscape that just went on and on. On top of this, we had to deal with a serious headwind almost the whole way. However, the sky was blue again and for the first time we noticed wild lavender growing along side the path. 
Finally we arrived at the tiny village of Calzadilla where we were warmly welcomed with beer and delicious pizza. We chatted with three ladies from Oregon/California about our morning. There is a huge, immediate bond between everyone, young and old, because of common experiences. Everyone struggled with that wind this morning and everyone thought the trail was too long and boring. And we keep bumping into the same people.  
On the straight and narrow this morning. This is a Roman road as well but it got covered up with gravel.
Dealing with hot spots on my feet!
A break! Bert is either helping Diane back onto her feet (we stiffen up) or he is handing her some of that wild lavender.
Finally approaching Calzadilla. Notice all those little pebbles. You sure feel each one after a while!
Our pilgrims dinner last night. Nice to reconnect with Joyce and Arlene.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Carrying on to Carrion de los Condes

"I loved the feeling of a portable, waterproof house over me. I was a pilgrim, going slow, but getting there, a travelling turtle". by Shirley MacLaine in Ultreia! Forward!

Today we were on the road by 6:45 AM because we had another long day. The weather was the same as yesterday with a cold wind and rain. We all bundled up and our gear worked for us. But it was a slog, walking into that wind for hours. On one particularly long stretch I suddenly remembered that we were walking on the longest stretch of original Roman road left in Spain. That perked us all up for a while. Twice we stopped for cafe con leche just to get out of the wind and warm up. We are becoming grateful for small things. In one place someone made us a chicken soup which hit the spot.
When we arrived in Carrion, there were Joyce and Arlene. Had not seen them for a few days. We all caught up with each other and might try to go together for a pilgrim's meal later. 
Today we were introduced to the "senda" which is a pilgrim's path right next to a highway. This path went on for hours and became quite tedious. I suppose we should be glad not to have to walk right on the shoulder of the highway. Hopefully, we won't have too much of this in the coming weeks.
Old Roman road with the cobble stones. Most pilgrims walk on the edges to protect their feet!
Jeff and I having fun with yet another pilgrim's statue.
The fields of poppies that continue to delight us.
The magical entry into Hontanas on Monday. It was hidden in a small valley. We went to an English pilgrim's mass in that church. Note the yellow arrow on the rock. The arrows have guided us for almost 400 K already!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


OK! Today was a test day! We encountered some weather. We started out with 2 hours of rain. A good chance to try out our rain gear. Diane and I were fine but Bert and Jeff were not happy with their rain pants. We stopped in a small village for some cafe con leche and a giant cookie. Then out again in our wet stuff. Soon, we encountered a massive hill and then were toasty warm again. In the afternoon, however, we had to negotiate the infamous Camino mud. It is like glue and sticks to your shoes in big, heavy clumps. Then the wind kicked in and we were struggling with that all afternoon. How wonderful to arrive at our destination and have a cosy, clean room and shower. 
The scenery continues to amaze us. We encountered poppies again although their red heads were drooping in the rain. 
Jeff and I walking in the rain today.

A long road under a threatening sky.


"I can almost hear the muffled tread of feet along the road", by Laurie Dennett in Ultreia! Onward!

Today we walked 31.8 K from Burgos to Hontanas where we are right now. This took 7 1/2 hours, with breaks. But what glorious scenery. We have entered the Meseta which is basically a high plateau, around 1,000 M high. However, it is not flat but consists of rolling hills. Even though there is a very lonely feel the ground is cultivated with wheat and barley. The sky was full of fluffy clouds and the grass rippled in the wind. 
The last 10 K seemed so long and we could not see a village ahead of us. At last, we crested a hill and there was the little town of Hontanas, nestled in a deep valley. Quite magical to come upon it like that. We went to our cosy rooms (attic with big sky light) and let cold water run over our hot feet before going for a thirst quenching beer in the town square filled with pilgrims, all with their shoes off!
A big highlight today was attending a mass at 5:30 PM in the 16th century village church. This was led by a Franciscan priest from California. He is walking the Camino as well and we have met him several times already. The service was in English and so ecumenical. Diane and I almost blubbered our way through the whole thing. Arlene and Joyce experienced this a few days back in another village.
Tomorrow is not quite so long and we might get some rain. That would be a first. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Rest Day in Burgos

Today we had a leisurely breakfast at 8:30 AM at our hotel. No rushing to get away early. The first thing we did was tour the cathedral. It is gothic with a relatively small nave but many different chapels along the sides. It is always a relief to me to get outside into the fresh air again after being inside one of these collosal buildings. 
Then we shopped a bit for things like Compeed and toothpaste. And there is always time for cafe con leche. While we roamed the old center we enjoyed lots of street sculptures. Our lunch was a fresh bun with ham and cheese and, finally, a glass of really good Spanish white wine. White wine is included with cheap perigrino meals but is generally almost undrinkable (my opinion).
Finally an English  newspaper......not!
Two new friends.
Two pilgrims!
The great white wine I enjoyed at lunch.
A stork's nest near by! The birds make a clacking sound.