Friday, January 18, 2013

Camino Day Twenty Four

Thursday, June 14, 2012
Trabadelo to Fonfria
30.4 km (20.8 miles)

morning photo in Trabadelo

The person on the left side of the picture is an old lady who was practically marching down the road! Then there are some other pilgrims on the right side of the picture, dressed in walking attire, while the Spanish lady was wearing a skirt and blouse.

From my journal: Today was another long day, mileage-wise. I was not happy today. It started when we were about to leave the bar where we ate lunch. Bridget mentioned a 2.5 [km] climb up still & I thought we were already at the highest point of the day. It was true, Bridget was right--which also meant that we had 14.5 km to go instead of 12.5. Ugh.

From my journal: We did have incredible views today. We started out in a valley--sort of like the hollars at home--then began to climb through a forest, which was nice. Very AT-like. Even though we still had to ascend after lunch, we had an amazing view to the other side once we peaked the mountain. 

We are at ~1,200 meters (over 3,900 feet) above sea level here. We are leaving the region of Castilla y Leon and about to enter Galicia.

a distance marker, which reads K151,5 (151.5 km or ~94 miles to Santiago!)

This sign indicated that the CNO STGO was to the right. For those of you who are as bright as my husband, I'm sorry to explain it. For those of you who are dim as I am, "CNO STGO" is the Camino de Santiago.

Someone had "vandalized" this camino sign and drawn angel wings on the image of the peregrino. I was grumpy and drinking a beer and thought it was appropriate to get a picture of feisty me next to the angelic sign.

not an uncommon view for us

Monumento do Peregrino
near Alto San Roque

My "bad day" continued with me getting frustrated with the guy who ran the albergue where we ended up for the night. He insisted it would be too confusing for the cook to make me a meal (off their menu, I want to add) instead of me ordering the pilgrim's meal. Then they wanted to charge Adam for wifi, which was not really standard practice in albergues, so that was also frustrating. We were both annoyed with that albergue.

I took a nap, and Adam went to the other place in town to figure out our supper. It is a casa rural, and is more like a bed and breakfast, I think (private rooms, more expensive, etc.) The woman who ran Casa Nunez treated us like royalty. (Or, the way Americans are used to being treated in most establishments, which = the customer is always right. What can I say? We are spoiled. Anyway....) We had a wonderful meal at Casa Nunez. Mine consisted of the following:
First course: a salad of fresh tomatoes, onions, olives, and goat cheese
Second course: two fried eggs over easy, fries, two roasted red peppers (pimientos), and a large slice of hard cheese
Dessert: tarta de Santiago (a dense almond cake), but I was also offered cheese with honey as an alternative
From my journal: I told Adam that if I wasn't vegan I would have thought I had died and gone to heave with all the cheese she put before me tonight :)

We were the only customers eating there, so Adam asked the matron to switch the channel from a telenovela (soap opera) to the football/soccer game. They were communicating in Spanish, and at some point she said, "Soup? You want soup? We have lots of kinds of soup..." Poor Adam just wanted to watch the Euro Cup. He started to make signs with his fingers like a person running, then he raised his arms above his head and called out, "GOAL!" She got it then and changed the channel for us.

So the night ended well, but I did mention in my journal that I couldn't wait to "scoot out of this town!"

Camino Day Twenty Three

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Ponferrada to Trabadelo
32.6 km (20 1/4 miles)

The morning sun was BRIGHT when this picture was taken! I think my eyes were closed, but the morning picture must happen, so there it is.

Castillo de los Temlparios (Templar Castle)
Ponferrada, El Bierzo, Spain

From our guidebook: "The magnificent 12th century Templar castle has been declared a national monument and recently reopened after extensive renovations. Ponferrada came under the protectorate of teh Templar Order by decree of King Fernando II in 1178. Their official presence here was short lived as the Order was outlawed in 1312 and disbanded by a Church fearful of their increasing power and esoteric tradition."

Stork in its nest

The little white specks are a bunch of storks in a field

We stopped in this winery to use their bathroom. I was very grateful!


cherries being harvested

That is Adam, walking through the narrow, cobbled streets of Villafranca de Bierzo. The orange piece of paper you can see on the closest door was a "For sale" sign, which was posted on a majority of those doors. We talked/dreamed of coming back and owning a place there someday!

The previous three or four pictures are Villafranca de Bierzo, and I believe the next four are as well.

This is a view of Villafranca de Bierzo behind us. We hiked on through the town, past the group with which we had been walking, to make up some miles and get to Santiago in a week (and by my birthday, which is June 20th).

zooming in to that view in the previous picture

We walked out of the town and along a road. We got to a point where we had to turn, and I was very grateful we went right, because if we went left, we would have gone on the highway through a tunnel, pictured below. We were just walking on the side of a small highway instead (no tunnel, much safer, right?).

We pushed on past a couple of towns and ended up at this albergue. I'll let my journal fill you in on some details of our stay there: 

Today was Grandma Elaine's birthday. I think she would have been 91 this year. 

We did a long day today. More than 30k--I think I heard someone say 32. Although he went a different way than we did. He is a guy from Belgium (Guy is his name) who has walked from Brussels. I can't understand everything he says, but his English is pretty good and it's peppered with French, so I get that. It seemed like his life was a mess when he started (Apr. 19)--what I caught is that one or two ppl died, his wife left, someone else attempted (or succeeded at) committing suicide. He sounds like he is in a really good place now, and he wants to get a new backpack and travel the rest of the world after finishing the camino.

This Brazilian (I think) older woman came up to me while I was cooking tonight (lentil stew, again, but thankfully not pasta again--we've had pasta 3 or 4 nights in a row, and i just did not feel inspired @ all by the tiny "supermercado" here in town) and told me it smelled great. It totally made up for the old women from 2 nights ago, who got annoyed when I tried to help wash and dry dishes.

The last couple of mornings we have not left until 8:00. It actually feels too late to me. We still need to make up a day, and right now we are a little further than the "stages" in the book, so we are doing ok.

I guess you can tell that some of the other pilgrims and the food that was available (or not available) were starting to wear on me!

Camino Day Twenty Two

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Foncebadon to Ponferrada
~28.2 km (17.5 miles)

Morning photo, all bundled up! I'm wearing my fleece jacket, plus rain jacket, and I was ready to put my hood on (over the hat, yep) as soon as we went out in the rain.

From my journal: It was hard to get out of the albergue this morning. Especially knowing the weather outside was probably awful (it was). It was chilly and foggy, but I don't think it every really rained on us, just sprinkled. Windy too. For the first time I wore my jacket & raincoat. And pants and hat. And all that was fine for most of the day.

Adam walking towards the Cruz de Ferro in the fog

The photo on the left is Adam, and I am in the one on the right.

From our guidebook: "This majestic spot stands 1,504 meters (4,934 feet) above sea level and a simple iron cross stands atop its weathered pole that has become one of the abiding symbols of the pilgrim way of St. James."

The pile of rocks and rubble are all from pilgrims who have left items there at the cross. Adam brought his stone from the Quillen College of Medicine campus. I forgot to get a rock before we left the United States, so my rock was from St. Jean Pied de Port or Roncesvalles. That evening, one of our pilgrim-friends from the U.S. told us he thought he missed the Cruz de Ferro, and was prepared to turn back. A woman from his church had given him a stone to carry, and though it was not physically large or heavy, it represented some very heavy stuff going on in her life. Our friend felt obligated to relieve her of those metaphorical burdens and was relieved when he came upon the cross and could deposit them there.

From an email I sent to close family members and friends: 

I love signs like this, to see where we have been (Jerusalem, in 2007) and to see where and how far we have to go (Santiago and Finisterre) on this trip.

This and the photo above were taken in Manjarin, which hosts a private albergue and a population of one (1). There is a small shop there where one can purchase various icons and religious paraphernalia, postcards, some snacks and water, etc. Gregorian chants are played on a tape player, and there is a trace of incense in the air. 

The clouds started to lift...

We can see more of the city (Ponferrada) below us...

Our view of the mountains to our left. There is a road between the ridge where we were hiking and the ones you see there.

The fog has lifted!

See the choices of bocadillos (basically, sandwiches on a baguette)? Not too promising for a vegetarian, even less so for a vegan!

I theorized that there was a recent festival or holiday in this village, as a bunch of yellow flowers was affixed to every doorway.

Tons of lavender!

We walked through this herd to follow the camino.

Camino signage

Beautiful old sweet chestnut trees (according to our guidebook)

17th c. Church of San Nicolas

Puente de Peregrinos (Pilgrim's bridge), with a foosball table underneath. The church of San Nicolas is to the right in this picture, and we are looking back from where we just walked.

Patatas (potatoes) bravas 

This picture was taken around or before noon. I remember posting on facebook about eating potatoes and bread and drinking beer for lunch, and how this meal indicates that you are either hiking, in Europe, or both! 

I am updating the blog in January, and I couldn't believe that all of the above pictures were taken at the beginning of our day!

This is what a lot of little towns in the valleys look like. There are stone buildings and at least one square with a statue of St. James.

The above three pictures are the view behind our albergue in Ponferrada.

The guy on the left is one of the caretakers at the albergue where we spent the night. The other people are (left to right) Amber, Mitch, Steve, and Adam, all from the U.S.

From my journal: It took awhile to get our room, but I think we ended okay--we got in a room with only 2 bunk beds, "because we started in St. Jean." The Spaniard with us started in Roncesvalles. And Bridget caught up to us. So she's also in our room.

We had not seen Bridget (the Irish prison-librarian) since our stay near the church of the rocks. We also saw Regina, a German woman who we met in our first parochial albergue (above the cathedral, with the huge community dinner and laundry room with pigeons).

I remember that we got some good groceries in Ponferrada, despite not being sure of the directions to get to the mercado. The albergue had a kitchen, so we were able to make our own meal. The grocery store was pretty well-stocked, so we were also able to get fresh produce, good pasta and sauce, ice cream, and wine, as well as some toiletries there. This is also where we got to know Steve better, where he told us about his wife and kids, and the preparation he was doing to become a lay...something (deacon?) in the Catholic church.