Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Camino Frances (April 30, 2014) - Day 68 Ages to Burgos

A very short day as we were in our Burgos Hostel Lars (nice place well located) just before noon after walking a little over 22 kms in 4.5 hours. Again perfect walking weather...a slight breeze, somewhat cloudy and mid teens for temperature.

A good start and a somewhat disappointing (read awful) walk into Burgos...more later.

Yesterday's supper was a fun international affair as 18 of us sat at two tables for supper...everyone received a Canadian lapel pin...turns out two pilgrims were there from Quebec Canada.

Tapas meat break before supper at outdoor cafe

Very good salad
Paella with carne (meat)

At our dinner table we had two German ladies, one from Brazil and three guys from the United States. One of them, Mervin, a retired engineer told us about a special rain skirt made of Tyvek building material that his wife had sewn for him. After supper he modelled it.

Mervin with Tyvek rain skirt

After supper we walked around for a short while

Me with Albergue owner...he was a funny guy
Our Albergue

Famous archeological site with 1,000,000 year old human remains which apparently prove that our ancestors were cannibals

              Best Cerveza                     

Muchoos sheep

Famous Brazilian lawyer on a tough section

Very interesting rock circles

And now for the STUPIDEST PICTURE EVER...I put sunblock on this morning in the dark. After walking for a while and sweating my eyes started to burn like crazy  as the sunblock ran into them. I have used some Visine and things are a little better...however look AT WHAT I LOOKED LIKE!!!

I actually have a University Degree and was a Manager in a large company...some people even think I am a little bit smart...hah proven you wrong! Paulo and Marc how could you let this happen!

After a short late morning break we wanted to take an option to Burgos which followed the river...this had been highly recommended in the Camino Forum. The other options were through the Industrial area or following the highway. We followed the highway...beautiful!

Oh this was a mistake!

We are resting before exploring Burgos...for tomorrow's blog. We are a happy but somewhat sorry lot. Marc is simply walking through pain, Paulo's feet are a mess with multiple blisters...I am in pretty good shape except for the sunscreen in my eyes which causes tears of joy!

Nothing that a cerveza and beer won't make better. We now have to strategize the next few days where we go through the Meseta...we are all thinking about the treat in Leon...keeping us motivated.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Camino Frances (April 29, 2014) - Day 67 Castildelgado to Ages

A monster day today at 38 kms over 7.75 hours with a fair amount of uphill climbing. We are all hoping that this will be our longest day on the Camino Frances route! 102 kms over the past 3 days is a lot! We made a decision last night to bypass the San Juan Ortega monastery, after reading some former pilgrim comments, in favour of the extra 4 kms to Ages.

After stopping and having a quick look around at the monastery we are super super glad that we kept pushing forward. We are staying at the Albergue Al Pajar which looks like a very pleasant facility...the cost is a very reasonable 19€ which includes supper tonight.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to a short day in the 24 km range into Burgos...that way we will have plenty of time to look around the city and the Burgos Cathedral which is supposed to be spectacular.

Last night's supper, at 9:00 which is too late for us was disappointing and at 12.5€ was overpriced! Oh well that happens.

Russian salad - not bad

Stewed lamb - crap
Ice cream from super mercado - not the best

This morning we woke up early and left planning to eat breakfast at the first village which was about 5 kms away...when we got there we knew we had to move on so another 5 kms to Belorado. It wasn't a big deal as we were all walking strongly.

Proof we left early in morning

The walk to Belorado was on a good gravel road however it followed the major highway route N-120 which is a major trucking route. The scenery was somewhat limited however the walking was easy.

Our early morning walk

Breakfast break was just what we needed - Yes a chocolate wagon wheel type square!

After breakfast we walked to Villafranca de Oca which had some pleasant scenery and some interesting picture opportunities

Have to make sure!
Emilio Estevez hand and footprint in Belorado

Long walk ahead
No longer afraid...walked right by them

At Villafranca de Oca we stopped for lunch at a tapas bar

After lunch we were in for some stiff and challenging climbing over a number of kilometres. Many a pilgrim was struggling on this stretch. Shortly after the climb we entered the MOST BORING CAMINO STRETCH EVER which lasted 8 or 9 kms.

It went on and on forever on a lousy road in the towns..nada. Marc and I simply put into high gear and walked like madmen to make it to San Juan de Ortega. As we neared the town we were laughing historically and cursing everything Camino...Marc indicated he was hallucinating...oh what a good memory that will make in future years. Those who know us best can well imagine what happened here.

From a Canadian Lapel pin exchange I gave away a dozen or so to 5 Koreans (one had a son study in Toronto), a Japanese pilgrim, a Frenchman, Nadia from Paris France who has walked 800 kms on Camino routes every year since 2000 and a handful to people who helped me in stores. Paulo and I must decide on how many he will take back with him to Brazil...wife, two kids, mother/father, two brothers...their kids...25 or so people at his law office and who knows who else. Fifty should do it! A few pictures from the afternoon...

Marc was fascinated - he is a world renowned Wind Engineer

Pretty boring!
Much better!

Finally we are there

Feet are really sore all round...soles of our feet are burning...Paulo has a medicine supply which would rival a Hospital emergency room therefore we have what we need.

We are targeting to reach Leon mid day on May 6th and have planned a special treat for ourselves...more later!

Finally want to send a special thanks to my very special best friend Dawn (spouse) for persevering with my inability to tie my shoes properly. Just before leaving Dawn found a short TED talk on how to tie shoes...apparently there are many bozos similar to me in this world. I finally hiking boots are always staying tied now as opposed to what happened in the past. t'aime ma chere!

Resting now before supper where paella will be served!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Camino Frances (April 28, 2014) - Day 66 Najera to Castildelgado

Very tired feet as I write this...a long 35 km day in just under 7 hours of walking. The walking wasn't difficult from an elevation gain perspective however most of the walking was on relatively hard surfaces.

Paulo, Marc also have sore feet...Paulo's feet are starting to look like an Egyptian's mummy while Marc continues to have heel pain in both feet...he has tried various approaches to improving things however with limited success I think. 

Yesterday afternoon we went out for cervezas after the normal arrival routine...

Paulo and Malte                 
Tapas - Calamari and Potato croquette
Potatoes from La Rioja region

For supper we went to a local pub for a pilgrims menu...quite good at a reasonable 9€ price

Sausage and potato stew
Fries and Pork tenderloin in bacon

Chocolate cake with delicious whipped cream

On the way back from supper to the Albergue we passed by an open air concert...stopped and listened for a short while...was quite enjoyable.

Open air concert

Finally we stopped for a quick cerveza round, courtesy Malte, before calling it a day. You may be getting the impression that food and drink is all we do...NOT so we also walk and sleep!

This morning we walked to Azofra for an hour or so before having desayuno...

Seriously that's all they had...breakfast/desayuno!

Every day I learn a little bit more about Brazil...did you know that Recife where Paulo lives has 5 million people and it's beach is one of the top most dangerous shark attack areas in the world. Hammerhead and Tiger sharks account for most of the attacks which kill people every year.

Paulo tells me that going waist high is ok and that everyone does problem! He has invited Dawn and I to come to Recife to have one of his famous 7 hour lunches followed by a swim...lunch sounds great!

I continue to meet interesting people on the Camino and of course we meet again people from previous days. Today I met Jean-Francois from Montreal Canada who came up to us and asked if we were the Canadians...he had heard about the Canadian lapel pins so I gave him one.

Coming into Santo Domingo de la Calzada I walked for half hour or so with Fernando a pilgrim from Spain who is walking parts of the Camino Frances for the fourth time. An IT consultant from Madrid he provided me with a perspective of Spain and it's current financial his estimation it will take a minimum 10 years to move out of the current economic crisis which has 25% unemployment and a severe housing bubble. This was very much in evidence as we walked through what can only be described as a ghost town in Ciruena.

I very much enjoyed learning more about Spain and sharing information about Canada...of course I gave Fernando and likely a dozen others through the day Canadian lapel pins.


As we came into Santo Domingo we visited the very impressive church and climbed the tower (132 steps...just because we needed more exercize...thanks Paulo for the suggestion!!!). The treasures in the church are is also home to a live rooster and hen which unfortunately did not make an appearance. There is quite a story behind why the rooster and hen are in the church...Google it some time!

After a quick lunch Paulo, Marc and I bid Malte glad to have had the chance to meet Malte but equally sad to part ways. I wish him well in his future endeavours...bright, nice young guy with a lot of potential. A few pictures from the day...

Never closer...only 582 kms to go!

Pilgrims on the move

A not so nice stretch of walking!

From all over the world...going to Santiago de Compostela

We are currently staying in the Hostal El Chocolatero...we have spoiled ourselves with a room for three. Tomorrow we are targeting San Juan Ortega and staying in the monastery there...which is another 34 kms day.

We are trying to work backwards from a number of dates which is causing some longer days and a few shorter days... Marc is working hard on the plan...we need to think things through to ensure we reach Santiago without undue effort...uhmm. We will find a Way!