Friday, 30 September 2022

Camino San Salvador - Sep 30, 2022 Day 1 Leon to La Robla

Started my 8th Camino route…Paulo plans 9th in 2026! A brief summary…Via Jacobi - Switzerland, Via Gebennensis - France, Via Podiensis - France, Camino Frances - Spain, Camino Finisterre - Spain, Camino Portuguese- Portugal/Spain, Camino Primitivo - Spain and now Camino San Salvador - Spain. When completed estimate 3,400+ kms over 122 walking days.

very peaceful walk…did not meet a single pilgrim walker all day! I knew before starting this would be a quiet Camino however it was still somewhat surprising.

Perfect weather again…I was concerned heading into today as I was feeling rundown over the rest days in Santiago de Compostela however I walked very well.

After a walk like the Camino Primitivo getting low on energy should not have been surprising reflecting on this past walk.

- Camino Primitivo is normally walked somewhere between 12 - 14 days…we chose to do it in 12 days.

- Avg 26.25 kms per day or in FitBit terms (.7 meters per step) ~ 37,500 steps per day

- Avg 610 meters elevation gain per day or in FitBit terms (3 meters elevation gain = 1 story) ~ 203 stories climbed per day 

 - Avg 647 meters elevation loss per day or in FitBit terms (3 meters elevation loss = 1 story) ~ 216 stories descended per day

So I should accept that feeling run down πŸ˜₯ is totally normal…especially for an old guy.

Today was a fairly long day at 27.6 kms over 5 hrs 40 minutes or an average pace of 4.9 kms per hour. It was pretty easy walking over forest/gravel roads (except for last 5 km) as the elevation gains and losses were low at 421 meters gained and 278 meters descent.

I started walking shortly before 7:30 so still dark and it was pretty chilly!

Now you will notice my headlamp has a red glow and not white! This was NOT intended however no way no how could I get a white light shining for the longest of time.

There is only ONE button to push on my fancy Petzl headlamp… NO instructions came with the headlamp. I went online at home to test out the various lights. I thought I would remember while walking however sigh πŸ˜” another one of these “I should have paid more attention to instructions”

Now that I am in the Pension Mundo I press the button - one white light, press again second white light, press a third time both lights are now bright…press fourth time they turn off.

Ok perfect for tomorrow BUT how and why did I get the red light this morning? A Camino mystery!

I downloaded Enders Wikilocs Bergenzi river trail tracks for Day 1. Very glad I did…even though a lot of effort has been made to place arrows at key points I found the Wikiloc tracks to be invaluable a number of times…especially walking alone.

Ender is a legend on the Camino San Salvador as I understand he had almost single handedly resurrected the Camino San Salvador including writing an extensive PDF guide!

Just a few of Enders trail markings 

While there were some nice views today they were far from being spectacular. I am totally ok walking days like this…find it very relaxing (except for last 5 kms mostly on asphalt…that was ugly!)

The sign below outlined a choice between a 6 km non road dirt paths or 5 kms mostly asphalt…chose the later but would choose differently if there is a next time.

Around 1:30 or so came upon first bar so stopped for a bite to eat…ordered an Aquarius Naranja drink and I thought an empanada…clearly my Spanish failed me very very badly on the empanada and I left quite hungry but not “hangry” as I thought this was all funny! Two tiny chicken thighs!

Somewhere along the trail I came across brightly coloured boxes in the bush (see picture below…zoom in) which I suspect were beehives. What else could they be?

I considered going closer however realized that I was not wearing my beekeeper protective Packa suit so decided against doing so…

Shown below is a decrepit looking building with a “vende” for sale sign…wow you see this type of situation in so many areas on our walks in Spain. Old rundown buildings are left standing and for sale!

You may have noticed a lot of pictures with bocadillos…Spanish sandwich…I keep ordering them as most often there is nothing else…yes I never eaten more bread than this…yes I am tired of it…yes I will likely gain weight after all this walking πŸ˜‚

Tomorrow a shorter day 23 kms, with what looks like a pretty tough climb prior to Poladura de la Tercia as the spectacular areas of the San Salvador Camino will start appearing. Day 3 is supposed to as stunning a day as any on various Camino routes!

To finish a few other pictures from the day…

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Camino San Salvador - Sep 29, 2022 Change in Plans

Cyrille, unfortunately will not be able to join me on the Camino San Salvador, due to a last minute issue. Both Cyrille and I wish it were otherwise but these things happen. He is a good friend and hopefully we will walk again together at some later date.

I am now in Leon in the Hotel Crisos Quindos which is very close to the Plaza San Marcos. I walked down there and it brought back memories of the 2014 Camino Frances when Marc, Paulo and I stayed in the Parador!!

I found the Pilgrims statue and the plaque which shows the divergence of the Camino Frances and the Camino San Salvador…

In many ways this feels like my very first day Camino walking Aug 2013 in Rorschach Switzerland where I arrived alone…in the German part of Switzerland being able to count 1 - 10 in German. Ok I can do a little better in Spanish but…

Paulo just sent me a 2 minute audio of key words in Spanish with the English translation… clearly he is worried a bit…it will all work out just fine.

I opened the river track on Wikiloc and found my way down to the trail by the river so all should be good tomorrow morning.

Took a look at weather forecast over next 5 days and I may just luck out again! No rain foreseen.

Concerning the Tilley Hat fiasco I received a few comments. The first comment made sense to me…may well regain shape after getting it wet and manipulating the shape…but will it dry in time?

The other comment from a long time friend is suspicious:

« I like the new Tilley hat look. It transforms you from kind of nerdish to an Indiana Jones vibe which is quite dashing. »

I can buy the “nerdish” reference very easily but the “dashing”  not so much πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

On to tomorrow and 28 kms!


Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Special Edition - Sep 28, 2022 Botafumeiro, Tilley Hat, Cathedral Rooftop Tour

A few notable events today warrant a quick special blog.


Anyone who has seen the Botufumeiro swing is both amazed and lucky. The Botufumeiro swings on 10 or  so regular religious dates or when someone pays 400€ to see it swing.

I have gone to the Pilgrim’s mass 3 times to see it swing and incredibly it has swung each time.


Day 85 of Camino walking…necessitating 3 trips to Europe when the plan was one trip. A lot had happened during that time period…both to me and consequently impacting people very close to me.

The Botufumeiro swung and all I remember was releasing all these emotions as tears just streamed down my face..a very special moment.


Camino Portuguese - forced stop in Porto for 4 days to get medical attention for blisters. I walked/hobbled the 280 or so kms to Santiago de Compostela on very tender feet. It was the most difficult walking ever! The Botufumeiro swung and I just sat back looking at it with aching feet…no tears.


Camino Primitivo -  Botufumeiro swung and I just had a big smile…all was good!

Now prior to the mass, which I did not understand one word as it was in Spanish…they must have announced 10 times no videos allowed.

The  Botufumeiro starts swinging and everyone around me starts taking video. Now I have spent a lifetime trying to follow rules etc etc but this time I thought go for it! So I took a video like everyone else…felt a little good to stretch the rules a bit.

After mass I got  together with Paulo and Pierre who were sitting elsewhere (the church was standing room only!) and asked them if they had taken a video…no they said it was forbidden! Pierre said “young people of today don’t listen”…so I felt a little sheepish and quickly erased my video as Paulo is a lawyer and who knows what trouble I could get into.

Here is a 2-3 minute link to the Botufumeiro on YouTube if you are interested.

Tilley Hat

Paulo has been pestering me that my Tilley hat stinks so I bowed to pressure and washed/dried itπŸ™„

A few pictures below (selfies) this is NOT a good look for the upcoming Camino San Salvador! Maybe if I soak in water and let it dry it will regain it’s shape…anyone out there have ideas let me know!

Cathedral Rooftop Tour

This was an hour long tour…would have been very interesting except it was ALL in Spanish…I understood maybe 5 words however the views were superb…after climbing 140 steps πŸ‘ A few pictures…

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Camino Primitivo - Sep 27, 2022 Day 12 O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

We made it!!! Walked into Santiago de Compostela shortly before 1pm

My best attempt at a selfie…ever!

Reflecting on the Camino Primitivo it was an incredible experience…honestly we were fortunate, well prepared and everything clicked…including the resolution of what I will call the Atomic Black Cloud moment…to be described later!

- Weather was perfect πŸ‘ couple of drops of rain over 12 days, mostly sunny, low 20’s, winds not too strong…

- Injuries usually add up and can radically change a Camino walk ie 2018 Camino Portuguese. Sure some issues but minor in nature.

- New equipment 5 ⭐️. Packa included as it held off the rain

- Accommodation choices were all very good and reasonably priced

- Walking performance by the young 46 year old Brazilian lawyer Paulo was excellent…he could keep up…mostly…with 65 year old Canadian. Oh boy am I going to pay the price for that!!!

- Mentally we managed very well…gave each other space when needed…walked as friends

Today did not unfold as expected…the throngs of pilgrim walkers were steady but not nearly as much as  yesterday! We did leave early πŸ˜‚…it was very dark and foggy…maybe we beat the rush?

Food pictures today are from yesterday afternoon where we had a salad and pulpo (octopus) from a Pulperia. In 2014 I had pulpo and thought it tasted like shoe leather however it was delicious! Maturity I guess πŸ˜‰

Atomic Black Moment…it happened within 5 kms of Santiago de Compostela…stopped for a break of sorts here

Oh boy once again I will go on a limb to show how stupid I can be however I do so to ensure anyone reading this drastically improves on my approach!!!

We wanted to Air Drop a few pictures…usually very simple however no way would it work so Paulo suggested we turn off our phones and restart to see if that would help.

I do so and on restarting my phone I get a message “you have 3 tries before your phone is locked”

My life flashed before my eyes…Atomic Black Cloud consumed me…my Camino is over! Why? Simple I don’t know the d*mn PIN number. I search everywhere that I can think of…no PIN number. I remember seeing the pin on a small plastic card that was given to me in Madrid Airport but…

Paulo notices (how could he not) that I am not doing so well…the air was shall we say a touch blue also. This is serious stuff.

Paulo says “do not panic…we will fix this”…ok how? We are both thinking 3 tries and the phone is dead…however Lesson 1 - This is not true! The message relates only to the SIM card …WIFI would still work.

Paulo pairs our two phones and on his I logon to Google email. I have kept correspondence with the SIM card company and notice the service rep left her WhatsApp phone number.

Paulo phones her…turns out she speaks English as well and she answers immediately…how lucky πŸ€ is that!

Service rep has dealt with many people like me before so she says 1) enter any PIN number 3 times and wait for a PUK number. Paulo gets the PUK number and I enter it and voila…the Atomic Black Cloud disappears!

I spent the next 5 kms thanking Paulo profusely…clearly I was very fortunate this happened when it did…he did a great job!

So where is the little card and my Bell Canadian SIM card? Logically it should be in one of two places 1) my long pants I was wearing - NO or 2) in pocket of the North Face fleece jacket I was wearing -THE ONE LOST IN MADRID AIRPORT

Yes I should have taken a photo of the plastic card with pin…yes to other things as well but…these things happen 😳 Made for a rather exciting finish to an awesome Camino Primitivo!

Some stats which some πŸ˜‰may find of interest 

Total kms walked - 315

Elevation gains - 7,315 meters Mt Everest 8,848 

Elevation losses - 7,764 meters

Total gains/losses - 15,080

Time walked - 66.5 hours

Average kms/hr - 4.7 kms per hour 

Countries of pilgrim walkers we met

23 countries in total

United States - 11

Germany, Spain - 5

Italy - 4

Estonia - 3

Ireland, France, England, Australia - 2

Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Canary Islands, Lithuania, Indonesia, Holland, Portugal, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Poland, Czech Republic- 1

As it happens this is blog number 200 for the Blog!

Tomorrow a rest day, Thursday a travel day so unless something dramatic happens the next blog posting will be Day 1 Camino San Salvador published Oct 1.

Thanks for reading…here are a few pictures from today.

Km zΓ©ro in plaza

Compostela received with Latin name

OMG - Late Breaking news…there was a third possibility where my Bell SIM card and the SIM card with the PIN could be. I wore a special money belt just for the plane and guess what…I should have written where I put these items on my arms or hands. Oh my how could I do what I did? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜³πŸ€”