Sunday, July 24, 2016

Contemplating the Camino at 180

Once walking the Camino meant turning around and walking back home after seeing Santiago. We met more people walking west for the second or third time than we saw walking east. On the train to Montpelier today we've already crossed more of Spain than we did in almost five weeks of walking. Fields that would take us an hour to walk across last week flash past in a minute at 188 mph... The power poles beside the track are almost invisible from the side, just a quick blur against the landscape. 

I spent much of our walk observing infrastructure and contemplating the problems that drove its development. Eventually Corrie began suggesting I write a report when we finished the inventory. I'm not actually interested in writing a report on Spain's agricultural or infrastructure. I'm just more interested in how people solve problems than most and especially curious when the problems been solved in a way I wouldn't have considered. Ultimately it's probably those observations and ideas I'll remember and seems fitting to recross Spain by train propelled in part by electricity generated by the countless wind turbines we've seen. 

We met at least three people whose experience walking to Santiago convinced them to move to Spain and open an alburgue. I've had no such life altering revelations and that's alright. It was a really nice walk and I enjoyed both the long conversations with Corrie as well as letting my mind wander the countryside while my feet just took another step. Perhaps if I'd had a more complicated reason for walking I'd have come to a more exciting conclusion but I feel pretty satisfied knowing I can hike 500 miles and enjoy most of it. 

On the whole I've enjoyed the trip enough that I may hike or bike the Camino again if a good opportunity comes along someday. Until then there I have a long list of other walks to take! 


We spend the few days in Braga Portugal visiting our friend Kendra and resting after the Camino. My stomach started acting up the last day of our walk and corrie caught the bug the day after we arrived in Braga so we didn't get out as much as we had planned to there. It was a good place to rest and relax though and it was nice to meet Kendra's family and tour their kiwi farm. 

We were able to spend one day touring a bit in Braga with Kendra and Ellie.

I always imagined kiwis grew on a tree of some kind, but they are a lot more like grapes. Sadly they weren't ripe yet. We did find lots of other fresh fruit though. 

We also picked up the box we sent ahead from the Camino. I have a fancy shirt again. Also epic tan lines...

We're on our way to Montpellier today and feeling better after the days of rest.

Monday, July 18, 2016

We made it to Santiago! Ribadiso to Santiago

They told us in St. Jean that the first day would be the hardest. Combing the last two days into a marathon hike ensured it wasn't, but we are now safely in Santiago. 

We're here! 

And we have a fancy hotel room with AC so I'm going to bed...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Palas de Rei to Ribadiso

We'll be in Santiago tomorrow evening if everything goes as planned. The last couple days have been quite different with all the new pilgrims joining the trail. It seems about ten times as many people complete shorter versions as start in St. Jean each year. It's a sea of new faces after weeks of seeing mostly people we'd already met. It's also become much hotter the last couple days. I'm thankful it was "unseasonably cold" for the first few weeks while we acclimated. 

The trail shortly after breakfast. I am much less inclined to say more than "buen Camino" with so many people on the trail. 

Fanciest coffee of the trip and very tasty. The second stop made up for the disappointing coffee at our first stop. 

The Camino is more "walking with the cows" than "running with the bulls".

I don't know when I last saw 97 degrees... I hope we don't both completely fry tomorrow. On the bright side our laundry drys in minutes. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Portomarin to Palas de Rei

We're both a little tired today after yesterday's long walk so we planned and shorter 25km walk today. Portomarin is on a hill next to a lake and the early morning mist and hill climb was a nice way to start the morning. 

Leaving Portomarin. The instructions said to cross this bridge but it seemed to be closed. Thankfully there was a nice side walk on the auto bridge. 

Looking more awake after climbing the hill out of town. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Samos to Portomarin

Our walk took all morning and most the afternoon, but we made lots of progress today. I seriously considered rolling over, but we're now 38km closer to Santiago and I'm glad we didn't. 

Almost there. Only another 100km... We're down to 90 tonight. 

Spain has these awesome fans they turn on when gets too hot... The breeze and the shade the trees provided were really helpful in the afternoon.

Walking past a logging operation and think about the Galena biomass project. 

Almost there. 

Corrie's Fitbit. I'm 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fonfria to Samos

We walked back down from the mountains today following the longer of two routes to visit a monestary in Samos.

Sunrise from the western slope. 

Yes, that is a goat in a tree...

Coming down the hill into Samos. 

The monestary we're visiting today. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Vega de Valcarce to Fonfria

Today was one of the nicest walks we've had on the Camino. We stared with a steep climb to breakfast and then a bit more afterward to reach the first summit. Then we spent the rest of the day walking along the tops of the hills overlooking panoramic views of the valleys below. We're not that high, but it made a big difference on the temperature and we're enjoying the cooler temperatures. 

Corrie walking up the trail this morning. 

Looking back down the valley we hiked up. 

We saw this sign mid morning so we're actually less than 150km from Santiago tonight. American number conventions make it look like the units should be meters but they use the comma as a decim here. What I'm really curious about is their significant figures...

We found fireweed growing in the second pass today which really made me feel like I was at home/in the mountains. 

Tonight's albergue offered cheese with honey as a snack... I
t was delicious. Welcome to Galicia.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cacabelos to Vega de Valcarce

We spent the morning walking though the hills among vinyards small towns and forests. It was a lot of walking on asphalt, but otherwise a pretty easy day. It was much cooler walking in the shade of the hills. That actually changed my perception of time and jt still felt like early morning at 10:30 making for a shorter feeling day. I'm looking forward to climbing another mountain tomorrow which will be our last on the Camino. 

Sunrise over the vinyards. 

Looking the other direction towards breakfast. One interesting thing about walking the same direction everyday is the sun is almost always behind us or toto the left. That's never happened on any of my other hikes. You can spot pilgrims from their lopsided tan lines. 

Looking down the valley after breakfast. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Molinaseca to Cacabelos

The change in the landscape on this side of the pass is quite dramatic and more like our first days of walking than the past two weeks. We're walking between the mountains for a couple days and definitely back in wine county. Neither of us really felt like getting up this morning, but the weather was great and it's hard to feel sluggish covering 15 miles by 1:00.

If you're reading this in preparation for your own Camino we both recommend staying at Cass San Nicolas in Molinaseca. We would have like to spend another day there.

Looking out over the country side while walking down to Ponferrada for breakfast.
The castle across from breakfast. We found a nice bakery for breakfast today. Sadly they didn't serve eggs and our attempt ordering eggs an hour later resulted in sandwiches. Clearly I need to work on my Spanish...

I've always wanted to build a house over a stream like this. I wonder if it was always a house or if it was originally a mill.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Foncebadon to Molinaseca

We crossed our second pass on the Camino this morning. It was a beautiful walk up as the sun rose and we made it to Crus de Ferro (iron cross) just as the sun peaked over the horizon. The down hill was slower than the up and harder on the feet so we and many on the pilgrims we've been walking with decided to make it a shorter day and stop in Molinaseca where they dam the stream in the summer for swimming hole. The water was colder than I expected but it felt awesome after the hike. Tonight we opted for an albergue run by a Brazilian family which has proven to be an good choice. The Brazilian dinner they server was excellent and they were great hosts as well. 

Early dawn on the way up. 

At the cross for sunrise. 

A sundial at the top of the first pass where your shadow tells the time. We were a little early to use it. 

In the saddle of the pass between the high points. 

The swimming hole in Molinaseca. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Astorga to Foncebadon

Today was the first day of mostly uphill we've done in a week. The climb was less difficult than the guide suggested and it felt good to be going change our pace after a week in the plains. Foncebadon is a quiet little town and I'm sure there are more pilgrims than residents most nights. We spent the afternoon napping and then stayed up to late talking after dinner. 

Our late morning break stop had grapes growing over the tables. 

Back in the hills!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Villar de Mazarife to Astorga

Today was a pretty long walk but tonight we're almost to the mountains! We can even see a small patch of snow up there. It took most of the day for Corrie to convince me that it is really snow but now I'm even more excited about tomorrow's hike up. We did an early start today and one of the things we noticed is that it's getting light noticeably later now. I knew it was still too close to the solstice to have lost much daylight yet so I did some mental math on the trail. Turns out we really have walked far enough to have a noticeable affect on the time of sunrise. I looked it up to double check tonight and we've managed to push sunrise back 22 minutes! That gives me a new appreciation for how far we've walked. Also, we're sleeping in 20 minutes tomorrow! 

Our delayed sunrise was still very nice. 

Just another impressive stone bridge.

If you're practicing for a summer Camino in NM you should be pretty well set...

One of the really awesome things about walking the Camino is all the water fountains. This one was particularly fancy. The statue also gets a drink when you fill up a bottle...

The bishops palace in Astorga.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Leon to Villar de Mazarife

We spent most of the morning walking though the suburbs and industial district of Leon. Corrie and I have decided these are definitely our least favorite terrain on the Camino. After breakfast we opted for an alternative Camino route that took us away from the main highway for the rest of the day. It adds a few km to the hike so there are far fewer pilgrims on this route despite a reputation for better scenery. I think there are only two other couples in our albergue tonight.

Leon cathedral lit up last night after dinner. 

The fountain in front of our hotel in Leon. 

Once we cleared the city it kind of felt like we were walking through NM the rest of the morning...

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mansilla de Las Mulas to Leon

At 18 km today felt pretty easy and we spent a good deal of the afternoon walking around Leon. The days walk was mostly a few fields and then walking through the city but there were some interesting pieces of ancient engineering and the cathedral in Leon is rather impressive. We also walked to the train station to reserve our seats out of Santiago. So far the eurorail pass has proven less efficient than expected but we should have a very nice trip across Spain and France in a couple weeks. 

Customary sunrise photo. We had an easy morning and slept in so we weren't even out of town by sunrise today...

It looks like they added a modern concrete deck to the original stone bridge to create a two lane road carrying semis. Impressive over engineering of the original bridge that must have carried horses! 

We splurged a little on a fancy hotel tonight. This was looking up from the lobby but the real bonus is having the best shower we've seen on the Camino...

The outside of the cathedral. 

We were able to tour the inside as well today for a nice change. The windows are more impressive from inside and the iPhone doesn't really do them justice. 

One of the northern windows.

We also caught up Eitaro while we toured. We had a couple of meals with him about a week ago but hadn't seen him for a while. Randomly catching up with people we met miles ago is one of the cool things about walking the Camino. One cyclist we talked with said that rarely happens on bike because there are fewer stops and vastly different speeds people ride. I think it would be a nice ride and also aquite different experience to bike it.