Monthly Archives: April 2014

More from Leon

I was just getting in to bed when my room phone rang. It was Sabina letting me know the light show fellows were setting up again.

Of course I rushed down here to watch. It is a very slow process as they have to make sure everything is perfect. There is three sets of pictures to cover each of the three section of the church. The head lighting fellow has been filling me in on it all. I might add I am frozen and it is late but in five more minutes they will have the whole building covered. Meanwhile this lovely young man has been showing me all his holiday photos from Singapore.

Here is a couple from when they started.

 

This is just some of the work. The two at the top are an eagle toppling the building. It was actually moving, not a still. Oh and it's not laser, it is video and the film exactly replicates the building so it is all superimposed on every window, doorway and pillar. It truly is amazing. When I said, I needed to go to bed, damn me if they didn't fast forward it to this:

Even though they had not finished perfecting the first part. This is king Leon. So much history here. I would love to see this show. They are not static pics, it's actually a movie.

Sabina just told me that king Leon burial tomb is in the basilica, and now I don't have time to see it.

What a wonderful end to the night.

Bye again.

 

Lost in Leon

I went off at ten and found the chemist in question. Sadly this chemist ruined my theory about chemists and had no English. He kept pulling out various inserts, which won't work as they put pressure on the little nodules. I decided on a bandage, but he had only really big rolls so I gave up in there.

I went to another chemist and bought a smaller roll, and I will see how it goes. Later, Sabina, the hotel owner said she would like to take me to the orthopaedic doctor who opens at five, but I refused her kind offer.

From there I wandered up to the cathedral area as there is a tourist information place available. Once there, I found it was just as quiet as last night. I went into the information centre and asked about the bus. She said it is not especially for pilgrims, but that as it goes to La Virgen del Camino, many pilgrims take it, to avoid the awful industrial area and hard pavements. It begins at six thirty am, and then every half an hour. I shall take that option which gives me just over twelve ks to walk.

Empty plaza except for the school kids.

 

Yes, I gave him some euro and asked permission.
This lady was going into restaurants so I assume she was asking for food.

There are quite a few beggars here which is really sad. It seems to me that people are either very rich, comfortable or down right impoverished. Very sad.

The cathedral. I was going to go in, but two school groups went in so I opted for peace instead. This was taken later in the night.

As I had finished all that, I decided to try and find the park again and see if I could get a picture of someone using the equipment. I was doing all right, until I looked over a wall and saw what I thought looked like the coach station. I asked a lady if it was, and she said, “Si,si, station.” Well, I thought, I have come a long way, so using that as a marker, I took off in the direction I had come in on last night. After one or two kilometres I asked somewhere where the river was? There was much blowing out of cheeks, and puzzled looks, as he tried to explain it was a long way. In the opposite direction actually. The station I saw was actually a disused train station.

Off I went again, still managing to go in circles. I finally got there, and I was wrong again. The equipment is for anyone to use, and there was two young girls all kitted out in gym gear working there butts off. (Well hoping to I expect).

This man is on a hip swivel device.

This fellow is having a pedal.

Super idea to put all this in a park.

This is one of the paths in the park. These trees seen all along the Way are Spanish Flame trees. I noticed the ones here near the river are already quite leafy.

The trees nearer to town are now just sprouting new leaves.

Hard to believe but as I came to the park in a very round about way, I got lost going back. Not to stress I stopped for a cafe con leche, and got a nice little sweet cake gratis. Good value 1€15. Recharged I took off again, and thought I would take a short cut down an alley. That decision took me into a local market.

 

Here they sold everything from cheeses to stockings.

 

 

Too much excitement.

I bought some bananas and mandarins for tomorrow. The fellow I bought the mandarins from, saw my bag with the Camino symbol, and asked if I was a pilgrim. I replied that I was, so he took the fruit out of the plastic bag, and popped it in my bag. How very sweet, I thought. Then he asked for his money. I guess he just didn't want to waste a bag.

It was quite entertaining watching all the hawkers selling their wares. I can't imagine how they can sell meats, cheeses and fish out in the open like that, without some contamination. Of course I took squillions of pics.

Off I went again, and low and behold I was back at the river. Honestly I could not believe it. The trouble with this city is one can't see over the huge buildings in order to catch site of the cathedral which is always a good direction finder.

I had walked about seven ks all up by now, and this time I used my map to point out my little basilica. A nice fellow gave some direction, but I didn't have my glasses on and pointed to the wrong damn church. I realized when I came to a park that it was the wrong park. As I stood there pondering which way to go I saw a chap about to mount a scooter. I tried my best Spanish, hola and por favour to get his attention. He turned out to be from the UK and lives here. He said I was about a kilometre of track, so how about he gave me a lift on his scooter. He didn't need to ask twice so off we went.

He dropped me at the hotel/hostel and suggested a few more places I should go, but I needed a rest and time to check my photos and start today's blog.

As I walked into the lobby I literally bumped into Ken, a fellow whose feet I had tended in Torres del Rio. He was really pleased to see me as he was feeling a bit lost having just arrived. He came the last 70 ks by train. He said he has sung my praises several times over since I fixed his feet. He now has his own roll of Fixamol and uses it a lot. He went off to sight see, and I did the above. We met up at seven to go for a meal. As we were strolling up the road I, Gary who I met way back, and Peter, a fellow from Melbourne who I had also met earlier were sitting outside one of the bars. Ken and I joined them and we caught up on all our adventures. We all ended up a a very nice restaurant nearby and had a very nice Pilgrim menu. It was pretty expensive 15€ but at least it was good food, and a very nice restaurant.

I am bussing the five ks out of town, and ken is doing the same the next day. I shall then have about 14 ks to walk to Villarreal de Mazariffe. I have arranged for my pack to be sent on, and have booked a bed in an alburge called Tio Pepe. This was actually booked out tonight as when I rang she thought I wanted tonight. I hope not having the pack will help. Strangely after all my walking today, I had no problem, but I was wearing sandles which have no arch support so don't press on the lumps. I don't think I could walk the Camino in them though as they don't fit as snuggle. Ah, well, I shall just have to see how I go.

That's it. Sorry if any errors.

Adios

 

 

 

Later in Leon

In turns out that there is wifi on the coach, but I didn't have it. I was gaily surfing the web when I lost the connection. I thought 'TOY something' was a strange name for a service. Still I managed to get the little bit of blog off.

The 15 minutes from the bus station to the hotel was a bit off the mark, as it was more like thirty. Plus it doesn't help matters when one has no idea where the heck to go. I always feel a bit lost coming into the big towns. Nevertheless I found it in the end. I had to walk through a lovely park on the way, and I think it was for Senior Citizens! They were everywhere, sitting, walking and exercising. They had special equipment for keeping active. I tried to shoot off a quick snap without being intrusive.

 

The man standing in the back is on a walking type of exerciser. The two in front are on pedal pushing devices. There was other apparatous out there too. What a super idea.

I passed this too. No idea who it is but I liked the sky.

I finally got to the hotel which is a nice little family run affair, the Boccalino Hostel. It is a nice little room for the price. It has AC which I can control, a little bar fridge and a good bathroom. My room also has a tiny balcony.

 

It was getting on by the time I had checked in so I dumped everything in my room, and went off to find the plaza area which is usually by the obligatory cathedral. I got to the cathedral and there was no plaza area, or at least not one with cafés and bars, with throngs of people. I saw not one pilgrim anywhere. The few that had travelled on the bus had disappeared by the time I had made a pit stop inside the station.

My next task was to find a chemist. I finally found one, but there was nothing there that I thought suitable for strapping. The lady there had fair English (of course) and told me of a farmacia who dealt mainly in foot care, but it would not be open until tomorrow at ten. She gave me good directions to use for tomorrow. Now of course, that means staying an extra night as by the time I get there, and hopefully sorted out, it will be too late to start out.

By now I was a little peckish, so I decided to pass up on the noisy bars on my route back, and went to the restaurant opposte the hotel/hostel, which I think they own as well. There I found my first peligrino. In fact it was a woman I had last seen in the cafe where the dear old lady sang for us.

She remembered me because of the lady singing for me, and I did vaguely remember her sitting alone reading her Camino guide book. I joined her and we had a pleasant meal together. We both agree that Spain ain't cheap! In fact most things are dearer than at our respective homes. Coffee, and wine are the two exceptions. Busses also are not bad, but I don't know the comparison of coach travel. Hotels are good too, but most people can't afford them even if they are cheaper than at home.

We said our goodbyes and, as the Way comes past here, I shall try and catch her as she passes under my window in the morning.

I noticed when I came in that some fellows were in some sort of massive projector box, and seemed to be throwing lights onto the Basilica opposite.

I was too slow, but the blurry building you see is a projected image.

They of course finished what they were doing about two seconds after I took the picture. I went in and asked the owner what they had been doing. She took me into the sitting room and dragged out some newspapers, to show me. Every May, each Saturday, or the first Saturday, some got lost in translation, they have a laser show projected onto the basilica. The show covers the history of Leon from before Napolean, up to present day. She then showed me some photos on her computer. Very, very impressive. Tonight the fellows were just checking all working. Hopefully they might need to check again tomorrow night. Sadly my little camera seems not to have an ISO setting. Might do better with this iPad camera.

When I was checking the map to make sure I knew where the chemist was, the owner ( I must get her name) recognised the name of the street and made sure I knew where to go. She knows the shop deals in foot problems and tells me I must get the city bus up the hill when I start the Way again. It is especially for pilgrims and I can't miss it because it says Camino Pilgrims on the bus. The hill she says if very steep so the bus takes pilgrims five kilometres. What a hoot!

This lady also showed me all her aussy post cards, as her brother in law lives in Melbourne. There was one card there from an Australian girl. This dear lady gave the Aussy girl her train fare to Santiago, as she came in crying saying she had no money left. The money was paid back and came with a kangaroo post card. Poor woman has far too many from the brother in law.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get a few more pictures taken, and have a bit of a look around.

Adios

 

Ps

Now on the coach to Leon. Can't believe it has wifi. I nearly danced for joy at the bus station, ( but it would hurt my foot). There were so many of us bussing on. One woman was nearly in tears trying to convince her husband to bus to Leon. He would agree only to Castrojeriz, and she was not a happy camper. Another girl, with blisters is going to Fromista to meet up with her friend. Most of the others are on this bus and going on to Leon. I feel much better now that others are rowing the same boat as me. (Best metaphor I could think of).

This coach is pretty fancy, with drop down trays, and a movie playing on a screen up the front. There's even a bell to press for drink service, but I don't see a hostess. There's a toilet too, and all very clean and modern.

To the right of me I can see snow clad mountains in the distance. To the left is mainly green vegetation some of which could be crops I suppose. Too hard to get a pic as they drive on the wrong side of the road here, and I daren't move out of my allotted seat.

That's it for now. Tune in tomorrow as I bring news from Leon.

Adios

 

 

Leaving Burgos

Well I didn't get too much sight seeing done after all this morning. I had a rather long wait for a shower as they had a power problem. They were very sweet and kept ringing me to let me know the temperature of the water. While waiting I did some internet searching.

Last night while rubbing voltarin into my foot to alleviate the pain, I felt two hard lumps on the tendon that runs under my instep. One was peas sized and the other about half the size. From what I have read it is known as a 'plantar fibroma' which can be a cyst or a ganglion. Usually caused by some trauma. See: old woman climbing mountains. No remedy except by doctor, so I will see how I get on by sending my pack on and carrying very little.

This blog could very well be renamed 'see Spain by bus'.

I returned to the chemist with the gel inserts I bought yesterday, as they would have only caused more pressure. Even though they were unopened they would not refund or exchange. Sob. I left them behind as I don't want to carry anything I don't need. Then I went back to the Chinese/Spanish shop to return batteries I bought yesterday. They were dead flat when I put them in the camera. No luck there either, so I left them behind and bought more elsewhere.

Then I went into Orange phone shop, where a customer translated my needs. Matt had said he was paying 19€ for one gig for his iPad. I couldn't get past the 37€ again! which was the same as Pamplona. I shall forget the SIM card idea, and just rely on wifi.

By now it was getting on time wise so I went to a really lovely cafe in the plaza. It is called Bonfin, and the food is nice and the prices are good. The other one which we went to last night was also good and is Viva la Pepe.

There were plenty of local people out and about, just enjoying the town, and taking advantage of the sun which came out at around eleven.

A lovely avenue which runs alongside the river.

The lovely topiary.

 

 

Not sure what this place is, I just liked the reflections.

There are beautifully crafted bronze sculptures all over the city.

This is just a few of them.

This is just a small side street I walked through. Typically they are full of small bars which are open when everything else closes between two and four. It must hard to organise ones shopping. Nothing much opens before ten, then closes at two, reopenes at four and closes at eight. Most food outlets do stay open.

 

 

This a carousel that I specifically wanted to see, but it was closed and all covered up.

I am currently sitting in the hotel cafe, where they are more than happy to let while away the time. I shall leave shorty to make sure I get to the station in time. They have a cafe there so I won't have to wait in the cold. Fortunately it is light until about nine, so I shan't get lost when I get to Leon.

Adios.

 

Burgos

10.30.am

I was going to accompany Jennifer as far as the cathedral as she wanted to see it on her way out. The actual Way goes in that direction. When we stepped outside, I nearly froze on the spot: it was three degrees. I decided to pass on that little outing so we said our goodbyes, and off she went. I scurried back to my room, and donned my long johns. No shops were open at that time so I did some skyping and studied my map. I want to get to the museum but need to see if it is open today. I can't get near reception as there is a Harley Davidson meeting here, and they are all at the desk.

I stepped outside a few minutes ago, as it is now a balmy 5 degrees, to find a chemist. It appears that it is not open on Sunday. In fact nothing seems to be open. I really need a chemist, but if it is not open by midday, I might have to stay another night.

I shall try to find out about the museum again shorty. When I say museum I mean the Evalucion Humana. There are so many museums, monuments, etc that I think one would need a year to see it all.

3.30

Note. They were not looking for truffles as there were no trees. They were looking for another fungi. Mushrooms called perrochico. I asked the nice girl at the museum.

Speaking of which: I finally got a clear space at the desk, and I think the girl on duty is as bad as me at directions. She pointed East and said straight down, over the river and turn left. So off I went but found no river. So of course I asked a policeman, who pointed West and gave the same advice. It turned out to be only a hop skip and a jump away.

As I passed by my hotel, about twenty bikies had joined the others and they were all dressed in their various club colours.

Gathering outside hotel.

I Must say it seemed really strange to see such sight in a historic town like this. Anyway off I went and on the way found another chemist open. They must take it in turns, because now the one near the hotel is open.

As I approached the museum I saw that the HD club were all parked outside.


It did seem a strange juxtaposition as some of them actually didn't look too evolved.

Another climb. Up to the museum.

The building comes as a bit of a surprise as it is a massive glass structure. 6€ to enter! but 4€ for pilgrims. Luckily I had my pilgrim passport with me.

It is a really wonderful exhibition and is really well set out. It has three levels and covers all the evolution of man. The main displays are of the finds at Atapuerca but there is other finds as well plus all the Darwin information. I forget the number of complete skulls they have put together, but quite a few, plus one of a ten year old girl. I took some pics of the original bit, as opposed to the recreations, but got told off by a guide as “no picture of originals, even without flash.” Oops.

Skull and mandible. Original find.

Some animal bits.

Recreated exact replica of pieces found.

I'm sure he moved.

Must get my hair coloured.

Looking down from level three. They have plants to make up a similar terrain as at the dig.

Replica of Darwin's ship Beagle.

There is a lot of interactive displays and videos to look at. One video shows the people at the digs, with one person chipping out a piece and having an eureka moment that I had hoped to see yesterday. (That was better than nothing).

I spent about two hours poking around, and really could have spent more time but I needed to find the bus station. As I was leaving I bumped into one of the girls who I walked down to Ages with. Rose is actually Canadian, I just assumed she was Australian because she was with Sky, who is Australian/American. They too had caught a taxi and booked into a hotel last night. We will see if we can spot each other later tonight and eat together. No set plan though.

The hotel I am in is the Hotel Centro which I booked through Booking.com. The staff are really nice and friendly and it has a really nice cafe attached, where prices seem very reasonable. The room I booked was 94€ for the two nights, so just under 50€ a night. Check out time is midday which is super news. Plus I can leave my pack here while I wander the streets which is great as there is much to see.

I booked the bus to Leon for five thirty tomorrow evening. It cost 17€20 but I figure that will save me about five night's accommodation. According to the sign there is wifi on the bus!

After I had booked the bus I wandered over to the plaza area which was very busy, and as the weather had warmed up there were people everywhere wandering around. I took some photos for some people posing with a bronze pilgrim, and they took one of moi.

Moi.

The cathedral taken from the museum side of the river. Framed by a chestnut tree.

 

One of the bridges into the town. I don't know what's with the sand castle looking facade. Nice though.

I stopped at one of the many out side tables for something to eat and the fellow said they only did tapas so I asked for a small mixed plate and bottle of water.

 

The object at 6 o'clock is black pudding. Apparently the region is renown for the dish. I have to say Pamplona is the winner so far when it comes to tapas. This lot was cold and greasy. I could not eat it. The calamari was tender, but very greasy. If you look closely you can see the sausage is floating in a puddle of oil. Yick. That all came to 7€

Sitting here in this lovely cafe in the hotel, I have just noticed their menu and the prices compare very well considering the ambience and quality is so nice. I might just eat here tonight.

The cafe attached to the hotel.

Midnight. (Who cares, I can sleep in).

 

After some time sitting in the cafe, booking a room in Leon, and writing this, I started to feel a bit scruffy as all the folk wandering in for coffees looked so smart. I decided to go for a stroll down to the Plaza. I am always amazed at how many people come out around seven. I don't think anyone cooks an evening meal as the restaurants and cafés are are packed. It is so nice to see the mix of people. The elderly, families, teenagers and little tots all out and about. One enterprising 'beggar' has dressed up as a headless sailor.

 

Had to pop some change in his bowl.

I was gazing around the plaza when I heard my name being called. Sky came dashing across the plaza to catch up with me. Bless her cotton socks, she spotted me from the restaurant they were in. I went back and joined them all: Matt and Mia, from San Francisco, and Rose. They were already onto mains, but I just opted for a goat cheese and salad. It was devine, and much like a deep fried Camembert, but more baked I think. The salad had a lovely rich balsamic dressing. I could not eat it all. It was 9€ plus I put in one euro towards the wine. The food was nearly as good as the company.

Everyone had decided they were going to go on the night tour of the city and surrounds and asked if I would care to go too. Ha! Does a shark have teeth. It was a very funny system for getting the tickets. The driver/owner? opened a grid in a doorway, where he accessed a ticket machine. We handed over the money, he fed it in the machine, and voila! out came the tickets. There were only the five of us but when we boarded the little 'train' five minutes later, we had to show our tickets!

Off we went and the taped tour was in English! And French and Spanish, it was quite a giggle and he obviously couldn't fast forward it, or perhaps didn't realise we all spoke English.

All aboard.

It was really a terrific tour and value for money, 5€. We had a lot of laughter and silly nonsense which made it so much more enjoyable. Sadly Sky had to abandon us towards the end of the tour and leapt out near her hotel. Old lady problem. When we reached the end and had disembarked, Sky was waiting for us with a lovely bottle of bubbly. A fitting end to a lovely night.

Mia and Matt had also caught the taxi with the girls yesterday, and booked into the hotel. “I'm here to enjoy Spain, and do what I can, not be a bloody martyr,” Mia said. Music to my ears, as now I don't feel so alone in not pushing through the pain.

The girls are going off to find a new back pack tomorrow somewhere out of town, so we will no doubt not meet again. A shame. I will do a little more sightseeing before I bus out.

 

Just some of the masonary I was able to capture on our tour.

NOTE. Gloria I emailed you but it bounced back. Can you check your email address.

 

Adios.

 

Burgos

Last night was not too bad with having the two fellows in with me, thought was a rather small room. Toilet visits were a bit awkward as we could hear each other as the bathroom was virtually in the room with us, except for the door of course.

The French fellow was actually Italian, and was very nice. It was his birthday today (49) and I managed to mutter happy birthday to him, as I scampered into the bathroom. He is a retired sommelier!

I had a coffee while I waited for J to come down the hill. When she got here I ordered egg and bacon for my breakfast, plus a cup of tea for J. My order came with orange juice and toast which I didn't ask for. The cost was 10€ as she had also charged me for my coffee which I had paid for already. It all got too hard to explain that I had paid, and that I had not asked for juice or toast. I must say she is a sweet lady and gave J lots of sympathy about her head. Then a huge hug for me as I left. She actually gave everyone a huge hug as they left.


We headed then to Atapuerca as it was on the Way plus we wanted to find out about seeing the archaeological digs there. Today was a filthy day. It was raining, freezing and windy. Nevertheless we plodded on and just before the town of Atapuerca we turned onto the limestone road to the information centre.

As we splashed along in the white mud I noticed a man and woman in the fields nearby with a couple of dogs. Every now and then they would stop and have a dig in the ground while the dogs raced away to another spot. I can only assume, from the bag the woman was holding that the dogs were finding mushrooms for the owners. Why in that weather you would not just pop up the shop and buy a kilo, I don't know.

Anyway we got to the information centre eventually, only to be told that the tour for eleven o'clock was booked out. But when I looked like I was about to cry the lovely girl suggested we hang around in case due to the (crappie) weather some people might not come. She also said in perfect English that she gave the tour but in only Spanish and would that be a problem. No, of course not we said, quite sure that she would throw in the odd word for us now and then. I was sure we would get a place as why anyone would turn up if they could stay home next to a cozy fire drinking hot chocolate?

While we waited we wondered around their interactive display. We had thought it might be about the dig, and some bits and pieces, but it was just an interesting way of showing how everything relates to all else in the world. It was very good, as when you press a button and look through a hole in the wall, there would be a little display, or picture. Plus there was a section to make noise, so a little girl and I banged on bells, and rattled rainmakers; until her mum frowned at us.

A picture of a man painting the picture. And a cave.

 

A shell.

A pixie.??

The music section. All but this picture were taken through the little holes.

Finally the tour guide girl said that we could fit on the bus as some people had not turned up. (Fire. Hot chocolate). We left our packs in the office and off we went. Funnily enough the bus retraced our tracks and we drove through Ages to get to the main highway.

Sloshing along. Where we are is where they had been digging a railway link to the nearby mines. In brief. The granite rock had a section of sediment rock. they found caves. Asked some speliologist if they would like to explore size ect. They found animal bones. A young chap doing masters in archeology (?) came to look. Found human mandible. The rest is history. Anyway long and short of it is they have found earliest human remains discovered in Europe. Now google it, cos I'm tired.

Ongoing digs

Model of homo sapien and Neanderthals.

I was a little sad not to see people on their knees brushing sand off fragments of this and that, and calling out “eureka” and such. Alas, they don't dig until July.

Showing how they used this place to trap animals.

After this, which was really good, we began schlepping towards Burgos. We had hoped to find a bus, but no public ones in this area. By now we were frozen to the bone. The wind was throwing rain into our faces, and we could scarcely see. We went through one village, then up we went, up, up, Matagrande hill, or mountain? Anyway 100metres elevation, and all on rocks. That sort of limestone that gets uncovered by the elements, plus loose rocks. All this made very muddy and slippery, and quite risky being blinded by the wind.

I took one photo of some unusually placed barbed wire. I found out that it was once some sort of military compound. Away in the distance can be seen from whence we came. Seconds later it was obliterated by the rain.

As I was carrying my pack, halfway up this monster hill, my instep began to hurt like hell, and walking was no fun at all. We, however, had to push on in order to at least get a cup of coffee/tea.

We finally staggered into Castanares where we found sustenance. By then we were both having feet problems, and frozen to the bone. After coffee etc, the son of the owner offered to take us the remaining ks into Burgos . He wanted 30€ to do so. We agreed.

Meanwhile as we had our coffee, I used good old booking.com and found a reasonable hotel in Burgos. I had promised J a nice room on our last night. Though really I had sort of done so when she bumped her noggin. Anyway, we got here and had baths to thaw out. (It's very late, and J is asleep and snoring). I have booked for two nights, so tomorrow night no snoring, or wind passing or alarms beeping at five am. Yay!

We met Chaya and Sheree around seven and it was so good to see them again. We had a pelegrino menu near their alburge, and it came to about 14€ each because there was a few 'this or that' which we thought were 'this and that' such as cake or coffee.

They are off in the morning after two nights here. Jennifer was going to join them, but is now going to stay and look around town.

There is apparently a five level museum devoted to the archeological finds. I shall have a look see, but must get hair colour first. Grey roots are showing. Bad enough going without makeup, but grey roots!

Sorry if this is full of errors. It is just so late, and I'm asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ps

I forgot to mention this is a very nice little village. It has three alburges, and one has a little shop section as well as a bar. Currently waiting for Jennifer to come down the hill. I was going to take some pictures of the village this morning but it's raining so I shall stay inside.

Ages

Late last night..

Well it's not exactly exciting…..but we went to a teeny cafe to see what was available for our evening meal, but it wasn't very inviting. No customers and very dim looking. We decided to go back to the hotel and see what was on offer. The receptionist come waitress come everything else greeted us like old friends. The pilgrim menu, (well there was no other actually) was an amazing array of choices. At least five dishes for each section. I chose the chicken and garlic soup for entree, J went for the mixed lentils in broth, we both had the egg plant stuffed with meat which came with french fries and salad, and for desert we had the fresh fruit salad. Of course all meals are served with red wine, and this wine was really, really nice.

This was the best meal either of us had eaten since we left home. Absolutely wonderful. I was so full I just could not finish it all. I got told off by the above mentioned lady as she said I need my strength to get up the mountains tomorrow. To think I wasn't worried at all until then.

We both decided to go without showers, as there were only two which were downstairs. It was bloody freezing too, so we went to bed with all our gear on. Stinky things we are.

NEXT DAY 25th

We went over to the hotel for coffee and tea at about seven thirty. Breakfast was not until eight, but it was 8€. Chaya had said it was buffet breakfast with every thing, even eggs. It was a bit much for Jennifer so we decided on having a banana on the way.

It was so nice going without a pack and I fairly trotted up the hills. We had put a heap of Jennifer's gear in my pack, so I think she found it easier too.

It was quite a nice walk, albeit pretty muddy at times. It was mainly oak trees, but they were naked, and some pines. Plenty of birdsong, but little else.

Looking back to Villa Franca

Track through the forest

What goes down ….

 

Heather?

 

We reached San Juan de Ortega long before I expected to. It was dead on twelve, and was 12.4 ks. All that was there was the municipal alburge, and a little cafe doing a roaring trade. There are so many pilgrims on the road now, which we thought would ease off after Easter, that it can be a little worrisome wondering if a bed will be available. The alburgue did not open until one, so we had a hot chocolate to warm us up a little. When the alburge did open I went and got my pack as I had decided to walk on to the next village. The entrance alone was enough to put me off as it was dark and freezing cold. Jennifer decided to stay as she was tired, or had enough of me probably.

San Juan

I wandered off with a couple of Aussy girls I had met in the Hotel yesterday who were great company and fun to be with. We reached Ages ( I can't do the little thingy over the 'e') in no time and stopped at the first little alburgue we came to

Sadly for me they had no private or double rooms left, so I opted for four bunk room, with its own little bathroom. The charge being 10€ . The others decided to go on another 2.5 ks, which amazingly I was happy to do. I had, though, told Jennifer that I would wait for her here in the morning. Well I did do 16ks today, and still felt full of energy, so I'm sure I shall do well from now on.

I was hoping to have my little room to myself, but now have two fellows in here. One is German, with no English, the other is French with some English

This is the warmest place I have been in for days which is bliss. The shower is lovely and hot. Yes, I washed my stinky body as soon as I got here. All my stinky clothing went in the shower with me and I squished it all with my feet. I felt like a wine maker. It is now hanging up outside.

 

Sitting in the sun watching pilgrims arriving.

I was outside a little while ago, when a German woman came down the hill. She had been booking in at the alburge in San Juan when we were there. She said she had packed and left, as it was freezing and dirty. My guide book did say it was very drafty, and I told J I was not going to do 'drafty' as I'd been cod to long.

 

The view from my window. The mountain with the snow on top is the one I photographed in San Millan.

This might be a day or two late as wifi very weak up here in the mountains.

 

Villafranca Montes De Oca

I think I am about ready for the scrap heap. My hips were killing me last night and the only place I could get comfortable was on my stomach. The trouble with that is I can't sleep on my stomach. The bed was certainly not at fault.

We got going early this morning. Said our farewells to the fellows as they were going to walk onto St Juan de Ortega.

Jenny is looking a little worse for wear as her right eye is quite swollen, but it is a nice pink colour which matches her fleece. Her hand is swollen too, but she is not in too much pain.

I decided to send my pack on to see if it would solve the problem of my sore hips. I have also been having pain in the arch (instep) of my right foot, which seems to come on after about five ks. My bag doesn't seem that heavy really, but I shall see if sending it on works. It is 7€ or 8€ depending on the distance.

Belorado is a really nice little town and it would have been nice to have a day here. The chemist was shut as yesterday was a public holiday. St. George's Day. They celebrate in a huge way, but not here as it seems everyone must have gone to the big cities. Barcelona was shown on the news yesterday and people were all giving out red roses. Seems that books and red roses are given to female relatives in tribute to the Saint.

The plaza area of Belorado. I don't know what these trees are, but they prune them very hard and in summer they make lovely canopy.

Bridge out of Belorado .

Although it drizzled and sometimes rained it was a lovely walk. Not too hilly, more undulating really. The scenery was lovely with patchwork farm lands, hedgerows and lovely views of little villages dotted about. We had a coffee break around nine alongside the highway, which we left the track for. At around eleven thirty we stopped for a lunch break in Epinosa. I had Spanish omelette, coffee, and a custard thingy, for 3€.

Where we had lunch.

Some of today's pictures.

 

The road out of Belorado

A private villa.

This is “The unusual hermitage of 'Our Lady of the Rock' Ermita de la Virgen de la Pena built into the side of the cliffs with a 12th century image of the Christ Child. It is usually locked so the mystery of what lies within remains hidden.” Just managed to get enough light to capture a clear picture.

Not a track we have to take. Yay.

Villambistia. Not a soul stirring in this little place, though there is an alburgue around the corner.

An alburgue we passed.

Our track, but a nice gentle slope.

The ruins of an ancient monastary.

An old monk?

When we got into town today I was appalled to find my pack not here. That was because we had come to the municipal alburgue by mistake, as we had not realised there were two. The lovely lady here rang Jacotrans, who are the main pack transporters, and was told it was at San Anton Abad. Cripes, what a stuff up. I went over the road and up a steep driveway to a magnificent hotel. As it happens it also has an alburge, and the one Chaya and Sheree had told us was lovely. From the road, however, one can see only the hotel sign. Sure enough there was my pack along with several others in the reception area. An older lady, who I guess was the owner, saw me leaving and was obviously asking why I was leaving, and holding five fingers saying “five euros.” I don't know if that was the price of a bed, but I felt it was. It had a lovely outdoor area as well.

Now you can think me a prude, old fashioned, stuck up or whatever you like, but I loathe shared bathrooms. I will simply not have a shower where I have only a micro fibre cloth to cover myself with. My dilemma, of course, was that the lady here was so nice and helpful I just had to stay. The dorm has about twenty bunks, and Jennifer nabbed me a bottom bunk. Unfortunately because of all the wet clothing and every bunk taken, it is a tad smelly. One fellow just gleefully told me that he loves shared bathrooms and I said that's because men get to see good bits, but we women just see yucky bits. Ah, well we had a good laugh anyway.

We did just under 12 ks today at a very pleasant stroll. I am feeling heaps better as my chest is now clear. I am way behind though, so when I get to Burgos I am going to stay over for a day and then bus about a hundred ks. Some folk have said they will bus from Burgos to Leon, but I don't know if I need to go that far. I think I can do twenty ks if I send my pack on. That's if it is the pack that is hurting my hips. That I shall find out tonight.

Oh, wow. We just came over to the hotel/alburge.

This is the reception area for hotel and alburge.

The dorm. Did I mention separate bathrooms for men and women?

A separate cubicle for two or one for 10€. Plus other beds in here and no bunks. Not sure of the price.

Resident peacock.

 

One of many lovely views. The alburge we are in in packed to the rafters. This place has about twelve people. It is just not that well known. So here is the number. 947582150. It really is lovely. We are in reception area having a cuppa.

Jennifer would like to thank you all for your good wishes. She has now agreed to be seen. Oops, didn't get the big lump under her fringe.

 

I shall post now and if anything exciting happens tonight I will update tomorrow, if we can get the net. I have looked in my book and the population at San Juan is given as 20. It is about 12 ks from here up and down three 'mountains' high point just over 1000m.

Adios.