Hola, from Leon Spain, Day 23 Camino; Calgary to Santiago

 

Autumn on the Meseta, Camino de Santiago

We arrived in Leon late yesterday afternoon, ready for a day off the Camino for some rest and sight-seeing! the temperatures have been considerable cooler this week than the first week or so of our camino

Saint Martin Church Fromista Spain

A few days ago we were in Formats, (Palencia) one of the any stops on the Camino de Santiago, where we had an opportunity to visit the Saint Martin Church, constructed about 1066, which had fallen into disrepair.  Reconstruction and restoration completed in the early 1900’s. The painted frescoes are gone, but he gorgeous Romanesque capitals remain. The floor plan corresponds to the basilica type with three longitudinal naves ending by three apes; there is a beautiful octagonal dome.

Saint Martin Fromista Spain, interior octoganal vaulted dome

The decoration in the church is composed of 309 figures including vegetable, geometric animals and monstrous and human representations. According to information provided by the church that in an effort to teach Christian Doctrine to the people there was no problem in using pagan iconography in the decorations, Ecclesiastics knew that the people were familiar with the fables and legions of these symbolism and this would help the people to understand the scene related to biblical passages.

Saint Martin Church, interior capital, Fromista Spain

Later today we will visit the Leon Cathedral, and the central area of Leon.

 

 

Castrojeriz Spain to Itero de la Vega Spain of the Camino de Santiago journey

from the foot of Alto de Mostelares Spain, at least we know what is ahead for us!  

now we go down! Alto de Mostelares, Spain 

 

Today was a short walk for these two peregrine’s,  only 11 k. It was 10 degrees C most of our walk, and the wind was howling in our faces, the entire 11 k.  Shortly after leaving Castrojeriz we had a 1050 meter stretch with a 12% grade, followed quickly by a 350 meter 18% grade descent. The local municipality provided signs going up and down the hill so we were well aware of the work head of us! This isn’t the toughest day we have had, but certainly one of the coldest, and I am thinking that this might be the trend to come, given the time of the year! We might have to buy some mittens or gloves, but other than that I think we have the right gear to get by, only time will tell!

For now some views from the top of Alto de Mostelares.

The view was spectacular, and we might have stayed longer to enjoy it but for the wind! I have figured out that if there are windmills on the horizon, there will be wind in the future! It seems Spain has a lot of windmills on the meseta.

Views from the top of Alto de Mostelares Spain, Camino de Santiago 

Views from Alto de Monstelares, Camino de Santiago, Spain 

 

 

 

Burgos Spain

 

we spent yesterday wondering the pedestrian streets of Burgos, and to visit the Burgos Cathedral. A Gothic Cathedral with many revisions, redesigned and expansions. The details are amazing.  I got a creak in my neck from looking up at the beautiful vaulted arches, doomed ceilings, and relief sculpture and paintings. Here are a few details I captured

Early evening, and the setting sun shining on the Burgos Cathedral, Burgos Spain

cherub faces, one small part of a beautiful painting, Burgos Cathedral

Madonna and child_relief sculpture Burgos Cathedral

Madonna ad child, relief sculpture, Burgos Cathedral

Painted doorway, Burgos Cathedral

doomed ceiling, Burgos Cathedral, Burgos Spain

 

Hola from Burgos Spain, Day 17 Calgary to Santiago de Compostella

Camino Mural, Belorado Spain, painted camino scallop shell,

Day 14, our journey found us travelling to Belorado, about 24 k under cloudy skies, the mist hung in the air, warm about 18C it felt like it would rain. About noon the skies cleared temperatures quickly reached mid 20′s C. during our final hour or walking.

We arrived in Belorado about 2:30 pm and found the Pension Verdeancho where we had made a reservation.  It was a lovely stone building, log beams in the ceiling, and a lovely veranda out front.  The best part – the softest bed we have slept in since leaving home!  On the camino simple pleasures like a comfortable bed and a good nights sleep become important. I realize as I type this that a good night sleep is always important, but I am lucky and at home it is a common occurrence. So common I have taken it for granted, until now!

Belorado Spain is a quaint little town, some of the buildings are closed up, some have fallen in to disrepair, but the central plaza was a hive of activity in the early evening as we sat at one of the out-door cafes and had dinner. I say early evening, because on the camino Bill and I are often sound asleep by 9:30 or 10 pm, as our morning walk starts about 7 – 7:30 am, and with 20 – 25 kilometres to travel sleep is essential.

Day 15, September 22 we left Belorado and once again we missed a camino marker, once again we had not travelled very far when someone called out to us, turned us around, and sent us on in the right direction! Once on the correct path out-of-town we travelled past several walls that had been painted with camino murals, we had seen some murals before, not as many in one spot before, or as elaborate as those in Belorado.

Camino Mural, Belorado Spain,

From Bolorado we walked through past several villages, stopping once for coffee, then up into the pine forest, to San Juan de Ortega. 23.6 k   While most days we carry lunch with us, today it was essential, there is a 12k stretch through the forest with only a picnic area to rest at.  A long, hilly, forest truck road, very quiet place to walk.

San Juan de Ortega is a very small community of about 20 people, is dominated by the church and the monastery. We pick, or I should say, we happened into San Juan Ortega on a very interesting day, September 22, the fall solstice each year a ray of sunlight enters the church at twilight, a tiny beam of light  illuminating the Annunciation of Virgin Mary, sculpted in stone at the top of the pillar. People for all over travel to the church this day, several tour buses arrived, and the plaza filled with people.

Yesterday Sept 23, 2012, day 16, we walked into Burgos Spain. We have travelled about 286 kilometres, 15 days. For the most part the weather has been good, people have been friendly and helpful, and we are enjoying the trip. today, day 17, Sept 24, 2012 we are taking a day off to see the attractions of Burgos.

Tired Pilgrim, Camino Murals, Cardenuela Riopico Spain

Buen Camino.

Hola, from Santo Domingo de la Calzada Spain,

Just before Sunrise, Sept 20, 2012, Santa Maria de Real, Najera Spain

We left our hostel this morning just before 7 am, and were looking for a breakfast place before we left town, one of the bar’s opened it’s door and gentleman said “cafe con leche?”(coffee with steamed milk) “desayumo?” (breakfast) we thought we would try our luck. He also gave us fresh squeezed orange juice and gilled buttered croissants.  Probably the best breakfast we have had the entire trip so far, and a great way to start the day!  After leaving the bar, we headed out of town, the camino took us past the Santa Maria de Real, it was all lit up, and sky just beginning to lighten in the morning light and looked lovely.  We had visited the cathedral the day before. The monastery is build in to the side of the mountain, quite spectacular to visit it you get the chance.

Bill watching the sun crest the hill, 1 k west of Najera, on the Camino de Santiago.

We had walked about 15 minutes out of Najera Spain, when we happened to look back, the sun was cresting the hill, all in all it was a beautiful way to start the day.

Today we walked from Najera to Santa Domingo de la Calzada, about  21k, hilly, but nothing extreme like the hills that have challenged us before! We stopped in the middle of a field and laid down one of the rain poncho’s for a 10 minute juice and snack break about 10 am.  We arrived in Santa Domingo de la Calzada about 1 pm, we found our accommodations, and had a nap! all in all a good day, soon we will be headed out for dinner.

We hope your day was as lovely as ours. Buen Camino.

Hola, Buen Camino from Najera Spain

Sept 17, 2012_walking into Los Arocs

a brief update from the last couple of days, we were held up in Navarrete and the hotel did not have wi-fi.

On September 17, 2012 I woke up ill, slight fever, and stomach pains, flu like symptoms, and figured I had too much sun, and in no condition for walking.  We bused it Logrono and then cabbed it to Navarrete where we had a hotel booked. I slept most of the day, and then went to visit the pharmacist, he did not speak English but thanks to current technology we sat down at the computer and he found a Spanish = English translation page, he confirmed I had a fever and stomach pains, then gave me some medication. He also typed in the instructions for taking the medication, so we were very clear on all the details!

Today I feel much better, heat exhaustion is something many travellers/pilgrims suffer from, and I knew that given the heat it was a risk. I thought I was taken all the necessary precautions, lots of water – 1.5 to 2 liters mixed with electrolyte powder; hat and sunscreen.  But we will have to make some adjustments to our routine.  Maybe leave earlier – get out of the heat earlier, and I think take more rest stops.  It is not unusual for Bill and I to walk 2 hours between stops, preferring to push through and get the hard part of the day done, so I think we will stop more often.

Today Sept 19, 2012 we travelled, by foot, from Navarrete to Najera 16 k, in about 5 hrs, all is well. We had one backpack loaded up with almost everything and transported ahead to our hostel, leaving us with fewer things to carry.  It was much cooler today, 16 – 18 degrees C. with a few showers. Without the heat I was fine, tomorrow even better.

We have met some great people: one gentleman is 82 years old, Harold, he is travelling with his daughter, they have said they keep their days short, about 15 k and will cab or bus pass the steep inclines and descents.   It is always fun to catch up to them every couple of days and know they are doing well.

A couple of days ago we were marching down the path, through a little town called Murzabal, as we came out of town, we continued down the highway.  We didn’t get very far when a car coming towards us started honking, arms waving out the window, yelling “Camino, Camino” and pointing back up the road, yes we had missed a sign, and were on the wrong road.   “Si, Si” we said “Gracias” and headed back up the road. Luckily we had only gone about 100 meters past our marker. The driver pulled up to the marker, and waited to make sure we got back onto the Camino path, honked, waved and drove on.

I had heard stories of wayward travellers being helped and directed back to the path, and as you can tell from my stories we too have been the recipients of wonderful hospitality, and assistance.  It is worth the trip, the exhaustion and the sore feet just to experience it.

This afternoon we are resting and I will try to post some new photos from around Navarrette and Najera.

Estella to Los Arcos Spain,

Today we travelled from Estella to Los Arcos  a walk of about 21k, arriving about 1:30 pm.  The landscapes considerable more moderate that we have experienced in the first few days of the Camino. We left Estella about 7:45 am, and arrived at Irache just before 8 am. There is wine fountain there that “turns on the tap” for pilgrims at 8am. Pilgrims can help themselves to a glass of wine, to toast their journey.  It was Sunday today, no wine on Sundays! It was too early for us anyway!

We headed down the path to Villamayor de Monjardin about 6k, with a 225 meter elevation gain. It was through a forested area, and quite a beautiful walk.

   Camino pathway near Villamayor de Monjardin

It was a beautiful morning, on the camino.  The trail between Azqueta and Villamayor de Monjardin is forested, and the canopy cover is a great break from the sun. After Villamayor de Monjardin, the landscape changes……

Villamayor de Monjardin, crop fields and landscape 

We left Villamayor de Monjardin about 10:30 am and headed west along the camino trail towards Los Arcros. The crops have been harvested, the path is dry, and as the sun gets higher in the sky it can be difficult to find inspiration for photos, but then I see the light coming through the grapes that are just about ready to be harvested.

  grapes waiting to be harvested

Or I look and see the wind gently blowing the wild oats in the ditch, the sunlight flickering off seed heads, and I realized there is beauty to be seen everywhere.

wild oats growing along the camino path

It was a good day, we arrived at our location earlier than expected.  We sat down at one of the local bars for a beer to cool our throats while we rested our feet, one of the people at the next table offered us some of their calamari, it was so delicious we had to order our own dish, a wonder lunch!

Tomorrow we are off to Viana….

 

 

Puente la Reina to Estella Spain, Day 9 of our Camino (since we left Calgary)

Stork leaving nest_Puente la Reina

As we were walking throught Puente la Reina Spain, about 7:30 am on Sept 15, 2012 we  spotted the stork sitting on his nest, seemingly watching the sun rise! just as the shutter was snapped, the bird took off….. He too was beginning another day as we were

Calle Mayor, Puente la Reina at sunrise, Sept 15, 2012,

restored medieval bridge, Lorca Spain

today was hot, we travelled 23 k in about 7 hours from Puente la Reina to Estella. the country side is beautiful farm land. The crops have been harvested, while the grapes still hang on the vine and olives still in the trees.  According to the guide map our journey took us over some of the best preserved Roman Road on the Camino. It is staggering to think how long some of those rocks have been there, and how many feet have tread over them. It is not easy walking, the stones are hard on the soles of your feet. Good solid shoes are essential.

Tired and a little sore we arrived in Estella and found a place to sleep about 3pm and napped until 5. after that we did our laundry, found the grocery store, and had some wonderful tapas at one of the restaurants in the town square.  Dinner is not served until after 8:30 which is late for pilgrims who want to be on the road by 7am, so dinner can be a challenge. Some Albergues as set up to accommodate this, for others you are left to your own devices.

A little tired and sore, all in all it was a pretty good day. Tomorrow, is suppose to be hotter yet, one steep climb, and one steep decent, and I am sure lots of hills as well for a total of 21.1k.  I think we are getting fitter!