Tui to Santiago de Compostela

Tui to Santiago de Compostela 105k in under 22hrs.

Tui to Santiago de Compostela 105k in under 22hrs.

We just leaving Praza Obradario, just in front of the Santiago Cathedral when we witnessed these 5 women march, with full packs and carrying their weapons, into the Praza.  As they arrived the other military personnel that where already there welcomed them with a cheer and loud applause. It wasn’t until the next day when we went back to the square that we found out what had happened.

The next day, in the square was a big celebration, with a military band, bagpipes and all,  we learned that the women were part of a group who had walked the Camino Portugues from Tui, Spain, a city along the Spanish Portuguese border, 105 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela in under 22 hrs!   The four teams, three men, and own women’s team, that had completed the camino received medals.

The ladies didn’t speak any English, but were happy to pose for a photo, it was one of the other officers who told me of the events. He also said many who walked ended with injuries, and a few who started didn’t finish.

From Madrid to Toledo

Toledo Cathedral, Toledo Spain

Toledo Cathedral, Toledo Spain

We have left Madrid and taken a 30 minute train ride to Toledo Spain. Some of you, who have been following the blog for a while might remember that the plan was to walk the Via la Plata, a medieval camino route from Seville to Santiago de Compostela. We had walked the Camino Francis about 18 months ago, and really enjoyed our time in Spain and walking. The Via la Plata is a different route, much further between towns meaning longer walking stages, fewer travellers or pilgrims on the road, and not as well accommodated. We found we were not really enjoying ourselves. We do understand that the idea behind a camino, and we don’t expect to enjoy everyday, but still, this is our journey and so we have left he Via la Plata route, and are no longer walking north towards Santiago de Compostela. We are taking sometime off the camino path, and we are going to get a little rest, travel by train and visit some of the world heritage sites in Spain. That is what brought us to Toledo, and this great Cathedral, more about it tomorrow.

 

Spring on the Via la Plata

Rain on the Via la Plata; Spring on the Via la Plata

Rain on the Via la Plata; Spring on the Via la Plata

While it has been raining for days along the Via la Plata we have managed to be indoors when the showers hit. Not so yesterday!

It was not a heavy cold rain, like we are used to back home, but a light rain, on and off during the day. On the plus side, the trails were not too messy, and we no longer wonder why we are carrying our ponchos (they add considerable weight for one piece of clothing)

We passed the Prosperpina Reservoir not far from Merida and I noticed the raindrops on the lake. How lovely and peaceful it seemed to me, it really speaks to the walk through the Spanish countryside that we have been experiencing.

Red Poppy and Raindrops

Red Poppy

Red Poppy and Raindrops 

It rained enough today to pull on the poncho’s, a soft gentle rain that is good for the ground and the flowers. I needed to get down in the grass along the side of the road, to get close enough to the poppy I wanted to show the raindrops, and then wait for that perfect moment when she was standing still to get this shot.

I love seeing the beautiful red poppies blowing in the breeze beside the road.

The timing for our walk through Spain, and the Via la Plata has been perfect for spring flowers.

Hopefully we have more sunshine and less rain tomorrow.

Walking the Via la Plata; Spring 2014

Walking the Via la Plata, Spring 2014

March 2014

If you have been following the blog, you will know that we have been walking the Via la Plata in Spain. For those of you who might not be familiar with the walk, it is a route follows the Christian pilgrimage route from Cadiz to Santiago de Compostela. Prior to the Christians using these road, Moor and Romans built and used the road to transport commodities and move armies. Continue reading

Zafra Spain, Rest days on the Via la Plata

Plaza Grande, Zafra Spain

Plaza Grande, Zafra Spain 

Plaza Grande, Zafra Spain

Plaza Grande, Zafra Spain

We took a couple of days off from walking the Via la Plata. A lovely little town of about 15,00o people. Staying in a hotel on the Plaza Grande, shown in the image. I have read that the whole town centre is whitewashed and the facades cannot be changed, so it looks like it did in the 15th century, the streets are cobblestone, some inlaid with lovely patterns, others in simpler square shapes. In Zafra, there are two main plazas with arcades, called the Plaza Grande and the Plaza Chica.

The Plaza Grande is surrounded by a colonnaded area, over which there are houses with coats of arms and artistic lattices, metal balconies where geraniums were growing and blooming. Here in the late afternoon and early evening families gathered, friends visited, and kids played, it was a great place to sit and have a glass of wine and watch the world.

We are back on the road again. More stories from our Camino to Santiago from the Via la Plata as we travel through the countryside.

Happy First Day of Spring, from the Via la Plata, Spain

El Castilllo de las Torres, El Real de la Jara

El Castillo de las Torres, El Real de la Jara, Spain

it is the first day of spring, and I must say that Spring in Spain has been wonderful. Most days when we are walking temperatures start about 13 – 15 C and be mid day when we are done around  23 – 25 C. Yesterday we did get a sprinkle of rain, but most days are clear or there is only a light cloud cover. Did I mention it is nice?

It is hard to document the sounds that we hear. At times there has been roosters crowing to walk us up, is sounds pleasant, and I guess it is, but at 4 am not quite so nice! At least some of the goats, sheep, and cows are wearing bells, so we can hear them clang in the distance. The occasional farm dog barks as we go by. Most of the roads are quiet, the occasional car, or tractor, although we have had times where we had to walk on or near the highway, and we had to listen to the cars swish by us at great speed, this was a little unnerving. Most of the time we are walking in the beautiful quiet country side, listening to song of the birds.  A wonderful way to spend a spring day.

 

Day 1, Via la Plata; Seville to Santiponce Spain

Via la Plata, marker #1 outside the Seville Cathedral

Via la Plata, marker #1 outside the Seville Cathedral

Today we started our camino to Santiago de Compostela, following the ancient route called the Via la Plata from Seville to Santiago de Compostela.  We walked about 10k to Sanitponce, just outside Seville, this is not a traditional pilgrim destination on the camino, but we wanted to stop and explore the archeological site of Italica. The short distance also gives our legs and feet a chance to get use to the extra weight of the backpack. The sights from central Seville to Santiponce varied as much as any walk from the typical urban centre to the countryside,

sleeping baby, large mural in Seville

sleeping baby, large mural in Seville

oxen working the field

oxen working the field

carriage ride in the country

carriage ride in the country

we found the route to be well-marked with the yellow arrows.

yellow arrows of the camino to Santiago de Compostela

yellow arrows of the camino to Santiago de Compostela

We arrived at Santiponce mid afternoon, in time to visit Itallica, more about this historic site a little later.

Roman Statue at Italica

Roman Statue at Italica

 

 

 

 

 

Early Morning coffee, Estella Spain

early morning coffee; Estella Spain,

early morning coffee; Estella Spain,

Soon we will be back in Spain, this time walking the Via La Plata from Seville to Santiago de Composella, and looking forward to sunrises and early morning coffee.  We have been planning and preparing for this journey for quite sometime now and we are almost ready to go.

Deciding what to pack was easier, we know we have to take less in our backpack, and yes I will be carrying less camera gear! We know we need to do more training, with no time to get out to walk I have taken to wearing my full backpack around the house, while I get the vacuuming and the chores done. I figure going up and down the stairs as often as I do is as good as any of the hills around Calgary.

I couldn’t find a map book with the route, so I have pulled together the information from the internet and made our own, and I have found an app for the phone. I will let you know how that information works out as we walk.

With some loose ends to tie up, we will fly through Toronto next week to visit the family, before heading to Portugal for a short visit with more family. We expect to be on the camino to Santiago de Compostela mid March. If you have any information you would like to share about Spain, or your journey we would love to hear from you.

Camino to Santiago de Compostela, Spain; annual statistics

Walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, Spain

La Cruz de Ferro is a huge iron cross on the Camino de Santiago and is located between the towns of Foncebadón and Manjarín Spain, along the Camino Frances. We walked the Camino Frances the autumn of 2012, and arrived at the historic site of Cruz Ferro just before sunrise; that is Bill on the right side of the image, busy taking pictures of the people, the flags, notes and stones left by so many pilgrims before us.

The Pilgrim office in Santiago de Compostela publish statistics each year then number of pilgrims  that have received the Compostela for their walk, during the year. Bill and I plan on walking the Via la Plata; our journey is scheduled to start mid March. The Via la Plata is a longest camino in Spain, about 1000k long. We have spent the last couple of months preparing for the walk, we plan to take our time, and visit many of the historic sites, and take plenty of photos. I think the photos almost goes without saying, those who know me and a few who have been following the blog will know that the trip is all about the photography!! About 4% of the people who arrived at the Camino office in Santiago de Compostela walked the Via la Plata, just over 1% walking from Seville.

The Via la Plata is referred to as the quiet walk, as so few, in comparison to the Camino Frances, follow this route.   Many pilgrim/bloggers have written about days of walking alone. Bill and I are looking forward to the walk, and the time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We plan on leaving Seville mid March, 2014, we are hoping for good weather!