Monday, 29 June 2009

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Burgos to Carrion de la Condes

Happy to be back on the road after 2 days as a tourist
maybe a bit stupid but we hoped to make Hontanas 28k away,the legs were soon into the stride
the evening before had showered and my body has started to feel like somebody elses, I now have hard well shaped legs and if I may say the begginings of a good pair of buns!!
the walkwas hard but very beutifull marred only by the news of Michale Jacksons death.
Just when we thought we would never get there out of a dip in the road ahead appeared what turned out to be the dome of a 14c church and soon the rest of the village (pop64) was visable,never was a site more beutifull.
the next mornings walk passed the ruins of San Anton and into Castrojeriz with sheep and a donkey taking up all of the road and if I ever sort it out will post the pics.
stopping for breakfast we met graham and his squegebox and eat our breakfast to the sounds of Cajun music and singing and very nice it was,it turned out me and Graham had been to a lot of the same places in our youth ie the west coast of Ireland -doolan ect.
he also turned out to be from Wales the next village to Lee.
2 hills one quite daunting and 20k later we arrived in boadkla del Camino to a great Auberge with a pleasent garden and swimming pool which we shared with a Spanish wedding party, quite strange.
also joined by great Australions (6) and one American writer who payed for the drinks.
We payed for it the next day with a fairly bland 25.5k walk in the blazing sun to Carrion de las condes stopping off at the 13c gothic church at Santa Maria.
where we said goodby to mary=claude who will be sadly missed.
have just been sung to in our new Auberge by a Singing nun quite charming "we shall overcome" took me back to the 60s and joan baez.
need some food and sleep now as plan to walk 30k tomorrow and say hi to Reb in Moratinos.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

We walked through fields of gold in search of Belorado

rising early from clean sheets and second shower in the hotel.met up with the gang and set off hoping to get as far as Granon (many good reports).30k
unfortunatly 20k was our limit that day and the beutiful town of Santo Domingo provided our bed even then it was the wrong Auberge our intented one was another 100 mts further on,ours was the convent (old folks home) and we missed out on the glass fronted 4 star looking place that we passed later while searching out food.
we heard later that ours had been the wiser choice small rooms and (no snorers)
we had lost Viebka who made it to Grannon and said it was the best.
the next days walk to Belorado was memorable because of the swallows either feeding or guarding their young swooping so low and close you felt like an extra in the Hichcock film "the birds)
while checking my mail later was surprized to find our German friend Viebka had found me on facebook and left a message hoping we would all meet up again soon.
when we get to Santiago we will know so many people it will be a hugfest.
in fact the next days walk to Ages was to be our first big meeting day.
first was to be Viebka sitting in a roadside cafe, it was so nice to see her again,the gang of 4 was complete again.
it is so good to walk with friends albeit spread out sometimes by 5k you can talk on a deeper level than where are you from,where did you start finish ect.
soon lying down at the side of the road was MarieClaude not seen since she and I had climbed the Perrannes together, not something you do that regular-then Vera the Danish women who shared a plane with me a lifetime away.
new good people were added and we desended into Ages a merry band and the night continued in the same vain.
Burgos was to be our second large city of the Camino and missing the turning for the river route
walked through the industrial area and tired from our walk decided to make Burgos a rest day ,so we booked into a pensione and walk into the centre minus our bags.
were more friends not seen for days were reunited, the main square was nearly filled with us all.
(the 10 minute walk back to the Hotel was interesting.
now we stay in what must be the best 3 euro Auberge in the world and set out cleanesd and rested in the morning along the Maseta.
so glad to be here right now in this beutiful city with good friends made in such a short time.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Goodnight Viana

the last few days all seem to roll into one, we rise from our beds and walk
like well oiled machines we silently pack and leave the albergue.walk through the towns and out no talking just quite hola,s as others join us from their sleeping places and single file we leave the town behind us.
from los arcos we had planned to go as far as viana but did a 28k to logrono instead on the way we said our goodbys to milita and the swedish professor, and gained vicky from germany and joanna from canada.
Vicky (viebka) reminds me of my daughter sally and was a great addition to the group.
we were welcomed into logrono by storks as we made our triumpful entrance across the bridge.
after booking in we all went for a meal at the drunken duck pub and joined by an american girl cassie.
unfortunatly not much sleep was had due to snorers one Paco we had met before and would meet again.
another 28k walk the next day into najera I like walking into new citys it always feels good (home at the end of a hard days work). Unfortunatly the refuge was bad beds close together one shower cold and no toilet seat??.plus Paco was above me,nice man but boy can he snore,
I booked out and into the hotel San Domingo and it was class, pricey but worth every penny
I had to return later to share the best salad ever, prepaired by Vicky and having paid a donation to be allowed back in.
the man had said on my leaving that if the refuge was bad I had to bear it because of my past sins and my future ones, trust me no one could have sinned that bad.
a cue is forming behind me here in belorado I will have to conclude later
thanks for all the comments it gives me strengh.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Camino de Vino

this camino seems to be fueled by drink,big outside meal I get sat next to 4 dubliners 2 of whom used to live in ennis when I was there another example of 6 degrees of seperation,nice people and a good night was had untill the heavens opened and we rushed inside this good parocial abergue.
another hot day to Los Arcos much the same as yesterday but with a hangover (the first of the camino) still a hair of the dog was to be had at the famous fountain
we just had to suck it up and get through the day.
ensconced in the abergue we plan another commuinial meal which seems to be the pattern and tomorrow try an early start to Lograno when I will try and rustle as many bags as poss.
but forgive me father I have sinned last night I was informed I WAS MYSELF SNORING. The total shame of 25 years of married life rosie never once told me I snored (lol).
tonight I sleep in a small 4 bedded room,at the moment I seem to have it all to myself.
just realised the tea I,m drinking has salt in and not suger (half way down the cup and just now realised-I must have needed it)
spell check only seems to work in spanish please excuse any mistakes.
for those who leave remarks it is most appreciated.
I hope soon to post some pics

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Old Man and the Sea-t and beyond Pamplona

There were 8 people in the private room in Zubire,only one person got any sleep.

I woke the man up 3 times to no avale, I was going gaunt in the face from lack of sleep (earplugs were not helping) it could not go on,I was having daydreams about killing snorers and had channeled this into the outline for a book about a serial killer targeting snorers.

"SNORED TO DEATH"-death walks the road to Santiago!!!.

As seems to be the way of the camino a small group seem to be walking together and more seem to join each day, some day I will have to get off and catch the next train but not just yet I,m having too much fun.

the Trinidad de arre convent just before Pamlona saved the day for me-sleep and good companions-the german girl dutch girl and one from finland a rugby fan from Wales and the mad professer from Sweden ( everytime he gets divorced or has a crisis he learns a new Language-he speaks 8 at the moment) he is with the girl from Finland but plans on learning Icelandic soon!!.

we talked about the idea for a who done it, I quite liked the idea of the killer using a pillow,one a day"28 deaths to Santiago"

( Milita

our german birthday girl was all for using loud guns,I think she thought the small talk was for real!!!)

Lars who teaches creative writting as started taking pics are we killers or ¿victims.? he is the same age as me and we spent most of the time saying what a great group the baby-boomers are

so much fun was being had that we nearly missed the 9-30 curfew-I had to run 200 yards to ensure we were not locked out.

a small walk to Cizur Menor and the Knights of St John taking in the sights of Pamplona.

David from Budapest joined the group plus 2 brothers from Canada Andrew and Mick, a group meal was prepaired and vinto tinto was consumed, a flyer stating free pick up of our bags to the Albergue Santiago Apostol in Puente La Reina was acted apon and after another good nights sleep the motly band of carrier bag carrying Pilgrims walked the 20k explaining that we were realy Pilgrims,

Another good nights sleep was had in this swimming pooled albergue and we set off on the road to Estella fully packed and with temps of 30 degrees (someone was having a laugh)

22k in heat is not easy but the bliss of the many different coloured butterflies that seemed to share my walk zig zaging across my path made my day on these cornfield poppy vine sloped fields dotted with beutiful villages.
a communial meal and new people to meet awaits

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Roncevalles part two

Leaving Orison through the mist, legs a little stiff but going ok,felt good till out of the mist behind me came a runner looking old enough to be my father with a cheery wave and bon jour he disapeared rather rapidly into the now clearing mist which turned out to be clouds and soon (well quite soon) I was above even them and enjoying the most amazing views all around me I felt top of the world and had it all to myself till I came appon the strange sight of a picnicing couple and car handing out small books by the statue of the virgin,I soon started to catch up with earlyer starters Mairie Claude and another french lady full of the joy of life but moving rather slowly and painfully with the aid of sticks but never leaving her smile and good humour and it was in the company of these two retired ladies that I continued to walk the rest of the way learning two things, that walking slowly still gets you there and good company makes the walking easy.
the gang from the night before soon caught up and we made a triumpfull entry into Roncevalles and was soon enjoying a cold beer and soup.
having bedded down in our new home for the night in bunks so close you would normally be wedded to the person next to you my new wife was a young Spanish girl who turned her back to me the whole night.
that was not the only dissapointment of the night, in a huge place housing up to 120 there was only two sinks each for men and women and two showers each, long lines were formed,I think the women are still there now one day later.
still the pigrim meal was good and our table of 6 soon finished the 1 bottle and another was purchased, soon to be followed another paid for our german dining comrade who told the table it was her birthday (50) and this was her reason for doing the Camino,we all attended the Mass, my first which I found strangly moving, so many familiar smiling faces.Including the Irish girls and the sister.
we were soon invited to embrace our new friends and fellow Pilgrims,unfortunatly I didn,t get the chance to get round the whole congregation.
the german girl insisted we had a nightcap to finish off the night and we made it back before the doors were shut at 10.00pm.
what followed was my worst nights sleep ever as it sounded like the farmyard had been let in all around me,sleep was impossable, I came very close to hitting a large frenchman to my right and made do with trying to end his life with a pillow.
so bad was the experiance I had thoughts of not continuing if the nights were all going to be like this, it was a compleat nighmare and a bad end to a really great day.
strong yorkshire words were spoken to my bed companions who had then compounded their animal noises by packing and starting to move at 5.00 am and it nearly kicked off untill I remembered my good humour ( lol)
the 20k walk to Zubiri passed in a flash and my humour had truly returned by the time I booked into a nice 8 roomed hostal, and hopfully a good nights sleep.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Roncevalles part 1

wow made it here not as bad as feared,in my nightmares i never made it this far, but hey here i am.

the 8k walk to orrison was bad,hot sticky day the sweat ran off me like a river,not helped by the fact a glorious night was had the night before.
Arno and the rest of the helpers were great,aperitifs were served good food good conversation and lots of wine,when the table wine ran out I brought a bottle to the table and the conversation continued I was seated next to an Australian women who had been walking for 23 days the last 15 on her own as her male companion had abandoned her after 8 days and gone back to Australia, half way through the evening I felt like joining him.
A couple from Budapest had sat fairly quite but the communication problem was solved when they produced a bottle of liquor.
eventually after solving the worlds problems this united nations retired to bed where some sort of merry go round game took place that involved getting up and moving about a lot, I decided not to take part and tried to sleep. (this did not happen)
in the morning clutching my head and a packed lunch I set of up this hill that just kept getting
I.ll draw a Vail over the night at Orison,just to say it involved nuns Irish girls and more drink.
and culminated in me singing Irish folk songs.this has always been the point when I know I have had too much to drink,so off to bed for another sleepless night.
this days walk of 18k is probably the greatest walk with views I have ever done and proved to me that I am a walker.
the pilgrim meal calls.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Saint Jean

have spent the day in SJPP.and so glad I did I'm an Innocent abroad I was not switched on,so much to learn,Ive sat in the spirit of something or other all day like a lemon,what a nice place and what great people I,m so chilled,but people keep coming in washing clothes showering and sorting stuff out organised people that know what they are doing, people with firm tanned legs and small packs ,people who still have time while they are doing all this to talk to me interested in where I,m from, my plans-even to offer advise and encouragement,and all this in English a language foreign to most of them.
I,m humbled truly humbled,I knew this walk could be life changing,but if this is a taste of whats to come I don't think even I will recognise myself at the end, and I haven't even started walking yet.
tonight a communal meal with wine and then I suppose I'll have to start walking tomorrow!!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


the preparation is done,the journey starts.
hot sunny evening in Bayonne, third floor balcony overlooking the square and the railway station that will take me to St Jean tomorrow, a chair awaits bread cheese wine and the sunset to enjoy.
met loads of people so far in particular Conner from Eire and Vera from Denmark who carried on to SJPP, me I needed the quite before the storm a chance to reflect.
The Paris Madrid hotel fits the bill ,I have my French square at last.

Friday, 5 June 2009

"I've counted out my life in coffee spoons"

Here's my backpack looking all neat and packed,in order to go as hand luggage on Ryan-air it has to be 55cm x 20cm x 40cm and weigh no more than 10kilos,this enables me to check in online therefor avoiding the check-in queues allows me to get to the airport later and is a lot cheaper,so far so good. the bag only weighs just over 5k and fits the size requirements,problem is its only 2/3 full-----back to the drawing board!!

One of my favorite poems is "the Love song of J Alfred Prufrock" by T.S Eliot I learned this evening that this poem about a middle aged man looking back on missed opportunities was written when Elliot was just 17/18 and it blew my mind,at 18 I didn't even know there was such things as opportunities.cliches have followed me about since birth-born a baby-boomer-first teenagers through beatnik-hippy-then various acronym's till we get to the silver age-surfer fox etc
its seems I now have become a silver splitter-couples that split up once their children have left home
god I always hated being a cliche and now I have more reason than ever.
after many weeks of discussions and thoughts on the future it looks like I'll have to sail this ship alone now, we have not been singing from the same hymn sheet for a while. we want different things out of life and me being older also wanted them quicker.

So off on my Camino Tuesday with lots to occupy my mind and new opportunities to discover.

"And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!

Smoothed by long fingers,

Asleep … tired … or it malingers,

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid".

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

7 Days

Just one week left before I leave for my Camino and having spent 18 months planning and buying clothes and other stuff for my travels,am now realising like every other traveler that you can't get a quart into a pint pot.
just spent best part of a day packing and repacking my pack it ain't working. so much is going to be left behind, going to take most of the week to sort it out.
my one thing that has to be taken is my travel kettle,don't care if I sound like a wuss THE KETTLE'S COMING -as a tea drinker its important to me (Europeans don't do tea) and the way money is "cup a soup" hhhhamonnn and bread and cheese are going to my staple diet.have got fond of my new hat so that's coming (going for the English rake look)
our morning walk on the common brings us into close proximity to Dartmoor ponies that wander freely but never as close as they did today
I'd like to think that they had gathered to wish me well, but hey I'm just an old romantic.

on the subject of wild animals here's one of our own,that's if you can ever own a cat, me I'm a dog person-leader of the pack faithfull hound by my side sort of alpha male person.
now all I have to do is pack a chuffing rucksack,maybe Rosie can help?

my last photo of the common 6am peaceful