A Travelogue

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Santiago

Weather here is very nice. It rained for most of the last two days of walking although it stopped shortly before I arrived at the cathedral. Attended the mass at noon today which was packed with pilgrims. They even used the big incense ball and I managed to get some decent photos while they were swinging it literally from ceiling to ceiling.

Have deceded to stay here at the albergue rather than get a hotel room. No bath but everything else is perfect. I am also a couple of hundred meters from the bus stop that will get me to the airport. Spent some time going to the stores around the cathedral picking up some souvenirs including a couple of tee-shirts. There is also a jazz festival in the city and lots of groups are entertaining the throngs of people.

The albergue is on the Camino about 2 km from the cathedral. Am watching a continuous flow of pilgrims walking by. I´m guessing that several hundred are arriving daily and it is still not the height of the season which I am told is July and August.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The End!

Success! I am in Santiago.

Arrived at 9:45 local time this morning. Am staying at a private albergue for a couple of days and then I will find a room with a bath for the last day.

Right foot is swollen and a bit sore but no matter. I can rest up for a couple of days.

Will visit the Galician cultural center tday or tomorrow. Four buildings are completed of the 6 in the original plan. But only two of the buildings have exhibits and are open to the public. Lack of money is still the issue.



.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

55 km to go

I am in Melide, only 55 km from Santiago. I expect to be there early on Saturday afternoon.

Am feeling fine. No health problems other than just being tired after having walked close to 1500 km. Looking forward to heading home on Tuesday/Wednesday next week.

Weather continues to be favourable with cool cloudy days and no rain. Hope it lasts for another couple of days.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I can almost see the end. Only 140 kme left.

I am in Triacastella about 140 km from Santigo.

Since I last emailed I have stayed in Pereje, a tiny village 5 km past Villafranca de Bierzo and then O´Cebreiro. When I got to Pereje after having walked 38 km from Molinaesco (sp?), I decided to rationalize my situation. If I continued at the current rate I would be in Santiago on June 17, some 4 days prior to flying out on the 21st.

So, I have set up a schedule that will get me to the finish line on June 19.

Accordingly, yesterday I only walked the 22 km to O´Cebreiro (although all of it was uphill and the last 10 km were really tough). I arrived at 11:15 and had to wait until 1:00 for the albergue to open.

Similarly today I only walked 20 km and despite almost being the last person to leave the albergue I still arrived here 11:00. The albergue here doesn´t open until noon but they have allowed me in and I have access to their internet connection (obviously ....duh).

So, over the next 6 days I will average about 23 km. I will stay one day at the big albergue in Santiago and then I will find a hotel room with a bath tub.

Healthwise I am OK. A couple of toes are really sore after some 15 km of steep descent today.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

1215 kilometers walked. Only 310 to the finish line.

It rained all night (reminds me of a song by Celine) and continued throughout the day until I reached Leon at about 11:00. It is still cloudy and rain could undoubtedly start up again. I can´t complain since this is only the third day in 43 with rain. Of course, I have yet to walk in Gallicia where it rains two days out of every three!

Healthwise all is OK although my legs feel pretty tired. No problems with blisters. My feet are a little swollen but are not really a problem.

I got lost in Leon (same thing happened the first time in 2007). Ended up walking an additional couple of km as a consequence.

I am staying in La Virgen del Camino, about 7 km west of Leon overnight and should be in Hospital de Orbigo early tomorrow afternoon.

So, about 310 km to go and just over 1215 km completed.

Monday, June 06, 2011

I am in Mansilla de las Mulas about 14 km from Leon.

Knee is not too bad. Not worse than other times. Left leg is a bit sore but I think that I am just a bit run down after 1200 km of walking.

Only did about 26 km today and will do about the same tomorrow ending up on the other side of Leon. Scenery should be changing as I am almost through the Meseta which is in one word "boring".

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Getting closer to Leon

I am in Bercelanos del Real Camino some 30 km from where I was last night. Should be in Leon in 2 more days.

No rain at all today. In fact it was perfect for walking although this part of the Meseta is pretty boring.

Health OK although I have daily pain in my right knee. Nothing new there since this is a problem that I battle continually.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

I am in the tiny village of Calzadilla de la Cueza some 79 km short of Leon. Have walked 62 km over the last two days. Have just under 400 km to go to Santiago. Could have done more but I am limiting myself to around 30 km per day so as not to get to Santiago too early. Will likely take a rest day either in Leon or more likely Astorga which is about 115 km away.

Health is OK although I have been experiencing some swelling of the feet. Have been taking Ibuprofen sparingly to counteract the swelling. Otherwise all is OK.

The weather continues to cooperate. It has been cool (almost too cool early in the morning). No hint of rain. In fact, I have really only had two rainy walking days, one in France and one in Spain. If it were to rain I am going to have problems with a wet left foot where my shoe has ripped open. Hope for the best.

So far have met people from 27 countries. Seeing many more Canadians and Americans than the first time. Understand that the movie about the Camino, "The Way" starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez will be released in North America later this year. This will undoubtedly result in a mob of so-called North American Pilgrims in the upcoming years.

I read a brilliant book by Bryce Courtenay called "The Power of One". It was his first book and was published in 1989 by Mandarin Press in Australia. The book is brilliant and I believe that it wa made into a movie of the same name.

Here are a couple of quoted from the book that I really liked.

"His top teeth, jutted out at an angl, and peeped out from under his lipsas though looking to see if the coast were clear ao that they might escape."

"Behind me the hills tumbled on, accumulating height as they gathered momentum until,in the far distance, they became proper mountains."

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Some thoughts on the Camino

FRENCH SECTION

I will never do another French section of the Camino if the Le Puy route is typical.

Yes, the scenery was fantastic and the food was superb. I especially loved the breads and cheeses. Probably had the best meal at the Gite ferme de Barry where the owner made aligout. The main negative is that about 60 % of the route was walking on pavement, which is incredibly hard on your feet and legs. The French seem to pave anything that is wide enough for a car, no matter how remote the area.

CAMINO FRANCES

If I ever walk another Camino it won´t be the Camino Frances.

The Camino has become a fad, something fashionable to do and an item to put on and knock off your bucket list. Every day is a rush to get up, get going, and arrive at your next destination early enough to guarantee a bed. Hospitaleros and gite owners told me that in the past they would either not fill or fill by late afternoon or early evening. Now they are full by mid afternoon. It has become the proverbial rat race.

I have also been told that over the last five years there has been a change in the pilgrims, and not for the better.

Lastly the government, at least in Navarra, the Basque part of Spain, has made "improvements" to the trail. I appreciate the new signage, (it is impossible to get lost any more, but not the concrete paved sections and concrete steps, two-meter wide trails in crushed stone and binder. I wonder when they will install escalators on the steep sections?

1072 km done!

I am in Castrojerez having completed the 38th day. I have had no access to the internet for the last 4 days.

Here is a brief update.

Completed 1072 km. Over the last four days have walked 134 km. I need to slow down since at this rate I will be in Santiago on Jun16

which is way too early for my June 21 flight.

450 km remaining to Santiago

Day before yesterday was a milestone as I reached 1000 km and also exceeded my longest walk, the "Walk to Beat Polio" (1007 km) in 2008.

Health is OK although I have finally lost my second nail. Will likely lo





se another one along the way.

My shoes are giving me some grief. The left one is starting to tear on the left side of the foot. The toe cap that I had fixed in Red Deer before leaving is also starting to delaminate. I may take them back to MEC!

I decided not mail my notes and the SD card from the camera on Monday this week in view of the potential postal strike in Canada.