My Camino de Santiago

Old Jul 22nd, 2012, 03:45 AM
  #41  
 
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hola Cruise, I know very well all about desperate searches for rest rooms.

Thanks for posting and please continue when you can.

¡Felicidades al abuelito!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 08:22 AM
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While we're waiting for cruiseluv to continue her posts, I thought I'd bump this up to the top to add the scolding I just gave her personally via email, because I think it is something worth thinking about. Sorry, I don't mean to be preachy about this but I have had so many experiences with this that I just felt like bursting!

You'll see that in her first post, cruiseluv distinguishes herself from "real" pilgrims. This is no doubt a result of all the holier-than-thou pilgrims thinking that they are in charge of setting the standard for "real." But what is real? Do we have to walk barefoot, with a gourd, and a long brown robe? Do we have to start in Roncesvalles, or is it St. Jean, or Le Puy, or Paris, or Oslo? Or better yet, can we not be "real" unless we walk home from Santiago, since that's what they had to do in the middle ages.

I won't belabor this point, and I'm not accusing anyone here of doing this. My point is more to tell those of you who are thinking of starting out on a camino but are not comfortable with throwing a pack on your back, sleeping in albergues, and walking thousands of kms, that you shouldn't apologize for yourselves or somehow feel inferior. So there, take that! Buen camino, Laurie
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:11 AM
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Love it, Laurie! There ARE people who actually come right out and sneer when you say you have booked some nice B+b's along the way, not willing to share bathrooms and smelly sock odor... and have decided NOT to walk up some of the steeper climbs, etc.

So, the "holier than thou" attitude is prevalent at times..but "the others".. well.. we understand each other quite well and smile every night as we crawl into our clean sheets.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:25 AM
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I think everybody needs to know his physical limitations and level of comfort of those you are traveling with. After that, it is just a wonderful experience that I hope many more are encouraged to take part in for as long as they can..after reading reports like these..
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 10:44 AM
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You know , at my age, I think it would be near impossible to walk the Camino in total(and certaintly ill advised) but nothing stopped me from walking on the some of the routes at various intervals..ie: Salamanca and points nearby, Burgos, Segovia, Madrid and the points nearby. . My passport shows the areas. I did not get stamped in Santiago as I did not walk the prerequiste end areas. I do feel I have experienced the wonder of the camino, the joy of accomplishment, and the fellowship of other pilgrims. If you want to try go for it and anyway is the right way !!!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 05:48 PM
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Hi, lin,
I know all about the sneers and have heard all the snide comments, because though I hate to blow my cover, I'm one of those who usually sleeps in albergues with the snorers, the smells, the bathrooms..... Why do I do it? I'm not sure, but I certainly have done my best to stand up for more tolerance on the Camino. After all, if this is a pilgrimage, and people are walking to get good with their maker, what possible good does it do to be judgmental and condemning of others?

I am 62, did my first camino from Roncesvalles at age 50 and have walked every year since. I am totally in love with the Camino and though I am not a believer, I cannot think that Saint James or anyone else up there in heaven would be displeased to see how the Camino is drawing more and more people. So, although my many "real piligrim" friends would probably shudder, I want to say that I'm happy to offer my suggestions for anyone who wants to walk the camino in any way at all, with or without backpacks, in or out of albergues, whatever it takes to get you to see the beauty and wonder of the Camino. There is just nothing like it, IMO.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 07:29 PM
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I want to thank you Laurie , for your support and, yes, for your scolding, LOL! When my family and I arrived at O'Cebreiro by taxi from the bus stop, and we took our suitcases out of the trunk, I was afraid people would start laughing at us! But thankfully, nothing like that happened. Actually, the next morning when we put our suitcases out for later pick up by Jacotrans , there were two more suitcases waiting to be picked up( so we were not the only ones!).

Amer_can, you got it right, hope you're planning to do more segments.

As you say Lin, the important thing is to participate in whatever way you can. As I was walking, always trailing my DH and kids, I had to every so often stop, look around, and say to myself "I'm really here!"

I'm just sorry that I started so late as I'm now hooked and want to keep doing it!

I'll resume writing tomorrow.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:21 PM
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Yes.. it's such a great way to spend time.. and so much easier to figure out the logistics than one thinks.

I really think it would be fun to do a little Camino GTG for a few segments of the trail. I wine tour ahead of time.. hmmm. cold be alot of fun.
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Old Jul 24th, 2012, 12:47 AM
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Unless I missed it, the people on Fodor's have always been supportive of all those who want to walk part of or all of the Camino.

Mrs Adu met a pilgrim who has walked the entire length 13 times and has written a book about it and now takes his daughter with him. I do think I have anyone who is more open and offers encouragement to others as Endika, no matter how far they walk or where they stay. Mrs Adu and the daughter still exchange e-mails.

There will always be those who need to create artificial barriers arising out of their own personal voids. They should be ignored as they usually suck the life and enjoyment out of any situation in which they are invovled.
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Old Jul 24th, 2012, 02:12 AM
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No one on Fodor's has had that uppity attitude, Adu, but a very close "friend" ( friends.. really?) of mine does and I don't even tell her when I go.
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Old Jul 24th, 2012, 03:26 PM
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Cruiseluv,

Thank you for your wonderful report.
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Old Jul 24th, 2012, 06:13 PM
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Linca

There are people I know who make fun of the fact I seek out inexpensive but satisfying restaurants. My sister loves to stay in expensive hotels and does not understand why clean, safe, and comfortable is acceptable.

The one thing I know is the Camino is a personal experience and the restriction are placed by others as to whether you can stay at a certain albergue and do you qualify for you Composetela.

Otherwise, it is your Camino.
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Old Jul 24th, 2012, 07:01 PM
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Day 3- Sarria to Portomarín- About 22 kms

IMO, this stage is the most beautiful we walked (well, maybe as beautiful as the first day from O’Cebreiro but in a different way). For the most part we walked on quiet country lanes and tree lined roads. That day we encountered a veritable parade of cows and bulls being shepherded by a couple of dogs. Of course, we stopped and let them go by (I think they have the right of way). The dogs went crazy barking when a couple of cows decided to stop and nibble from the leaves of a tree. Then, a bull decided to get a bit "frisky" with a cow, and wouldn't take "no" for an answer, to the laughter of all of us(my daughter caught it on video, we still laugh when we replay the scene)!

The day started with breakfast at Rectoral de Goian. Homemade muffins and marmalade, toast and yogurt. Once we finished Javier was ready to drive us back to Sarria, to the bottom of the steps where he had picked us the night before. We first went to the Iglesia de Santa Marina where the credencial could be stamped. Actually, we got two stamps: the first one a DIY stamp at the entrance of the church. We then noticed people lining up to go into the sacristy where a priest was also stamping the credencial (with a different stamp).

We then continued walking through town and prior to leaving it we stopped at the Convento de la Merced (also known as Monasterio de la Magdalena), from the XIII. We first thought it was closed but as we were turning to leave, a window above opened and a nice priest told us he would be right down. He was very sweet and wanted to know where we were from. And as usual, when I would say “United States” they would find it odd as I speak Spanish without an American accent (Spanish is my native language). So of course, I have to explain I’m Cuban born, etc ( the funny thing on this trip, I was asked if I was French or Italian several times). We got our credenciales stamped and the priest invited us to walk around the cloister, very beautiful and peaceful. We then said our goodbyes and were on our way out of Sarria. I was sorry we didn't have more time to explore the town, which seemed to have other buildings/ churches worth visiting.

Our first “rest” stop (I prefer to call them “café con leche” stops!) was at Casa Barbadelo, 3 kms outside Sarria, which in addition to bar/restaurant offers lodging (I peeked from afar at one of the rooms, which was being cleaned, it looked modern and attractive). I was already making mental notes for potential places to stay in a repeat visit!

We had another morning stop that morning, about 4 kms later, at Café O Xestelo. Lunchtime found us at Morgade, where we stopped at the cozy Casa Morgade, a stone Casa Rural which also serves a Pilgrims Menu. Can’t recall what I had but I remember it was very good, one of my preferred lunches. This looked like a nice place to stay too (although I didn't get to see the rooms).

Our afternoon walk continued, with one last stop (ok, this one was just a bathroom stop!) at cute Mercadoiro. I don't know what the "protocol" is, but every time I wanted to use the "facilities" I felt I needed to buy something, so this time it was just a bottle of water.

Shortly after we started going in a steep descent (at least for me) into Portomarín, by the river Miño. Here we were booked at the Pousada de Portomarin, a big (as compared to other places we stayed) hotel which was originally a Parador (double rooms were 85 Euros, the most expensive rooms we had in the Camino). Doesn't have any particular charm, but the rooms were comfortable ( although they could use a face lift)and bathroom was big and reasonably modern. Oh, and we had free wifi (to my daughter’s delight!).

After cleaning up we walked to the town plaza, which I found very handsome, with its stone colonnades, and Romanesque church of San Nicolas (which unfortunately was closed by then, and would be closed the next morning when we walked past it). We headed down to the recommended restaurant, O’ Mirador, enjoying a lovely view of the river/ reservoir from the glass enclosed terrace.
While we were having dinner we started reading about the next day’s walk, and my daughter alerted me that we would need to walk about 8 kms before a “café con leche” stop! Oh, dear, this brought back painful memories of day #2. I would need to do some thinking about what to do about that.

After another enjoyable dinner (I believe I had merluza (hake).I pretty much had fish/ seafood every day on the Camino),we strolled back to the hotel. The beds must have been comfortable because I know that I drifted very quickly into sleep.

To be continued...
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Old Jul 24th, 2012, 08:04 PM
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What an enjoyable TR! You are taking many of us along with you on a beautiful long walk!

Lin: I'd love to join you and other Fodorites, but 2013 is a bit too soon for me for Spain. Perhaps another year...
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Old Jul 24th, 2012, 10:52 PM
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Who knows if I'll be able to do 2013.. there are so many places I'd like to go..

I am loving the report!

I hope your daughter was wrong about the 8km before a coffee stop!

What were your kids' impressions of the journey?
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Old Jul 25th, 2012, 04:45 AM
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Hi, cruiseluv,

Thanks for giving so much detail in your report. I haven't walked on the Frances between O'Cebreiro and Melide for many years, so I'm eager to hear how you found it. You are making me think that I should go back to the Frances next year. The crowds weren't suffocating?

I had lunch at the Casa Barbadelo once, and just looked at their website, http://www.barbadelo.com/. I can't believe what it looks like now. When I was there, must have been 2006, it was a little old stone house with a couple of rooms up top. Well, good for them, it looks nice if a bit motel-ish.

That same year, I slept in Morgade, http://www.casamorgade.com/ which was a working farm with a few rooms for an albergue. I had already seen its transformation to a hotel rural with restaurant, and we got a tour from the owner who remembered us. The rooms are pretty much what you would expect in a facility like this, and I think you'd be very comfortable there. The albergue part gets high reviews, also.

One of the most frustrating things about walking the camino is how so many of the churches are never open. It's a financial issue, I've been told. For the past couple of years the Junta de Castilla y Leon has provided some small amounts to give a stipend to villagers who want to keep their churches on the camino open, but alas, I think this program has been victim to budget cuts. And in Galicia, I know of nothing like that, so you just have to hope you can chance upon a church before a mass, or when the choir is practicing, or some other serendipitous event.

And I'm betting/hoping you found coffee before the 8 km mark! More, more, more!
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Old Jul 25th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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Just a preview: No, unfortunately there wasn't anything for close to 8 kms! We need an enterprising person to open a bar/cafe somewhere between Portomarin and Gonzar!

More later...
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Old Jul 25th, 2012, 09:18 AM
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Lin,

My kids really enjoyed it. My son's only negative comment was that there had been more walking by the road/asphalt than expected. I didn't think it was that much. My daughter had a field day taking pictures (her avocation), took about 4,000! I think she photographed every dog, cat, cow, sheep she came across!

Laurie,

There were no crowds! On the Camino we saw more cyclists than walkers( by the way, those cyclists can be dangerous. For whatever reason most of the times they don't call out a warning they're coming and you notice when they're almost on top of you!). Most of the times it was only the four of us on the Camino. Maybe the exception was the last day, as we approached Santiago but even then it was only a few .

Yes, it was very disappointing to find so many of the churches closed, Some were written up in the book and you could see they were something special but we couldn't get in. I would have rather have gotten sellos from churches than from the bars or hotels.
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Old Jul 25th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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Churches are probably open for mass.. and there may only be one priest for several villages. So who knows when that is!
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Old Jul 27th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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Day 4- Portomarín to Palas de Rei- About 25 kms

So yes, as feared, today we would need to walk about 8 kms before we could find a “café con leche” stop. So this presented a conundrum: go to the buffet breakfast at the Pousada , or forego any breakfast until we hit the first town, Gonzar. Remembering how awful I felt that 2nd day, without a restroom in sight for several kms, I opted to skip breakfast. The rest of the family didn’t seem to share my concerns and happily went downstairs about 7:30 to fill their tummies. I figured if I got lightheaded or something from hunger I would eat one of the trail mix bars I carried in the backpack.

We started walking about 8:30, it was foggy and COLD, I would say about 50F. Once we got out of Portomarín it was a continuous steep climb, not horrible but I felt it on my thighs. Initially we went through woodland, until we arrived at a path that goes by the main road. Later we would walk again through wooded area until we reached Gonzar. I don’t think I was ever as happy to see a town sign as when I saw the white sign with black letters heralding GONZAR ! The café bar there was a welcome sight. I was craving some tostadas (buttered toast) and café con leche. But it was not to be. The bartender informed me it was too late for tostadas, only bocadillos were being served (what??!! It was not even 11 AM). Oh well, a bocadillo it is.
Later we stopped for lunch at Ventas de Narón, at Casa Molar. Even though it was past 1 PM it seemed we were early for lunch and the barmaid had to go rouse the cook so he could come and start cooking!

My recollection is this day was not a difficult walk (maybe with the exception of the initial climb from Portomarín), with a variety of terrains.

We reached Palas de Rei about 4:30PM. Our place for the night was Casa Benilde, right in town. It’s a simple, modern hotel (65 euros for a double). The staff welcomed us as if they had been waiting for us all day! It was without a doubt the warmest welcome we got anywhere in the Camino, they had even taken our luggage up to the room and were eager to give us a rundown of the town and offer recommendations of places to eat. My most pressing concern was to find a place where we could have dinner watching a big TV as that was July 1st, day for the Euro Cup final between Spain and Italy. The man at reception offered several suggestions, and after dropping our backpacks in the room, our son and I set out to check them out . We first stopped at the town church, the sweet San Tirso Romanesque church, to get our credencial stamped. Actually, we should have walked past this church on the Camino once we got into town, but for some reason we had gotten disoriented and reached the hotel via a different street. We then checked three different restaurants/ cafes and decided on “A Forxa:”, around the corner from the hotel.

Though the rooms at Casa Benilde are pretty small, they’re modern, functional and super clean. The bathroom by comparison had a good size, with a tub. It looked brand new, thick nice towels and very good water pressure.

That night we had a pretty good peregrino menu at the “A Forxa”. We got there early to snag a table with a good view of the big flat TV screen suspended high on the wall. We were still eating dinner when the game started and stayed there through the end. It was lots of fun, especially because Spain won!!
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