Peregrinos

Camino de Santiago: Days 25 - 27 - Leon to Villadangos del Paramo to Astorga to Rabanal del Camino

Leaving Leon, I passed the beautiful Leon Parador, a 12th C pilgrim's hospital (hostal) spruced up to become the headquarters of the Knights Order of Santiago. 

Leaving Leon, I passed the beautiful Leon Parador, a 12th C pilgrim's hospital (hostal) spruced up to become the headquarters of the Knights Order of Santiago. 

In front of the parador, another statue of a weary pilgrim.

In front of the parador, another statue of a weary pilgrim.

Some interesting farm contraptions--my only photo of the day into Villadangos. It was a highway adjacent walk through pit stops for truckers.  Nothing going on in Villadangos but good company and a delicious dinner at the albergue with new friends.

Some interesting farm contraptions--my only photo of the day into Villadangos. It was a highway adjacent walk through pit stops for truckers.  Nothing going on in Villadangos but good company and a delicious dinner at the albergue with new friends.

Sunrise through corn stalks. It's actually quite creepy to walk through corn during the pre-dawn. believe it or not.

Sunrise through corn stalks. It's actually quite creepy to walk through corn during the pre-dawn. believe it or not.

I only passed through, but really liked the town of Hospital de Orbigo. This long bridge dates from the 13th C. Legend has it that a knight was thwarted in love. To restore his honor he vowed to defend that bridge against anyone who would challenge him.  In 1434, Knights arrived from all over Europe to joust against the heartsick Don Suero.  300 knights were defeated, and I guess that was the magic number because a victorious Don Suero then journeyed to Santiago in thanks for being cured of his heartbreak.

I only passed through, but really liked the town of Hospital de Orbigo. This long bridge dates from the 13th C. Legend has it that a knight was thwarted in love. To restore his honor he vowed to defend that bridge against anyone who would challenge him.  In 1434, Knights arrived from all over Europe to joust against the heartsick Don Suero.  300 knights were defeated, and I guess that was the magic number because a victorious Don Suero then journeyed to Santiago in thanks for being cured of his heartbreak.

Yellow arrows mark the dusty path toward Astorga.

Yellow arrows mark the dusty path toward Astorga.

Casa de los Dioses, which I anticipated because it is so beloved by my guidebook and favorite Camino forum.  Entirely donativo, sustenance, good vibes and a shady place to rest is offered. 

Casa de los Dioses, which I anticipated because it is so beloved by my guidebook and favorite Camino forum.  Entirely donativo, sustenance, good vibes and a shady place to rest is offered. 

After a long day, weary pilgrims (including me!) on the outskirts of Astorga.  Look at that sky!

After a long day, weary pilgrims (including me!) on the outskirts of Astorga.  Look at that sky!

Cannot resist the handpainted signs.  Or patatas fritas for that matter.

Cannot resist the handpainted signs.  Or patatas fritas for that matter.

At this point in the trip, I can handled the blisters, but my foot is killing me and I feel like I've aged 30 years. I really enjoyed my meal Plaza Major, though, and watching people gather to see the clock at the top of the Ayuntamiento chime -- it has little characters like the Glockenspiel in Munich!

At this point in the trip, I can handled the blisters, but my foot is killing me and I feel like I've aged 30 years. I really enjoyed my meal Plaza Major, though, and watching people gather to see the clock at the top of the Ayuntamiento chime -- it has little characters like the Glockenspiel in Munich!

Astorga was lovely. With a beautiful cathedral too.

Astorga was lovely. With a beautiful cathedral too.

I like comparing the grandiose cathedrals with the tiny hermitages I'd pass along the way. Even though it was sunrise, this medieval chapel, Ecce Homo, was manned by a friendly elderly woman who tried to tell me the story of the chapel's well. From what I gathered a miracle happened, but my Spanish wasn't up to the task of sorting out what type of miracle. So I blessed myself and looked as the display of antique photos of parishoners past.  As I was leaving the tiny woman mimed my putting on my backpack and trudging away.  She must see a lot of us droopy pilgrims.

I like comparing the grandiose cathedrals with the tiny hermitages I'd pass along the way. Even though it was sunrise, this medieval chapel, Ecce Homo, was manned by a friendly elderly woman who tried to tell me the story of the chapel's well. From what I gathered a miracle happened, but my Spanish wasn't up to the task of sorting out what type of miracle. So I blessed myself and looked as the display of antique photos of parishoners past.  As I was leaving the tiny woman mimed my putting on my backpack and trudging away.  She must see a lot of us droopy pilgrims.

I thought the walk toward Rabanal was stunning. Sunny with walled paths, then later, a forest trail. I came to love the entrance to small towns. 

I thought the walk toward Rabanal was stunning. Sunny with walled paths, then later, a forest trail. I came to love the entrance to small towns. 

The Camino "color scheme" of yellow arrows against a blue background is truly accurate.  To me the Camino is yellow against blue.

The Camino "color scheme" of yellow arrows against a blue background is truly accurate.  To me the Camino is yellow against blue.

Besides Elvis Bar in Religos, Cowboy Bar in the sleepy Maragato town El Ganso was a favorite.  The inside is like the prop department of a spaghetti western

Besides Elvis Bar in Religos, Cowboy Bar in the sleepy Maragato town El Ganso was a favorite.  The inside is like the prop department of a spaghetti western

Rabanal in silohuette.

Rabanal in silohuette.

Camino de Santiago - Day 24 Lovely Leon

I really liked Leon and almost immediately upon leaving knew I'd have to return someday.  It felt strange to me to look forward to a bigger city after the small towns of the Meseta and yet only have a few hours there to look around.  I had a conversation with a woman I walked with almost every day from Astorga on--Natalie from Denmark, about how hard it can be to turn off tourist mode in your brain and just accept pilgrimage mode.  In other words, it's in my nature to want to see everything I can--always on the look out for interesting little museums, wanting to see the historic buildings and wander the streets, reading up on the history or the famous foods of the area.  Instead, on this journey, you are always simply passing through. The physical path of the Camino is what you get to know so well and you have to learn to ease your grip on all these interesting places you pass through. 

Always on the look out for interesting signage - usually easy to spot on the approach into a big city like Leon. For me the walk into Leon didn't seem as drawn out as Burgos. Halfway through the Camino and the idea of needing solitude to think and be "present" is much less appealing than good company and conversation to pass the miles.

Always on the look out for interesting signage - usually easy to spot on the approach into a big city like Leon. For me the walk into Leon didn't seem as drawn out as Burgos. Halfway through the Camino and the idea of needing solitude to think and be "present" is much less appealing than good company and conversation to pass the miles.

Just the type of odd city scene I like to paint!

Just the type of odd city scene I like to paint!

On a Saturday in Leon it seems that there are dozens of weddings and almost as many festivals occurring.

On a Saturday in Leon it seems that there are dozens of weddings and almost as many festivals occurring.

Gaudi on Plaza S. Marcelo!

Gaudi on Plaza S. Marcelo!

Calle Ancha, Leon

Calle Ancha, Leon

What is happening?! A collision of two festivals results in an impromptu street waltz.

What is happening?! A collision of two festivals results in an impromptu street waltz.

The cathedral closed early and I was so sorry to have missed it, but now I have an extra reason to return to lovely Leon.

The cathedral closed early and I was so sorry to have missed it, but now I have an extra reason to return to lovely Leon.

The "wet district" is quiet right before tapas hour chimes.

The "wet district" is quiet right before tapas hour chimes.

The camino provides...because I visited S. Isidoro, I was provided with a very nice Scottish couple who I'd seen often and they invited me for tapas.  First, I spied on the pilgrim mass which was ending as I arrived.  Each place does it a little differently, but at the end of mass, the priest invites the pilgrims to stand or approach and offers a blessing. Here, he's also giving a history of the Church as well.  My favorite pilgrim's mass was in Estella, where the priest seemed to speak every pilgrim's language and had a holy card for each of us.

The camino provides...because I visited S. Isidoro, I was provided with a very nice Scottish couple who I'd seen often and they invited me for tapas.  First, I spied on the pilgrim mass which was ending as I arrived.  Each place does it a little differently, but at the end of mass, the priest invites the pilgrims to stand or approach and offers a blessing. Here, he's also giving a history of the Church as well.  My favorite pilgrim's mass was in Estella, where the priest seemed to speak every pilgrim's language and had a holy card for each of us.

As a kid, I used to pray for myself all the time: "Dear God, please give me magic powers." "Dear God, please help me pass my test. I promise I'll pay attention in Church from now on."  I've fallen out of the habit of praying altogether, but on the Camino pretty much every holy icon got an earful: "Please God, bless my feet. Please God, direct me to a pharmacy so I can get more Compeed. Please God, keep my foot from breaking. I don't have great insurance anymore and can't afford a podiatrist."  Happy to report God listened and my feet are on the mend!

As a kid, I used to pray for myself all the time: "Dear God, please give me magic powers." "Dear God, please help me pass my test. I promise I'll pay attention in Church from now on."  I've fallen out of the habit of praying altogether, but on the Camino pretty much every holy icon got an earful: "Please God, bless my feet. Please God, direct me to a pharmacy so I can get more Compeed. Please God, keep my foot from breaking. I don't have great insurance anymore and can't afford a podiatrist."  Happy to report God listened and my feet are on the mend!

always onward!

always onward!

Camino Thoughts plus Days 20 - 23 - Villamentero De Campos to Calzadilla de la Cueza to Sahagun to Reliegos

Well, my app didn't end up working so well and, as it happened, I got more wrapped up in the walk as it went on, which is a good thing. During the second half of the walk , things began to click for me, despite the fact that my body was ready to reach its destination and began to voice big, loud complaints via my right foot and ankle.  All my wretched limbs held together though and I hobbled into Santiago with friends on October 7 after 35 days of walking.  I'm home now and just beginning to wrap my head around the experience.  Did I dream the whole thing? 

I'm sprucing up my sketchbook which I will post, along with some more thoughts on the Camino and some practical things I learned.  Despite years of researching this trip, there were still things I hadn't thought out that would've helped me before I left. It just goes to show that each person's Camino is a different animal and despite that, we all have a shared journey.  It was a horrible and wonderful trip and that's the only way I can think to describe it.  Just like a month and a half of real life, there are good and bad and many in between days.  I have to imagine that each is valuable, even if I can't see it yet.

This week, though, I will continue to share some images from the 2nd half of The Way.

Carrion de los Condes, passing through the main square before a very long walk through the Meseta

Carrion de los Condes, passing through the main square before a very long walk through the Meseta

Plenty of food and water...16 k until my stopping point.

Plenty of food and water...16 k until my stopping point.

The town of Calzadilla de la Cueza and the sign for its municipal albergue seemed to rise from the grass like an oasis. It's a two albergue town and not much else, and in my haste to take off my shoes I managed to pick the albergue WITHOUT the pool.   Plenty of time to think here...this cafe and the view of pilgrims coming over the hill is the only thing to do in this town.

The town of Calzadilla de la Cueza and the sign for its municipal albergue seemed to rise from the grass like an oasis. It's a two albergue town and not much else, and in my haste to take off my shoes I managed to pick the albergue WITHOUT the pool. 

Plenty of time to think here...this cafe and the view of pilgrims coming over the hill is the only thing to do in this town.

A perfect color palette.

A perfect color palette.

I love these little Spanish buildings. I want to live in every single one.

I love these little Spanish buildings. I want to live in every single one.

Not Hobbit Houses!, a sign helpfully explained to passing pilgrims.  These little cave cottages are for storing wine.

Not Hobbit Houses!, a sign helpfully explained to passing pilgrims.  These little cave cottages are for storing wine.

I know it looks cute but its cat talons are sharpened and waiting to rip food from pilgrim hands.  This cat ferociously guards Elvis Bar, which is the epicenter of tiny Reliegos, as well as acting as a graffiti-ed notice board for those passing through.

I know it looks cute but its cat talons are sharpened and waiting to rip food from pilgrim hands.  This cat ferociously guards Elvis Bar, which is the epicenter of tiny Reliegos, as well as acting as a graffiti-ed notice board for those passing through.

Days 6 and 7 - Uterga to Lorca and a rest day in Estella

I am suffering from muchas ampollas. After a hard hot days walk with a lot of pain I stopped in the tiny village of Lorca for the night then hobbled a couple hours the next morning to lovely Estella where I booked a room all to myself for rest and foot care. It's been beautiful scenery though and very nice people around every bend in the road. 

Early morning hang gliders (?) outside Uterga

Early morning hang gliders (?) outside Uterga

always grateful to see an obvious Camino sign to guide the way  

always grateful to see an obvious Camino sign to guide the way  

Walking through Puente La Reins

Walking through Puente La Reins

The queen's bridge, built in the 11th C to help pilgrims across the deep river

The queen's bridge, built in the 11th C to help pilgrims across the deep river

Walking through vineyards and Oliver groves today

Walking through vineyards and Oliver groves today

The pretty and very unbaked hill town of Cirauqui

The pretty and very unbaked hill town of Cirauqui

The Roman road remains along this not of the Camino  

The Roman road remains along this not of the Camino  

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This morning I made it to Estella, a short day so I can rest my feet.  I e made it about 71 miles. 411 to go! Estella is small but ver picturesque. Perfect place for a break.  

 

Out of Lorca, bypassed by a dog on a donkey   

Out of Lorca, bypassed by a dog on a donkey   

But I caught up. Note the shell on the donkey... They are in pilgrimage too! 

But I caught up. Note the shell on the donkey... They are in pilgrimage too! 

10th C ermita de San Miguel Arcángel .... Hermitage and pilgrim hospital

10th C ermita de San Miguel Arcángel .... Hermitage and pilgrim hospital

Arrived in Estella to find a farmers market outside my door.... Cooking in tonight

Arrived in Estella to find a farmers market outside my door.... Cooking in tonight

Rio Ega

Rio Ega

Cafe chairs in Plaza Fueros

Cafe chairs in Plaza Fueros

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Camino markers and Camino feet

Camino markers and Camino feet

Self care

Self care

Day 4 and 5 - Zubiri to Pamplona to Uterga

Two rough days with blisters beginning to develop but the pain was dulled by the beautiful Navarra region.  

Started in St Jean with 482 miles to walk to Santiago. At the end of day five I have 429.5 to go

 

Puente de la Rabia leaving Zubiri

Puente de la Rabia leaving Zubiri

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Tortilla, orange soda sand new friend at Zuriáin cafe

Tortilla, orange soda sand new friend at Zuriáin cafe

The alterpiece at Iglesia de San Esteban

The alterpiece at Iglesia de San Esteban

Hemingway hideout on the back of Cafe Irunia in Pamplona

Hemingway hideout on the back of Cafe Irunia in Pamplona

day five, free of the city and headed over that hill. Hot and dry  

day five, free of the city and headed over that hill. Hot and dry  

Beautiful skies

Beautiful skies

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Made it to the top! Alto del Perdón and the monuments peregrino  

Made it to the top! Alto del Perdón and the monuments peregrino  

The long hot walk down to Uterga, my end point for today

The long hot walk down to Uterga, my end point for today

Relaxing in Casa Baztán, a relaxing little albergue  

Relaxing in Casa Baztán, a relaxing little albergue  

Day 3 - Roncesvalles to Zubiri

A long long day owing to sore muscles and fatigue from the last couple days. But a beautiful real through woods and farmland at dawn, passing through Burguete, one of Hemingway's favorite towns.  

 

Lessons learned from from the  long hot walk into Zubiri in the afternoon:

take shoes and socks off at least once during the walk; use every font to refill water bottles; lots of snacks especially when you start to zone out during the last five km.  

Papa was here... Burguete  

Papa was here... Burguete  

Basque style

Basque style

Looking back

Looking back

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Zubiri cafe

Zubiri cafe