Saturday 28 September 2013

Sept 27, 2013 Taxi to Muxia/Santiago

This morning after breakfast we met our hired cab for the drive to Muxia.  Seems strange to be in a car again and so much faster than walking.
Muxia has an historical signifigance as it is said the virgin Mary appeared to St James at the edge of the sea and told him to spread the word.  Consequently right on the point stands a huge church, quite far out of town, this is unusual because churches are usually in the center of the towns.  It is a truly picturesque setting, an ancient church with the sea pounding all around it.  There is also a walk up a hill where you can look down on the church, the sea, the village and feel the wind blowing you to bits.  We are so lucky to have this experience.  We had some other pilgrims take our photo right on the same spot Martin Sheen and his fellow pilgrims had theirs taken in the movie ¨"the way".
Then it was back to the taxi for the 2 hr drive into Santiago.  Our driver was a nice older man who spoke Spanish, German, French and a little English, it was a laugh conversing with him.
We arrived about 1¨30 checked into Hotel Compestella, freshened up and went out for lunch.  Food was good, a little more expensive now we are in the city.  Afterwards we checked out the Zara store for a little retail therapy and then had a rest in our rooms.  We were going to mass  at the cathedral at 7:30 and planned to be there early for a seat.  We got there just before 7 and had to sit on the floor but we were near the front.  The pilgrims mass, we had experienced in 2011 and it was the same.  The tiny little nun singing in her angelic voice in the acoustically fabulous cathedral was magic.  The priest called out all the countries, towns, that pilgrims had arrived from today, as when you arrive in Santiago and have walked a minimum of the last 100 km you can get a compestella. We heard Canada mentioned a few times.  The finale is the swinging of the butefumerio, and the smell of the coals inside it burning, which in days gone by was to calm the smell of the unwashed pilgrims who had arrived and slept in the church.
Back out in the streets of Santiago for pincos (tapas) beer, wine and sangria, yes we had them all !!!!!
A great day!!!!despite the rain!!
Tomorrow we have early flights to far flung places!  Beun Camino to all of you who are following our journey.  We thank you for your love and support!

The Four Pilgrims, Muriel, Joanie, Jan and Sandy xxxx

Friday 27 September 2013

Last Day....Walking

We left Hotel Larry at 8>45 and stopped for breakfast in the next village, Corcubione we had a view down a narrow street of the church.  We met a couple, Ron and Jenny from Tasmania who were very nice. They had stayed in the Posada that we meant to go to and said it was fabulous.  We were on our way to Finisterre, the weather was good and the scenery beautiful but terrain very up and down to the beach and back to the hills again.  There was a welcome brisk breeze and quite a few pilgrims leaving at the same time....the path twisted through some high walls and was very narrow, and was climbing, once out to the wider path we could see the red roofs and the ocean beyond, a few sheep grazing in the ferns and also a couple of horses.  There are a lot of Corn silos, we call them corn churches as they look like miniture churches with a cross structure at one end and a spire at the other. The corn for the animals is kept there.
Sandy and I having some foot issues. Jan's feet also tired, Joanie didnt have any foot complaints.
It seemed like we would never get there, we walked about 1 km right on the sand while the ocean crashed in and rolled to within inches of our boots.  It was such a thrill to be at the Atlantic Ocean as this was really the end of the world.  We became beachcombers, taking a few pretty shells.
Back through the streets to our posada, which is at the far end of town, Finisterre being built along the shore.  We dumped our packs and went out for a seafood feast, some fish we had never even seen before, one looked like a worm in a long shell!  Joanie thought it must be some type of clam!  We all did try it, and it wasn't bad if you could get over the look of it! All washed down with 2 bottles of wine and agua.
Next we hiked another 2 km to the lighthouse, which is referred to as the end of the earth as the early explorers thought it was.
The wind whips around the point, there are lots of people there, taking photos, we met a few pilgrims we had seen along our camino.  We all took photos of each other.  There was a hungarian fellow who had walked from Budapest, he was sitting in the rocks drinking champagne looking out to sea, another fellow was burning his clothes, and lots of others had left shoes, boots and clothes on a pilgrims alter. Then we met up with the 2 English ladies, Judith and Katherine, who we had seen a few days back on the trail and did not expect to see again.  We had a beer with them while they had tea.  Back down the hill to our posada pensione to refresh and to go down to the  beach for snacks not dinner,  as we are still full from our lunch.
We walked down to the beach in the dark with the chilly wind coming off the ocean, found a bar and had two very Canadian pizzas.
Tomorrow is the beginning of a new day and we have organized a taxi to take us to Muxia then to Santiago for the grand price of 100 euros all together.  Muxia is an historical town where we will have a half hour visit on the way to Santiago.
Perhaps a FINAL camino post tomorrow.
love the 4 P's

Thursday 26 September 2013

Arrived and Survived

Last nights dinner was best forgotten, this mornings breakfast was the usual.  Our alberque host drove us back to the camino trail and dropped us at a covered bus stop where we donned our packs and rain ponchos.  Wind was calm, temperature warm, so we set off in light rain.  After 5 km we stopped for coffee, rain a bit heavier but a pleasant change from the previous heat.  This terrain is quite beautiful, low stacked walls like you find in England, eucalyptus trees with purple heather and another yellow flower bush growing below like a thick ground cover.  We were enjoying the  change and had 15 km to go with no services
The heavy mist in the air turned to heavier rain and blustery winds, at times knocking us sideways.  We were glad of our poles to steady us.  I was disappointed that today would not  be a photo day as my camera would have been destroyed in the rain.  We came across a great monument, it was a cross atop a 30 ft post and all around the bottom pilgrims had left a stone, there were literally hundreds of different stones all piled up.  The ground at times was very rocky underfoot, and some lake like puddles to get around.  \
As the day went on we got wetter and wetter, only our feet were dry!  a testament to leather boots i Say!!  We wondered how pilgrims in runners were faring today!
It seemed like we would never get to Cee which was 21 km today.
Jeff, Donna, and maybe Drew if you are reading the was a day reminisent  of our walk in Butterton in the north of England!
We stopped once to rebandage Sandys blister and again to eat some cheese and cookies.  By this time our fingers and hands were so wrinkled from rain it looked like we had spent over long in the bath.
WE wish!  One neat thing, early in the day...for about half a mile we were walking over rocks that were the color of jade or emeralds, we each chose a small one to bring back home. We have arrived at Hotel Larry, weird name and a bit old fashioned but its ok.  Showers never felt so good as we peeled our clothes off~!
We had a walk to the Atlantic ocean which is snear our hotel, a glass of vino and then dinner and bed.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Tuesday, Sept 24/13

This morning we rose at 6 to prepare out  breakfast, boiled egg, melon, yogurt drink and water....
We were packed up and on our way by 7:10am.  It was dark, we stopped at a bank machine in town and were on the way again.  Soon it started to rain lightly and it was very muggy.  Up and down, hill and dale, no coffee for 13 km, 2 rests in fields.  We saw virtually our first wild animal....a black fox, previous to this we have only seen cows and the occasional horse.
The landscape is quite pretty, lots of corn and hay fields and very warm dispite the overcastsky.
Our lunch which we had in a field sitting on one of our emergency blankets was ham and cheese on plain cookies...wondering where our  bartender was! We watched a farmer operate a machine which took the corn out of the fields...a large combine type of thing...chopped down about 6 rows of corn at a time, chewed it all up and spit it into a trailer....I guess it is for the cattle.
We walked through many villages with no services and little people about, but many barking dogs, thankfully all fenced in, except for one german shephard who barked at us from the roof of the shed! We thought the best thing to do was not look him in the eye and press on together.
We came upon a farmer and his wife with a wheelbarrow, over flowing with corn and carrying a plastic bag full of fish. They were ok with me taking a photo and then they wanted me to try pusing the was heavy and I nearly dumped it over. The farmers little wife took hold of the barrow handles and pushed it up the hill!
We walked and walked some more to Santa Marina where we had a look at the accomodation....20 bunks in a room....nada! We ordered beer and had dthe alberque man call a pickup to take us to a hotel which is of the trail.  We have a room for 4 with our own bathroom....for 18.50 each, that is about as ruffing it as we like to get. The hotel will transport us back to the Camino to start our walk again tomorrow.

Monday Sept 23 HMMMMM

Hmmm, not sure what happened.....Spanish computers ....I had started this entry and all of a sudden it said close so Im not sure if I am repeating.....
Lovely coffee, cheese, juice, brown toast, apples, bananas and oranges this morning for our breakfast.  The Moule Hotel is very modern and very white, so clean, as some of our stays have not been so!  We left late, walked to the cathedral and went in to hug St. James (tradition) and say prayers for Bob and everyone else who is ailing.
The road out of Santiago was uphill but it was a wooded trail reminding us of our training days in the North Shore forests.  At the top of the hill we looked back at Santiago to see the spires of the  cathedral above the morning mist.  Soon we came to a choice of path......and we took the wrong one. Not too far along I waved to a farmer plowing his field and he indicated we should go back....wrong trail.  Jan and Sandy saw 2 snakes on the path, both saying they were glad I hadn´t noticed too!
We stopped for limonade as it was warm. Sock change as well.  A foot update.... Sandy and I are the only ones with actual bllisters and they are minor.  Jan is basically on prevention as is Joanie. So good news!
The rest of our km today were pretty brutal.  We did 7km uphill on a lot of payement and the temperature was 31 degrees.  Wataer in our packs  became very warm.
I keep forgetting to mention...days ago when we were back on the mesita we heard Oprah was taping a show on ¨the way¨and was at the start in St. Jean Pied a Port and was moving ahead to different towns, we thought it might be that she could be in Santiago when we were ...but she was not.  If she does a tv show about it, we can just imagine how busy the trail will get!  Good thing for us we will have done our camino.
We have arrived at our destination for today, Nerjeira and immediately sat our sweaty butts down and drank large beers. (It´s the heat, for none of us are beer drinkers at home) Laundry and showers could wait.  Pilgrim dinner is at 8pm and before that we will hit the supermercado for tomorrows food as there are not many services ahead.
Dinner was our very best pilgrim dinner so far, salad was so fresh, tomatoes must have been picked today.  We had very decent spagettie and the best hake and chips....also the best chips so far, we think they dress them with olive oil after they fry them as they as usually oily!  We had 2 bottles of wine, a white, for which I had to ask for ice, I was trying to make the b artender aware I wanted ice via pantomine, and he spoke perfect engllish!  The red wine was also very good....all this for 10 euros each.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Sept 22 Sunday Leaving Leon

THis morning we filled up on coffee, champagne and orange juice, fruit and all the delicious pastries and headed out to look for the market.  We were told it was along the river to the left of our parador. Success!  It probably had well over 100 stalls.  Scarves and watches were each 3 euros.  Our kind of shopping as remember we cannot carry anything that has too much weight!  Sandy and I have  big purple watches and we all bought a couple  of scarves.  Then it was back to our parador to pack up, don our dusty boots and get to the train.  We will arrive in Santiago at 7:20.
OMG here we are on the train and we have just made a stop at Monforte de Lemos where new passengers get on----one ´"man" got on with his mother, who saw him seated, stowed his bag overhead , then kissed him goodbye and she left the train---talk about overbearing!  Train filling up and temperature rising.  We are seeing new parts of Spain as the train doesn´t always follow the camino.
We hired a taxi to take us to the Moure Hotel, where we stayed in 2011, taxi fare was 5.40 euros!  much less than home!
After checking in we went across the street to another little hostel/hotel that we had also visited in 2011, it has a beautiful garden with sculptures and gorgeous flowers everywhere.  We had a bottle of vino and some olives and were all too tired to go out for dinner so it was back to the Moure for herb tea and bed.  TOmorrow we WALK 26 km!
Internet may be sketchy on the walk to Finistere, we don´t really know what to expèct.  If I can I will blog, if not, I will when I can !! 
Loving hearing from family and friends.
the 4 P´s 

Sept 21 continued......

This afternoon we saw 2 brides outside in the square in front of our hotel.....what an amazing backdrop for their photographs. Then we saw another bride come down the grand staircase inside---we are checking from our balcony regularly as the scene is set below in the garden for the ceremony of one of the couples.  Jan is very interested as she will be welcoming 2 daughter in laws in the coming year with the excitement of choosing gowns.  Alas, we are not sure what happened but we never saw another thing to do with any weddings.  At about 8:30 we set out for dinner, as we exited the hotel we saw guests arriving, all dressed to the nines!
We strolled back over to the cathedral area and chose an interesting bar for a glass of beer and were given an interesting tapas was 4 individual little cups of some kind of thick tomato base with bits of what we thought were octopus in it.....but we really had no was tasty though! It was a great bar for people watching young and old, women here have the most amazing shoes and clothing, even the older ladies are dressed quite fashionably, and we look like mere pilgrims! Next we enjoyed pizza and vino tinto at the same restaurant as last night, Bocadillo, 2 bottles of red and 2 pizzas was a grand total of 40 euros! We stayed to watch the light show that was projected on the church, we had front row seats.  THe show dipicted the history of the city of Leon in pictures with grand music to accompany it.  Home again for a wonderful sleep in the delux hotel!

Saturday 21 September 2013

Sept. 21 Saturday

Up early for a breakfast feast, loads of papaya, pineapple, melon, yogurt, strawberries, oj, eggs, sausages, meats, pastries and more!  We ate for an hour! Then it was off to the market.  It was colourful and picture perfect with an array of vegetables and flowers that pilgrims never see or get served!  There was not much in the scarves we were hoping for so no purchases were made.....hoping for a better market on Sunday.  Next we went to tour the cathedral which was well worth the entrance fee of 5 euros.  The cathedral has the most stained glass windows of any church in all of Europe, and it was constructed in a time span of 50 years, which was quite swift for a church back in the day and of this size. 
We stopped for coffee, found a pharmaacia to stock up on supplies and at the train station bought our tickets for tomorrows ride to Santiago.  Then we came back to the parador and had lunch in the garden terrace.  Rests and computer time to catch up on the blog and news from home till evening.....our last night in Leon.
.xxxx P´4s

Friday Sept 20713

THis morning we were not in a rush to leaave as we had 14 km to Leon according to our ¨book.  We walked about 10 total, the advice was not to walk the last 8 km as it was pavement all the way, very hard on the feet, traffic and totally uninspiring. 
Our 2nd last stop was for coffee and breakfast at a roadside alberque/cafe/bar.  We ordered cheese omelets which came on a baquette with delicious stretchy cheese and sliced tomato!  Truly wonderful along with coffee con leche and oj.  The proprietors were so friendly and as we were not rushing off to get to Leon we lingered, they wee playing wonderful uplifting orchestra type music.  Soon the lady of the alberque brought us out some tiny sherry glasses and pured us a shot of a great liquor (we had tasted it in 2011, but forget what it is called) some traditional drink she said would give us energy to walk!  She couldn´t speak English and our Spanish was rudimentary but we enjoyed our converse!  As always pilgrims visit the loo on the way out and when I came in looking for the facilities I indicated by a little swinging dance that I liked the music...another pilgrim did as well and we had a small arm twirl together hahahahing! Outside again we all wished each other buen camino, us 4 girls and the 3 fellows from Spain, Germany and Boston.  People from all over the world are here walking ¨the way¨of St. James.
We trudged on another 4 km, sun getting warmer to the next stopwhere we had limonade and called a taxi to take us the last 4km to our parador in Leon.  This parador is the flagship of them all.  The size and stunning beauty is so difficult to convey with mere words (Jeff, we must return here!) You must see this place !  It is so amazing.  All the pilgrim girls are feeling the same emotion and awe.
We left our bags with the concierge as our rooms were not ready and went out for lunch.  Across the ancient arched brick bridge for salmon salad, calamari, garlic prawns and crusty bread and vino blanco.  Our waiter then brought us a complimentary was the same traditional green coloured liquor, only this time instead of a shot glass each he gave us a small bottle which amounted to 3 shots each!  Then it was back to our parador to rest before heading out again.  Out again at about 7pm we walked by the hotel we stayed at in 2011 and realized we are here again on the exact same weekend this time. 
We had tasty pasta at an outdoor restaurant in the plaze San Isidora where we had seen an incredible light show on the facade....and we will see it again tomorrow.
The locals, tourists and pilgrims were out for tapas and socializing, it was a fine warm night and we enjoyed walking around and watching the scene and got back to our hotel at 12PM.

Thursday Sept. 19/2013 (continued )

Last night we had a dinner in a delightful room in an Alberque; the ceiling (outside) was created by a grape arbour and the walls were covered succulents, ivies and all sorts of healthy plants.  Dinner was gazpacho (yay!) second course hake and chips anda lemon fluff dessert that we haven´t had before.
A few other pilgrims were there as well who we had seen before, but it was a very small dining area. 

Thursday 19 September 2013

Monday Sep. 16

Breakfast was filling this morning, fruit, oj, toast, croissants, cafe con leche, yogurt, cheese, meats, as much as you want for 8.9 euros.  We had 17.5 km to walk with no services so we ate heartily.  By the time we left the San Zolo Monestary it was 9am, a bit late for pilgrims.  The road weas an old roman one, very long and straight.  We were all listening to tunes or stories from the vinyl cafe, so spontaneous laughter was erupting every so often.  There wasn´t much shade but I think we all felt the day was not so hard.  Nevertheless we were happy to arrive in Calzadilla de la Cueza for grande beers.  The population of this town is 60 persons! The internet is not working anywhere in town, so no blog again tonight....hopefully tomorrow.  We had pizza and another small beer and coke then off to our rooms for rest, showers and .... There is nothing to do here and going for a walk seems crazy when we have walked all day.  There is no supermercade, wlhen we came into town we saw a truck with a bunch of locals around it buying fruit and vegetables and there had probably been a bread man earlier.
We amusted ourselves by washing our clothes in the bathroom sink till it was time to go for dinner at 7:30 Tonight we were offered soup, salad and pork or turkey, everything comes with chips, which are usually lukewarm! We had 2 bottles of red and called it a night with a plan to hit the camino trail at 6Ñ30 and stop for coffee after l6 km.

Sept. 17 Tuesday

Early to rise today, we were walking under a starry sky, the milky way and big dipper.  It was the coldest morning so far.  We planned to stop for coffee after l6km but missed the only coffee place in town, so rather than go back we de3cided to go another 3km to the next place.  At 9:15 we were in a very nice cosy place , we had two cafe con leches each and chocolate croissants, did some foot repair and sock change and we were off again.
The terrain was mostly flat with few trees.  There were several little areas with a house or two where everything looked either abandoned or closed up tight.  At one there was a man sitting on a stool, at first I thought he was another pilgrim but then I saw he was dunking pidgeons in a boiling tub of water to remove the feathers.  I asked if I could take a photo via pantomine and I think he said yes in rapido spanish!
As the temperture rose we were changing out of jackets into coller attire.  The sun seems to be mostly on our left so if we appear brown on one side when you see us next .... that is why!.  There were underground wine storage places built into the side of the hill, they looked like miniature houses.
We arrived in Sahgun at 1:30 all of us hungry and looking for a room and beer.  We found a quaint hotel which was very clean, two rooms for 65 euros.
BVeers were next with olives and chips and cheese.  One thing we have noticed is the smokers and also the cigarette machines, which of course are a thing of the past at least in western Canada.
We went back to our hotel for a short rest before venturing out for internet and our last mean of the day. We had a map,m but it was till confusing, finally found it, I madly typed us up to date and we went out to the playa major and the restaurant recommended by our hostel  We sat inside at a lovely round table, eating smoked salmon salad with giant prawns and paella and a wonderful crisp bottle of white wine.
The wine, which we just order by saying tinto or blanco is always delicious. It was eleven before we went to bed for the night.

Sept., 18 Wednesday

We were off again in the coffe shopstill we reached Bercianos around 10am.  There was nothing but a cafe on the edge of town but there were clean bathrooms, good food, coffee and wifi so we were able to catch up on news from home.  I read the girls a lovely information email from grandson no. 1 Cameron, all about his first week back at Queens.v  The path today was long and straight and fairly flat so we were making good time.  Lots of pilgrims are limping along and bandages are in view.  The Spanish have planted some trees along the path to shade pilgrims and it is greatly appreciated.  We haven´t been in as many churches this trip, mainly because we find them closed.
I forgot to mention, a couple of days ago we walked with 4 interesting pilgrims from New Mexico, they are all volunteer fire fighters from 2 different stations, 2 women and 2 men, not couples just friends and coworkers.  We talked about where we come fron about our camino experiences, wish each other well and walk on.  We chanced upon them later in the day and I happewned to have my socks off airing my toes.  One of the women asked if she could take a photo of my feet as I had a few bandages on! We laughed and said she should have seen us last trip, these ones are mostly preventative.
We reached El BUrgo Ranero at 12.15 , early for us but we were happy to stop.  We are staying at an Alb erque in 2 rooms each with bathrooms, large garden and laundry lines, washed our clothes, showered and set out for lunch  Sandy and I had trout which wasd delish, our waiter, a fellow from Barcelona had just caught them yesterday. Joanie and Jan had nice chicken.  We also had melopn and ham, the melon here is excellent and much larger variety than we get at home. Joanie had sauted artichokes and a different ham sort of like bacon.  Very nice pilgrim food...better than usual. Beer and wine were also included of course.  Next we hit the supermercado for yogurt, water, chips, oj and wine.
Wine and chips were our evening dinner as lunch had been late and large.  We sat outside our alberque on a stone bench drinking wine from the plastic glasses we made by acutting of the top half of a small water bottle.!!  Inventive!
We watched whatever passed us by, anold lady out for her walk, around the block twice, a man herding his flock of sheep in from the field and probably the most beautiful sunset we have ever witnessed.  Oh and also an old man pushing a wheelbarrow full of giant sunflower heads and loads of beautiful yellow and ghreen gourds.  He broke off a section of sunflower for us and gave us 2 gourds.,We were tired and call

Sept 19 THursday

THis morning we walked with a full moon in front of us and a rising sun at our backs.  The landscape slowly lights up in the most incredible shades of red and pink, we keep turning around to watch the changes.
We went off piste for coffee about 1 km, extra mileage!  Coffees and panier cookies were delicious.  Heading back to the camino a man out in his garaden pointe4d us to a shortcut for which we were grateful....but it took us past some barking dogs so back we went not wanting to chance their temperments.,
We took another road and got back on track still cutting of a little.  Earlier we had walked with an Auzzie couple from Adelaide, She was a potter and he had been in forestry.  It is always nice to talk to other pilgrims.  They had been in Vancouver for a short visit in the 90.s
We are all enjoying the mesita and were surprised at the bad rap it has been given. Being able to see a 360 degree view all around unobstructed is something you don´t see often..
We stopped in Reliegos at a bar called Elvis, run by a french fellow in a black beret, we had ham, cheese and our favourite limonade.
Another 6 km and we were in Mansilla de Las Mulas where we have two rooms in a hotel up up up up the stairs....not many elevators we have found.
Jans son Jonathan has been sending us quotes which are provoking thought, .....thanks Jonathan!
The four Pilgrims have a poem as well-

Pilgrims four we seek our quest
We walk the trail and then we rest
Sunrise to sunset we  carry on
Simple days help the troaubles be gone
We tend the blisters on our feet
So the many kilometers we can complete
Pilgrims look forward to news from home
Encouraging emails, quotes and special poems
We wake up refreshed for a new day
Friends, laughter and wisdom, we gather on ·the way ·

All for now.......thanks for reading !!....the 4 Ps

Tuesday 17 September 2013

14 Sept. continued....

We came across an interesting alberque that was in an old church, it had only 12 bunk beds and pilgrims wishing to stay all contriubted to the evening meal.
There was a breeze blowing which saved us because it was till very warm.  Sandy had run out of water as we came into Boadilla, we heard of an amazing alberque there with a swimming pool, awesome breakfast and a little cafe.  We found it and sat at the cafe, which was full of people, and had 2 bottles of the most delicious lemonade (each!), removed our boots and aired our toes!  With 16 Km still to walk we didn´t linger too long.
Our walk took us along a canal which was used for irrigation of the adjacent fields.  There were a few trees so a little shade was welcome.  The terrain was basically flat, we wee all listening to ur tunes and were averaging about 4 km per hour.
>We arrived in Fromista at our prebooked accomodatin, changed our sweat soaked tops and proceeded to the bar for beer!  and chips, medicinal to replace all the salt we lost sweating. Showers and pilgrim dinner of spinach lasgna and salad, red wine and aqua.  Some young spaniards were staying at our hotel and soon they came out in their matador outfits (read tight) on their way to the bullfight which we learned was 10 km away. When they returned Joanie said one had blood on his clothing - so the bull must have been gored.  We are not sure if they actually kill the bull these days.  We had another glass of red and decided we should get some much needed sleep.  TOmorrow is not a mega km day but we still wnt to start early.

Sunday Sep 15

We left Fromista at 7Ññ30 this morning and walked to Carrion....20.7 km. We took the spiritual route which was a path beside a tree lined river, much more pleasant than the slightly shorter route which was a path beside the highway.  Along the way we stpped in Villalcazar de Sirga at a Templar church, we made it on time for 1 pm mass.  Before the mass we had a look around at the architechure, crypts, alters and stained glass.  Once mann started we were sort of trapped but we didn´t have the luxury of time to stay for it all and it was rude to leave part way through!  finally we got up the nerve to just get up and go.  Once outside we decided to stay in the town and have  a pilgrim lunch.  This comes with your choice of water or vino, of course we unanimously chose wine.  Bye the time we got back on the camino it was 3pm and the sun was hot.  We decided vino should in future wait till the end of the day.  By 4:30 we arrived at our place of rest in Carrion de los Condes, it was a monestary con verted into a hotel.  Very beautiful, after showers we had a walk around the grounds and the church which is in the process of renovation.  We didn´t want a large meal, having had a big lunch so we pted for the cafeteria and pizza and beer.  The server was a bit doubtful when we ordered 4 grande beer and he brought over an empty glass to show us the size.  He was quite surprized to hear us all say Si Si!  Ice cold beer! We love it.  Our conversation was a lot of fun as we made up poems and reflected on our camino both the one we are currently walking and the one we did in 2011.

Graeme sent us a poem and we would like to share it with all the blog readers....thx >Graeme

Four pilgrims walk the camino trail
To find themselves or to tell the tale
Of paths walked just to reach the end
With friends and bonds that will not rend
A spiritual quest, perhaps or not
A look back at life and what you¨´ve got
The simple ways of time gone by
The questions of ¨what¨or ¨why¨
But as the sun rises and you set off by foot
Remember that for you we root
And our love for you, you can depend

and then Graeme says.....not bad after 3 beers !!

Monday Sept 16

Breakfast was filling this morning, fruit, oj, toast, croissants, cafe con leche, yogurt, cheese, meats, as much as you could eat for 8.9 euros....We had 17.5 km to walk with no services.  By the time we left the San Zoilo monestary it was 9am, a bit late for pilgrims.  The road was an old roman one, very long and  straight. WE were all listening to tunes or stories from the Vinyl Cafe, so spontaneous laughter was erupting every so often.  There wasn´t much shade but I think we all felt the day was not so hard. Nevertheless we were happy to arrive in Calzadilla de la Cueza for grande beers.  The population of this town is 60 people! The internet is not working anywhere in town, so not blog again tonight, hopefully tomorrow.  We had pizza and another small beer and coke then  off to our rooms for rest and showers.  There is nothing to do here and going for a walk seems crazy when we walked all day.  There is no supermercade, when we came into town we saw a truck with a bunch of locals around it buying fruit and vegetables and there had probably been a bread man earlier.  We amused ourselves by washing our clothes in the bathroom sink till it was time to go for dinner at 7.30.  Tonight we were offered soup or salad and pork or turkey, everything comes with chips, which are usually lukewarm.  We had 2 bottles of red and called it a night with a plan to hit the camino trail at 6:30 and stop for coffee after 6km

Sept. 17 Tuesday

Early to rise today we were walking under a starry sky, the milky way and big dipper.  It was the coldest morning so far.  We planned to stop for coffee after 6km but missed the only coffee shop in town, so rather than go back we decided to go another 3km  to the next place. At 9:15 we were in a very nice cosy place, we had two cafe con leches each and chocolate croissants, did some foot repair and sock change and we were off again.  The terrain was mostly flat with few trees. There were several little areas with a house or two where everything looked either abandoned or closed up tight.  At one there was a man sitting on a stool, at first I thought he was another pilgrim but then I saw he was dunking pidgeons in a boiling tub of water to remove the feathers!!  I asked him if I could take a photo via pantomine and his rapid Spanish I took to mean ok!
As the temperture rose we were changing out of jackets into cooler4 tops. The sun seems to be mostly on our left so if we appear brown on one side when you see us next....thats why!   There were undeground wine storage places built into the side of the hill....they looked like minitature houses.
We arrived in Sahgun at 1:30, all of us hungry and looking for a room and beer of course.  We found a quaint hotel which was  very clean, two rooms for 6t euros.  Beers were next with olives , chips and cheese.-.
One thing we have noticed on our travels is the smokers and also the cigarette machines, which are a thing of the past at least in westrn Canada.
Well thats it for now.....the girls and I are off to find dinner.  THis is the first internet place we have found and there is only 2 computers....I had to wait for one to free up.....Hopefully they won´t be so few and far between in the coming days.
We love all the comments and encouragement from home....thx from us all. xx

Sunday 15 September 2013

Sept. 14 Saturday

Some of us are sleeping well, some nights, some not so well, we seem to be all over the map.  Last night was a restless one for us all and at 3:15 Joanie woke us all up saying we had slept in !  Get up,!  It was 8Ñ15 she said, . In a dazed state we all go up until moments later she said oh so sorry, I read my clock upside down!  With great relief we all went back to  bed.  At 7am we rose again, dressed and put on preventative bandages.  Downstairs we had bread, jam, oj and coffee and bananax.  It was 8>:15 when we exited the case and headlights were not required.  WE love walking when it is cool.  The first km was flat and then we saw the strenuous hill in front of us.  The sign at the bottom said it was a 12 percent grade.  It looked like a mountain!  Already the sun was quite warm.  We had not choice so one foot after another we were off.  The view on the way up and at the top was beautiful, fields of sunflowers, hay, like a quitled carpet.  At the top everyone was taking photos and resting a little.  We walked along a plateau for about 100 meters and came to a sign that warned of an 18 percent descent,  it was very steep so we had to engage in  cross hill walking to save our knees.  On the descent and back on the flat the path went by fields of nodding sunflowers, they look for harvest now, heads bowed all facing the same way in their straight rows.

More to follow as im using hotel desk computer and must go......

Friday 13 September 2013

Sept 13/13 Friday a 20 km day

FIrst of all, we are hoping you got yesterdays post in ENGLISH ! trouble with keeping this spanish computer in english!!
We arose in the dark, headlites on and began dressing and packing.  Once outside we sat in the dark on dewy chairs and ate yogurt, peaches and mixed nuts.  At 7am we hit the camino trail.  It was cool, Dark and quiet. Soon the sun was up but was not intense.  When it came over the horizon it turned the hay fields an incredible golden colour! The were illuminated with light, a miracle from above. The windmills were glinting silver as well.
After 11 km we stop for coffee and croissants in Hontanas , yummy, we had second coffees and hit the trail once more. On the outskirts of Castrojeriz we came through San Anton which is an incredible ruins, we walked right through it on the path as he workers were restoring it in the old way.  We arrived in Castrojeriz, a town of 600 inhabitants, so medium in size. The town is strung out in a 2 km line, it is a major stopping place on the camino with 8 hostels/casas. Our hotel/casa is 2 star, which may not sound like much by our standards but it is VERY nice. Up on the hill is a castle ruins where there would be a magnificient view, but we decided not to hike it, being careful of what we put our feet through.
After showers and laundry, which we do in the sink and hang outside on the rooftop garden deck we went looking for beer and early dinner. As we walked around the old stone streets we came across a hospital which was not really a hospital (go figure, maybe it used to be), but a kind of a sanctuary that had some beautiful pictures and sayings below. (Sandy bought a book and I bought a couple of cards). The building was very old and creaky in places, candles burning, and soft music in the background.  The fellow who was restoring it was there so we met him and thanked him for his efforts.
WE stopped in a bar and although dinner didn´t start till 6 the senor agreed  to seat and feed us early. We all had a fabulous lentil soup, tender beef stew and some disappointing pasta (note to self Spain is not Italy) a cold san Miguel beer and a bottle of red, rice pudding and creme carmel.A long walk back to our rural hotel, checking on our laundry.  Sandy has walked to the other end of town to 7pm mass and the other 3 of us are relaxing in our room for the night.  We will prepare our packs and lights out early as we have 25 km tomorrow with a strenuous uphill to start.

Trains, Planes, Automobiles......and Walking !Urgos and in that train cafeteria we had bacon butter and cheese bocadillos

Sept 12 /13
We left San Sebastian in the early dawn 7:30 and walked to the train station.  In the cafeteria we had oj croissants and cafe con leche! We boarded our 1st class seats and we were off to Burgos. 1st class was quieter than 2nd so only marginally better.  By 12:30 we were in Burgos and in that train station cafeteria we had bacon, butter and cheese bocadillos and water.  Outside the station we approached the first taxi in the queue and asked the fare to Tarjoes where we left our camino in 2011 and would begin again. It was 20 KM from Burgoes for 20 euros. We got off at the fuiteria in Tarjoes, filled our water at the local fountain and by 2pm were finally walking our camino.
It was very hot with a bit of wind, uncomfortable but bearable, we only had 10 km to go.  The fields were cropped as the hay had been harvested, sunflowers were drying in the fields. The path was rocky and there were lots of beautiful blue butterflies. We arrived in Hornillos del Camino at 4:30 which is a very small village, to find casa rurals (2) were full and the municipal hostel, which we usually avoid was also full! We were hooped, but for  5 euros we could sleep on the concrete floor in the sports arena. We accepted this as we had no choice and were given a mattress, blanket and pillow each. Creepy! Next it was cold beer and then a trip to the local grocery mart for yogurt and fruit for the morning.  Afterwards the pilgrim dinner, showers and bed.  Our plan was to rise early at 6:am and be on the road to hope for a better lodging tomorrow!

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Sept 11/13

To finish off....last night our pintxos were delish, as was the wine.
Today, after a fitfull sleep we ventured out at 9am for coffee and crossiants. YUM! Such great coffee, in small cups! Our bartender had also walked the camino in 1997 and proudly showed us his pilgrim passport and compestella! We left the coffee shop/bar to a most hearty Buen Camino ! After a short walk we found the train station that we will need tomorrow.  San Sebastion seems easy to navigate. We planned to purchase 2nd class tickets to Burgos but they were all sold out , we were able to get 1st class tickets for only 10 euros more, so we will see if the extra cost is worth it!
We had quite a long walk through the old town and on the promenade, weather was cloudy early on, but brightened up later in theday.  The bay is quite active in that there are small kayaks tossing and turning in the waves as they break on the shore.  Lots of surfers as well, all wearing wet suits.  The sand is so clean and incredibly smooth.
We visited a couple of cathedrals as well.
<We decided to have an authentic basque meal at lunch time, two kinds of fish, Dorado and Hake, both delicious, white fish, and a green salad which is basically lettuce, lovely bread, from what we understand the wheat here is not modified and could be the reason we love it so much !
We arrived back at our pension late afternoon and had a siesta till 6pm and then we were out again for the walk on the seafront, which if I haven´t said truly gorgeous.  We had a delicious cold beer and walked some more. We ended up at a bar we had visited the night before, right outside the door of the cathedral and had the best tapas so far for supper....goat cheese, walnut salad, calamari, foie gras, prawns and vino tino and blanco!  The Best !  Seafood probably caught just hours previously.
A slow wander back to our pension, La Perla, the streets were quite a bit quieter than they had been at 6 when a full band with amps was playing beneath our window.
A cup of mint tea, some email and bed, for a 7am wake up. Tomorrow our walk begins.

San Sebastion - Donostia

The train was busy so we were glad of reserved seats.  We saw a pilgrim girl from Colorado who was alone, carrying a pack that was literally as big as she was! Her plan was to camp, we were all thinking she would be throwing stuff out along the way. The train is a great way to travel, as long as you can find the dining car, which we did eventually...thanks Sandy for persevering, the tea was lovely and cost just as much as the next train fare! The trip was about 4 1/2 hours stopping at little villages all the way to Hundaye, where we got off the train, walked about 50 steps to Irun and we were basically in Spain.  There were about 12 more stops in tiny villages and we reached San Sebastian, or as the basques call it Donostia.  The drill is, follow the sortie signs once off the train....when we disembarked Jan and Sandy immediately threw their tickets in the trash, a mistake as they discovered they were needed to exit the platform, back they ran to rummage the trash! They found their tickets and I caught them on was a good laugh! We emerged in San Sebastian and could immediately see it was a lovely tidy town. After a 5 minutes walk we were at the cathedral and from their we found our pension. From our room window, just above the shopping street we can see the cathedral.  By the time we check in and dump our packs, try to get online, it is time to walk about ---down to the beach and out for tapas.  We chose 4 different bars. in the first we had the special wine that the region is known for (forget the name right now!) it is blanco! The bartender pours it from a great height - not sure if this is for effect or taste.  All very theatrical!  A lot of the tapas are seafood related, San Sebastion being known as a foodie city, prawns, crab, mussels, calamari, the special potatoes, bread, cheese, egg - and not a vegetable in sight unless you count potatoes. This was repeated four times - we are fattening up for the walk! which will begin day after tomorrow. Bed and checking messages ensued then sleep.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Arrived in PARIS

Sept 8/13
Pilgrims Four are out to finish the Camino.  Today we flew to Paris. Flight was OK for air transat.  We arrived in Paris and waited for our packs, which we had wrapped in various plastic bags to protect the straps and poles.  All was well and we stripped off the plastic, donned our boots and shouldered the packs. We made our way from T3 to T1 for the train, purchased 4 tickets for $38 euros.  Joanie had checked on line before leaving home exactly where we got on and off the train and then onto the metro.  We were all wearing our scarves so thought we looked ok, considering the rest of our attire!  We found our way out of the underground and spotted our hotel Odessa right away.
Our room is on the 6th floor, w people squeezed into the minute elevator and we ascended, reading the sign in the lift....max 2 people and 150 kilos!  We made it to 6 and our room has a renovated bathroom (yay) 2 single beds and a double. A little Juliet window to a pretty french street outside.
We were all hungrey so we pop`ped out round the corner to a cafe.  Joanie and I had fabulous duck confit and the specialty potatoes cooked with cheese and loads of was divine! Sandy and Jan had steak and pomme frites----steak not recommended.  We decided it should be left to North Americans.  Twice while there the lights went out completely, nobody seemed bothered, everyone went on eating and drinking.  After dinner we took a walk to find the train station, it is nearby so our morning is set.
Sept 10/13
We lost a day traveling.  This morning we left our hotel, grey sky, but dry.  We walked several blocks to the train station which was considerably bustling with people.  We purchased coffee, french was not fast enough but we managed to get ourselves understood....pane chocolate! , luncheon baquettes and pastries . We found a spot to sit and watched the departure board for the 10:30 train to Hundaye.  Lots of pilgrims going to St. Jean Pied A Port for the french route and those going north as we were.-  Train was busy so we were glad of reserved seats together., I can´t get my ipod internet working so am on the computer at La Perla in San Sebastion.  The girls are waiting to go out for tapas so must run.....will email when we get back tonight.  Mur xxx
PS I will write the blog in my journal and post when I can get on internet if I cant get the ipod working.  wish Terry was here to help !!  love to all