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Day 35 - Sarria to Portomarin

Date: June 8, 2015

Location: From: Sarria To: Portomarin

Mileage: 22.1 km

Weather: Beautiful with blue skies and cool temperatures

Temperature: Upper 50° F at 5:30 a.m. and 66° F at 7:00 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Pension Arenas - 21€

GPS Location: ’42.807501” N and ’ -7.615429” W

Highlights: Walking wooded paths with rock walls and views of the distant cities, looking at mountains in the distance.

Summary of the Day:

I got up at 5:00 a.m. and was ready to walk out the door at 5:30. I met up with Ross and Athenia in the hallway at the elevator. We were really looking forward to walking this morning even though we all knew that it was going to be an uphill climb. We also knew that we were going under the 100 km marker to Santiago and that we were going to need two stamps (sellos) per day from now until Santiago. My credential book is cutting it close as I have only six spaces left and that's if a stamp only takes up a single space and then it’s full. I am watching the stamps that I get to make sure that the one I get isn’t going to use two spaces.

Anyway it was totally dark this morning and we left by headlamp. I enjoy walking by headlamp. I find that it’s cooler and less traffic, both cars as well as Peregrinos. We generally get about an hour and a half before the sun comes up and it’s cool until about 11:00 when it starts to get hot, but by then we’re just about finished for the day. I have really enjoyed walking with Ross and Athenia. They are a lot of fun to be with and we have a lot to talk about and walk about the same pace.

We walked along and it seemed like it wasn’t going to stop going up, but finally it leveled off for a few kilometers until it was time to climb Alto Momientos and then there was a good but short climb and then a long steady drop down to the city. When you get to the bottom you have to cross the River Mino on a long narrow river bridge with car traffic and other Peregrinos. Of course I don’t walk the narrow catwalk sidewalk so I walked in the street. It was not pretty. Finally we crossed the river and waited a few minutes for Athenia and then we had to climb a long flight of stairs into the city, go through the archway to the entrance of the city, and then go on to our Pension where we were able to reserve a room with three beds.

When I made the reservation, I had forgotten about the one room with three beds and so I was explaining to them that it was three rooms, then I happened to read my notes. It’s bad enough eating crow in English, worse in Spanish. They understood and were very nice about it. We got our room and it was fine. It was clean and we had enough room. We went back down to the bar and got something to eat and sat there and talked to Mary and Michael who came in a little late. It was a great afternoon.

After eating lunch we went and walked around the city. The church was supposed to open at 4:00 to get our credentials stamped, but that didn’t happen. At 5:00, but after I had gotten mine stamped somewhere else they opened. Either way I got mine stamped and I was happy. Later we went to a nice restaurant and went in the comedor and got our dinner. It had been a great day and we were all tired so we went to our room and got ready for bed as 5:00 a.m. was going to come quickly in the morning.

That’s about all the news from here today so will bring you up on all the new info tomorrow. We only have four more days before Ross, Athenia and I split up and they head back to Canada and I head to Portugal to complete the Camino Portugue for about 12 days. I look forward to to walking the beach path. So until tomorrow I will say…Buen Camino.

Day 34 - Biduedo to Sarria

Date: June 7, 2015

Location: From: Biduedo To: Sarria

Mileage: 25.1 km

Weather: Beautiful with blue skies and cool for the early morning

Temperature: 50° F at 5:30 a.m. and 72° F at 4:30 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Oca Villa - 48€

GPS Location: ’42.775595” N and ’ -7.413389” W

Highlights: Views of the valleys below as I traveled along the rise up to Alto Riocabo with the cool mist of the fog blowing across the trail.

Summary of the Day:

I got up at 5:00 a.m. and packed to meet up with Ross and Athenia to get an early start heading into Serria. It’s supposed to be another hot day with a chance of thunderstorms. The three of us left at 5:30. It was a great morning for walking, mostly downhill and cool so we pushed right along. It seemed like in no time that we were in Triacastela where we had breakfast.

After breakfast and meeting up with folks that we hadn’t seen in a while, we started to climb up to the summit of Alto Reocabo, which had a lot of fog. It was interesting to see. The fog was blowing and was very cool and refreshing. As you walked along it blew and sprayed a fine mist. After coming down off the mountain the trail was a nice level trail and an easy walk all the way toward Sarria. About 3 to 4 km out of town the trail started a downhill path. Ross and I started talking about the increased number of hikers on the trail. Once you get to Sarria the bus people start hitting the trail to walk the last 100 km to qualify for their Compostelas. I expect that we will see more tomorrow as we get closer to Santiago.

As we were coming into Sarria there was nothing but a steady line of people coming down the street. I’m sure glad that I have a reservation at the hotel so that I know I have a place to stay, and when we get in I will start to book the rest of the time including my night in Santiago. I have been hearing back via e-mail and text messaging from other hikers that there are crowds everywhere and a lot of people in every town so they are having trouble finding lodging.

We finally got to Sarria and walked to the hotel. This is the same place that I stayed two years ago and I remembered exactly where it was. After we got into our rooms and cleaned up we thought that we would walk up to the church and then to a local bar to get a glass of wine. When we were heading to the Bar we read a flyer that said it was a Festival day of Corpus Christi and a flower parade. We were there at the start of the parade outside of the Church. It went up to the end of the street and back to the church. We got involved with that and after it passed we then sat down and had a drink. Ross needed to go to the outfitter and see about a new pair of shorts so we took off and went down to the Peregrinoteca outfitter.

After all purchases were done we headed back to the room to do some chores. For me it was washing and drying my clothes. I have a small balcony and can string a cloth line to dry my clothes. Then it was off to dinner. Tonight I tried a roasted pork and it was pretty good, but of course it came with a large side of French fries as usual. I did have my usual salad which was also very good and then ice cream for desert.

After dinner we got our lodgings booked for everyday except this Thursday and that will have to be done tomorrow. My biggest worry was getting into Santiago on Friday and not having any place to stay. I found a place on Booking.com and then called my daughter Kelley and got her to book it for me as I won’t do it from my IPad here. Today was a great day. It was a good walk, and good weather, all lodging issues were solved and I had good conversations with Ross and Athenia as well as some folks that I haven’t seen in a while. I couldn’t have had a better day. It’s hard to believe that I only have six days left on the Camino de Santiago from St. Jean to Santiago and also with the group that I’m with. Starting on Sunday I will be on the Camino Portugue's for the next twelve days walking from Porto, Portugal back to Santiago de Compostela. This is a path along the Atlantic Coast. It will be fun and different. While I look forward to finishing this path and starting a new adventure, I will miss the company and companionship of my new friends. We still have a few days left together and I will enjoy it for as long as possible. So it with that I will close for now and report tomorrow's adventures then. Now I will bid you…Buen Camino.

Day 33 - Ruitelan to Biduedo

Date: June 6, 2015

Location: From: Ruitelan To: Biduedo

Mileage: 23.9 km

Weather: Beautiful blue skies and cool breezes early and warmer later in the morning

Temperature: In the 60s° F at 5:30 a.m. and 72° F at 5:30 p.m. and then 61° F at 7:00 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Hostel Casa Quiroga - 35€

GPS Location: ’42.742942” N and ’ -7.178091” W

Highlights: Views from O’Cebreiro, beautiful views from O’Cebreiro to the Hostel

Summary of the Day:

I woke up at 4:00 this morning, but didn’t get up until 4:50 and finished packing up and was ready to leave at 5:30 with Ross and Athenia. We wanted to hit O'Cebreiro early. It was a nice cool morning even though I was wearing a short sleeve shirt. It seemed like we hit the peak in hardly anytime. It was so beautiful going up that you couldn’t stop looking at the views off to the valley below. There were a lot of people doing the same thing that we were doing. I guess everybody wanted to see the sunrise. There was still a lot of full moon left in the sky and the sun was breaking over in the eastern sky as well. From the top you could look down and see a sea of fog below. It was slow to burn off and for that matter we had come down off the top and were already over to Hospital de la Condesa and still saw fog down below.

By the time I had gotten to Aldo do Polo it was down right hot and Athenia was really starting to feel the heat. She appears to suffer badly from the heat so that’s the reason they like to leave early. I just like to leave early and I’m glad they do too. I really enjoy their company and conversation. They are fun to be with. We finally got to the Hostel in Biduedo around 12:45, but we had stopped back up on O’Cebrereiro and looked around the gift shop for a little while and also made two Café con Leche stops along the way, which were not only wanted but badly needed. When we got checked into the Hostel we got cleaned up and went back up to the little Bar/café and had a cold beer to help cool off. After the little socializing it was time to do the domestic chores of washing up the clothes.

As the day passed I noticed that the temperatures were dropping and I needed my light weight fleece shirt and socks back on and the heat was on in the rooms. Tonight's dinner wasn’t anything special to “write home about," so to speak, but it was pretty good. I had a beef steak with, but what else but French fries. It was pretty good and the first course was the Galician soup, which was pretty good. It wasn’t as good as the squash soup of last night though, but good, and for the desert I finally got my Flan, yeah! After our dinner everybody seemed to head back to there room and start to prepare for tomorrow and go to bed, which is what I’ve done and now will head on off to bed myself. So on that note I will say good night and… Buen Camino.

Day 32 - Trabadelo to Ruitelan

Date: June 5, 2015

Location: From: Trabadelo To: Ruitelan

Mileage: 9.1 km

Weather: Beautiful Blue skies with light breeze

Temperature: Mid 60s° F at 6:00 a.m. and 73° F at 5:30 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Pequeno Potala – 37€ including the best dinner that I’ve had on the trail

GPS Location: ’42.672920” N and ’ 6.966937” W

Highlights: Nice easy walk up a small lazy road with no traffic

Summary of the Day:

I slept in this more until 6:00 a.m. as it was going to be a short day and there was no rush because the place we’re staying didn’t open until until 1:00 p.m. The three of us (Ross, Athenia, and myself) got up and slowly packed and then went down to breakfast. The hostel owner fixed a really nice simple breakfast for us, café con leche and toast and jelly, all we wanted of both for only 2.50. This was actually inexpensive as most places that I went charged 3.50. We all finished at about 7:20 and put our packs on for the short walk to Ruitelan, only a few towns up the road. We just walked along and talked and in no time we were there.

It 9:45 and we went to a little Bar ate a full breakfast and then went to the local park and rested in the shade. It was a great way to spend the morning. There were a lot of folks passing by as the headed toward O’Cebreiro and we were glad that we decided on a short day to avoid the up coming heat of the day as well as battling for a bed in the only albergue up there. We will have our own bedrooms and a good meal and plenty of rest for an early climb in the morning first thing.

It was finally 12:45 p.m. so we packed up and headed up the street toward the Albergue to get in our rooms. After we got registered we were told that our rooms were down the street and that dinner would be served at the Albergue. I wasn’t sure how far away it was, but it turned out to be across the street from the park that we had being sitting in. It was great only about 2 minutes away. After we all had settled in and gotten cleaned up we realized that this was a good decision and that in fact we weren’t the only ones to do this. It turned out that a couple of other people did the same thing in anticipation of the mid-day heat up to the 81° F that was was predicted. They told us not to eat a big lunch meal as the dinner was going to be great and big so we needed to leave plenty of room for it. The rest of the afternoon I have just sat around and rested.

By 5:30 in the morning, I will be ready to climb. I look forward to seeing the sunrise over O’Cebreiro. It is a 9.6 Km climb to the top so I hope to watch the sun come up while having a café con leche.

Well I just got back from dinner, and they were right about the dinner being large. It was one of the biggest meals that I’ve seen here. This has to be the best meal that I’ve had in Spain. They started off with what I think was a type of squash soup (which was out of this world), then a salad made on a bed of lettuce with slices of tomatoes and a soft white cheese, then topped with a little oil and vinger and English walnuts. After that they brought out bowls of spaghetti with a type of white sauce and with small bits of ham and bacon in it. Every bit of this was served family style, and at the end there was a pudding or custard dish. I know it was good because we had a table full of people and when the platters and serving bowls were put on the table every bowl was full nearly to the top and when we got up from the table all bowls and everyone's plate was completely empty and just about scrapped. This was a meal to remember.

After dinner you could see people going back to the Albergue to their beds or like Ross, Athenia and myself heading back to our rooms and preparing for bed. Today was one of the best yet on the Camino, good company, good walk, good place to stay, good food and good rest to prepare for tomorrow. It keeps getting better everyday. Looking forward to tomorrow. I only have about seven days until I get to Santiago. Will keep you posted and as always…Buen Camino.

Day 31 - Cacabeloso to Trabadelo

Date: June 4, 2015

Location: From: Cacabeloso To: Trabadelo

Mileage: 20.9 km

Weather: Beautiful blue skies, but unbearably hot

Temperature: 60s° F at 6:00 a.m. and in the upper 70’s F at 5:00 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Hostal Camino y Leyenda - 20€

GPS Location: ’42.649342” N and ’ 6.881614” W

Highlights: Going through the new grape vineyards and at the same time seeing the beginning of the cherry orchards. Seeing the old church in Villafranca. The climb out of Villafranca up to the high mountains. All the views back toward Villafranca as well as the new view of the mountains.

Summary of the Day:

I was up at 5:00 a.m. and walking out the door at 5:45. I did hear Ross and Athenia leave at 5:30. I thought it sounded like rain but never saw any. I caught up with Ross and Athenia in Villafranca in a nice little Bar/café eating breakfast. I stopped and had a good coffee and sweet roll. I love the sweet rolls here; most of the time they are fresh and warm. It just doesn’t get any better.

After a little while we packed up and left town. I remember this town from two years ago. What a neat little place! I walked by the hotel that I stayed in last time. It was a great stay on the river and all for just 45€.  We crossed the river and turned to go one of the three route that were available. We chose the mountain route. I went this way last time. This route is really up hill and for a long time, but it is worth the work to get to the top to see the views down below from up above. The highest peak on this run is 935 meters and steep.

I was pretty far ahead of Ross and Athenia, but I knew that they were coming so I pushed on. There was one park where you come to an intersection on a small dirt road/track. It had a sign that said Bar to the right. Well I remembered it from two years ago, but just past that the trail got a little confusing so I left a note for Ross to make sure they turned to the left and go back into the woods and then I moved on. I came to another crossing where it was even worse because the blazes had been just about wiped out. I sat and waited for Ross and Athenia but they never showed up. I finally left a note in the middle of the trail with the directions to go and left. I hadn’t gone more than 2 kms when I came upon some Brits and asked how they got there. They told me the they walked down a road and reconnected with the trail farther down and when I asked if they had seen a Canadian couple, they all said yes and that they were ahead of me. I hurried a long but never caught up with them.

After I got in to my hostel and cleaned up I went to the little mercado down the street to get some fruit and that’s when I saw them walking up the street all cleaned and polished. I asked them how they got down and they too had come the road route. It seems like they had re-routed the trail through the section and I had come the old way. They were staying in the big albergue. I said that they should move to the hostel where I am. They came and looked at it and decided to move in. They were happy and the owner was really happy and shook my hand and said "gracias" several times. It really was a great place to stay. He was a great host, and even prepared dinner and breakfast for us.

The rain came in for a little while late this afternoon, but was I able to wash clothes and get it in the sun to dry before the rains. The day overall was a great day and it only gets better as we get closer to Santiago. I had been doing some planning a couple of weeks ago about a short day at some point and it was looking like with the extreme heat coming and the climb over O Cebreio that short day may be closer than I thought. I had mentioned to Ross a few days ago about prepping for the climb and staying just before the climb and walking a nice distance after the climb because lodging was very limited up on the top. I didn’t mention it anymore until today and he had been thinking about it and they had thought it was a good idea. It was decided that we would only do a 10 km day and finish around 10 a.m. and rest for the next day. After that we went and turned in so we could get an early start for a nice cool “Nero Day,” a short distance day, less than 10 and yet more than 0 miles.

I can’t believe that time is flying by this fast. I only have 168 kms left from St Jean to Santiago and then after a day of rest it’s off to Finisterre and Muxia. But for now I’m still working my way to Santiago and enjoying the walk, so as always… Buen Camino.

Day 30 - Molinaseca to Cacabelos

Date: June 3, 2015

Location: From: Molinaseca To: Cacabelos

Mileage: 21.1 km 

Weather: Beautiful with blue skies, no clouds, no wind and rapidly increasing heat

Temperature: 66° F at 6:00 a.m. and 77° F at 5:30 p.m.

Lodging and Cost: Hostal Santa Maria - 30€

GPS Location: ’42.599568” N and ’– 6.724398” W

Highlights: Walking on level terrain, seeing the Templar Castle in Ponferrada, and getting into town before it got too hot.

Summary of the Day:

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. to the sound of a dog barking. It continued for a while and finally I drifted back to sleep. My alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. and I got up and finished packing and was out of the door at 6:00. It’s funny after the day from Astorga and the crowd, it’s back to me alone first thing in the mornings and after a short period of time this morning there are still only a very few people on the trail. I do believe that will change though as it’s getting very hot early and more and more people will want to beat the heat as well as we get closer to Sarria. In Sarria the the bus people will arrive. The bus people are those that only have about one to two weeks to hike and they know that if you walk 100 km then you can get your Compostela for completing that section.

Anyway I was out on the street by 6:00 a.m. and walking out to the main road. I remember this section from two years ago. It goes to the main highway and turns left and only walks for about 100 meters then turns off by a house and walks down a dirt path and continues on until you cross the highway farther up. Well, when I got to where I remembered it turned off, it didn’t have a sign so I stayed on the main highway. When I looked back there were about eight hikers back there, so I figured they knew something that I didn’t know so I kept going. I walked for a long time and there were no signs. I kept looking down toward the woods and I just knew that was the right way to go. I finally saw an opening into the woods and thought that I was going to go that way at least for a little while just to check it out so I pushed into the woods at the next opening. I walked along the path just to see where it was going to go. At that time I thought I heard something behind me and when I looked back everybody that had been behind me on the road was following me. I still hadn’t seen blazes and wasn't sure of where I was or going for that matter. I just hoped that I was right because if not there would be plenty people pretty ticked with me. Fortunately the trail came up to where it crossed the highway and we crossed it.

Shortly after I moved away from all the others on my way to Ponferrada. It wasn’t too long before I got into the city at the Templar castle only to find it closed and wouldn’t open until later that day, so I missed seeing the castle again. I did get a picture of a Templar Knight on a Templar Tour and he let me take his picture though. It was right after that that I came up on a bar and there were the two Canadians, Ross and Athenia, eating breakfast so I stopped and had something as well. Shortly there after, they left, but then Michael came in to eat as well, so I spoke to him and left right after that. I wanted to get the next 10 kms done before it became really hot. I was still moving pretty quickly. It was pretty cool and the sun wasn't high. Before I knew it I was in the small town of Camponaraya where I saw the Brits taking a break for café con leche so I decided to stop and visit with them for a few minutes and then move on.

Right after I started to move again I saw a Santander Bank down the street, so I decided to go get some cash out just in case I needed some before I got to Santiago. I also checked to see if the bank was open. They were, so I felt safe pulling money. I caught up with Ross and Athenia and we walked a good distance together, but then moved on and was surprised to have gotten to the outskirts and in no time was right downtown Cababelos and at my Hostal.

The Hostal is really nice. It is clean, roomy, and priced right. It is in the center of the town so I don’t have to walk all over the town to find stuff. Later that night a group of us got together for something to eat. I have been having a really good time lately. It does seem like everyone is starting to look at the end and beginning to plan their finish in Santiago. I just hope that it’s not like a mad dash to the finish and you can’t get a place to stay. I guess we will find out in a few days as I believe that it’s only about eight days until most finish or at least we all reach Santiago. I hope that I can book rooms. But until then I still have O Cebreiro to go over and there is limited lodging there so I will probably stop with a short day and then move quickly over and beyond it. Time will tell in the next few days but I still several weeks in Spain.

It appears that another good day was had by all and everybody is looking forward to the next week or so as all feet and bodies are getting in shape, and with that I will report all the news from the Camino and bid you a… Buen Camino.

Day 29 - Rabanal Del Camino to Molinaseca

Date: June 2, 2015

From: Rabanal Del Camino To: Molinaseca

Mileage: 25.6 km

Weather: Beautiful blue skies without a cloud in the sky. Still a little too warm for me.

Temperature: 60° F at 6:00 a.m. and 75° F at 4:30 this afternoon

Lodging and Cost: Casa Rural Pajarapinta - 35€

GPS Location: ’42.538004” N and ’-6.520736” W

Highlights: The big full moon as I was leaving Rabanal at 6:30 a.m. and the views back down off the summit of the mountains that I had to climb to get to Foncebadon. The Cruz de Ferro and finally the views of the summit of a mountain past the village of Riego de Ambrose when you can get to the edge of Pomferrada and the two giant nuclear stacks that were letting off steam.

Summary of the Day:

Today was a great day. Woke up at 5:00 a.m. And finally got up a few minutes later. I got everything packed up and decided to walk out at 6:00 a.m. And I glad that I did. I had forgotten that there was going to be a full moon last night. My walk this morning started off by climbing up the mountain and the moon was still high in the sky. It was so bright that I didn’t even need my head lamp. About 6:50 the sun started to come over the top of the mountain behind me, but the moon was still high in the sky. I finally got to the top and to the little village of Foncebaden where I had breakfast where I had it two years ago.

I met a nice couple from Canada, Ross and Athenia, who were hikers in Canada so we had a lot to talk about while we ate. They finished and headed on out to the Cruz de Ferro. It was a nice walk on to the cross. I got there shortly after they did. I brought two stones, one for the Cruz de Ferro and one for the end of the world in Finisterre. They came from Mt. Baden Powell on the PCT and the other came from Mt. Katahdin in Maine. I left the Baden Powell stone. After having my picture taken at the Cruz, I moved on.

The trail was pretty easy and very well marked in this section as it headed down off the mountain. I continued down a nice 2% down hill grade until I reached the small! Very small village of Manjarin and then it made one final climb up to Mt. Alto altar. When you reach the summit it puts you out on the blacktop road which walked level for about 4 km then it started to go straight back down hill on the road. I noticed that there was a trail back off the road a ways so I pushed through the weeds and found the Camino was over there. I left the road while others thought the road was easier and took it. I was up higher and I could see the the road wound around and was half again as long, not to mention hot on the feet. While mine wasn’t easy it was far better than the one on the road.

I finally got down to Acebo and remembered I had stayed there two years ago and kind of wished that I had stayed there again as it was starting to get hot fast and my feet are started to burn again. From that point I still had another 8.1 km to go and a lot of it was a road walk. At last with hot, sore feet I came into the outskirts of Molinaseca and made my way to my Hostal. It is great and for 35€ it was really worth it.

After cleaning up I walk back through the little town and saw Michael sitting with a man, so I went and joined them for a glass of wine. It turns out that the man, Wayne, was in the insurance business in South Africa. He was biking the Camino and was very interesting to talk with. Even after Michael was gone, Wayne continued to stay and we talked for another hour. Finally I left and went back to my room for a short nap and then to dinner.

I went to a hotel restaurant and again service was poor and the quality of the food was very lacking. After that it was time to head back to the room as it was about 9:00 p.m. And it was going to get dark in about an hour and a half (10:30). I was going to start my packing for an early departure.

Again it was a good day and I’m glad that I pushed out the extra miles because it looks like a little easier terrain tomorrow and it’s going to start getting very hot by noon so I can do a little more distance and still finish before it gets too hot. So with this day closing, this is about all the news from the Camino for today so I will bring you more news from the Camino tomorrow. Until tomorrow I will say... Buen Camino.

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