Thursday, 29 September 2011

Thur 29 Sep - Pleasant evening in LVdC with what may be the last meal with Claire and Sara as they are keen to reduce their days to SdC and want to walk further than we plan to tomorrow. So buon camino C and S, we hope you have a good trip. I think that C is just trying to avoid cooking a meal as she has spent so much time telling us what a good cook she is! Also managed to find smeagol's (Ian's) favourite food last night which I know should be 'fishesss' but is really lasagne. Managed to take some pictures of 'The Shire' in the last 2 days so you will be able to see a Hobbit and his house when I next upload the photos. Cannot upload yet as there is only wifi here at the moment and I think the speed will be too slow using my tablet. It was an overcast day to start with but quite mild. COP start but it was 8hrs and19kms before anywhere was open and then breakfast was an icecream! Now stopped at Villares de Orbigo in a new AdP that is very nice. Only 2 beds in the room with a communial bathroom and a lovely courtyard, all for 10 euros each. They have a kitchen that we can use and our selling the local, good, wine for 2 euros a bottle. We head through Astorga tomorrow and the final stop is tbc depending on how hot and tired we feel tomorrow.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Wed 28 Sep - Good afternoon in Mansilla de las Mulas. There was a large market in town with food and all the other things you would expect. In fact although MdlM was not a big town it was quite busy and had a good selection of shops, bars and restaurants. Bought a spit roast chicken (a diesel chicken to those of us that lived in Napoli as there always seemed to be diesel fumes nearby then) and some green chillies for our lunch. Meal out last night was again excellent - wait to you see the pictures in a few days - Jamie Oliver would be pleased with the presentation - and all for 10 euros pp inc beer, wine and water. That said i have had a little indigestion the last few days, I normally have an 'actimel' or similar each day at home that seems to keep it at bay, so I bought some yesterday all all seems well after I drank all six of them! COP start and unusualy there were a number of cafes open before 0800. Must be the influence of the big city. Got to Leon at just after 1000 and stopped for a coffee. Saw a few churches and walked on through to La Virgen del Camino, although by the look of this place it has been a long time since it was a virgin - probably pre biblical. Had booked an AdP here but did not like the look of the place so we went back to the main street and booked into an hostel. It cost 40 euros for the two of us with two single beds and a private bathroom. No clothes washing facilities but I asked a cleaner very nicely (with my 'I am a pathetic man face on) and she kindly offered to do it for free. I did insist on paying! Ian and I do tend to walk at different paces at different times but it seems to work well as it gives us some solo time and whoever is in front just waits a little at any significant junctions. Off to Hospital de Orbigo tomorrow. Temp about 25 deg at the moment but was only 17 deg at 1000, howeve, it is a little warmer in the mornings again and we are back to starting off in our tee shirts. All typed on my Archos 101 using the screen keyboard and the hostels free wifi.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tues 27 Sept - Pleasant evening last night with good food. Spent 1hr looking for the local shop and finally found it in a small backstreet and it had no fruit to buy!  There was not even a simple sign from the main street to say where it was!!!! To bed at 2200 for a good nights sleep in sheets.  COP start except that the destination (Mansilla del las Mulas) was the first stop at 1130 as there was nothing else on the way.  Now drinking my first coffee having just had a croissant (nothing else available) while we wait for the municipal AdP to open at 1230 - hope we get a bed.  Flat empty walk today mostly along the old roman road called the Calzada Romana.  Now 17 days into the trip without a full rest day and I doubt that we will take one except in case of injury. Feeling quite weary today and my feet ache after 25 kms on a lumpy roman road.  It seems that the flat roads make the journey appear longer as you can see your destination in the distance for a long time.  Much better to crest a hill and see that the next place is at your feet!  That is about all for today as the letters on this keyboard are almost totaly warn out so typing is a bit of a guess.  In fact I am surprise how few mistaks I have made.  Tomorrow we head for Leon, but will not stay there.  Destination tbc.

Monday, 26 September 2011

New way for photos - either paste this link into your address bar http://picasaweb.google.com/103003301116145034549.  or click here

Or go to picasaweb.google.com  click in area that says ´´explore public photos´´ or in spanish ´´....o explorar foto publica´´. In top right hand corner search (in spanish Buscar) mikesroaming.  You should see some photos.  Them click on the link that says Per camino Sept 2011 then you should see a page with the current 4 albums on it.  Click of double click on the photos.
 Mikesroaming photos to 26 Sep 2011
Mikesroaming photos up to 23 Sep 2011
Mikesroaming photos to 22 Sep

Initial Mikesroaming photos
Mon 26 Sep. All fine last night with a meal that included veg for the first time since we started the walk!  Sara, Cs friend arrived safe and sound at around 2100 so now we are 5.  COP in the morning on the way to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos (pop 200 so a big town!).  Unfortunately, after about 5 kms M had to declare himself out of the game as his blisters were bleeding.......  He now intends to stop at Sahagun and get a bus or train to somewhere else on the route so that his feet get a rest and so he can get to his plane OK in Santiago.  So buon camino Mark and we hope the rest of your journey goes well.  Then again maybe the troll disliked the sunlight and had to go back under his bridge.

A fairly straightforward walk today of 27 kms, with a couple of awkward turns to take over motorways and roundabouts.  The last 9 kms was on a very flat and empty path which felt like it was going on for ages.  Flies again a pain, but decided to wear my cap backwards to confuse them - plan did not work, flies are clearly stupid.  Arrived at CdlH at about 1230 having booked 5 beds yesterday (yep Spanish is improving) that said there was much confusions when I tried to explain that yes we did book for 5 but nw we were only 4!  Ian solved this by holding up 5 fingers, shaking his head and at the same time making 4 fingers whilst drawing his hand across his throat!  Much hilarity, but still not sure if they think we have killed the last person for snoring too much!  The AdP is called Via Trajana and is by far the best so far.  It appears to be new and everywhere is very clean and smart.  A four bedroom room that shares a men´s and a separate women´s bathroom with 3 other rooms that would look good in any of our houses.  In fact Christa would be content in this place and it is only 15 euros pp.  Lunch was excellent so we are looking forward to dinner tonight.  Maybe the wine will not be chilled this time!  I will try to find an alternative way to post the photos this afternoon, but I need to sort out the washing first.  Off to Mansilla de las Mulas tomorrow.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

At last Smeagol has got the code for the Blog. To understand this chapter of ¨A HOBBITS TRAIL TO SANTIARGO¨ you will need the following information and a little knowledge of ¨LORD OF THE RINGS¨

Master or Frodo is Mike
Smeagol is Ian
Precious is the Map
Orcs are Other nasty hikers who snore worse than Master and shine tourches in your eyes early in the morning:
She Orcs is a Shiela Called Clair
Troll is a german called Mark with very large underpants and lots of blisters

There are just a few things that Marster forgot to put in the BLOG they are as follows

Master Lost Precious ¨Master lost the Prrecious¨ Smeagol help Master, yes Smeagol find precious for nice Master, but Master still won't let Smeagol look at precious, no Master keep precious hidden from Smeagol.

Master get Precious wet Yes Master get Precious wet. Smeagol helps Master and dry Precious,  Master rewards Smeagol with nice lunch, yes nice Master, but Master forgets to pay, Master tricksus yes Master tricksus.

Snoring  Master snores like a 747, yes Master does (oh no he does'nt), yes Master blames Smeagol all the time, Smeagol not snore Smeagol never snore.

Hotels Master promise hotel for Smeagol, Master books rooms for Smeagol, smeagol put in room with 30 nasty Orcs, snoring Orcs nasty Orcs, nasty Master yes nasty Master, Master tricksus again.

Pic Nic Nice She Orc make pic nic for Master and Smeagol, yes nice she Orc.

Coffee Stop Master must have coffee in morning, yes Master must have coffee, no no not yet Master Smeagol smell coffee for Master 10 more km, Master whines, Smeagol find coffee for nice Master.

Master Lost   Is this the way Smeagol, yes yes Master Smeag√≥l will answer yes we must go this way Master must follow Smeagol, Smeagol look after Master.















Sun 25 Sep - A quiet night with chilled wine (again) and ok food.  Must go to a real resturant soon instead of the pilgrim´s meals in the bars. COP start from Carrion heading towards Terradillos de Templarios which is about 27 kms, but with 14 kms before the coffee and breakfast stop.  An almost straight track for 85% of the way following an old roman road, ok it is efficient but very dull walking.  Most peligrinos have the odd blister or 2 by now and there have been a number of treatments.  However, the best at least for prevention seems to be Compeed (trade name) which comes as a roll on stick to try to prevent blisters and as a plasticky plaster if it gets worse.  Both seem to work if use early.  Thereafter, for rubs and blisters on toes the tubes of silicon like material covered with material seem excellent.  These tubes come either ready cut or as one long piece that you can cut to size.  They then just slip over the toe and work very well.  I had a small blister on my little toe and used one of these today and it felt perfect. In the event of a fully developed blister the best treatment still seem to be to drain it (needle or syringe) and clean and dry it with something like surgical spirit - then use a Compeed plaster.  Flies have been an almost constant nusiance and on the trail you seem to collect your own colony that fly around your head and into your mouth and nostrils.  Most uncomfortable, but we got our own back last night when we used rubber bands to shoot them off of the ceiling, its amazing how accurate you can be. Many people use poles to walk with and I use a single one for steep ups and downs.  Some use 2 but I cannot see the benefit and the click, click, click as they walk along a flat gravelled path is most annoying, especially in the quiet of the early morning.  I noticed today that again the route information says we are half way between St Jean and Santiago I guess it must be true by now.  There are also lots of cyclists on the route which can be a little annoying as they have a tendency to zoom past without slowing down or using a bell as a warning.  I guess they assume we can hear them but when we are walking on the stones and gravel our boots often make too much noise.
I must have seen more sunrises in a row since starting this walk than I ever have before.  It is about 0800 before the sun is above the horizon and it was still chilly at 0900.  That said by midday it is well past the mid 20s. Got to TdT just before 1300 and my Spanish is improving as I called ahead to book the beds.  A good AdP (probably the best to date) with 4 to the room (1 bed empty - reserved for S see below) in proper single beds and sheets again all for 8 euros pp.  A simple lunch of rolls and a meal cooked by the owners tonight as less than a 100 people live in the village so there are no bars - but ther eis a large church!  The village name refers to the Templars as this was one of their last strongholds and the AdP is named after the Templar's last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay. C is happy today as her friend Sara from Australia has just landed in Madrid and is planning to join her for the last half of the camino either tonight or tomorrow depending on the trains.  I think she may be in for a shock given that C has been walking for over 2 weeks so is already camino fit.  Off to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos tomorrow.

Sat 24 Sep A quiet night in Fromista with the worst meal so far and they are chilling the red wine again! England played darts against Germany, Denmark and Australia after dinner and even tho it was 3 against 2 England won. M and K left at 0500 as they planned to walk further than the standard, by the book, leg today. Otherwise, a COP start with breakfast at about 0830. A very large cup of coffee and a large cup of hot chocolate for C plus 3 portions of tart all for 5 euros. It was a rest day today as we only walked 20 kms to Carrion de los Condes. As usual, it is dark when we start but we do not need lights as the moon and stars provide enough illumination. Many others do use torches and headlamps but this just stops your eyes from adjusting and we have managed to educate a few peringrinos about this but by no means all. Very frustrating when someone shines their light right in your face! For most of the walk to date the areas have seemed quite poor and the overriding colour has been brown. I have also seen lots of houses, mostly extremely old, that are made of mud bricks and I have seen the bricks still being made. The siesta is still firmly upheld through the parts of Spain we have seen so far and this is true of the larger towns as well, I think economic recovery will take some time. When we were were about 5 kms from todays destination we got a text from M to say that he had some bad blisters so he had stopped at CdlM so we met up again in the main plaza. Stopped at a Hostel instead of an AdP this time. Not sure of the actual definition between them, but for 15 euros each we have a 4 bedroom room, ensuite with real beds and sheets...... For a change today we had a picnic for lunch in the main plaza provided by C, but still not sure if she can really cook as it was just salad and cold meats. However, she does cut rolls, cucumber and tomatoes well. Not internet or wifi in the town so this will be posted when I next get a connection. Have seen some comments about people not being able to use the photo links. Not sure why as I did test them from where I was. You can try to copy and paste the links and otherwise I will see if I can change something. However, it will not be from this PC as the @ key does not work, I copied and pasted that one, and many other characters do not work. Ciao.

Friday, 23 September 2011

You should find photos up to 23 Sep here https://picasaweb.google.com/103003301116145034549/23DeSeptiembreDe2011
You should find photos up to 22 Sep here https://picasaweb.google.com/103003301116145034549/MikesRoamingTo22DeSeptiembreDe2011
Fri 23 Sep - Finally found more than the single horse in Castrojeriz as there was one small area with a few bars and resturants - not that there were any signs to tell you. I bet they sit in their bars some days wondering why no pilgrims or tourists visit - well it is because no one can find you! COP start although it is getting nearer to a 0615 start for the walk as we are becoming much quicker at getting ready. The real curse of the AdPs are the bag rustlers and light flashers. Those who want to get up and leave from around 0430 onwards and make lots of 'quiet' noise. I now think that the best AdPs are those that have a 2200 curfew and do not allow any early leavers but put the lights and music on at 0600. A common discussion on the way is about how much each rucksack weighs and what could have been left at home. I walk with about 10 kgs which included about 2 litres of water (1.5 ltr of which are in a camel back which is essential for long distance hikes). It seems to be about the right weight and I no longer suffer from camino shoulders when I first take it off. That said I know I could carry less. For example I have my walking shoes, my running shoes and some flip flops ( thongs for my aussie readers - which makes for some interesting discussion when you ask to see someones thong!) - I now would be content with my walking shoes and some 'hiking' sandles that would take the place of the running shoes and flip flops. It is getting light slightly later now, nearer 0740 that the 0715 at the start, but we had a fairly simple day today with the last third being alongside a canal into Fromista. One of our group was suffering a little from bruised feet so I went on ahead to secure the beds and then walked back. I did see some pedalos on the canal but could not find anyone to hire them from - it would have been fun to sail up the canal to pick up the last person - the Royal Navy comes to the rescue! ( For those that do not know I served in the RN for 35 years!) Got to Fromista at just before 1200 when the AdP opened and we passed the half way (by distance) mark today. Group now reduced to 5 as Lena has walked on further today so `'buon camino' Lena. I think Karsten and Mark will be walking further than us tomorrow as well. Mark´s flight has been changed so he has less time and K is also on a schedule. Claire will be with us for another day or two but then she is waiting for a friend from Aussie to join her. Off to see the joys of Fromista now - at least it has a supermarket!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Thur 22 Sep - A fairly quiet evening with a simple meal at the AdP. As we finished the meal earlyish we went down to the bar and I laid out a snakes and ladders game on the squares of the plaza for a little fun. Much jovality as we played the pieces ourselves. Even though the village only had 1 small bar and 1 smal AdP it had wifi for the whole village - an interesting priority as the place appeared fairly run down. COP at the start of today although the first coffee and roll was 4 hours away, but we did get a peach earlier. Made slightly slower progess today but we only had 26 km to do to get to Castrojeriz and we arrived at around 1pm. Ian has collected a blister on the way, which he proceeded to treat by injecting surgical spirit into the area to make it better!! On the way we passed through Hornillos del Camino which had the first shop we have seen on the camino that was open early (0730) and that catered for the pilgrims by having rolls, drinks and other small items for sale. It has been quite surprising how few of the locals have taken advantage of the business on their doorstep. In fact most places seem dead until well past midday. I expect it will take them a long time to get out of the current economic crisis. We also passed through Hontanas today which was truly the first place we have seen that really looked 'pretty' with well maintained properties and a selection of rooms, bars and resturants. Thought things were looking up for today's end as it is a larger town, but once more there appears to be only 1 horse here. On the walk today it was good to start seeing a few trees again after the brownness of the previous trails. Still sunny at 28 deg at the moment and luckly as we are mostly travelling west the sun is on our backs and left hand sided. I think we made be browner on one side by the time we finish. So far the forecast is to remain dry - we do hope so. When we arrived here the first of 2 AdPs was full (a privately run one so normally fewer people to a room) with 4 of our 'group' getting in, so Ian an I went on to the next one which is a municipal AdP with about 30 people in 1 room some on the floor. But at 5 euros inc coffee, tee and bread seems OK. Off to Fromista tomorrow. As a side note to the photos (which I will add titles to if I get a chance and the inclination) you should be able to see that most days start with a `dark´sunrise shot and I also try to get some pictures with the location names. In the end the tee shirt colour should give it away as I am currently wearing the red one on odd days and the blue one on even days!!! New Phots here - https://picasaweb.google.com/103003301116145034549/MikesRoamingTo22DeSeptiembreDe2011

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Wed 21 Sep - Good meal last night, in fact the best so far. For 11 euros we had a very good wine and a choice of potatoe and bacala(sp) - the salted cod or a good mixed salad or bacon and tomato pasta. Main course was roasted pork, fresh salmon or meat balls - all which were excellent. Pud was ice cream, rice pud or a type of panna cotta. Overall a good night and for all my lady readers I can report C has stated that the she wee really does work, although you evidently must have the extension! And at this point I must say hi to Cs mum - Andrea -- who is reading this in Australia. Before I forget the riddle answers are a towel and a stamp.Had two people respond on the blog with the stamp answer - one being my wife Christa but none for the other. When we got back to our room we heard that Martina got to the village previous to us ok so it was good to know she was fine. At least this means she can get to Burgos in time for her flight home. We were very sorry not to be able to say goodbye properly over dinner. So Martina if you read this - buon camino and we hope your forthcoming hike with your partner in the Andies goes well and he does not find it too touristy! Today was SOP (now to be called COP for Camino) with a longish 30 kms to a small place called Rabe de las Calzados about 13 kms past Burgos. Stopped for about 40 mins in Burgos while Mark bought some new trainers and while we waited Lena caught up with us once more so now we are 6. When we got here 1 of the 2 AdPs was shut but luckly the other one had some spaces left. Only 1 bar in town with a few rolls and nothing for the evening except tortilla and wine at the AdP so I guess that will be it. Not sure if there is wifi here so will upload when I can. As for the discussion today it seemed to cycle around what names the Aussies have for other women inc - cougars which are older women that chase young men and prawns which are women (normaly older) that have good bodies but not good faces! Could bring a whole new meaning to a prawn sandwich or a prawn cocktail!!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

20 Sep - Fairly standard evening with Ian and I eating with Kerstan, Mark and Claire. Martina ate at a different AdP with another lady she met previously on the camino and they went to mass afterwards. We tend to keep meeting up with people on the way as we each walk at different paces and choose to walk different distances each day. In fact some people also choose to miss some stretches and take a bus. Also some only stay for a week or two. This morning was SOP and we left Martina behind after a few kms as she had a sore ankle and also did not want to be in Burgos for another two days so we went on with K,M and C to Atapuerca which was about 6.5kms beyond our original destination as we made very good time with light feet. Had a few riddles on the way provided by C but no answers yet. They are -what goes around the world but stays in the corner and what gets wet as it drys - answers would be useful. We seem to be corrupting the Aussie girl C as she has just done our washing and is now planning to cook tonight - hope her mum reads this blog and sees what good marriage material we are making her! We got to here at about 1330 and have had lunch so once the blog is done it is just relaxation until the meal tonight which should be spag bol if the 1 shop has the ingredients otherwise it is off to the resturant again. I will publish this when I next have wifi as there is no internet here so I am typing it on my Archos. I will also add more titles to the phots when I get connectivity and time.

Monday, 19 September 2011

You should find the photos here https://picasaweb.google.com/103003301116145034549/MikesRoaming?authkey=Gv1sRgCKGQhLy1ycCptQE
Mon 19 Sep - First I will have to disappoint you as we did not go to mass - it turned out that the choir was the day before so no good reason to go.  Tonight we met up with a few people from earlier in the walk which was nice.  Very surprise to meet a lady called Lena (Hungary) again as we last saw her on the second day of the hike when she was walking on instead of stopping. Thought she would be 2 days ahead.  Also met up with Claire (Aust) and Mark (Ger) who we left some days ago as they were much slower than us and Mark had sore feet. So we all went for dinner together and had a very pleasant time that of course involved some wine and good food - all for 9.40 euros.
Today was SOP (planned to start later as the walk was only 24 kms today but we all woke up at 0600!!
Chilly day compared to the rest with many people wearing 2 or 3 layers - I am still in my tee shirt. Simple walk but too close to the road to be really good and arrived in Belorado at 1200.  Just had a shower - no hot water!!! Will go out for lunch in an hour or 2.   Plan is to go to St Juan de Ortega tomorrow but as there is only 1 AdP there with 60 beds we may have to go on 4 kms to the next place, but we shall see.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sun 18 Sep - Good night at Ventosa.  The local restaurant (there was only 1) wanted 15 euros for the pilgrims meal so we decided to cook ourselves!  There are 4 of us walking together at the moment - me, Ian, Martina (Italian) and Kersten (Denmark) - so the Englishman (me) cooked the pasta and the Italian did the salad!!! Kerstan supplied the beer and Ian did the washing up - yes Diana it is true and I have the photos.  Talking of photos I will try to upload what we have so far and put a link on this site, but it will have to wait until I have a good internet connection.
Today was SOP.  However, the way of the pilgrim is definitely getting to Ian as he has started to point out all the different flowers to everyone.  Must be something happening to us all as we are going to mass tonight!!!!! But I am only going to listen to the choir........ No Ian is not going........ Evidently, as one of the other pilgrims told us, it is traditional to put a stone in your shoe for at least the last day´s hike to Santiago so that you suffer - so we told the lady that we will drink heavily on the night before the walk to Santiago and walk with a hangover.........
Arrived at Santo Domingo de Calzada at 1330 after at 33 km walk in cloudy conditions which was good.  Luckly, all of the ehavy rain showers passed us by.  Off to Beldoro tomorrow.
Sat 17 Sep - Well last nights meal was the best yet - pasta to start then pork loin with potatoes and peppers and a bowl of yogurt to finish. Plus a good bottle of wine for 9.50 euros. All this in a hotel restaurant - I wonder what their guests think of our special camino menu and price?? All followed by a good nights sleep as we had good beds and even Ian did not snore. SOP for the rest and I will add this to the SOP 'walk for two hours then have a coffee and a piece of tortilla'. Good flat walk today with partialy cloudy skies so the temp remained in the low 20s. Up to now the land has been fairly dry with lots of grapes, figs and other edibles that have all been tasty. Got to Ventosa today just after 1300 and checked in to a very nice AdP for 8.50 euros. Washing done, lunch eaten so now a rest and chat until dinner. Off to Santo Domingo de Calzada which is about 33kms. Feet and legs still good.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Fri 16 Sep - Not the best of nights as the locals were up until 0200 and all the very bright lights stayed on all night throughout the village. Made worse at around 0200 when they appeared to be making a lot of noise just to keep us pilgrims awake. Given our general tiredness and tendancy to get up at 0600 i was somewhat annoyed and explained to them that i considered them to be very rude. Went back to my bed and they just got more disruptive so my diplomatic envoy paid a visit (that would be Ian ) and explain without words what they should do (I think it also involved food as I did hear him say 'come and get it'). They finally left at around 0230. However, I was wide awake by then so strolled around the village until about 0430. Added to this Ian went straight to sleep and proceeded to snore at high volume until 0600 - made worse by the echos in the space......... So up at 0600 and walking by 0630. Anyone reading this and planning a camino should at all costs avoid Villamayor de Monjardin as they clearly do not want the pilgrims there. So off for another moonlight walk and even saw a bright shooting star - so wished for pestilence for the people of V de M - or at least the cold and sore throat than we pilgrims have given to each other over the first few days of the walk. On a brighter side my little keyring led torch - £3.50 from ebay as recommended by my friend AJ - has proved invaluable during the first hour of the days walk to see the camino signs. Also as Christa packed my medical kit I have had everything I need (Lemsip, painkillers for my sore throat and cold ) as well as being able to help my fellow hikers. Got to our destination, Viana, at 1330 (another 30kms) to find the CdP closed for 3 days! Luckly, a lady saw our plight and said she had rooms. There were 4 of us at the time so we had 2 doubles for 20 euros per person, complete with showera,sheets and towel. Now just cooling off till dinner at about 1900 then hopefully a good nights sleep. However, Ian is sharing with me!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thurs 15 Sep -   Last night´s dinner was fairly standard pilgrim´s food - pasta with cheese and toms to start, chicken and chips or sausage eggs and chips (my favourite) for main and then an ice cream, yogurt or similar.  Losts of chatter around the table and the glass of wine came in a pint jug!

In future Standard Operating Practice (SOP) for the nights is sleep at 2200 and up and walking at 0630.  Todays start was SOP.
Plan was to walk to Estella which is about 22 kms but we got there at 1100!  Stopped for a light local delicacy of a fried sandwich with ham, egg and cheese and a short rest.  Consulted the book and decided to walk to Villamayor de Monjardin which is an extra 8 kms with a steep climb at the end, but the views looked to be good and there were 2 AdPs there.  Unfortunately, one of them has a collapsed roof so the other is full!!!  The next option is another 12 kms in the full sun (about 35 degs today) which is too far for us old people.  We have therefore taken up the kind offer to sleep on the floor in the mostly covered racquet court next to the bar.  At least it is free.  Shower was 2 euros and the bar serves food later.  Only problem is that is is now only 1400 and we cannot sit in the ´bedroom´ until 1800........   Still plenty more waitng with us so should be a fun night. Ian is wondering where the 5 star hotel alternative is......... Met one young girl (17/18 ish - has just left school) who is walking by herself, using the rivers for a shower and camping out) makes me feel like a whus (sp?).  Still, all set for tomorrow and feet and body are still in one piece.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Wed 14 Sep - I think a theme is developing.  Bed at 2220 (later than usual but then we got told off by matron for staying up..... we were watching Chalet Girl on my Archos.) up at 0600, even tho the wine was good last night - 7 at the table with 2 bottles but unfortunately only Ian and I to drink it and someone came over and gaves us another one (is that a reputation????) and off at 0630 in the moon light.  Don`t know what we will do when the full moon has gone or it is cloudy!  A good days walk of about 20 km plus 4 for the detour to see the `famous` 8 sided hermitage at Eunate - the hermit was out - probably because he was fed up with 300 plus pilgrims and 10 coaches visiting every day.  Talking of coaches, don´t you just hate it when you have walked 18 km to vist a special place to find a coach full of tourists pulling up 2 mins before you and filling the place!!!!!!!!!!! Ended the day at Puente La Reina at the Albergue de Peregrinos (last time i am typing that in full so in future either hostel or AdP) Santiago Apostol.  One of the best so far at 8 euros for the night plus 10 for the 3 course pilgrims menu with a flask of wine for dinner.  Best of all there is a pool!!!!  I can tell you that I have paid good money for holidays with a worse set up than this place - for further details as Christa about Turkey........ As a minmor note my few weeks of  basic Spanish have paid off as the other night Ian (Bilbo) went to the bar to order 2 beers and some rolls and the lady behinh the bar just looked at him and said No.... then turned to me and said ´get your friend to order as he can speak Spanish!!!!!!   So in my far less than perfect Spanish I say ´2 beers please my friend will pay´ priceless.  That is about it for now.  Feet and body still all seem fine and the hostellier last night thought that if we had survived the first 3 days we should be OK.  However, we will still be carefull and keep to the books plan of around 20 to 30 km a day.

P.S I should mention that Ian is not the only 1 to leave items behind as I left my shower bobble thingy for soaping off somewhere............. Still the Fairy soap and hands seem OK.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Tues 13 Sep.  last nights hostel was not the best and we have seen bad student house that were worse.  Ian was on the bottom bunk and every time he turned over the beds shook like a building in an earthquake.  Also the matress was so thin that even I could feel the metal underneath.

Last nights pilgrims´ meal was 11 euros and we had pasta, beef stew with anchovies (Christa knows the recipe!) and icecream for pud - I left the ice cream but hobbits seem to like ice cream as much as lamlass bread.
Once again lights out at 2200 but people started to get up at 0530 so by 0600 we were up and started the walk by 0630, again under the full moon.  Gentle walk today as it was only 21 kms and we seem to average about 4 kms an hours at the moment.  Got to Pamplona at 1000, which was 15 kms into the walk, before the shops opened so had a coffee and beakfast.  Then went shopping with Ian and our new Danish friend called Karsten as Ian wanted a new rucksack (and can´t resist shopping as his wife knows) and Karsten wanted a walking pole.  Had a 50% success rate as Karsten got the pole.  Two hours laster we had lunch in Pamplona - I almost chose the ham eggs and chips - and then walked the final 6 kms to Cizur Menor.  Good hostel here and all the washing is done so now we just wait for tonight`s meal and I expect it will be bed again at 1000.  Off to Puente La Reina tomorrow which is a 21 km hike.
Mon 12 Sep - to bed at 2200 last night as that is when the doors close and the lights go out.  They then came back on again at 0600.  So a quick dash to the bathroom to beat the rush - I expect the ladies are even worse!- but then I should ask Ian as he was in the ladies side last night! Started the hike at 0630 this morning so a good job I ordered the full moon as it was dark until 0715.  Good start in bright moonlight but the sun soon got up and by the end of the day it was around 32 deg.  Good walk today with another 30 kms completed without trouble.Got to Larrasoana at 1300 and waited for the hostel to open at 1430 and NOTHING elase was open.  As a side note I am starting to wonder how Ian mangages at home as he has already lost his soap and thought he lost his flipflops as well.  No wifi again so this will aslo be uploaded later.
Feeling smug having completed the first leg of the hike and survived without injury. The first leg is the hardest as it is one of the longest and it is the most strenious owing to the 1400 metre climb. It is now 1630 on Sun 11 Sep and the hostel is booked as is the meal for tonight and the washing is done. We are now sat outside a bar drinking a long cool lager shandy.  In our normal fashion we have been talking to peole all day so as they have passed us they have either just said hello or sat down with us for a drink. It would seem that our apparent popularity was not that common as one lady felt she had to come over to ask us if we were famous!  We of course told the truth..............  Off for dinner at 2000 for the pilgrims menu at 8 euros so that is about it for now as the meal inc wine and we have invited all of our new non drinking friends to join us.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Well we are here.  Easy Jet did their job and got us to Biarritz and the mini bus company picked us up and got us to St Jean by 4pm. Please excuse any typos as this machine I am using (in a bar!) only has spell check in spanish and a sticky keyboard!!!

When we arrived it was 32 deg and the 50m walk to the hostel looked a long way up hill.  Still got to the hostel in one piece and it proved to be a very clean and welcoming place.  Plenty of good food with a little wine and almost a good nights sleep - if Ian tells you he does not snore its a lie!!!  At the hostel we were asked to introduce ourselves which Ian did with greal aplomb - including his statement that he had the feet of a hobbit which they all found amusing.  I now call him Bilbo. I just said ´'I am with him'.

We walked today from St Jean to Roncesvalles which was about 30 km mostly up hill, but we made it without any problems. Have now booked into the next hostel - which again is very clean and well run although it must sleep about 300 people on bunk beds....... We have now had our first beer and have booked our pilgrims meal for tonight.  Next update when we get a connection.

Mike & Ian

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Its 0830 on Sat and I am packed and ready to go.  No more auditing of the pack to see if I can make it any lighter!!  It currently weighs 8.4 kg without any water.  Off to Gatwick shortly to the joys of Easy Jet for our flight to Biarritz. With luck the mini bus company I have contacted by email will be there to pick us up and take us to St Jean Pied di Port.  We will stay there for the first night in a hostel - it is 8 euros for dinner, bed & breakfast - indication of times to come!  We should start the walk on the next day (Sun 11 Sept) when we have a 33km walk up the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles.  Hopefully, I will get the chance to update the blog by then.

Mike

Friday, 2 September 2011

Introduction


Camino de Santiago
I plan to start this walk on 11 Sep 2011 with my friend Ian. This walk is approximately 800 km (500 miles) From St Jean de Port in southern France over the Pyrenees and along the northern part of Spain to Santiago de Compostela. However, if we have the energy and the will we will probably walk the extra 100 km to Fisterra on the coast! We will fly out on 10 Sep 2011 and plan to start the walk the next day.  It will take about 35 days if we walk every day.
The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain owes its origin to the discovery, in what is now Galicia, of the tomb of the Apostle James the Great sometime early in the 9th century. It probably achieved its greatest popularity in the 12th century, when it came to rival Rome and Jerusalem as goals of Christian pilgrimage, and though it declined thereafter, it has never been entirely forgotten. In recent years it has seen a renewed surge of interest, and in 1987 it was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe.