Monday, September 29, 2014


It seems nearly a week since we left Karmela at her little alburgue. But it's barely fortyeight hours. 

We went fro beautiful and ancient to beautify and modern. Gontan was as sleek and modern as they come. Comfortable too. The only complaint would be for one more pot. There was only one. One pot, 26 beds!  Yet Dominique managed to cook us up a delicious dinner for six. Dominique, Chantal, Damian, Gabriel, Ray & I feasted on pasta with chorizo and tomato. 

Well rested we pushed on to the municipal alburgue in Vilalba. As sleek modern and bright as Gontan was vilalba was not. It's got potential.  It's one huge,three story stone block. Looks some on the outside and striking in its own way. Then you step inside to this space that could be amazing. But for the fact that it's all ALL painted brown. Chocolate brown. Shit brown. All the walls. In every room.  Ahh well. And in the kitchen, one pot. One pot and thirty six beds!! Somehow Dominique still made amazing pasta for dinner. Pasta with fish and tuna and calamari!

Six hours later:

We are in Baamonde. Ninety six beds. One pot. One very small pot. I think Galicians have a wicked sense of humor. 

Dinner tonight out did every other so far on the Camino. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mountain hideaway

Last night we shared some thing probably few are lucky enough to have a chance to enjoy. Directly on the Camino del Norte is a little piece of Galician Heaven.  

O Bisonte. A private alburgue that our friend from Germany, Damian found. The owner/hospitialiero was Karmela. An artist and fascinating woman. 

The house is "two kilometers" past Mondenedo. Straight up!!! But that also meant we didn't have that part of the climb first thing in the morning. Gotta stay positive. 

We climbed. And climbed up a tiny local road. Up up up!! A quick call to make certain we hadn't passed and we  kept on walking. 

Then we saw it. No missing the bright red Bison. Or our friend Dominique, with his bright shirts, bandana tied over his bald pate and his even brighter smile. We'd made it. 

If you have walked in Spain you've seen the beautiful old stone houses. Slate roofs and half open doors. Naturally shaped wood over the doors and windows. A real feeling of being a part of the landscape. 

Our beds were in the attic. The beams were entire trees! Curved and smooth. The wood above was also simply a slab cut from a tree. You could see the slate tiled in spots where the tree slabs didn't meet.  

Our beds were simple iron with very comfy mattresses. Karmela left a fresh apple on each of our beds. Shades of things to come. 

Dinner was  pumpkin soup (homegrown pumpkin!), followed by pasta salad with ham and queso and tortilla de Espana.  The eggs too were from her chickens. Wine to wash it all down. We ate outside on a picnictable watching the light changing on the hills opposite. 

The only sounds during the night were the snorers. And an occasional dog somewhere up the valley.   

At 7:15 am we were all moving snd ready to begin our day. Karmela gave us a terrific breakfast. Cafe con leche, tostada, local honey, home made apricot jam, muesli, and fresh orange juice. 

Fortified we took the hills like champs and made Gontan by 1:00pm. Two vino tintos and two cerveza con limon (at two different bars - spreading our economic impact) we are settling in for a communal dinner. 
Tonight we cook in our alburgue. Pasta con chorizo, tomato salad olives and bread. Vino of course. Dominique will be our chef de cuisine. 

Friday, September 26, 2014


For having my own plug for charging our phones! 

Gratitude for fresh Zumo de Naranja! OJ !

Gratitude for company ! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ha so you thought you had your day planned!!

Gotta be a bit quick!! Tired as all get out. Our "just" 20km ended at more like 22 or 23 km!  Which matters to your feet and your head on a bright and sunny day on the Camino. 

We successfully ditched 1.5k at the Correo this morning.  Yeah!!  That also got us off to a late start. Like easily a half hour later. So at 9 am we left Ribadeo.  Beautiful city where we enjoyed a delicious dinner with a couple from Quebec. 

The way out was a little hard to follow at first. But it was a beautiful climb and the views and houses were amazing. 

Our goal for the day ? Gondan. Only to find pilgrims we knew trying to decide of they too could make another 2.1km!! The beautiful alburgue was cerrado! Closed! So on to San Xusto. We made it and have beds for tonight. 

So dinner was/is at the local bar (restaurant/coffee bar/bar) boccadillos!! Boccadillos means literally little mouthfuls/little bites. Well they must be some big folk that call these little. We had atun(tuna) with lettuce and tomato.  With Mahou cerveza (beer) delicious!! 

We were careful to make a break every hour today. Horray iPhone!! It kept is from pushing too far too fast and being toast. 

Tomorrow Mondeneda. We hope. 

La Caridad with none to spare.

Tonight we slept in the quiet sleepy(especially by Spanish standards) little town of La Caridad. Charity. Apparently male Perigrinos especially from Mediterranean countries are exempt from showing it. 

 They were a large group. Deep voices. And a seeming inability to pack their things with out talking about it. All this at just after 5am.

 They are gone now. My spouse has rejoined the snoring concert on the upper level. 

Me, I just finished packing most of my gear (a fair bit of his too)   Now, at 6:30 chillin for a few before we begin our walk to Ribadeo.  

5.5 hours later!

Chillin again half of today's walk in and we're in Tol/San Salvador having our usual cofee and Nestea. Bar nuts included! God I love Spain. Nine kilometers more before we find a bed. 

Most of the morning walking with a couple from Quebec. They have been walking the whole route since San Sebastian.  We parted here in Tol as I was hell bent on finding an Aseo (aka bathroom). They were just eating their sandwiches at the crossroads. Lovely couple to spend a mornings walk with. 

Boring a weather talk can be, gotta say its beautiful today. It was 55 when we started and is probably 70+ now with a cool breeze off the ocean. Wonderful. 

A few hours later!! The days walking is done and so are we. The albuergue was completo. No big surprise as it has only 12 beds. So we're in Hotel Rosmary. Immaculate.  In the center of town. Room with private bath. 35€!  We would have spent 10 for the alburgue. So this is a deal. 

So now a little about today's walking. Or a little more. After we parted from the Canadian couple, we ate at the nearby bar.

 From this point forward the "way" and I use the term very loosely, was on the road. Not next to. Not parallel. ON the road.   For most of the nine km.  An occasional side walk when in a village. Otherwise every truck or car that passed we would stand facing the road to make ourselves as small a profile as possible. As unpleasant as the mornings walk was lovely. This piece needs to be reworked. It's seriously dangerous.  

As dangerous as this bit was, crossing the Ria de Ribadeo was cool. Really cool.  The walkway was narrow, barely 36 inches. But the view was worth every hard foot fall on concrete!  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Had in Barcelona!

Ahhh such bummer of a story. I took such great pains to pack carefully. Made sure we had duplicated certain critical items. Things like phone chargers and adapters.   

So what happens when your in a hurry as the taxi company is calling (my second phone call in espanol)? You grab the phone grab the cord pull and run out the door. Woulda been nice to have taped them together as I'd read about someone else doing. But no. I didn't. So a room at 290 Mallorca Barcelona now comes with a free American adaptor. 

While Barcelona is a beautiful city with sh has a slightly darker side to her soul. She's considered the pick pocket Capitol of the world. We may not have had our actual pockets done or our purses, but our packs were pilfered when we went to fly to Asturias. They got Rays tiny bag of electronic goodies worth only a few dollars all told. A battery charger for the camera he brought. An extra card for pictures.  $25 bucks I. Amazon. Max. But priceless when your 3000 miles from home moving across the countryside like a snail, your back pack now your home for more than 16 days. 

But karma, she has a sense of humor too. We had a small plastic bag of sterilizer for our water bottles. Labeled with instructions. I've done this before w checked bags. No problem. Well about the time I discover we have no phone chargers, I find the One Step cleaner is gone. I now have the hilarious vision of some lowlife hood snorting cleaner.  Priceless.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Best laid plans!! God is so laughing.

Wow. No other words for today (and yesterday's time in the Camino del Norte. 

To begin we were having too much fun visiting with friends in Barcelona. Way to much fun. An evening on the beach with fire works and delicious food. We got to bed late. Spanish early (Laura was heading to a party after dropping us off!) at 11:30.  

While someone fell asleep instantly )and I'm not pointing any fingers ) I took a while to nod off. A little more than an hour later someone (again no names) wakes me up. No more sleep and a taxi coming at 5:15! Lucky me. Although I'm pathetically proud of my first two phone calls in Spanish. All by my self. 

The taxi was prompt, courteous and quick. Wish I could say the same for Vuelings check in lines. But we got thru and had an hour and a half to spare so of course we hunted for Jamon! 

The flight to Asturias was one and a half hours. The bus into Aviles was quick and believe it or not came with wifi! On the bus. Alsa, you rock! (That's the main bus line in the area)

In Aviles we grab another bus to Novellana. It dropped us at a tiny round about or circle kinda in the middle of nowhere! And we were off! As any experienced pilgrim knows, y'all don't start walking nearly 20 km at noon!! But we did! Brilliant us! 

The route where we began was to be polite, rather sparsely marked. And unfortunately for us a fairly strenuous one. It was supposed to be our third day by my original plan. But mi spouse wanted to cut a day or so to allow for a rest day of needed, or more time in santiago de compostella. So what should have been for Camino tested legs was done on tired,virgin legs. 350+ meters of elevation gain! Ha! We were spent. 

As always though Camino angels turn up just as you start to panic. We turned down a dirt rap as the arrows indicated. It was rocky. It was steep. It went on for ever. It ends in a small beach. There doesn't seem to be any way out. Except one. The way we came. Please God no!  Then there appear two people. Also pilgrims taking pics on the rocky beach. They showed us the tiny marker about 50 meters back and almost hidden in the weeds. The way continued and we weren't all alone. Yeah!  

Well it continued. Up. And up. And more steeply up. At one point when we finly saw a small. Country train stop w a shelter we sat and spent some precious roaming data to check a map. That helped in making choices. Choices that saved our tired hides. One arrow pointed us directly back down the hill. Nope. Not gonna do it. I'll take the high road thank you very much. 

When we meet our Camino angels later they told us what a great choice we made. They were completely spent from that last round of ups and downs. 

So we ended up in Cadavedo at around 6:00pm. Late. Very late by Camino standards. At least how I'm accustomed to doing it. Usually it's in town and in an albuergue by 3 at the latest. So we followed them to the hotel they'd prebooked. Ha! We got the last room. For 42 euros to was heaven. So, should you ever be in Cadavedo, definitely check out Hotel Astur-Regal. Small , cute, friendly and most important of all clean! And very good food. Or is that my hunger? Nah it was very good. 

Today's route was much easier with only one nasty climb after Canero. And that was rough but we did it. From there o. It was really quite nice and only rarely along the actual road. 

The final leg ony to Luarca was great.  Sunny as all get out, fresh breeze off the sea and gardens to die for. One person even left a basket of apples for pilgrims to grab if they wanted. 

The descent into downtown was steep. But worth it. All of a sudden you come around the corner and wham there it is. The beautiful little harbor sitting in the sun. Brilliantly colored boats anchored all about. It looks like some thing from Thomas the Tank Engine or a storybook  

Do we continued down lured forward by the hope of a beer, a bed and some food. 

On the way there is a lovely arch over the street.  There is also a sweet looking young local boy. So in my very best Castilian I ask him to photograph us. Por favor. "Si, ?Los Ustados Unidos? Is what I get for it! So much for my pride today. 

Tomorrow, Pinera. Now - DINNER!