Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Blood-red poppy of the Camino



Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them both in a much more flattering resolution.

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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Lightweight hiking for a day

It was another cold morning on the Camino. After breakfast at the albergue we left Hontanas behind and ventured into the cold. At half past seven it was a mere 5 degrees Celsius (41 ºF). We were not expecting such cold mornings at the end of May. Actually we were at approximately 870 metres above sea level at that time and such temperatures are probably pretty usual for the time of year.


This was day 12 of our almost one month long Camino de Santiago adventure. Click on the Camino de Santiago label to see all related posts.



Luckily when sun got up we felt its warmth pretty quickly. It did not take long for air to warm up and we were forced to loose a few layers in a matter of minutes.


I had high hopes for this day. Despite my tendinitis problems I was expecting a relatively easy day without the weight of my almost 10 kilogram backpack. As I already mentioned we decided to fill my backpack with all our heavy stuff (obviously not counting my camera) and send it from the albergue in Hontanas, 34 kilometres ahead to Fromista.


I have to say I was a bit disappointed at the beginning of our daily hike. I hardly felt any difference despite the lack of my heavy backpack. My leg was still far from OK and I felt a sharp pain with every step I took.



Our first stop was at the ruins of the fifteenth century monastery dedicated to Saint Anthony (Convento de San Antón). It was one of the first pilgrim hospitals. It had to be a magnificent building at that time.


Flat landscape with endless wheat fields continued for the most of the day. From time to time bright red poppy patches could be seen in the distance.



The only exception were a few lonely hills just after the town of Castrojeriz. The road lead us right over them. Surprisingly going up and down was a nice variegation after a few monotonous days.
We both enjoyed climbing up the hill and loved the view from the top. I did however have a few problems going downhill. My leg was killing me and I tried everything to make it better. After zigzagging down the hill I even tried walking backwards for a while. It helped a bit but it still hurt. It was pretty funny though.


Most of the afternoon we walked along an old channel (Canal de Castilla). It was built at the end of 18th century to ease the wheat grain transport from the province of Castilla to the northern harbours and to transport other cargo inland from the coast. It had to be a huge project back then.
Nowadays the channel is used for irrigation of nearby fields.


There are even remains of a system of water lock gates between different water levels near the town of Fromista.



When we were closing in on our destination for the day we were getting pretty tired. The lack of a heavy backpack proved to be a great advantage especially towards the end of our walk. With a little additional help from anti-inflammatory medications it made the 34 kilometres just doable.


Towards the end of the day I was not the only one in pain. M. also began to feel pain in her heels. She had to take a few short breaks, while I kept slowly limping forward. For me it was easier keeping a slow, steady pace. My pace was really slow and it did not take long for her to catch up.



When we got to the albergue (Albergue Canal de Castilla) in Fromista where my backpack was waiting for us, we realised it was situated right next to the train station.


We were not impressed by the looks of it. I guess those bunk beds have seen better days. In spite of everything we were just too tired to go searching for another place. The food however was pretty good and it came in generous portions.



We decided to check out the centre of the town despite the sorry state we were in. It was pretty nice - definitely way better compared to the train station area we were spending the night in.
We also took the opportunity to look for a pair of silicon-gel shoe heel pads for M. Luckily the local pharmacy was very well stocked. Obviously M. was not the first (nor the last) pilgrim with similar problems.

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