Monday 29 September 2014

Hard drugs, pilgrim style

This was day 7 of our almost one month long Camino de Santiago adventure. Click on the Camino de Santiago label to see all related posts.

When we got on the way we were surprised again by how cold it can get in these parts during early mornings at the end of May. Skies were cloudy once again. This was great for walking but we were definitely hoping it would stay dry.

By this time we were already deep in the wine region of Rioja. The main feature of daily beautiful vistas were endless vineyards. The winding road led us literally through them.

Unfortunately, there were not many opportunities to stop and sample local liquid products.

It felt strange walking without company again (we parted our ways with our Italian friends the day before). We hardly saw any pilgrims during the day. I guess this added to the feel of a really looong day. During the last stretch of the walk M. felt pretty much without energy.
I guess most people on the Camino have at least a few of "What was I thinking? What am I doing here?" moments. Well, for her this was one of those moments. The wool allergy on her feet did not help either. I on the other hand was doing pretty good and tried to encourage her when the road started climbing up a steep hill.

Our walking pace was getting slower by the minute and just before I suggested another short stop M. found a cure for the situation. She turned to hard drugs - Bon Jovi music. She put on her headphones and pumped up the volume.

We picked up our pace almost immediately and before I could comment on the terrible music choice, she was already jumping uphill and singing the tunes out loud. She would not have heard my comments anyway...

After a few minutes I could hardly keep up the pace. We were literally flying uphill! A small group of pilgrims just taking a short break at the top of the hill looked at us with disbelief as we flew by.

When the music drug effects started wearing off, we were already near our destination for the day - Albergue Virgen de Guadalupe.
It is a small private albergue on the outskirts of Cirueña. It was a long walk from Navarette - just over 33 kilometres for the second day in a row.

Since the albergue in Cirueña is rather small (only 23 beds) and the next option is roughly 10 kilometres further down the road, we made a reservation for two in advance.

When we got greeted by the owner it seemed like he did not remember anything about our reservation. Nevertheless he quickly found a solution, a small extra room in the attic. For once we did not mind an extra flight of stairs - we got our own private room! Just outside our room there was also a small chapel.

Pedro, the owner and hospitalero in one person is quite a character. He reminded us both of Ramón - a character in the film The Way. He is not crazy as the guy in the film and his place is not as creepy. Both him and his place are however a bit unusual and the albergue has lots of genuine character.
We definitely had a few laughs before we went to bed that day.

Since Cirueña is not very interesting and the nearest place with food is quite a bit away, we decided to have dinner in the albergue. So did everybody else staying there for the night. It also started raining pretty soon after we hung our laundry outside.

Dinner was pretty simple but quite tasty and there was plenty of food to feed a bunch of hungry pilgrims. Lentil stew was served in olive wooden bowls.

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


Monday 1 September 2014

Until we meet again...

This was day 6 of our almost one month long Camino de Santiago adventure. Click on the Camino de Santiago label to see all related posts.

It was kind of funny listening to other pilgrims moan when they got out of their beds and took the first steps. That is only until I joined them a few moments later. Is this ever going to get any easier? It can not get much worse... or can it?

Like during most other mornings, after a few minutes things got better as we stretched our legs and blood started circulating again.

After a quick breakfast and some attending to painful parts of our bodies we were on our way again. This was to be our last day together as group of 7. We already knew we were going to miss the good company in the next days.

We walked together from Torres del Río to Viana, where we stopped for coffee and bocadillos. After a quite a long break we continued to Logroño where we said our goodbyes and agreed to meet again as soon as possible after the Camino.

Roberto and Jolanda went home from Logroño but agreed to continue the Camino next year. Others were happy to use an easy day in Logroño to rest and take in the city.

We would also love to do the same but got to keep going if we wanted to reach Santiago in time for our flight home. We took a walk through the centre of town and took advantage of the delicious paella they served in the main square in front of the Santa María de la Redonda Cathedral. A portion costed only 2 Euro and it came with a glass of wine. We ate 2 portions each.

As much as we would loved to, unfortunately we did not have time to stay around longer. Our destination for the day was Navarette. From Torres del Rio we walked 33 kilometres and we were already pretty late when we found a place for the night.

For the last couple of days M. had a nasty rash on her feet and she finally figured out it could be related to some kind of allergy. Never before she has noticed she was allergic to wool. Obviously her skin needed several consecutive days of exposure to wool for the allergy to manifest in a form of a nasty rash. Unfortunately all of her walking socks were made out of wool. She was really pissed off when she thought about all the effort she put into finding just the right ones during the preparation period.
To improve the situation we visited a Chinese shop with heaps of cheap stuff we never knew we needed and bought a cheap package of ordinary white cotton socks.

It was the day of the final match in the Football Champions League 2014 and since it was a match between two Spanish teams (Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid), it was a special evening for all Spanish fans.
During check-in the hospitalero at the Albergue Pigrim's stressed that because of the extreme situation the door of the albergue will stay open for at least an extra hour into the night. In Spain fútbol and fiesta are always convenient excuses for bending the rules a little bit.

Unfortunately after daily laundry was done and another couple of pilgrim menus were eaten, we were just too tired to go out and enjoy the genuine atmosphere in the main town square. I am still kicking myself for not going.

Even though the main square was quite a few streets away we felt an earthquake like tremble and roar every time something interesting happened on the court. Since Real Madrid won 4 to 1, there were obviously quite a few loud moments before the match was over. No matter how loud it got, I think I slept through the most of the second half.

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


Friday 29 August 2014

Camino Portraits: Cesare

Cesare is one of the Italian guys we kept running into along the first third of the way towards Santiago de Compostela. We only walked together for a short while but he often appeared out of nowhere in the late afternoon and joined us for dinner.

He is a funny character and when he was around we were usually laughing our heads off in a matter of minutes. It was always funny to listen to his interpretation of events. He was able to make a hilarious story from any of his many everyday mishaps.

He also had a rather special attitude towards the Camino. Whenever he felt it was more convenient, he simply took a bus (usually this is the last resort for an ordinary pilgrim and most consider it cheating). He never felt bad about it and willingly shared it with everybody. I think he really enjoyed the look of disbelief on faces of other pilgrims.

Obviously he was on the Camino to above all enjoy the experience without the suffering that usually comes within the package. I really hope everything worked out for him and he was able to enjoy it to the very end.

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