Spain

El Camino: Day 20 (El Burgo Ranero to Mansilla de las Mulas)

Posted on 03 October 2012

Woman with baby

Woman on the Camino with her 18 month old baby

Our two 30 kilometer days left us exhausted and excited to sleep in this morning. As we were waking up, we heard our names, “Christie! Brett! Christie! Brett!”. We jumped up thinking it was the bag transport company “Camino Facil“. I looked down from our balcony and low and behold there was Dee Anna wondering if we were coming to walk. Apparently, she has been throwing rocks at someone else’s window thinking it was our room. We told her to go on and we’d catch up later.

We had a lazy morning and by the time we set off on the road it was close to 10:00. The entire first 13 km stretch from Burgo Ranero to Reliegos village was quite monotonous. The Camino path is tree-lined gravel next to a side road. The scenery is all the same with flat dry plains with a few patches of trees with picnic areas for relaxing. As we had left late today, we didn’t see many pilgrims on the road. We did run into the Spanish hippie woman who is traveling with her 18-month old boy. She chugs along pushing him in a three wheel stroller. Sometimes she sleeps in the albergue when they allow babies. Otherwise, they sleep outside in a tent….. must be freezing! Continue Reading

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Spain

El Camino: Day 19 (Moratinos to El Burgo Ranero)

Posted on 02 October 2012

Left to Santiago

Only 315km to Santiago! I think this sign is actually a bit optimistic, it’s more like 375km left!

The quiet deserted town of Moratinos allowed us to have one of the soundest sleeps of the Camino. While still dark outside, we woke up to meet our pilgrim friends Al and Ronda (from British Columbia) for breakfast. Their Hostal Moratinos is run by a kind German couple. We had our first vegetable egg omelette in a long time, and it came with lovely pumpernickel bread.

Although the sun was just rising, several pilgrims were arriving in Moratinos from Terradillos de Templarios. I can not believe how early people set out while it’s still pitch black outside. I wondered why? What’s the reason to do the Camino in the dark? Do they not want to see Spain or the Camino? I have yet to answer this question….. but, I have a few hunches. Several pilgrims leave early to be the first to arrive at their choice of albergue. Many albergues fill up so fast, it’s a race for pilgrims to claim their bed. While this may be understandable, aren’t these pilgrims missing the Camino’s spiritual essence by rushing through it each day? Continue Reading

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Spain

El Camino: Day 18 (Carrion de los Condes to Moratinos)

Posted on 01 October 2012

The long 30 kilometer day ahead

The long 30 kilometer day ahead

This particular section of the Meseta is extremely desolate with very few villages, restaurants or places to stay. We had to make some hard decisions since the towns are so spread out and there is a lot of ground to cover between Burgos and Leon. We opted to make two long 30 kilometer days back to back. It didn’t help all the stores are closed in Carrion de los Condes on Sunday. We didn’t have any food for the first 17 kilometer stretch of nothingness to Calzadilla de la Cueza.

Resting Pilgrims

Pilgrims taking a rest after the longer 17 km stretch of nothingness

On our way out of town, Dee Anne flagged us down to have some coffee in a local cafe. We walked with her for the first 4 kilometers out of town, and then she fell back taking some alone time. We were all in good spirits as Dee Anne decided to try our idea to listen to an audiobook while walking. Like many of us, she’s been having a rough time physically and emotionally on the Camino. Today in particular could easily be torturous as we were mostly just walking into emptiness. There is not much distinct scenery or towns. Just you, the open road, nature and other pilgrims. You really need to dig deep inside yourself and make the journey positive on your own. This can become challenging at times as our minds like to wander into negative thoughts about the past or future. We have been making a conscious effort to be in the present and notice the life and nature all around us. Continue Reading

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El Camino: Day 17 (Fromista to Carrion de los Condes)

Posted on 30 September 2012

Pilgrim cut-out

Pilgrim cut-out at the bridge from Fromista to start our daily workout

Some days on the Camino are long while others are short. We were really looking forward to the easy 19.25 kilometer day ahead. It’s funny how now 20 kilometers walking seems like nothing. We were a bit hungry this morning as we weren’t too successful the previous night in finding any substantial food besides a small pizza. Luckily 3.5 kilometers into our walk we arrived in Poblaciòn de Campos, where we had delicious “huevos” y “patatas” breakfast with coffee. Normally we just eat a grain/nut bar and a piece of fruit in the morning. This was a real treat to start off our Sunday morning.

Dead sunflowers come alive in this landscape

Dead sunflowers come alive in this landscape

There is a small bridge over a semi-dried up river shortly after leaving Poblaciòn de Campos. All the Camino signs direct pilgrims to take the paved path along the road, however I had read to take an unmarked small dirt path immediately off to the right after crossing the bridge. All yellow arrow signs pointed straight, but we decided to take the risk and venture on the dirt path which promised to be the more scenic route. The quiet dirt path through trees takes you 10 kilometers along the river, bypassing a few villages but definitely enhancing the walk with nature. We saw glimpses of pilgrims still walking along side the road and wondered, why hasn’t anyone changed the Camino route to go along this other path we were on? Score! Continue Reading

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Spain

El Camino: Day 16 (Castrojeriz to Fromista)

Posted on 29 September 2012

Endless Camino path

Endless Camino path ahead

The rain was pouring down early this morning, but thankfully it stopped by the time we left our hotel in Castrojeriz. We walked down the main street through town which again there was not a soul in sight. Although our guide book said La Taberna was open for breakfast, the doors were chained and locked. On the way through town, we passed the 16th century German Gothic Iglesia de San Juan. After walking 2 kilometers out of the town we had to tackle a steep climb over the mountain. A great way to get our blood flowing. Once over the mountain top, we stood on the plateau in awe looking out into the vast brown landscape in the distance. The sky meshed with the land, creating a seemingly endless horizon. I felt as if I was looking out onto a sea of water with infinite possibilities.

Peaceful solitude

The peace of solitude on the Camino

The camino path was clear in the distance with pilgrims making their way into the horizon. We imagined our next 8 kilometer walk to Itero del Castillo. Here we found “Ermita de San Nicolàs”, which is a religious hostel run by Italian volunteers who practice a ritual washing pilgrim’s feet. There were several pilgrims who stopped here, but we decided against the religious ritual and bypassed the Ermita. Shortly thereafter we were on Ponte Fitero Bridge, walking over the Rio Pisuerga. Here is the historic border crossing into the Province of Palencia, Leòn. The original bridge was built to unite the kingdoms of Castile and Leòn. Continue Reading

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Spain

El Camino: Day 15 (Burgos to Castrojeriz)

Posted on 28 September 2012

Hornillos del Camino

Town Square, Church and Albergue in Hornillos del Camino.

Feeling well rested after two days in Burgos, we were ready to get back on the Camino. Our next destination was Castrojeriz, which is 40 kilometers from Burgos. Although we were feeling much better, we still needed to be cautious about over exerting ourselves and having a relapse. Hence, we decided to take a taxi 20 km to Hornillos del Camino and then walk from there to Castrojeriz. We reminded ourselves that everyone creates their own Camino journey.

Hornillos del Camino felt quite deserted but it may have been the fact that we got there at 10:00 in the morning. Most of the pilgrims staying overnight had left earlier in the morning, and those walking from Burgos hadn’t quite arrived yet. We stopped in a small cafe and shared a “cafe con leche” before beginning our 20 kilometer day to Castrojeriz. Continue Reading

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