With my apologies

When I started this blog I had fully intended to maintain it throughout my Camino but circumstances encountered along the way meant that I had to allow the commitment to lapse.

My 2 principal difficulties were that because I was walking long days ( average 38.5 kms ) I struggled to have the free time to update but in spite of this I did manage to create daily blogs on my first 10 days but then the 2nd problem: I had a succession of evenings where I either had no access to WiFi or even more frustratingly I  only had access to very slow WiFi and frequently having taken an hour or so to create a post I suffered the frustration of my post crashing when attempting to upload.

I was ultimately forced to adopt my backup position of creating daily Facebook status updates which allowed a reasonable amount of text and 30 photos to be put online very easily and allowed my friends and family to be kept up to speed with my progress.

I did give consideration on my return home to creating back dated posts as I had kept written notes of my daily activities but because I had been aiming to achieve a certain immediacy in my posts I decided not to proceed with that idea.

You might well ask why I am now returning to this blog after almost 3 years and the answer is that I have received a few enquiries recently asking had I finished and how had my camino turned out. So for those still wondering, I was successful in reaching Santiago de Compostela 21 days after leaving Saint Jean Pied de Port. I then spent one night in S. de C. before leaving for Finisterre which I reached in 3 days and then took another day to walk to Muxia. Because of the very good progress I had been making nearing Santiago de Compostela I had been intending after reaching S. de C. to walk the ‘triangle’ from S. de C. to Finisterre to Muxia and from Muxia back to Santiago but on arriving in Muxia I had had very heavy rain for much of the way since Santiago de Compostela and finally decided on walking from Muxia back to Finisterre and from there I took the bus back to S. de C. where I was able to enjoy 3 well earned days of R. and R. and take pleasure in admiring my compostela, finisterra and muxiana scrolls.

In April 2015 I again found myself in Saint Jean Pied de Port and in spite of setting out a month earlier in the year, I enjoyed nicer weather than in 2013 and reached Santiago de Compostela 20 days after leaving Saint Jean Pied de Port and after one night in Santiago set out for Finisterre and with the weather Gods looking benignly upon me carried on to Muxia and from there walked back to Santiago de Compostela covering 1,066 kms in 27 days walking. Because I walked from Finisterre to Santiago de Compostela via Muxia, a distance of over 100 kms, 2015 saw me collect 2 compostelas, a finisterra and a muxiana.

As in 2014 I also spent 2 seperate 8 days spells walking parts of the Camino Frances, I think it is time to spend a few years looking at other hiking adventures but hopefully when I retire ( in about 5 years ) I hope to return again to the Camino but without the time constraints of work holidays, to start from Paris, Tours or Vezelay and spend a summer footloose and fancy free strolling back to the wonderful city of Santiago de Compostela.

Buen camino to all who set out on their own camino and may you enjoy the varied experiences which I consider myself blessed to have both enjoyed and endured.

 

Seamus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camino day 5: Los Arcos to Navarette. 27/5/2013. 41.3 kms

An early rise from the Albergue ‘Casa de la Abuela’ saw me on the way at 7 a.m. and within 10 minutes of setting out, the cold conditions had invited their old friend: ‘heavy rain’ to join us for 3 or 4 hours.

Most of the route starting out is along farm tracks and in places the heavy rain over the previous few days have made a quagmire but eventually I arrived at the 2 km road walk into Sansol and Torres del Rio. I chanced upon the albergue ‘la Pata y Oca’ which has a bar and restaurant attached and had a welcome respite from the still heavy rain while I had my breakfast break. In using the toilet I had a quick look at the restaurant area and it would definitely be on my list of albergues to try to stay in on any future caminos.

More mucky trails and ever present rain as I made my way into Viana and my 1st objective was to visit the 13th century Iglesia de Santa Maria where Cesare Borgia is buried.  A trip inside to say a prayer in remembrance of friends and relatives no longer present and when going to a small side room to have my credential stamped, one of those little moments that make a miserable morning into a day to treasure: the 3 elderly senoras in the office had made some pastries and were giving a sample to any peregrinos getting a sello.

A warm looking cafe across the plaza in front of the church drew me like a moth to a flame and I was soon enjoying my 2nd sit down break of the day.

Logrono was just 10 kms further on so feeling a little less miserable I tried to lose the mud off my boots and set a warming pace leaving Viana but some of the muckiest stretches yet were in the first couple of kilometers after Viana, however all bad things must end sometime and nearing Logrono the rain ceased, the sun shone and the temperature increased noticeably.  Off with the rain jacket for the remainder of the day and onwards through Logrono.

I decided to forego a break in Logrono as I still had 13 kms to go to my intended destination and instead decided to wait until I reached Pantano de la Grajera, Logrono’s reservoir and the cafe in the adjoining forest recreation area, an undulating passage through the recreation area in what were becoming very hot conditions left me wilting more than a little so I made myself very comfortable and a coffee, tortilla, chocolate bar and ice cream later,  I finally felt like venturing out again into what had become a very hot afternoon.

7 kilometers remained to Navarette but being a hilltop village I had one final climb before I could ease my backpack off my aching shoulders for the last time that day. I reached the 1st albergue in the village and that was good enough for me, 1 dormitory with 6 bunk and 4 single beds and reasonable free space in the only partially full albergue, Wi-Fi and a coffee vending machine that produced a mean cafe solo meant necessity and opportunity had very pleasantly coincided.

A nice dinner in a cafe/bar just up the street after hand washing that days clothes and I slept like an innocent baby.:-)

Camino day 4: Cirauqui to Los Arcos via Zarapuz and Luquin. 26/5/2013. 36.5 kms

The first dry morning so far and although very cold when setting out meaning I wore my gloves and light rain jacket for 2 hours it was nice to feel the promise of warmth in the day once the sun rose higher.

A brisk first hours walking brought me to Lorca and my 1st cafe con leche and tortilla sit down break. I joined up with a German walker for the stretch to Villatuerta and here weseparated as he was having his breakfast stop and I headed away from the normal route through Estella to take the higher route via the 11th century ruins of the pilgrim hostel at Zarapuz. This was glorious walking country through country lanes and old pathways with the lane edges being a riot of colour with wild flowers in bloom.

AfterZarapuz I gained my 1st sight of the Benedictine Monasterio de Irache and then I chose to drop down from the high route to visit ‘Fuente del Vino’ at the Bodegas Irache. It being just gone midday and no cafes available on the high route I took the extra detour to the Hotel Irache for lunch and then retraced my steps back onto the higher route.

By now the sun was putting real heat into the day and a glorious stretch of walking through woodland and high pasture followed before dropping down to the village of Luquin. I must admit that after Luquin the heat was on the upper side of what I find pleasant unless beside a swimming pool but in cooler weather the remaining 11 kilometers of country lane and pathway walking to Los Arcos would be a pleasure rather than the draining effort it became for me on the day.

I wasn’t the only peregrino to be sufferingin the heat and I passed about 20 other peregrinos in that last stretch, I planned on staying in the Casa de la Abuela albergue because of the advertised Wi-Fi and laundry and when I arrived at 4.15 I got their last available bed, no hand washing of laundry allowed, instead you are given a net bag and for €0.50 the hospitalero will run the contents through the washing machine, very reasonable arrangement, being a Sunday evening, town was quiet so an easy pizza dinner, a chat with a young Irish couple and then a good nights sleep.

Camino day 3: Trinidad de Arre to Cirauqui.

A lovely evening in the albergue on the outsk irts of Pamplona at the end of my 2nd day,  a great mix of nationalities and all with the true peregrino spirit. A very peaceful night and that rarity on the camino,  no 5.30 am early risers the following morning.  So day 3 saw me leave Trinidad de Arre about 8.30 am and on a cool, drizzly morning make my way through Pamplona.

it By the time I reached the far side of Pamplona at Cizur Menor, the rain had ceased for the day, I was able to put away my rain jacket and stow my back pack cover. 10 kilometers covered so into a cafe in Cizur Menor for a nice breakfast cafe con leche y tostado and then the long steady climb up the Alto del Perdon . A chilling breeze meant that after the near obligatory photos of the wrought iron representations of medieval pilgrims, I quickly made my way down the rocky descent and soon found myself in the small village of Uterga where I bravely managed to get myself outside another cafe con leche y tostado. Alas because of my slightly late start, I had to forego my intended detour to visit the 12th century church at Eunate as this would have added 3 kilometers to my travels and I still had some distance to go. Onwards through a lovely stretch of country lane walking and through the small villages of Muruzabal and Obanos before reaching the small town of Puente la Reina with it’s very attractive narrow streets and 6 arched mmedieval bridge.  I was now just under 8 kms from my intended overnight albergue but before I got there there was a slight kick in the teeth with an unexpectedly severe climb just before Maneru but once crested I was left with 3 kms to go to Cirauqui and Albergue Maralotx. Cirauqui is a lovely hilltop village but alas the last part of climb through the village bore an unwanted resemblance to St. Patrick’s Hill in Cork City. The village square just in front of the albergue was playing host to a festival with the last act due to come on stage at 4 a.m. Sunday morning so a good nights sleep was looking a little uncertain. Although the last peregrino to arrive for the day, I soon myself in a pleasant, roomy dormitory and after a shower and wash of the clothes I’d worn that day, I was finished just in time to join in the dinner prepared by the owners of the albergue and even at this early stage I doubt very much if I’ll have much nicer meals for €10 on the camino: spinach soup to start, spaghetti Bolognese for mains and a lovely custard based dessert and as much of any course as you wanted and a nice red wine which flowed freely. After dinner myself and 2 Dutch peregrino s strolled down to listen to the music for a while and then headed into the local Sport’s club bar for a coffee and to watch part of the Champion’s League final.Back to the albergue and the pleasant discovery that the windows were more than up to the job of preventing the music from the festival from disturbing our trip to the land of Nod.All in all, a very pleasant evening at the end of 36.1 kilometers of good mixed camino terrain.

Camino day 2: Burguete to Trinidad de Arre 36.6 kms.

After yesterday’s cold, wet day, my 2nd morning on the Camino saw no change. Woke early at 6 am to the sound of heavy rain and packed up but decided to wait a little before setting off in case of a break in the rain and about 7  a stop in the downpour saw me on my way. Alas within 20 minutes the rain returned and only ceased around midday. The church in Burguete presented a gloomy facade to passing peregrinos.

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After Espinal, the climb up Alto de Mezquiriz brought me to my high point of the day at 955 metres and this roadside monument.

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The small village of Gerendiain was my intended breakfast stop but nothing comes easy on the camino other than discomfort so first I had to cross this interesting stream

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before I was able to at last enjoy my cafe con leche y tostado.
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Even with gloves on I had suffered badly from the bitter cold and only during my breakfaststop did full feeling return to my hands although I was wearing shorts my legs were standing up far better to the inclement weather.

A lot of the next 8 kilometres were along very muddy and on the descents extremely slippery forest paths although this sign did lift my mood for at least a few minutes.

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After a particularly unpleasant final descent during which several of the peregrinos I met later had fallen, my little group of myself, a Canadian retired economist, a German student and a Belgian nurse arrived in Zubiri and crossed the Rio Args on the medieval Puente e la Rabia bridge
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and were soon enjoying a well earned warming cafe con leche in a small cafe.

Alll goods things come to an end and we were soon on our way the 5.3 kilometers to Larrasoana where my 3 companions were going to spend the night while I carried on the 11+ kilometers to my intended stop at Trinidad de Arre.

Along the way I passed this poignant memorial to a peregrino who had died en route.

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About half the distance left was on trails and paths which varies from narrow, slippy mudbaths to wide well drained tracks but eventually I gained my first view of the western outskirts of Pamplona

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On reaching the medieval bridge over the Rio Ulzama, I immediately was able to see my destination on the opposite side of the bridge: the Hermanas Maristas albergue.
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It proved a great spot to spend my 2nd night on the camino with a very disparate mix of nationalities but with a good peregrino spirit.

For those who wonder what dormitory accommodation looks like this may prove useful:
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Dormitories are mixed and hanging laundry the norm.
36.6 kilometers covered today including a short detour to buy some chocolate bars for those days when shops might be hard to find. Legs are holding up well and the 2nd half of today saw the sun make an occasional welcome appearance.
Tomorrow will see me enter Pamplona proper and later cross the Alto de Perdon.