Camino de Santiago (2019)

Here are the collection of posts I wrote while walking the Camino de Santiago in 2019.

The posts are in reverse order as thats the way Google Blogger works. Read backwards or start at the bottom :-)

Here the route we took.

Day 34 - Three Certificates so far

At Sahagun we crossed the halfway point and were awarded a certificate. 

And now at Santiago we were given the Compostellae. We were also given an individual certificate saying we’re we started and the dates we walked it from and two. (For those that think I just copied someone’s else’s certificate they write your name in Latin). 

So far.... but haven’t you finished? You ask. 

Not quite, there are two more stops to make and maybe two more certificates. The first stop is Muxia, this is where Mary appeared to James telling him he had completed his task to take the gospel to the end of the world. The last stop is Finesterre, meaning end of the world. Pilgrims would walk to Finesterre knowing that there was nothing else beyond. The gospel literally had spread to the end of the world. (Then someone discovered the America’s). 

Day 34 - Made It!

The final 2 hours was walked in the dark and in the rain. We walked into the cathedral square just after dawn. The cathedral will open soon and we can go see Santiago / St James. 

Day 33 - almost there

I am sitting on the straps of a locked church ( we have found lots of locked churches along the way) only 9km from the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. We stopped here today so we could walk in tomorrow morning and arrive nice and early. The pilgrim mass is at noon and we hope we should have time to dump our bags, visit the cathedral and get our Compostela before the noon mass. The Compostela is the certificate you get for walking the camino. 

So this afternoon is a chance to reflect on the last 5 weeks. The last 791km. On all those steps. On all the people we have met and spoken to. On all the miracles we have sen and been part of. 

While I can describe what we have done I lack the words to describe what this pilgrimage is. It not been a huge life changing experience. It’s not been a five week holiday. It’s not been a chance to recover from anything horrible in my life (luckily my life is good). But it has been profound. It has been totally different from my day to day life. Maybe it’s been a chance to reflect on who I am and who I want to be. It’s reminded me of myself at 20 touring the USA. It shown me you can’t sort every problem yourself, you need to rely on others and on God for help. It’s shown me how quickly you can make a friend. I have been amazed at what my body will do if I keep telling it to do things. 

I will return a little browner, with scruffy bread, with blisters that refuse to go now. My legs are a different shape and if I didn’t have a belt my shorts wouldn’t stay up so I guess I have lost a pound or two. I will return needing to break the habit of having second breakfast everyday. But I am ready to return. This life isn’t real although the realities of it are wonderful and I hope lasting. 

This is not the best thing I have ever done. It’s not what I am most proud of. It has been approached and needed. A chance to place myself where I can encounter a living God. I should have known I could do that anywhere, but sometime you need to make yourself weak so God can give you real strength. I think, I hope, I am ready for some of the real strength. The strength to love myself, love my family, love my neighbour and though that love demonstrate Gods love. 

Our secular world doesn’t understand God, but it still needs Gods love and Gods help. On this walk I have helped and been helped. When I return to real life I need to keep helping and allowing others to help me. 

Buen Camino!

Day 27 - Where are we?

Just sitting down to eat in Triacastela. The paper place mats are also maps. I have scribbled on mine to show where we are in Galicia. 

Day 27 - Jim’s prayers answered

For four weeks he has been praying for rain. Here is a very happy man. 

Rainbow over the Camino

Hi folks, it’s a windy and almost wet day. We are walking in Lake District style countryside and weather. Jim is loving it. We saw a rainbow ahead of us I hope I captured it and my thoughts in the short video. 

Day 26 - Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreriro

Just spent 20 mins typing a post for you and it gets deleted as I try and upload onvery little bandwidth. How frustrating.  I am now very tired and sleep needs to take priority so this will be short. 

Jim and I have just finish one of the toughest days and we both feel really good and still strong. No real injuries and all good. We walk 32k today and climbed around 1100 metre. (No wonder I am half asleep now)

The way is starting to change. Lots more people on it now and more starting daily. Many are sending there bags on to the next stop and pre-booking hostels. This means it’s harder each day to know we will get a bed. We are fighting distance, heat and now time. If we are late to a village all the beds will be taken. That’s a problem as we are much stronger now and can walk further, but if we walk a long day the risk of no bed is much higher. 

Our spiritual journeys continue as well. Two weeks ago we were amazed at the angels who were sent to help us. Now we find ourselves being put in the right place at the right time to help and care for others. The Camino is a unique place to give and receive charity and love. I feel I am living my faith in a much more focused or concentrated way. I hope I can bring some of this back to real life in a week or two. 

No photos today as that’s what caused the first crash

God Bless you. 

Day 24 - Cruz de Ferro

The Iron Cross or Cruz de Ferro is huge symbol of the Camino. It sits almost at the highest point on the camino and pilgrims have been leaving stones and there burdens here for centuries. 

Instead of writing my thoughts up afterwards today I recorded them as I went. So here are a few videos some with comments and some without.

Miracle of the water from the rock

It has been said that for a pilgrimage there was a lots of pictures of wine. Well we have been drinking way more water than anything else, 2-5 litres a day. The problem is often finding places to refill your water bottle. However that’s not a problem for Jim. 

Cute kitten helps Jim with shoelaces

Kittens on the internet get millions of hits so please share as much as you can. I want to see if this becomes the most visited page on the site. Anyway, this morning the cutest kitten in the world helped Jim put his boots on. Enjoy!

Day 21 - León to San Martin del Camiño

Two hours and ten kilometre before a cup of coffee. That is just no way to start the day. We had a long walk through Leon before we escaped the suburbs. As we walked we passed dozen if not hundreds of teenagers walking into town. There had obviously been a big party somewhere that only finished at dawn. 

It was another longer straight road today. A lot of it next to a main road. Films and documentary’s never show the industrial but ofbthe camino butvthere are a lot of them. You get to see a snap shot of all of Spain. There are some very poor parts here. Lots of shut up buildings and for sales signs. 

A long dull walk gives you a chance to reflect. The camino started with wonderful views. It was awe inspiring. In the first few days there was lots to see and everything was new. Now when we are in the middle of it it not as pretty. It is just as much hard work. But the inspiringly views are rare. You have to look deeper to find the magic. Look at the people, the kindness, those who welcome us pilgrim and those who are traveling with us. 

This in many ways this is mirroring my understanding of faith. It starts with joy and excitement but you need to work at it. You need to build a relationship with God and your fellow Christians that is deeper than the new excitement. Every step on the camino takes effort, every day as a Christian takes effort. There are many steps and many days. The days which are not filled for us with beautiful things and the days we need to look deeper for the beauty. 

Day 20 - León

The big cities along the way are big milestones. We have been aiming at León for a wee now as it marks the end of the plains and start of the next mountains. The problem with the big cities is they are not focused on helping pilgrims as much as the small towns and villages. Everything seems difficult in a city. Believe it or not finding a meal is difficult. If you want to eat between 5 and 8 you can’t. Spain shuts its kitchens. After 8 all we want to do is sleep. 

We also had problems wit getting into the Cathedral. It was shut for large parts of the day for weddings. We finallly got in for Mass at 7pm. The windows are lovely and it’s a place to visit as a tourist in the future. 

We took a tour round the cathedral museum while waiting to get into the cathedral. I found out the story of Saint Roch which I’ll put in another post later. We had until today been confusing statues of him and St James. 

Our hostel was like an oven. Neither of us slept well and it was lovely at 6am to walk into the cold air. We had a long 10k walk before breakfast. I had to survive without that first cup of coffee and Jim had to survive walking next to me. Poor Jim. 

Day 17 - Carrión to Ledigos

See half way there post below for description of the day, but here a little more of the day in images. Look out for the fields of stubble in the background, fields of stubble are very interesting. 

Day 16 - Frómista to Carrión

Final got some band width. A hopefull day with feet. Started ok after the previous day. It was much colder today with a strong wind. More fields of stubble. Then more fields of stubble. The final 5k were into a gusting 20-30 mile an hour wing. Through more field of guess what? The area around here was protected by Knights Templar’s in the Middle Ages and the church’s we are see were theirs. Finished the day in a good hostel in Carrión and had a really good meal. 

Day 20 - quick run into León

We had a short18.5k walk into León today. Somehow we are sitting here infrint of the cathedral at 11am. Either we ran or the angels carried us. 

We have a hostel on the forth try. Advice do not walk into León on a Saturday.  We didn’t really know it was Saturday until every hostel was already pre booked. 

We can’t check into the hostel yet as it’s to early. So enjoying the square in front of the cathedral and a second breakfast. 

Day 18 - Hot but good day

Very tired so not much tonight. We started well before dawn and managed 6k dawn the sun was fully up. The stars here are so clear, no light pollution at all. Jim was corncernes for the first ten minutes as he could tell by the stars we we headed north not west. However we soon turned a corner and he was happy again. 

The breakfast stop was a hobbit town. Yes you read the right there were hobbit holes. Well not exactly hobbit holes but they should have been. They were 400-500 years old and were store house and wine making rooms. See photos below. 

As the day heated up we hit Sahagún a small town and lots here of interest. If you measure Camiño progress in Spain ignoring our start in St Jean this is the half way point and that are proud of it. We have a very nice certificate saying we have walked half way :-)

As we left Sahagún the temperature was mid 20s in the shade. And we did have a little shade, lots of lovey tree planted along the path. The problem with high temperature though for me is blisters. I was very careful and slow and my feet survived today. 

We fined in Bercianos del Real Camino. A small village. Our hostel is nice. It has a washing machine so we have clean clothes again. The courtyard is lovely and I m sat out here with a brandy so I don’t disturb Jim’s beauty sleep. 

It’s difficult to believe we have walked over 400k. I looked at my legs as I washed them I. The shower today and I think they are a different shape. This walk changes you physically and spiritually. That’s why you do it.  But when you notice the changes that are surprising. It tough being away from home but it good as well. I miss Gail, I am not enjoying the pain but I am loving the experience. 

That’s all, bed time I think. It’s only 9pm but we will be up at 6am and all before 7am.  

Good night everyone

Camino - How many more Angels?

Have you every been on a road trip and asked, or been asked, repeatedly “Are we there yet?” Another good question is “how many more corners?” A friend, Geoff  and I once played “how many more dead animals” as we counted roadkill on a trip across the USA. 

I tell you this to set the scene. Jim and I are spotting Angels on our Camino. Anyone who has watched “it’s a wonderful life” knows that not all angels have wings. The angels we are spotting are those out there just to make our walk special. An angel placed a port-a-loo exactly where I needed it on the second day. We saw two angels outside the church of San Anton, one was knitting hearts. Another two angels took in our washing when it started to rain. These angels are so easy to miss, you think they are real people but they are not. 

My hope is that if I practice spotting angels on the camino I will also be able to spot them on my return to real life. Allowing the angels into your life is special, until you allow them in they can’t help much, but once you accept their help life gets better. Sometimes it’s not about looking to see who you can help, but much more about looking to see the angels trying to help you. 

Day 17 - Half way

We are half way there and less than 400km to go. I really find it hard to think we have walked 400km in the last 17 days l, but we have. As I write this I have a celebratory glass of wine next to me. 

Today we walked a very dull and boring road. It was an old Roman way and was 17k of straigh road between villages with nothing but fields of stubble on either side. While dull to the eye it was a good walk. Have you a time to think. With nothing really of note to the eye you start to look inward or start to look towards God. No big moments here just small steps on the way to knowing God better. A chance to spend time with God without distractions. 

I am starting to learn that when I am weak, broken and hurting God can heal that. My feet are much better after prayer, rest and ibuprofen than they are after just rest and ibuprofen. The real learning for me was saying the prayer. 

I meet a new very slobbery friend at our breakfast stop who didn’t want to let me go. I also got to do my beatle impression just as we left Carrión signing the long and winding road, although as said above today’s toad had no bends at all. Very few photos today, the view were dull and you can photography internal reflections. So just take me word for it, it was a good day. 

Day 17 - mans best friend

I found a new friend today half way through the morning. 

Day 16 - don’t play with your food

Jim couldn’t quite finish his salad. I guess he felt he was being watched. 

Day 15 - Castrojeriz to Frómista

As I posted yesterday this wasn’t the best day for me. After the great day before it surprised me how quickly you can start to hurt and how bad the day seems when you do. 

We left very early in complete darkness. We walked/marched up out of the valley and just before the dawn we could see the village lights and the lights on hundreds of windmills on the high plains. 

Sunrise was stunning!!!

The next 10k was back through dry fields. Nothing different from the last few days. Somewhere here my feet started to blister again. :-(

When we reach Frómista the first hostel was fully booked. Booked by people in advance and sending their luggage on ahead of them. With my feet hurting I wasn’t feeling generous to those people. Sorry. We were also told that Frómista was fully booked and we would have to walk to the next village. This wasn’t true as the hostel next door had a room. No facilities to walk clothes or eat but we were happy with a room.

The next stop was a beer. Which we were hugely over charged for. You see the bad day theme here. But that’s really where it stopped. We found a spainish cafe where they spoke no English and we spoke no spainish. We guessed with lots of pointing and bad spainish/English what to have off the spainish menu. Wow what fantastic food we had. 

The day finished well with a whiskey in a lovely bar and a chat to some friends online. (Thanks Chrissy/Yoka)

A good nights sleep and ready for another 22k. Enjoy the photos. 

Day 14 - Hornillos to Castrojeriz

One of the best days so far. Started the day with no aches or pains. Walked out early in the dark and made great time to second breakfast I a small village Hontanas where we met again with Jean-Pierre and we shared second breakfast with him. The cafe owner tried to teach Jim how to dance the samba, unfortunately there is no photographic evedence if this. 

Just before we reached Castrojeriz we passed the church/ ruin of San Anton. This is now a very lovely and unique Albergue. It has no power and only a few rooms in the ruins. It runs in donations so each nights guests eat according to the generosity of the previous nights guests. It was a really lovely place and I am so glad we stopped for a little while. 

A couple of kilometres after San Anyon was Castrojeriz. We found a great hostel/resturaunt/bar and checked into the last room. There is a castle above the village and I was feeling strong enough to explore. It’s on a hill that was a bit of a climb I. The heat but I took it slow. Once at the top... wow... the vies were amazing. I also had the castle to myself. I spent a couple of hours up there, just enjoying the quiet and spending some time in prayer. There are lots of bible stories about climbing a mountain to get close to God. At the top of my hill, alone in my castle I could understand those stories. 

On my return I had a well needed shower. We enjoyed a great meal and the owner shared some of his mother in laws home made spirit infusion.  Perfect day. 

If you are wondering, Jim has been complaining about the lack of black pepper at every meal. It’s just not put on the table here in Spain. Well after two weeks of complaining he eventually asked for some and it was produced. A very happy Jim then photographed the pepper hence finishing the video with that photo. 

Day 13 - Burgos to Hornillos Del Camiño

An early start before dawn as usual saw us leave Burgos in darkness. It was a long walk out of Burgos as it’s one on the larger cites. Once we weee back in the country side we were back to the dry plains and harvested corn and wheat fields. 

We arrived at a small village Hornillos and booked into a lovely little hostel. I had time to catch up on some thinking in the garden. 

This is the second place we have visited that has a mirical story about a cockerel. Napoleon’s troop stole all the villages chickens while the towns people were at Mass. they killed them and hid them in there drums. When the people came out of mass they challenged the soldiers who said they had nothing to do with missing chickens. Then one of the rosters miraculously came back to life can crowed giving the soldiers away. 

The day finished with a communal meal of a huge and very tasty paella.  

Day 15 - a tough day

It shouldn’t have been but it was a very tough day. My feet started out well but blister and pain in both Achilles heals turned the last 5km into a painful walk. The tarain was lovely lovey for the first time we walked along a canal in shade. Unfortunately each step was horrible. 

The hostels were almost fully booked be other pilgrims in advance. This doesn’t feel right as we are just takeing what we can find when we get here. I guess if we are trusting to god then we should trust but being human and with painful feet it’s not easy. Any prayers right now for healing miracle are very much appreciated. 

Jim is helping greatly. I am sure he is hurting too but the support and sympathy help a lot. A small whiskey in a local bar also helped dull the pain and will help with a good nights sleep. 

Before I close my eyes though I’ll add a couple of photos of the sun rise we saw today and out walk along the canal. 

God bless, J

Day 12 - San Juan de Oretage to Burgos

Neither of us was expecting much from Burgos apart from a long 10k walk into the city from its airport. However we were pleasantly surprised. 

We started very early in pitch black to walk the 6k to the next village to get breakfast. (Yes the first picture in the video is road signs in darkness) This walk passed in no time at all and breakfast in a small bar/cafe was lovely. In fact every breakfast o. The pilgrimage is lovely, why try and get at least two breakfasts a day and second breakfast is normally the best. 

After a steep climb we found a wooden cross surrounded by stones it’s as the sun was rising behind it. Totally beautiful. 

After 17k we hit the outskirts of Burgos and started the slow grind into the city. My feet and blisters were really playing up but we made good time and found a lovely new hostel in the heart of the old city. 

After a shower and sorting the washing. And a pint while waiting for the washing we grabbed a late lunch and did a tour of the Cathedral. Wow!  It’s an amazing place. Far to much to take in after a long walk but beautiful. 

A quick feet up for 30mins before returning to Mass. we had a very personal blessing from the priest after mass and retired early to bed as neither of us had any strength left. Starangly our dormitory of ten beds was empty apart from us so a really goodnight sleep. 

Day 11 - Belorado to San Juan de Ortega

A 10-15 degree drop in temperature, a strong breeze and can you believe it rain. Jim prayer are answered and as we leave before dawn we done ponchos to stay dry. The land scope changes again as we climb through woodland. We planned for a day we fewer villages and had the makings of a picnic all we need was a baguette to go with out wine, bread and cheese. Could we find an open shop on route, no! So when we stops at the top of today’s climb God provides the bread. An Israeli   lady decided we needed bread for our meal so gave us her leftovers and took our pictures. Several of our new found travelling friends joined us for a bit to eat. 

San Juan is just a monetary nothing else here and they boast about their garlic soup. The hostel is very basic but we have a bed each. Mass tonight was lovely, part of it in English and said just for the pilgrims. One of the priests was a travelling friend of ours, John Peter, from Mexico. I hadn’t realised he was a priest until now. 

We take advantage of the cold and solitude and have an early night and prepare for N early start as breakfast is 6km away down the road in Agés. 

Day 10 - Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado

Another long hot day in the sun. Arriving at a lovely little village and hostel. Our room is over the bar and restaurant which is great. Jim here music during our siesta so we went looking for it and found a spainish brass band practicing. A wander round the church presented us with a statue of a headless saint holding his head in his hands. A lot of research later and it’s Saint Vitores a local saint who was behead 5km from here and who’s saints day was the day we started walking. (If you look him up you will find the wrong one, keep looking till you only find pages in Spainish)

Day 9 - Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Gone now are the vineyards and grapes to be replaced by field of stubble and sunflowers. We have 200km of Spanish plains to cross now. The heat today was horrible, 28-29 with no shade do felt like 35-40. The last two hours walk was slow with lots of stops in any shade we could find. 
Blisters hurting today which also slows me down. 

You see a lot of yellow arrows on the Camiño. Every twist and turn has a painted yellow arrow somewhere pointing the way. The only trick is noticing them. In a way this is like real life, there are many arrows telling us how to live and look after ourselves and one another but they are easier to miss than our nice bright yelllw arrows. 

Back in a main hostel/albergue with dozens of others tonight. Earplugs and blindfold essential to get any sleep. It is amazing how many other nationalities are walking the way with us. 

Enjoy the photos. God Bless, J

Day 8 - Logroño to Najera

A days walking through vineyards. Every south facing slope is covers in grapes. Not surprising as we are in the heart of Rioja. Blisters are now an irritation and playing up in last 4-5km. 

The hostel/albergue tonight is lovely. They only had two spare beds in different dorms but that was fine. I am in a room with three French speakers. If the conversation changes to french I know I have done something wrong :-)

The lady who runs the hostel was very sweet, helped with our washing and moved the load over to the dryer while we were outside enjoying a bottle of wine. 

As we gave most evening met Paul another pilgrim. It’s lovely bumping into the same people day after day as they walk the same path we do. Paul is blogging as well so if you are bored of me try his;

We have now been in Spain over a week and I haven’t found a paella yet. Very disappointing.  

Again no bandwidth in the monetary I am typing this from so photos to come later. And here they are:

Day 7 - Los Arcos to Logroño

Logroño is one of the larger towns and the end of today was an unattractive walk through an industrial town. It was the first place that we felt didn’t notice pilgrims. The church of st James was the exception. Biscuits and reflections left out next to comfy chairs. As we left the next morning we were glad of a biscuit in place of breakfast. 

Video/photos to be added as soon as I can get a good data connection. And here they are:

Day 5 - Puente la Reina to Estella

Sunflowers, blisters, small villages, monestries and out first horse and rider but not pilgrim. I need to spend sometime ranting here about the lack of pilgrims on horses but I’ll leave them to another day. 

Very hot today but we finished before the killer heat. 

Day 6 - Estella to Los Arcos

We started by finding a wine fountain. It’s like a water fourain but glows with wine. Jim tried to lose his staff through the bats of the fence but a kind German pilgrim and I played fishing ducks until we got it back. 

The heat today was horrible. Slowed us to crawl. First blisters for me as my feet just got so hot. You can’t walk-in 35 degrees or at least you shouldn’t try. 

The relief at getting to Estella Ewan wonderful. 

Day 4 - Pamplona to Puente la Reina

I know these are coming out in the wrong order but day 4 was a long day with some big high points. I also have to steal Jim’s photos before putting the video together. Enjoy the photos. 

I hope you found my small homage to Don Quixote and titling at windmills. 

Day 7 - St James

While a glass of wine is lovely the pilgrimage is to the tomb of St James and there is a church to staint James. The outside of the church shows st James as traveler and as hero. He is the patron staint of Spain and our guide on those pilgrimage. 

The top status is st James the Moore slayer. He joined the the armies of Spain to help defeat the Moore’s. Underneath is the traveler, evangelist who brought the gospel to Spain. 

Inside the church where I didn’t take photos we found welcome and guidance for pilgrims. I read their meditation and enjoyed there biscuits. Bless them.

Day 7 - Rioja

Found the place, just need a glass of it now. 

And four hours later we find the glass. 

Day 5 - not enough time

So much I want to share but find it hard to find the time. Walk, sleeping and eating taking most of it. 
Here a few photos from today. I’m off to bed. 

Day 3 - Zubiri to Pamplona

Strangely I am feeling stronger today. I thought day three would be bad but it’s ok. Stomach muck better today. Weather good, to good really, going to be 30+ so we start early at dawn again. Walking for 2-3 hours early get half the distance done before break fast. 

A couple of photos now and I’ll put more up later. Not sure if I need to sleep or explore. Both are very tempting.....

Day 2 - Roncesvalles to Zubiri

Well day two started with all the aches and pains caused by day one and also my stomach was not happy so praying to find a loo in the next village was how we started. Well God provides and there was a loo and a bench for Jim to sort out his blisters. 

We managed to do 22k into Zubiri. No Hostel booked this time. The first one we walked into had no beds just a twin room in an apartment. We jumped st it and had a really good quiet nights sleep. 

We ate at the bar below. Pilgrim menus are good and cheap. We ate with other pilgrims we had been meeting through the day. Patrick, Mary, John, Collett and others. 

Not do many photos today. But I was concentrating on where the next toilet was for half the day. 

Day 1 - St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles

I’ll add some words later but here is the beauty we saw walking over the mountains. 

And here are those words....
We started before dawn walking through St Jean in the near dark. From then on we were walking up hill. 25km of uphill and steep up hill. But wow what scenery! Getting above the mist/cloud that filled the valleys was thrilling. 
Second breakfast at 10am was a bassk cake and coffee at Orisson, which was lovely. Then more up and up. 
As with any mountain every turn brought more views and more path heading up. We stopped for lunch almost at the top and looked down on the Griffon Vultures circling below. 
The final 10k heading down really hurt but there was a beer, good and a bed in the monetary awaiting. Wonderful day. 

It’ll take 3-4 mins to watch but here’s a selection of photos from day 1. 

First night in St Jean Pied De Port

We arrived around 7pm. Visited the Pilgrim office checked into the hostel. Walked round the town and ate a steak. Great start! Tomorrow we start walking and it’s a tough walk. 

Go in peace glorifying the lord by your life

The final words of the Mass are the deacons. I get to send the congregation out to do God’s work. Today as Jim and I leave the church we are off on a big adventure for God and our faith and the words of the sending stay in my head “Go in peace glorifying the lord by your life”

Thanks to everyone at OLOL and all the parishes for your prayers and best wishes.