Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Castrojeriz - Población de Campos


Today was a long but beautiful day. We walked somewhere around 31km! On and off with Tony (he's so hard to keep up with!). We stopped a couple of times for second breakfast and simply to rehydrate.

Tony had a little Stewart Little with him

Today's albergue is absolutely stunning. With a gorgeous garden area, complete with a small pond and petite bridge. The "dorms" were segregated into two different buildings. Ours appearing more like a charming garden house than an albergue.

With its own dinning room and bar, this was just what I needed. I have to be honest - my feet are killing me. It doesn't really matter how far you walk, I've come to find that the last 2km tend to drag. 

After taking a closer look at our beds we discovered that even though this place gives the impression of being a modern and clean place for pilgrims to rest, it was in fact, not clean at all. There were stains on the bedding and dead bugs (and spiderwebs) littered the house. There was no warm water in the showers and you couldn't lock the doors for them, or the bathroom.

A shame really. This place has potential. 

Tony, myself and Carolin

The food was great. All of us sat at one long table together sharing our much deserved evening meal, sharing stories of our journeys so far.

After tea, Carolin stayed in the bar a bit (the only place that had WiFi) whereas I followed Malcolm (who had retreated to his bed) to see if he was feeling alright. He had been quiet all evening.

I wasn't sure if it would be appreciated but I climbed up the stairs to where he was and sat down on his bed. He was writing his journal. Was I interrupting? I didn't care. And after a few minutes the conversation was flowing. We shared a couple of journal entries (something we never did). It was amusing to see what the other person had written - especially about when we first met.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Hontanas - Castrojeriz


We didn't walk very far today. Around 10km. What the reason for that was - I am no longer sure. This is day 16 on the Camino. After a while I suppose I got sick of repeating myself - it rained today, everything hurts. Malcolm, Carolin and myself had breakfast in a rustic little Cafe. We were joined by a pilgrim we had last seen in Pamplona. It was good to see her again. It's amazing really. You don't see people of weeks and weeks and then they just - appear. 

It was raining and storming outside (we got hail that day as well). The trees were dancing in the wind. The cafe had a little oven so all of us, half frozen pilgrims, tried sitting as close to it as possible. Have I mentioned pain killers lately? No? Well. Today it was time for the big guns. My knee (yes pain a constant companion) is crippling me.

We decided to stay (our shoes still not completely dry) in a comfortable little albergue -  Orion.
Yes, I highly recommend this place. The rooms were comfortable, the showers were warm. But this albergue is special in more ways than one. The main reason being they served us freshly cooked (and very delicious) korean food.

We used today for rest. I don't think we left our beds apart from a short walk I convinced Malcolm and Carolin to take with me. Yes, a walk...silly really.

Tony has done so much for me on the Camino. Today was my chance to help him - I reserved a bed for him. I was elated when he came walking through the door. I met a lot of amazing people on the Camino but Tony, well, Tony. He's someone special. There's something about him. Something wise, fatherly, loving. Whenever he's around I'm happy.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Hornillios - Honatas


After the discussion Malcolm, Alfred (a German we met) and myself had over our evening meal the previous night, I was relieved that Carolin ate breakfast. You see, the day before she hadn't eaten properly - probably causing her dizziness. We had talked about our options if worse came to worse. Would we have to send her on ahead or even home? If she wouldn't have started eating properly, I wouldn't have had a choice. Her health and wellbeing are my number one priority. She would have hated me...thankful it wont come to that!

When we left our albergue this morning it was already raining. After half an hour or so, would you believe it, SNOW. That's right. It's end of April and we got stuck in a blizzard. Ponchos, fleeces, gloves and hats weren't enough to protect us from the ruthless elements we were facing that day. I was swiftly drenched. The icy wind froze my gloves to my hands and my hand to my hiking stick. When I tried to open my hand I couldn't. I couldn't feel them anymore - just numb pain.

Every "snowflake" (more like little daggers) stung my face. I tried cheering everyone up a little by "singing" (if I dare call it that) a song from The Hobbit - The Misty Mountains Cold. It seemed fitting at the time. And it worked, for a little while. Right up to the point where even I couldn't look on the bright side - my shoes were soaked! A Pilgrim's worst nightmare. You can't walk in wet shoes. 

I hope you enjoy this clip of us failing at Pilgrim basics - in our defence it was very windy 

Malcolm went on ahead (there was no way I could keep up - my knee was bad again) in search for the next village. His shoes were drenched too - as were Carolin's. We made the decision to stay in the next albergue we could find, only 10km away from where we started.

It was barely 11am when we stumbled into Honatas. The albergue was still closed so we sat down in the Cafe and treated ourselves to some hot chocolate and a little later, early lunch. Lillian was also here. As were Fred and Gordon (but we wouldn't know that till later that evening) today would be the last time we saw them. I would have given anything for one more beer with my Scotsmen! Buddy (his name is Victor but you know) sat down with us that evening.

We had payed for our Tea when we arrived so I was gobsmacked when the "waiter" demanded we pay. Even after explaining the situation he demanded we give him the money (the other pilgrims were watching this scene unfold and I was getting both embarrassed and angry). I stood up and snapped at him that the receipt was in my Pilgrim's passport and I didn't appreciate him accusing me of lying. This must have left an impression as he finally dropped the subject and left.

In this albergue they expected us to leave our shoes outside. Under normal circumstances I would have gladly followed this rule but, there was no way my shoes would get dry out there. As a room (eight of us) we decided to sneak our shoes in and hide them under the beds in an attempt to get them dried by morning. Thankfully no one seemed to notice.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Burgos - Hornillos


When we left Burgos this morning it was raining - just a bit. Getting out of Burgos was a long and boring walk through the outskirts of the city. When we finally did get out the weather got worse. Rain started pouring from the sky accompanied by an icy wind. 

This morning we had to say goodbye to Florian - we'd never see him again. 

We had barely walked 6km before stopping underneath a bridge to seek shelter when Carolin suddenly said she was feeling dizzy - about to collapse. I put my backpack down instantly and took hers off for her. She leaned against a railing (crash barrier) breathing heavily.

What are we going to do? We still have 16km to go before we reach today's destination!

My knee was slowly getting better (at least that's what ibuprofen led me to believe) but still weak . Malcolm's leg was causing issues as well.
Here it was. I brought Carolin here - now she was struggling to stand. I felt so guilty seeing her struggle. 

I put my backpack back on - and hers. She protested but I insisted (I couldn't let her carry it - she was too weak!). Putting on a brave face I started walking. The weight of two backpacks was too much for my body to bear. I closed my eyes and prayed - "Lord give me the strength I need!".

Luke 1:37  "For nothing is impossible with God"

We passed a little church where they took a life Facebook video of us - sorry about the quality.

My prayer must have been answered  - I carried Carolin's backpack all the way to Hornillos (16km) in the pouring rain and freezing wind.

We had no idea where we would stay, so, when a man asked us if we were looking for beds just after walking into the village we gladly accepted. It was a private albergue with four to a room. As fate (and the Camino) would have it, our friend Lillian was already there - in the same room as us. 

We enjoyed some pot noodles, crisps and the sofas before retiring. A warm shower, a comfy blanket and a quiet room. I couldn't have asked for more!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Belorado - Burgos


Over breakfast it was decided that we would take the bus today - skipping two stages ahead to Burgos. Yes the bus. Sometimes on the Camino you need to put your health in front of your "expectations" of how things are "supposed" to be done. Did I feel guilty about it?
Very much so. But it was the best option to avoid further damage to my knee.

I needed to rest it - heal it.

The street leading to the bus stop had many of these hand and footprints.

When we arrived in Burgos, Carolin and I felt pretty sick from the bus journey. It was still early and we had some time to kill before we could get into an albergue.
We had "second breakfast" with a familiar face - Mike. Mike had been with us in Los Arcos (where his phone was stolen).

We wondered around the city for a while. Admiring the buildings and taking pictures before getting to our albergue.

This albergue. I shall never forget it.

When we handed our passports to the guy there he turned to his co-worker and commented on how we were "lazy" and "oh they took a bus". This made me furious. What gave him the right!?
To make things worse he gave all three of us top bunks as "punishment" for skipping ahead.
This was agony with my knee, the one, you know, I was supposed to be resting.

But Burgos also brought happy moments. We had beds. 
I had an internal struggle. On one hand I was angry at the fact that I was forced onto a top bunk. On the other, I was incredibly grateful for having a place to sleep. 
Be thankful for what you have - each day is a gift.

Florian was here! We hadn't seen him in a long time. Pizza for dinner with good company - Florian and his friend joined us, making Malcolm the only "Non-German" once again.
We ended the evening drinking a couple of beers with Flo - couldn't have asked for anything better.

Florian, myself and Carolin

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Redecilla del Camino - Belorado


Easter Sunday.

I don't have much to say about today.

We left Redecilla del Camino this morning with the plan of getting breakfast along the way.
There was just one problem - there were no open Cafes. 

Today was cloudy - all of us miserable in one way or another.

My knee was so swollen moving it was excruciating. I couldn't keep up with Malcolm and Carolin. They walked off ahead at my request (I didn't want to slow them down). The walk was long and boring.

Ironic how I'm the glue that holds this group together while also being the weakest link.

Tony left us earlier in the morning. We met him along the way a couple of times but he would treat himself to a hotel while we stayed in an albergue. He was feeling homesick. I was very sad to see him go.

The food in the albergue wasn't great and neither was the service we received.

To sum it up - not a good day.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Cirueña - Redecilla del Camino


Breakfast this morning was at 7am sharp. Malcolm was only five minutes late and our host had already been ranting - threatening whoever was late would not get breakfast. 

For a change the morning was clear. No rain.
Our path today was endless - easy walking.

Tony walked with us until we lost him underneath a bridge - he had to tend to a blister. We'd meet him in the next village for "second breakfast".  This would be our "go to" solution. If any of us wanted to walk ahead (or fell behind) - we would wait for each other at the next Café. 

I had done a drawing in Pamplona and to my surprise found a very similar one on this building!

Today would be the day. I could feel it. My knee was dodgy all morning - Lord please no. 

As we walked down the slope (pictured below) my left kneecap "popped" out and I fell - onto my left knee of all things! (on the plus side this "popped" it right back into place).


Tony, Malcolm and Carolin tried to remain calm and collected but I could sense their concern. 

I got up (decided not to check on the damage) and kept walking as well as I could. I knew if I looked at it (it was bleeding) that wouldn't only make walking harder for me, but worry the others as well. 
Out of sight out of mind!

Brave face and carry on. 

When we arrived in Redecilla del Camino we were greeted by an almost empty albergue. Perfect! 
Five euros is all it took for Tony, Malcolm, Carolin, myself and our two Scottish friends (Fred and Gordon) to get a bed. 

The moment of truth. Time to tend to my injury. I rolled up my trousers and cleaned the cuts (probably from landing on sharp stones). The swelling was very obvious - my knee was turning black and blue. 

There was a nice bar right next door. So what did we do? Off for a beer we went. Well deserved! (If I do say so myself). 

Tony, Malcolm, myself and Carolin

The bartender was so amused at us "little girls" ordering "grande" beers he asked if he could take a picture. Sure! 

Yes. I had fallen. Yes. I was in pain. Yes - this would become an issue. 
But right now - I didn't care.

I was also surrounded by the best people on this planet. I had a bed, food and unrivalled company.

Counting one's blessings - where true happiness lies.