Feb 17, 2013 Bruma to Sigueiro Day 4: A downhill day (well, mostly)

Today we had a quick breakfast at the Pension O Meson Novo, in Bruma, confirmed it was raining, albeit lightly, made our goodbyes, and hooked it around the corner, and eventually joined up with the Camino path about 1.5 kms later. We wore our ponchos as we left and never took them off. The rain was light all day, but steady. Temps were around 45 F to start and notched up a bit as the day wore on. I’m guessing that they never got above 53-55 F. Today’s cooler weather helped offset walking in our ponchos. The actual route for this stage was very nondescript. It was quiet, and repeated many of the themes we have come to enjoy on this Camino, but there was nothing particularly special about it. Sorry. It was nice that the terrain was mostly downhill (or level) to Sigueiro.

We walked along rural country roads a good bit, there were a few “woodland paths” tossed in for good measure, and we spent a lot of time passing through forested areas. As we approached Sigueiro we spent about 45 minutes walking along a straight, but undulating logging road, that never seemed to end. In truth, I didn’t really enjoy that part very much. I found myself just wanting it to be over. I guess I needed a change of scenery. On the plus side most of the off road trails were well drained with good walking conditions. We squished around a few low lying bogs, but never had to become too creative to find a way through. We were able to make good steady progress as there were not many places to stop (make that none, but it is Sunday). We shoved off at 8:40 this morning, and were sitting down for lunch in Sigueiro at 2:00. We opted for a room at the Hotel Santa Cruz, about 4.5 kms back the way we came. We took a taxi, and asked the driver to pick us up in the morning, and return us to Sigueiro. Once again our plan is to arrive in Santiago in time for the 12:00 pilgrim mass. I think we only have 16-18 kms left to go, so that should not be a problem. After tomorrow we are truly done with the Camino for this go around. But, it is hard to believe that we will not be back. For now we are only thinking of arriving in Santiago. I’ll post from Santiago, and then Robin and I will gather our thoughts and post a recap of this journey once we get home. Off to do the laundry (one last time). Trash can after that. We are smiling.

The end of the logging road
Entering Sigueiro
Take me to the hotel


Feb 18, 2013 Seguiero to Santiago Day 5: Today it was uphill

Joining the Camino at Segueiro

We finally got to bed about 11:00 last night. We were trying to get our laundry dried and the dryer had decided that it would not be before eleven. Who can argue with a machine? The laundry finally arrived still warm from the dryer. We sorted it out and tried to get some sleep. Today was to be a short day at approximately 16 kms. Unfortunately, Robin just couldn’t fall asleep. I caught a few hours. We were both up at 6:00 to be on the Camino at 7:30 (it turned out to be 7:45). Our intent was to arrive in time to go to the Pilgrim Office, get our Compostela (certificate of completion), go to the 12:00 mass, and then check into our hotel. So, understanding we did not have a lot of distance to cover the lack of sleep should not have been a problem. But, as it turned out, it was a day of mostly climbing (somewhat of a surprise), and that taps pretty heavily into your energy reserves when it goes on for a bit, which it did.

Going up, again

But, despite the up and ups our plan came together, and we stood in front of the cathedral at 11:10. The weather was warm and dry. The trail conditions for this last section were quite good. There were a few low wet spots but they had workarounds readily available. I guess we were thinking today would be a coast into Santiago, but it wasn’t. The long climbs, just shy of steep kept us working to get to Santiago. No free lunch today. However you approach Santiago arrival day has its own unique excitement. Today was no different. So knowing that a nice hotel was awaiting us, and that we would be in our own beds by the weekend, we kept huffing and puffing to the finish line (smiling all the way). After mass we wandered over to the bar at the top of the Plaza Quintana, had a cold beer at an outside table, and just soaked in the warm sun. We are now back at the Parador with some champagne chilling in an ice bucket. Robin is having a long soak, in a hot tub, as I write this post. This chapter of our Camino life is now officially over. However, even as we long for the comfort of our own home, we understand that we will be back. So, I guess it is time to head for the ice bucket….

Cheers from Santiago and thanks for being with us on this (always remarkable) journey,

John and Robin

Back again
Which way?
Robin navigating
Finally a peek at the cathedral


A Love Song – a video from Jan 8, 2013 Najera

This elderly gentleman came in when we stayed a night at the municipal albergue in Najera. I found out later from our hospitalero that he does this frequently. He simply enjoys spending his evening hours amongst the pilgrims. Luke, one of the pilgrims from Charleston, SC., spoke Spanish so our evening together convened. He said he has been a singer all his life and started to tell us some of his life’s stories. Since I sing, this perked up my interest and he promptly seized the opportunity! He sang many songs including the one he composed for the Spanish Soccer team when they won the World Cup (sorry, I don’t know when this took place) and sang at the local stadium. He even showed us a picture of him, singing at the stadium! I figured it was many years ago since the man in the picture looked very young…
I don’t know if it was the wine we were sharing or perhaps, he just felt comfortable with us, for he offered to sing one last song, his favorite. I asked him if it was okay for me to video his song – he delightfully agreed.
Enjoy his love story…..

My favorite Camino beverage

After hours of huffing and puffing over snow-laden trails we reached the albergue Monte Irago in Foncebadon on January 23, 2013. We were going to stay in Rabanal but decided to push on to Foncebadon to make the next day’s walk a bit easier, knowing the descent to Ponferrada would be long and hard. We were very happy to see Philipe (the owner and the hospitalero) 2 years after we first met him. After dinner, he asked us if we’d like some after dinner drinks and I happily opted for a glass of pacharan while J and James from NY both opted for a glass of orujo, a typical but very strong Spanish liquor. We talked about our discovery of the carajillo, an espresso drink mixed with (a liberal amount of) cognac or orujo, and how much we’ve enjoyed it, especially on cold (and wet!) days. Philipe then decided to show us how to modify orujo with fruits and sugar to either drink it as is or make carajillo with it, instead of with just cognac or straight Orujo. Apparently, this is very common in Spain and many people in rural villages make their own versions. It was fun to watch Philipe adding apples, lemons, and coffee beans to the orujo, and then setting the whole thing on fire. The excess alcohol burned away as Philipe enlightened us on this small part of Spanish culture. We all shared a warm, and fun filled evening in front of the fireplace (with lots of laughter) knowing our soaked clothing and boots were being dried for the next day’s walk, as we sipped Filipe’s magical elixir.


Botafumeiro – fly it once more!

The day we arrived at Santiago they did not fly the botafumeiro but they did the next day at the Pilgrim Mass. Perhaps that was due to the many priests visiting from USA, Italy and Germany on that day. Who knows? It sure was nice to hear the first reading proclaimed in English! We were sitting at the north transept so the view was a bit obscured but we were happy to see the botafumeiro flying again.