Day 2 Photos

Almost time for dinner. Here are a few more pics.The last photo is our hotel in Las Herrerias, all lodgings have been 2 thumbs up. This is the best so far.

Hoping you too will embark on travels that will enlighten and inform.

Photos. Few Words

Restaurant opens in 45 minutes, so here are some photos from Days 1 and 2. Can captions be done in _ordpress? (The “double u” key on the Belkin keyboard has a mind of its o_n, so you may have to figure the _ord out yourself.)

Day 1

First pilgrims we saw.

As the day went on:Jackie O:Morning pilgrims:Spain: Pilgrims on horseback:Day 2:

A Pilgrim’s Progress

We are in Las Herrerias, at the foot of an 8 km. uphill trek, which we will tackle tomorrow. It’s been gorgeous today. (Am going to work on this for another 20 minutes, then publish it, and then return to the daily pilgrimage report in a bit.

At breakfast we sat with four Canadians; one has already completed two Caminos, two are joining him for the first time, and one is riding from stop to stop on the luggage van or a local bus (€1.25 a ticket!). Don, the third-time pilgrim, had the best advice so far. Rather than a 28 km. walk today, do it tomorrow, so that the tough mountain climb takes place first thing in the morning. Our legs will be fresh, and it will be the coolest part of the day. Sold. Thank you, Don from Ontario.

As a result, we arrived at our hotel at 1 pm. Relaxation.

Update: Luggage is here; Debbie absolutely overjoyed to put on her favorite outdoor shoes and a hiking skort. Me, I’m delighted to change out of my hiking pants — after 5 days they are pretty ripe.

Mountains all around us, the uphill journey tomorrow we hope will give us strength for our inner challenges.

More soon.

Day One Is Done

Cold and dark this morning, upper 40s with day breaking later than in Virginia, 7:30 or so.  Out the door by 8:10.

The Camino de Santiago passes behind and below the hotel. We walked through the streets and down stairs, passing kids headed to school. We glanced across a busy street and saw two pilgrims with bright trekking jackets and hiking poles, headed west.  We’d made it to the Camino, we were on our way! Yes!
This is going to be short, I’ll explain later. 

Here are some first mpressions:

Many more people than on the Coast to Coast, our hike in England in 2015.  A minute or two after seeing our first pilgrims, more hikers appeared, all converging on the path from where they’d spent the night.  In 30 minutes, as suburbs became homes in the country, with large yards and vegetable gardens, there were about 70 people within 60 yards of us.  The morning rush, I think.  Leave early, move fast, steady pace, quick stop for coffee. Their goal is to arrive at their destination early to get in line to claim a bed at an albergue, a pilgrim hostel. 

During the day, we met a Hungarian, a Californian, and a French man, and we also chatted with a European (never got his country) who recently spent a summer in Herndon teaching at a tai kwon do academy.  We later said hello to an older Spanish man who was picking grapes in a vineyard beside the Camino. He called and gestured and then picked several clusters of grapes for us.  Delicious.

Pilgrim’s lunch is a bargain at 10 or 11 euros, including wine, but may be too much in the middle of the day. 

We discovered what the Google translate app can do, thanks to a passing pilgrim. Take a picture of a Spanish menu (any foreign language document, I think) with the app, and the English translation magically appears. (Debbie: “Now we can go anywhere!”)

Stopped at a small church to get our pilgrim’s passport stamped. It was beautiful inside, ornate yet peaceful. An unexpected treat.

Ponferrada gets an A+ for clearly marking The Way, Villafranca del Bierzo not so much. We got lost, adding an extra 1/2 mile or more to our hike. 

It was 48 degrees when we set out.  Temperatures hit the 80s by 3:30.  After lunch, we walked beside a highway in blazing sun, 
and uphill a lot.  It was hard and not fun, especially for Debbie.  A hotel room never was so welcoming.

At least 15 miles for us today.  So, best to stay close to the hotel, do little, and turn in.

Here are a few pictures. Hope to supplement them tomorrow or Friday. 

Buen Camino.

Getting Closer

On the train to Ponferrada, starting point for our Camino de Santiago. *

Madrid is great city, but we explored only within 500 meters of our hotel.  Pathetic, really.  But lovely helpful people, well-preserved city center architecture, and a vibrant retail scene.  We have replenished our s(t)ocks.

Brilliant sunshine, warm and dry.  The terrain that the train is traversing (alliteration always) is arid — miles and miles of dusty light brown country. Spots of green.

Zero photos of Madrid, not like me at all.  Spent too much emotional energy on the stupid baggage problem. There are a hundred lessons here. The main one, as Debbie said, is that it’s best to wake up thinking about all we have, not what we’ve lost.

The people we’ve met have made all the difference.  Even on the plane flying over there were happy, laid-back passengers, proud of their homeland, joyful even. It’s all about a positive attitude.  We don’t speak their language, but a lot of helpful communication still took place. They wanted a good outcome by offering to help.

St. James says we must return.

A special thank you to Susan Brown who from her home in Valencia recommended Decathlon for gear, and to Masha Skuratovskaya in Juneau. She and her husband traveled through Spain while their bags went elsewhere, and pointed us straight to H&M.  Finally, jammies.  See, help arrived even from around the globe.

The walk starts tomorrow, 13 miles on Day 1.

Update:  Luggage is now in Spain and the great reunion will take place in a couple of days, in time for our steepest descent. Yes! Hiking poles!

Vaya con Dios! Translation: “Go with God.”

* Not posted until Ponferrada, so here are a few shots of the town.

Thank Goodness It’s a Pilgrimage – Trying Times Before We Even Get Under Way

(Thought for the day: Do the Gospels ever mention that Jesus got off to a late start on one of his trips around the Sea of Galilee, or that he headed down one dusty road in Palestine and the donkey carrying the wine and supplies went down another?)

Our Camino de Santiago hike officially started yesterday when we left Richmond. Our plane backed away from the gate at 5:49 p.m., 39 minutes late. We then stopped midfield — before takeoff — due to an emergency at JFK, thus missing our connecting flight to Madrid. Re-booked on Air Europa. Because it took forever for the agents to issue boarding passes for us, our bags (they said) weren’t released by Delta to Air Europa until about 3 minutes before we boarded the plane. Flight was fine, quiet for a packed Airbus, left around 11 p.m., arrived in sunny and dry Spain 12.5 hours later.

No luggage at the carousel, no leaving the airport anytime soon as we filed a lost luggage report. Lots of waiting, lots of explanations, lots of paperwork.

So here we are. Madrid to us is a welcoming hotel, lots of discussion about how to round up our bags, feeling generally grimy, an interesting urban landscape around our hotel, time and money spent at Cortes de Inglis department store, a nice meal at an outdoor cafe, and just now a warm shower and doing laundry in the shower, and soon to sleep.

We hope to see our bags again; we have the bare minimum to make the hike, but there are gaps — one pair of socks for me, one pair of pants, and one of us could use a few things in the intimate apparel department. No pajamas.

Both of us will sorely miss our hiking poles — the ONLY reason we had bags to check. Hiking poles aren’t allowed in carry-on baggage.

Neither of us can even contemplate what we’ll wear in Paris after we are done.

It will be great if our luggage is returned to us, but we will be in a different town every night that we are in Spain. And as of three hours ago, Air Europa was “still searching” for our bags. Oh, dear.

On the plus side, we are entitled to some compensation from the airline (peanuts, really, and more paperwork), and we have trip insurance. But we don’t have hiking poles!

Hardly any photos yet, and none of Spain. My mind was otherwise occupied.

One photo at the Richmond airport, one of sunset over NYC. I hope to figure out photo placement soon.

Adios for today.