Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Last night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with new friends, pilgrims from south Orange County in California.   A touch of home.  They started their camino in Lourdes France and will end in Fatima in Portugal after joining Sue's  brother and sister-in-law when they enter Santiago in a few days.  They walked together from st. Jean. PdP in France to Burgos  but due to different pace and ages decided to split after Sue needed a few days off due to injuries.  They took the train to Sarria and are walking at their own pace now and enjoying their separate adventure.  Everyone has their own pace and you are encouraged to walk it even it it means letting friends stay behind or walk ahead of you.

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This morning I went out in the dark to see the moon, no moon....we are low enough that we are once again under the layer of fog that spreads it's roof over the land that is known for wet weather patterns.  The many mountain streams are testament to the amount of moisture in the air.

We  ventured out at 8:30 am into light fog and daylight to begin out morning walk.  We were on fairly level trails until we stopped for breakfast at Portos.

After breakfast we left the trail and walked north off trail for less than two miles to a 12th to 13th century church out in the country.   Considered a transitional church between Gothic and Romansque, Jim was thrilled in that the caretaker arrived just as we did and opened up the church an hour earlier than we'd expected.  He also gave us a wonderful tour all in Spanish.  This was an ancient seat of the Knights of Santiago or more commonly known as the Knights Templar.  An hour later we were back on the road south for about two miles and then again on the Camino trail headed east towards our next hotel in Palas de Rei.  Soon we had some rolling hills through woodlands but enjoyed the walk especially after the sun came out and we could once again follow our shadows.

We walked a total of 8.68 miles today in just over five hours with two food stops plus the church.  Took us a bit to find our lodgings. I'd forgotten that it was on the next page of maps as it was located right on the trail but after we walked through the town.  Thank goodness for the Navigator took us right there once I'd thought to use it.

All checked in and will be going to dinner soon here in the hotel.  Tomorrow we walk across the highway and we are on the Camino. ....   buen camino


Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Had a morning and left about 9 am.  Beautiful full moon was still visible in the sky....hope to wake early one morning this week and walk by moonlight.  We are above the fog 5his morning and the valleys look like huge lakes and the mountaintops like islands.

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Our walk was only about four miles and we took a little over two hours including a stop for some breakfast.  Fairly gently with little ups and downs.  One area we were on what was a fire break...actually a road between the burned hills on our left and the beautiful green forest on the right. 

Jim got to experience some rocky trail today...we really appreciate our walking poles on this type of trail.

We had lots of pilgrims today but not too many huge groups.  Many had no backpacks so were walking quite rapidly.

We are in a lovely Pension with a private room and private bath for only an extra five euros.  Had the laundry done and have enjoyed the afternoon planning our next few days.  Have a couple from south Orange County on our Pension .
Buen Camino


Monday, September 28, 2015


We were awake early so left before daylight,  jim got to use a headlamp.  It was a wet foggy morning as we joined a steady stream of pilgrims on the trail that went steadily up for over a mile.  We soon had light but the sun didn't break through the fog until about eleven o'clock.    By that time we were well into our nearly eight mile walk in four and a half hours.

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We didn't have a place to stop until we were half way there, and that was jammed.  Jim had hot  chocolate and I enjoyed a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice along with the banana that we'd purchased yesterday.  That was breakfast.  Then I got into line with a dozen or so women to use the bano.

By the time we were back on the trail we were well rested and prepared for the second half of the trail which again included some climbing and this time in the sun.  But, we did enjoy shade trees along the majority of the trail.

Jim was sure we'd missed our village but I assured him we had not.  At this point of the camino there are very few alternate routes and so many pilgrims it's difficult to get lost.

About 12:30 we came down into a valley and found out home for the night at Hppistal da Cruz.  It's a tiny village with two albergues and farms and that's it.  Not sure how well the wifi will work but we do have a connection.

Finally settled in we enjoyed a lunch of ham and cheese omelets with a glass of beer. Jim is now napping.  Private room but nine rooms share two bathrooms.

We have a German couple staying that we met in Casa Morgade.  They are  English-speaking so will probably join them for dinner this evening.
 Buen Camino


Sunday, September 27, 2015


It was a beautiful Sunday morning, a bit foggy, for our seven mile walk over four hours.   By the time we arrived in Portomarin the sun was bright and hot, glad we were finished for the day.  The town was completely moved stone by stone in the 1960s when they build a dam up the hill to the present site.  The level is so low right now the old Roman bridge and foundations from the old town are  visible along the river.  We walked down to look at all of it after dinner.

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Our walk this morning was a wonderful stroll for the most part along country roads.  Had to stop for a herd of cattle being taken to their pasture for the day and saw a group of people in their Sunday best waiting for the bus to go to mass we assumed.  No huge crowds of pilgrims today which was nice but did see people about every fifteen minutes or so as we walked.  The last mile was a steep descent but on country paved roads.  We took it slow and steady all the way down.  Then back up to the town.

Stopped about half way and enjoyed a rest from the backpacks and had breakfast of tortilla de patatta...the spanish omlette.  Arrived about 1 pm and as we crossed the bridge Jim had his first experience of meeting a pilgrim for the second time. It's always an unexpected joy to see someone again as when you part you are never sure if you'll see them again.  Today we met the couple with the ukele again. 

We have  private bedroom tonight but are sharing the bathroom with three other private rooms.  And so ends another day on the camino. 

Buen camino



I thought I was the only still on the trail that started early in August but today we met the young German man who I've stayed with and/or seen in several villages.  I introduced him to Jim and in talking I discovered he started from st. Jean two days before I began.  He has the time right now and is going slowly and enjoying the journey. 

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Today was very crowded, three large tour buses deposited about two hundred people on the trail at the 100 km mark so that they could do the journey with no backpack as rapidly as possible. They will do about 25 km per day and finish in santiago.  Some were almost running. 

It was mostly uphill and we struggled a bit but it was good that we only did twelve km, about nine miles in four hours.  No places to really stop other rocks along the trail.  We had a surprise concert by a man in full kilt playing a bagpipe...took a video which I will post on Facebook tomorrow when we have wifi.  Yes, we're in a lovely place in the mountains but there is no wifi.  With our T-Mobile we can do text and limited email, but that's about it.  Definitely no photos.

The hordes of new pilgrims also stopped here for refreshments,  so it was very busy for several hours.  One that stopped, and they were not on the bus, was fun to talk with.  She was on her second Camino and had started from St. Jean and he'd just arrived yesterday in Sarria like Jim.  They were from Minneapolis and he was very into Art so he and Jim had some deep conversation.  I asked what he was carrying in his backpack.  The neck of the case was protruding out the top.  It was a tenor classical uklela that he always travels with.  We talked him into playing for us and I also have that video for you tomorrow.

A large beer and we relaxed and enjoyed the afternoon.  It's now time for dinner and I will post this tomorrow. Buen Camino


Friday, September 25, 2015


A long day that started at 5:30 am to the tune of multiple snores surrounding me.  It's now after 9 pm and Jim is already asleep in our very quiet hotel room.

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I walked the 2 miles into Sarria this morning with another pilgrim who has problems with her knees.  We parted ways just over the bridge as she left for Morgade and I went looking for our hotel.  Got checked in, and also arranged transport of Jim's suitcase for the balance of the trip.  I was able to lighten my pack by about five pounds that I was able to put in his suitcase.  I'll zip up that mountain tomorrow!

I met Jim at the bus station and we walked to the hotel.  Sarria seems like a big city after so many days in the small villages...but it's only a nice sized town.  We're able to walk everywhere we need to go.  Reorganized the bags and then went eat dinner along the river.  Afterwards we walked up what seemed like a zillion steps to the church where we registered Jim as an official pilgrim starting his camino journey tomorrow.

Afterwards it was back to the hotel and soon to bed.  It's been a long day for both of us.  Buen Camino


Thursday, September 24, 2015


This is my last solo day as tomorrow I will walk two miles into Sarria and met Jim when he arrives by bus from Madrid.  He's still enjoying the museums there today.

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Lori, who I met yesterday in Samos, needed to walk a long distance today and arrive in Morgade by three this afternoon.  Jim and I will slowly walk there by Saturday afternoon!  So I agreed to get up early and walk with her until we had daylight.  Actually, I was thrilled to be asked as she had to agree to walk my pace with me.  We agreed to leave by 7 am.  By 5:30 I was awake and getting ready and so was she so by 6:30 we were out the door. 

It was one of the darkest mornings I've stars or moon could be seen.  We were so glad we were together, especially when we went into the grave yard to get a better photo of the bell tower on the church which didn't come out after all.

We had a great time together for two hours and then she was off to walk much faster to make it up the mountain to Morgade.  I slowed down and enjoyed myself more as I walked the country road that led me to the outskirts of Sarria.  It was at least half an hour before I saw a pilgrim or any human on the road.  It was a lonely walk but enjoyed the variety of sounds in the forest.   I saw some  tiny baby calves that couldn't have been more than a week old. 

Chestnut trees were still full of spiky green balls and I found a few walnuts and one smooth green ball that was still whole with the walnut inside.

I finally arrived at a village that had an open bar and stopped after nearly seven miles.  Soon a couple from Oregon stopped and than another American.  I didn't realize it at the time but I was nearly at my albergue when I stopped.

I arrived very early at my albergue  Paloma y Lena in less than a mile.  It is in San Mamede, a farming community just two miles outside of Sarria.   I will walk there tomorrow and Jim will come by bus from Madrid.  It is one of the best albergues that I've stayed at.  Family run and A+ on condition and service.  

I had a cup of tea, chatted with two Russian girls who stopped for a cup of coffee, and then checked in before leaving for a walk to the outskirts of Sarria and back. ... adding three miles to my total.

I've talked to Jim using Whatsapp, washed my hair and laundry and now enjoying the afternoon.  FYI, in addition to having dinner with Lori we also enjoyed her walking partner from yesterday at our table.  He owns eight real estate offices in Canada, and Lori is in Marketing strategies so it was a lively dinner table.  He walks 30 to 40 km every day so was gone before six o'clock and will complete his camino within just a few days.  I loved that he has booked a room in the Parador hotel across from the cathedral in Santiago for his day there.  He'd be a tough act to follow as he never seems to stop.  But Lori and I both enjoyed getting to know him.  By the way, the food was outstanding. I had veal and you could cut it with your fork.  And, the restaurant is open all afternoon so we were able to eat at 5 pm and still attend the 7:30 pm mass at the monastery.  

It was a great day both yesterday and today.  Looking forward to seeing Jim tomorrow afternoon.  Tonight we have a vegetarian dinner here in the albergue.   It's full of pilgrims for the night so it will be a lively table with many different languages.    Buen camino


Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Had a bit of fog during the morning but overall it's another beautiful day in Spain.  Today I walked 6.79 miles in four hours.  No place to stop for tea so it went faster.   The first half was on and off of a highway...not so nice;  but the second half was on beautiful trails through wooded areas and tiny villages full of cows and I even found some pigs today.  The terrain a lot of ups and downs but only one really hard hill that was down steeply and very uneven rocks.

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A note...we follow cow paths most of our days so you have to able to tolerate the odor and watch your steps constantly. Another reason our walking shoes are not brought into the bedrooms.

Tonight I'm in the village of Samos that surrounds a huge sixth century monastery out in the middle of nowhere.  I took a tour this afternoon of the monastery and plan to go back tonight for the 7:30 Mass.

Today I saw corn...that was as high as an elephants eye... my first pigs, many small churches mostly closed.  I had to stop once to allow a farmer to move his cows past me on the way to their pasture.

I had a wonderful dinner with two new pilgrims and then attended the 7:30 pm mass in the monastery.  It's been a very good day.  And Jim is sound asleep by now in Madrid.  He arrived at his hotel about noon and we talked.

  Buen camino


Tuesday, September 22, 2015


The dinner last night was a communal type with the entire albergue at a huge table. We each had a bowl, soup spoon , knife, fork and glass.  The wine and water bottles kept arriving along with the bread.  Soup in large quantities appeared all along the table.  When we'd eaten our fill the large platters of potatoes and tender beef appeared, we used our soup bowl for our plate.  Dessert was a slice of lemon torte covered in powdered sugar that we ate using our hands. A wonderful dinner with outstanding table conversation.

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Remember the couple pulling their things on a single wheel cart outside of Leon.  They sat across from me and I asked if they had the single wheeled cart?   They looked puzzled and then said yes but it had broken on the trails and now they are each carrying a backpack.  I said I'd posted a photo on facebook.  I found it for them and am sending them a copy on their email. 

And also across from me were two ladies from Indianapolis and Greenwood Indiana.... 40 miles north of my birthplace.  So we shared stories of living in Indiana.  Leaving for the walk back we found a changed weather pattern which produced a spectacular evening sky.

This morning came early and I left about 8 am in the early morning light and fog that quickly surrounded you as the pilgrims began the descent in light mist as we moved lower and into the fog layer.

We eventually passed below on our twisting country road that slowly but surely took us lower and lower into the valley below.  I  descended two thousand  feet over the next four and a half hours.  I made two stops at villages for toilet, food to pay for the toilet and a rest in the process.  The ladies from Indiana were at the first stop so we had another chance to visit.  My total milage for the day was 6.82 miles. 

More on the home countries of pilgrims I've met:  England, Ireland, Scotland,  Poland and I'm sure a few more.  It would probably be easier to list who isn't represented on this trail.  I'm meeting more and more Americans.   My first were from Arizona, Georgia, Ohio,  Vermont, Iowa,  California,  Illinois,  Indiana,  Florida,  Texas, Nevada and so many more.  We are well represented.  The couple from Poland  today wanted to know why and how Americans know about this walking trail in Spain? 

Walking this morning I saw a man with braces on both knees walking very fast and carrying his walking poles.  Again, it is the foolish who have injuries.  I also saw more chestnuts in their green spiky balls and walnuts inside their smooth green balls.  Both grow on trees in Spain.

Tonight I'm in the small town of Triacastela, so named because centuries ago there were three castles.  All that remains today is there images carved on the bell tower of the town church.

I've met some American ladies here from Northern California and I invited myself to eat dinner with them tonight.  Jim is flying to Madrid today so keep him in your prayers.

 Buen camino


Monday, September 21, 2015


Village church bells in Padornelo
My favorite first course at dinner
It's another glorious day in Spain.  Cool in the morning and warming up fast when the sun slides above the hills.

Started walking at daybreak.  I was awake at six and went outside to see the sky which was alive with brilliant stars.  They looked like you could reach out and touch them.  Spotted the big and little dippers and more.  The north star was so bright I thought it was an airplane!

But I thought it best to wait until I had enough light to spot the cow pies I knew were in the roads and trails I was traveling today.  Left at 7:15 am and three and a half hours later I'd arrived at the albergue Reboleira in Fonfria.  It was recommended by another pilgrim ahead of me and they were right, one of the best I've stayed in during my journey.

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I hadn't remembered we had one more peak on the O'Cebreiro Stage,  but once more this morning the yellow arrows pointed up and we climbed back up to 4416 feet at Alto do Poio .   Good news was it had a bar where many stopped for breakfast including yours truly.   There I met a lady from Iowa who is traveling solo and we enjoyed our break together.
Leaving the area I finally started my descent of the mountain.   I've still got another five miles tomorrow, and that section is the steepest.   Think I'll wait for daylight again tomorrow. 

Last night I enjoyed the company of three good friends from Scotland for dinner.  They come each year and walk for a week, starting from their stopping point each time.  The plan is to finish next year.

Lots of pilgrims arriving.  I'm also looking for friends who I know are behind me hoping they'll catch me on these slow stages.  I've been thinking about the various pilgrims I've met over the last weeks.  They've been from Spain, France,  Germany, Italy,  Portugal, Belgium, Netherland,  Sweden,  Russia,  Romania, Hungary, America,  Canada, Mexico, Korea,  China, Chili, Brazil,  Venuzala , South Africa,  New Zealand , Austrilia, Tunisia and those are just the ones I can remember easily.  It is a coming together of people from around the world for a wide variety of reasons and gaining a new understanding of the world around us.  It's an amazing journey, so much more than I ever expected.
  Buen camino


Sunday, September 20, 2015


I was thrilled that I was able to post those photos yesterday.  We had unusually good wifi...not so today.  It's a lovely little albergue but we have to go two blocks for wifi and food.  But for eleven euros...and very hot's good.  And it's right on the downhill of O'Cebreiro so we can watch the pilgrims who are still coming down in the hot sun.  I see many who walk past five o'clock in the afternoon.  Today I saw a pilgrim riding a recumbent bike, I'd heard about him earlier. Also saw the three women riding horses, no gear so they are probably on a tour with their baggage being transported.  But they were wearing proper riding clothes.  I also saw them yesterday evening.

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Last night I  was able to eat at 6 pm which was nice.  Then to bed early.  I discovered my roommates were all French friends traveling together.  They were very nice but I soon discovered all seven had head colds and snored.  I took a benedryl pill, put in my ear plugs and tucked my head into my sleeping bag. 

Up early this morning, I was out at dawn which is always nice but chilly for the hands.  But the sun comes over the mountains soon and then we're shedding jackets.

Today I walked 5.11 miles in three and a half hours including a stop for breakfast at the top in the village of O'Cebreiro.   There I also saw the mother and daughter from Seattle.  I met them three days ago and last night we talked as they came through the village where I stayed.  They were walking on to O'Cebreiro to spend the night.  When they arrived they found that there was no beds any where in the village.  The mother takes a blood thinner and had had a bad reaction the day before and she'd had to go to a hospital for an infusion.  So they really needed a bed.   Suddenly two glowing American girls walked towards them and said "we've had our showers and feel so great we've decided to walk further this evening!  Would you like to have our room."   The camino provides is a saying we hear all of the time....and it does.  We call these girls camino angels. 

We walked together for awhile but they are going all the way down the mountain today so they were soon well past me.

The walk up to O'Cebreiro took me about ninety minutes.  I climbed from 3784 ft to 4560 feet at the summit.  Slow but steady pace to the tune of the cow bells that were ringing nearly all the way up.  They were on a trail below me and finally entered the road I was on and went past me with the three farmers who were with them.

After breakfast I continued on the green trail through the forest.  There was an iron cross on the hill but somehow I missed the turnoff but while stopped for photos I saw it behind me through the trees.  Too far to go back to the narrow path that I thought might have taken me there.  But I did get a good photo.

When I reached Alto San Roque at about 4200 ft there was a monument of a pilgrim that everyone was doing photos at.  I took a selfie but the best one has a pilgrim coming out the top of my head.  Oh well. 

Soon I was through the next little village and before I knew it I'd arrived in the village of Hospital.  So named because in ancient times there were hospitals here to care for injured pilgrims.  Now the village church is closed and there are two places for pilgrims to find a bed and one place for wifi and food.  Definitely one of those places you'd miss if you blinked as you drove past. 

I arrived at 11:30 am and had to wait on the porch until 1 pm to check in, but nice bench and great view.

The beds are good...only 20 in one room.  But food and wifi at the bar.  It's nearly 5 o'clock and only a couple of beds left.  As we get closer to Sarria it will become harder to find beds late in the day.  Jim and I have pre reserved all of our rooms for after he arrives.  I arrive so early and a single bed in the dorms is pretty easy to do.

Take care and pray that camino angels keep appearing when needed.
Buen camino


Saturday, September 19, 2015


Have arrived for the night in Laguna de Castillo at a lovely new albergue and only nine euros for a bed. We are just below the summit of O'Cebreiro at 3777 ft.  It was just under five miles and took me four hours at a slow steady pace.  The trail was very rocky in places, glad I had my walking poles..they kept me from a nasty tumble once.  I started at 2350 ft this morning and dropped down to 2152 ft before starting the climb.

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About that time I met a lovely Canadian woman who has done the Camino many times and gives talks about the journey and especially the spiritual aspects of it.  She has her first client with her on this trip as she is beginning  a new tour business as a guide on the camino.

Enjoyed our walk together to LaFaba where I stopped for a break and she continued on as they were doing the mountain in one day.

Last night was a great experience.  First of all I once again met Mois  (sorry, not sure of the spelling).  I've seen him about every two weeks throughout this journey. He's from the San Joaquin Valley in California.  He seemed so much happier this time. He finally decided to have his pack transported ocassionally, and he's beginning to plan his trip for after Santiago.  Looks like he may do a tour bus from London to Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Nice fellow and good to see him again.  The dinner was wonderful,  we had a french couple, two germans, a Swedish lady and me.  Soup, salad, spaggetti and dessert..all served with a smile.   We were awakened this morning by classical music.  A nice place except bad wifi.

Since arriving I have done my laundry and enjoyed watching the exhusted pilgrims arriving who race up the hill.  We had a herd of cattle walk past us.  Four pilgrims  on horses....they advertise that as an option for those that don't want to walk in the altitude.

The views this morning were breathtaking...think sound of music...but the camera didn't do them justice.  The early morning was actually cold enough that I  tried wearing socks on my hands...didn't work very well. But soon the sun came over the hill and it was too warm as we quickly shed jackets.  Another beautiful day in Spain. 
Buen camino


Friday, September 18, 2015


I've been asked about the size of the villages.  Ruitelan, where I am tonight has albergues and a bar.  No stores, no grocery store, no exists solely for housing the pilgrims.  Without the Camino most of these villages would disappear.   From here to Sarria I think most them will be like this one.

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I ate dinner last night with a man from the Netherlands, so glad I'm not married to him.  But it made me appreciate Jim much more.  He has really been great while I've been gone and I'm glad I'll see him in another week.

Today was a slow walk of 6.28 miles in three and a half hours.  One stop to warm my fingers which were frozen, have a glass of hot tea and a croissant.   It warmed up by the time I left.  Our day was along the country road with a concrete barrier for half of it.  The Rio Valcarce river ran along side the road for the last two day...Beautiful sounds even when I couldn't see it.  Saw cows and horses and vineyards.  Found some walnuts on the road.

The altitude here is about 2350 ft.  Have slowly gone up.  Tomorrow I will really be climbing...half way up to 4362 feet which is the top I will go over on Sunday.

But again tomorrow I'm walking just under five miles but it will be a very steep path.  Weather is suppose to be really great for the next few days. 

Buen Camino 


Thursday, September 17, 2015


Last night it turned out the albergue was not serving dinner which was perfect.  I walked back to the bar where I'd had my tea and cake in the morning, went to the dining room and ordered the Pulpo a la galega...octopus.  that plus two glasses of red wine and I was a happy gal.  I'm pretty sure it was steamed and then the sauce was added. .. but it was delicious.

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A bit more expensive by 4 euros than the pilgrim dinner..but it was nice to do something special.   My roommates were out at a bar watching a soccer (futbol) match between spain and rome.  One of them was  happy I never heard who won.  The Italian over did the walking and has shin problems and he couldn't get out of bed this morning so they are letting him stay for a second day.  Both the spanish fellow and myself gave him some of our food (I gave him a banana and a chocolate bar) so that he could eat something with out getting up this morning.   Found out the Spanish fellow is married  and a police officer in Barcelona.  I felt  very safe last night.   But I did put my ear plugs in.  Actually slept the best for days, I never heard them come home...but it had to be before ten o'clock as they lock the doors then.

Woke up late and didn't get out the door until nearly nine o'clock.   But it was another short day so no problem.   I saw a small church and slipped in but it was just ending.  Morning was cool but not cold and although there are some clouds, it's nearly three o'clock now and still no rain or wind.  Actually a beautiful day.
My  walk today was six miles in three hours.  I had a choice of a route along the highway or two different route in the mountains all ending in the same town.  I chose the road because it's easier to follow as I was walking solo.  Most of the time there was a thick wall dividing the path from the highway.  On one side we had a steep mountain that has been burned recently.   The other side was a small stream that was below us a few feet but created a pleasant sound as we walked.  At one point I was crushing walnuts as I walked that had fallen from the trees. 

I stopped midway and had a cup of tea and a french bread for breakfast and after I left I met a German woman walking slow because of a bad foot.  We walked the rest of the way together and then she continued on to the next town where she is meeting her son. 

I arrived at noon and was able to check in.  Did my laundry by hand as it would have been eight euros for wash and dry.  There is a mass at 7 pm tonight in the church at the end of the village that I plan to attend if it's not raining.   I also saw two pilgrims on horses that rode through town but no photo as I was too slow getting to the window.

Buen camino


Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Last night's dinner with Ines, the girl from germany was very nice.  We discovered that we actually saw each other several times on the trail and had dinner in the same place in Foncebadon in the mountains three days ago. This morning she was off to make some miles today before the rain began.

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I walked part of the way today with a young girl from Ireland,  we both decided to take the road as it was shorter but was rather scary as it was busy and there was not much of a shoulder.  But we survived and walked the last hill on a dirt road into  Villafranca del Bierzo together.  She stopped for a snack and then left.  I found my albergue San Nicolas and they let me leave my poles and pack, but I had to wait until noon to check in.  Only a block from the Plaza Mayor where there were plenty of places.  The rain started to pour just as we entered town.

There is a huge monastery here but the doors were shut.  The church that we are attached to is now  a hotel. 

My slow pace is nice...easy to carry my own pack even though I haven't gotten rid of anything. Maybe I've acquired more muscle!   Today was 5.47 miles in just under three hours.  Dinner tonight is here and is only 10 euro with more food than I can eat but I do enjoy the wine they serve with the meal. 

We're in the mountains now of the part of Spain known as Galicia.  The weather is known to change frequently and their special dish is Pulpo a la galega. ...steamed octopus.   I love it so will try to have some while  I'm here.

Buen camino


Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Last night we had a wonderful dinner with all foods prepared from the owners garden.  Mostly vegetables. .. a pureed soup, salad and quiche followed by lemon pie.  We had a young man from Germany who is walking in thanksgiving for surviving cancer.  A Belgium man who has taken five months off work with no salary to walk from his home near Brussels though France (by way of Vesalay. .. a favorite church of mine) and into Spain.  He has walked well over one thousand km to date and still has a few more to go.  We also had two french ladies along with Pauline and myself.

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This morning Pauline caught the 6:45 am train to Sarria and will try to complete that part only due to her knee and blister problems.   I missed her company today

My day started early after another big breakfast which is so unusual.  Nice to have cereal along with the breads.

By 7:15 am I was on the street with my headlamp...there was some light but not much.  Soon the Belgium man was with me.  It was two miles to the city edge.  By then there were many pilgrims walking and the rain had begun.

Level walking and light rain for the entire ten miles.  I stopped midway and had some hot chocolate and a rest with my backpack off.  The worst was having the plastic poncho on all day.

Saw some beautiful churches,  some with stork nests on top.  Pumpkin patches, many vinyards,  wine tasting rooms, apple orchards, and more unusual flowers.  This was a nice day with two villages and one town to walk through before I reached my destination about four and a half hours later.

The skies opened up just as I arrived in Cacabelos, my destination.  The albergue La Gallego was at the end of town so I had to splash through many blocks of ever deepening rain puddles before I found my lodging.  It is part of a regular hotel and very nice.

I'm in a two bunk bed room with an in suite bathroom for the four of us, all women.  One German,  two hungarian and me.  The cost was ten euros for each of us.  The rain has continued all day and we're all trying to dry our gear for tomorrow when more rain is predicted.
Buen Camino


Monday, September 14, 2015


Nearly eleven miles today in almost six hours.  No rain but expected 90% tomorrow.  Today was a tough 1500 ft descent that took us three hours.  Much of it was on top of rock. 

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We started the morning in the dark with our headlamps.  I walked today with Pauline from Chili who I met last night.  She has problems with blisters and knees
She started with no practice....she's young.  Tomorrow she is taking the train to Sarria and will walk from there.  She'd started in Leon.  But it was nice having a slow walker with me today.

We had some problems finding our Albergue Alea...but worth the trouble as it is very nice.  Shared a load of laundry so have clean socks for half the price.  Eating dinner here tonight.  Nice people and very clean and sheets and blanket for only 10 euro.  No sleeping bag tonight.

Solo tomorrow in the rain for ten miles..

Buen camino


Sunday, September 13, 2015


This was taken in light rain at La Cruz de Ferro early this morning.  This has become an important part of the Camino for pilgrims to leave a token representing reasons for walking the camino. 

I said goodbye to my pilgrim friend Kathleen from Canada at this point, she is who I have been walking with for the past seven days.  She has a ticket home on September 25 and must start walking many more miles each day to finish her Compostela journey.  I have to walk fewer miles each day and will carry my large backpack most days when I can.

Last night we had dinner with pilgrim friends where they served a vegetarian paella, delicious.  It was a cold night and they had a fire burning in the common area when we arrived back at our albergue.  Everyone was trying to get their laundry dry.

This morning we woke to fog and expected rain.  By the time we walked the two km to the iron cross at La Cruz De Ferro everyone was putting on their rain gear. 

Goodbyes were said and we continued to the top of the mountain in the rain..but no flies today.  I reached an elevation of 4906 feet today at the top and by the time I reached the village...still in the mountains...we were down to 3704 feet.

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Along the way I stopped for many photos even with the rain.  Once I offered to take a group photo and they turned out to be a group of family and friends from various states in the USA.  I saw them again as I entered the village, they'd stopped for a late breakfast.   It was nearly noon, eight miles and five hours after I began walking this morning.  I've now completed 337 miles on my journey.  The American group are well organized, various ages from college age to probably about sixty.  One leader who set the routes each day and reserved all of there rooms before coming to Spain.  That means that they are using private pensions and hotels. 

It's still raining outside and is getting worst by the hour.  Hopefully it will be dry tomorrow when I continue down the mountain for nine miles to the big city of Ponferrada.  Buen camino
Not the 5 to 10 euros a night in most cases in the albergue. Although if they are using dorms you can reserve and still get a 10 euro rate.  I asked id they were all walking together all the time and was told yes...they only walk as fast as the slowest member.  I did not reserve ahead for today's lodging and it's a beautiful new albergue that is run like a hotel. We don't have to be out of the room until 10 am.  And, breakfast is served until 10 am. In the usual place out by 8 am and  breakfast is before 7 am.  I feel like I'm living in luxury tonight even though I'm in an 8 bed dorm room at 10 euro for the bed.  It's called Albergue La Casa del Peregrine in El Acebo.

Buen Camino


Saturday, September 12, 2015


Well it's been an interesting day.  We slept in as the bus didn't arrive until 9:30 am.  Yes, we rode the bus along with a dozen other pilgrims to Astorga and then took a taxi to Rabanal. ..knocking 30 miles off of our journey. 

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One reason  was because this is the area when the American woman disappeared last March.  Well early this morning we learned that her body was discovered yesterday and the main suspect has confessed. Hundreds of police in the area.  Secondly, my walking partner is running out of time and needs to skip ahead so this worked.

We got off of the bus in astorga and discovered we needed to take a taxi for the second leg.  So we played tourist with our backpacks on and visited the cathedrale and then the Gaudio palace.  Had some lunch and at noon got a taxi to Rabanal.  There we got out at the church, made a visit and then started the 3.6 mile route up the mountain.  It took us two hours to reach the top on the very rocky path and it was full of flies that screamed at our face the entire way.

But the reward was the village of Foncebadon at the top.  Totally abandoned it is slowly being rebuilt and at the top near the  church we found a brand new year old....albergue La Cruz de Ferro that is very modern and wonderful.

Have done our wash and showered.  Now gathered in the common Room near the stove to do our wifi.  Later we're walking into the village for dinner.  We have five Americans and a woman from Syria walking to thank God for her Christian faith. 

Weather wise very cold in morning and evening but hot in the afternoon.  Looked like rain this morning but cleared. 
Buen Camino


Friday, September 11, 2015


Time is winding down, pilgrims I started this journey with are beginning to arrive in Santiago de Compostela for their completion.  Jim and I won't arrive until October 8th.  But we are going to enjoy the last 100 km at a very relaxed pace.

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Last night in Leon the mass lasted for an hour as the nuns sang their vesper at the beginning of the mass.  Beautiful but I'm sure confusing for some.  The pilgrim blessing just before ten o'clock was also lovely but again confusing with trying to incorporate all the different languages.

We said goodbye to our Irish friends after dinner as they are stopping here in Leon and will continue again next year.   We  were incouraging them to get at least one night in a Parador Hotel on the next segment which they will finish in Santiago. 

Today we all woke up after a long night of sleeplessness..there was a party in the plaza outside our windows until after 3 am.  We had to be in by 10:30 pm but the locals were enjoying themselves.

We'd planned to bus to the edge of the city but walked instead.  We saw some beautiful parts of the city that we would have missed and the view of the skyline of the city from a distance was great.

The day was a long fourteen mile walk that took us seven hours as we made several stops.  It was mostly a gravel path separated from the highway that we followed. 

Tonight we are in Villadangos del Paramo in the municipal albergue. .. very nice.  Tomorrow we are going to take the bus and skip two sections.  We chose these as this is where they are still looking for the American pilgrim who disappeared last April.   It will be 31 miles by bus...the first part is easy as it is on a main highway.  The second part is questionable as it will be on small mountain roads we think.  Always an adverture.  So glad I have Kathleen with me as she is fluent in Spanish.

The afternoon has sailed by and it's nearly dinner.  We have the very best wifi for days so I'm trying to add a couple of photos from today.  Buen camino


Thursday, September 10, 2015


Last night I shared a dinner with eight other pilgrims, wonderful times and great stories.  Bed was in the municipal albergue and we had about 32 people in our room.

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No sleeping in this morning.  Those who were walking all the way in to Leon were on the road early.  We decided to follow the guide book and enjoyed breakfast before catching the bus for twelve miles in to the large city of Leon.  From the bus station we walked into the city center and toured the cathedral with our backpack...yes, I carried mine today; before walking to the albergue Santa Maria run by nuns and located in a Monastery.  The women are on the first floor and the men on the second.  No sharing toilets and showers tonight.

We have a mass at 7 pm, pilgrims dinner at 7:30 pm and then a special service at 9:45 pm for blessing the pilgrims before bed and lights out at 10:30.

I walked with Kathleen to the train station today and she purchased her train ticket from Santiago to Madrid.  Eventually she must cut out a few days so that she will have time to do all of the 100 km required to receive her certicate in Santiago.  When that happens I once again will look for a new walking partner.  Monika, my first, reached santiago today in time for the pilgrim Mass at noon.  I shared her video of the mass on facebook for you.  Katia is a day ahead now and must also begin to skip ahead like Kathleen to make her goal.   Injuries for all three have allowed me to enjoy them but also caused them to have to change their schedules.  It's a jouney full of surprises.
Buen camino


Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Today I logged mile 300 as we walked 12.64 miles in six and a half hours including several stops. One of our pilgrim friends walked for two hours by herself in the wrong direction when a spanish man stopped and asked her if she was walking the camino?  He told her she was walking away from the trail.  He then drove her back to the trail.  Fortunately we were at that location and then added her to our family for the walk into Mansilla de Las Mulas where we are all staying at the municipal albergue. ..very nice and we three combined to get a load of laundry done in the machine.

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Along the road today we passed a french couple with a pair of donkeys that have walked from their home in Gras in the south of France.   We also lightened Kathleen backpack by leaving a pair of her sandals on a camino monument along with a sprig of yellow flowers...probably a weed but pretty.

We're all enjoying the late afternoon after fixing blisters,  showers and a light lunch feom Anante food stash....we all carry snacks with us. Tonight Kathleen and I are going to find a pilgrims ten euro meal and enjoy it.

Last night we were the only ones in our albergue and we slept late ... until 7:15 am in the very quiet building. 

Tomorrow we are following the recommendation in the guide book and taking the bus into Leon.  If you walk it is all through an industrial area.  It will be nice to see the cathedral again.

Buen camino


Tuesday, September 8, 2015


It was a short day..we left at 8 am after working on Kathleen glasses....she broke the bridge yesterday and we found crazy glue but it didn't work.  Have now used tape again on them.

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The day was along a highway with light traffic...but on a gravel path separated from the road and lined with young plane trees that gave us good shade from the  hot sun.  We made three rest stops along the way and arrived five and a half hours later in the farming community of El Burgo Ranero...11.03 miles making a total of 292.78 miles to date.  Breakfast this morning in the monastery was interesting ..6:30 to 7 am.  Silence because the nuns were still sleeping after being up during the night praying.  Coffee or cup only and 2 small muffins in a package.  But it got us started for the day.

Once on the road we enjoyed our walk and saw along the way a seventeenth century church, a Vineyard with the grape vines like bushes with no support system.  Several fields with scarecrows and we think a huge field of aspergus.

We didn't see as many pilgrims today but there was usually a few in front and back but far enough away to find it comforting to be walking with Kathleen .  I know in a few days she will have to leave me as she has to be on Madrid for her flight home by September 25th. 

But the camino continues to provide me new friends to walk with but must admit Katia and Kathleen have been extra special camino angels because they are both able to converse with the Spanish people.  Katia is now miles ahead of me.

Our stop for the night is a small farming community and we are sitting at the local bar with farmers as they now are playing cards. One is hard of hearing and speaks very loudly.  But we have wifi for the price of a glass of wine so we quietly work on cell phones and ignore the voices. 

We will probably come back for dinner...we only have two choices of bar/restaurants and we'll have the 10 euro pilgrim's meal. 
Buen camino


Monday, September 7, 2015


I'm with three wonderful ladies in a four bed dorm in a former benedictine monastery.   One from Holland, one from Italy and Kathleen who I walked all day with from Canada...we all speak English.  There is also Thomas who I see about once a week, a french lady my age, an English gentleman who is riding a bike in sixteen days, and Peter from Australia who was at the casa rural with us. Plus an assortment of other pilgrims.

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We are at the Monasterio de Santa Cruz in Sahagun.  It was a 14.66 mile walk for seven and half hours including four rest stops.  The weather was very warm today and we felt the hot sun on our backs.

A 7:30 am start, arriving at 3 pm.  Tomorrow should be shorter.  I'm still two days ahead of the schedule I set for myself.  Today was nice as we had several villages to walk through where we could stop to rest and take off our shoes.

I met Kathleen yesterday and we have enjoyed walking together.  Last night she broke her glasses during the night and in the morning we used duct tape for a temporary fix.  Tonight we found crazy glue and hopefully she can fix them until she gets home...she needs them for everything.

This afternoon I went to the museum on the hill in a former Franciscan monastery.  We also were presented with a beautiful certificate saying that we had reached the half way point on the camino.  A very good day.  Buen Camino 


Sunday, September 6, 2015


Yesterday I had an opportunity to be a Camino Angel to someone.  I've had so many that it was great to be on the giving end for a change. 

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A nice gentlemen came up to me and asked when I was returning to California; surprised I responded not until October.  He started to walk away and I asked him why did he want to know.  He said that if i was going soon he was going to ask me to call his daughter in Los Angeles to let them know that he was okay when I got home.  Long story short I texted his daughter and she responded back immediately. They had not heard from him since early August when he'd left for spain.  She texted him three photos of the wedding that'd happened just before he left...before they'd gotten the photos. He was in tears and the family was elated to hear he was okay.  He is 73 years old and born in spain near santiago.   Lived in many places in the world but now in LA.    Has been away from the church for many years and has recently reconnected to his faith and is making this journey to thank the Lord for bringing him back to the church.  He is carrying a bible and another book in his pack...extra pounds.  But no cell phone.  It was a special blessing for me that he asked the question.  Katia switched albergues because two known snores checked in....for some reason I felt I should stay where I was and now I know why.  There is a saying on this journey that the camino provides when you have a need.   It's proving true many times over during this journey.

Last night at 7 pm until nearly 8 pm we had a young man perform classical music on the guitar.  Haunting and beautifiul.  Then a high mass followed by a personalized blessing for all the pilgrims.  And there were many of us as the next town was 17 km with nothing inbetween.  It was like a reunion, everyone was there.  I saw many people I have not seen in days.  I passed on the 10 pm soup and got a good night's sleep

Up early this morning I was out the door in the dark along with many others.  As we left the city the day was dawning and before we knew it we began to shed jackets as the sun became hot on our backs in a cloudless sky.  I was walking solo but never alone.  Some that I knew slowed and walked with me for awhile before they moved forward. 

This trek is 17 km of Meseta desert with three resting stops.  None with toilets, the second one had coffee and some food.  The trees that existed were across a ditch and impossible to get to.  There were two barns that were fenced off.  But we were forewarned about conditions in our book

It was great to come over the hill  and see our village nestled in the valley.  Yes, my backpack was waiting for me.  I took advantage of the sunshine and paid to wash my sleeping bag, jackets and clothes.  Will be great to sleep in a clean bag tonight.  We even have a swimming pool and many of.the younger people are swimming.  Tonight we'll all walk 50 m up the road to a pilgrims dinner.

Buen camino


Saturday, September 5, 2015

How to see photos

You can find photos on instagram under marthajansen and on Facebook if you friend me.  So sorry I haven't been able to post photos on the blog as I usually do.


Hard to believe that Jim will be here with me in only twenty more days.  Today is my last day of walking with my current camino angel Katia.  She has been a wonderful companion for the past three days.  But she has to finish her camino journey  by September 25th and must start walking more miles each day than I am comfortable doing.  She's been like a  daughter to me.

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We left at 6:15 am in the dark for our long day. We arrived nearly seven hours and 16.86 miles later in the town of Carrion de Las Condos.  It was level walking on trails bordering a river, a canal and sometimes roads but rarely on a road itself.
In Villalacazar de Sirga we visited one of the main churches of the Knights Templar, the Santa Maria la Blanca XIII..

It was hotter as the day progressed...still clouds but not as many as yeaterday .  But we survived and are looking forward to tonight when we will have a guitar concert at 7:30 pm, mass at 8 pm followed by singing by the nuns.  At 9 pm they will serve a supper of soup before bed.   Buen camino


Friday, September 4, 2015


Started out at day break about 7:15 am.  Lights were still on for wonderful photos.  I felt something was missing S we walked down the stone canyon between shuttered homes and suddenly I realize I didn't have my walking sticks.  I had to go back about four blocks to retrieve them before we finally left town.

The walk today across the Meseta included one rather long hill and then after walking the ridge it was a long steep downhill of 18% grade all with concrete.   We descended using our poles doing a zig sag pattern.  At the bottom there was a memorial of some killed on this descent ....probably on a bicycle... in 2014.

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Once off of the hill it was a long, flat and shade less journey for many hours.  We found fields of sunflowers ready for harvest.  Fields of corn ready for harvest and fields of stubble from the recently harvest hay that is now stacked high in the fields. 

We squeezed to the side of the road to let a huge herd of sheep complete with a donkey, dog and shepard pass us by.

The weather was wonderful, cold wind and warm sun with many clouds that shielded from the heat on our backs.  I wore my fleese jacket all day and most of the day my windbreaker on top of it.  I also wore my buff today for the first time..helped to tame my hair in the wind. It's a popular head covering on the camino.

We're staying in a wonderful Casa Rural "En El Camino" in the village of Boadilla del Camino.   But in the bunk room for 7 euro a bed.  And we just might have it to ourselves as Katia asked about how many because she is sensitive to snoring.  We had a late lunch as our early pilgrim dinner and I had lentils soup for the first time.  Delicious.  The second plate was pork the was so tender you could cut it with your fork plus a small salad.  Bread and a bottle of wine...wonderful meal. 

We're going to walk the town now...splurged and combined our laundry that they did for us so we're set for another day early tomorrow morning.  It going to be a longer walk but all on level roads.   Buen Camino


Thursday, September 3, 2015


Last night we had a fabulous meal at the El Molino Casa Rural.  Five courses ending with our choice from a tray of liquors.  There were seven of us, 2 spanish, 2 Americans and 3 aussies.  It lasted for two hours.  Katia was the linguist for all of us as she kept the Spanish couple from Valencia fully involved in the conversation.   The peacock came to visit in the late afternoon and the rooster magically stopped crowing before dinner.   The winds were whipping our clothes dry and slamming doors all afternoon and continued through the night.  A second night of fresh sheets and towels as Katia and I shared a double room with twin beds.

Morning came early as we gathered back in the dining room for a Continental breakfast before climbing into the cars that quickly drove us the six miles back to the camino where we once again began walking about eight o'clock this morning.

For the first time I wore my fleese jacket under my windbreaker as the cold wind was still blowing as we headed out across the Meseta for a five hour walk over twelve miles of trails and paths along roads in some spots.  We passed several churches, the ruins of a convent that brought thoughts of the extensive ruins that we saw in the northern parts of England last spring. 

We are very fortunate weather wise as the massive clouds continue to give us shade as we continue our way across this expanse of spanish desert that is normally scorching the backs of the pilgrims as they spend days crossing this region.  Hopefully the weather will continue to be gentle for us.

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I'm continuing to enjoy the company of Katia, my pilgrim friend from the USA who is able to converse in Spanish for us.  A blessing and she is truly a Camino Angel for me.  We will eventually split as her time schedule is much shorter than mine and she will need to walk longer days to reach Santiago for her flight home before the end of September.  For now I give thanks each night that she is willing to spend time with and walk with someone nearly double her age! 

We arrived in the village of Castrojerez about two o'clock and checked into our alburgue where we are again in a dorm room with ten people; but only 6.50 euros per bed.  The shower was cold but it motivated me to shower faster!

We ate a pilgrims lunch at 3 pm rather than the late dinner, so we are in for the night.  During lunch I saw the two frenchmen who I shared a meal with three nights ago.  They had just arrived and were looking for a place to stay.  It was nice to chat with them for a few minutes.  After lunch we spent several hours this afternoon at the Hospital De Alma, a house that is devoted to giving space to pilgrims to meditate and refresh their soul in a magical space dedicated to love and healing. 

One of many verses on the walls under photos was "Never walk the road laid out for you as it will only lead you where others have gone".  Each designed to give you things to think about.

Tomorrow is another walk of about fourteen miles.  It's dark until after 7 am so we'll probably leave just before 8 am.  Buen camino