Trabadelo to O’Cebreiro – 23.6 km/14.3 miles

Hello again! Celebration! The last tough mountain on the way is conquered and we are at 96.4 miles to Santiago. Yeah!!! What a day it was…no luck with the weather. The light rain at the start progressively became worse and worse with wind joining in towards the top of the mountain. The, at times very steep trail with rocks and mud turned into a little stream flowing downhill. Our shoes became swimming pools and everything on us totally drenched. We definitely paid penance today.

To top it off, Charlie who has not slept well since we arrived in Spain, woke this morning with bedbug bites. O yes, that’s what they are. Now we are in the process of hot washing and spraying our sleeping bags and all cloth etc. What did I say……PENANCE!

Starting out in light rain

Starting out in light rain

The next village - Vega de Valcarce

The next village – Vega de Valcarce

The trail starting up

The trail starting up

Entering Galicia now

Entering Galicia now

This is the way we climbed up - it cleared up after we got settled in

This is the way we climbed up – it cleared up after we got settled in

O'Cebreiro - Iglesia de Santa Maria la Real from the 9th century and the earliest surviving building on the Camino

O’Cebreiro – Iglesia de Santa Maria la Real from the 9th century and the earliest surviving building on the Camino

O'Cebreiro home of Don Elias Valina Sampedro (1929 - 1989) the parish priest who restored and preserved the integrity of the Camino, it was his idea to mark the route with yellow arrows. He is buried in the church.

O’Cebreiro – home of Don Elias Valina Sampedro (1929 – 1989) the parish priest who restored and preserved the integrity of the Camino, it was his idea to mark the route with yellow arrows. He is buried in the church.

Fuente Cacabelos to Trabadelo – 25.2 km/15.3 miles

Greetings! We are in the middle of the mountains again after crossing the valley between Ponferrada and Villafranca del Bierzo. Tomorrow we are facing the second steepest climb on the Camino going up to O’Cebreiro. l just hope we don’t have to deal with rain and fog as we did on route Napoleon the first day in June. Plus, I’d like to enjoy the view. Got word on the Camino forum that a 43 year old Canadien pilgrim has died on the Camino between SJPDP and Roncesvalles. I remember route Napoleon as very, very challenging and can see someone falling of the cliff. Also in contrary to my statement from yesterday…Hostals are not available in these mountains….so Albergue it is and slow internet. We are now under 200 km from Santiago.

Villafranca del Bierzo:

image

image

image

image

Along the trail:

image

image

image

image

Molinaseca to Fuente Cacabelos – 24.5 km/15.4 miles

Hola! A shorter distance today since our legs are still tired from yesterday. We also decided to try to skip the Albergues and stay in Hostals from now on. At this time in the year it is just little more for a room with shower and no need for reservations. Besides, there is a rumor of bedbugs in some Albergues ahead. Most are closing in November and peaple working there have “Burn Out” from the high traffic all summer.

We started at 8 am since light does not come till about 8:40 now.  After about two hours we entered Ponferrada (meaning Iron Bridge) – pop. 63,000 and on the river Sil. During the Roman times the region was mined for various minerals. The city is noted for the Castillo de los Templarios, a Knights Templar castle covering approx. 16,000 square meters. In 1178 the city was donated to the knights by the king to protect the pilgrims on the way to Santiago. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponferrada

Our route took us through the medieval city and past the main historic sites. We stopped for breakfast across from the Knights Templar castle and continued on the trail after touring the castle. After the city we walked through vineyards and past fig, quince, pomegranate and chestnut trees.

Molinaseca - view of Iglesia de San Nicolas

Molinaseca – view of Iglesia de San Nicolas

House with balcony in the Bierzo style

House with balcony in the Bierzo style

Ponferrada

Ponferrada

Gate into the old city

Gate into the old city

Castillo de los Templarios

Castillo de los Templarios

Castillo de los Templarios

Castillo de los Templarios side view

Having a break at Fuentes Nuevas

Having a break at Fuentes Nuevas

On through the vineyard

Our next mountains are ahead

Rabanal to Molinaseca – 29.5 km/18.6 miles

Hi you all! Very tired today so I keep it short. We started in a mist up the mountain to Cruz de Ferro where I deposited my rock holding my burdens. I carried it from home and in my backpack all those miles and Charlie had one to. After the Cruz we climbed another peak and then a long and rocky downhill to Molinaseca. Now we are in the Bierzo region where the style of the houses here are overhanging balconies. It was a hard walk, knee is doing good, my Miller knee straps help. Love to be back in the mountains, so beautiful. Here are just some of the endless pictures I have taken today.

Starting out

Starting out

Me too

Me too

Cruz de Ferro

Cruz de Ferro

In the mountains are more memorials of people passing on the Camino

In the mountains are more memorials of people passing on the Camino

Beautiful

Beautiful

Have a rest

Have a rest

Girls from Argentina must carry their guitar on the Camino

Girls from Argentina must carry their guitar on the Camino

The trail

The trail for more then half the way downhill

Very, very old chestnut trees

Very, very old chestnut trees

Another old village

Another old village

 

Astorga to Rabanal de Camino – 23.4 km/14.9 miles

Como estas! We took a room in a Hostal, so we could sleep in a little and see the sights of Astorga. Headed out about noon with sunshine all the way. An enjoyable walk, legs and feet are doing good. The trail led us through some very ancient Maragato villages. We stopped in one of them for coffee – Santa Catalina, a cobbled main street lined with stone buildings some of them crumbling and very authentic for this region on the foot of the Sierra. At 4:15 pm we arrived in Rabanal where Pilgrims rest before they take the steep path up and over Monte Irago – 4980 feet.

Astorga Town Hall

Astorga Town Hall

Roman Bathhouse Excavation

Roman Bathhouse Excavation

Taking a break in Santa Catalina

Taking a break in Santa Catalina

Crumbling Maragato Village

Crumbling Maragato Village

Village of El Ganso with the Sierra mountains in the back

Village of El Ganso with the Sierra mountains in the back

Villar de Mozarife to Astorga – 32.4 km/20.3 miles

Hello there! Good day today. We started in the dark and rain. Daylight came at 8:30 am and the rain gave way to the sun. We stopped in about every one of the four villages we past through, had coffee con leche and met some nice fellow pilgrims from Australia, England and Germany. There are a few from the USA as well… lets just say English is spoken mostly. The land scape is changing from the Meseta to the hills at the foot of the Sierra. This is the land of Cervantes “Don Quixote de la Mancha”.

Astorga is a historic little town of pop. 12,000. An important Roman city due to it’s prominent position in the junction of major routes – roman, trade and pilgrim roads from all directions converge here. It is also referred to as the “capital” of Maragateria.  Maragatos are suggested to be descended from the Berber tribes who came to Spain as part of the Moorish invasion in the 8th century.

Daybreak

Daybreak

Church at Puente de Orbigo with Storch families

Iglesia de las Candelas with Stork foamilies

Longest and best preserved bridge in Spain originally built by the Romans

Longest and best preserved bridge in Spain originally built by the Romans

Rio Orbigo

Rio Orbigo

Cruz del Valle

Cruz del Valle

Refreshments per donation

Refreshments per donativo

Crucerio Santo Toribio with Astorga at the foot of the Sierra in the back

Crucerio Santo Toribio with Astorga at the foot of the Sierra in the back

Leon to Villar de Mozarife – 23.4 km/14.8 miles

Buenos Dias! The first leg is done and we are resting in our Albergue “Tio Pepe”. So far, this is a different Camino from June. Then, we met numerous people on the trail and the Albergue filled quickly – now it is a more solitude walk, very nice. We only met two bikers and five walkers on the whole stretch. In the summer everyone uses their vacation time to walk as much of it as they can. Thanks to my knee we get to experience another different Camino – a good thing in the end.

At 6:30 this morning we headed out. Because it was still dark and us being the only ones it took some navigating out of the city. On the way we passed the enormous hotel “Parador de San Marcos” a former convent and made famous by the movie “The Way”. It was still to dark for a photo, so I borrowed one for below. This is still the Meseta; morning fog covered the land scape until noon when the sun finally burnt it off.

Hotel "Parador de San Marcos"  - Photo by Jose Martinez

Hotel “Parador de San Marcos” – Photo by Jose Martinez

Morning fog over the Meseta

Morning fog over the Meseta

After the fog

After the fog

Spider nets over grasses and bushes are glistening in the fog

Spider nets over grasses and bushes are glistening in the fog

 

Leon

Hola my friends! It feels good to be back. After 24 hrs travel time we had a much needed rest in our Hostal Boccalino and spent today exploring the city. 

Leon City – pop: 130,000, alt 840 m, at one time a Roman military garrison and base for its VII Legion. Later conquered by Visigoth, Moor and finally Christian forces.

Yes, we are here again

Yes, we are here again

Town Hall

Town Hall

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Catedral de Santa Maria de Leon

Catedral de Santa Maria de Leon

Ave Ordono

Ave Ordono

Street Musician

Street Musician

Jamon - Spanish Ham

Jamon – Spanish Ham

Yummy...

Yummy…

….we are off again!

Hello everyone! Here we go again…..the backpack is packed and we are ready. Tomorrow morning we fly to Madrid then by train to Leon where we will spend two nights at a Hostal and see the city…didn’t get to do that last time. On Friday in the early AM we will head out on the way to Santiago de Compostela.

Last impressions: Walking in the Meseta in June

 

 

 

Leon…..

…from Fromista by bus to the city of Palencia then by train to Leon. My knee is really bad, putting weight on it is very painful ….I have been walking with pain since Logrono …not smart….only got worse…..didn’t rest in Burgos either….walked all over that beautiful city just didn’t have the weight of the back pack….been in denial. So now we are in a Hostal in Leon….no pictures….sorry …..only seen the train station, an urgent care station and the street the Hostel is on.  Plan was to rest my knee, no walking at all, do ice treatments etc. but the fact is we have to quit the Camino….ahhhh….for now. I have what is called in simple terms a runners knee. This will take longer then a few days to heal….so we have to go home. Tomorrow we board the train to Lisbon and from there the plane via London back to JFK. We walked 356 km/223 mi and have 434 km/271 mi to go to Santiago and about 90 km more to Finisterre …..we will be back to finish this…..oh, yes!

I want to thank everyone for following us this far on the Camino, your comments were encouraging and refreshing. It is obvious that I am not a writer…..hopefully entertaining.

To be continued…..

image