June 11 – the day before starting

The train trip to Saint Jean Pied de Port was wonderful. The trail meanders between hills and follows the river valley. Saint-Jean is a touristic village. And a border village. It reminds me of another similar village in Northern France, Sierck-les Bains. Today, it has been overcast. Thunderstorm. Now it is clearer. I have met an Italian and his son. It seems to be many people on their way to Santiago. I’m worried that it can be crowded. I walked around the Saint Jean and felt free. Continue reading

June 12 – to Roncesvalles

A tough day. Started at 7 am and arrived at 3 pm. It went up, mostly. Significantly: 1200 m in 20km. But so beautiful. The worst was probably after the top, the way down to Roncesvalles. It was steep, hard for knees and hips. I met Livio and his son in Roncesvalles.

Here is a dormitory with about 100 beds. Beautiful place, perhaps an old church hall. I got a blister before I started walking, but it has not been any problems. Continue reading

June 13 – to Larrasoaña

Started to walk half eight with Livio and Manu. The first 20 km were easy, but the last ten were difficult. It took as long as yesterday, although the way did not go up. The way to Santiago seems to become a small community. The ramblers are already finding their place, their rôles. Funny. A lot of people has disappeared to day. Perhaps they stayed in Zubrini or went further. Others have been coming. The refugio is full. I have not eaten since breakfast, but feel ok. Right expensive to eat in Spain. Continue reading

June 14 – to Cizur Minor

It could have been an easy day, just 20 km. But I walked at least 30 km. Manu and I walked away from Livio in Pamplona. Later, Manu decided to seek his father. I went to Cizur but got worried about Manu so I went back to Pamplona. I asked everyone I met, but no one had seen them. Finally, I found them. Puhhh.

Some people talk about the camino as if it was a kind of Paris-Dakar rally. Like if it was a performance, and give you a lot of technical tips on socks, equipment, and anecdotes you don’t want to hear.

Pleasant evening with people from Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, USA, Brazil, Spain … Continue reading

June 15 – to Puente la reina

Easy stage, 20 km. But it’s always the same, the last hour is always one hour too much. And it was very hot. Walked a while with Rita from the Switzerland. A 70-year-old pig woman who collects rocks and go from refugio to refugio. Some people are running from her. She sometimes give a lecture on the Swiss political system 🙂 We went up to El Perdón, where “the road of the wind meets the road of the stars”. We had a long break at a beautiful octagonal church, Santa Mariá de Eunate. A little difficult to be here and now. Felt a bit like Don Quichotte today. All of us have been reading a lot of books and guides about the camino and then went ahead. We met mills at El Perdón … Continue reading

June 16 – to Estella

Hard day. Livio and Manu walked away from me, I could not walk as fast as they do. Poor roads. An it was very, very hot. The evening was more pleasant. Met Carole and Virginie and we had a beer down town. Then we ate together with a goup Spaniards. They are incredibly generous, they take care of everybody around them. They prepared a big salad in a large bowl we had seen before… And we laughed a lot. Continue reading

June 17 – to Los Arcos

One of the Spaniards broke, knee injury. Half the camino is about walking, the other half are people you meet. Went a while with Virginie today. We talked a lot. But yes, there are less nice people too. The dinner was pleasant to night too. The Italians stood in the kitchen. A couple of persons were drunk. Some have to carry in their “backpack” … Hot to day too. Continue reading

June 18 – to Logroño

Tough night, too hot. Then a long day. Walked alone most of the day and waited for all in Viana. Went to Logroño with Virginie. Got lost. We were exhausted in the heat. We had a siesta under a tree. The sun was still high when we went again and it was hard to go. I was worried about Virginie. We arrived late at 8 and missed dinner : ( Carmen and her family, Pepe and a few others Spaniards ended up here. Sad. My bed is under the roof, and it will be at least as warm as last night, without fresh air. Logroño seems to be a nice town. Continue reading

June 23 – to Burgos

Started with pouring rain. Nice! Walked fast. That’s the day I started singing for myself when I walk. It was raining untill Burgos. There is a lot of quiet villages with many ruins along the camino. They build a lot of new as well. I found out I have to go all the way, be here and now, no shortcuts. We said good-bye to Livio and Manu in the afternoon. Then we went out and eat tapas and said goodbye to Lily, Linda, Iris, Carlos and Mark. The last night with the friends. I will miss them. Went late to bed. Continue reading

June 24 – to Rabé de las Calzadas

Didn’t saw many pilgrims in the morning, it was like they all quit in Burgos. Virginie caught me up. We were pretty tired after our little party last night. We didn’t walked many kilometers and stayed in Calzada de las Rabe. Good for the body to rest. It was very hot. Patrizio went by. He said a thing I just thought about: “This is a maturation stage”. We leave a bit of us behind us and move on. It was the last time I saw him.

Unfortunately, our hostess was an intolerant woman. She complained about everything and everyone. She and her husband seemed to live for the camino. They had decorated a small museum, were marking the road winter time, etc. But she wanted everyone to see, understand the camino just as she did. She thought you only can understand the camino in a religious way. When you meet pilgrims you should be aware that there are as many opinions as there are pilgrims. If you do not have a closed mind. She seemed unfortunately to have a closed heart too. Continue reading

June 25 – to Castrojeriz

Tough day. Started at 5 to avoid the heat. We saw nothing, could not see the arrows. Walked away from Virginie. I didn’t found a place where I could eat some breakfast before 9, at a nice place in the middle of nowhere where some nice hippies are living. Had another break shortly after in a beautiful village, Hontanas. I came to Castrojeriz quite early. Carole came later. She wanted to walk further. But her back was hurting and she stayed too. We took a walk in the village and ate a boring menu for pilgrims. It felt very strange to be only the two of us. We are both missing all the friends. On the other hand, we got time to speak with each other. Carole juggles with the language. She is making funny puns and comparisons, funny images. She was for example speaking about all the thoughts that are coming to her when she walks. It is easy to deal with easy thoughts she said, but when difficult thoughts are coming, “then I start looking at the butterflies”.

Another one (long time after Castrojeriz): “You are not listening when I am thinking!” Continue reading

June 26 – to Frómista

It was party all the night, St. Juan. When I started at 6 were people still dancing. I was still hearing the music when I left, it was like tones that called me back. It was a tough hill at the beginning, tilll Alto de Mostelares. At the top, I met Guy who had been sleeping there. Then it was pretty flat to Frómista. It went fast, I came at half past twelve. For once, I took a siesta. Later, Carole came. She had a greeting from Virginie. Caroles back is still hurting. We looked around in the village and ate dinner with Patrick and Claude.

About 10 km before Frómista I met a man who collected the names of the pilgrims in a notebook. He just stood in the middle of the road and stopped everybody. There were a few names on the page where I could write. One of them was Patrick. I got confused. When I came to Frómista I heard someone shouting at Patrick, who sat a few meters from me.

There are two of Patrick on the camino. Or is it the same, with two personalities? Continue reading

June 27 – to Carrión de los Condes

Started at 7. Fine day. It was easy to go. I was happy. Walked with a girl from Canada. She was carrying 17 kg and was walking in thongs. Geez. She drank almost nothing and did not seem in good health. I suggested that she could try my shoes or sandals but she would not. She had a huge blood blister when we arrived. She wanted to take the bus to Leon, but there were no seats so she hitchhiked.

I took a siesta in the shadow at plazza Sta Maria. Continue reading

June 30 – to Leon

Started at 6. Still dark. Hard to sleep when Spaniards celebrated St. Pedro and danced all night. There was a tivoli outside. The frogs were singing in a pond outside the village when I left. Walked 35 km. Was pretty tired when I arrived to Leon. I walked down town. I visited the cathedral and teh old town. I met Sophie, (I met her previously in Belorado). We spent the rest of the day together. She still had problem with her feet and would take the bus. I slept good for the first time since a long time ago. Continue reading

July 1 – to Villar de Mazarife

A new month. Started quite early. Difficult to find my way out from Leon.Ate breakfast after 7 km. Then I took a different path. A lot of pilgrims anyway. The Albergue in Villar de Mazarife is enjoyable. Painted in green, blue, orange, red. I will sleep outside. Many french speaking people, many older people too. When I talked about all the thoughts that are coming when you walk with Sophie, she said that she doesn’t think. She just look around and enjoy. So I practiced today. Continue reading

July 2 – to Astorga

Dull day. Nothing special, I just wanted to come to Astorga. Astorga is a nice town. Fine central place, which is not called Plazza Mayor if I remember correctly. As in Leon, there is a house designed by Gaudi. Not so nice. Emilie and Marie invited me for a glass of wine. They are stopping here tonight. They will walk the remaining stages next year. When I came back to the albergue in the evening I saw the cathedral in the evening light. Very nice. Beautiful facade. Continue reading

July 3 – to Foncebadón

New views on the camino today. And it’s going up. Beautiful. II am in Focebadón, 1400m. It’s burning in the forest far below the village. The village is a bunt of ruins. And two restaurants and a church, where the Albergue is. I met two women from Quebec. La vie est belle, they say. We went and ate at one of the restaurant that has a medieval theme. Paula and George joined us. The food was good but my stomach was up and down during the night. Continue reading

July 4 – to Ponferrada

Fog and cold when I started. The wind was strong. It went up a lot, maybe to 1500 m. Passed la Cruz de Fer. I have heard you have to leave something from home here. The only thing I could find was a coin.

It happened something amazing when I came on the other side of the hill. The sun began to shine through, the clouds went up and Ponferrada and the mountains around seemed to emerge from the fog. I was amazed.

The last kilometers to Ponferrada were hard. Sara and Alex joined me at the Albergue. Ramon has broken his foot and stays here. Alex, Sara and Jeff, from Brazil, cooked and ate together. Continue reading

July 6 – to O Cebreiro

I took the wrong road and followed a highway. And I had to go on concrete. Not funny at all. I met Delphine where the path begin to rise to O Cebreiro. She stayed in La Faba. Then I met Alex, Sara and Jeff. O Cebreiro is a place for tourists. There is maybe five restaurants, a small supermarket, a souvenir shop. The small church was nice and simple. Something unusual along the Camino. The view was amazing. It is a pass, so you have the view at all sides. The wind was cold. I froze. At a restaurant was a man playing classical guitar. Wonderful. Was sitting with Sara, Alex and Jeff and it was nice. We had dinner there. They spoke Spanish most of the time but I understood most of it. Continue reading

July 7 – to Calvor

I probably walked too fast on the way down to Triacastela. My legs began to hurt me. It was difficult to walk. And instead to stay in Triacastela , I continued to Calvor. May be a mistake. There is nothing but the albergue in Calvor. We are five. Comfortable, all the tourists are gone. But it is not a pleasant place. There is a notice threatening that the guardia civil will come if you do not leave the albergue in time in the morning. And the manager was rude. I had to walk back 2 km to eat. Funny place, I never thought I would get food. A small village, the only thing you see is a bar, but there was a great restaurant hidden in there. The usual “étouffe chrétien” as Carole says (a meal that get a christian to suffocate 🙂 but well served. Continue reading

July 9 – to San Xulián do Camino

My legs hurt today too. Despite the pills. It’s hilly enough and plenty of shadow but I’m tired of the cold wind. I walked further today too to get rid of the tourists. Ended up at a really nice albergue outside Palas del Rey, in San Xulián do Camino. We were only four. The tourists stayed in Palas. Good. Good meal, everything is clean. But it’s expensive. I like our host, a wise man. Interesting to talk with him. Sat a long time and talked with a man who had worked half his life in France. Continue reading

July 10 – to Ribadiso

Started to walk pretty late. Looked first at the tourists who passed by. After a few km, I red on a road sign that there was 60 km to Santiago. It made me sad. Only 2 or 3 days to go. There was a cafe just there. Delphine sat there so I stayed to hear what she did the last days. Then we continued to walk together. It was a nice day. We talked a lot. We sat at a cafe near the albergue in Ribadiso and talked so long that there were no bed left when we arrived. We had to sleep outside. Luckily had Delphine had a security felt I could borrow, otherwise it would have been cold. Continue reading

July 11- to Santa Irene

A quiet day. We did not hurry, we will only walk 40 km in two days. I bought a belt at the market in Melide. I’m loosing my shorts 🙂 We arrived early in Santa Irene. Under the walk, Delphine told me about her grand-mothers last days and about her relationship to her. I have seldom heard such a touching story.

The albergue was quickly full. Luckily, there is not so many beds. Alex and Sara also stayed here. We ate together with some Italian friends. Delphine worked as host. The woman who worked asked her and went away. She didn’t came back as she promised. The albergues in Galicia are free. Continue reading

July 12 – to Santiago

The last stage. We walked quite slowly. It’s not blowing cold anymore. We walked through a huge camps where apparently a lot of pilgrims usually stay. Now we see Santiago. Barely 10 km to go. And suddenly are we in front of the cathedral in Santiago. Our goal. Strange. Unreal. Is it over? Difficult to understand. Delphine continues to Finisterre so we eat a good dinner. Continue reading