Day 24 – Astorga to Foncebadon

Today was another good day on the Camino that took us through some pretty countryside. Weather ranged from cool and nice to cold, windy and rainy. 

We started back up into the mountains so our first bigger elevation gain in a while. Tomorrow we climb a little more to the Cruz de Ferro which will be a neat spot to visit. I packed a rock I picked up in Idaho to leave there. 

The village of Foncebadon is very small and mostly just consists of albergues. It feels like a resort town without a resort. I’m staying at the hippie albergue. They apparently have yoga in the morning. I will not be partaking in the yoga. But I am eating the pilgrim’s meal tonight. Wish me luck! 

Camino Day 23 – San Martin Del Camino to Astorga

I’ve found a place I’d like to vacation to someday. Astorga is one of the cutest tourist towns located in some pretty beautiful countryside. The walk here today was one of my favorite days on the Camino in a while. Sure, the Meseta has its own beauty and charm, but let’s face it – it’s kinda boring after about a day. Then the two days of trekking into and out of Leon were the least exciting walks of the Camino so far. 

I’m entering the final chapter of my Camino, which is exciting and also a bit sad at the same time. I can’t wait to get back to my own bed, a decent shower every day (with full sized towels!), more variety of food and the job and friends I love in Seattle. But I’m also sad thinking that I have only about 12 days left of one of the most incredible experiences of my life. 

My job currently is to walk every day. My body is conditioned for it now. I can walk 15 miles and then head out of my albergue to walk some more even after I’ve reached my destination. I’m able to sleep slightly well in rooms of 12-20 people from all over the world. I wake up at 6 not dreading the day but interested to see what it has to offer for scenery and wondering who I will meet. 

Today we took the scenic detour and it was worth every minute and every hill. 

We walked through the adorable town of Hospital De Orbigo. Definitely a place worth visiting again. Then up through the hills to reach our final destination of Astorga. 

The village of Astorga has a beautiful cathedral, a famous museum designed by Gaudi and a chocolate museum. I likely only have time to visit one of these. I do love chocolate, but I’ll likely opt for Gaudi. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Day 22 – Leon to San Martin Del Caminoย 

If the original pilgrims wore these shoes, I think there’s nothing wrong with me wearing flip flops. 

Though I didn’t wear my flip flops on the Camino today. They just don’t quite cut it in the rain. Today was the first day since day 2 that it rained. That day was only a mist. Today the poncho was necessary. This was the one item I packed that I hoped I didn’t have to use. There’s a good chance I’ll have to use it again tomorrow. 

Today’s walk was not very exciting as a good chunk of it was just leaving Leon and its suburbs. There were sections where we had to walk on the highway with big semi trucks passing by. The rain started and then went. Then it started again in a big way. Along with thunderstorms and wind. 

We meant to take the scenic route of the Camino today and end up in another village, but the signs for the turn were not clear. So we followed the main Camino path and decided to walk an extra 4-5kms to get to a village with multiple albergue options. 

This actually works out well because tomorrow was originally going to be almost 30km, so now it’ll be a bit shorter. 

There is absolutely nothing to do in this village. So I’m longing for the TV that I had in my hotel room in Leon. I’ll just have to find some other way to kill time until dinner and bed. 

Day 21 – Leon

I don’t have too much to report today since this has been a rest day. I’ve definitely taken advantage of resting. Spending a majority of the day in my comfortable hotel room. The TV in here has an English option for all The American TV shows so I’ve watched my fair share of crime scene drama shows today. Currently watching Hawaii 5-O. 

I did venture out in the morning to find food and stopped to check out the Pantheon on the way. 

After lunch and more crime scene shows I headed out to check out the cathedral. It was closed for siesta so I had to check out the local micro brewery instead. Yay for IPA! Then it was off to the cathedral for a tour. 

I stopped by the Gaudi building and then had to get a second credential for the Camino from the municipal albergue. Each day you have to get your credential stamped to show proof that you walked it when you get to Santiago. The first one I brought from home is almost full. 

Will be getting dinner soon and then settling in for an early night. Time to get back on the road tomorrow! Only 12-13 days left until Santiago. I’ll be arriving on either June 26 or 27 depending on how much I walk each day. 

Day 20 – Mansilla to Leon

I don’t really have a lot to report today. The walk from Mansilla to Leon was definitely the worst walk of the entire Camino so far. 

It wasn’t pretty, it was super windy and I just wanted to get to Leon. The guidebook I’ve been following suggests that it’s better to take a bus into Leon rather than walking it. I wouldn’t have taken a bus, but I am glad that today is not typical of the Camino. 

I don’t mean to sound too harsh on the day, but I’ve been too spoiled by all the others. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am excited to discover Leon over today and tomorrow. I’m taking my second and final rest day before taking on Galicia (mountains and likely rain). 

This is the view from my hotel…

I think it’ll do.

I’m headed off now to meet up with Camino friends to watch Spain play Czech Republic. Since two of those friends are Czech, not sure who I’ll root for yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll report more on Leon tomorrow! 

Day 19 – Bercianos del Real Camino to Mansilla

A day in the life of a pilgrim.

Wake up at 6am. Dress and repack the mochilla (backpack) with all belongings. Out the door at 6:30. Same as yesterday. Same as the day before that. 

Today’s route was 26 km (16 miles). When I first started the Camino this sounded a little daunting, now it’s routine.

We walk for 8 km, then come to the first village. This means breakfast. I purchased a box of granola bars a few days ago so that is my breakfast today. I purchased a coke from the local cafe. This way I can get my caffeine and use their bathroom. We see some of our Camino friends while there and hear how their night went. 

Back on the road again. It’s 13km to the next village. This is a bit longer than normal between villages. So the headphones go in and I listen to my Camino mix. 

Today was probably the most boring day yet. Long straight stretches of nothing. 

You come to where the road curves and hope for a more exciting view but it’s exactly the same. 

It’s one foot in front of the other….

There were lots of rest stops along the way today. Nice picnic tables and trees for shade. But no bathrooms. Anywhere. I don’t know if it’s just the Camino that doesn’t have public bathrooms or if it’s all of Spain. But your only option is to pay for something in a bar or cafe and then use their bathroom. This unfortunately means people create their own restrooms all along the Camino. 

13 km without a bathroom means I explored some woods to find nature’s bathroom. ๐Ÿ™‚

On the road again. Which looks a little familiar….

I see farm fields to the left and farm fields to the right. It’s super exciting when there’s something slightly different to see. Oh look! A flower. Ok, maybe it’s just a weed, but it’s pretty. 

Finally we reach the next village. Time for second breakfast, or lunch. It’s usually this part of the day where I may get a bocadillo or another snack, but almost always I get a soda and a beer. The beer helps me forget that my feet hurt and the soda gives me energy for the final kilometers. 

At this point in the day I can’t wait to get to the village where we will stay. I can take a shower, get first or second lunch, explore the village without the backpack and relax. 

The albergue we checked into in Mansilla is new and the hosts are very welcoming. They said we should consider this our home for the night. At only 5 euros, it’s a pretty great deal. It includes a bed, a good shower, use of a kitchen and a breakfast for donativo (donation based on what you can afford or what you think it’s worth).

They have a nice backyard where you can relax (where I’m sitting right now), also where you can wash and hang your laundry. I opted to pay the 5 euros to have the hosts wash and dry my laundry. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We have 8-10 people in our room and we know most of them. 

Later today I’ll probably go to dinner at a bar or cafe or find a pilgrim’s menu. The pilgrim’s menu is typically a three course meal and every village seems to have the same food choices for each of the courses. Good thing I like spaghetti and beef steak! 

I’ll likely explore the village again. This village is even big enough to have a stop light! I haven’t seen one of those since Burgos. 

Day 18 – Terredillos de Los Templarios to Bercianos del Real Camino

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. Two Germans, Two Czech girls, a French woman, an Irishman and two Americans walk into a bar. It’s just another day on the Camino. I’m sitting on the patio of a bar in a sleepy Spanish town with new Camino friends. I don’t know everyone at the table but that’s the Camino. 

I’ve decided that the Camino is like being at a moving summer camp. Every town you go to you see your new friends. You sleep in a wide variety of settings. You go to the Pilgrim’s meal with your new friends, etc. 

Today was a good, easy day. Only 23 km, so a little over a half marathon distance wise. The countryside was a little more interesting today over yesterday. We had a stop through a larger city, Sahagun. They are currently having a big city festival with a carnival, running of the bulls through the city and bullfights in the stadium. 

Here was the coolest thing I saw today…

Tomorrow is another day, but may be exciting because the two different paths of the Camino from today will come back together. So will likely see more familiar faces again tomorrow. 

The fun thing is I already have plans with friends for Monday in Leon. A bunch of us are planning to go to a bar to watch Spain play against Czech Republic in the Euro Cup. 

Day 17 – Carrion to Terredillos de Los Templarios

So I’d like to say I have something to report for today, but I really don’t. Today was just a day of walking. Sure, that’s everyday on the Camino, but really there was nothing interesting about today. We did walk 17 km without a village – so no bathrooms, no mercados, no cafes/bars. The Meseta is boring but still beautiful in its own way. 

But wait, something exciting did just happen! As I’m sitting here writing this with three other women I met on my first evening in St. Jean, Kate is performing “surgery” on her blister. There’s always a great debate on how to treat them. Compeed is what some swear by, but others like the needle and thread approach. Eva has become very knowledgable on both methods with her blisters so she just walked Kate through the experience. Sorry if the image below is too graphic but I think sharing all aspects of the Camino are important. ๐Ÿ™‚

So because today was not exciting, I’ll go back to last night in Carrion. We were lucky enough to get to stay at the Santa Maria albergue run by Augustine Nuns. They keep a nice albergue, but more importantly they’re known as the singing nuns. Each night at 6pm, everyone who wants gathers in the entry of the building and the Sisters lead the group in songs. They sing some of their regular songs and then they ask the crowd to sing their own songs. 

They have amazing voices and play a variety of instruments. After the song time, I attended the pilgrim’s mass where we were blessed by the nuns and given hand colored stars as a gift. 

If you ever do the Camino, or even just part of it, make sure you stay at Santa Maria in Carrion. 

Day 16 – Boadilla deal Camino to Carrionย 

Two Irishmen, a Polish man, a German, two Czech girls and two Americans walk into a bar. It’s not a joke, it’s just the Camino. I’m sitting at lunch being rude by writing my blog, but they have fast wifi so I have to take advantage. Other than the German, I just met all these people yesterday. I’m sharing a room with four of them tonight.

Today started off right with the most beautiful sunrise. 

Today was the best day walking in three days. It was hot but not nearly as hot as the last two days. We only had to walk 25 km instead of the 28-32 of the last two days. It was awesome! 

We arrived to Carrion in time to get beds in the Santa Maria albergue. This albergue is famous for its singing nuns. The nuns told me they will be singing at 6pm. So I plan to be there! Apparently this albergue is sponsored by the Seattle area chapter of the American Pilgrims. 

The film crew made it to town shortly after we did, but I don’t think my flip flops are going to be famous again today. 

Tomorrow we have a 17km stretch that has no services. No bars, no cafes, no bathrooms. We will have to prepare today for that part of the Camino. It should be fun! 

Day 15 – Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino

I’m sitting in a funky and famous albergue in a small village. While I write this two older famous German TV stars are filming in the “secret garden.” One of the stars saw me earlier in another village and said “Are you from Seattle?” I said yes. He said “I heard about the girl from Seattle walking the Camino.” I told him that I walk most of the day in my trail shoes but switch to flip flops to make my feet happy. 

I think when the German documentary goes live I may be the girl who walked the whole Camino in flip flops…since the film crew has only seen me wearing them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today was one of the days where you learn why people skip the Meseta. It was beautiful in its own way, but the distance between villages is so much farther and much of it is flat farm fields. If we were here a month later I suspect the flowers wouldn’t be blooming and the fields would all be yellow. Those red poppies are sometimes the only thing keeping me sane on the hot days like today. 

I don’t actually have a lot to report from today. Along with the film crew there are lots of familiar faces at the albergue today – those we met in the last couple days and those we haven’t seen in a few days. Tomorrow we hope to get beds in the albergue with the singing nuns. 

So I’ll leave you with the photos from today…