Visiting our Camino Mentors and Picking up Stela

After a delightful night’s sleep at Pam and James’ home in Fredericksburg, we took off on Friday morning to have lunch in Williamsburg with our Camino mentors. Russ’ sister Phyllis and her husband Otis introduced us to the Camino in 2007 when they walked it for the first time. We thought they had lost their minds when they told us about their plans. However, their photo of relaxing in Molinaseca changed our minds and we too became Camino lovers. It was wonderful to share some time with them on the way home from this adventure.

From there, we went to get our Stela. She remembered us and was happy to see us. Daughter Meg and son-in-law Steve loved for to pieces, and were not really sorry to have us take her back. She is a lot of dog, especially for dachsund enthusiasts. We had another good night’s rest and drove the 12 hours to Florida on Friday, beating Tropical Storm Nestor to Gainesville. A perfect ending to the trip!

Home Sweet Home

Scenery and a Busy Hotel

The bus ride from Burgos to Madrid is only a couple of hours. The scenery is beautiful, through mountains and desert. The bus dropped us at the airport and we caught a shuttle to the Ibis Aeropuerta hotel. It has almost 200 rooms and was a beehive of efficient, friendly service. We cringed when we saw the line to checkin. But it took only minutes for the staff to handle a dozen or so ahead of us.

Our rooms were clean and comfortable. The bar is open 24/7 for cool drinks and bar food, which we were ready to enjoy. The dining room opened at 7:30, a wonderfully welcome time for pilgrims. In the morning, they start serving breakfast at 4:00! Happily, we did not need to be there until 7:00. We caught the shuttle again and were at the airport to begin the — always awful — flight across the ocean.

All in all, in very acceptable ending to a marvelous time in Spain!

Traveling Back to Madrid

Yesterday’s weather bluster calmed to steady chill by this morning. We woke to 39 degrees and sunshine. All the locals had their winter coats on. We donned ALL our layers and ventured out for a morning of coffee and working on our sketchbooks.

In the afternoon, already feeling sorry our Camino was ending, we walked the city in our backpacks until time to head for the bus station and Madrid for tomorrow’s return to Virginia.

Russ enjoying the cathedral under blue skies
coffee and breakfast at the cafe bar
We worked in our sketchbooks here. If we had wanted beer, it apparently would have been cold!
A great people-watching restaurant near the cathedral
a last walk along the river
an art exhibit along the promenade

Day 14 – Burgos

The weather turned blustery today. We feel lucky to be at the end of our trail for this year. We spent the day at the cathedral, doing art, and slowly recovering from yesterday’s long trek.

our hotel’s lobby
Burgos cathedral
a portal to the city
sky drama
a favorite in the cathedral
alabaster arch
almost too much
learning in the cathedral
afternoon together fun

Day 13 — Burgos

Getting a bite to eat before starting up the hill out of Atapuerca

Our final long walking day covered almost 14 Camino miles. The first third were up and over a magnificent, sometimes rocky hill and along its ridge before down through fields.

nice trail up the hill
except for the rocky part
at the top
and another cool
labyrinth
down the other side

The middle was flat, dusty, and boring — past the Burgos airport. We did not even see any planes.

The final section brought us into Burgos via el
parque fluvial. It was lovely and flat….and too darn long.

We were very happy to arrive at our hotel, rest, and go to a very, very, very nearby bar for a cerveza grande.

el parque fluvial
celebration

Day 12 — Atapuerca

The morning was a foggy swirl of mountain mist and the Boar Hunting Club. We finally got coffee and headed out to taxi over the mountain. Because we wanted more time at the archeological site in Atepuerca, we jumped ahead up the mountain by taxi and saved several walking hours.

We walked from San Juan de Ortega into Atapuerca, a world heritage site. We dropped our backpacks at our pension, which was not yet open for checkin, and walk almost a mile out to the site. Unfortunately, being Saturday and a national holiday, all the tours were “completo”. Bummer! We walked back to town

We checked in and hated the place. One bath shared with at least four rooms. Electrical wires hanging out of the walls. Sloshy beds. And a cost that was higher than much nicer places we had stayed.

I went hunting and found good accommodations at an albergue with some small private rooms. We swallowed the non- refundable reservation and moved happily across the street. Spent the rest of the day on art and chatting with other pilgrims at a Paneria with a lovely gazebo.

In the evening, we had a picnic of cheese, bread, olives, and meats in the common area of the casa where our rooms were. A couple from Australia and two young American women who met as high schoolers in Hong Kong, joined us.

Later, we slept well!

the church in San Juan de Ortega had lovely light coming in the windows when we arrived about 9:00
fall colors in the oaks of the Montes de Oca
the Oca forest
the princess pine grows like a fairy ring around the trees
look what we found as we transitioned out of the oak forest!
pretty entrance to the town just prior to Atapuerca
it was really hot on the walk out to the archeological site and back. I made myself a sun bonnet from my extra shirt LOL
after we chucked the crummy room and moved to the nice one, we celebrated with wine and art

Day 11 — Villafranca in the Montes de Oca

We started the morning, very briefly, along the road again. The truckers redeemed themselves for sweeping away our energy yesterday. Today they honked, waved, and gave us a thumbs up to encourage us onward. Yay, Truckers.

The trail soon moved away from the road. The vistas were expansive. The villages were welcoming. We completed our 7+ miles by 1:00, washed clothes and hung them. Spent the rest of the afternoon painting and blogging.

Pam and James’ blog is https://jplavidaesunsueno.home.blog

Seen as we walked out of Belorado this morning
leaving Belorado
Continue reading “Day 11 — Villafranca in the Montes de Oca”

Day 10 — Belorado

Our 10-mile walk today began with a full buffet breakfast at the Paradore in Sant Domingo. The first half of the walk was wonderfully scenic. We went , in a blink, from vineyards and harvesting yesterday to fields of grain and tilling today. Near Granon, we wished we could take 360 degree photos of the fields and mountains.

views near Granon, where the sky and the earth energized us

The energy from the sky above lifted us up. The energy from the earth below buoyed our feet and legs. What a morning!

The second half of the walk continued with rolling hills covered by harvested fields. Unfortunately, the trail paralleled a major road, with abundant truck traffic. The road noise swept away the sky-energy and overroad the earth-energy.

too soon, the trail started to near the highway
miles and miles of road noise swished away much of the beauty of the hills

It was hard to hold onto the morning’s glory. We got tired and sore.

that bench was too low!

Of course, we are recovering quickly.

this is what a 49 euro room like like!
the shower was a pleasant challenge

Day 9 — Santo Domingo

Rain was forecast, however the morning was dry , overcast, and in the upper 50s. We walked up and through the red clay cliffs behind Najera. The scenery was special all day. First we had vineyards and red clay. Then we had harvest fields and long views of the trail and the pilgrims ahead of us

Leaving Najera on an overcast morning
the cliffs form
the back walls of some buildings
looking back on Najera as we climb the red cliffs
the trail out of town and beyond
vineyards continued to dominate the landscape; the harvest is in full force
about half way today, the landscape changed from cliffs and vineyards to distant mountains and harvested grain fields
tonight we have a pilgrim room in the Paradore in Santo Domingo
variety in lodgings!
we found a nice little bar for a snack and beer while we caught up on journaling and sketching. The owner is Danish and met his true love on the Camino so they opened a bar in the town where they met.

Day 8 — Nájera

Our 10 mile day was filled with sunshine and vineyards. The trail was not too rocky nor too hilly. Nevertheless, we were happy to arrive at our lodging in this pretty city on a river.

It gets light pretty late. we are leaving about 8:00 and it is mot yet sunny
a beautiful cemetery on the way out of Navarrete
The river ed clay of the local hills is used for the famous pottery of the region
Placing a stone for her colleagues holding down the fort
Look! They mulch the grapes with potato rocks
Mostly the trail was good, but this section—not so much
gorgeous views
harvesting
traditional shelter in the vineyards
home sweet home for tonight

Day 7 — Navarrete

We walked out of the Hotel Calle Mayor in Logrono this morning at 8:00. The sun was bright. The temperature was 50. A stiff breeze was blowing.

We walked all through the old city and the newer sections. Kids were walking and biking to school. The sidewalks were full of life. A group of about 25 buff, young runners went by. I tried to get a photo. Yikes, they were Guardia Civil. Can’t photograph the military. Thank goodness they did not take my iphone.

For 4 miles, we were in the heart if the city, then a city park and a linear park. Many folks, mostly not young, were exercise-walking out the trail and back.

The second half of our 8-mile distance today was less scenic and had more challenging hills. Nevertheless, it was a great day on the Camino.

We arrived in Navarrete, had some refreshments, checked in to the Villa de Navarrete, washed clothes, and now are sitting in the town square enjoying village-wide free Wifi.

several photos of the walk out of town are coming
i should not have taken this one

these workers were harvesting in the vineyards, heavy work
amazing grapes
where they make the wine
this glass of wine cost 80 euro cents!
our room at the Villa de Navarette
view from our room
spent the afternoon in this square doing blogging and art

Day 6 — Logrono

We gave ourselves a shorter walk today, about 6 miles, mostly level. Logrono is a lovely city and we wanted to soak it in. We arrived to fine a marathon ongoing and most of the street closed. People were cheering the runners from every intersection. I saw several runners stop to hug their fans. That was special :).

We spent most of our time wandering on the squares, stopping for coffee, washing clothes at our hotel, and enjoying the ambiance.

Leaving Viana about 8:00
The yellow flowers are abundant
Century plants and fig trees
Vineyards with distant mountains
ready for harvest!
Mural in a village park along the trail
Playing with our shadows
Rocky soil. Happily, not on the trail
The trail cut through a pine woods
Trail marker
Now THOSE are small backpacks!
Strange pine cones on the Logrono city park that welcomes us to town
Over the river and into the city
A pilgrim dinner of white asparagus, lamb chops, and local cheesecake specialty, with wine or water included…14 euros

Tomorrow, we are on our way to Navarette

Day 5–Viana

On Day 5, Saturday, we walked 11.7 miles from Los Arcos to Viana. It was an awesome weather day. The first 6 miles or so were quite level and lovely. The second half had lots of climbs and downhills. The sky was blue and clear. We are tired and happy. Russ and I have now walked every step of the Camino Frances, from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, at least once.

Delightful start to the day
I think I see a village over there!
Vineyards everywhere
Spectacular morning’s walk
Somebody built a rock forest along the trail
Pilgrims decorated a tree on the forest
Our Lady of Poyo had rosy cheeks
The trail became mich more hilly
Yikes, we just walked down that trail!
Thank you Casita Lucia for the cold Aquarius and the almonds fresh from the trees. What a welcome break on a long stretch with no villages
Real chairs, even!
Almost to Viana
We stayed at the Pension San Pedro in Viana. Okay bit not our favorite. Small rooms and steep stairs. Bit this nearby square with San Pedro presiding was nice

Day 4 in Estella and Los Arcos

We spent the morning exploring Estella and found a delightful woodworking shop as we walked the marble-lined streets. We flew over the mountain between Estella and Los Arcos on a magic carpet. Sweet ride.

After our morning in Estella, we spent the afternoon in Los Arcos. It was a delightful rest day, full of art and blogging, a visit to the church and its Black Madonna, the main square and the village portal.

the story of Jesus birth
the Church of San Miguel. it was the closest of four, all on hill tops
streets made of marble
they washed the toys with the kid’s clothes apparently
the river runs through Estella
We visited this woodworker’s shop. He was “old”, three years younger than us!
Celebrating James’ retirement in their room at the Agora Hostal, which was superb! Russ’ sister Phyllis gave is euros to have two bog celebrations on the Camino. This was the first
Us, at the party
The Agora also has albergue rooms with these wonderfully private bunks! we preferred our private rooms, but these are pretty special albergue rooms.
We had dinner at the Florida Bar in Estella
We spent the afternoon in Los Arcos blogging and doing art on the courtyard near our Hotel Monaco
Our room
The amazing church, with its Black Madonna
Many were waiting for the church’s food pantry to open
The town square on Los Arcos
Leaving through the village gate in the morning

Day 3–Cirauqui to Estella

On Day 3 we walked about 9 miles from Cirauqui on Roman roads, past a Roman bridge, past vineyards, along a river, and o to Estella. the Hosta Agora was perfect. we slept better last night, without the iconic striking of the church bell every 15 minutes and tolling of the hours 🙂 in Cirauqui 🙂 That had its own charm, but last night was quieter. we had dinner at the Bar Florida.

Day 2 — Uterga to Cirauqui

The morning has been lovely—-and much more flat than yesterday. we extended our walk to visit the famous octagonal-shaped church possibly built by the Knights Templar in the image of the Church of the Holy Sepluchre, at Eunate. Soon after we arrived, two bus loads of German Christians pulled in to have Mass in the courtyard. We were ready to walk on.

The afternoon was not so flat. We wore ourselves out again.

Eunate
Eunate cloister
brief rain
hmmm. another hill
Puente la Reina—no one seems to know which queen

Pamplona to Cirauqui-Day 1

as we left Pamplona, we walked past harvested fields with the sun over our shoulders

On our first day of walking we covered 10.6 miles, including climbing the Hill of Forgiveness. Lo and behold, our cares and worries we’re all blown away at the top. Our tired legs however, did not notice the forgiveness. They really ached on the way down the other side. Yikes are we ever tired. Our rooms at the Albergue Camino del Perdon in Uterga are on the third floor. Ugh, no lift. Now my clothes are washed and hanging to dry. I am showered and flat on my bed 🙂

on the trail
many pilgrims on the trail
could it be more beautiful!
at the top, I look much better than I felt! perhaps it was the joy of having gotten there, and the fact i had yet to start down the rocky steep downhill on the other side!
at the top!
the statues at the top
Potato rocks with about a 20% downhill slope!
will it never end!
hurray, the town where we are staying tonight
we stayed at this albergue—Camino del Perdon—some are bunk beds bit we have the two private rooms
communal dinner, we even sang Ultreia at the end, led by the French man in the red shirt

First day in Pamplona

Running with the bulls
at the Taconera Garden bar/cafe
on the bus from Madrid airport to Pamplona
by chance, we arrived on the day of the Parade of the Gigantes
and the little Gigantes
Magdalena Bridge, where the Camino enters Pamplona
dinner at drinks at one of the many of Hemingway’s favorite bars-Iruna
lunch at the very cool Meson des Tortillas

We are having a fantastic first day, in Pamplona. Tomorrow we walk!

Hotel Eslava
Great lunch place—Meson de la Tortilla