Saturday, 31 May 2014

Camino Day 14

Date: May 31st
Start: Sarria
Stop: Palas de Rei
Distance: 53 km
Weather: Sunny with puffy clouds
Summary in one sentence: Awesome up and down day across the Galician country side.

My night started well in nice quiet and airy albergue until around 10:30 when the German girl in the bunk beside me started vomiting in the waste bin between our bunks.  She was hauled off to hospital but was back in her bed when I awoke.  She apologize d for all fuss and said she had been feeling ill the past couple of days.  Lets hope hope she was past thr super contagious phase when she picked the bunk beside mine.

Spent the 10 or so km today on the walkers route which is for the most part dirt country lanes.  Crossed a stream on an  ancient stone causeway.  Very pretty country and certainly noticing an increase in pelegrino traffic as I am nearing the 100 km distance to Santiago.  This is the minimum distance for a pilgrim to do to qualify for the Composela certificate. 

Back on the roads again and they are excellent quality with very lityle traffic.   Starting to see the little 'horreo' grain storage buildings that are characteristic of this area but are for the most part ornamental these days.

At the tiny hamlet of Ventas de Naron I grabbed a qick bite of  scrambled egg sandwich and beer.  Just the thing to keep the engine running!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Camino Day 13

Date: May 30th
Start: Pedrafita do Cebreiro
Stop: Sarria
Distance: 53 km
Weather: Foggy then clear
Summary in one sentence: Short climb and long downhill through gorgeous countryside.

Short climb to mountain village of O Cebreiro with the odd little thatched 'palloza' buildings dating to bronze age.  After a couple more small climbs a fantastic 12 km downhill on beautiful smooth and traffic free road to Triacastela for a coffee break and chat with a Dutch cyclist who has a friend in Chilliwack, BC.  Lovely rolling ride to Sarria with stop at Samos to visit the Benedictine monastery there.  Booked into the very nice Obradoiro albergue in the old town of Sarria.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Camino Day 12

Date: May 29th
Start:  Villafranca del Bierzo
Stop: Pedrafita do Cebreiro
Distance: 30 km
Weather: Rainy
Summary in one sentence: Rainy staging day

As weather is meant to improve tomorrow and I have the final mountain climb to O Cebreiro just ahead and it would be nice to do this in fair westher.  Therefore my plan for the day was to do a short staging ride be be well positioned tomorrow.  A fairly casual ride and steady climb to Pedrafita do Cebreiro which is about 9 km from high point. Good idea as I was completely soaked by the time I stopped.  A warm wet rather than the cold type for a change.
The countryside is as very fetching with the hills and lush valleys as I now enter the region of Galicia.   The cycling route follows the old N road which is now very  free due to the most of thr through traffic taking the new autoroute nearby.
Interesting first  for me was a pharmacy vending machine in a small village dispensing such things as sun screen, bandaids and baby food.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Camino Day 11

Date: May 28th
Start: Rabanal del Camino
Stop: Villafranca del Bierzo
Distance: 59 km
Weather: Cold and damp ending sunny
Summary in one sentence: A wet and cool climb, a castle and set up for another climb.

A snorey night in the albergue and off to 2 degrees at 7:00 am.  Dick discovered a slow leak in front tire so we found a pilgrims shelter where we could get out of wind and rain to replace tube.  Basically cycl7ng inside a cloud for 5 km to high point of entire Camino (1504 meters) and the Cruz de Ferro where pilgrims traditionally leave a stone brought from home.  I left a Soames beach pebble.  A cold 15 km and 1000 metre descent to pretty Molinaseca where they had us with €3.50  bacon and eggs.  A short spin to Ponferrada where Dick and I parted ways as he had a very tight schedule and needed to keep moving so he did.  Me less so and checked out the very good Templar castle (free Wednesdays!) Before cycling the 23 hilly  kms through vineyard country to Villafranca del Blerzo where I checked into the funky Hotel San Francisco around 4:00.  Found a friendly bike shop to have chain lubed then off to walk about.

Camino Day 10

Date: May 27th
Start: Leon
Stop: Rabanal del Camino
Distance: 67 km
Weather: Cool and cloudy later
Summary in one sentence: Nice to ride with another fellow.

On way out of Leon I crossed paths with Dick from Connecticut who had been riding since Le Puy.  Very warm and chatty fellow.  We stayed together all day.  Stopped in Astorga where Tuesday market was happening so grabbed bread, cheese and fresh cherries for lunch.  Then checked out the Gaudi designed cathedral in town.  Gradual climb over next 20 km to Rabanal del Camino   where we secured beds in albergue.   Enjoyed couple of beers with Australian  pelegrinos  before Dick and I headed off menu at local restaurant.  

Monday, 26 May 2014

Camino Day 9

Date: May 26th
Start: Le Burgo Ranero
Stop: Leon
Distance: 39 km
Weather: Clear and cool
Summary in one sentence: Shortish riding day to allow for 5ime to explore Leon on foot.

Cold early start for flat straight ride to village of Reliegos where I bumped into some pelegrinos fom Nelson, BC.  One of them knows my mother in law's cousin who lives there!  Another 26 km to the main plaza in the city of Leon.  Found a great one star hotel behind the cathedral where I was able to check in early, clean up and do a walk about.  Very beautiful and historic  city.  Visited the cathedral which is considered in the league of Chartes and Notre Dame.   Grabbed a donar and bought over priced gloves (I only brought along my fiingerless cycling ones) as freezing fingers are getting old.  A pelegrinos I chatted with reminded me there is a 1500 meter summit ahead so could be colder yet.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Camino Day 8

Date: May 25th
Start: Carrion de los Condes
Stop: El Burgo Ranero
Distance: 58 km
Weather: Cloudy and cool
Summary in one sentence:  More westward riding across the plains of Castillo.

Off at 7:15 and for first hour the Camino followed the dead straight ancient Roman road 'Via Aquitana'.  Second breakfast at Calzadilla and lunch at Bercianos del Real Camino, 34 km later. Visited the  Puente Romano (Roman bridge) which helps put into perspective how long folks have been living around here.   Generally the  scenery not as fetching as pass days as after first hour the Camino closely parallels the A231 motorway.  Booked into the Albergue Laguna which seems nice.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Camino Day 7

Date: May 24th
Start: Hornillos del Camino
Stop: Carrion de  los Condes
Distance: 65 km
Weather: Gorgeous - cool, sunny and no wind!
Summary in one sentence: Awesome cycling day mostly on Camino route.

Up early (as is pelegrinos norm) and on Camino at 6:30 cycling through fog.  Passed through Hontanas and Castrojeriz both still asleep.  Very pretty country with great visas all around.  Pushed up long flat top hill then down again to Boadilla del Camino (cerveza and sandwich) then along canal to  Fromista and finally 19 km straight stretch to Carrion de los Condes.  Booked into a fine room with miniature bathroom - Hostal Santiago.  Explored the town, nap and dinner.  As of this writing sounds like town is ramping up for a lively night.  Pleased with myself for conducting two separate conversations in french which after a week of struggling with Spanish, sermed almost intuitive.

Camino Day 6

Date: May 23rd
Start: Villafranca Montes de Oca
Stop: Hornillos del Camino
Distance: 59 km
Weather: Dreadful and later quite nice
Summary in one sentence: Cold, wet, windy start to an interesting day.

Left Villafranca at 7:00 in absolute downpour.  By the time I reached the pass I was too cold and wet to stop.  Later told it was 3 degrees in Burgos without wind chill!  Pushed on the 30 km to Burgos by which time the skies had cleared but still very cool.  Burgos locals wearing big jackets and scarfs.   Saw ear muffs on one.  Very pretty town and cycle friendly.  I visited the cathedral then grabbed a cafe before leaving via the cycle path to outskirts of town.  Made a good choice in then taking the Camino path to  Rabe de las Calzadas where I stopped for cerveza and tortilla.  The man running the bar was very magnanimous giving me a small charm for Buenos Caminos.  Stopped for day at Hornillos del Camino where I booked into a casa rural (B&B).  Small town and some of pelegrinos rolling in were not getting a bed.  It is nice to be out of the mountains and looking forward to the flat open lanscape of the meseta.   Enjoyed menu at local bar sharing table with an English man, a New Zealander and fellow from Spokane. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Camino Day 5

Date: May 22nd
Start: Santo de la Domingo
Stop: Villafranca de Montes Oca
Distance: 39 km
Weather: Rain and wind
Summary in one sentence: Hills+headwinds+rain+cold = short cycling day.

Nice early start with a loop north away from the Camino proper via Herramelluri to Belorado.  Winds, some sun and light showers.  At Belorado picked up lunch food and headed up the N120. Showers turned to heavy rain and before long I was pretty wet and cold.  Around noon arrived at Villafranca where I found a super B&B for €20.  It was a bit early to stop but they had me with the wood fire in fireplace.  Tidied myself up and laid out clothes to dry.  Around 2:00 the sun came out and wind abated!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Camino Day 4

Date: May 21st
Start: Viana
Stop: Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Distance: 63 km
Weather: Sun with shoers, mucho wind
Summary in one sentence: Challenging day of getting lost and head winds.

Bad nights sleep thanks to sleep apnea roommate in the albergue.    Started out at 7:30 with quick cycle in largish city of Logrono where I promptly got lost.  Thanks to two kind locals I found the Camino route out of town to Navarrete where I stopped for rest and second breakfast.  Very windy ride to Najera where I resorted to pushing to make forward movement.  More wind and a long hill before arriving at the interesting to of Santo Domingo.  I was quite flayed by this time so I opted for a room in the Hostel la Catedral (€30) to ensure a good sleep.  In Spain a hostel is low cost hotel.  A shower and nap to rechsrge and off to explore the town.

Camino Day 1

Date: May 18th
Start: MadridStop: Pamplona
Distance: 3 hrs. Train ride snd approx. 10 km around Pamplona
Weather: Clear and hot (30 degees +)
Summary in one sentence: Multi modal - taxi to Atocha train station, train to Pamplona, cycle around city  and to hostel.

I enjoyed the train ride to Pamplona - train trips are still kind of a novelty to me.  A station I promptly assembled bike and just as promptly got lost.  A kind local lead me to the street I needed to get to the Hosel Hemmingway where I wouldd spend the night.Wandered around the old city centre and visited the 18th century Vauban star fortress (which is now a park) and the Plaza del Castillo.  Enjoyed  a 'menu' dinner which included a bottle of local vino tino for €13.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Camino Day 3

Date: May 20th
Start: Puenta la Reina
Stop: Viana
Distance: 65 km
Weather: Bits of everything - clouds, sun, showers, headwinds
Summary in one sentence: Quintessential awesome cycle touring day - cool weather, varying and moderately challenging riding, excellent almost traffic free roads, interesting villages and people.

The thunderstorm expected yesterday arrived in the middle of the night and was done by morning.  I didn't notice thanks to to lingering jet lag exhaustion and the noise dampening effects of the German fellow snoring in the bunk above me.  The walking pilgrims sharing my room (five of us in the room) like to get an early start which was fine with me - we were packed up and out by 7:00.  Nice 20 km ride to Estella where I explored the town a bit and grabbed a 'cafe solo' at a bar before the short ride to the Irache monastery and wine fountain.  Steady cimbing through the wheat fields with wonderful vistas.  Arrived at Los Arcos where I found an open bar for a 3€ grand cerveza to have the ham sandwiches I smuggles out of the breakfast buffet at the albergue this morning.  More up and down riding until arriving at Viana where I secured a spot in an eight bed room at the modern Izar albergue (€13 including breakfast).  Laundry and a walk about town and then dinner fashionably late.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Camino Day 2

Date: May 19th
Start:  Pamplona
Stop: Puenta la Reina
Distance: 38 km
Weather: Sunny in morning, clouds in afternoon, windy
Summary in one sentence: Gentle first riding day of scenic gradual climb from Pamplona and long gradual downhill to Puenta la Reina.

I followed the exellent cycleways within the city all way to the neighouring tiown of Cizur Menor then a gradual climb and downhill at the end 17 km to Campanas.  After cafe con leche break mostly downhill to Puenta la Reina with a stop at the St. Maria Eunate (12th century) church.  Checked out the puenta (bridge) and had very meaty lunch be fore rolling into Hotel Jakue at 2:00 pm.  Casual first day on the camino. Nice quiet roads and busier ones have good cycling shouler.  Spanish drivers so far seem very courteous.