Camino Cat – Where Are You?

Could have used Camino Cat at Fromista – our stay at the kinda scary (to the extent that construction methods I haven’t seen in a building since covering races in Baja Mexico would be “scary”) Albergue Infanta de Castilla (aka Albergue Canal de Castilla)(I’ll call them out – it was THAT bad – nice staff, room sanitized with half-lethal dose of disinfectant, and even good WiFi – but the cheap seats are RIGHT next to the train tracks) came with an added extra not on their Website… a MOUSE! Continue reading “Camino Cat – Where Are You?”

Fromista

Supposed to be a cheese-making place, although we never did find the museum of cheese-making that is supposed to be here.

We have slept in some… ummmm… interesting… places while we’ve been here. Places of all-new construction, many have been converted homes, while some albergues have been serving pilgrims seemingly forever. There seems to be a trend toward converting old unused buildings into albergues – we passed the ruins of a convent that recently saw someone open an albergue in the place where the building HADN’T fallen down in the back. One place was an old hermitage that had become a hostel.

Continue reading “Fromista”

The Amazing Camino Cat

So we were resting at the top of the climb out of Castrojeriz, when this cat – not much older than a kitten, really, came up, working the the group of peregrinos gathered there. Meow, meow (feed me, feed me). This happens occasionally so I wasn’t thinking anything of it.

Then came this group of older women who swore they had seen the SAME cat the night before in Castrojeriz. Still, as interesting as that was, they were either mistaken – or perhaps the cat had been carried-up by someone who then dumped it at the top. Who knows – although such a thing wouldn’t be very nice, of course. Continue reading “The Amazing Camino Cat”

Pinchos

Here in Northern Spain, tapas, or small plates of appetizers, are known as “pinchos”.  The town of Logroño is reputed to be a great place to have pinchos. Trog (who loves a bargain, and is no gourmet) wanted to stick with the Pilgrim’s Menus. I, on the other hand, was eager to try some pinchos. So, I dragged him to a bar, with seating on the plaza, that featured pinchos. They were rather disappointing.

The pinchos are all precooked and sit in a display case. When you order them, they are placed on a plate and warmed in a microwave. Every one of them is breaded and deep fried. It is difficult to tell them apart. I very nearly bought us a pig’s ear thinking it was a stuffed pepper! While pinchos are probably quite delicious if you can get them freshly cooked, the best part of our pincho feast was the sangrĂ­a that we washed them down with.

The Spanish Are Different

Everyday, as we walk the Camino, we are passed by small groups of Spaniards. They are pilgrims. They have walked the same (or more) distances as we have. They are carrying the same (or more) weight than we are.  They ought to be as tired as we are! But no, they bound past us, quickly leaving us far behind. They are as strong, and nimble, and sure-footed as mountain goats! The uphill slopes take an effort and make me go at a slower pace. The downhill slopes slow me up even more as I carefully place my feet to avoid slipping and sliding on the loose gravel. Not so for the Spaniards! Nothing slows them down. Clearly there is an advantage to growing up in the second most mountainous nation in Europe.

Capturing Castrojeriz

And the cell phone service returned. Spent the night in a municipal albergue with 28 of our newest bestest friends (and learning – again – that people in large groups are a LOT less user-friendly) – but they had the BEST dang WiFi of any place we’ve been to so far!

The Castle Arrrrgh - Our Quest is At An END! (Pony's getting tired of that one - and we have NO idea what it IS. Probably a hermitage seems like a nice place for one.)
The Castle Arrrrgh – Our Quest is At An END! (Pony’s getting tired of that one – and we have NO idea what it IS. Probably a hermitage seems like a nice place for one.)
The church is OURS! Your castle will be NEXT! Bwah ha ha ha!
The church is OURS! Your castle will be NEXT! Bwah ha ha ha!

Continue reading “Capturing Castrojeriz”

Gentle Rolling Hills, My Ass!

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that we were walking through “gently rolling hills.” I was actually quoting our guidebook. The book was written by a backpacker for experienced backpackers. Since the book divides the Camino up into segments that are about 26 to 30 km each, and expects readers to walk that distance every day, it obviously is written for walkers who are much younger, heartier, and more energetic than myself. What the author described as “gently rolling hills” were, to me, very steep, rough terrain. The books describe The Meseta as a very flat broad plain. We are now on The Meseta and there is nothing flat about it! I suppose it is all relative. In comparison to the Rioja Region, this is relatively flat, but to me The Meseta is what I would call”gently rolling hills”. Even here, there are some very steep hills, including one known as Matamulos, the mule-killer!
It is still very beautiful, but in a very different way. Even though we are encountering some rain and cloudy weather here, it is a drier terrain. Where the countryside from Pamplona to Burgos was verdant green, the hills here in Castillo-Leon are a gorgeous golden brown.

Hurrying Through Hontanas

Hontanas was described in the guide we are using as a town that will suddenly appear when you start to wonder how much further it is across a relatively-empty meseta (lots of fields – no trees to speak of along the route). It did – in a valley that suddenly appeared before us. (The book also recounted as centuries-out tale about wolves, a Hontanas that was pretty much arranged to defend against wolves – and of particularly unfriendly reception and treatment by the villagers. Apparently the villagers got over the “unfriendly” part.)

As we disappeared into the valley, so did our Vodafone service – one of the few places the “ÂżMe oyes ahora? Bueno!” (“Can you hear me now? Good!”) guy DIDN’T get to in Spain, it seems (at least ONE other company – probably MoviStar – IS there). Continue reading “Hurrying Through Hontanas”