Friday, September 16, 2011

León to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

León to Sahagún - Thursday, September 15, 2011
374.5 kms SdC

Rain! It rained a little in León this morning just enough to be a nuisance. Veronica went to the cathedral and I went to the Internet shop (which was not open). We met later at the Estación de Autobus de León for the bus to Sahagún. This is a common bus or train route for pilgrims (Sahagún to León) as the two stages are long and crossing the major highways is dangerous.  I have heard those bed bug stories again.

Driving through the western end of the Meseta it looked extremly dry. Many of the trees planted for the benefit of the pilgrims in the 1990's have died. I always watch the pilgrims passing, some with a happy step, and some just plod along.
Here is where the bus arrives and departs.
The bell tower still stands.
Old, really old ....beside new in the main plaza.
Albergue de Peregrinos - Cluny. Not a happy looking Santiago (Saint James) is he? The Cluny monks built many hospitals (albergues) along the camino in the early centuries of Catholic pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The story is that in the ninth century a hermit (Pelayo) found bones and the local bishop declared them the bones of Saint James. How fortunate was that? Just when the Christians needed to build up the north to fight off those pesky Moors.

There is a belief that the relics are not those of Saint James but Priscillian whom you can read about in Tracy Saunders book Pilgrimage to Heresy

The Celts walked this way for centuries before the Catholics claimed The Way as their own. The Celts completed their journey at Cape Finisterre (finis-end, terre-land, earth) walking to the end of the then known world. At Cape Finisterre they watched the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean, then amazingly the sun rose the next morning in the east. I have always walked with my Celtic heart and thought of Katie Fitzgerald and my ancestral Irish roots.
Sahagún is a sleepy town, I think the population doubles with the arrival of pilgrims each day. After my siesta I went for a walk to find the yellow arrows for tomorrow, I go past the albergue above. Veronica was at the bar near the albergue. I stopped for a vino with her which turned into another with pizza, the best pizza so far. 

Sahagún to Ledigos - Friday, September 16, 2011
17 kms walk

Every hour before the sun comes up is worth two in the afternoon. Manuel (Venezuela), 2007 Camino Francés. I remember the words Manuel said to me as we walked together from Castrojeriz in 2007 - so along the Meseta I start earlier than my normal time.

While on the Camino I wrote:
I started an hour earlier this morning, 07:30.  Breakfast with Veronica, then next bar and then nothing till Ledigos.  I joked with Veronica that no wonder she is fast, she is older and has walked more Caminos than me ..... well, that is the excuse that I tell myself.

Walking east I see the sunrise and the promise of a beautiful day. It was a lovely walk and the sun did not come above the clouds until 09:30 and I had walked 6.8 kms. It was so good today starting early that we decide to start at 06:30 tomorrow as the walk is 23.5 kms.
It is very dry on the meseta and this arroyo (stream/creek) has dried up.
How flat is the meseta? Quite flat and there are not many shade trees along the path.
Only this bar between Sahagún and Ledigos so we enjoy a cup of tea (Vron) and café con leche (me).
This looks like a nice surface to walk on but it is hard and stony especially when you have blisters. Below was a wonderful surprise in 2007
The Secret Garden (Photo, 2007)
.... now there is a small labyrinth.
Many villages in Spain have solar power.  What electricity the village does not use is sold back to the grid, why don't we do that in sunny Texas?
These sunflowers are dying. I have seen many fields of dead sunflowers and wonder why they leave them to die. When do they harvest the seeds? I must Google it.

Ledigos is one of those places that Martin (UK - Camino 2007) would have written, "why did I walk here today?". There is nothing in this village (shops, restaurants) and if the albergue was not here there would not be a bar. Albergue El Palomar has a nice clean bar and comedor (dining room) but the beds are dirty.  Agh! I am hanging my lavender sachet from my Yankees cap (so I do not leave it behind) from the end of my bed. I feel dirty even though I have showered.

While on the Camino I wrote:
I am in Ledigos after a good walk.  I did not remember Ledigos until I came into the bar.  Here in this albergue in 2007 I came in for a cool drink and my Canadian friend, Jason, was sitting at the bar.  I had a drink with him (juice), took his photo and then moved on to Terradillos de los Templarios to the Albergue Jacques du Molay because Janneke was waiting for me.
Jason - Camino 2007

Ledigos to Carrión - Saturday, September 17, 2011
23.5 kms

I woke at 04:30 and stayed quiet because it is an albergue. Knowing it was to be a long day, and being ready, I set out at 06:00. I could not see Veronica but knew she would catch me quickly. This is the first time that I have walked at 06:00 on any camino. The moon was giving light and it is a wide path. No chance of getting lost as all I needed to do was look ahead at the the oncoming headlamps. It was a strange sight indeed, like watching large white fireflies. 

I was in Caldazilla de la Cuerza for breakfast. The barista was a surly young woman who did not seem to like pilgrims or her job. The bar is down the street from the albergue below.
The building is white but in the dawn light it has this lovely warm glow.
They were on their way to SdC from Belgium. I asked if I could take this photograph, they said yes.
Looking back to Calzadilla de la Cuerza with the morning glow.
Oh, let me photograph my shadow because it is so long.
The road ahead and it is like this for most of the day. It is an old Roman road, long, flat, stony, no shade and no bar till Carrión. Most pilgrims know of the 12k walk without a bar, this is it.
I was coming along here and a smiling Brazilian woman (yellow shirt) told me, "your English friend is waiting for you at the second rest stop". Then a group of French pilgrims told me the same thing. OK Veronica, I will walk on and not stop.
A camino marker, pilgrims leave stones for a variety of reasons.
One of the new rest stops. I wanted to take ten minutes but Veronica was at the next stop so I continued on. I am not blaming Veronica, it was my decision, but I should have stopped and taken off my boots and socks, rubbed Dr Scholls onto my feet, put on clean socks and then moved on - but I didn't. I will pay for this mistake, not listening to my feet.
Where, oh where, is the next stop? It is at the end of these trees. Nine kilometers from Carrión a temporary bar has been set up and this was the stop.  Veronica was still there when I arrived. I had a wood fired hot dog and a cool drink and it was good to stop. Knowing that I still had 9k to go I moved on. One blister!
This guy had the right idea. Walking on the road for the last 4.7 kilometers was awful. I was hot, my feet were hot, and there was little shade. At one point I sat in the gutter of the driveway of a house because that was the only shade.
Even from this marker Carrión was 1-1.5 kms. I was exhausted.
I sat in the shade at the tables in front of the monastery, now Hotel San Zoilo, and wished I was staying here. I took my boots off to cool my feet, two more blisters and they were heel blisters! Heel blisters are the worst to try and walk through the pain with, oh yuk, yuk, yuk! I was paying for not stopping and taking care of my feet at the first stop. I wish I had my Timberland boots ...

After a rest and shower I went in search of Veronica for a well deserved drink. Drown my blistered feet sorrows. Veronica sent me an SMS saying she was watching the wedding. I told her so was I, but from the bar at the other end of the street. We were opposite sides of the church. We worked it out and I joined her.

We had dinner at the Hostal La Corte which has the best Menu Peregrino that I have had so far this year (€10.00 which is a bit more pricey but well worth it). After dinner I was sitting on a bench opposite the hostal when along came J. J said that she had walked from Sahagún that day, hmm, 35.5 kms she could do it, she is a fast walker, she has blisters and bad shoes I guess that is why she came in late. I told J she had better move on as the albergue closes at 21:00. 

I left to rest my feet for tomorrow. 


Carrión to Frómista - Sunday, September 18, 2011
20.5 kms (12.7 miles)
434.8 kms SdC (270.2 miles)

Today's walk was 3.0 kms shorter than yesterday and I was happy with this. I look at yesterday's notes and I can see that I was exhausted when I arrived. Veronica set off after breakfast but I was not quite ready to leave. It is lovely walking in the moonlight and then watching the sun come up. Because it is cool I walked the 5.6 kms to Villacazar de Sirga in 1 1/2 hours .... which is good for me.
Another long flat stony path.
I have resisted taking this shot at other times coming through here. See the cyclist van behind me? Yep, they too have support vehicles.
The beautiful church is unable to be seen because of the scaffolding. Thank goodness I have passed this way before and visited the church. I sent Andrée an SMS for her birthday, then called her and spoke for awhile and lost the call. Andrée called me and we spoke again and lost the call.  Andrée's mother and brother were with her for their birthday's, it is her brother's birthday on the same day. Could the scaffolding be playing a part in this loss of calls?
The once small shop opposite the church steps is now a bar with a covered outside terraza. While I was enjoying my morning stop along came J. Veronica has warned me that some people walk along the camino looking for soft people they can sponge from. She believes J is one of these people and is seeking me out. I had finished my breakfast and putting on sunscreen so I walked on ....
He pulls his one wheel trolley, she pushes hers.  They seem to like them, said they did. I wonder if this old lady would like to use one. I think that I would be tempted to carry too much lets face it, I head off each year with things I do not need. What about the extremely rough tracks? Do they have to take the road? Remember, I hate the road.
The seemingly endless Senda (footpath) that goes on and on and on ... and on ... beside the road.
These two storks forgot to fly to Africa - they should be gone by now, maybe they want to immigrate to Spain.

The Senda's are also called peregrinos autopistas (pilgrims freeways). Like Houston, the ditches are deep beside the road. I sat on the concrete edge of the culvert for a pack break. J came along and we chatted for awhile then I said I had better move on. J took off, I hung back, I have not seen her again today.
Iglesia románica de San Martĺn de Frómista - a stunning renovation or restoration. In Off The Road, Jack Hitt he mentions the Victorian era renovations to this church. They replaced the lewd stone carvings with a more moderate theme, it was 1800's censorship.
The checkerboard pattern is one of the interesting stonework features that this Iglesia (church) is known for.

I lost a sock today. They were wet, not having dried overnight, hand washed socks take a long time to dry so I placed them in the top of my pack this morning to dry from the sun. When I put on sunscreen I must have pulled one out and not noticed, oh well I still have two pair.

It was a cloudless sunny day but Kim (Irish - camino 2007) was with me. I thought of the Irish prayer she sent me before another camino, the wind was at my back.

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thanks Kim.

Frómista to Castrojeriz - Monday, September 19, 2011
460 kms SdC (285.8 miles)

The early morning sun makes the golden stones look beautiful.
My heel blisters are hurting and it seems to take longer to walk through the pain (the first few steps). My blisters are increasing in size from walking every day even though they are protected by plasters and tape. I did not want to walk on the road again and the first part of today's walk is on the road. However, I like this walk across the mesa so I took a taxi to Puerta de Itero, 9.4 kms from Frómista. The hospitalero at the refugio San Nicolás offered me coffee (donativo) but I only wanted a sello (stamp). I gave a donation and moved on.
From San Nicolás the path went up, up, up and then down to a little pilgrim stop. An enterprising man has set up a donativo (donation) fruit, cool drinks, and coffee stop - honestly, it was the best coffee I've had that was not a café con leche from a bar. It was so pleasant here that I sat for awhile talking with other pilgrims, I had the time as it was still early and it is a short kms day for me.
This is Lotte. Lotte walks some of the camino with her man-parent, Manfred Herman (Germany). Manfred's wife cannot walk because of major heart surgery so she drives the car and Manfred walks.  For the sake of Lotte's paws she is only permitted to walk a few kilometers each day.
2011 Kilt guy.
Walking up the Pyrénées in April 2002 a man passed me wearing a kilt, a proud Scot I thought. Since then every time that I have been on the camino I have seen a man wearing a kilt.  However, I now know that they are not all Scottish. I was told that this guy is actually German and likes to wear skirts. Nothing wrong with that, I know a construction worker in Texas who likes to wear skirts. But why the pretense of being Scottish? I guess he likes the attention wearing a kilt brings his way.
Looking back at the rest stop. All the time I sat there this morning the pilgrims kept coming - alone or in two's, three's or more. I have not seen the camino this busy on my April-June camino walks. September definitely seems to be a busy month along Camino Francés.
You can hardly make out the rest stop now. It is there, if you click on the photo it will expand.
And now I have to go up to the mesa, yes 18% is very steep.
It does not look steep but it is. In 2007 this was a dirt track and a very rocky road. The 2010 Anõ Santo and future pilgrims were/are spoiled.
On the other side of the mesa (about 600m). A view of Castrojeriz - the way down is a mere 12% for 350m .... which is still very steep. Castrojeriz castle ruin is atop the hill in the distance.
Also not here in 2007 - another of the rest stops for pilgrims.
The walk into Castrojeriz (actually from either way) seems never ending. Will I ever arrive in Castrojeriz? Yes, just keep going one painful blistered step at a time.

Veronica told me that her brother died today. Sincere sympathy Vron.

Castrojeriz to Hornillos del Camino -
September 20, 2011
480 kms SdC (298.2 miles)
20.2 kms (12.5 miles)

Again I take a taxi because of those heel blisters, they really hurt. I am so close to stopping (timewise) and yet I want to walk. I am compromising and walking the sections I love. I was looking forward to this camino because of my new knees and I get blisters, AGAIN! I thought that I had mastered blisters but I haven't.

The walk to Hontanas is along the road and you know by now that I would rather be on the path.  The path is special, the road is a road! I think it is beautiful walking the meseta and I don't want to miss it. Up on the high mesa it was busy with the many pilgrims walking west.
San Bol - a strange place along the camino. I will leave it for future pilgrims to find out for themselves about this odd place.
Further away from San Bol, looking back along the path. 
Hay bailing today. I watched the forklifts place bails of hay on the truck, tie them down, and then restack the bails still in the field.
As I walk into Hornillos it is early afternoon and so quiet, and not siesta time. Many villages look like this when pilgrims walk through. There are no locals to be seen except the person who runs a service store, bar or farmacia.
Hornillos del Camino - it was here that I met Jason (Canada), Rolf (Germany) and Janneke (Netherlands) in 2007, this place holds very special memories for me.

Veronica and I had a drink and then decided to meet at six after a siesta.  Good idea Vron! The bar's comedor (dining room) is small, five tables seating four each, so being early we were at the first sitting.

Hornillos del Camino to Atapuerca - 
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A different day along the way ........ taxi, bus, taxi, walk

By now a purist has left this site but I make no apologies. A pilgrims camino is a personal journey and how they go about it is their business. There is not a rule book for a pilgrimage. Some judgmental people make their own rules and want to apply those rules to other pilgrims. In 2002 I did not know how to take a bus, or call for a taxi, so I walked but when I needed to rest because of blisters I took a train from Burgos to León. I told myself that I would come back to walk the meseta (I did). A friend told me that I was cheating. My firm belief is that anything a pilgrim does before the last 100 kms is their camino. A pilgrim must walk the last 100 kms or cycle the last 200 kms - this is a rule from the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. I have never broken that rule going west. Oh, and nothing says you have to carry your pack, the pilgrim has to walk, not the pack.

Veronica asked last night if we could take a taxi to Burgos as she wanted to attend early Mass at the beautiful Burgos Cathedral. Her brother's funeral service is today in England and this way she felt she could feel part of it. I needed a Telebanco (ATM) and Farmacia (more plasters, foot gel and Ibuprofeno) so was fine with this. We have been together since Palais de Rei and now want to be together in Logroño for a farewell dinner. Vron also suggested that after Mass we should take the bus to Villafria (where many pilgrims take the bus into Burgos from the other way).  There is a long 10 kms straight stretch through the industrial area and suburbs. Since I have taken this bus before I agreed. I am grateful that Veronica is with me. Veronica is a step ahead of me and clues me in to what is required to move along on the return journey.
I am ready to leave at sunrise again - the promise of a nice day.
El Cid (Rodrigo Días de Vivar 1043-1099) served in Burgos during his early years and is buried in the center of Burgos Cathedral.
Fortunately, while I was at the Farmacia I noted the Parada de Auotobus forVillafria had moved from where Vron told me to meet her (near the bridge with El Cid's statue in view). I sent her an SMS and here she is at the new bus stop (two blocks down river) after Mass.
Villafria to VillaVal is on blacktop so at the Bar Ultima Parada I called a taxi to take me to the path. I was let off here (above) with no yellow arrows in sight, hmm. I looked around and thought the road to my right would take me to the camino. It did. As I started to walk a farmer came out and yes, I was on the camino but he told me that I was going the wrong way. No, yo retorno peregrina.
I wanted to walk on this! Am I crazy? No, I like this section and I remember walking it with Sheila in 2002 and Elke in 2007. I have just come up this hill that the cyclist is going down. Being here brings back camino memories and I sit and remember my previous camino walks and the friends on them.

I thank Ilsa (my Spanish teacher) for giving me the ability to communicate while in Spain. The longer I am in Spain the better my language ability gets. I stumble at times when accents and words change within the various regions.
A large labyrinth on top of the hill.
I have come past this cross in the early morning when it has been shrouded in mist, today the weather is beautiful. Kim (Ireland, 2007) told me a story as she was crossing these  mountains. Kim felt she needed a stick and kept thinking about a stick, then she looked down and there was the perfect stick if she broke off a little of the branch. After some time the stick was rubbing on her hand and a blister was forming. Kim thought she needed a glove. Not long after that she saw a right hand glove hanging from a tree. Just what she needed. Pilgrims say ..... this is the camino!
Walking or riding down hill over this limestone is even worse. It is a seemingly endless down, down, down. I have always admired the bikers who ride this way - very rough riding.
Blackcurrant bushes, the fruit is a good source of Vitamin C. 
The broken statue is of Atapuerca Man - the ancestor of European man. The oldest human skull in Europe was found here in 1994. See the field of dead sunflowers behind him?

Breakfast at the Casa Rural attached to La Hutte alberhue was awful. Chocolate croissant, dry bread, bottled OJ and thermos coffee, not worth €5.00 - save your money and walk on to the first open bar. 

Atapuerca to Villafranca Montes de Oca - Thursday, September 22, 2011
540 kms SdC (335.4 miles)

San Juan de Ortega - the church is late Romanesque.
Sunflowers, not dead yet but the field beside this was dead.
This walk I love - 12 kms through pine and Holm Oak forests.
I remember sitting at the top of the hill (in the distance) in 2002 and saying OMG as I looked at the steep down/up. Only last night I said to Veronica, "coming up in the next couple of days there is a steep down/up and I forget where". The naughty lady smiled and said, "I know but I am not telling you where". Here it is, today's walk. In 2007 it did not seem so bad because I knew that I could do it. Today it was not the down/up that was the killer it is that horrible new stony surface. It was so much better before when the path was a dirt track.

Coming through the forest I could hear cars and trucks whizzing by (loud) and did not remember this in previous years. The new highway N-120 can be seen in the far right of picture, it makes a difference to this beautiful walk. The highway is so new the road surface is still jet black :)
In 2002 the forest came almost to the fence and the camino was just a track. Where I sat then was the base of an old cross that was not seen until you were 5-10 meters away. Now there is this modern monument with picnic tables across the road, changes!
The wild flowers are not very colorful at this time of the year but in Spring these fields are gorgeous.
Coming into Villafranca Montes de Oca the church spire can be seen and the yellow building near the church is the new Hotel San Antón. The owner, having walked the camino multiple times, wanted to give back to the camino. He renovated the centuries old abandoned monastery turning it into a pilgrim friendly hotel and a well appointed albergue. Well done peregrino!

I had planned to stay at El Parajo the truck stop that I stayed at in 2002, 2007 and 2009. Once I saw Hotel San Antón I could not go past it. My feet said, STOP! My room was so quiet that I fell asleep at 15:00. I did not set my alarm because Garry had said he would call at 16:00. Garry woke me at 19:00 - I had a four hour siesta, guess I was more tired than I realized.
This one makes it obvious what the blue arrow is.
The church at Villafranca Montes de Oca.

The number of pilgrims was less today than any other day so far. I did not see any big group or pilgrims with or without packs. I have slowed down because of my heel blisters but still I see some pilgrims slower than me. Many with blisters and injuries and some very overweight, packs and bodies.

John Brierley writes about the following in his guidebook. John was offered a meal and bed but wanted to move on to the next village. He found everything completo in that village. My point is, when the next albergue is 12 kms away why, oh why, do pilgrims not stop? I see them continuing on so late in the afternoon and running the risk of all albergues being completo (full). Yes, some look like they could do it easily but others look like they should have stopped a few kilometers before passing me.

I stopped and talked with a Korean couple from Kentucky today. They were perplexed why I would be walking the other way. I told them that I have a love for of the camino and that having my share of Compostela's I do not need another. I mentioned the increase of Koreans on the camino. They told me that a Korean who walked the camino has written a book and that's why so many are here now. They also commented that there are not many Americans on the camino. It is true, but it might change after the movie THE WAY comes out. Camino del Norte may be the only way to go for a peaceful camino.

Veronica and I have both noted that the friendliest pilgrims with the biggest smiles and happiest Buen Camino have been the Koreans. Every day I pass many Koreans, it reminds me of the Germans on the camino in 2007 after Hape Kerkerling's book was published.

Villafranca Montes de Oca to Belorado - 
Friday, September 23, 2011
551.1 kms SdC (342.4 miles)

The Hotel San Antón is absolutely beautiful with good food at the restaurant. The bed with its crisp linen and duvet was the most comfortable of this entire camino. From my room I should have been able to see the stars but unfortunately it was a densely clouded sky. If you want a treat, stay here at the hotel or albergue.

As I was leaving this morning the owner asked me to wait. I did. He sent a staff member away and she came back with the gourd above. He wrote on it, "Para Luiza, Peregrina mayor del Camino a Santiago 22/09/2011" translation, "For Luiza, greater Pilgrim from the Way to Santiago 22/09/2011" - then he tied it to my backpack saying, Buen Camino. 

Gracias, senōr. I am honored by your gift.

More reassurance along the way. There was a nice soft track at the edge of the field which meant no road walking to the camino path. The road here is dangerous with the number of trucks that come past at fast speeds. If on the road the wind from the trucks can push you over with the weight of your pack.
All that remains of the ruins, Monasterio San Felix de Oca, Siglo VI-IX.
This one for Dawnie who loved my previous mist photographs.
¿Lo que va? What goes?

Obviously the person who wrote this has not worked it out that the blue arrow is for the returning pilgrims.
There is something special when you walk in the mist. Like walking in snow, the mist walking is quiet and tranquil.
A five-way fountain. For non pilgrims .... the water from these water fountains is pure sweet water. If I fill my bottle from the tap of an albergue, hostal or bar then I change it out when I see a fountain for water without chemicals. For most of the camino there is no need to buy water as there is always a sign Agua non potable if you cannot drink the water.

I was on a rest break when a man passed by, then a woman who was followed by the most lovely looking boy (blonde, handsome, maybe 8 yrs) who was singing at the top of his voice and twirling his stick like a drum major. Just watching him made me smile. After he had turned a corner I thought not everything can be photographed some things are for memory.

On this stretch of path, 4.8 kms, there is a bench for sitting every half kilometer or so. It is another new path. There has been changes over the years and not always the best path for the pilgrims feet, this was good. It was very hot and I was delighted when I saw Belorado in the distance.
Here, and at other places along the way, they have built a pedestrian bridge beside the Roman bridge for the safety of pilgrims and locals.
Hardly any water in the rio Tirón (Tirón river).
Belorado, here I met Sheila (2002) for the first time but we did not become friends until Ponferrada. Then we walked together until we arrived in Santiago de Compostela. The next day we went to Finisterre by bus and I received my gift from the camino. Sheila was the person I was meant to meet along THE WAY in 2002 but her lesson for me is too personal to write on a Blog.
These bar's are what I miss when away from Europe or South America. Sitting relaxing with friends enjoying a meal and/or drink is such a pleasure when outside like this.

Belorado to Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Saturday, September 24, 2011
574 kms (356.7 miles)

I have decided that after today's walk I STOP. I will spend two nights in Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Saint Dominick of the road) and then go to Logroño to meet Veronica for our farewell dinner. It is best to listen to my feet and my right heel blister is screaming at me. On other camino walks I have taken a 2-3 break to give my blisters a chance to dry out and a rest from boots. I do not have that luxury of time now. This decision only means I stop two days early.

Looking back at Redecillo del Campo.

One of the traffic jams that can happen along the camino.
Using a blow torch to blacken the peppers in Grañon.
Roasted peppers anyone. They take the black skin off before preparing.
Leaving Grañon the pilgrims have cut a path through the wheat fields, it was a soft path so I took it. It felt like being on the old camino. There in the middle of the field was my camino angel (Charlotte) reminder, a soliary sunflower.
Another camino traffic hazard. Most pilgrims will stop and let a tractor pass but I noticed in the movie, THE WAY, that they still kept walking. Yikes, is it really still 5.9 kms from this bridge? I took a pack break here.
Well it was 1.4 kms to here from the bridge and now .....
... I can see the city. Looks close doesn't it? Well actually it is still 4.6 kms to the cathedral. I thought that I would be there in no time.
The walk seemed never ending to the bridge (visible from the cross) and I thought, this is it Santo Domingo. Wrong! I still had a long way to go from the bridge, maybe 1k to 1.5 kms.
No, tell me I don't have to walk here. It was hot, very hot, no shade and a rough surface. 
Santiago (Saint James) welcomes me (and all) into the city.
Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
Santo Domingo (Saint Dominick) with the rooster and hen.
And here they are. This is the story. In medieval times a German family (mother, father, son) were on pilgrimage to SdC when they stopped in Santo Domingo. A maid fell in love with the young man and he rejected her favors. She felt scorned, so as they were leaving she hid a silver cup in his belongings and then as they were leaving called out "thief".  The young man was put on trial, found guilty and sentenced to hang. On their return from Santiago the parents noticed their son was alive. They believed this was a sign from Saint James. They went to the Mayor who had sentenced the lad but he was about to have dinner. When they told him their son was alive he said, "that boy is as dead as these two birds on the plate". With that the birds jumped up alive and well. To this day a rooster and a hen have been caged in the cathedral on public display. Yes, they change them out, not the same two all the time.

Santiago (Saint James)

Walking around today the fliers were everywhere, they advertised a Mass and Concert, 20:00 at the Cathedral tonight. I was at Bar Pedra an outdoor table, on the camino, watching the constant flow of locals walking to the cathedral dressed in their finest clothes. Then I sat in silence when a hearse, bedecked in flowers, slowly went past. I could read one card on a wreath and the flowers were from, esposa y hijos (wife and sons/children). What a strange time for a funeral I thought. Lo and behold the funeral service was at the Cathedral. Must have been an important man to preempt the Mass and Concert, or were the fliers for his service?

Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Sunday, September 25, 2011

A rest day for the feet? Let me explain that this means a rest day from wearing boots. I am not tired. I can walk around Santo Domingo in sandals, no socks with the blisters uncovered to dry. I am tempted to throw my boots in the trash but maybe Germany will be cold and I will need them.

Veronica sent me an SMS asking if I can stop by the cathedral and take a photo of Saint Veronica, I will. The cathedral was not open when Veronica walked through Santo Domingo. I was at the cathedral yesterday but did not photograph Saint Veronica. Santo Domingo Cathedral has undergone major renovations and glows with its clean old stones and a new stone floor. The pews are modern in dark wood and the altar in light wood. The chicken coop is still the same. Were the chickens in the coop daily while renovation were being done? I remember the cathedral from 2002 and it was dark and dismal. Now light and airy with the entrance on the other side and a €2.50 fee for pilgrims. Progress, we must look after these buildings, the cathedral has survived over 700 years and I hope it lasts another 700+.

Yesterday my pack was heavy with wet clothes that did not dry overnight. This morning those clothes are dry, what a relief. When clothes are wet the backpack gets heavier, and the difference in weight is felt on your back.

Ayuntamiento (City council) in the town plaza.

I loved his gold sequined hat and asked if I could take a photograph. He said yes and when they saw my photo asked if I would take one on their camera for them. Yes.
In most churches and cathedrals along the way Santiago (Saint James) can be found in statue or carved in the retablo (altar piece). 
Saint Roch is the Patron Saint of dogs and those who love them. Statues of San Roque can be found all through Spain (and France), almost as frequently as one sees Santiago.
Another Saint Roch.
The cloister and it is September not Halloween. 
Santo Domingo (Saint Dominic).

I have finished my walking for 2011. I will return to Santo Domingo de la Calzada in 2012 to continue the retorno (return) journey along Camino Francés to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (SJPP), France. Tomorrow I move on to Logroño a city that I am ambivalent about. I have happy memories in Logroño and yet do not like the city. 

Buen Camino y Ultreya


  1. Anonymous1:28 AM CDT

    not blogging much, but I understand. I am sure once back you will write the stories down. Hope all still goes well. Say hi to your companion, always nice to have someone around. You getting nearer to the point where we met 4 years ago. I keep on thinking a lot about that. Sorry we can't be there with you but "duty calls" (a week shopping in Paris hey hey...) Besos from Vicente and Kees

  2. Dear Kees y Vicente,
    It was so different on the retorno. I was not ready in my head to Blog and for that I was not seeing INTERNET signs. I wrote complete notes each day and will Blog when I am settled at home, as if I was walking. I have to return so that I can arrive at where we met. However, I stopped in Logrono where we met at the corner for a long chat, fond memories of you and camino 2007. BTW, Steve is in Australia with Ashley. I hope you had another wonderful visit to Paris (I think you are home today).
    Besos, Luiza, Rolf, Christine