Two New Hampshire girls hike the 500-mile Camino de Santiago to raise money for women around the world.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day Nineteen. San Bol to Castrojeriz. March 31, 2013

Distance: 14.4 kilometers with barely any elevation gain (8.94 miles).

I'll repeat what I stated earlier - two thumbs way up for San Bol. Wonderful atmosphere, cozy albergue, kind hospiteralo, yummy food...and a gorgeous sunrise over the Meseta.

Happy Easter, everyone!

My photo of Alex did not turn out, which is unfortunate.  It was a wonderful Easter and I wish I had a photo of her on this day.

Today's walk took us over and down the Meseta, through the popular pilgrim town of Hontanas, under the ancient arch of San Anton, and into Castrojeriz.

Sunrise on the Meseta...with Easter chocolate...

The morning walk was lovely. Light breeze, clear skies...couldn't have asked for better weather.

In and out of Hontanas, toward the ruins of San Anton...

The ruins of the convent San Anton...

Bread was habitually left for pilgrims under the arch in medieval times. Now, pilgrims leave personal notes and anchor them with small stones.

Onward, to Castrojeriz...

Castrojeriz with its 9th century hilltop castle...

We are staying in the Hotel Meson Castrojeriz. It's 35 Euros a night for a double room and they have a very good pilgrim's menu for ten Euros (tons of food and excellent wine!). I had planned on having a private room for Easter - we were happy to discover that the rooms here are quite reasonably priced. Many other pilgrims are staying here too. There is a public albergue in Castrojeriz and I've heard it's fine...other folks probably just wanted to treat themselves for Easter too.

Tomorrow, we head to Fromista.

Misc. comments -

Each of us has one small blister on a toe. Nothing that can't be easily managed.

The girls are happy with this life -- Sage told me tonight that she is excited for each day since she always goes somewhere new. Alex is getting braver with her Spanish and she's having short conversations with townspeople. My Spanish is holding up well and my German is coming back to me. We all go to bed tired and wake up feeling strong. Alex says she feels very fit. We are each eating a ton of food every single day.

We're finding that we want either small albergues (Granon, Tosantos, San Bol, etc.) or private rooms. We can do the large albergue every once in a while...but we don't get much sleep in places that feel impersonal. Sleep is So Important during a trip like this!

Hope everyone had a pleasant Easter.

Til tomorrow (assuming I have an Internet connection),

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day Eighteen: Burgos to San Bol. March 30, 2013

Distance: 26.8 kilometers with about 230 meters elevation gain (16.64 miles with around 750 feet elevation gain).

First - I accidentally deleted two comments on my blog instead of publishing them. The first was from a woman who lives in Australia and the second was from a woman who is soon starting the Camino with a group of other women - she liked Raphael's comment. Ladies, I apologize - the deletion was accidental. Please comment again and I'll happily publish your words. I hit the wrong button by mistake on my iPad. I am not trying to censor you or you opinions!

Second - today's thanks goes to all the hospitaleros who make such an effort to welcome pilgrims into the albergues. Your job requires patience, a good nature, and a sincere desire to help others. You men and women are the people who truly make the Camino a positive and uplifting experience -- so thank you.

Third -- I don't have a lot of photos today and I'm not sure why!  My apologies!

My leg felt a thousand times better as we walked out of Burgos. The girls and I were refreshed and well-rested from our day off. The weather was perfect too -- all felt right with our worlds as we left the giant megopolis.

We walked out of Burgos and into the countryside, through Villalbilla, and to and through Rabe de las Calzados.

We stopped in Rabe de las Calzados for a snack. This is a lovely town; the people are friendly, I hear the albergue is excellent, and the kind fellow at the bar gave the girls free Camino charms. I was able to purchase credencials here (we have a lot of stamps and will likely run out of room on our originals before we reach Santiago). We would have stopped here for the night if we hadn't wanted to walk more miles.

Onward, into and over our first Meseta. The Meseta is similar to the American mesa...except in Spain, there's less iron/clay and a lot more grass.

We entered the town of Hornillos del find the main street flooded. The recent rain and snowmelt caused the local river to jump its banks. We could have waded across if we had wasn't a dangerous crossing...but a friendly fellow was giving peregrinos literal lifts in his bulldozer. The girls jumped at the opportunity to ride in the "scoop" section of the bulldozer (and, I have to admit, so did I).

I had heard a lot of negative things about this albergue from people who had stayed here last year and the year before. I therefore inquired about getting a room at the local Casa Rural, but the Casa was already full (and the first floor was flooded). Please note that I have not stayed at the public albergue myself and it might be just fine now, I truly have no idea how it is at present. What I do know is that when we arrived around 1:30, no one knew where the hospiterala was and there was already a line outside the door. The local bar was packed with pilgrims and there was nowhere to sit down. The girls and I sat outside, talked it over, and decided that we had the will and the energy to press on and try our luck in San Bol. We had already walked 13 miles, but we felt good after our day off and felt we could handle the additional 3.5 miles to San Bol (one small albergue) or, if necessary, the 6.5 miles to Hontanas (many albergues).

Pressing on, up and across another Meseta, toward San Bol.

The additional 3.5 miles went quickly (we ate a lot of chocolate...that always helps) and we soon saw the lone albergue...San Bol, nestled in the poplar trees in the middle of the's the little building to the right of the grove.

San Bol used to have a reputation for having an unruly party scene. Folks used to camp outside, spend all night singing and drinking (and smoking interesting cigarettes...), etc. I had heard that the albergue had recently been "cleaned up," so to speak, so the girls and I wanted to check it out. We are so glad we did!!

San Bol now has a welcoming, warm, friendly hospiteralo and the place feels like a peaceful retreat. 

Poplar trees (camping is no longer allowed)...

Dining room...

Cost is five Euros per person. One can either cook one's own dinner or pay an additional seven Euros for a communal dinner. We bought the dinner, as did the five other people who stayed the evening. It was delicious! Three course meal with wine..scrumptious.

The other peregrinos were in as much need of relaxation as we were. In fact, all of us took a three hour nap before dinner, then we all went to bed at 8:30 and slept ten straight hours. We were probably the most sedate and peaceful group the hospiteralo has seen thus far, lol. There was a couple from England, two ladies from Spain, and Deitmar from Germany. There was a time change in the morning...we already did that in the States, now it's Spain's turn, I we all woke up past the time we were supposed to leave. Didn't matter that much, since the hospitalero also woke up late. He was very gracious about everyone's tardy departure.

Alex said this was the best night's sleep she's had since we began our Camino (hotel stays included!). The atmosphere was perfect and the location was gorgeous. We were treated to a beautiful sunrise over the Meseta the next morning...two enthusiastic thumbs up for San Bol.

Note that you will need a sleeping bag to stay here. There are blankets, but there is no electricity so therefore there is no heat. We were fine with our bags and blankets. Note also that there are a few things for sale here in the albergue (wine, cookies, nuts, etc). If you are starving and don't feel you can make the next 5 kilometers to Hontanas without eating something, then you can stop in and purchase something even if you don't want to sleep here. Though we do highly recommend sleeping here. Our experience was peaceful and we all felt extraordinarily well-rested the next day.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Day Seventeen...Burgos Rest Day...

My original post with the pictures from our Burgo rest day disappeared...I sometimes make mistakes when using the Blogger application for iPad...I'll repost the photos later, when I return to NH.  The original text (without photos) is on my Trail Journals page, which is copied, pasted, and, unfortunately, somewhat mangled, below.  I'll fix everything once I'm back in editing capabilities are limited with this iPad app.

Burgos - Click picture to see full size
Distance - about 100 meters (300-ish feet). Elevation gain...perhaps ten meters.Later during the evening of March 28...
Burgos is wonderful..and I do mean wonderful. The Cathedral is breathtaking. I wish I could have taken photos (not allowed) because nothing I write is going to do the interior justice. The stained glass, the stone carvings, the tombs, the gold sculptures, the service that was going on in the very middle (complete with choir boys, high priests, etc), the Latin inscriptions everywhere, etc. It's beautiful. The girls were enthralled with every detail.
The public albergue is well-equipped, but very open and therefore noise travels. There are many people staying here this evening. The upside to the large numbers, however, is that there will be many tired peregrinos to shush the few inconsiderate partiers. I hope. The girls and I could really use some serious sleep!
Even later during the evening of March 28...
The same peregrinos who seemed to be in the same room with us last night and who were incredibly loud booked into the same albergue we did and were placed right next to our bunks. I am sure they are all very nice people and I am glad they are enjoying their Camino, but the girls and I need some deep, uninterrupted sleep or we will never make it past the Meseta.
I found a wonderful hotel that gave me a two-night discount and free breakfast for the girls. We will stay here for two nights instead of staying in the albergue and leaving tomorrow...that gives my leg a needed rest day and it gives us some time to truly appreciate this wonderful city. It also gives that group of loud peregrinos time to get one day ahead of us on the Camino.
March 29, 2013
What a difference a good night's sleep makes! My leg pain is barely there this morning and all three of us feel rarin' to go. We'll take the rest day here regardless, though. I want to pick up a certain creme for my leg - a few good folks on my Facebook page recommended a certain item to help relieve the aching. Also, I would very much like to look around this beautiful city.
I love Burgos. Love it. So beautiful! The girls and I walked around this morning after having a scrumptious buffet breakfast at our hotel. We saw a lovely Californian couple at breakfast...Roger and Rella, we met them briefly in Logrono...they stayed two nights in "our" hotel and they recommended a visit to the Museum of Human Evolution here in Burgos. We wished them a Buen Camino as they left their breakfast table...I think they will be a day ahead of us for the rest of our journey, so I'm not sure we will see them again. They're a nice man and woman and we wish them well with the rest of their pilgrimage.
I am in love with Burgos. The artwork, the sculptured trees, the beautiful buildings, the friendly people..I'd happily live here for a year or two if I could.
We took Rella and Roger's advice and visited the Museum of Human Evolution. My standards are high when it comes to such museums...and this one was excellent.
We now sit in a cafe and wait for our pilgrim's menu. We'll spend the rest of the day resting in our room. I picked up a tube of Voltaren (thank you, Facebook friends!) and will apply it after we eat. Tomorrow, we will head toward Hornillos del Camino. Not sure we'll have Internet access or not. Will write if I'm able. We'll be in the relatively remote Meseta for a few days, so I've no idea when we'll have WiFi again.
Misc. comments - when we arrived in Burgos yesterday, every other person on the street wanted to tell us where the public albergue was. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. One elderly gentleman wanted to give us a tour of the entire city..we were tired so we politely declined. There is a huge respect for peregrinos here. The pilgrim seems to be held in high regard by every man, woman, and child.
Taberna Urbana, just a few doors up from the public albergue -- excellent food and wine, fantastic service, pilgrim's menu is 12 Euros (it's well worth the extra money).
Between the hotel, the museum, and food/drink, I have completely blown my budget here in Burgos. It was worth every Euro cent...but we will need to stay in public albergues and eat cheap croissants for the next week or so...
Today's thank you goes to all those who have left comments on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and email inbox. I cannot respond to every message while we are on The Way, but we are reading everything and we greatly appreciate all the well-wishes, thoughtful statements, and advice. Muchas gracias, amigos, and Buen Camino to all those who are about to embark on their own pilgrimages.
Trish (Blackbird), Alex, and Sage Herr

Edits -- back in NH, so here are some photos from our rest day in Burgos, March 29.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Day Sixteen: Ages to Burgos. March 28, 2013

We got our television last night half an hour before we went to bed. The fellow put it in our room, tried to make it work, failed, then shrugged his shoulders and left.

Again, pilgrims...the San Rafael albergue in Ages - the food is very good and reasonably priced, but I would not sleep here again. Noise travels everywhere and the price for a private room is far too expensive for what you get (also, the television issue was false advertising). So -- it's good for meals but not so good for sleeping.

Out of Ages, to and through Atapuerca (site of prehistoric caves containing earliest hominid remains in Europe), up the hill to Cruceiro...

...and down the (very muddy!) hill toward Burgos...

The Way splits just outside of can take a road to the right of the airport or a muddy field to the left of the airport. We chose the muddy field.

 Eventually, the muddy track rejoins the main path to Burgos. From here, it's mostly pavement and concrete.

Entering Burgos...

 The Catedral. We saw a lot of this area because we got slightly lost while looking for our albergue (we walked right past it while staring in awe at the cathedral)...

The entrance to the municipal albergue (which is just before the cathedral)...

The muni albergue is very modern. Four bunks per cubicle with ample showers and electrical outlets. It holds over a hundred people so there is no "atmosphere," but it is in an excellent part of town and it has everything a pilgrim could need. It's only five Euros a night, too.

We had to say goodbye to our new friends Rosa, Alfonzo, and their son today. We saw them in the albergue; they are taking a bus back home this evening. They were on The Way for Holy Week only - that's a shame, since it would be very nice to keep seeing them all the way to Santiago. Rosa and Alfonzo, if you read this, please know that the girls and I loved every minute of our time with you. If you ever come to the United States, please let us know. Nos casa es sus casa. (I hope that's correct Spanish). Truly, it was an absolute pleasure.

Misc. comments - we had a lot of rain again today, but we felt fine and we walked quickly. Lots of sheep and rolling hills and mud.

My right leg is not happy. All the muscles - every single one of them - are telling me that they would very much like a break, thank you very much. Sage has her first (and I hope only) blister and one of the toes on my left foot is swollen. We will take a short walking day tomorrow (less than ten miles) and see how it goes. Alex's feet and legs are fine.

The girls and I are now used to inexpensive but delicious three-course meals every evening, and I am now used to having two to three glasses of local wine each night. I anticipate a rough homecoming when we get back to NH. We will miss the Spanish food and drink.

My right leg hurts. Badly. All over. I think I mentioned that before, but I'll say it again now. Ow.

We always see a bunch of friendly and familiar faces while walking each day. We keep seeing the same great people over and over. It's nice to say hello to everyone, and to know we will likely see at least some of them here and there all the way to Santiago.

My leg hurts.

We head toward the Meseta tomorrow, so I'm not sure we will have Internet access for a while. The Meseta is a bit of a wilderness area (open crops and fields with few people and tiny towns spaced far apart). I'll write whenever I'm able.

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