View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Via de la Plata. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Via de la Plata. Show all posts

Sunday, 13 October 2019

September 2018 Pt3

The end of the Camino – sort of.

Before leaving Santiago we decided to do the touristy thing: a day coach trip to Finisterre, or Fisterra, or The End of The Earth.

In Roman times Cape Finisterre was once believed to be the end of the known earth – hence it’s name, meaning the end of the earth.

For Norman (aged 80¼): Cape Finisterre lighthouse

About as close to the End of the Earth as you can get

This is a popular tourist spot – everyone wants to visit the End of the Earth!

The sun was beating down in all it’s gloriousness, drenching the azure sea with it’s rays. The weather just couldn’t have been better.

Rob in posing mode


A few more photos from our day trip to the seaside:

The Rio Xallas is the only European river that flows into the sea via a waterfall. This is that waterfall. Cool eh?

Typical Spanish Niche cemetery

The longest Hórreo in the world. Probably.

For Norman (aged 77¼): another lighthouse

Rumbles of disquiet in the ranks

So that was our trip to Spain, it was good – although not tough or challenging….apart from on the very hot days. We finished the Via de La Plate Camino which had been a lot of fun, very interesting, and quite uplifting in a funny, kind of way.

Many who do the Camino routes are pilgrims in the religious sense and they clearly get a lot out of completing the journey. I really is a religious experience for them.

I found many of the churches (when they were unlocked) to be beautiful inside. It wasn’t unusual to find a pilgrim on their knees, praying in one of the open churches on the route.

There are some who travel a Camino because it’s something that’s currently ‘in vogue’. These folks sometimes use baggage courier service to carry their heavy stuff from overnight stop to overnight stop.

We met loads of lovely people, saw some wonderful sights – both natural and man-made, drank loads of fizzy beer (or in Rob’s case, fizzy beer AND wine), and ate some wonderful food.

Like I said, it was good….although I’m undecided as to whether I’ll do another Camino – there a loads!

There are a few reasons for this indecision:

a) The walks aren’t particularly challenging – in fact there’s often significant amounts of tarmac.

b) They’re becoming commercialised – I noticed a significant  increase in the levels of commercialisation from when I started walking in Spain in 2014, to date.

c) Bloody Brexit. If BoJo and his band of followers get there way it’s going to make European travel messy, to say nothing of losing our entitlement to healthcare in Europe.

Also, nothing embarrasses me more, as an Englishman, when I have to explain the folly of ‘the will of the people’ to folks who think we’re quite barmy.

They’re right, of course – but I try hard to point out that I only have half a dozen or so friends who voted ‘Leave’….or at least admit to voting that way, and that our electorate was so blatantly lied to by ….well, I won’t go on, I’ll just get a headache.

Let’s just say there are a lot of gullibles out there….although there are some (two friends in particular) who have a perfectly valid reasons for wanting to leave – and that is absolutely fine. 


Then we went to Portugal, but that’s in the next posting.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

September 2018 Pt2

Via de la Plata continued:

We spent the previous night in Silleda, in a hostal – a hotel type of place. It was wonderful, if you ignored the bed bugs.

Rob had the foresight to use his Permethryn-treated sleeping bag liner. Being a smart-arse, I didn’t use mine….and paid the price.

Oh well.

View from the kitchen bacony

The kitchen had quite a nice cast iron cooking range, redundant now, but retained as a feature I think.

Wandering off for breakfast I spotted:

A Galician Knocker

After getting over the shock of seeing such a big knocker we found ourselves in a nice little eatery where we feasted on coffee and egg & bacon barm cakes…although Galicians call them something else.

As we chomped our way through our breakfast barms we were disturbed by the sounds of fireworks going off, and then a marching band – it was yet another fiesta, celebrating somethong ot other.

Spaniards need little excuse to celebrate – anything!

Later in the day we came across two Russian (?) peregrinos (or should that be peregrinas?) who were cycling the same Camino.

It was another hot day, I recall that we didn’t push ourselves too hard.

Anyroadup, a few more photographs of the next couple of days:

We ordered beers which arrived…along with a lovely snack

A nice modern albergue

Always open, we arrived to find it closed.

A shrine in the woods

Another one for Alan R

A light snackette for Rob

Habitaciones para peregrinos may well have been desde 10€ – but for us in was casi 60€. So we didn’t.

Artist at work

Entering Santiago de Compostela

First view of the cathedral

Another one for Alan R

As we closed in on Santiago we passed a music shop selling traditional instruments from the region.

Well, we didn’t pass it really…

At 1100€ I was seriously tempted….but resisted

Rob splashed the cash on this Pandereta – it sounds brilliant!

Then there was the very long queue, and even longer wait, to receive our Compostelas – recognition that we’d walked a very long way.

Here you go…714km for this.

Oh look, more food. And beer. Tsk.

Later, whilst wandering around downtown Santiago we came across this lot, playing in celebration of a very local fiesta:

They were a bit good.

Somehow, and I *really* don’t know how, you’ll have to ask Rob, I ended up in a bar with this lovely bunch. I may have had a beer. Possibly more than one.

The rest of the afternoon was a bit of a blur.

Most odd. 

The cathedral

Classic cars in the cathedral square

Two excellent musicians, one on Gaita Pipes, t’other on Pandereta – think tambourine….but turbocharged. These ladies were busking under an archway, the entrance to the very grand cathedral square.

After all the excitement of El Camino it was time to move on. The next bit of this expedition involved exploring the Douro Valley in Portugal, playing loads of music, drinking tea (and other beverages), and generally enjoying ourselves…..that’s going to be in Pt3.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

September 2018 Pt1

Via de la Plata from Ourense to The End
We left Ourense in the not-very-early(ish) morning, the day was forecast to be very hot so we wanted to get a move on.

Ourense is known for it’s knockers
We breakfasted on coffee and a bocadillo each at a roadside cafe, after which we followed footpaths and very quiet country lanes for a good few miles. And even more kilometers.
A tired hórreo
No idea
To Cea….and a most magnificent lunch:
 …at a very odd but very welcoming eatery that not only served excellent food, but also Scalextric sets, and quite a lot of other stuff that you’d not expect to see in a restaurant!
Leaving the restaurant behind was something of a struggle, we more than full which made for even slower walking.
We were now heading to our bed for the night at the Cistercian monastary at Oseira.
The monastary was very large and very old, it dates back to the 12th Century. Sadly it only housed 11 monks – I wonder how long it can continue with such low numbers. In days gone by I expect it would have been home to 100+.
On approach to the monastary

The monastary albergue:

Our digs for the night – it would easily sleep 60+
The dorm had showers and a washing machine. It felt damp and was unheated – it wouldn’t have been much fun in the winter. In busy periods it wouldn’t have been particularly restful, every burp and fart echoed around the cavernous hall.
We attended Vespers in the evening – a quiet affair with maybe 20 – 25 in attendance.
A few more photographs of the monastary:

Rob leaving the monastary and looking for breakfast
There was nowhere near for breakfast next morning, so we were away for around 7am and so began a search for food….and coffee.
Anyway, enough of this drivel, here’s some photos from this next section of our walk into Santiago de Compostela:

For Alan R:
Our bedroom in the albergue that night:

More to follow in Pt2

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Via de La Plata – few more photos up to Ourense


Self-Service at Casa Ultreia















We never did find out what the fiesta in Ourense was all about, it huge fun though.


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Secondly: Via de La Plata, 16th–21st April 2018


The Via de La Plata is one of the many ‘Way of St James’ Camino pilgrimage routes that have become extremely popular in recent years.

This particular route is the longest of the pilgrim routes in Spain, starting from Seville in Andalucia, and running northwards through the provinces of Extremadura and Castilla y Leon to Salamanca and Zamora.

I’ve been walking the route in sections and I thought it was about time I got on with it. Details of my route so far are here, starting off from Caceres in 2012.

Monday 16th April 2018: Manchester to Puebla de Sanabria

I didn't get to bed until stupid o'clock that night.... it was actually the following morning. I was quite nicely knackered. I had to be up and out of the door for just after 4am to walk to Manchester Airport for 4.30am check-in and my 6.30am flight to Madrid.

Rob, who had foolishly agreed to come along (he believed my tales of dancing girls, cheap food and free beer) was already at the airport, he lives further away and walking really wasn't a sensible option for him - he travelled by taxi.


The Ryanair flight was uneventful and after an interesting journey on Madrid's tram system we hopped onto the very comfortable high speed train from Chamartin to Puebla de Sanabria - the point at which I'd left the Camino in September 2014.


We were surprised that all baggage going onto the train had to go through airport - type security checking. A sad sign of the times..... one that is unlikely to change any time soon.



We spent the night in dormitory accommodation at the Albergue Casa Luz, €12 a night. It was good, I didn't snore once... which is more that can said for the other occupants. <koff>

Tuesday 17th April

Puebla de Sanabria to Lubian

Next morning was cold, frost had formed overnight and I was glad of my Velez, although this was the only time I got to wear it on the trip.



We left Puebla de Sanabria at around 9am (=8am in real money) and wandered off westwards... ish. Much of the Camino had been diverted along this section due to railway works, we were forced to follow a lot of tarmac. This wasn't as bad as it sounds, there was very little traffic to contend with. We met up with a good number of peregrinos, all headed towards Santiago de Compostela.

It soon warmed up, a strong sun and very little wind had us, er, perspiring. Just a little.


We lunched in a small roadside cafe / bar in the tiny village of Requejo de Sanabria. Bocadillo tortilla was the order of the day. They're very nice and all that, but the bread crust is hard as blazes....they probably contribute significantly to keeping Spanish dentists in business.


The distance between Puebla de Sanabria and Lubian via the Camino is reckoned to be 29km. With all the route closures and diversions it was getting on for 37-38km. At least the walking was fairly easy. The route is hardly high altitude but there's a goodly amount of up and downery, today we hit the highest part of the entire route, around 4,500 ft. There was still a lot of snow around although we managed to avoid walking through it...mostly. Not many snowballs were hurt in following this route. Not many at all.


Lubian, our overnight stop, has a small Albergue, at €3 a night it's certainly cheap enough. It's well hidden down a little street but was fairly easily found. It had all that a pair of British chaps needed whilst exploring these far-flung foreign lands....apart from damned kettle. It seems that kettles are not popular here. This raises the question: how on earth do they make a decent cup of Yorkshire Tea? The answer, dear reader, is that they don't.



I ended up boiling water in the Albergue's microwave oven. Hardly satisfactory. Still, beggars can't be choosers. A Plan will need to be planned for the next planned visit. Obviously.

The night was hot. Very hot. I hardly slept. Everybody else hardly slept either. It was just too hot.

Rob bailed out of the dormitory around 3am to sleep outside. This option seemed to work well until the local doggies found him and started sniffing around him. He ended up sleeping in the kitchen / dining room where there was a vacant bunk.

It was a kitchen, after all.

Wednesday 18th April

Lubian to A Gudina



Doggy eyeing up Rob’s brekky

Next morning, after an early breakfast of bocadillo and coffee, the dazed and quite knackered not very dynamic duo of peregrinos continued their journey westwards, A Gudina being our next overnight stop.

This was another hot day. A call to Lubian's Pharmacia was needed in order to stock up on Factor 50 'crema solar'. My forearms were burning from the previous day so protection was desperately needed.

That was so very well.... except that the local Pharmacia didn't open its doors until 10.30am. This was 9am in rural Spain.

An ingenious plan involving a buff provided protection for my left arm. My right arm was mostly shaded by my rather ample torso, long trousers protected my legs and my trusty Tilley Hat did the rest.

Some more tarmac followed….but there were nice views too.

This was the day we entered Galicia.






Any idea?

At A Gudina we couldn’t face the idea of another night in a hot and sweaty Albergue – the last night’s sleep didn’t involve much rest. Hostal A Madrilena came to the rescue: a twin room was €35 a night – so we booked two nights. There was a good reason for this.


The local gym

A Gudina’s Pharmacia was open so I was able to buy myself a tube of Factor 50 – bloody expensive at €15 for 50ml.








Bonkas coffee

A pleasant evening in the local bar ‘Bar Peregrino’ ensured we were suitably relaxed and very well fed for not very much money at all.

Thursday 19th April

A Gudina to Campobecerros

Back to Bar Peregrino for a good breakfast of lots of coffee and a strange sort of pie (filled with fishy bits, tomatoes and other stuff) set us up for the day.


This was another day with tarmac, but this was real country lane stuff, cars were few and far between.


A few miles out of town, and in a very localised area, we came across ‘caravans’ of caterpillars crossing the road. These may well be the dreaded processionary critters.


Rob came up with the theory that this was their technique for avoiding attacks by birds – from a distance they looked like snakes. We were quite intrigued.


The views and terrain were very easy on the eye.


The launderette


The area was sparsely populated which meant there was very little in the way of shops – as the day wore on we became quite peckish and we ended up breaking into my emergency supply of Alpen bars. Washed down with lashings of Corporation Pop we lasted as far as Campobecerros…just.




Get your ferrets here


The first cafe / bar we came to wasn’t a cafe, just a bar – we were starving by now. After a wander throught the ‘strangely mediaeval centre’ we came upon Casa Nunez, good food (and lots of it) although some of the staff seem to have other things on their minds.

After a damned good feed the very helpful man behind the bar (he may have been the owner) called a taxi for us and we were transported back to A Gudina’s Hostal Madrilena…and a shower.

This was to be our last night ‘on the trail’ – the next day we were whisked back to Madrid on the Renfe very fast and very comfortable train. My GPS displayed our maximum speed of 257kmph…around 160mph.


Such was the smoothness of the ride I’d have guessed we were travelling at maybe 80mph. The fares were cheap too – very cheap indeed. Rail travel in Spain is affordable.

One more night in Spain, this time at a very strange AirBnB, supposedly owned by an attractive young(ish) lady. Not too sure about that – but it was somewhere to lay our heads before flying home next day.

‘Twas a good trip, one that I certainly needed. Rob seemed to enjoy it…well he didn’t complain (too much), but he’s one of the good guys and is polite.

The next stage on the Camino will hopefully see us finishing in Santiago de Compostela in September. The route’s going to be rather busier then, not only because of the time of the year, but because we’ll be getting to the points where other Caminos join the to make it one busy trail. Accommodation may be a problem.

One whinge: I took cheap walking poles, Rob took rather pricier examples. No problem getting them on the plane in Manchester, no problem getting them off the plane in Spain.

The return journey was a different matter: our poles were confiscated as we went through security at Madrid airport. We were both a bit miffed.


20 minute delay from Madrid – not too bad

Oh, and another whinge: Ryanair is a bit of a cattle waggon transport system, but it’s cheap and they do what they say: provide cheap air transport.

Madrid airport however….has the most disgusting toilets in the whole wide world. And I’ve been to India and Rob’s been to Pakistan so we know about these things.

Buen Camino!

Lots more photographs are here.

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