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Posts from the ‘caminodesantiago’ Category

14 days…#keepwriting

Let me take you back to Saturday, March the 14th. Coronavirus was in the news here in Ireland however we were free to travel and see folks (oh I miss those days!). I went to the Camino Information Centre for the day and walked back to the centre of town to catch my train. At the time, there were a number of flights cancelled but there was no talk of lock-downs or restrictions. There were 90 cases of Covid-19 located in Ireland. The following day, I travelled to my parents house as I normally do for a Sunday. It was such a strange thing taking the train, it was actually empty for once. Sunday was fun but I had seen Italy and Spain had imposed restrictions to control the virus. I knew that I wouldn’t see my folks again for quite some time. And I was right.

Jump ahead to the next morning. I wake up with a thumping headache and a temperature of 37.5c. Ok, it’s not quite a fever but, considering the advice given from the HSE, I decided to call my GP and lay low. At that time, the HSE were looking to test anyone who displayed flu-like symptoms. It is quite an ambitious approach but it will have a huge waiting list. I called my GP and to my surprise, he asked me to self-isolate for 7 days and he would arrange a test for me. Now, the important thing to remember here was that I felt fine, I had no cough (yet) although I was aware that it is possible to be not have any symptoms to have this virus. I gave my GP the benefit of the doubt and looked forward for the test.

Four days passed and I heard nothing. I had been taking my temperature every day and it had remained normal. By the end of the 4th day, I had developed a dry cough, but I put this down to being indoors and having no fresh air. The cough is not persistent. I ring the GP to discuss this with him. Again, he said it was best to relax, and I should receive a call soon from the HSE.

And finally, on the 25th of March, the HSE changed their criteria. Now they were looking to test people with two symptoms. I immediately rang my GP and he said I didn’t need a test. I am now back at work, although working at home. Apparently, over 40,000 people were waiting for a test while 94% of those testing were negative. This is only a good move.

I took my first walk since the 15th of March on Thursday. We luckily have a large park beside my house where I can go to stretch my legs during lunch and during the weekend. A few weeks without seeing my family can be sacrificed. The party will only be huge when this is over.

I look forward to the day when I can hug my parents. I look forward to the day I can go for a walk through a packed Dublin city. Even walking through the hills of Galicia is a dream for me right now. But it is nice to dream. Keep hoping. It keeps a light on in the dark times.

But all I do right now is sit and wait. It is the best we can do to help. While I am not working, and while I am indoors, I will be good to #keepwriting. The Camino keeps me happy, naturally enough so I will post some of my favourite memories from years gone by every day.

Take care and stay safe!

On the subject of YouTube..

I may as well give a little plug to my own YouTube channel that is in its infancy. I hope to record a few shots while walking and upload it for you to see. I’m comfortable with the Dji osmo pocket that I bought before Christmas. It is so tiny you can fit it in your pocket.

At the moment, I have two videos, one talking about my gear and another uploaded recently from the Waterford Greenway. In time I will upload more. It will not detract from this page however.

Weekend Watch #68 – The Journey

When I discovered the Camino de Santiago nearly 10 years ago, this was one of the first videos on YouTube I found and I was enthralled by the photos. This slideshow was created by a Belfast man who walked the Camino Frances in 2007. The music is apt, considering we are approaching March 17th.

Walking the Waterford Greenway – Another walk

Yesterday was my 3rd walk of the year. I took a trip to Kilmeadan, Co. Waterford to walk some of the Waterford Greenway with Camino Society Ireland. The weather forecast wasn’t great but the skies were clear when we left Dublin and we had a pleasant walk. It was 11 km in total from Kilmeadan back to Waterford City, and to honest, it is a very easy walk. If you cycle, it is possible to hire a bike a cycle from Dungarvan to Waterford which is 46 kms in length. This greenway rests along the River Suir and is a former railway. It is a flat right walk into Waterford.

It is primarily a cycle route and can be used as a good starting point for Camino preparation. But if you are looking for something more challenging, you might need to look elsewhere. It was nice to be in that part of the world all the same and away from “the big smoke”. I brought along my Osmo Pocket and recorded a little video of the day, before the heavens opened.

Weekend Watch #64 – Portuguese Coastal Camino

This is a short video promoting the Portuguese Coastal Camino and it does a great job. September can’t come soon enough. However, I can’t help noticing that this particular pilgrim walked inland to Valenca instead of crossing the River Mino at Caminha.

The Best of a New Year…

I am probably the last to write one of these “end of year reviews”. I see many of my followers writing about their previous year. Some good, some bad. Me? I’m just walking a straight path at the moment with one eye for a short cut…

I feel very lucky to have walked two Caminos in 2019. Walking one with my brother was a highlight of the year. It was our 2nd Camino together, so he is no longer the newbie. The Camino Ingles / Celtic Camino is a great alternative to the walk from Sarria and I would really recommend it, especially if you don’t have the time. The few extra days walk on to Finisterre were special also. Arriving in Santiago and meeting camiga Linda topped off a perfect Camino.

In September, I had a few days annual leave spare so I decided to catch a flight to Lisbon and walk the Camino Portuguese. I gotta say it is one of the tougher Caminos out there and it is important that you don’t over-exert yourself on the first few days. The days can be long and there is alot of road walking but towns like Tomar, Coimbra, Santarem and Carlos’ Albergue Pinheiro’s really made up for it. I made it to Agueda, 60 km short of Porto while my pilgrim buddy walked on to Porto. I will go back one day to walk it over shorter days as I did over-exert myself at times. But with all Camino experiences, we live and learn and adjust for next time.

2019 saw me continue my involvement with Camino Society Ireland by publishing its digital magazine. That will continue into 2020.

2019 saw me take up photography also. In January, I purchased a Canon 750d which I love and I have taken out on a few outings. I need more practice however and I have some good friends who give me feedback. I have purchased a DJI osmo Pocket which will be used for video and photos on my Caminos. The size of it won me over.

2019 saw me move from WordPress.com to a Self-hosted website and to be quite honest I see no benefit in the move. So in April, I will move back to WordPress.com. It was nice to try it out but unless you are looking to monetize your site, or build an audience/mailing list, there is no real advantage.

2020 will see me back on the Camino, there is no surprise there (more about these later).

  • May 15th – 19th – Kerry Camino – Tralee to Dingle
  • September 28th – October 8th – Portuguese Coastal Camino from Porto

I am looking forward to both walks, especially the return to the coastal route. Whether I turn inland at Caminha or continue on remains to be seen. I walk May’s Camino with my brother. The Kerry Camino is part of the Celtic Camino series and should I walk from A Coruna in the future, I would be entitled to a compostela. In September, I travel alone but I am sure to meet fellow pilgrims in Porto. It will more than likely be the final time I am in Santiago in a while as there are other routes I want to walk, so I will savour it.

I’m not going to make any wacky resolutions or predictions. I just want to be happy. Let’s see how that goes. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll change something. The Camino keeps my glass full and as long as I am wandering to Santiago while at the same time writing, I will have no need to complain.

Here’s to 2020.

Towns Along The Way – “H”

Onwards and upwards in the Camino alphabet, we go. We must be near the end! The next letter we meet is H and there are a few. One is in France, four are in Castilla y Leon, and two are in Galicia. Again, please comment if you have stayed in any of these towns.

Honto / Huntto (map)

I have seen many variations in the spelling of this place name, however, this is not so much a town but an area in the Saint Michel region of France. You will pass it within an hour of leaving St. Jean Pied de Port if you choose to walk the Napoleon route. While there are bars and accommodation in Honto (gronze.com), it’s probably best to keep focused on the climb ahead and celebrate when you reach Orrison a further 3km up the road. The road up to Honto is entirely on asphalt but it leaves the road shortly after and gets a lot steeper to Orrison. Enjoy the scenery also as the road gets higher!

Hornillos del Camino (map)

Hornillos is situated about 20 km from Burgos and is in the meseta region of Spain. The meseta is known for being flat, with roads lasting long into the distance. The towns are few and far between and often are unremarkable. Hornillos would be one of these unremarkable towns; it seems as if history left it behind. While it has plenty of accommodation (gronze.com) I prefer to stay in the next town, Hontanas, a further 10 km up the road. The photo above gives you an idea of the vastness of the meseta plain with Hornillos in the distance. The picture was taken from Alto del Meseta some 2 km away.

Hontanas (map)

Hontanas is also situated some 30 km from Burgos. The name is derived from a number of natural springs (fontanas) that can be found in the locality. If you choose to walk the 31km from Burgos (like I have), don’t let the flat landscape deter you but keep on walking. It is a favourite of many pilgrims! Hontanas is built in a valley so it is very difficult to spot the town at first but when you see the church steeple you will be surprised. I have stayed in the municipal albergue at the edge of town on both occasions that I have been here, but there are other albergues (gronze.com) so it is worth looking around.

Hospital de Órbigo (map)

There are number of towns that I have passed through but wished to have stayed for longer. La Faba is one and Hospital de Orbigo is another. Situated between Leon and Astorga, it is a major stopping point for many pilgrims. The town is home to the Puente de Orbigo, a long stone medieval bridge. There is also so much history behind the bridge and the town. There are just over 1000 people living in Hospital de Orbigo. You have quite a good selection of albergues here also (gronze.com) with Albergue Verde being one I would recommend. On leaving the town, the road splits in two. One takes you along the main road, while the other takes you off-road through Villares de Orbigo.

Hospital da Cruz (map)

Hospital da Cruz is a rural hamlet located between Portomarin and Palas de Rei in Galicia. It is just over 80 km from Santiago and has just under 50 people living there. The town has a municipal albergue (gronze.com) and a number of bars for a mid-morning cerveza or cafe con leche!

Hospital da Condesa (map)

Yet another town named Hospital. It’s getting difficult to distinguish between the three! Condesa is located just 6 km from O Cebreiro. It has a population of just under 50 and again is a rural-based hamlet. There is a municipal albergue (gronze.com) and bars with good reviews. While you pass through, you will notice the Church of San Xoan (Saint Joan in English). From here on, you have a steady ascent to Alto do Poio.

Las Herrerías de Valcarce (map)

And the final town starting with H is Las Herrerias de Valcarce. Las Herrerias is situated between Villafranca del Bierzo and O Cebriero. The placename means The Blacksmiths in English. Interesting. The town is right beside the Valcarce river and is the last stop before the road climbs to La Faba. There are about 39 people living here at present. Myself, I haven’t stayed here, preferring to pass through quickly in 2012. There is an albergue here along with a number of pensions (gronze.com). Shortly after you leave Las Herrerias, you leave the asphalt road to La Faba. It’s a tough climb but it is well well worth it. Enjoy it!

My next post in this series will focus on Itero de la Vega, Linzoáin, Larrasoaña, Lorca, Los Arcos, Logroño, Lédigos and León. See you then!

Towns Along The Way – “F”

Welcome back! I hope you are enjoying this series and your memory is being refreshed! It certainly is helpful for me and interesting to see the many different types of accommodation being provided since I started walking way back in 2011. Hopefully, this won’t be the last “TATW” post of 2019 as I am on a bit of a roll.

Today, I will talk about F. Again, let me know if you have stayed in any of these towns.

La Faba (map)

Yet another village I haven’t stayed in but keep meaning to, La Faba means The Beans in Spanish. It is a small mountain town between Villafranca del Bierzo and El Cebreiro. It has a population of just over 30 people. While the name of the village doesn’t stand out, there is quite a lot of love for it from the pilgrim community and it has one of the best albergues on the Camino Frances; Albergue de la Faba. I have not stayed here myself, preferring to walk on to O Cebreiro, another 5km on. Once you reach La Faba, and it’s a long climb, you won’t have far before arriving at the Galician border.

Ferrerios (map)

One of many many small Galician hamlets that you will pass through while on the Camino. This particular town has 50 or so inhabitants and is approximately 14 km from Sarria. There is nothing very eye-catching in this town, however, keep an eye out for the Iglesia de Santa María de Ferreiros which has an unusual cemetery. The scenery is very shire-esque and when passing through, make sure you stop at Casa Cruceiro for a cafe con leche and sello. There are a number of places to stay there also (gronze.com). Just another 104km to go to Santiago.

Fillobal (map)

Another Galician town and one so small I almost considered leaving it out from the list. Fillobal is situated some 4 km before Triacastela and has a population of just 9. The town does hold a cafe and an albergue for pilgrims however at Albergue Fillobal. On walking through here in 2012, I was so focused on arriving at Triacastela and the albergue. I passed Fillobal in the blink of an eye.

Foncebadón (map)

From Galicia, we move to Castilla and the Leon hills. Like Fillobal, it has a small population. It is situated between Rabanal del Camino and Molinaseca. More and more people are choosing Foncebadon to finish walking for the day. It is very close to the Cruz de Ferro and watching the sunrise from there is pretty special. The climb up to Foncebadón can be challenging but the views are worth it. When you walk in to Foncebadon, it looks like a town in ruins, but the Camino is bringing growth to the area. During the summer months, it can be busy and there are accommodation, albergues, and bars (gronze.com). I haven’t stayed there myself, choosing to stay in the town beforehand, Rabanal del Camino. Maybe next time.

Fonfría (map)

From Leon, we return swiftly to Galicia and not too far from Fillobal. Fonfria is some 9 km from Triacastela. Again, it is a typical Galician town with green the predominant colour and many of the buildings are made of stone slabs. This is rural Spain at it’s finest. The town does have a selection of albergues and pensions also (gronze.com). On leaving Fonfria, you have a steep climb to Alto do Poio and then a further 150 km to Santiago! Enjoy your final few weeks!

Frómista (map)

Iglesia de San Martin in Fromista

The final town beginning with F and close to 450 km to Santiago is Frómista. It is situated in the province of Palencia and has a population of just under 1000 people. It has everything that a large town would have so many people choose here to lay their heads for the night (gronze.com). One of the main attractions of the town is the Iglesia de San Martin (pictured). I prefer to stay in Boadilla del Camino. You will be close to the halfway point at this stage on reaching Fromista, although the official halfway point is just before Sahagun.

The next instalment will feature towns beginning with H including favourites of mine Hospital de Orbigo and Hontanas. If you have stayed in or have any comments about the above towns, please comment below.

Weekend Watch #61 – Miriam from Germany

Another video from the Camino Frances, this time from Miriam from Germany. She recently enjoyed a September Camino and had a ball. You can watch her YouTube channel where she gets to grips with life after the Camino! I love this video, I hope you do too!

Towns Along The Way – “E”

The next letter on the “Towns Along the Way” series is “E”, as there are no towns starting with “D” (I dare you to look!). There aren’t too many so here goes…working towards Santiago.

Espinal (map)

Espinal is a typical Basque village and one of the first you will encounter after leaving Roncesvalles. At this point, you have 871km left before Santiago. Its name in Basque is Aurizberri and on leaving the town you are faced with a climb to Alto Mezkiritz. While not many stop here, there are many accommodation options (www.gronze.com). I don’t remember much of this town as I had stopped in Burguette (the town previous), and was deep in conversation with newfound Camino friends!.

Estella (map)

We meet Estella (or to give it it’s full name Estella-Lizarra) 115km from St  Jean Pied de Port. Estella is also part of Navarra and has a population of over 13,000 people. On entering the town, you cross the Picudo Bridge and are greeted with the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa, a large Romanesque church. There are plenty of places to stay (www.gronze.com).  I have good memories of my time here and of the Agora Hostel, a great place to stay.

Espinosa del Camino (map)

And finally, Espinosa del Camino is located about 40km (or 2 days walk) from Burgos. It is in Castille y Leon and has a population of just over 30 people. It makes a living from the Camino with a number of cafes and albergues (www.gronze.com). It was in this town that I met a good Camino friend and had a cafe con leche, only to be told I walk too fast. And that was my first day!! Above we have Albergue La Campana, a great place to stop for a rest!