Towns Along The Way – “G”

Onwards we go to the next letter in the ‘Towns Along The Way’ series….which is G. There are 3 towns; one in Castilla y Leon, another in La Rioja and the last in Galicia. Again, please comment if you have stayed in any of these towns. For more in this series, check out my Archive.

Grañón (map)

localidad_64_imgRoughly 8 days into your Camino, you will meet Grañón. It is situated between Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Belorado in the La Rioja province of northern Spain. It has a population of just over 300 people. On entering the village, it seems like it doesn’t have much to offer but one of it’s highlights is Iglesia de San Juan Bautista. The church offers beds (well..mattresses) to pilgrims, and you can sleep in it’s belltower and look at the stars if you wish (gronze.com). I have passed through Grañón on 2 occasions. In 2013, I passed through in minutes as the weather was poor; however in May 2015, I stopped for over an hour for a few cervezas. My end point for the day was the next town and I still wish that I had stopped in Grañón rather than moving on. So if you are passing through, my advise is stop here and stay in San Juan Bautista.

El Ganso (map)

2015-05-17 09.27.05Calling El Ganso a village is a stretch as it consists with a number of derelict buildings, a cowboy bar and is home to 36 people. Nevertheless, the Way passes through it and I will mention it. El Ganso is Spanish for “The Goose” and is based in Castilla y Leon. On reaching this town, you will notice that the terrain is ascending and you will begin to gradually start to climb until you reach the highest point in Spain – the Cruz de Ferro. As mentioned above, the Cowboy Bar is one of the oddities of the Camino. I stopped by in May 2015 for second breakfast and was treated very well by the owner. There is an albergue here and know of people who have stayed here (gronze.com). It is advisable to pit-stop either here of at the town previous (Santa Catalina) as you have a nice climb ahead of you from there on.

Gonzar (map)

83830486Gonzar is one of many small hamlets in Galicia. It is 8 kms from Portmarin and you have approximately 90km to walk before reaching Santiago. I have little memory of this town since walking through Galicia in 2011. Some pilgrims choose to stay here instead of the usually busy Portomarin (gronze.com).

 

My next post in this series will focus on Honto, Hornillos del Camino, Hontanas, Hospital de Órbigo, Hospital da Condesa, Hospital da Cruz and Las Herrerías. See you then!

2016 Plans so far…

The #camino de santiago hashtag has been trim of late on WordPress which leads me to believe that people are busily putting together their plans for upcoming Caminos. Once we hit April, blogs burst into life with great stories and many photos of people’s times in Spain. However, for me, I’ve been trying to convince myself that my return to the Camino is done and I just need to throw on the backpack. It has been harder than I thought so I thought I’d write a post listing out my reasons for my indecision. This very time last year, I had my flights booked, my leaving date chosen and even my holidays booked with my employer. This year? Nope..none of the above. Nevertheless, I still hope to return to Spain this year and have my feet re-acquainted with the road.

So why the delay, I hear you all say? Well..I may have mentioned in a previous post that I have purchased an apartment (responsibility..sheesh!). At present, the legalities are being worked out before contracts are signed. I had hoped to be moved in at this stage but there are delays which I would rather not go into now. I would ideally like to be moved in before February so I can start to budget and get settled in. So you may understand why I’m hazy about a 2016 return.

But this is what I do know?

When will I walk? – I have decided between either August or September. I’ve pushed this back a few months as a result of the delay with the sale. I’m normally a May walker. Provisionally, I have chosen Tuesday August 16th as my start date.

What distance do I hope to walk? – My start point will be Ponferrada and I hope to walk to the coast. I’ve been looking at flights to Madrid and they are reasonable enough at the moment. Ponferrada to Santiago should take me 9 days and Santiago to Finistere / Muxia an extra 4 days. If I stick to the start date of August 16th, my return date will be August 30th.

ponferrada-castillo-2-1024x682

Do I have any changes to make since my last Camino? – Other than buying a lighter sleeping back and some pacer poles, none. I will keep the same backpack, the same equipment, and the same mentality.

Any expectations? – I have walked this 300+km distance before between 2011 and 2012 and I would rather choose to absolutely forget both occasions. In 2011, I walked from Sarria to Santiago as part of tour group to raise money for charity. It was my first experience of long distance walking and after 6 days I arrived in Santiago, sore and tired but delighted at what I had achieved. I returned home and the thought of returning never entered my mind until later that year. In May 2012, I walked from Astorga to Sarria and while I met people from all corners of the globe, I did not prepare correctly and suffered from bad blisters. I have no idea why I decided to return the following year. I suppose I was being called. And this is exactly what is happening now. I guess I’m only hoping I don’t have the same problems I had in the past when I walked this section.

A compostela? – I received one in 2011 and I am quite happy with it. I value my credencials and sellos more than any compostela so I will give it a miss this time.

 The coast? – Yes absolutely. Finistere AND Muxia. I think I will walk to Muxia first and finish in Finistere. I’m really looking forward to this section on reaching Santiago.

More details in the future.

 

Towns Along The Way – “F”

The first “Towns Along the Way” post of 2016 will be about towns beginning with F. Let me know if you have stayed in any of these towns. For more in this series, check out my Archive.

La Faba (map)

SAM_1024La Faba, meaning The Beans in Spanish, 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, it has one of the best albergues on the Camino Frances; Albergue de la Faba. I have not stayed here myself, prefering 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. I found this stage particularly tough and couldn’t move that much on waking the next morning!

Ferrerios (map)

elcamino2007stage29th361aOne 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 14km 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 4km 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, I passed Fillobal in the blink of an eye.

Foncebadón (map)

foncebadon-6From Galicia, we move to Castilla and the Leon hills. Like Fillobal, it has a tiny population, possibly 20-30 people. It is situated between Rabanal del Camino and Molinaseca if you were to follow Mr Brierley’s bible. More and more people, however, are choosing to finish walking for the day in Foncebadon. It is very near to the Cruz de Ferro and watching the sun rise from there is pretty special. The climb up to Foncebadón can be tough but the views are ideal. There is evidence of an empty town with plenty of abandoned houses. 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 year.

Fonfría (map)

From Leon, we return swiftly to Galicia and not too far from Fillobal. 18045965Fonfria is some 9km 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 150km to Santiago!

Frómista (map)

fromista2The final town beginning with F and close to 450km to Santiago is Frómista. It is situated in the province of Palencia and has a population of just under 1000 people. It has plenty of amenities that a large town would have so many people choose here to lay their head 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, the previous town, although the next time I pass through Fromista, that may change. You will be close to the half way point at this stage on reaching Fromista, although the official half way point is just before Sahagun.

 

Weekend Watch #23 – One Minute Camino

Now that Christmas and New Year is over, I have finally arrived back to normality. I seemed to have let the Weekend Watch series drop for the last while so the first video of 2016 is from a guy who has been uploading one minute videos from his Camino. This is unique. What I like about the video is there is no talking, we just get the sights. At the moment, the uploader has 7 videos on YouTube, his first one is below:

2016..

…it’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

two..oh..one..six..

..I haven’t got used to writing it yet, but at least we have got one extra day to try and complete all those New Year’s resolutions, eh?

Christmas was good but I’m happy to be out of silly season. There wasn’t much walking done however, as the weather was as Irish as you can get. However, I was one of the lucky ones as hundreds of homes around Ireland were destroyed due to flooding. The beautiful Lough Derg Way which I walked last year, and the towns surrounding it, is submerged in water. The weather in general has been unusual for this time of the year with tornadoes in America and extreme heat in Australia. I find it insane that some people still don’t believe in global warming.

Anyway, moving on…

product_thumbnailI’m really eager to receive a new purchase in the post next week. I love keeping an eye out for books (paperback or kindle) about the Camino and I have found one written by Luke Darracott. Luke walked the Camino a couple of years back and decided to write about it before going. He also video logged his journey. Once I receive it and read it, I will post a review. It can be bought online on lulu.com. I love the cover art, it’s very vibrant and it’s just like the Camino during the months of May and June.

 

And finishing up for now, I’ve decided on returning to Spain in September when I will walk from Ponferrada to the coast. I haven’t walked this section since 2012 so I’m eager to return. More on that later.

 

 

 

Weekend Watch #22 – Navarran Timelapse

Guys, I’ve stumbled on gold!

I’ve found this gem of a video and I wanted to post it so you can see what I mean. I am a big fan of time lapse videos but when you find one created on the Camino, it is extra special. The maker of this one has put in a lot of work into this video with shots from St. Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona. I’m sure you all recognise these scenes if you have walked the Camino but it takes patience to sit in the same spot for hours on end while time passes.

Watch for yourselves…

Camino de Santiago. from Dominika on Vimeo.