Sunday, March 29, 2009

Belorado - 541 km

Okay, I cheated a little and skipped one 30km day (between Logrono and Najera, for those who are counting). Today I came from Santo Domingo da la Calzado to Belorado, which is a pretty small town but with a nice albergue, which is very important (it´s warm, it has washing machines, etc). It was a 25 km day and not too bad, even though it rained and hailed a bit. The hail is actually much better than rain because you don´t really get wet, like I did yesterday all day). For the first four days the weather was great, and it´s supposed to get better tomorrow, but the weekend was pretty nasty.

The walking has been alright so far, it´s tiring, but my knee feels a lot better (with lots of cream and a knee brace, now). Even with the sore feet and the rain the last two days, it´s beautiful. On the second or third day, the camino follows the old roman road, a lot of which is still there, inlcuding a couple of very cool old bridges. For most of the last few days we´ve been walking through La Rioja, wine country, and a lot of the trail goes straight through vineyards or farms, passing through small villages along the way (which are always strangely empty and seem abandoned during the day). So far most days are like this: wake up pretty early, have a small breakfast in the hostel, start walking. After a couple of hours, maybe meet up with someone else, maybe not, stop for a tea and my second breakfast. i usually don´t stop again until i get to the town im staying, unless it´s a really long day (so far average has been 20-25km a day). once i get to the albergue, usually we eat a lunch of whatever we have left of snacks from the day (today it was bread, cheese, chorizo, apples, and some cookies with chocolate in them, and wine, of course). then, a shower, a few hours of rest, whatever, and around 5 or 6 go into the town, walk around, see whatever church or thing there is to see there, have a tea (cafe for most people), and buy food to make dinner. in the hostel everyone usually makes dinner together, a group of 5 or 6 or 10 or whoever wants, and so far the dinners have been awesome. simple, but delicious. then, early to bed, and wake up again the next day, doing the same thing.

That´s enough for today, but next time, i´ll write about the cast of characters i´ve been spending time with so far (Chema, Paco and Coldo, the four French ladies, Fernando, Jose the Brasilian that lives in Bar Harbor, to name just a few).

And the pictures, if the upload worked, are of the first day (the big climb after Pamplona) and me arriving in Estella a couple of days ago (very happy after a long day with a sore knee).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Estella -662 km

I made it to Estella today, about 22 km from where I stayed last night, Puente la Reina (which was about 23-28 km from Pamplona, depending who you ask). It was a gorgeous day weather wise but unfortunately my right knee isn´t really cooperating, so I´m sort of limping around this afternoon, and will hopefully buy a brace and some Bengay-esque cream later today. If I don´t feel better in the morning I will probably do a half-day of walking, which is fine with me. No hay prisa, ni reglas.

I´ve also been realizing that I may have to skip at least some sections and take some bus shortcuts, in order to be able to meet my mom in Sarria the day she gets there. I figured this might happen, and to be honest, it will be nice to give myself some rest every few days and to actually spend time in a couple of the cities that I´ll be passing through.

Until next time...let´s hope DWB doesn´t have to give me a knee replacement when I get home.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Al Principio

I arrived in Pamplona this afternoon, luckily to beautiful weather. I eventually managed to find the ¨palace¨ where I got my credencial, which is what will let me stay in the pilgrim´s hostels along the way and get stamped to verify that I´m doing the camino. If all goes according to plan, I will get a good night´s sleep tonight and start the walking tomorrow morning. When they weighed my pack at the airport it was 8 kilos (not sure how many pounds that is...20ish?) but that was without water, so hopefully it won´t be too heavy. Guess I´ll find out tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

T-Minus 21 days

AG says that I need to keep folks interested in me and my blog, so despite the fact that I haven't started the camino yet, it's time for an update on my preparations. I have been taking long walks around San Francisco and going on a lot of hikes, breaking in those boots and even wearing my pack (weighted) to get used to it. I'm still counting on lots of blisters along the walk, I don't think they can be avoided, but hopefully all this walking will help. I've also just been really thankful to have the time to see a lot of the Bay Area before I take off for a few months; one of the things I love about living here is the easy access - all year round - to such beautiful scenery, and it's nice to be able to take advantage of it. (Thanks, unemployment!)

I've also been reading a lot about the Camino, trying to guesstimate my route (and coordinating with my mother, who plans to join me for the last 100 km...she's in training too!). I came across this article, "Really Slow Travel: Walking Your Way Around the World," which I think is a pretty great way to approach traveling. I have never been to Spain, and I can't think of a better way to get to see it than to walk across it. (Incidentally, the site where I found this article,, is a great article to peruse for any travel-lover).

If all goes according to plan, I will be starting the walk exactly three weeks from today, in Pamplona. Tengo ganas!