A Travellerspoint blog

DAY TWENTY SEVEN – SAMOS TO FERREIROS

sunny 18 °C

We started the morning with music. In the Monastery they woke us up with music from Mercedes Sosa, one of my favorite singers, and we started with the song Gracias a la vida (thanks to the life), a great song for this experience.

There was better weather today, and everybody had complained about how wet everything was, but thank God our boots were dry, a little damp but not too bad. I put plastic bags on my feet just in case, but my feet have been amazing for the last week or two.

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The way was gorgeous between the trees, leaves on the ground, rivers and streams across the path, cows and sheep with bells on their necks making ringing noises. We saw many locals picking castanas (nuts) up and wishing us ‘Buen Camino’.

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We are only four days from arriving at Santiago and today we arrived at the 100 kilometers sign, so less than 100 kilometers to walk to the end of this journey. We celebrated this achievement with a big bocadillo (sandwich) with chorizo (sausage) for lunch, and thinking that we have walked more than 700 kilometers, wow I cannot believe it.

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After the rainy day yesterday I really valued this gorgeous day, the ability to appreciate the view, and tasting the yummy apples and nuts along the path.

Posted by erika_simon 14:23 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY TWENTY SIX – HOSPITAL DE CONDESA TO SAMOS

rain 13 °C

After our hard test of fitness yesterday there was another mountain to climb but it was easy today as the hardest work had already been done. It was only to a height of 1470 meters, meaning to climb around 200 meters more, so not too difficult after the previous day.

An start early and the climb was done before 9am, the sunrise was beautiful, there was no actual sun but to see the blue and pink sky was one of the highlights of the day. After the climb our friends “rain and wind” together were with us for more than 6 hours for the long and slow climb down.

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It was one of the most upsetting days that I have had. The landscape was gorgeous, firstly the steep climbing up and down was done, the mountains were fantastic and afterwards we went into a forest and there were green and orange trees everywhere. The rain and the wind really made things really difficult and at one point it was raining so much that pilgrims started calling taxis to take them to the last town of the day, but we decided we could walk on because that was part of the experience.

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It was however really awful, and everything we were wearing was completely wet. We had our ponchos on but the wind was turning them around and it was so difficult to see anything. Our trousers were wet and our boots too, but luckily the rain cover for our backpacks passed the big test and worked really well.

We eventually arrived at Samos, a beautiful town with a big Monastery where we were hoping to stay. One of the rooms in the monastery is organized for the pilgrims, and I had really wanted to see it, and we had to walk an extra 9 kilometers to reach it (sometimes I regretted this choice because we got so wet just for travelling to this place). It was a big room with 50 beds and a second room with showers and a bathroom, and nothing more, it was simple and it had the minimum things that pilgrims needed - a bed and shower.

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However, today was the one day when we needed something else - a heater or drier to dry our clothes and most importantly, our boots. I was really upset when I arrived at this place and they told me there were no heaters here. I thought how am I going to dry my boots, and what will happen to my poor feet tomorrow. But an angel on a bike arrived and he had a newspaper which we used it to dry the boots by putting the pages into the boots to absorb the moisture and changing it every couple of hours, and it worked really well.

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The town and monastery were gorgeous, but because of the rain we could not appreciate it a lot, but the few moments we could be outside it was a relaxing and enjoyable town, with parks, a few rivers, old bridges, and ancient old stone churches. At night the mass in the monastery was really special, and when the monks sang the mass it was different but nice and interesting.

Posted by erika_simon 13:55 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY TWENTY FIVE – PEREJE TO HOSPITAL DE CONDESA

rain 15 °C

An early start with a great breakfast and we had a lot energy for the climbing today. The first hours were flat, crossing through a few small towns and eating apples and nuts from the trees by the road.

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The climbing was a long hard few kilometers, it was really tough and the way up was very steep. It was one of the famous hard stages that there is to overcome on the Way, and after the first stage this is the second hardest uphill climb. We worked hard from the beginning, started with a bar of chocolate to get more energy and after four kilometers we had a cup of tea to recover. The weather changed drastically from when we began with a blue sky and ended up with us finishing with a grey sky and many brief bursts of rain.

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It was interesting to see the clouds move towards us, and we knew the rain was coming for more than an hour so we tried to walk faster before the rain got us. We climbed up over the 1200 meter high peak and on the top we were over the clouds, everything was foggy but the scenery was absolutely gorgeous, the mountains, the little towns on the ranges and great colors to appreciate.

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We met some of our Korean friends from earlier on our trip, and more people besides. We are so close to Santiago now with only 140 kilometers to go, I have started thinking about how it is going to be when we arrive at this city, what kind of feelings are there going to be, who we are going to meet again, .. many questions.

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I have asked Simon how he imagines the arrival to Santiago will be, and he is waiting for the locals to carry him on their shoulders and shout Simon Simon, ha ha ha. I hope the locals do that with all the 7000 people that arrive in Santiago on average every month.

Posted by erika_simon 13:28 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY TWENTY FOUR – PONFERRADA TO PEREJE

semi-overcast 17 °C

Another long 30 kilometers were in front of us today, walking across the plains, through some forest, and one more time across my beloved vineyards. We could enjoy the grapes and a few raspberry bushes for a while at least. This area is not so strong in wine compared to La Rioja, but it is still a well-respected wine.

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On our way through this wine country there was an old guy, Amador, who was sitting in a small shed at the end of one of the vineyards. The smell from his place was of someone cooking food for a late breakfast, Simon thought he was cooking eggs and I thought it was meat. When I saw him, and said hello and asked what it was, he said he was cooking mushrooms, ha ha ha. He offered some to us plus a glass of homemade wine. He was a really nice guy who enjoys chatting with the pilgrims and regularly offers them some food and wine. He has photos of his family on the wall, and his son has written some sentences in English for him to communicate with the foreigners. Our highlight from our walk today.

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We also met a special American and French couple with whom we shared one hour of our walk. It was great to chat with them, and they taught us to pick up nuts. There are trees that drop nuts everywhere. They indicated which trees are the best, how to open the nuts and how to get them out or cook some of them. They were great for a snack and as a side dish with dinner.

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Tomorrow is a special day because we are going to climb one of the high mountains on our journey. It is going to be like the first day of our walk when we were trying to reach Roncesvalles, and we have to climb around 600 meters in 13 kilometers. So I am a little excited for tomorrow, Simon isn’t, but he always walks uphill and downhill faster than me so he gets to stop and rest while I catch up.

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Posted by erika_simon 12:56 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY TWENTY THREE – FONSEBADON TO PONFERRADA

semi-overcast 16 °C

We knew today would be one of the most difficult days, and would include a downhill track for around 15 kilometers. I do not like to walk downhill as my knees are not happy with the impacts, so it was always going to be a really long and difficult day.

We started with a great breakfast, and the first stop was the Cruz de Ferro – The Iron Cross. It was a special place for me and I was looking forward to seeing it. My angel who helped me to training for this walk, Cynthia, had given me a stone, and today was the requested time to leave it at this point of our way.

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This Cruz has been here from centuries and it is believed that every pilgrim should leave a stone here and the stone should have been brought from the original country of the pilgrim. To arrive and see this big mountain of stones around the post which has the cross of iron on top was incredible. I could not imagine the amount of people who have stopped here to leave a stone. There were stones, photos, flowers, pieces of material, letters, messages on the stones, … special gifts that people have left for the Way and the universe.

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We arrived in the dark at this place and waited until the sun came up. There were many of us there, looking how each of us climbed up, left their stone, appreciated the energy of this place, and took a photo. It was a touching moment for many of us because most of us have walked more than 500 kilometers to see this place, to feel the energy, to see what the pilgrims have created from years and years of visits.

After this beautiful hill of stones, we arrived at a tiny village on the top of the mountain and we met a famous person from the Way. When a pilgrim is arriving to his albergue, he rings a bell as a welcoming to his place. Inside the little house it is really rustic, with a fire place as the only heating and everything is made of wood and stone. This old man stays in this place all winter, and it must be freezing but he stays here to give something, whether it is coffee or a bed to the few walkers in winter.

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After this cozy place our way downhill started. The views of the mountains, and the approaching towns were beautiful from the summit, but the way down was absolutely murder. The 15 kilometers took us around 5 hours, half of the way on the road and another half on the stone paths. After this we still had another ten kilometers to walk to reach Ponferrada, so it seemed like forever. My feet were sore when we finally reached our destination. The day was also cold, windy and the rain was with us for a couple of kilometers.

A long day but one of the most difficult stages done!!!!

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Posted by erika_simon 12:44 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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