Monday, June 22, 2009

Travelling Day

This morning we had breakfast together and then had to say goodbye to Val. I am so sorry she is not walking the rest of the way with us. I will miss my drinking partner!!
Syl and I spent nearly 2 hrs walking around Pampolona looking for an internet cafe but without success.
We caught a bus to the station and thought we would have something to eat at the station resturant before catching the train. Well one look at the food and decided against it and to rather just have a coffee and Syl a coke and we both had a packet of crisps.
We are now on the train almost a 10hr journey. Lovely scenery but a long and tiring journey. The train has a cafetaria so we have had somthing to eat and drink to pass the time. We change trains at Monforte at 8.oopm and will arrive in Lugo at 21.55. Luckily we are staying in a hotel tonight very close to the station and tomorrow catch our bus at 8.00am.

After a sad hug and a goodbye to Val, Marion and I walked around Pamplona before getting a bus to the train station in Pamplona and the train at 13h10 to Lugo. It was a long, looooooong... journey. Pamplona to Monforte Lemos, 8 hours - a 50 minute wait and then another hour to Lugo.
It was strange to pass ´camino´places along the way. Most looked very tired passing through the backsides of the towns! Burgos, Sahagun, Leon, Astorga, Sarria ... all with unkept yards, graffitti covered station walls and large, dirty blocks with washing hanging from every floor.
Passing through the meseta at breakneck speed was weird. Rolling brown fields for as far as the eye could see and the occasional stork swooping down from a church tower.
At 18h45 at Ponferrada the temperature was 32oC. When we arrived at Lugo at 10pm the sun was just setting and it was quite cool. We found the Hotel Muralla across the road from the train station - 40€ for a large triple room with en suite. Good value. We were exhausted (from doing nothing all day) and went straight to bed.

Val - (sacked Minister of Nutrition)
I am writing this again 3rd time...first time Tombi chewed it up, second time I deleted it instead of publishing it! Here we go again.....this morning we had breakfast together and then parted company. But we went to a wonderful food market and I took pictures of the fish counter which was amazing, I bought some walnuts and they had bags of snails hanging and they were still alive and their little heads were coming out between the was horrid.
I worry about Syl on her own but know that she is the most capable person and will be fine. I am also glad that I will soon be back in my own bed! I couldn't imagine anything worse that working at an Alburgue for 2 weeks and cleaning it...but Syl will do this with absolute aplomb.
I head for the department store which is huge and lovely and I love Pamplona....there is something exciting about being in a city for the first time...and with a credit card! (or two).
I go straight to the cooks' floor and buy a real Spanish Tortilla pan, the sort with two pans which hinge together so you can flip it over (I cooked one when I got home and was really pleased with it!).
I bought two espresso stove top coffee makers, that makes about 4 we own now! But these are stainless steel and good looking. I buy a pair of shoes and some luggage but now my feet are really hurting and swelling up so I have to give in and go back to the hotel.
I call a taxi, sort out my luggage and then he arrives. Any Spanish that I possessed deserts me and between flapping my arms and looking up at the sky the taxi driver says "Aerporto" and we are on our way. He attempts to ask me where I am from and I think he is asking where am I FROM, so I say South Africa, and he says "oh Blanco" yep white. But what he meant was where have I walked from, so eventually I click and say Lourdes. We travel the remainder of the journey in silence. Conversation has been limited this trip to "where have you walked from, where are you walking to and where are you from...South Africa...oh Blanco"

I fly to Barcelona and hit the duty free... Martin sms's me to say the card is beeping away and I assure him that the shops are about to close. I finish shopping and go to a bar have a couple of glasses of wine and write my blog... which Tombi chews up, I retype and delete it and type it again.....I love people watching and next to me are two 'oaks' from Melrose...well they have that on their t shirts...looks like some bar in Melrose. They see some young girls (American) and begin to swap the usual macho remarks and I think you 'oakes' don't stand a chance...they really are not great looking but I like them 'cause they are South African and I am homesick. Then the flight is ready and we board. I take out my contact lenses and settle down for the long trip to JHB. However, we then learn that we are only flying to Madrid where the passengers will split to catch connecting flights to Montevideo, Mexico and JHB. I must say I thought it strange that so many Spanish people would be flying to JHB. Problem, I have taken my contacts out and now have to run to catch the connecting flight. I cannot see and do not have time to put the lenses in so a young couple from Port Elizabeth take pity on me and I follow them up and down escalators and on the train. I also look out for my Melrose 'oakes' so I shouldn't get lost...really don't fancy Mexico tonight. Finally on the plane and my feet are huge and swollen and shooting with pain.
I have a couple of glasses of tinto and have a really good sleep. However, the changing of planes has left my itineary really tight and I have barely 10 minutes to spare to get to the boarding gates. I go to the baggage carousel and don't for one moment expect my case to be there given all of the plane changes. And even if it is, I couldn't get it wrapped at Pamplona so they have probably had their pickings at the notorious JHB airport.
I don't find it straightaway so do the usual recce to find out where Baggage Services are...have you noticed how it used to be called Lost Baggage, then Baggage Enquiries and now most are Baggage can just imagine.
" Hello baggage, and what can we do for you? She what, sat on you to get your zip done up and then called you a 'cheap and nasty little suitcase'...well that's physical and mental abuse. Well we can offer you a week in Dubai...oh, had enough of shopping with her have you...well what about a week in the sun with the bronze Samsonite over there and his friend who is real leather? Ok, well just a week because we have to return you within 10 days, have our reputation to protect you know."
And along comes my case, in perfect condition...I race through Nothing to Declare but get the eye and am called out of the queue. Then the custom officer says to unlock and undo my back pack and the first thing to come our is the lovely and very expensive Chorizo that I bought at the airport. He takes out his penknife and cuts it through and then chucks it into the dustbin...ouch!
Anymore he says, I tell a porkie and say no. Then he takes out the bag of walnuts and cuts it open so they fall on the floor, what are they he says...nuts I say, ok. Then I scramble and pick them up not sure if I am allowed to have them and escape when he then moves to the next person. I race to the boarding gate realising that my cell is flat and I have to quickly phone Martin. I buy some sweets with a R10 note and get change which I duly put into the wrong slot and it doesn't refund. Buy another sweet and get change and this time get through to Martin.
Then race to the gates and board the plane to Durban...I want to be home now.
I arrive, get my suitcase and see Martin immediately, what a lovely sight. He takes me home, opens a bottle of champagne and presents me with a beautiful basket of my favourite flowers of roses and lilies. My feet are huge but the Champagne works as a pain killer but Martin has anti-inflammatories ready and by the morning they are beginning to go down.
I had a lovely nights sleep after one of my favourite meals cooked by Martin...seafood pasta with the mussels which Martin had gathered. Next morning off for an overhaul, hair and nails and to feel human again and then finally to the biokinecist to sort out my feet.
I have torn the ligaments and my achilles and have some therapy and then sent off strapped up and told to stop wearing high heels and start stretching...the reason is that my calves are too tight and the stoney terrain and not doing my boots up to the ankles has probably been the cause. But he said it was going to happen because my calves are just too tight and I am upset, because it has really knocked my confidence of a long walk again. I am cross because I did 700km in Italy without so much as a blister and this trip has only been around 300kms.
And so Bon Camino my two friends, go well and return safely......

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