Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 4: Bruma to Sigueiro

Very misty this morning lovely to walk whilst it was so cool. For the first 6k´s it was a long straight road, I thought it would never come to an end. At long last we entered a forest it had a few ups and downs then through farm lands, almost like small holdings. The farms in this area are very basic and simple.
We did walk through a couple of very small villages, everything was closed - so no morning coffee to be had anywhere. The last few k´s before reaching Sigueiro were again on a long straight road. Although it was a shorter walk than yesterday it seemed a lot longer, I suppose because it was mostly flat not much variation.
I look to find the good things whilst we were walking to take my mind off the long flat road, like the quietness, the birds singing etc. as I have to make the most of it as my walk is nearly over, only tomorrow for the last 17k to Santaigo.
Whatever village we have walked through in Spain is very noticeable that everyone has a vegetable patch - but what is amazing is that the amount of cabbages that everyone grows, I wonder who can ever eat that amount of cabbages! They also grow a lot of potatoes besides other vegetables.
In Galicia most of the dogs are all on a chain. So sad!!!

It was so quiet in the albergue that we both had a wonderful sleep. Hospital de Bruma is one of those tiny hamlets where you first come across a couple of animal barns, then a few houses on either side of the road, most that have their own barns as well, then a small stream, a tiny church and then you walk out the other side. 20 buildings all-in-all, if that.
We had a breakfast and then started walking to Sigueiro. We saw a woman cutting down cabbages. Almost every farmer grows tall, spindly cabbages which Marion thinks are used to make walking sticks.
One map said 22km to Sigueiro, the CSJ Guide says ±24km and Benino said 26km. No importante, we have to walk there no matter what the distance. The CSJ guide says, á pretty straightforward day´and they are not kidding. It was really heavy going with long, straight, tarred or gravelled roads through endless forests. It reminded me of walking through les Landes on the Via Turonensis route.
There were a few hamlets to pass through but nothing opens until around mid-day so we didn´t have a coffee opportunity. By the 15km mark my feet were starting to hurt underneath, something I´ve not had before. We stopped at a bus shelter at the 18km mark and I took off my boots to air my feet. I had red, hot spots under a few toes as well as the insteps and heels. This is a problem when walking on flat, tarred or gravel roads with boots. I added a bit of sheep wool and a small foam padding to the worst spot and hobbled on for another 8km. Long, long, flat, straight roads through endless forests with hardly a bird to be seen or heard and no other living thing for miles. At one time it started raining and we put on our raincoats but half an hour later it got hot again and we stopped to take them off.
At the approach to Siguerio the guide takes you down a waymarked path to the local swimming pool. ´´Turn left around the swimming pool, see the final marker pointing the way over waste ground´it says. We battled to find a marker as the whole area is under construction and had been graded and cleared with construction fences and the beginnings of buildings under way.
We found our way to the Hostal Miras, Downstairs was a cheerful bar which seemed to be run by a family of women: mother, daughters and grandchildren – a 15 month little girl who was well at home with the customers, and a new 6 day old baby, who may have been a boy, judging by the blue blanket. Upstairs the rooms are basic but old but graceful hostal above a bar, and were taken upstairs to a room. I cooled my poor feet down with Alcohol Romeo and massaged them with Arnica. Then I hobbled to the bathroom and hey presto! there actually was a bath! I scuttled back to the room, collected my universal plug, and was soon soaking in a hot-tub with Arnica and the last of my shampoo. Bliss. We had a coffee at the Hostal Bar and found this internet Cafe in a bar down the road.
We will arrive in Santiago a day early and will have 2 nights there instead of one. I will be checking out the route into the city as it might have changed.

Camino Ingles Day 3:Betanzos to Bar Julia (and beyond....!)

A bit of a mishap this morning. We started off bright and early overcast and misty, following the yellow arrows, somehow we missed a turning and were on a main road. We stopped and asked how to get back to the camino path and were told to carry on and eventually we would come to it. Unfortunately it was a very busy and ever so noisy road. Eventually we got back on track, I was so grateful to be at long last off the road and back into a forest. Our little mishap added an extra 6k to our walk. Once we were back on track it started raining so on came the raincoats - must say they are wonderful as they keep and our backpacks dry. It did not rain hard just a steady drizzle. We walked through some wooded forests, sometimes past farming areas on small tar roads. We stopped at Leiro at a large covered seated recreation area next to a church for a backpack rest, toilet and a snack which we were carrying. When we reached Bar Julia Syl tried to phone Antonio to fetch us to take us to Mason de Venta where we were going to spend the night. He was supposed to bring us back again in the morning so that we could walk from that point. Unfortunately Syl´s phone did not have coverage for that area so the bar lady kindly said we could use her phone.
We had a coffee and hot choclate and waited for Antonio well!!! 1 1/2 hrs later we were still waiting and started to wonder what had happended to our lift. The bar lady very kindly phoned and at first Antonio´s Mom said that he had gone to the wrong bar, another 1/2 passed and he still had not arrived, so the bar lady again phoned and we received the message that he was not going to fetch us. So we had to pick up our feet and start walking again. We had been walking the whole morning uphill and now we had to begin again by walking up a very steep hill first a short way on tar and then through a wooded forest. Every time you looked up you thought you were at the top but when you turned the bend so it went up again. After 4k we had a short spell of walking on a flat surface and then it was up and down mostly uphill until we reached the albergue Hospital de Bruma. Instead of walking 18k today we ended up doing 34k which puts us a day ahead of shedule. The albergue we are staying in has 14 bunk beds downstairs and more upstairs. It has a large diningroom kitchen area. We were the only people in the albergue last night, The Camino Ingles does not have a lot of pilgrims walking, so far have never seen any others. The hospitalario showed us a menu 3 courses that we ordered from and it was delivered to us at 8.30pm. A delicious meal. Around 8.00pm Antonio arrived looking for us, appologised for not collecting us. Another wonderful day, I am so lucky I have no aches or pains feel full of engery and still rearing to go.
It was cold when we left Betanzos. The temperatures in northern Galica are very different to the east, especially Aragon and Navarra which was really hot. We knew the way out from having done a little recce the day before so followed the road until we came up against a huge construction site. The pavement was being relaid with crazy paving - no arrows - and fencing cut off the road.
I read the CSJ Guide but could´nt find the markers mentioned. Í asked an early worker if the way through the buildings was él camino de Santiago´. ´Si´he assured us, rolling his hands like a fish swimming upstream. ´Todos directo´. We found ourselves on a road and climbed steeply out of Bestanzos for about 15 minutes, but we knew we were on the wrong road. No arrows, no shell markers - de nada. What to do. Double back and start again or carry on and hope to pick up the camino along the way. A road sign pointed our direction - Meson do Vento 23km, Santiago 60 something kms. "At least we´re going in the right direction" I say to Marion and we continue walking until we reach a huge round-about with about 5 options. I stop another worker who tells us to follow the middle exit under the highway and carry on all the way to Santiago.
When we have walked about 8km we reach Abagonde. We see an open cafe bar and ask a man there how we can get to COS which is a place on the camino trail.
´Turn right at the church,´ he tells us - it is about 5km further on. We walk up the hill to the church. A road sign says that COS is 4km away and a local info board says 3.2km to COS. We have to get there whether it is 3.2km, 4km or 5km so we start walking.
´Ít could be worse,´I say, Ít could be raining´. With that big drops start to fall and we have to bring out our raincoats. Finally we arrive at COS which is 6km from Betanzos on the camino trail. We have walked 12km already so have done an extra 6km on the detour. We walk through forests, around fields, past little hamlets and settlements and finally we come out of the woods, down a steep path at the 18km (24km for us) mark on the camino guide - the Bar Julia - where we will phone Antonio at the Ó´Meson Novo Bar and Pension to come and fetch us.
Now, this little bar is in the middle of cow country. This is a new arrangment organised by Johnnie Walker who has compiled the online Guide to the Camino Ingles. I don´t think anyone has used the offer of a lift and overnight stay so we will be testing it. I emailed Antoinio from home and he sent me a telephone number. ´Call me when you get to Bar Julia and I will fetch you´he said. There is nothing else there - just a few farmhouses and this bar which is right on the road. It is 12 o´clock and we have been walking for over 5 hours. I take out my cell phone to make my first call in Spain but there is no signal for Vodophone. The woman in Bar Julia offers to use her phone and she calls the number for me. A woman answers.
´I´m looking for Antoinio´I say. She talks rapidly and then I tell her we have reserved a room for 2 people for tonight and Antonio can collect us at the Bar Julia.
´Did we reserve?´she asks. Ýes´I tell her ´I reserved by email.´
OK. Antoinio will fetch us. We order a drink from Bar Julia and sit down to wait. And wait, And wait. After an hour we are pacing up and down and senora offers to phone again on our behalf. She has a heated arguement on the phone and then tells us that Antonio went to a Bar Julia but it was closed and there was no body there! Not possible we say.
The woman from O´Meson Novo says we must just wait. It is lunch time now and they are busy. 15 minutes later senora has a light bulb moment. Her Bar Julia is not the only one in the district, perhaps Antonio went to the wrong one? She phones the woman at O´Meson Novo and they have another, longer argument on the phone. Yes, Antonio has been to another Bar ´Hoolia´and we were not there. Eventually senora tells us that Antonio cannot fetch us from this Bar Julia. We can walk or we can get a taxi Meson Novo. Marion and I consult. It is 11km to Bruma - we will walk. At 2pm we hoist our packs back on our backs and start walking.
We now have to tackle ´THE HILL´- a 3km bugger of a hill that winds its way up 400m in 3km. It starts off straight up on tarmac, then becomes gravel, then becomes a forect track. Up and up and up it goes. When we finally reach the top we are not sure that it has ended because we have done it so quickly.
Ít can´t be 3km´I say to Marion. ´We couldn´t have walked up that hill in just over half an hour.´ But we have. Over 2 weeks of walking, climbing in Aragon and France has made us fitter than we think. We walk to Hospital de Bruma and find the albergue open. Benino is trimming the shrubs outside and looks quite pleased to see peregrinos arrive even if it is 5pm.
We have walked 35km and feel OK. We are the only pilgrims at the albergue and Benino tells us that there were 2 South Africans two days ago as well. We think that it could be Gwenda who was planning to walk the Ingles around the same time as us. There were only 3 pilgrims here yesterday but a group of 12 the day before. We are starving and Benino tells us that a restuarant in Meson de Vento will deliver a Menu del Peregrino to us if we order at about 7h30pm. He writes down the options and we choose what we want and he telephones for us. While we are sitting waiting for the delivery, a car pulls us and a young man comes to the albergue.
´Silvia y Marion?´he asks. It is Antonio. He doesn´t speak English but we work out that there was a misunderstanding. There are 4 different Bar Julia´s in this area and he didn´t know which one we were at. (I think there is only one on the camino trail and try to tell him that but he insists that his mother thought we were at the other bars waiting for him.)
Áre you staying here´he asks. Ýes´we tell him, we have booked in and are waiting for dinner to be delivered. ´What about tomorrow night?´he asks.
´No´we tell him ´we will walk to Siguerio tomorrow.´ He seems disappointed that the arrangement didn´t work and assures us that it will in future. He leaves and then our delivery arrives. Ensalada rusa, salmon and chips for Marion with a carafe of Vinto tinto: ensalada pasta for me (with the ever present tuna which I scratch off), a Tortilla Espanol and a Coke, and Tarta de Santiago for both of us. In the crate is a table cloth, knives and forks, two small plastic cups for the drinks and tuppaware containing the other food. It is a feast and we scoff the lot!
We are now a day ahead and will have to spend an extra night in Santiago. I find the telephone number for Fernando at Hostal Pazo de Agra and I send him an sms asking if we can spend Thursday night at the hostal as well.
Benino arrives with blankets for both of us and makes sure that we are comfortable and tells us to just pull the door shut behind us when we leave in the morning. We get into bed exhausted from our very long day. Just as we are falling asleep, Benino comes to see that we are all OK. What kind people these Spanish hospitaleros are. My phone beeps. It is Fernando. No problem to stay an extra night.