Saturday, June 28, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
For those who are considering walking the Camino Via de la Plata, here's my take on the differences:
This route is getting popular, but is still in no way as popular as the Camino Frances. At the same time, it is not as remote as the Camino Primitivo.
Most of the pilgrims on Via de la Plata had walked at least 1 camino previously. Many may prefer to walk alone, but almost all of them will welcome the company at the end of the day. I was never really alone.
In almost every albergue, I manage to find 2 beds for myself. The top bunk for my stuff and the bottom to sleep. With the exception of Aldeanueva del Camino where I did not have a bed and had to stay at a hostal. There are only 8 beds and 2 mattresses there and I was unlucky that there was group of 6 Spanish pilgrims who happens to stop there earlier in the day. Beds in general is a non issue.
I was unlucky that there was 4 albergues early in Extremadura that was closed for the year (suspected that it was due some dispute between the people who run the albergues and pilgrim's association). Had to stay in hostal for some of them as there are not way around it. On the other hand, there are now albergue for Salamanca and Zamora (new this year) that was pleasant surprise. In all, the infrastructure is now getting better. Best to budget for a couple of days of stay at a hostal at around 15-20 euro per night.
Generally good with the exception of a few cities with markers into the city but not out of the city. Have to rely on the information from the guide book for these exceptions.
Only 1 steep climb in Andalucia, otherwise it is pretty much flat or rolling hills all the way past Zamora. However, the steep climb to Galicia and the following few days after I think is more challenging than the Camino Frances. That can be minimize if one chooses to walk and additional 35 km via Verin which is flatter than to go straight to Laza via the mountains.
It is tough to plan for a daily under 30 km day. Example, either you do a 36 km day (or 15 km and 21 km in 2 days). That would mean more days if one afford it. If you don't mind staying at private albergue, then there is only 1 long stretch of 38 km. Else there may be around 3 long stretches to tackle. Even on these long stretches, you can still do it in 2 days if you don't mind staying at a hostal (with around 2 km detour to and from the hostal).
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
At just under 11 minutes, this is a long video (montage of images) of my Camino Via de la Plata spanning 39 days (normally around 35-40 days).
I was pleasantly surprised when YouTube accepted the video, as they normally would not take in any video that is more than 10 minutes long.
Choosing the music for the video had been tough. In the end I've decided on a flamenco piece (Al Di Meola - Flamenco Classical) followed by another medieval number (Dead Can Dance - Saltarello).
Hope you enjoy it.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
In Zamora, I opened the door in the albergue to let Sébastien (from Belgium - left) and Joseba (from Basque - right) around 10 pm so they can crash for the night in the this new albergue's huge kitchen area. It had started to rain, and they told me that another pilgrim in the albergue had told them that they are too late and refused to open the door for them.
Sébastien and Joseba had just walked their Camino Frances. They decided to continue their journey south, sometimes via hitchhiking. They had started their own blog to record their journey, beginning from Santiago. I was just given the link to their blog and was surprise to see myself in one of their videos.
Out of the 2 videos they had posted so far:
The first video had an interesting segment of Sébastien and Joseba lining up for food outside the Parador “Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos” in Santiago. This Parador is right next to the Cathedral and was built by Queen Isabella for the pilgrims. For taking the building away from the pilgrims, the Parador offers free food daily for the first 10 pilgrims (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Unfortunately the food is like in a cafeteria, and you can only dine in the staff lounge and not with the other paying customers. You need to have a copy of your credencial to be eligible, and not more than 3 days after you arrived in Santiago. I was planning to do this but the schedule and the reunion this time did not allow it. Maybe next time...
I appeared for a few seconds on the second video, taken right after I have led them to the dining/kitchen area.
I wish them a great journey.
Before I get around to compiling a video montage for my Camino Via de la Plata, here's a short one from the 3 days walk from Santiago to Finisterre, bus to Muxia and back to Compostela again.
The music is from 'Dead Can Dance' titled 'The Arrival and the Reunion'. I find this track very appropriate as it is exactly what this is, a reunion of pilgrims from our Camino in 2006, each of us coming from different directions.
For Mike, Rosalinda, Cinzia, Béné (who is not able to make it), and all other pilgrims I've met on my Camino Frances in 2006.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Took a bus back from Muxia to Compostela this morning with Mike, Cinzia and Rosalinda. I will be leaving tonight on the overnight bus to Madrid and will fly back from Madrid just after noon on Monday.
This is the video from today's mass at noon in Santiago de Compostela with swinging of the Botafumeiro, an awesome sight.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
After spending an extra day to rest in Finisterre and also waiting for Mike and Cinzia, we have decided to take the bus to Muxia. This is the place where Mary is to have landed in Galicia to hear St. James preach. The church is dedicated to her.
Friday, June 6, 2008
One of the tradition for a pilgrim on the camino in the old days is to find
your own shell to bring back in order to prove that you have been to the
sea. Here in Finisterre, the St. James' shell is hard to find as many
pilgrims are doing the same thing along the beach.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Now I am no longer a pilgrim but a tourist. I have a few more days to relax
here and also in Santiago de Compostela before heading back to Madrid for my
This last shot is for all pilgrims, especially for those pilgrims who walked
the camino to find their closure for their grief. God has forgiven you, now
you have to forgive yourself.
Here the pilgrims picked their own spot to watch the sunset at the end of
the world (like birds on the cliff). Some pilgrims even burn their clothes
or things to have a new beginning. Charred marks on some of the rocks shows
traces of it.
On route to Cabo Finisterre (Cape Finisterre), another 3 km to the end of
the world in medieval times. Finisterre is actually 'End of Terra'. Although
there are many Finisterre (some around Portugal), this is the one that the
pilgrims all go to see the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. It must be scary for
most of them as the sun sets in the ocean, hoping that it will rise again
the next day.
The rush for beds in the albergue was incredible. It has become like a race.
Anyway, it was full when it comes to our turn. Not even the mats in the
kitchen are available. Had to go 4 km to A Picote for a hostal with 4 beds
in the same room. At least the transport to and back to the albergue the
next day is included. Nice hot showers and beds. Fantastic compared with the
previous day in the tent.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The albergue was full. Only the tents outside the albergue with 3 mats for 4
people. This is quite a change for me, as the albergue in the via de la
Plata is always quite empty. This tent (albergue) will be locked at 11 pm...