Camino de Santiago

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After my workcamp near Vichy, France I made my way to the French - Spanish border to begin my Camino de Santiago.  There are two series of pictures I took during The Camino.  During the day I tried to take at least one picture of something, though that didn't always go as planned.  To see my daily self portraits while I was on the Camino click on the Pilgrim button.  To see some pictures I took while we were in Santiago click the Santiago button.  Both are available on the navigation bar above.  In any event, my Camino began in a small French town named St Jean Pied de Port, one day's hike through the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles, Spain.  My first day walking on the Camino was 9 January 2002.  I arrived in Santiago on 6 February.  It was an incredible journey and I highly recommend it to anyone.  Here are the photo's:

Part way through the Pyrenees Jean-François and I took a little break to eat a snack and to take in the view.

Jean-Francios in the Pyrenees

The two hikers on the left are Belgians who Jean-François and I happened to catch on my first day.  On the right we picked up another Pilgrim, Mark, from Catalan.  Here we are after hiking about half our distance that day.  We stopped outside this little pub for some food and pit stops.

Belgian Hikers, Mark and Jean-Francios on a little break

This particular day was difficult for me.  My blisters on my feet were really beginning to fester.  At the top of the summit you are greeted by Eolic's wonderful windmills and this iron monument of medieval pilgrims.  I was in a serious need of a break at the summit.  After resting I also took one of my first wrong turns.  No worries however, with the use of my compass I managed to get back on the Camino about an hour or so later.

Eolic windpower company's iron sculpture

On the way to Puente la Reina I passed through a small town called Obanos.  A famous junction of the Camino Frances and the Camino Aragones.  This is a good example of some of the symbols I followed on the Camino.

Camino marker in Obanos

In Obanos they had some pretty cool statues.  Since I was a little ahead of my walking mates I took some time and snapped another picture.

Cool monument

Just outside Cirauqui, a Basque word meaning 'nest of vipers', you come upon a 2000-year-old calzada romana.  A stone-paved Roman road that descends over a Roman bridge.

Stone-paved Roman road

For most of the Camino my feet were in some serious pain.  Since most other people were not experiencing the same foot problems, I would normally leave a little early.  Here, Jean-François catches me and we have a little snack together before we continue.

Jean-Francios has a snack

A photo opportunity here as I eat lunch by myself in a little park.

The lovely Spanish scenery

Another photo opportunity as I take a snack and rest my feet for a little while right outside the small village of Villambistia.  I actually take a few photo's while I'm resting before I make the last few kilometers for the day.

Lovely Spanish countryside

Lovely Spanish countryside

In the morning we begin to organize our packs at the Refugio in Atapuerca.  This pilgrim is Raul, we were supposed to meet up in Burgos, but we never saw each other again after this day.

Raul with his pack in the Atapuerca Refugio

After the town of Burgos the Spanish countryside turns into fields.  I had eaten some bad tuna fish that I had bought in Burgos and I wasn't at all feeling good this day.  The first 5km of the day went by without much incident.  As the day wore on I needed to stop every couple of kilometers to take a little rest..  I would rest just about anywhere, I still had the strength to snap a picture of the farmland outside of Burgos.

Lovely Spanish countryside

The food poisoning was still having an effect on me.  In fact I had stayed two nights in Hornillos because I was still pretty sick from the tuna.  After Hornillos I made my way to Castrojeriz, where the Refugio was closed and the next open Refugio was over 20km away.  A few of us had to check into Puerta del Monte, a hostel that gave discounts to pilgrims that had a credencial.  It was a really cool place, they let me was my clothes for free!

Hostel, Puerta del Monte in Castrojeriz

Here I am in the morning, beginning to feel a lot better!

Self Portrait in Castrojeriz

I was really beginning to feel better, though I wasn't eating too much tuna those days, and even today.  The night before I had met two Canadians in Itero de la Vega, this was my first day of getting back on track.  I ate lunch in this pilgrim's park in the town of Boadilla del Camino before moving on to my destination.

Pilgrim's park in Boadilla del Camino

This is Claude, a really nice French pilgrim from outside Lyon.  Claude is an incredible guy.  While I was sick in Hornillos he managed to get food from a store that was closed and me some change from the bar, also normally closed.  That evening he cooked us dinner, what a great guy!  I caught up with him again here at the Refugio!  Smile Claude!

Claude

On the right are Luc and Tonny, my two Belgian friends who began the Camino in Leuven, Belgium.  On the left are my Canadian friends Darryl and Caley.  This particular Refugio was supposed to be closed but somehow Luc and Tonny convinced the owner to open it up for them, simply incredible!

The pilgrim's dinner

In the province of Leon you see tons of Adobe huts and houses.  Here is a sample of some we happened to walk by on our way to Mansilla de las Mulas.

Adobe houses

All over the Camino you see storks.  While Tonny and I were walking into Leon we took a few minutes to take these pictures.

Storks in Leon

Storks in Leon

Storks in Leon

In Leon Darryl, Caley and I decided to try to make Santiago within 10 days.  That's a brutal task.  Here I am taking a really needed break and eating some really crappy chocolate on the Camino.

Storks in Leon

One of the more difficult climbs in Spain on the Camino is Mt Irago.  As I was climbing I had a pretty dense fog that suddenly gave away as I reached the summit.  The Iron Cross is a highly emblematic monument of the Camino, the simple iron cross rises out of a long, wooden trunk planted in a high mound of stones.  While I had the clearing I snapped these pictures of the cross and the wonderful view off Mt Irago.  Only after I was satisfied with my photo's did the dense fog return, strange, huh?

Self Portrait with the Cruz de Ferro

Cruz de Ferro

Wonderful Spainish countryside

Wonderful Spainish countryside

Wonderful Spainish countryside

Jean-François and I had separated way back in Estella.  I thought he was many days in front of me since I was sick for a few days and he likes to walk about 30km a day.  As it turns out I had passed Jean-François earlier in the day while he was sleeping in another Refugio on Mt Irago.  As I was entering Molinaseca I thought I had heard someone yelling at me from somewhere.  I figured the person could see me so I stepped into the first bar/cafe and had some cafe con leche, but no one showed.  I eventually made my way down the road to Ponferrada where Jean-François was waiting for me!  Claude had made it there as well, though he had caught a ride for the last few kilometers since it was getting dark, incredible!

Dinnertime in Ponferrada

The hike from Ponferrada had really two choices... a relatively easy day to Villafranca del Bierzo or a much longer march to Vega de Valcarce.  That evening in Ponferrada I was doing some calculations and discovered that I needed to do some big days to make Santiago by the 6th.  This would be the first of three large kilometer days.

Dusk in Vega de Valcarce

At the 153km mark you begin to see these little monuments that silently count down the distance to Santiago... one every half kilometer.  This really marks the beginning of one of the more difficult climbs to O Cebreiro.  That particular day I was hoping to stop in Triacastela, but the Refugio was closed so I had to make it to Par Samos.  I made it there just as the last light was disappearing.

153km

This was taken the same day just a few kilometers from Alto do Poio, the Camino's last high point, 1313m.  This is a view East, from where I had been walking from the past few days,.

Wonderful Spanish scenery

100km to go!  Just outside the small hamlet of Brea you'll find the 100km monument.

100km

As you are walking through a lot of rural Spain you see a lot of wildlife.. and not so wild life.  Cows can be a common sight in some parts of Spain. 

Cows

While I was in Ponferrada another pilgrim had suggested I stay in Ribadixo de Baixo since the Refugio was recently refurbished and was really very nice.  During the day sometime Darryl, Caley and Jean-François has passed me, possibly when I was in Arzua getting some cafe con leche since Ribadixo didn't have any services!  The next morning as I walked by the same cafe in Arzua we met up!  Darryl and Caley had been chasing me since we parted ways in Villadangos del Paramo!  Here we are taking a little break on our last days on the Camino.

Jean-Francios

Caley & Darryl

Out last few kilometers into Santiago Caley decides to hang up some Asian prayer flags along side of the road.  Everyone wants me to help so I decide to document the moment by taking a picture!  You can tell Darryl is doing most of the work!

Hanging up the prayer flags