Spain · 53 Days · 89 Moments · July 2016

Amanda Ellis

The Camino de Santiago

1 September 2016

Day 50: Our farewell Santiago brekkie at our favorite little cafe 😍 At the train station now heading for Vigo, a little beachside town south of here by about an hour on the train. And so, after 50 days of the Camino, easily over 1000km, knee pain, a few blisters, a LOT of bocadillos, and some new friends we begin our next chapter with a happy heart, few kilos lighter and hope for our futures individually and together. Will always have the Camino to remember and perhaps come back to at some point. God bless! Love, Amanda P.S Will be sending links to our other trips as well so stay tuned:)

31 August 2016

Day 48 & 49: Last few days in Santiago before taking the train to Vigo! Hit up some favorite places for food, including the cream puff pastry, the Santiago Tarte milkshake, tortilla (cheesy potato eggs) place, Amarena cherry froyo, and a lovely dinner of roast lamb last night at a little place around the corner. Also packed our stuff to send to Thailand to lighten the load, arranged for some Christmas gifts, & think we're good to go! Attended mass today hoping to see the incense burner but no such luck, was all in Spanish, but lovely to see the full mass as its a gorgeous Cathedral, very ornate, must have cost a fortune! Then we had our last dinner after at a local place w the Caldo Galega & Salmon - an attempt at being healthy after the gluttony of the past few days. Bittersweet leaving tomorrow but happy to explore new Spanish territory...w a beach 😎
Found an authentic Mexican place on the way to the train station to buy our tickets. Took it as a sign we were meant to eat tacos pastor and Chillaquilles as they were our favorite things whilst in Cabo, very happy find. Breakfast this morning was also lovely at a little cafe around the corner w eggs, bacon and a pancake (which was made promptly into a bfast sandwich concoction - was so good!) coffee and a pomelo juice for Aaron. Dessert pic from last night after the lamb, a chocolate cheesecake mousse dessert which I thought may have been a cheese platter w chocolate mousse so a very pleasant surprise when we got this smiley dish! Now, back onto the diet tomorrow! 😇

29 August 2016

Walked an extra 5km to Faro, the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula. Felt strange without the packs. Was a stunning view of the "end of the world" as they say. No land in sight besides the Spanish coastline. Lovely dinner afterwards of grilled sole and scallops, thought it was an appropriate last meal for the Camino. Also ran into a guy we had met on the beginning of the trip, English chap who was a barrel of laughs, busted his ankle but yet kept walking and just made it to Finisterre today! Got a bottle of wine to go and went to the beach after some chocolate mousse for dessert. We had a fantastic time!
Day 47: Rest day (somewhat) in Finisterre. Got up around 9am & prepped to go to the beach! Had a Napolitana dunked in coffee and a chocolate custard roll...very naughty but we managed to work them off for sure as we found kayaks and paddle boarding at the end of Langoustine beach! Score! Kayaked for an hour around the coast, the water as freezing but after that workout we both jumped in. Fantastic start to the day! Then had a vegetarian lunch at a cool place we scoped, lentil stew and Indian curry veggies were amazing! Want to start cutting more meat out of the diet for sure. Then went home, got showered and ready for a hike up to the lighthouse (Faro) & The End of the World (which is what Fisterra actually translates as) Was a 2.5km hike one way, but totally worth it, epic views of the ocean & sunset far as the eye can see. Lot of history there. Had a glass at the bar at the top & made the hike back for dinner. Scallops & Sole, v. fitting for our final meal of the official Camino:(

28 August 2016

Dinner at a local place...caldo soup (not pictured but a local cabbage soup we've had a few times now) and the padron peppers were the stars! Saw a funny cartoon on the wall for the local ice cream shop from the Simpsons. Cute!
Day 46: Lires to Finisterre, 15km; Slept in since we were in the pension (As Eiras), really lovely place, quite new & using the bikes for the beach was great! Otherwise it's a bit of a hike. The final 15k were not too bad but we did go off course a bit and found out way in the end - hard to miss the beach:) Checked into the Albergue Finistellae, went and grabbed a bite to eat, had more clams & some chorizo at Alara, then explored the town. Few drinks by the beach, home to shower then out for a dinner and a stroll. Salmon, soups and "risotto" for dinner, be warned the paella and risottos in N. Spain are not what you expect! White mini magnums for dinner...and a Wire:)

27 August 2016

The beach at Lires! Water ice cold but totally worth it:)
Day 45: Muxia to Lires, 19km; Woke up later today (8:30am) as we had a bit of a celebration last night! Went down to see the church & the rocks from the movie, then stopped at the bakery for some breakfast pastries and had a coffee. Grabbed our bags from the Albergue and realized someone had taken my walking sticks! Was quite upset but didn't let it faze me too much, maybe they needed them more than I did, & only 2 short days left! Headed out along the coast towards Finisterre. Up a huge hill first thing, then the sun came out, was a beautiful walking day with a bit of a cool breeze. Stopped for a beer at a little bar on the side of the road & finally had fresh blackberries! Arrived into Lires around 3:30, checked into hotel & had some fresh calamari was amazing, soup as well. Then we took the bikes for a ride to the beach & both jumped in. Was freezing but has been so long we had to! Relaxed on the beach for a while hen headed back in to shower and have dinner, wire & bed!
Morning in Muxia before heading out to Lires, walked down to the ocean and the church on the rocks, same as in the movie the Way! Church was Sacred Virgin of the Barca (boat) and a famous Sail Rock that a family was climbing all over apparently as a symbol of a rite of passage. Really cloudy in the morning but luckily it cleared up later in the day.

26 August 2016

Day 44: Olivearo to Muxia, 35km!!! Early risers and on the road by 7. Passed through the rest of town, Nicely lit and straight into the woods. Lovely view of a winding river with some Rapids, stopped in the first small town for a coffee, then again for lunch which was one of the best omlettes I've ever had made w their own fresh eggs, Spanish cheese and cured aged ham 😍 Thank goodness for the omelette because it was one of the longest, hardest days I've ever walked. We came upon a clearing where we could see the water and I was beside myself but little did we know we still had about 2 hours before we would even get into Muxia! It took a lot of effort not to cry, my legs became like machines pushing on that last 6km and through a lot more hills but we finally arrived around 4pm. Had a few celebration beers, Albergue was lovely and got a bed by the window! Then dinner at a nice place, clams were phenomenal! Needless to say I slept really well:)

25 August 2016

Day 43: Negreira to Oloveirea; 35km! Slept ok, up and out early, fruit and nuts and a good stretch. Some great scenery but was an extremely long day, didn't feel like taking so many pictures as I was listening to my Nutritional Healing course for a while, really interesting, nearly half way finished. Got into Olivearia around 3:30, washed up, had a snack of cheese and the local quince paste while we organized a hotel for Lisbon! Watched a wire then went for dinner: had the lentil stew - so good! Was never a big lentil fan but the course says they're one of he best foods you can eat so have then another go. Was yummy! Crashed early after such a long day.

24 August 2016

Foodie moments from Negreira and Oliveirea
Day 42: Santiago to Negreira, 28km; Beautiful view of the cathedral of Santiago on the way out of town. Passed through a lovely little village w a Rapids area and an old castle that looked like it had been converted into a hotel. Had a cider and Greek salad once we arrived in Negreira at the English pub, checked into the Albergue Lua, then went grocery shopping for fruit and picked up some local cheese and crackers. Wandered around the town looking for a restaurant, found a cute little bakery w cream and custard filled goodies we had to try! One restaurant even seemed to be Michelin rated but we weren't in the mood for fancy so we just got a combo plate w chicken and salad at a cafe next to the Albergue to share. Bed around 10pm.

23 August 2016

Day 41: Got up around 8:30, showered and prepared to go to mass. Did my first confession in probably 10 years, was really moving, then attended the English mass w an Irish priest. Want to attend the mass with the swinging incense like in the movie upon our return. Then we moved over to the hotel which was lovely, Casas Reais Boutique. Went to buy new flip flops since one of mine broke 😣 Found some cheap ones at the Chinese junk store then went for lunch which was phenomenal. Aaron got the pork ribs w chip and I had the BULL burger (yep bull!) w goats cheese and caramelized onions. Also had a fantastic milkshake called Betidos here, of the Tarte de Santiago. Back to watch a few episodes of the Wire & chillax, then few glasses of cava at the bistro next door before heading for dinner at a cute little Italian place we scoped. We took the cheat day to the max on bread & pasta alright! Had arrancini (rice balls), salad and lasagna to share. Server was lovely guy from Venezuela. Then bed!

22 August 2016

Lovely architecture in Santiago, many chapels and of course the famous Cathedral of St. James! Currently under construction 😕
Day 40: Santa Irene to Santiago, 23km; Early rise and walk in the dark for a while, was nice to see the stars. Stopped at the second coffee place for a rest then punched through all the way to Santiago. Can't believe the main part is over! Checked into the hostel, then went to get our credentials, then Aaron wanted churros as he has been so good w the no bread thing. After we met up w Sam & Aliz for many beers & tortillas (cheesy egg potatoes, so good!), then went to say goodbye to Lisa & Meraid. While having some Alboriño wine, we heard a guy playing bagpipes & saw some other pilgrims dancing in the streets, so we joined them and Sam & Aliz came back to meet us. Things get a bit blurry after that as we continued to drink our way through town and pecked at things along the way. Was in bed by 10pm! Slept like a rock, poor Aaron said it was really noisy outside as the celebrations continued through the night. Amazing day!!!

21 August 2016

Day 39: Arzua to Santa Irene, 19km; 5:45am wake up, out the door and took a bit of a detour😜 found out way back no problem. Was really chilly, wore my down jacket and watched the sunrise through the mist as we climbed ever more hills! Nice cardio in the morning. Stopped for my daily dose of caffeine, taking our time since it's supposed to be a short one today...stopped at the next bar to have a rest, and pushed on to Santa Irene, arriving at the place just before 1pm. Thought it was only 15k and ended up being 19! Began to organize things for Santiago and the hike after, plan dates for Portugal, etc. then laid out for a bit in the garden while listening to a healing nutrition course. For dinner, soup and baked cod, dessert - my favorite! Peach and pineapple from a can (haha). 😋 Can't believe we will be in Santiago tomorrow!

20 August 2016

Day 38: San Xulian to Arzua, 29km; slept in a bit this morning (6:45:), was so comfy and much needed after a big day before and another big one ahead! Out the door around 8am to find it freezing, was not expected but luckily I grabbed my coat before we left. Extremely hilly day, though you wouldn't know by looking at the map. Stopped for breakfast part 2 in a town called Melide, had coffee, OJ & bacon and eggs - don't remember the last time we had a real breakfast besides fruit! Gave me a lot of energy to keep in w the hills, came across a lovely eucalyptus forest so we stopped and did some breathing exercises, so exhilarating and cleansing, amazing experience. Around the 20km mark stopped for a lunch, we just shared a pilgrim menu - one big salad and 2 chicken breast w chips & dessert, was perfect portion for lunch. Realized we should have been doing this all along. Then more hills, approx 8km more to the town were staying in, famous local cheeses in all the shops, could be trouble!
Albergue in San Xulian: O Abrigadoiro; Beautiful little stone house w a restaurant in front, small room only 7 beds w 4 of us sharing (2 others, lovely lady and young guy both German). Usual routine, shower, laundry, called home to check on Aideen after a big scare but thank god she's doing ok. Spoke to mom and Lance as well. Had a rest, then the dinner bell rang. Was a community dinner w other people staying in the other house across the street, a lot of Italiand and an American girl from Naperville named Shannon getting her PHD in Theology in Toronto. Also during dinner we were watching the USA play Spain in basketball for the Olympics, US won of course:) Was nice to see some of the games as we haven't had he chance. Bed around 20pm, slept amazing!!!

19 August 2016

Day 37: Portomarin to San Xulian, 32km!!! Today was an early one, left around 6:45 and walked in the dark for a while through the woods. Started raining around 9am and we were prepped, then the old knee gave out to me from pushing so hard the day before I think. I broke down and cried because was impossible trying to tend to my knee w all the rain gear on and everything getting soaked and dirty and the pain on top of that, but I pushed on. Stopped at the next cafe for a coffee & peanut m&ms which made me feel a lot better, took a painkiller & doctored the knee & was sorted for the rest of the day. Stopped a few times for a rest, lunch at a local place in Palas de Rei. Gazpacho, salad, chicken w brandy sauce & mushies & baked cod. For dessert Vienna ice cream & cheese creme caramel, was delicious. Continued on to San Xulian, walked in solitude most of the way as the crowds had stayed behind in Palas and the weather was gorgeous! Arrived to albg around 3:30, one of the best so far!

18 August 2016

Dinner w a view! Meat platter for 2 - insanely big portion, we ate half and were stuffed, and also had ordered grilled veggies which were to die for. Slept really well that night, must have been a good coma!
Day 36: Sarria to PortoMarin, 23km; started really early today as we wanted to beat the crowds, were on the road by 7am. Worked out in the rev room and had bfast in their huge kitchen. Weather was cool, very misty which gave it a cool feel. Passed the 100km mark meaning we have less than that to go to Santiago! Knee was great today. Got into Portomarin around 1pm, had an amazing Albergue overlooking the water (but sadly our room wasn't by the Windows), primped and went for lunch in town. Was a hot afternoon so gazpacho hit the spot, and had salmon and chicken w salad as mains. For dessert we had peach and pineapple - was comical as it was a slice of each from a cannon a plate. Aaron was polite and ate a bit but when she came to clear the table, she asked "You no like?" I almost laughed, held it in and shook my head and said no apologetically. Was pretty funny. Then we went back to chill and watch the last Breaking Bad before dinner on their rooftop overlooking the water. Meats galore!
Wandering around PortoMarin!

17 August 2016

Sarria views from the monastery we stayed in and our amazing lunch! So good (and late) we skipped dinner that night. Was a salmon salad, Caesar salad, veal stew w almonds and raisens and pork ribs. Fantastic little find!
Day 35: Fillobal to Sarria, 28km; Early rise, 5:30 and got a workout in, left around 7. Stopped in Lugo for a snack - yes cafe con leche & OJ, as a treat I got a big Corny granola bar w chocolate, tasted like one of the best I've ever had since the no bread diet! Cool forest areas, old houses & an artist who lived way out there, sold postcards of his work & had a lavender field in his backyard; I bet he slept well! Arrived into Sarria and made the trek (uphill and stairs included!) to the very edge of town arriving at the Monestary of Magdalena to check in then backtracked to a cute little cafe we saw coming into the town. Was worth it! A bit late, around 3:30pm so by dinner time we were not even hungry and don't want to make the trek back out so we just had some nuts and berries leftover and watched a Wire. Was really proud of us not eating when we're not hungry, just out of habit or boredom. Big step! Slept ok, but my power nap messed w me a bit so got maybe 5 hours.

16 August 2016

Sunset clouds and Dessert!!! Had a lovey dinner in Fillobar at the only restaurant in town, but was fantastic. As we are on the no carbs, no alcohol kick since Sunday (health results here we come!) we got 2 gazpachos, 1 soup caldo (green veggie soup) and stuffed mussels. No pics of the mains but we did indulge in dessert! They had a baked cheesecake w no crust and a Panna cotta w strawberry, both were a bit heavy but heavenly treats after such a long day! Back in the Albergue, prepping for an early morning tomorrow, fruit and nuts (and green tea provided:) so we're ready to go!
Day 34: Herrerias to Fillobar, approx 28km (horse 8k and walked 20k); Up around 6:30 and saw Aaron off as I decided to take a horse up the mountain for 8k as my leg was really hot and tingly last night in the side of my knee injury and didn't want to chance it. Her name was Luna, lovely animal, and we had a guide who walked w us, insanely for of course as he makes the hike every day! Met Aaron at a church just outside O'Cebreiro around 12 and we pushed on to lunch at 2pm. Amazing chicken w onion and an almost Asian glaze w mixed salad. Then pushed on, up another big hill...then down again to arrive at Fillobal, a little tiny town w one Albergue and one restaurant, but lucky for us the restaurant was amazing!

15 August 2016

Day 33: Pieros to Herrerias, 30km; up early and headed out into the dark, v. Cloudy so no meteors but amazing sunrise! Got turned around in a little town w barely any arrows and got directions from some guys still "fiestaing" in the square. Stopped for coffee and OJ in plaza of Villafranca, guy gave us churros and we left them! On a diet no bread for the next week. Came into a truck stop 5k out of our final spot, bought some amazing cherries! Lunch at a little bakery. Arrived late around 3pm as we had walked almost 30k. Got an upgrade to a private room for €10 more! Skyped w Mom & Lisa, was so great to see them and the baby!!! She's sooo adorable. Then dinner just chicken platos, watched a Breaking Bad then bed. Great day:) 😎

14 August 2016

Octopus, cool church in Fuentes Nueva w baroque style decorations, and banana peanut smoothie!
Day 32: Molinaseca to Pieros, 28km; Got up at 6:30 since we couldn't sleep anyways from the fiesta! Was an easier day, not a lot of hills, passed through Ponferrada w a big castle, but it got hot! Even without the hills, my knee started giving out about halfway, stopped, creamed it up and took an IBP and pushed on. Passed through a few towns and a lot of vineyards, stopped in Cacabelos for lunch, grilled chicken, salad and octopus! The restaurant was a Pulperia, meaning they specialized in octopus, was pretty good! Also, as of this morning (after the last amazing custard pastry for the week:) we are trying not to eat bread or pasta for a week, want to kick the weight loss up to high gear and see some results! Crossed over another lovely river swimming area, then 2km more to the Albergue named El Serbal y la Luna - a vegetarian place, awesome people running it, even had a rice milk banana peanut smoothie at their cafe! (Aaron's fave) updating journals, writing postcards, then dinner!

13 August 2016

Moments from Molinaseca: Hanging by the river, quick dip in the frigid water, lunch, rest, then dinner. Of course it happened to be a fiesta day and so we did not sleep a wink w music blast all through the night until 6am! Silly Spanish love their parties as the expense of the entire towns sleep! Even saw a mariachi band. Reminded us a lot of our time in Mexico. We were wrecked after but somehow made it 28km the next day!
Day 31: Foncebadon to Molinaseca, 22.8km; woke up extra early so we could get a head start to Cruz de Farro, was still dark out when we left and were hoping to see some meteors as it is a peak time apparently. Arrived at the cross in about 30mins, spectacular, and the continued on through the mountains with an amazing sunrise. Was ok in the morning then we reached the downhill area which went on for about 12km! Much harder! 😫 Only one major twinge so we sat under a lovely tree for a while & rested then started up again, were only a few km out. Coming into the city, you cross a bridge and our hostel was just to the left, called El Horno. Checked in around 2, then we went down to jump in the water - was super cold, much needed! Then went for lunch at the local place on the river, had soup and salmon to share, so good we went back for dinner! Had ribs, salad w a mixed plate of local meats/cheeses w white wine. Met an Irish lady, ER nurse, great stories, then bedtime...or so we thought!
On day 31, leaving Foncebadon we arrived at the Cruz de Farro, a famous sight on the Camino where you place a stone from your home (in my case 2: 1 from Michigan - white, and 1 from Ireland: green) and it can symbolize an offering for a blessing for a loved one or the forgiveness of sins, so I did one for each. Green for blessings for my aunt Mary who just passed away, as well as my dad who has been gone 6 years now and others. The white to symbolize a purification of my sons and burdens that I want to leave behind. Trying hard to focus on not worrying, being more in the moment, and honestly I felt like a weight had been lifted after visiting the cross. Such an unbelievable feeling seeing all the stones and memorabilia left there from Pilgrims already passed, you can't help but feel them all walking with you sometimes, all the souls who have walked before you and guiding you to peace. 🙏

12 August 2016

Eating and drinking around Foncebadon - amazing salad and spag bols at our Albergue, Monte Igaro, as well as local pastries. Also popped into a Medieval restaurant called La Taberna de Gaia, very Renaissance Celtic feel w rustic food, though we only had the pumpkin soup and Grandmas pie, we also tried the local spirits and then went for a stroll after. Then some ladies played the flute and sang walking up the little street and put on a show in the courtyard (all in Spanish of course) just like at the RenFest. Was very entertaining, even if we couldn't understand a word. 😅 Drank a bit as celebration for our 1 month on the Camino! Nearly 500km finished, Can't believe it!
Day 30: Murias de Rechivaldo to Foncebadon, 25km; Woke up early to try and catch the meteor showers, no luck but passed through some lovely towns on the way to Foncebadon. Parts reminded us of the beginning of he Camino going through the mountains, just beautiful! Had lunch in a town called Rabnal, mountaintop, very picturesque, lovely meal but pharmacy not open until 5pm! Knee was doing ok brought so happy about that, then the heat kicked in and we made a dash for Foncebadon. Also a lovely little mountain town, only 3 albergues and we ended up in the best one! Amazing food, great people and slept really well.

11 August 2016

Entering Astorga, random pics and arriving into Murias. Stayed at Albergue Casa Flor, nice place, crappy food but we ate enough today anyways so not going to bed hungry!
Day 29: San Martin to Astorga, 33km! Got a great start this morning, left around 7:15am and had the road pretty much to ourselves so listened to some audiobooks and enjoyed the quietude of nature. Even saw some blackberries beginning to ripen on the way, tried a few still not sipe yet but they're coming! Stopped for pre-lunch 10am panini and coffee:) and continued on through a historic village called Orbigo w a long bridge running now through it where they used to hold duels and there was a famous fight involving the Knights guarding the Camino. Pretty cool! Once we arrived in Astorga (already the 25km mark) we stopped for lunch (burger and burritos - nice change again from the typical eats on the Camino) and stopped into a pastry shop leaving as we heard they had famous butter cookies...ended up w a few more treats...but hey, we earned it! The church was amazing on the outside (but was closed) then another 7km to Murias. Longest day!

10 August 2016

San Martin @Casa Verde: Cooper the border collie w his beat up ⚽️, such a smart and charismatic animal! Played w him for a while after dinner, so funny, Makes me miss Puddles! 😍 Also a pic of the home cooked meal:)
Day 28: Leon to San Martin, 25km; Left Leon around 7:30am after a quick workout and bfast, was quite chilly so we layered (9 degrees!). Saw the fancy hotel from the movie The Way🍾 Grabbed a cortado shortly after ☕️ and pushed through to 30km mark, only slight twinges in the knee but nothing major. Lunch at a bar in Villadango, salad and Bocadillo, also bought some drinks and fruit for the rd. Arrived in San Martin, another 5km out approx 2pm. Stayed in Casa Verde, lovely home to Baya and her dog Cooper, a border collie who we fell in love w. Laundry, stroll around town, called home to mom. Baya cooked us dinner, chicken, chips and salad which was perfect and watched a few Wire eps. Getting good! Only 3 more left! (Besides the other 4 seasons we have:) Early day tomorrow, another 25km!

8 August 2016

Day 26 & 7: Hanging out in Leon - fun times w the pun bros and foodie moments from the lovely lunch 😍 Also got a checkup w the physio about my leg and seemed to help, he even taped me up w zebra striped tape.
Day 26: El Burgo Ranero to Leon, 0km (took the train); Took the train to give my knee a break from walking and left around 8am for the station. Amazing when a walk that would take you an entire day (14 hours min) only takes 20mins on the train! Shocking but makes you wonder how people got anywhere back before transit, feelings of gratefulness abound on the Camino! Walked from the station, checked into hotel, went to the post office for stamps and had a churro and coffee while I waited for Aaron to arrive (he had walked). Lovely lunch at the place next door of pumpkin soup, seafood salad, lamb ribs and steamed fish w choc mousse dessert! So good he went back the next day for seconds while I napped. Then we met the UK guys for some drinks and tapas, hit up the local brewery and then shared some Verdejo with no real dinner. Obviously didn't eat enough because were quite in need of Solpadine the next morning! 🤕 But was a great night! Totally worth it.

7 August 2016

Day 25: Bercianos to El Burgo Ranero, 7km; Left early around 6:30, was chilly but warmed up pretty quickly! Stopped to do some stretches and breathing exercises on top of the hill where we watched the sunset. No problems getting to the next stop, only 7km and was able to check in early to the hostel since the last was there. Some festival was going on, people were still wandering around the town drunk and in their clothes from the night before! Should have been a warning sign, as they were at it again that night as well. Bought groceries to make sandwiches and for brekkie, took a nap, went to the bar and started to read my book on Philosophy from dads library, had a great chat w mom, and then went for dinner. Chicken and salad was lovely! Back for bed, while the festivities began and lasted until 6:30am!

6 August 2016

Day 24: San Nicolas to Bercianos, 15km for me; walked through Sahagun and checked out the market. Stopped for a tuna empanada and coke, our first one of the Camino! After walking for another 8km I had to stop after as my knee was in a lot of pain and take a taxi from the nearest bar (luckily only 1km away) to Bercianos. Got into the Albergue municipal and was luck to get one of the last beds. Aaron continued walking and arrived about 1.5hrs afterwards, had to sleep on a mat but was fine. It was a record breaking evening for the Albergue, over 70 people when they normally Only took 50 but they were gracious and made space. Simple dinner of chickpea stew and salad w wine, sang a Camino song to La Bamba (see Aaron's video) then all went up to watch the sunset and met a lovely couple from Croatia and Slovakia who gave us some great recommendations for travel. Slept really well, luckily as we were up again at 5:30am!

5 August 2016

Day 23: Carrion to San Nicolas, 39km!!! Up at 4:30am, quick bfast and on the road by 5:45, as tipped for a quickie espresso, wandered under the stars with our flashlights for a while, saw a shooting star and then watched the sun come up. Insanely beautiful colors, but cold until about 10am. Stopped for snack...then lunch at a Bodega in Monenaris. Felt rejuvenated after a great lunch like continuing on to San Nicolas as we were making good such great time. Lovely Albergue, had our own room by chance, lucky! Hung out w the pomme pun bros and Aliz from Hungary, drank Verdejo and played card games, was an excellent night and well deserved after almost 70km in 2 days!

4 August 2016

Day 22: Boadilla to Carrion, 30km!!! Up at 5:30, road by 6:30, still dark and first time we used the flashlights. Was a good day! Got in around 2, did some shopping, private room booked in a motel type place as were planning on getting up super early the next day. Still had some Sangria:) Soup as snack then dinner at the same place; Salad, burger and an amazing veggie stew like a ratatouille. Back for bed and out by 9pm.
Hanging around in Carrion!

3 August 2016

Boadilla: En El Camino Albergue w/ a pool! Pleasant surprise and perfect day for it, got up to 35 degrees (C). Had a piece of almond cake by the pool and then jumped in. Was funny since we listened to that song about cake by the ocean and said how nice that would be in Lisbon but we improvised. 😎 Gotta make your own magic moments! Nice group here, having a glass before dinner and then crashing early. Pilgrims dinner, not amazing except for the chicken and bean soups, had the fish (was fried) but Aaron's meatballs were lovely! Met some chaps from England, had a nice chat over dinner, they're doing like 30-40k per day. I can't even imagine! Finished watching the Wire and bed by 9:30pm for early wake up tomorrow...whether we like it or not! 💤
Day 21: Castrojeriz to Boadilla Del Camino, 23km; Can't believe we're 3 weeks in today! Were expecting a hot one so woke up at 6, were out around 7:15 and hit the hill straight away. Was a steep one so happy I sent my bag ahead! Stopped halfway to buy some fruit and a Bocadillo, ate it in a lovely tree shaded area (the only one!) after listening to some blinks. Tons of sunflowers on the way! 🌻Were recommended a place to stay by the baggage transport guy and it is a fantastic place called En El Camino. About 16 people in a room but were early enough (2pm) to grab a bed by the window. (FYI: Most of the time they are bunk beds!) Big day tomorrow, 5am wake up since we're going 25km tomorrow to Carrion. Hope we get a good night sleep!

2 August 2016

Had a beer named Judas 😜 Was quite strong but nice, a blonde German I think. Then dinner of salad and orange chicken, Aaron had the ham & pea stew w sausages but wasn't feeling amazing after the pizza. Dessert was surprisingly good! Panna cotta w Berries and a rice pudding w/ no rice!
Day 20: Hornillos to Castrojeriz, 23km; Up around 6 for a workout and bfast (incl. some melted chocolate from Burgos:) and hit the road just before 8am. We're doing fine, even did a big hill up/down before coming to first town Hontanas about 10km in. Stopped and had a rest and a snack of apple & nuts, filled our waters, and put blister bandages on as a preventative measure. Has been so hot we feel a few creeping up but have been blessed not to have any so far. After leaving the town about 3km in my knee gave out, but I insisted we keep going to the next place, 2km more so Aaron offered to carry my bag. Was bloody hot too! Such a gentleman. Made it to the ruins of a convent, decided not to stay there, no electricity and no restaurant & hadn't eaten lunch so I took the bag and he took my sleeping bag which helped. Made it around 3pm, had a pizza at the bar then checked into Albergue Casa Nostra where Miread and Lisa were. Dinner at a nice place, salad and orange chicken w Panna cotta!😍

1 August 2016

Day 19: Burgos to Hornillos Del Camino, 21km; Slept in a bit and packed my bag while Aaron went to exchange his bag for a bigger one. Worked out, showers and then went down for a coffee and chorizo egg toastie. Hit the road around 11:30, wasn't too hot in the beginning, around 21 degrees but climbed pretty quickly to 28. Stopped for a sandwich and ice cream, pushed on to the town 8km from the 20km mark and wasn't sure if we would continue on. There were no more stops in between and it was at its hottest point but after taking the shoes off for a bit, playing a round of poker (and winning:) I felt like we could push on and go hard for the last leg. We had a rest day after all! So glad we did, were sweating our butts off but was a great feeling of accomplishment. Checked into the Albergue El Afar, showers and then went for dinner at Abuela's (Grandmas:) and had veggie stew, salad and grilled chicken. Did massages and Watched an episode of the Wire season 1. Getting good!

31 July 2016

Burgos Cathedral - beautiful gothic style, home to the portrait of Mary Magdalene by Leonardo da Vinci and a beautiful painting by Raphael. 8 pointed star domes with a floral motif and stunning stained glass windows.
Day 18: Rest day in of course lots of food and exploring the city a bit incl. the cathedral. Also went for a massage by this healer named Lourdes who was recommended to us by some girls on the Camino. Lovely woman! Bfast: Leché merenguada (ice cream milk) then Churros w chocolate to dip in, ham and cheese croissant, OJ for breakfast at a Chocolate café. Lunch: Back to the Leché place for a salad and some tapas and a cappucino frappe. Then another garlic soup from El Rincon. So good!!! Yoghurt and berry and pistachio helado. Dinner: Part One - Tapas from Rimbombin incl. a mini burger, chicken fajita, tuna skewer and pork and Brie toastie w a glass of Verdejo. Part 2 - Grilled veggies w goats cheese and lamb skewer w salad at our hotel, ate a bit late but slept really well!

30 July 2016

Burgos - Dinner at a lovely cafe Rincon, garlic soup, tomato salad, roast lamb and hake. The soup was amazing! It is a traditional Castillan dish w egg, chorizo, and even black pudding thrown in with a nice roasted flavor, very rustic. Went to go find churros for dessert but apparently it's only a breakfast or daytime thing. Hit up a few bars after, played darts and came back to crash.
Day 17: Atapuerca to Burgos, 23km plus 5km walking around; Slept in a bit late today (7:45am:) and didn't realize we had to be out by 8, but they understood. Shipped out bags ahead to Burgos to give my leg a rest and Aaron's arms as his bag doesn't have padding and has been chafing. This allowed us to make up for some lost time, and made it about 10km before stopping for a coffee and OJ at a café. Then we walked over a mountain with a big cross at the top, was quite rocky, then down again into an industrial area where we switched courses to go by the river. Was so clear and calming, we went & dipped out tired feet in the water for a few mins. Was heavenly! Then made our way into Burgos to the sports shop to find a new bag for A since his has been chafing him under his arms. Made it in the nick of time! 1:50pm (closed at 2) and tried a few on before deciding on one...only to find out later it was too small. C'est la vie! Stopped at the market then headed to the hotel to check in.

29 July 2016

Checked out all of Atapuerca in an hour! The bar, the cafe/shop, and the restaurant. Had a few beers, bought some fruit, and went for dinner, not amazing, very oily salad and Thai chicken w rice, but good company. Lisa told us stories about her Air B&B experience, like something out of Project X! Bed around 9:30.
Day 16: Villafranca to Atapuerca, 21.2km; Stunning view this morning while having breakfast, got our exercises in and then jumped straight into a 200m hill right off the bat. Was tough but cool enough so we killed it! Downhill a bit harder, knee pain has now migrated up to my hip, not good, but soldiered on. Stopped for a sandwich at a cute little cafe where we picked up a few goodies, lemon cake and apple tart. Arrived in around 2pm, shocker! 😜 checked into Alb. And then into "town" to buy fruit and then back for a rest.

28 July 2016

Villafranca - San Anton Abad Albergue; Used to be an old hospital looks more like a dukes house! Really beautiful and huge! We got lucky and ended up w our own room, still bunks, and I had to eat so we grabbed lunch at the café, combo plate w grilled chicken and some sangrias, was fantastic! Then for a rest before dinner, started watching Numbers Station movie, then down to the restaurant, had the chicken again w orange and stuffed eggplant, wasn't that hungry so let Aaron have most of it since I was the only one who had lunch! Dessert was great, flan and rice pudding and conversation was fun w the girls, met a new one from Brazil who lives in Bulgaria and gave us some good tips on travel there. Don't take the train! Bed around 10, didn't sleep though because we were both freezing in the night w the window open. Silly we didn't bust out the sleeping bags but lesson learned! A crawled up to keep me warm early in the morning, such a sweetheart.
Day 15: Viloria de la Rioja to Villafranca, 20.3km; Woke up around 6, out by 8am. No workout. Beautiful day for walking though, cloudy in the morning and sun around noon. Arrived at Villafranca around 1pm, knee was in pain but I managed ok, even walked backwards for a bit! Did some interesting blinks on Superpowers and Laurence of Arabia. Checked into the Albergue, San Anton Abad.

27 July 2016

Viloria de la Rioja - Acacio & Orietta; Adotable couple who met on the Camink and started the Albergue 10 years ago, he's from Brazil and she's Italian and they have been doing the Camino for 17years. Cozy, quirky little place with an amazing library for pilgrims to read and chill out in the lounge area, more like a sanctuary w e incense, music and candles going. We all read for a few hours, I picked a random book Patrick and the Cat Who Saw Through Time, spiritual about a boy w leukemia about to die and this cat takes him on a spiritual journey to show him not to be afraid, took place in Australia, unique and a short read. Then for dinner we had soup, salad, lentils w chorizo and rice - absolutely delicious. 2 of the girls from the previous night were also there. Slept amazingly well in the stone house, stayed nice and cool:)
Day 14 - From Ciruñea to Viloria de la Rioja, 20km; Walked through Santo Domingo and checked out the Cathedral which was amazing! Then through some sunflower fields and didn't seem like such a long day. Arrived around 2pm to a lovely little recommended Albergue ran by another lovely couple Acacio & Orietta.
Santo Domingo Cathedral- Very interesting art work with a lot of Immaculate a Conception pieces that caught my eye and some other obscure pieces noting the role of the woman especially in the last supper; lit some candles in front of the majestic blue Madonna with the silver heart for Mary, dad, mom, Brenda and Mona and said a prayer. Hope they can hear me and help to guide me on the way. 😇
Cathedral of Santo Domingo with the Miracle of the Hen and the Rooster and the Pilgrim Hugonell who was brought back to life after being hung for a crime he did not commit; the cock started crowing just as we were about to leave the church and continued on for 15 mins, they are said to be descended from the originals who were brought back to life as well.
Day 14 - Ciruñea; Woke up at 6 and rolled out of bed 630 for morning stretches and exercises on the terrace where we watched a magnificent sunrise soon engulfed by the clouds. Coffee, toast, fruit and nuts before we made our way out into the unknown w my pack back on and knee feeling good we had no plan on where to stop that night...

26 July 2016

Day 13 - Nájera to Ciruñea approx 15km Woke up around 6, didn't do the workout as we both slept pretty bad, was really got in the beginning and then got really cold halfway through the night. Bummed we Didn't get to do our routine by the water but I've accepted we did spend a good amount of time the day before so time to get going. Was kind of a short day, cloudy in the mornings and sunny around noon which is when we just reached the top of the big hill, had a rest in a nice park area w fruit & pistachios then walked into town through a new golf course and condo area (Reminiscent of Stepford) then into old town where our place was. Before checking in we stopped at the only bar in town for a tapas snack of egg salad, chorizo, and lemon beers then were checked in run by a lovely couple Salvo & Victoria. Old school room, showered up, had some cheese and wine we bought in Nájera on the terrace & went for dinner at the Albergue. Met some cool people, all teachers. Breaking Bad and bed!

25 July 2016

Nájera- Had the pilgrims upgrade dinner at a cafe on the water (meaning Crianza vs house red) and Miread and our roommate of the day Christoff joined us. Christoff from Germany is walking about 45km per day and has been walking for the past 60 days from Germany. Really amazing! Very sweet guy too, offered me some cream for my knee which helped. Sending my pack on again tomorrow to Ciruñea and hoping it will be better by then!
Day 12 - Ventosa to Nájera approx 10km with small backpack, had my pack couriered to the Puenta de Nájera Albergue as my knee was giving me problems and wanted it to heal up. Woke up around 6am and did some yoga and exercises outside in the garden, then had breakfast, fruit nuts and a Vietnamese coffee I brought along. Left the place around 8am w a big hug to Yutah who was an immense help w the bags and just advice in general. Stopped for a rest and read the local history, arrived into Nájera around 10:30, stopped by the Albergue to check in then hung or by the river and did some journaling then checked in. Walk around town, got an apple pastry and a cream one and picked up some fruit, did laundry and drank lemon beers while dipping our toes in the river. Bloody cold but great for the feet! Back for shower and siesta then dinner time:)

24 July 2016

Ventosa and San Saturnino Albergue - Yutahs shop w homemade Spanich spirits including Pacharan, Spanich Grappa and Licor de Guindas, a sour cherry digestif. Also for sale a Valnciso Rioja reserve wine for €9 for half bottle, normally $60 in the US. Aaron and I drank after dinner while playing poker, he killed me! But the wine was divine!!! Started to watch a Breaking Bad and passed out but slept pretty well...except for being woken up by a snoring Pokemon at 3am. 🐣🐉😨
Day 11 - Logroño to Ventosa 21.5km. Slept in a bit today (still up at 8am:) out the door by 9. Stopped for a coffee and pain au Chocolat, saw some awesome graffiti over graffiti, professional style, stopped again at the cafe inside their beautiful park and watched a family of swans for a bit. Lovely walk, cloudy in the morning then really began to heat up after noon but was nice! Really lifted my spirits which I hadn't realized until the weather changed. Knee gave out just as we were entering the town 😫Checked into an Amazing Albergue called San Saturnino ran by a woman named angel of a woman...more to follow...

23 July 2016

In Logroño - Tapas tapas tapas...tried many different things. Started at lunch with mixed salad, braised beef cheeks and cod w some tortillas. Checked into our Pension, Sebastien, old cute little place right smack in the middle of the tapas district. Then for dinner we did the Graze: Asian meatballs, tuna baby sammies, cod confit, stuffed mussels, stuffed peppers, chicken skewers, foie gras w berry tart and goats cheese and apple tart. Food heaven! 😍
Day 10 - From Torres del Rio to Logroño 21km, knee was ok was pretty mild waking day, saw the most magnificent rainbow about 2 hours in! 🌈💕 Stuck around for a few hours and we followed it to the end where a little man sat...selling food and drinks and stamping passports:) Met up w Mark along the way, had some good chats and came into Logroño around 1230pm. Biggest town we've been in so far, approx 150k people. Renowned for their Tapas and of course Rioja Crianza...And so the feasting began... 😍🍷🍳🍞🍢

22 July 2016

Day 9 - Woke up around 6 and had a nice little workout, stomach not so great but I pushed through all to day end up going about 23.6km through Los Arcos to Torres Del Rio. We stopped to have lunch, pasta and salad (no sammies!) and got our stamps then continued on. Was a beautiful walk, easy terrain, cloudy and cool, perfect walking weather. I felt at one point like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz w surrounding scenery being so spectacular, a castle up on a hill, and a stretch of golden road before us. Here was also a smell of gingersnap cookies that I couldn't shake and we listened to Coldplay and Florence's new albums. Checked into a fun little Albergue named San Andres around 2pm that has a lovely pool and a bed by the window. Shower, nap, had a beer w some new friends Mark an ex Marine and Texas cop and Miread from Ireland a writer. Had dinner w them at our place, meal was ok but after 2 bottles of wine the conversation was flowing! Talked about movies and politics haha. Bed @ 10.

21 July 2016

Through the lavender fields and into Monjardin, a lovely little village with a vineyard, lush gardens, and a castle at its peak. Stopped into the church to light a candle for Mary and get our stamp. Had a sandwich for lunch (of course!) and bought some fruit at the market, then checked into the Albergue. More like a pension, we have a private room w bunk beds but that didn't stop us from having a happy hour siesta;) The nap was heaven, had a snack then came up to the bar for wifi and a few glasses of the local rosé, and some orange chocolate chip cake before dinner. Salad, veggie stew and baked chicken w aioli and potato salad. And a whole bottle of rosé! Dessert was ice cream and caramel flan. One of best meals we have had so far and also €10, small towns take the cake! Watched a Breaking Bad and crashed, bells throughout the night and a bit hot but slept ok.
Day 8 - Leaving Estella, heading for Monjardin, 9.3km through the hills, pleasantly surprised to find the free wine fountain a few km into the wall. What a better way to start the day of a short walk on a bum knee! Good looking out big guy. Then headed into some amazing mountain views...more to follow...

20 July 2016

Wandering around Estella, checked into the Albergue which was by donation, maybe 30 people in one room, one bathroom to share for girls, kitchen etc. Was quite the experience! Wandered around, sangria at Korner bar, topped up phones, bought fruit, eggs, and bread for next day, Estrella Damm and pintxos by the river, walk back to Alb, called mom and FB chatted w Katrina while waiting for dinner at 7 in the square of sucking pig and chicken skewers while watching the Medieval festival (drummers and a puppet show:), back for prep for next day and bed around 10. Watched a House of Cards S4Ep1! Slept ok but was bloody hot and kept waking up thinking alarm was going to go off!
Day 7 - Hiking from Puente La Reina to Estella (aka Estrella like the beer Estrella Damm) 21.9km

19 July 2016

Day 6 - Pamplona to Puente la Reina was 23.8km straight up and down Alto de Perdon w the Pilgrims monument at the top. A sea of green going up the mountain that could have been sunflowers, we did see a few! Then on the other side a river of rocks to try & navigate down w my knee still acting up. Ham & cheese sandwich for lunch w a pear. Finally getting into PLR and checking into Bidean hostel. Cute little place w a nice terrace, seemed to be the place to be. Met a guy from UK who had done the Camino before who gave us some great advice "If it looks good, eat it! You don't know what to expect in the next town." Also that after finishing the Camino that we would want to start all over again. Had a lemon beer & went up to organize for the trek the next day. Dinner was not amazing, tuna salad was the best part w fatty lamb & beef schnitzel but I guess what do you expect for €10 these days? Then was bedtime. I wasn't feeling so great, lots of meds from the cold & knee, crashed around 8pm.

17 July 2016

Day 5 - Both of us woke up feeling sick and went to the pharmacy to remedy it as well as get our phones set up for Spain. Then We went on a burger hunt but everywhere was closed due to the San Fermin festival week so we had chorizo and tuna salad and then found a cute little place for a burger for dinner. Also went to the church of Santa Maria and lit a candle for Mary and dad, said a prayer, was very emotional but I knew they would be proud of me and will be with me as I do the Camino. Then Oreo helado for dessert and back to pack for our trek the next day!
After getting into Pamplona, we checked into our hotel the Leyre and then hit up the town for some pintxos and lemon beer:) Then went for paella and had some slowberry liquor that's soaked in anise. Met some Italians who were traveling along w us on the Camino, great time. A few rounds of those later and we were on our way!
Day 4 - The walk from Zubiri to Pamplona, another 21km but was much easier w the terrain being more moderate, was a hot one though! Nearly 39 degrees by the time we reached the city! Lovely pit stop along the way at a little coffee shop by the river, apple tarts to die for and a cappucino w a Sammie for the road.

16 July 2016

Day 3 - 6am wake up to leave for Zubiri, 21.9km, didn't think I'd make it so far as my knee was playing up but we did it! Walked around, had a lasagna and then dipped our feet into the local river, felt amazing! Picked up some local pintxos for bfast since nothing else was open on a Sunday. Then had dinner at a local place w good wine, conversation and pork ribs w lemon mousse. Slept fantastic!

15 July 2016

Day 2 - Waking up in Orrisson and walking approx 17km to Roncesvalle. After a long day we arrived having missed out stop along the way, so we treated ourselves to some sangria and churros along w a nice private room. Reminder: pilgrim fish dinners are not deboned and breakfast is just toast and coffee!

14 July 2016

Day 1 of the Camino! From St. Jean to Orrisson refuge about 8km uphill. Cloudy, not too cold but perfect walking weather. Beginning to realize how breathtaking the scenery on this journey will be. Almost feels like Ireland, like home. Uphill is hard to adjust to especially the steep parts w the pack, but no complaints! Make it around 1130, shower, make our beds, do laundry, grab a hot cocoa and begin my journal on the terrace overlooking the mountains. It's cold but exhilarating. Lovely dinner of veggie soup, baked chicken and stew with a marzipan tart and some wine. Not so social since we were pretty tired, bed around 9pm. Symphony of snoring was kind of funny, I took a sleeping pill and used my earplugs, slept ok but poor Aaron didn't, snoring got to him - shocker:)

13 July 2016

First day in St. Jean, arriving from Paris. Great little town w scenic views and a trout meunière for dinner! Camino begins tomorrow! Headed for Orrisson which is only about 8km away but all uphill.

12 July 2016

Last day in Paris, went and shipped our bags for the Camino, had a bagel for lung and bought our train tickets then did some shopping. Around 6pm Sener came to meet us at the hotel for a fun night out, few drinks and laughs, a trip to the Eiffel Tower and walk along the Seine and then hit up his old watering hole the Bombardier by Notre Dame. Lovely last evening!

10 July 2016

First day in Paris just happened to be the Eurocup finals w France playing Portugal. Checked into our hotel, toured the neighborhood and had some drinks along the way before venturing over to St. Michel area to watch the match. Was insane! Unfortunately France lost but we still had a wonderful time.