Day 25: Arzua to Monte de Goza

We got off to an early start, and covered quite a few miles before breakfast. Our major goal today is to cover some 40km (24+ miles) in order to arrive in Monte de Gozo (Mountain of Joy) by tonight. This will put us some 5km from Santiago at our ending stop tonight and allow us to walk leisurely downhill on Sunday morining for noontime Pilgrims’ Mass at the Cathedral. 

Step aside, Waffle House, this girl’s got breakie going on! We ordered eggs, bacon, ham, toast, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. All that on the griddle – yeah, that’s for us two! Oh, and you ask about price? 9€ total. Yeah, Spain rocks!

  Not sure if we’ve posted about these yet, but they are all over Galicia. This is basically a corn-drying hut that is raised above the ground to prevent rats from eating the stores and narrow slats to prevent birds from doing the same. They can be constructed of wood, brick, or stone, but all serve the same purpose and are everywhere in Galicia. 

Wisteria is now in bloom all over the northwest of Spain. It’s funny how, just a month ago, we were trudging through a snowstorm and are now almost sickened by the sweetness of flowers in bloom. 

According to our guidebook, we were supposed to stop in the town of  Pedrouzo. Instead, we trudged on through the mist and rain, opting for a forest route over that of the tempting town.  
This eucalyptus forest was really amazing. Frank called it an “enchanted forest” while Mikey had “Into the Woods” songs stuck in his head for way too long. 

Awesome marker, right? Yeah, we encountered this about 200m from the airport in a downpour. Santiago is close, but will we make it?!

At long last, we arrived in Monte de Gozo (Mountain of Joy).  From here – on a clear day – one can see the towers of the cathedral in Santiago. No such luck. Instead, we put on our rain suits and headed out for dinner. 

This was the main course. We began with a chicken noodle soup and then shared this platter: roasted pork leg with potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic. Wine for Mikey, a Coke for Frank, amd two lattes later, we were set back by 16€. (For our slower readers, Mikey IS MOVING TO SPAIN!!) Perhaps a joke now, but the prices are such that we have been able to indulge without any worries. It’s actually laughable how inexpensive some meals are.

Well, we sleep now on full stomachs. Tomorrow is another day. ¡Hasta Santiago!


Day 24: Portomarin to Arzua

Days can begin so gently and end with such vengeance. Today was that kind nd of day. We leisurely crossed a small bridge leading out of the city and began our nature hike. Sure, we had the giant crowd following from Sarria, but the air was fresh and our feet were light. Oh, well…

As you have probably noticed, many of our posted pictures prominently feature the Camino pathways. Well, that’s what we see all day, so go figure! Today’s path began with emerald green highlighted by a slight mist. The ancient rock wall was an added bonus. We were quite amazed by the longevity of this simple stone barrier.  

 By 9am, we were floating! Frank agreed to stop for all of 5 seconds while Mikey framed this shot of him on yet another bridge.   

The markers are definitely creative sometimes. This is a Camino arrow made of painted scallop shells. 

And then … in the “mist” of it all … the Lord provided mana. 

Pulpo!!! Yep, that’s boiled octopus sliced and garnished with olive oil and paprika. We stopped by a roadside “pulperia” (or octopus stand) and had some for breakfast! Step aside, Wheaties, you’ve met your match!!

“Stopped in to a church I passed along the way. Well I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray.You know the preacher liked the cold; He knows I’m gonna stay. California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.”

Sorry, but this sign just really spoke to Mikey. Yes, at times “we ALL octopus!” Solidarite. 

A small break in the rain allowed us to continue on past our suggested stop in Ribadiso and continue some 5km further to the larger town of Arzua.  

  As you can see from the signpost as we entered Arzua, Santiago is SO close! We are really getting ready for it. Yes, our feet hurt, we are tired, but to see the “Emerald City” of our Camino is now a reality. 

Ok, so Mikey REALLY has a thing for pulpo – seriously. If there was a 12 step, he’d be the founding member. Needless to say, he made Frank stay at a private albergue in Arzua that was across the street from a pulperia. 

As it was raining horribly, Frank consented to have octopus once again tonight. We also did laundry and booked hotels for our stay after Santiago. Better sign off now. Buenos pulpos. 

Day 14: Reliegos to Leon

Frank and Mikey woke early to begin the 25km march to Leon. The morning began with a beautiful sunrise before totally drenching us later in the day. Oh, well. Due to weather, Mikey was conservative with the camera. Still, we have a rest day in Leon, so maybe a few more pictures next time. 

The morning sky leaving Reliegos. 

 Frank in front of the city walls in Mansilla de las Mulas.  

For whatever reason, this emergency call box sign REALLY disturbed Mikey.  

Impromptu markers like this are common on the Camino. Either someone died or retired their boots here some time ago. Frank and Mikey kept going. 

  We kept going, that is, until reaching a footbridge with most detailed instructions for passage. Frank’s still not sure if we executed our crossing correctly and Mikey has since vowed to swim across rivers when at all possible. 

A little confused, we stopped halfway across to snap a picture of our efforts. 

 After miles of rainy weather, we were happy to see this overwhelmed bridge at the entrance to Leon.  
We dried out a bit before going to the cathedral square for a late night dinner and a few pictures. The cathedral was closed for Saint George’s Day, but we will tour it tomorrow and will have some shots from the interior. G’ nite!

Day 12: Burgos to Sahagun

After resting in Burgos, it was good to get back on the open road. Still, as you can see, the weather has not been very cooperative. Frank and Mikey spent the day alternating between jackets and short sleeves.

Uncertain skies lay ahead.

These hobbit-looking dugouts were pretty awesome. We happened upon the hamlet of Moratino where these “bodegas” have been used to store wines, cheeses, and dry goods for over 2000 years! We ate lunch in one of the larger ones.

Frank taking a well-deserved break.

Just before the town of Sahagun, we saw the ruins of the 12th century Hermitage of the Virgin and a pretty cool bridge.

Looks like we made it! Sahagun is a medieval town that was once closely related to the Knights Templar.

 This 12th century church (Iglesia de San Lorenzo) would have had much templar influence.

Just hanging out with the Jesus of Nazareth Fraternity brothers. (Kinda creepy.)

But, Sahagun is a magical town where you can even find jelly beans in your bar nuts!

Frank and Mikey worked up an appetite walking around the ruins of the San Facundo Monastery.

The town gate (Arco de San Benito) was pretty impressive too.

That’s about it for Sahagun. Weather permitting, we’ll be hard-charging tomorrow and will hopefully cover some 30km+. With this pace, we plan to spend the weekend in Leon before our final two week push to Santiago! Hasta pronto.

Day 11: Belorado to Burgos

Today was Frank and Mikey’s longest journey. However, it was not entirely by foot. Weather, healing feet, and time constraints led us to skip ahead 1 day via bus. So here’s what happened:
We started early this morning and were making good time. We walked through several villages and even stopped for a decent breakie. 

Random church in the village of Tosantos – a town without a cafe! (Sorry, but we REALLY like our morning coffee breaks!)

 Finally found breakfast in the next town. Fried eggs with chorizo – yum!

  Hello, proto-uber!! Yeah, Mikey REALLY wanted to hire that ass to take him along the trail, but Frank said no. 

 The longer we walked, the more the fog set in and walking became especially dangerous. While the Camino is marked, low visibility makes some mountain pathways and roads quite perilous. 
Mikey checking out the ruins of the 9th century monastery of San Felix de Orca during a break in the rain. 

After a meeting of the minds over a coffee, we decided to catch a bus into Burgos. The rain had set in and our path today would have taken us some 8 miles over a mountaintop with zero visability. No bueno! 

 We entered the city via the Santa Maria Gate. Mikey said it was like Disneyland … only real!

 Frank (looking especially tan) posing in front of the Catedral de Santa Maria. 
Shall we say another “meeting of the minds?!”
So we are staying an extra day in Burgos as one of our planned rest days. Check back for more pictures of the cathedral and inappropriate poses with statues! Adios.