Santiago de Compostela: The Food & Beverage Edition

Yep, you guessed it - this is a whole post dedicated to food and drink found at the end of the Way. Regardless of which path a pilgrim takes, he ends up here and gets to try some amazing dishes. Part reward and part exploration of Spanish and Galician gastronomy, Santiago is a food and …

Camino Day 39: Ponte Ulla to Santiago de Compostela

Since we scored a private room for our last night on the Camino, there was no rustling of backpacks to wake us up early. Ergo, we slept until a little after 7 am and finally made our way down for coffee a shortly after 8. Today's walk to Santiago was a mere 21km, so we …

Camino Day 35: Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense

Maybe it was the clean laundry or, perhaps, the early bedtime, but we slept soundly last night and were eager to get on the road. After all, there's a private room with cotton towels waiting just 25km away. (Look, just try wearing all synthetic clothing and sleeping in a different bed every night for two …

Camino Day 30: Asturianos to Puebla de Sanabria

Last night was a nightmare. As in, we bunked near the absolute worst snorer Mikey has ever experienced - and this isn't his first time at the proverbial rodeo. From the rapid-fire gasping for breath to the sound of respiratory drowning and explosive bronchial thunder, we can only surmise that the offender is a very …

Camino Day 29: Rionegro del Puente to Asturianos

We slept a little late today since the cafe didn't open until 8 am and Mikey really needed coffee today. Many Camino towns have various displays of pilgrim-related art. A lot of it is by local artists and approved by local councils. Most of it is pretty bad. The weather also appeared to be really …

Camino Day 28: Tábara to Rionegro del Puente

With the exception of two loud pilgrims who were stomping around at 5:30 am, We were the first to leave the albergue just after having coffee at 7 am. Let's face it - we can get an early start while still maintaining civility. The sunrise was very beautiful this morning and it looked as though …

Camino Day 25: Villanueva de Campeán to Zamora

The albergue emptied out rather quickly this morning as all were excited about the short hike (18km/11 miles) into the walled city of Zamora. It's funny how distances like these become negligible when one averages between 30 and 40km each day. But, as expected, there are always those who do more and those who do …

Camino Day 24: Calzada de Valdunciel to Villanueva de Campeán

Stereotypes be damned, our German bunk mates were not very punctual this morning. So, as usual, Mikey counted it as a win since he was not the last to set out this morning. This was the creek over which we crossed this morning. As it was just 7:30 am, we caught a beautiful sunrise that …

Camino Day 23: Salamanca to Calzada de Valdunciel

As we've mentioned before, one of the hardest parts of staying in a private room at a hotel is leaving it behind. So, instead of waking early to beat the AM bathroom rush, we hit snooze and relaxed knowing that there was no competition for sinks or whatnot this morning. Yes, we packed most of …

Camino Day 21: Fuenterroble de Salvatierra to Morille

We had the option today of taking one of two paths. Practically equal in distance, one led through two towns to our destination while the other climbed up a mountain and had no stops en route to refill on water or food. Given our double day yesterday (and still sore feet), we decided to opt …

Camino Day 20: Aldeanueva del Camino to Fuenterroble de Salvatierra

As we mentioned before, today was to be a "marathon day." By this, we mean exceeding the 42 kilometers that comprise a normal marathon race. Why do this? Well, Mikey got a really good rate on a hotel for our scheduled rest days in Salamanca but forgot to check its cancellation policy prior to booking. …

Camino Day 19: Oliva de Plasencia to Aldeanueva de Camino

What a wonderful night of sleep we had! The beds were so comfortable and Mikey barely noticed anyone else in the room. As a very diplomatic pilgrim put it, "Oh, Mikey, you're a very light snorer." Hmmm... On our exit, we encountered still more crocheted decorations about the town. Let's just say A for effort …

Camino Day 18: Galisteo to Oliva de Plasencia

We left the walled city of Galisteo in an early morning fog. While not unusual to experience morning fog in these parts, the river crossing and dramatic views of the city played well with it. This is a view from a medieval bridge that spans across the river. Looking back on the city was almost …

Camino Day 16: Casar de Cáceres to Cañaveral

Wow, these pilgrims were on the move this morning! We woke just before 7 am and were the last to leave by 7:30! Although not too proud of our slumber, on a positive note, we noticed this metal sign while turning out the lights in the albergue: Rough translation: "Go, Pilgrim. Go to Santiago. Give …

Camino Day 15: Aldea de Canto to Casar de Cáceres

Maybe we mentioned this before, but Mikey is one of the youngest pilgrims by far on this particular Camino. Now, to be fair, 1) it is prior to Summer break, so most students are still finishing coursework; 2) the Via de la Plata is the longest Camino in Spain, so most young employed persons would …

Camino Day 12: Villafranca de los Barros to Mérida

Thankful for a good night's sleep, we got up at 5:15 am and took a long, hot shower. Now, if you've never done the Camino de Santiago before, this probably doesn't seem like a big deal. However, since pilgrims carry all their gear in a backpack, absolutely no one showers in the morning - otherwise, …

Camino Day 11: Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros

Zafra turned out to be quite a nice town. Our "discovery" of a castle and the eccentric owner of that restaurant made for a fun time. The nuns (even though Mikey has a morbid, albeit totally unsubstantiated, fear of such orders) had offered a very relaxing experience and the hospitalero even shook Mikey's hand and …

Camino Day 10: Fuente de Cantos to Zafra

It rained the entire evening yesterday and all last night, so we cautiously left the convent and decided to go back to the church for a better picture of the tower before heading off into the open countryside. After snapping this image of the bell tower, we walked to a nearby cafe and sat outside …

Camino Day 9: Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos

Last night was a little bizarre. We stayed in an albergue (as usual) but were alone in a dorm room that could house 18 pilgrims! Apparently, no one else showed up and it just worked out that way - but, we did catch Mikey sniffing himself a few times just to make sure. After such …

Camino Day 8: Almadén de la Plata to Monesterio

As Mikey's bed was located right next to the open kitchen, when a grumpy Italian man started rutting about making his breakfast at 6 am, there was little use in many protestations. However, the final straw was when he turned on the kitchen lights at 6:10 - clearly breaking the 10 pm to 7 am …

Camino Day 7: Castil Blanco de los Arroyos to Almadén de la Plata

Luckily, Mikey asked for and paid the check when ordering the final course at dinner last night. We downed the coffee and quickly hobbled across the street to the Albergue. Our French friend was waiting to close the gates behind us. Hearing the gates lock behind us as we climbed the stairs, Mikey started humming …

Camino Day 6: Guillena to Castil Blanco de los Arroyos

The first night in an albergue is always interesting. One identifies the snorers (and vows to avoid them for the rest of the trip), figures out group dynamics insofar as leaders/followers go, and (through trial and much error) decides with whom one should converse and whom to avoid. Personally, we met a Dutch father and …

Camino Day 4: Las Cabezas de San Juan to Utrera (and Beyond!)

Perhaps we’ve said it before, but what a difference a day makes! We woke up this morning to clear skies and great weather in which to walk. Still, Mikey wanted to enjoy our luxury apartment digs for a little while longer - well, that and his shoes were still rather wet. We finally left Las …

Camino Day 3: El Cuervo to Las Cabezas de San Juan

It seemed like this storm front would be sticking with us for a bit, so Mikey was in no hurry to leave at first light. Instead, a leisurely mid-morning coffee and fresh juice finally urged us on from the hotel/restaurant where the gusts of wind almost literally flung Mikey flailing in his poncho into the …

Camino Day 2: Jerez de la Frontera to El Cuervo

The torrential rain actually woke us up at 6 am this morning as Mikey had left the window open overnight. Looking out, we decided to sleep a bit more in hopes of waiting it out. It’s one thing to encounter rain while hiking (and we have gear for this), but beginning one’s day in a …

Camino Day 1: Cadiz to Jerez de Frontera

Today we said goodbye to Cadiz and officially began the Camino. Although hoping for an earlier departure, the rain that began last night continued until almost 9 am this morning. Once it cleared, Mikey wanted to get a few last pictures of the city. Above is the Plaza of St. John of God with City …

¡Bienvenidos a España!

Greetings from Madrid - once again! Although the flight was slightly more jovial than last year’s return from Madrid (insert a rowdy Spanish youth soccer team in place of a cabin full of slumbering Mormon missionaries), we arrived this morning to a most drizzly Saturdy in the capital. As such, there exist fewer outdoor pictures …

Coda: The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela 

Since it took a little over a month to get here, Mikey decided to devote a full day to the Cathedral of Saint James.   The most famous facade is known as the Puerta de Gloria. Although the Baroque exterior which is being renovated was a later cosmetic addition, the church was built in the …

Coda: A Little Trip to La Coruña

Housekeeping note: Last year, Mikey used the word "fin" to preface all posts following his and Frank's arrival in Santiago. It was intended to reference the Spanish/Latin word for end. T.S. Eliot aside ("...to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from"), there is still more to come. …

Camino Day 28: Sobrado dos Monxes to Arzua 

We bade farewell to the monastery today and headed to the penultimate stop Mikey and Frank made on their pilgrimage last year - Arzua.        Although this monastery is only part of the Northern Camino, we would quickly arrive in Arzua where the our route joins up with the French and Primitive Caminos. The …

Camino Day 27: Miraz to Sobrado dos Monxes

Mikey awoke well rested and ready for the last real uphill part of the Camino. While it would be much less dramatic than previous climbs, today features the highest physical point of the Camino del Norte and a whole lot of wilderness.        The part Mikey was not expecting was how close we …

Camino Day 23: Lourenzá to Abadin

The guidebook said that today would be hard. The guidebook said that today would be long and uphill. The guidebook said nothing about what to do when the achillies  region of Mikey's left foot was so blistered that he would have to make one of the steepest and longest ascents of the Camino in flip-flops. …

Camino Day 17: La Isla to Villaviciosa 

There is really nothing like going to sleep in a thunderstorm. The even pattering of the rain on the roof and the rolling thunder rumbling in the distance are things Mikey has grown to miss since moving out west.   When this is repeated the next morning, however, it is not as enjoyable. You see, …

Camino Day 16: Ribadesella to La Isla

Just a few observations before we get started: 1) La Isla isn't an island. 2) Mikey almost skipped the walk today. 3) Rain blows - especially when it's blowing. 4) Considering said rain, we don't have a lot of pictures of today.   Remember how we opened the windows last night to hear the rain? …

Camino Day 15: Llanes to Ribadesella

Today was pretty long, but the sights were stunning as usual. Upon leaving Llanes, Mikey noticed that he had not refilled the water bottles - oops. Finding no fountains along the way he really felt like he was up (*something*) Creek.   Nope, it was just Poo! Yeah, that's right, there's a town called Poo. …

Camino Day 13: Comillas to Colombres

Today we said goodbye to the province of Cantabria and began our trek through Asturias. Although the walk was an easy-going 20 miles, Mikey wanted to have the included breakfast at his hotel. As it didn't start until 9am, we left a little later than expected.   Aside from being "carb-o-licious," it was just cute! …

Camino Day 12: Santillana del Mar to Comillas 

Today's hike was all pavement. While that was a bit tough on the feet, the views coming out of Santillana were rather stunning. Also, It rained a bit last night and so the day was overcast and cool. After yesterday's 90+ average, 68*F was so welcomed!   These Cantabrians really take pride in dressing up …

Camino Day 11: Santander to Santillana del Mar

Today was definitely hard leaving Santander. After hitting snooze way too many times and crawling back under the covers, Mikey put it best by likening getting up with skydiving. I mean, why would you jump out of a perfectly good plane?! Well, the first step is the hardest. Early on, we crossed a bridge that …

Camino Day 10: Guemes to Santander

After a peaceful night's rest at Father Ernesto's, Mikey enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of coffee, local fruit from the estate, and fresh-baked bread with homemade jams (also from fruit grown on the property.) We reluctantly bid adiós to the British couple and headed off for an easy day of coastal hiking.   Yep, this was …

Camino Day 9: Laredo to Guemes

Today began a bit later as the first ferry to Santoña departed at 9am. Ergo, Mikey had a leisurely breakfast of coffee and stale bread courtesy of out nuns of perpetual prohibition of pleasure. I mean, for 10€, couldn't they have sprung for juice or doughnuts?! Just sayin...   Anyways, we had a 5km walk …

Camino Day 5: Markina-Xemein to Gernika

Today began much better than the previous. After coffee with a couple of new-found Irish friends, Mikey headed out of town for a brief walk alongside the highway.   From the very start, the path was well marked and (most importantly) dry!   Still, Mikey stopped to empty and then refill his water bottles with …

Camino Day 4: Deba to Markina-Xemein

According to the Eroski "Northern Camino Guide" (Eroski is like a Basque Super Target), today's trek is one of if not the hardest of the entire Northern Camino. As the blisters and calluses have begun, Mikey took an afternoon nap after the beach yesterday and got up extra early this morning.   Oh, and that …