A Travellerspoint blog

Day 8 Granon – Villafranca Mtes. de Oca 27km

Today I saw butterflies the same colour as the sky. I saw a beetle that looked like the black-queen from a chess set, with a little bobble on it's head and flaming red stripes on it's torso. I heard a cuckoo for the first time ever and thought I was imagining it. A flock of cyclists rode past me chatting to each other in Spanish and sounding like parrots. I can't believe it's day 8! I have made it through my first week of Camino.

There are a surprisingly large number of Koreans walking along. They are always friendly and usually really odd. They have multi-coloured backpacks and things they just don't need – like floor length blue raincoats and purple camping seats. But all their added extras fit into teeny-tiny backpacks that weigh next to nothing. The Italians I have been walking with have nicknamed them tamagotchis.

So, I have avoided blisters for the last 8 days but now I have a killer. It's a huge double-storey blister on the ball of my foot. Everyone I talk to has a different remedy and I'm pleasantly surprised at the number of guys who rush to help me tend to it. I want to just ignore it but instead I pierce it and then lie in bed, an invalid, writing this blog update and hoping it will be gone in the morning. I can say blister in at least three languages now; blaze in German, ampolle in Spanish and empoule in French.

Posted by CharliePepper 09:27 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

Day 7 Najera – Granon 27km

Walking today is great. I can't believe how lucky I've been to have no terrible blisters, no back pain, leg pain, or anything! It's even difficult to stop walking sometimes. It sounds ridiculous, but you get into a rhythm and you think 'yes, OK, I'm fine with this I can just keep going and never stop.' But then, when you finally do stop and your muscles cool down it can be a bit painful!

I have now been told by three different Germans along the way to avoid eating salads. Ten people have died in Germany from eating Spanish cucumbers and when they talk about it it's in grave worried whispers. I think it's kind of exciting hearing the mystery unfold – as the little morsels of gossip appear on the Camino days after their publication in newspapers. I'm not about to stop eating salads, or cucumbers.

Today I have stopped in Granon, where there is the most fantastic little albergue in the church tower. We sleep on bedrolls spread out on the floor, there are no pillows and a fantastic friendly atmosphere. There is no charge at the albergue here, and breakfast and dinner are included – they only ask for a donation. Albergues like this one are called donativo albergues and they have the best atmosphere of any on the Camino. The sign above the donation basket says “Give what you can, or take what you need.” The church is beautiful, tiny windows let light in through the a-frame roof and a cosy living space is full of pellegrinos who mill about making coffee and fruit tea, writing journals, talking and exchanging foot massages.

Posted by CharliePepper 09:25 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

Day 6 Logrono – Najera 29km

Today I met a quirky group of Irish people who have heated dinner conversations about whether they should be forced to learn Irish in schools or not. I am adopted by one of them (who already has five or six Camino daughters) and I sit at the table and try to understand their accents. They drink a lot, and ask they drink they become more and more difficult to understand. I learn a little bit of Irish; oiche mhath agat is goodnight, slàn is goodbye and sláinte is cheers – not super useful when you're trying to learn Spanish but practical for flirting with cute Irish boys.

Leaving Logrono is really nice, a huge park stretches out around the city with lakes full of fat fish and red squirrels jumping in and out of trees. There are so many greens here, but – I am assured – not as many as in Ireland. I leave the parkland and head into fields of unkempt grasses where little red poppies balloon up like early morning kisses.

There are so many strange coincidences and signs that you hear about while doing the Camino. It's strange but wonderful at the same time. So many people that meet here meet again in following years. There are loads of couples doing the Camino that met here years before, and a few days ago there was a wedding in a town here between two pilgrims. They met here four years ago, and then decided to get married here – they hiked all day to the church, the bride put a veil on, walked down the aisle and got married! Their family flew in and met them at the church, and passing pilgrims were welcome to join the ceremony.

I get to Najera and the showers are cold. All the girls have decided that yelling makes the water temperature more bearable so lots of shrieking can be heard from the bathrooms while we grit our teeth and wash as quickly as possible.

There is a crazy Italian guy here who speaks five languages and mixes them together like paella. He makes friends with everyone along the way and particularly likes one German girl. He is sitting with her and bets her that he can kiss her without touching her. She says “no way, it's not possible.”
“Yes, it is” he says “I'll bet you a beer I can kiss you without touching you.”
She agrees to the bet. So, he kisses her, touches her, and buys her a beer. “Works every time” he says.

Posted by CharliePepper 09:23 Comments (0)

Day 5 Los Arcos – Logrono 28km

Apparently bathing your feet in salt and vinegar is good for them. One girl in Los Arcos was giving this a go and I asked her why, “you know” she said “like acidic a salad.” which confused me even more. The girl finishes her foot bath and takes photos of her sunburnt blistered feet, “for Facebook” she explains to me.

I head out for Logrono and the air is thick like thunderstorm soup. The hostel in Los Arcos was huge, and full of pellegrinos. I would recommend staying in smaller towns whenever possible, big cities can be really impersonal.

As I'm walking along today I talk to lots of people about anything you can imagine, from Berlusconi and nuclear power in Italy, to the current identity of South Africa as a country. People really talk and think about things that matter to them, things that occupy their worries or their hopes. A lot of people ask me what I've learnt so far on the Camino, “about yourself about the world...” This is such a popular question but I just don't know! No lo sé. I guess I'm realising a lot of things about myself that aren't articulated in my head with any kind of language. It's about walking and being and realisations that by definition can't be shared with other people because they are non-lingual.

The top three ice-breaker questions are “where did you start your Camino?” “are you walking to Santiago?” and “how far do you walk every day?” These get a bit tiresome after a while, and some people just like to boast about how far they go, like high school students with test scores. One thing I've learnt is that a Camino can be any distance, it can be three days, a week, two months, and maybe only five kilometres a day. It's all about a personal journey! :P

Posted by CharliePepper 09:21 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

Day 4 Villatuerta – Los Arcos 25km

Ah, walking the Camino with a hangover. This is tough. I don't get out of bed until 7.30, which is late by Camino standards, and we leave at 8. The biker boys leave later than us and wave as they pass at 9.30, they'll be waiting “at Burgos Irache with hot chocolate, tea and songs” they say, and we arrive half an hour later to hear Jack Johnson spilling over the hill and the Trangier bubbling. Burgos Irache is a famous fountain that flows water as well as wine. It's pretty amazing, with a huge sign saying it's illegal to drink alcohol if you're under 18. But then, today is Sunday, and it's turned off on a Sunday... Argh! And be warned, don't get here too early in the morning, (like before 10am) because the fountain will be off then too.

We continue on to Los Arcos, and my German friend Julia, who has become worried by my strange inquisitive nature, makes up some rules for my safety on the Camino:

“Do not eating unknown fruits”
“Do not touching unknown caterpillars”
“Do not parking on the Camino”
“Do not yelling in the tunnel”

I'm spending so much time with foreigners that I've started speaking English as a foreign language. Some of my favourite new expressions are:

“I will stand up at 6.30”
“We will see us again.”
“I will take the shorty route.”
“Can you make me a photo?”

Finally I arrive in Los Arcos. Julia stopped along the way due to knee problems and the bikers have sped off into the distance. There's a fantastic foot massage at the albergue here which is a shallow well fitted with marbles that you stand on and swirl your feet around in. Kind of like buffing your feet, fantastic! The marbles are warm from the sun and... smell a bit like other people's feet, but it's nice all the same.

Posted by CharliePepper 09:19 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port Comments (0)

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