Day 4: Fromista to Carrion del Contes

Our walking notes warned us that this 20K section would be a straight shot along a highway, through vast fields of cut hay and dying sunflowers. Actually, the notes only mentioned the distance, the highway and “crops.” We would pass through three tiny villages called Campos de [Spanish word], and that would pretty much be the only break from crops and crops and highway.

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Days 2 and 3: Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz AND Castrojeriz to Fromista

I made a decision today, Sept. 12, 2019, aka Day 3 on the Camino. It was our longest day so far (big deal, we’ve been walking three days): 25km [15 miles]. We didn’t get to our lodging until 5:30 p.m. and I was frustrated because I had looked forward to having some down time between shower and dinner to write. Specifically, to write this blog. I was already a day behind, and I really wanted to post every day.

Wait just a dang minute. Sounds like stress to me. Felt like stress to me. Layer that on top of aching limbs, flaming feet, a drippy, sweaty face and still several miles to go before I’d see a rooftop, let alone the reception desk of our lodging—that’s when I made my decision.

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Day 1: Burgos to Hornillos del Camino (And Happy Birthday to ME!)

Starting our Camino on my birthday, Sept. 10, 2019 was special, but purely accidental. When Donna and I planned the trip we looked at our calendars and worked backwards more than forwards. I remember saying at one point, “Oh, cool. Our first day of walking will be my birthday.” ‘Nuf said about that.

And then, this morning, we made our way to the breakfast buffet at our hotel in Burgos, gathered our favorite source of caffeine and food stuffs, then sat down at a table in the hotel’s dining room.

Plop.

Donna puts a stack of envelopes and folded papers next to my plate. Birthday cards. I gulp, choke and almost sob an itty bit. This took advance planning and a decent amount of schlepping on Donna’s part.

Cards, artwork and best wishes from my family far across the sea made the start of my Camino—and birthday—the best ever.

You see, my mother spoiled me when it comes to birthdays. From as early as I can remember, the first words I would hear on my birthday were from her lips, “Happy Birthday!” She might have been waking me for school (in fourth grade my birthday was actually on the first day of school) or I could have been walking into the kitchen in search of a cup of tea on my way out the door to Cal State Long Beach.

This year, my 64th trip around the sun, this birthday is an exciting way to begin a new adventure in oh, so many ways.

We Begin

Each day, or at least each day last time on the Portuguese Camino, Donna and I would take a morning selfie. Today, we handed the camera to the receptionist at the hotel.

Ready to walk out the door, ready for projected rain, and yes, we bought the same raincoats.

Yesterday we found the Camino markers in the road outside our hotel and decided to take before and first day photos.

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It’s a Miracle. Already?

We were ahead of schedule. Alarm at 6 a.m. Check. Throw on the clothes we laid out the night before, call the bellman to bring down the luggage. Check. He arrived at 6:30 a.m. and asked if we needed a taxi. Yes, please. 

We checked out 6:40 a.m. and were in the cab with time to spare for the 8 a.m. train departing Madrid’s Chamartin station.

At 7:10 a.m. we hop out of the cab, open the hatch, and I gasp. “Donde esta nuestra equipaje?” [Where is our luggage?] 

“What luggage?” he said in Spanish. “Solo a mano.” [Only by hand, referring to our large purses.]

I managed to explain in Spanish that we needed to return to the hotel for our luggage, and did he think we would still have time to return and catch the 8 a.m. train. This was not the context in which I wanted to practice my Spanish, but I was grateful for every Pimsler lesson I listened to at that moment. 

“Iffy, iffy,” he said in English.

Rapido, rapido I said in Spanish. 

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Night and Day in Madrid

We landed in Madrid Saturday night, dropped our luggage off at the hotel and started walking through City Centre. We were on a mission for tapas and sangria.

San Miguel Market is the place to be on Saturday night. Iberian ham, seafood, sangria, cervezas, chocolate, fresh fruit and pimientos Padron (aka shishito peppers) are just the beginning.

The San Miguel Market, located behind Plaza Mayor, was the perfect spot. Something for everyone, including Padron peppers, which Donna and I discovered in Galicia on our previous Camino via the Portuguese coastal route.

Yummy, yummy, happy tummy with sangria and padron peppers. Mission accomplished.
One full day is not enough

Sunday morning we wanted to cover as much of the city as possible, given we only had this one full day to do so. (We leave Monday, Sept. 9 for Burgos at 8 a.m. via train.)

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Camino de Santiago, Here We Come Again, From a Different Angle

In May of 2017, my friend Donna Halker and I walked about 180 miles of the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal Route. We had planned on walking the Camino Francigena from Luca to Rome, Italy, in 2018, but my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, chemo and reconstruction surgeries got in the way. As in no way.

CaminoWays.com was understanding and generous. They applied our deposit to a 2019 trip, which we decided would be the “real” Camino, aka The French Way. Except for the Pyrenees. We’re going to skip that part and start our 300-mile trek across Northern Spain in Burgos, aka the beginning of the Meseta. I know. A lot of people hate the Meseta for a boatload of reasons that include it’s hot, boring and flat. I’ve heard that some Pilgrims actually bike the section between Burgos and Leon.

Nope. Not Donna and I. Meseta means plateau in Spanish, and we think that’s a peachy way to kick off 22 days of walking. We’ll each be carrying a daypack that weighs about 10 pounds or so, or at least they did in “rehearsal.” Daypack is the operative word in the preceding sentence. Camino Ways has made arrangements to move a suitcase from lodging to lodging. They also have made room reservations for us each and every night.

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