View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Camino 2018. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Camino 2018. Show all posts

Monday, 21 October 2019

September 2018 Pt 4

Onwards to Portugal’s Douro Valley


It was at the end of 2017 that fellow musician Greta casually mentioned that she’d rented an enormous villa in Portugal for a week at the end of September 2018. She went on to ask me if I’d like to come along. After due consideration (about a nanosecond) I said ‘yes please’…and thus started a chain of very agreeable events.


I’d been wanting to finish walking the Via de La Plata Camino but just hadn’t got around to getting my A.I.G., this was the kick in the pants I needed.


Rob, also a musician (and English ceilidh dance caller of great renown) fancied the walk – and he’d also been invited by Greta to join in the Portuguese fun.


And so it came to pass.

Rob and I completed the Via de La Plata and spent a couple of days exploring Santiago de Compostela, staying at Rita’s wonderful AirBnB – definitely THE place to stay. Rita is a wonderful host….we were to return with The Olde Vic Band Ex-Pats, AKA the Olde Vic Band on Tour, a year later – but that’s another story.


Buskers abound in Santiago, entering the cathedral square we came across these two young ladies* playing Gaita Pipes and Pandereta – expertly and with great spirit. (Rob’s video).

Anyroadup, we dragged ourselves away from Santiago de Compostela and travelled by train and bus to meet Greta & Bill in Puebla de Sanabria, a small town that we’ve visited before. Rob, being the highly organised chap that he is, had arranged a really nice hotel for us for norralot of dosh.

 
A wander down the road to a bar / restaurant where we consumed much food, beer, wine and maybe something even more alcoholic – after which we were cajoled into playing music for a couple of hours. I have to say, we didn’t take THAT much cajoling!


It was a very merry bunch that wobbled it’s way back to their hotel that night.


Next morning we clambered onboard Greta’s bus and headed south-ish to the Douro Valley in Portugal where we were to meet up with Pete & Lynda who had driven down from Stockport to join us for the rest of our jolly.


The rest of the week was spent exploring the lovely Douro Valley, it’s vinyards, bars and restaurants.


Some photos of our musical week:


We came across this street entertainer, he was pleased, and a little surprised, that we joined in playing with him.

Playing steam trains in Porto*



A beautifully ornate church in Porto


The River Douro




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Greta giving it some welly on her sax*

This band just appeared, walking down the street in Porto, playing…like you do.*


Collecting grapes on an industrial scale – to make Port.*




We chanced upon this little cafe bar up a back street in Porto. After our excellent meal we played, much to the delight of the other customers – some of whom joined in.

Rob’s pandereta being rather expertly played

A door for Rob. Rob likes doors.

Annoying the locals


Pinhao Railway station artwork:


Some interesting motorcycles. Well *I* think they’re interesting!

Okay, so that last one isn’t a motorcycle, but I still think it’s interesting.


A couple of Rob’s videos that I can’t get to embed in OpenLiveWriter or Blogger. I’m almost certainly doing something wrong….I usually am.

Playing on the waterfront in Porto *

Seranading a tourist cruiser on the R Douro *


* Rob’s photographs or videos




Sunday, 13 October 2019

September 2018 Pt3

The end of the Camino – sort of.

Before leaving Santiago we decided to do the touristy thing: a day coach trip to Finisterre, or Fisterra, or The End of The Earth.

In Roman times Cape Finisterre was once believed to be the end of the known earth – hence it’s name, meaning the end of the earth.

For Norman (aged 80¼): Cape Finisterre lighthouse

About as close to the End of the Earth as you can get

This is a popular tourist spot – everyone wants to visit the End of the Earth!

The sun was beating down in all it’s gloriousness, drenching the azure sea with it’s rays. The weather just couldn’t have been better.

Rob in posing mode

 


A few more photos from our day trip to the seaside:

The Rio Xallas is the only European river that flows into the sea via a waterfall. This is that waterfall. Cool eh?

Typical Spanish Niche cemetery

The longest Hórreo in the world. Probably.

For Norman (aged 77¼): another lighthouse

Rumbles of disquiet in the ranks

So that was our trip to Spain, it was good – although not tough or challenging….apart from on the very hot days. We finished the Via de La Plate Camino which had been a lot of fun, very interesting, and quite uplifting in a funny, kind of way.

Many who do the Camino routes are pilgrims in the religious sense and they clearly get a lot out of completing the journey. I really is a religious experience for them.

I found many of the churches (when they were unlocked) to be beautiful inside. It wasn’t unusual to find a pilgrim on their knees, praying in one of the open churches on the route.

There are some who travel a Camino because it’s something that’s currently ‘in vogue’. These folks sometimes use baggage courier service to carry their heavy stuff from overnight stop to overnight stop.

We met loads of lovely people, saw some wonderful sights – both natural and man-made, drank loads of fizzy beer (or in Rob’s case, fizzy beer AND wine), and ate some wonderful food.

Like I said, it was good….although I’m undecided as to whether I’ll do another Camino – there a loads!

There are a few reasons for this indecision:

a) The walks aren’t particularly challenging – in fact there’s often significant amounts of tarmac.

b) They’re becoming commercialised – I noticed a significant  increase in the levels of commercialisation from when I started walking in Spain in 2014, to date.

c) Bloody Brexit. If BoJo and his band of followers get there way it’s going to make European travel messy, to say nothing of losing our entitlement to healthcare in Europe.

Also, nothing embarrasses me more, as an Englishman, when I have to explain the folly of ‘the will of the people’ to folks who think we’re quite barmy.

They’re right, of course – but I try hard to point out that I only have half a dozen or so friends who voted ‘Leave’….or at least admit to voting that way, and that our electorate was so blatantly lied to by ….well, I won’t go on, I’ll just get a headache.

Let’s just say there are a lot of gullibles out there….although there are some (two friends in particular) who have a perfectly valid reasons for wanting to leave – and that is absolutely fine. 

Anyway…

Then we went to Portugal, but that’s in the next posting.






























Thursday, 10 October 2019

September 2018 Pt2


Via de la Plata continued:

We spent the previous night in Silleda, in a hostal – a hotel type of place. It was wonderful, if you ignored the bed bugs.

Rob had the foresight to use his Permethryn-treated sleeping bag liner. Being a smart-arse, I didn’t use mine….and paid the price.

Oh well.

View from the kitchen bacony

The kitchen had quite a nice cast iron cooking range, redundant now, but retained as a feature I think.


Wandering off for breakfast I spotted:

A Galician Knocker

After getting over the shock of seeing such a big knocker we found ourselves in a nice little eatery where we feasted on coffee and egg & bacon barm cakes…although Galicians call them something else.


As we chomped our way through our breakfast barms we were disturbed by the sounds of fireworks going off, and then a marching band – it was yet another fiesta, celebrating somethong ot other.

Spaniards need little excuse to celebrate – anything!

Later in the day we came across two Russian (?) peregrinos (or should that be peregrinas?) who were cycling the same Camino.

It was another hot day, I recall that we didn’t push ourselves too hard.

Anyroadup, a few more photographs of the next couple of days:

We ordered beers which arrived…along with a lovely snack


A nice modern albergue





Always open, we arrived to find it closed.

A shrine in the woods

Another one for Alan R



A light snackette for Rob

Habitaciones para peregrinos may well have been desde 10€ – but for us in was casi 60€. So we didn’t.

Artist at work

Entering Santiago de Compostela

First view of the cathedral


Another one for Alan R



As we closed in on Santiago we passed a music shop selling traditional instruments from the region.

Well, we didn’t pass it really…

At 1100€ I was seriously tempted….but resisted

Rob splashed the cash on this Pandereta – it sounds brilliant!

Then there was the very long queue, and even longer wait, to receive our Compostelas – recognition that we’d walked a very long way.

Here you go…714km for this.


Oh look, more food. And beer. Tsk.

Later, whilst wandering around downtown Santiago we came across this lot, playing in celebration of a very local fiesta:

They were a bit good.

Somehow, and I *really* don’t know how, you’ll have to ask Rob, I ended up in a bar with this lovely bunch. I may have had a beer. Possibly more than one.

The rest of the afternoon was a bit of a blur.

Most odd. 

The cathedral

Classic cars in the cathedral square




Two excellent musicians, one on Gaita Pipes, t’other on Pandereta – think tambourine….but turbocharged. These ladies were busking under an archway, the entrance to the very grand cathedral square.


After all the excitement of El Camino it was time to move on. The next bit of this expedition involved exploring the Douro Valley in Portugal, playing loads of music, drinking tea (and other beverages), and generally enjoying ourselves…..that’s going to be in Pt3.





Wednesday, 9 October 2019

September 2018 Pt1

Via de la Plata from Ourense to The End
We left Ourense in the not-very-early(ish) morning, the day was forecast to be very hot so we wanted to get a move on.

Ourense is known for it’s knockers
We breakfasted on coffee and a bocadillo each at a roadside cafe, after which we followed footpaths and very quiet country lanes for a good few miles. And even more kilometers.
A tired hórreo
No idea
To Cea….and a most magnificent lunch:
 …at a very odd but very welcoming eatery that not only served excellent food, but also Scalextric sets, and quite a lot of other stuff that you’d not expect to see in a restaurant!
Leaving the restaurant behind was something of a struggle, we more than full which made for even slower walking.
We were now heading to our bed for the night at the Cistercian monastary at Oseira.
The monastary was very large and very old, it dates back to the 12th Century. Sadly it only housed 11 monks – I wonder how long it can continue with such low numbers. In days gone by I expect it would have been home to 100+.
On approach to the monastary

The monastary albergue:



Our digs for the night – it would easily sleep 60+
The dorm had showers and a washing machine. It felt damp and was unheated – it wouldn’t have been much fun in the winter. In busy periods it wouldn’t have been particularly restful, every burp and fart echoed around the cavernous hall.
We attended Vespers in the evening – a quiet affair with maybe 20 – 25 in attendance.
A few more photographs of the monastary:


Rob leaving the monastary and looking for breakfast
There was nowhere near for breakfast next morning, so we were away for around 7am and so began a search for food….and coffee.
Anyway, enough of this drivel, here’s some photos from this next section of our walk into Santiago de Compostela:

For Alan R:
Our bedroom in the albergue that night:




More to follow in Pt2


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