It’s a long 30 kilometres to our night’s destination, Arzúa. But the time passes quickly and our legs carry us effortlessly through the Galician landscape. No doubt the anticipation of reaching Santiago propels us onward, gravity drawing two comets to the sun.
The camino route weaves in and around the N-547 highway as it, too, approaches the sacred city. But it is hardly noticeable as our path takes us through lush forests, across refreshing streams and through tiny caseríos. (more…)
Today we will walk a leisurely 22 kilometres through the heart of Galicia, a region with strong Celtic roots and its own distinct language, Galician, a cross-cultural mix of Spanish and Portuguese, the region’s southern neighbor.
Winding our way through the hilly countryside, the unique qualities of Galician architecture reveal themselves. It is a largely rural way of life, with small, isolated communities scattered here and there. (more…)
Yesterday we surmounted the highest point on our journey. Today it is all downhill, a leisurely 21-kilometre hike to the modest village of Triacastella. Here, it is all about the scenery. Rolling clouds lap distant hills carpeted with the rusty hues of late fall. The air is cool and moist. Damp forests close in around us, then suddenly open to reveal gently undulating mountain vistas. (more…)
Our 31 kilometre journey to Villafranca del Bierzo takes us through the lush vineyards of the Bierzo region.
Before imbibing we must pass through the bustling city of Ponferrada. Established by the Romans as the centre of a lucrative mining district, the city has had its ups and downs. First destroyed by the Visigoths and then by the Muslims it was finally rebuilt by the Catholics. (more…)
Today we begin our two-day ascent of the highest peak on the Camino Francés route. It starts gently. Today’s climb is a mere 200 metres stretched over the 21-kilometre path from Astorga to Rabanal del Camino.
Leaving Astorga we can see our eventual destination. The mountain range hovers on the distant horizon, warmly glowing in the early morning sun. As we progress on our leisurely walk, evidence of an ancient mountain lifestyle becomes apparent. This is the land of the Maragato people. (more…)
If arriving in León had been an experience in urban exploration, leaving the city was no less so. Its industrial fingers stretched out from the city centre, following major motor routes on their way to other metropolitan dots on the map. Our pilgrim path followed the busy N-120 – which itself followed the newer, faster, grander A-71 – leading us westward for 24 kilometres to San Martín del Camino. (more…)
The walk into León is a wet but short 19 kilometers.
It’s a rare opportunity to journey on foot from the perimeter of a city to its core. For instance, who has ever walked from semi-rural, semi-urban Headingley at the outer edge of Winnipeg to the Exchange District at the city’s core? The Camino forces that opportunity on each pilgrim as he or she is transported from some bucolic rural landscape, through forest paths or along charming canals and into the messy backlots that surround big cities like Pamplona, Burgos, León and Santiago. (more…)