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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Aragones Route - Sta Celia to Arres

Note: Remember, I did not have my camera
so photos have been borrowed from the internet.
I've tried to give credit when I know the photographer's name.
* * *

13 October 2009

What a beautiful morning!
The little white lambs were still in the pasture below my balcony window,
the sun was shining,
and the pilgrims were up and rustling around.

I got up, got dressed, and packed my mochila. 
I was in a really happy mood, having gotten a great night's sleep!
The earplugs weren't needed last night
because I only had one room mate. 

The French couple, whose names were Michele and Michael,
slept in a room by themselves,
the German boy slept in the men's dorm,
and my only roommate was a young woman who did not snore!

I took advantage of the kitchen facilities and made myself a cup of Nescafé.
I've mentioned these packets before,
and they are very handy to carry on the Camino.
You can find them in almost any market
and they taste almost (almost) as good as the real thing. 
Buy Nescafe in convenient tubes in the markets in Spain

I had been told there would be no place open for coffee this morning,
so I sat and enjoyed my coffee as I looked at the map
and decided my next stop would be Arres.

By the time last night I realized the only tienda in town was at the bar,
it was too late to go buy breakfast food,
so I began my walk without eating.
By the time I had walked an hour,
my stomach was complaining and I began to wish for food.
A fig tree?
An apple tree?
A bar where I could get breakfast?

But all I could see ahead was trail,
so I put one foot in front of the other and dreamed of food. 
I remembered a piece of bread and cheese in my pack,
but knew I needed to save that for my lunch.

Less than 20 minutes later, I looked down and
there in the center of the trail were two perfect apples!
They were just sitting there, side by side,
as if they had been left just for me! 

I looked all around.
No apple trees to be seen.
Somebody had left these for a hungry pilgrim.
I laughed and picked them up.
I bit into one and it was ice cold, sweet, and crunchy.
Wow!  That is the magic of the Camino again! 

I ate one apple and saved the second for later.
The terrain was flat and easy
and before I knew it, several hours had passed.
Now I was nearing the Puente de la Reina de Jaca.
Here are some photos of the scenery.


 As you come to the bridge, a road shoots off to the right
if you want to go through this town. 
I decided to bypass it and continue on straight. 
At the crossroads was a picnic area. 
I decided to take advantage of the picnic table and have my lunch.  
I made a cheese sandwich and as I ate, 
I could hear the river rushing past me. 
I began singing, 

"The river is flowing,
flowing and growing,
the river is flowing,
back to the sea..."

Suddenly, out of the bushes came the most beautiful kitten!
He was a grey and brown cat, like a Himalayan.
He was just ethereal!
I couldn't believe this little guy was out here living on his own, he was so young.
There were no houses close by, just a road and forest and a river.
He looked at me with his icy blue eyes and said,
"Meow?"

I laughed and shared my queso with him.
He purred and rubbed up against my legs,
asking to be petted.
I fed him more cheese.
He was very happy, and when I packed up, he began following me.
I hoped he would follow me all the way to the albergue 
so he could be adopted by someone who would care for him, 
but about 20 minutes up the road, 
a car passed and frightened him. 

He scampered back into the forest 
and nothing I could do would bring him out.
I hope he lived.
I suspect he did... 
he had, afterall, survived thus far.

I walked until the I saw a sign and a dirt track. 
This section was a short but rough climb up and around a hillside.
The trail went up and around,
up and around,
up and around.
And then...

Arres by Nomadicvignette

there it was, 
the jewel called Arres!
 
by LMGV
Arres by Holzhammer

Arres Albergue
It looked like something out of a storybook, 
the little stone houses
sitting on the tip-top of a hill.
I kept wondering
where they kept the dragon?

As I arrived at the Arres albergue, 
I was surprised to see Loretta,
my little Italian companion from Jaca. 
She had been there since yesterday. 
Her poor face was wrapped in bandages.
She apparently had done a face-plant on her trek yesterday. 
She had two black eyes, 
a big gash on her head, 
and was still feeling very dizzy.  
It seemed to me her spirit was hurt the most, 
despite the physical injuries, 
and I felt worried for her. 
Would she continue on? 
I asked her.
She had not yet decided.

This Albergue was donativo.
I had no cash left, so 
I got settled in, and went off to find a beer, a snack, and some change. 
There is a hotel here with a bar. 
I had a cerveza con limón and chatted with the bartender.

Soon, it was time to go back to the albergue.
We were to help the hospitalero prepare dinner for the pilgrims.
I got a quick shower.
Hot Water! Hooray!
Then did my laundry and hung it out.

There would be ensalada, pollo, and sopa de verduras
with chunks of fresh bread and butter.
Everyone helped prepare the dinner and
everyone ate their fill!
Pilgrims arriving tomorrow would eat 
well or not, according to the amount of donation we left.
I always try to remember this and I left a generous donation.
Chimenea by Rosa Lob
 We took a short break from cleanup when
the local priest dropped in
and took us for a tour of the church.
As usual, there are some wonderful treasures to be found
in the little village churches along 
most of the Camino routes.
This was no different, and I really enjoyed the tour.

By this time, there were maybe 7 pilgrims who had arrived from Jaca
including an entire troop of boyscouts!
The albergue beds had been taken.
Where would they all sleep?
Photo by Jacko the Whacko
 No problem!
There were mattresses stuffed in nooks and crannies,
in the rafters of the building, 
and in the sitting room.
These were dragged out and everyone had a bed for the night.

It really was a lovely place to stay,
and I hope to return sometime.

I slept soundly in the silence of this medieval-looking hilltop town.
There were no city lights,
nor automobile sounds to disturb my rest,
and a velvet sky full of stars
twinkled at me through the open window.
See my AnnieWalkersCamino website at 
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Aragones Route - Jaca to Santa Celia

Photo by David Foster
Loretta and I had decided to at least begin our walk together. 
When you are walking the Camino on any route, 
there is an unspoken rule that each person must walk their own Camino. 

What this means is you might walk with a group, 
or you might walk alone. 
You might start with a walking partner, 
but one of you may want to go faster or slower, 
and it's okay to do this at your own speed. 
One of the most fun things of all is getting to an albergue 
and running into "old friends" that you left on the trail 2 weeks ago.
Or meeting people in Santiago that you walked with 40 days earlier.

So, with this understanding in mind, 
we began our walk together. 
We knew we would eventually part company, 
because I planned on walking to the famous 
Monastery of San Juan de la Peña in this first stage.
I had asked at the Jaca albergue 
what the trail was like up to the Monastery, 
and was told, "It's just a short walk." 
I should have known better.
The kilometers in Spain have a tendency 
to grow longer as you walk.
However, I decided I would go and see the Monastery, 
and then walk from there down into Santa Celia.

Loretta and I set out walking about 7 a.m. 
After about 30 minutes, we found an open bar 
and had coffee and sweet bread.  
There were only two other pilgrims there, 
so we figured the walking would be mostly solitary. 
We strolled through town, past the beautiful park blocks, 
and then came to a place where the signage was not clear.

In Spain, this route is waymarked by yellow arrows 
but also with red and white bars as GR 65.3,
part of the Spanish network of Senderos de Gran Recorrido.

Here are some of the marks you might find:

In France, this route is called the Arles Route,
and is mostly a single route.  
However, once you reach Aragón and Navarra there are variants, 
mainly to famous monasteries. 
So here we stood, an hour into the day's walk, 
already stumped.

We stood pondering and discussing for a moment 
and a truck of workers stopped near us.
I asked them, "which way to the Camino?"  
They pointed one direction, but Lorette insisted they were wrong.  
I decided to follow my gut and the advice of the locals,
and Loretta and I parted company. 
She went one direction, and I went the other.

After a while, I saw the sign indicating the cut-off trail to the Monastery. 
I turned off to the left and walked through an empty field, 
following the signs to the base of a rough-looking trail. 
I walked through an area that looked like a dump,
past an abandoned car,
and finally saw another trail sign.
It looked like the trail had been washed out. 
But I had heard this trek had been done by others,
so I worked my way up the rocky gully.

It was very difficult climbing, 
sometimes on my hands and knees. 
In some places, the steep trail was completely washed out.
I am not in bad shape, but I'm not an athlete, 
and there were times I just had to stop and catch my breath.  
I thought, "I sure hope this Monastery is worth the effort!."

The following photo is NOT of the trail I walked, 
but is an excellent example of how it looked:
Near what I thought was the top of the trail, 
the stark red mud began to sprout vegetation 
and I worked myself into a small forested area. 
All of a sudden, around the corner came a man carrying a basket,
just like Little Red Riding Hood. 
Was this the wolf?
 Turned out to be a gentleman mushrooming. 
He had a basket full of mushrooms 
and when I asked him how far to the Monastery, 
he pointed up the trail and said,
"not so far... just keep going."

Ok...so I "kept going" and after a bit, 
the trail widened out and I was at the top of a mountain
looking into a beautifully lush farmland valley. 
I thought, "Thank God, I made it!"

I walked and walked and finally reached the village
which wasn't really a town at all, 
but a group of private houses.  
I soon realized that this was not my destination. 
There were no shops, no bars... just houses and a church.
I passed through this village, 
then finally saw a sign pointing up another road saying simply,
"Monastery."

I kept walking.  
I walked, and walked. 
Eventually I was in an area with hills on each side of the road. 
Suddenly the silence was broken by gunshots. 
BIG gunshots!

I thought, "Holy crap! Is somebody shooting at me?" 
Then ahead I saw a parked car. 
When I got closer, I saw the car was being guarded by two pit bulls. 
Oh great. 
Here are the dogs I keep hearing about,
but not on the Camino Frances!  

On the car was a sign saying:

Peligro!
No Pasar!
Batida de Caza!

which basically means
 
DANGER!
DO NOT PASS!
HUNTING Area!

Yikes! 
What the heck?  
They are shooting shotguns along the Camino?

I sat down and took a break, 
wondering what in the heck to do.
I was just too tired to go back to the main road.
I'd been walking over 3 hours up this trail. 
I could only pray,
"Please let them finish hunting or send a car or a taxi. 
I need help!"

I decided to keep walking. 
The Monastery couldn't be too much further.

Taking wide berth around the pit bulls,
and ducking every time I heard a shotgun,
I continued on my way.  

Soon, two people appeared on the trail.
They told me not to worry. 
They said it was safe to walk, 
that the men were hunting up in the hills, 
not near the trail. 
They said the Monastery was only 2 kilometers further.

So I continued to walk. 
I walked, and I walked. 
Two more hours. 
What I KNOW was much further than 2 kilometers.

Now I was in a moonscape of what appeared to be
an old riverbed full of giant boulders. 
The traveling was difficult. 
The trail was washed out in many places 
and I had to scramble on my hands over rocks 
and down steep embankments.

I heard the church bell in the valley striking 12 
and I knew I had now been walking for 5 hours. 
And it wasn't easy walking - it was hard climbing and rock scrambling
all the time carrying a backpack. 
I was tired.
I was hungry.
I was out of water.

I climbed over a motorbike
that had gotten stuck in the rocks 
and had been abandoned.  
Apparently, young people like to rock scramble on their motorcycles
in this area, so be aware. 

I started up another embankment 
and two people came toward me out of the brush.
I said hello. 
They responded in French. 
My French isn't great, so I asked in Spanish,
"How far is it to the Monastery?"

They replied, "1.5 to 2 hours."

TWO MORE HOURS????

My heart sunk. 
There is no way I could walk two more hours in these conditions 
and then still walk the kilometers to Santa Celia from the Monastery!
(Well, I COULD, I just didn't WANT to!)
There is no place to sleep at the Monastery. 
I do not have my tent - 
I left it in Santiago at the Travel Center. 
What in the world would I do now?

This was a difficult moment for me.

Emotionally and physically, I was drained. 
If I had KNOWN before I set out how hard this walk was going to be, 
I could have either mentally and prepared myself with food and water
or taken another route. 
Maybe I would have hired a taxi to take me to the Monastery. 
Maybe I would have kept my tent and planned on sleeping there. 
But now, I only felt exhausted and overwhelmed.

These lovely people sensed my distress 
and offered me a ride down to the main road.
I gladly accepted.

I climb into their van and we head out across the valley
to a road pointing the way to the highway. 
I was shocked to see the main road was EIGHT MILES away!! 
I would have had to get up to the Monastery 
then down 8 miles to the main road, 
and then on to Santa Celia. 
I didn't have that kind of stamina, 
especially after the climb up the rocky trail. 

I would have had to sleep outside with no tent.
I am sure I could have done it if I had to, 
but at that moment, 
I was so happy that this French couple had rescued me!  
I couldn't help myself... I began crying in relief.

We drove and drove, 
around hills and through gorgeous forest. 
We finally reached the main road,
just a short distance from where I had left it that morning.

I was sniffling as I got out of their van. 
They hugged me and offered me food and water. 
"Would you like a little bread to eat?"
Photo by Frenchforfoodies
I was so hungry, not having planned for this adventure!  
I accepted, crying, thanking them profusely.  
They asked if I'd like a ride to Santa Celia. 
I declined.
I needed the time to pull myself together.   
More hugs, and they left, beep-beeping their horn down the road. 
It made me laugh, and I needed that more than anything!

I walked about an hour. 
I could smell food.. .literally. 
And then to the left was a wonderful bar 
where they grill your food on order over an open fire.  

I was so happy!  
I ordered a big old beer with lemon and studied the menu. 
Then I had them bring me a giant mixed salad 
and beef with roasted peppers. 
Time for celebration! 
I was alive!
The beer and the food revived my spirits 
and I continued on to Santa Celia. 
I took a right turn through a residential area, 
past fenced empty lots, 
and finally into the village itself.

I passed a bar which also was a tiny tienda,
but I had eaten, so I continued on to the albergue.   
There was a lot of road construction going on and I had to detour several times. 
When I reached the albergue,
there was nobody there, 
but a sign on the door said the Pilgrim should go in 
and make themselves at home.
So I did.

The albergue was a sweet little place 
with dorms for men and dorms for women. 
It had a nice kitchen with pots, pans, dishes, cutlery. 
It had a washing machine!
And upstairs was a bank of computers.
I wish I had photos to show you.
If anyone has photos of this albergue they can share, 
I'd love to add them to this posting.

I took a bed near the french doors, 
knowing I could crack them open in the night if it got too stuffy. 
Then I took a shower and waited for others to show up.

Soon 5 other Pilgrims showed up. 
One was a German boy who had just come from the Monastery
I had tried all day to reach!  
He told me he had walked from HERE and back today 
and that the hospitalera had allowed him to stay an extra night 
so he could make this journey. 

This is what I would suggest to any pilgrim wanting to see the Monastery. 
Either pay a taxi to take you up there from Santa Celia 
or walk from HERE up the main road. 

That washed out trail is a difficult one, 
and unless you are in really great shape or have a tent,
I can not in good conscience suggest it. 
Taking the main road from Santa Celia and back makes a lot more sense.

Another single Peregrina showed up, 
and then a French couple in their 60's. 
They were very nice, but also very tired. 
They had decided to take a taxi tomorrow to the next stop - 
her feet wouldn't carry her another kilometer. 
I absolutely understood!

Loretta never showed up
and I worried 
that she may have tried the trail to the Monastery also.
I wondered where she ended up?

We all pooled our resources that night and shared dinner. 
The French couple brought a bottle of wine 
and that healed my aches and pains from the climb.

I slept like a rock, 
listening to the lambs bleating in the field below my window.

My! What an adventure this was!  
I was absolutely exhausted,
but woke up thankful to have made it to Santa Celia.

See my AnnieWalkersCamino website at 
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Aragones Route - Starting in Jaca

Saturday October 10, 2009

After making the decision to walk a portion of the Aragones Route, 
I took the train from Sahagun to Pamplona.
It was a Saturday.
I left Sahagun at 13:43 and arrived in Pamplona at 17:08
The cost was 31.10 Euros

I bought lunch at the grocery store by the train station.  
I paid 5.25 Euros for bread, cheese, yogurt, 
a banana, and a bottle of water. 
Spendy there, thought I.

I was able to get the last bed at Casa Paderborn in Pamplona.
I love that little albergue! 
Here are some photos from the web since I did not take my camera on this trek:


The front of Casa Paderborn
One of the bedrooms

I slept in this top bunk
The river behind Paderborn
A very nice dining area for breakfast. You can see the staircase through the doorway. It goes upstairs to the dorms.
Localidad: Pamplona
Dirección: C. Playa del Caparroso, 6
Año de apertura: 2007
Titularidad: Municipal
Gestión: Asociación Amigos del Camino de Paderborn (Alemania)
Exclusivo para peregrinos:
Teléfono de contacto: 948-21-17-12
Admite reserva: No
Expide la credencial: No
Número de plazas: 26
Dormitorios: 5, entre 4 y 8 plazas
Disponibilidad (meses inclusives): De febrero a octubre
Hora de apertura: 12:00
Hora de cierre: 22:00
Precio: 5 euros (7 euros con desayuno)
Acondicionamiento: Bueno
Observaciones: La ciudad alemana de Paderborn está hermanada con Pamplona.
Web: (no tiene o desconocida)

I have stayed at Casa Paterborn several times.
It is always friendly, clean, and a good experience. 
They have nice newish washing machines and a clothes dryer, 
as well as a place for hand washing your clothes 
and hanging them up out in the back if that is your preference.

The showers are dorm style 
and have always been spotlessly clean and lusciously hot. 

The breakfast (desayuno) at 2 euros is very good; 
all the fresh bread with butter and jam you can eat, 
coffee, juice, tea, water.  

The rooms are very clean and I think the room I stayed in had 3 bunks.  
I much prefer this albergue to the municipal.  
And although the ads say they do not take reservations,
I have had them hold a bed for me in the past.
It probably depends on the hospitalera, 
so it's worth a try if you're getting in late.

I slept on the top bunk and there were 3 other pilgrims in the room. They enforce a quiet time, so it's nice that you actually can get some sleep.

Sunday morning I walked to 5 churches
trying to find Mass because my bus did not leave for Jaca
until 1700 hours.
I stopped for a coffee (1.20 euro) and pastry (1.70 euro).
My ticket to Jaca from Pamplona was 7.05 euros.
I had 113 euros left and that would hold me for 5 days
until I could find an ATM if I was careful.

I walked to the Museum of Navarre which is FREE on Sunday! 
 This is a very sweet little museum 
with some wonderful art and historical artifacts. 

From their website:
 
"Open since 1956, the Museum of Navarre was re-inaugurated in 1990 by Queen Doña Sofía. Its permanent collection comprises archaeological relics dating from prehistorical times, from the beginning of history and from the period when the Romans occupied Navarre.


Works of medieval, Renaissance and baroque art, secular as well as religious, and pieces by artists from Navarre of the 19th and 20th centuries make up the Museum's collections. Items of international importance that stand out amongst them include the Arqueta (ornamental chest of Leire), an exceptional piece of Spanish/Moslem art made out of ivory, the Roman capitals of the cloisters from the original Pamplona Cathedral and the portrait of the Marquis of San Adrián, signed by Goya in 1804."

Taking advantage of the free Sunday admission,
I spent several hours here. 

Afterwards, I had a very exciting walk to the bus station! 
The nearby Plaza de Castillo was jam-packed full of protesters.  
I stopped for a sandwich and soon I heard yelling and breaking glass.
As I walked the 5 blocks to the station, 
a huge crowd of people dressed in black were advancing toward me;
masked young people with baseball bats and pokers. 
They weren't actually chasing ME.  
I just happened to be ahead of the unruly crowd. 

They ran through town, 
screaming and breaking the windows of businesses and cars.  
I stood out like a sore hunchback in my bright blue ALTUS poncho. 
This was the one time I wished I was not wearing it!   
I didn't want to get caught up in their issue,
being a foreigner, so I began speed walking,
joining a businessman who was also seeking refuge.

We hit the door of the building at the same time, 
and he, a gentlemen, held the door and said, "Hurry!"  

We laughed as we ran together 
down the stairs into the basement. 

I was a little afraid the rioters might come into the station,
but for some reason, they bypassed us.  
It remained calm and I assume the "storm" passed over us above-ground. 

To this day, I have no idea what set them off, 
but I can say I did run in Pamplona with the crowds! 
The only thing missing were the bulls!

Speaking of the bull running, 
people in Pamplona are very passionate about their beliefs! 
They take their demonstrations seriously, 
as you can see by the photos of this PETA demonstration 
against bull running and fighting:

Anyway, my trip to the station was pretty wild, 
and I was happy to see my bus in place. 

The ride to Jaca was beautiful 
and it was nice to be able to see the spectacular countryside 
where I'd be walking for the next few days. 

I met Loretta, an Italian girl, on the bus 
and we each spoke enough Spanglish-Italian to become friends. 
We walked together to the albergue. 

The albergue in Jaca is very nice. 
They have little cubbies for each bed so you have a semblance of privacy. 
Here is a photo I found on the web by David Foster.
I think he and I slept in the same bed... 
on different nights, of course!
The showers were not exactly clean, 
but we did arrive late, and I was just thankful for hot water. 

The kitchen was ok. 
There was a microwave and fridge and not much else, 
but it was clean. 
The inside was bright and there were computers!  
HOORAY!

After we cleaned up, 
Loretta and I walked into town to find dinner. 
This sweet little town sits at the base of the Pyrenees 
and is really very pretty, especially at sunset. 
Photo by Gaudencio GaudiRamone
Loretta and I walked up and down the streets 
and finally found a place to buy some empanadas and fruit. 
We took our food back to the albergue and ate there.
Then, after checking for bedbugs,
we turned off the lights and got a good night's sleep.

Morning would come early, 
and I was anxious to get started.

See my AnnieWalkersCamino website at 
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The (Wrong) Train to Vigo: Annie's Big Adventure

Toward the end of September in 2009, 
while walking in Spain,
I caught a nasty flu. 
The weather in Santiago was cold and wet, 
and so I decided to take a short vacation in Rome, 
where the sun was shining and the weather was still warm.
Photo by Key to Italy

I found an inexpensive place to stay near Rome called Tiber Camping. 
The ad stated, 
"Situated just outside Prima Porta, 
on the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, 
Camping Tiber combines all of the services today's traveller expects, 
with an excellent location, 
and a warm and friendly atmosphere. 
It's an unbeatable combination, 
that will ensure your stay in the Eternal city is a pleasant one" 

The photos looked inviting; full of sunshine! 
Just what the doctor ordered...


 A round-trip ticket to Rome was only 220 Euros. 

So I hopped on the plane and took off for Rome.
I knew the metro was fairly easy to navigate in Rome. The website gave great directions:

If you are in the city itself, and are looking to reach Camping Tiber, just hop on the underground metro and head toward the Flaminio metro stop, on the A Line.
Exit the stop itself, and change to the aboveground metro, F line, Ferrovia-Viterbo. Get off at Prima Porta which is where our bus picks up every half hour.

No problem!  I arrived just fine at a very nondescript metro stop and waited for the bus to pick me up. It was right on time. I had paid only 10 Euro per night for my stay and planned on being there a week while I recovered from my cold.  When we drove up, the place looked fairly deserted. It was the end of the season and they were getting ready to close for the winter. I was sad to find the pool was closed, and the restaurant staff was small. But the receptionist was nice and gave us a key to our cabin.

The cabins are small. Ours was just large enough to hold two beds. We chose to use the camp showers to save money.  We got into our room, checked the beds out of habit, and guess what!??

 
 BED BUGS!

Knowing this would not work for me, I tromped back to the receptionist, told her there were bedbugs in the cabin beds, and got the key to another cabin.

More bedbugs.
This time, she gave me a key that fit ALL the cabin doors (scary) and we checked cabins until we found one with no sign of the pesky critters.  Uneasily, we settled in and had no problems with bedbugs during our stay.

The campsite was really quite a nice place to stay. It was out of the busy city, yet only a short metro trip into Rome. The cost was not much, and the bus from Tiber Camping went regularly to the metro station to take and pick up passengers.  
Tiber Camping had laundry facilities and nice showers.
The food was good at the bar and restaurant and the staff was friendly.
Despite the bedbugs, I would stay there again.
Photo from Trip Advisor
We had a nice visit in Rome and I got a lot of rest.
On October 5, I planned to return to Santiago
and take a train to Moratiños to visit Rebecca
and to decide where I'd walk the last few weeks of my trip.

I finally felt like I was recovering from the flu.
Joe wanted to visit friends in the Netherlands,
but I wanted to walk some more,
so we parted company in Rome
and I flew back to Santiago.

Once there, I found the train from Santiago to Sahagun left at 9:15 am
and I bought a ticket and made plans to arrive at the station early.
I had 35 days left to walk,
and was thinking I'd like to try walking the Aragones Route.
But I wanted to talk to Rebecca before making that decision.
It was raining cats and dogs in Santiago,
and I was still tired from the flu,
but was excited to visit the Peaceable Kingdom.

It was a nice walk to the Santiago train station.
I arrived an hour early, had a coffee, and relaxed.
Plenty of time! Plenty of time!
My Spanish is good, but not perfect, so I asked the attendant,
"Where do I stand to catch the correct car to Sahagun?"

She pointed to a spot and said,
"Right there! If you stand there, the door will open
and you'll be in the correct car."

The train station in Santiago is not large and confusing,
like in some of the larger cities.
There are only a few tracks.
So happily, I planted myself on the spot and waited.
My train was to arrive at 9:15 am, remember?

At 9:13 am, a train rolled in, and a door opened in front of me.  
I stepped into the train and found a seat.
And the minute the train began to move, I was horrified!
We were going in the wrong direction!

"Where does this train go?"
I asked a passenger.

"To Vigo!" she replied.

Holy Moley!
I was on the wrong train!

I spoke to the conductor. 
No more stops until Vigo.
Not much could be done.
The only thing to do was sit back and enjoy it.
I chuckled.
My life is one big old adventure!

I arrived in Vigo and went to customer service.
The man working was very kind.
He laughed and told me, "You're not the only one!"
Apparently, they have at least one pilgrim each week
who makes this same mistake.
He wrote out a free ticket to Sahagun,
and told me to catch my train at 2:47 pm.
I had some time to waste,
so I went across the street to find a computer café
so I could let Rebecca know I´d be a day late.

Vigo is a great city and I'd like to go back sometime for a visit.
I found a computer, emailed Rebecca, then poked around town.

At 2:47 I caught the CORRECT train to Leon,
where I'd have to spend the night
and catch a morning train to Sahagun.

This new train did not go past Santiago,
but took another route through Galicia
which was simply spectacular!

I'd highly recommend taking the train to Vigo,
then BACK to Leon just for the scenic trip!
It was lovely.
It passed through Ourense and the beautiful Galician canyons and countryside.
It was lush, green, and so beautiful.
I'm really happy I made this mistake
and had the opportunity to take this train ride!

If you decide to do this, I will caution you. 
The train arrives in León at 9:45 pm, in the dark.
The stations are NOT announced and you cannot see the signs in the dark.
So you must pay attention to the stops and ask someone to help you.

I arrived in León at 10 pm and walked in the rain to the convent.
By the time I reached it, the doors were closed
and the windows were shuttered.
It was cold and dark and it was raining hard!

Oh no!

I rang the bell and waited.
I rang it again.
And again.
Finally, a very kind hospitalero,
after gently reminding me that the albergue closed at 22:30,
let me in.

He took my information,
stamped my credential and his wife showed me to my room.
I had slept here 5 weeks earlier in an empty room.
This time it was PACKED.
Photo by "Homers Travels"
I found squished bedbugs all over the bathroom floor!
It totally freaked me out,
but there was no place to go this late.
So I sprayed my bed and slept in my clothes,
not wantihg to chance bugs in my sleeping bag.
It was a little hot and stuffy
and another peregrina asked to have the window opened.
I was so happy!
"SURE!" I told her. 

The clean fresh air felt wonderful and I fell asleep in just a few minutes.

I woke up in the middle of the night, cold,
and used my ALTUS raincoat to keep off the chill.
It worked great!
I'll remember this; it will save taking one piece of clothing.
That raincoat was a great investment!
I bought mine from a peregrina on her way home for only 10 Euro.

I woke up at 6 am and had breakfast before the rush,
showered and was on the street by 7 am.
I grabbed a cup of coffee on the way to the train station
and caught the 9:27 to Sahagun.

Yesterday's mistake, although it made for a long day,
provided a wonderful "free" ride to Vigo.
It was absolutely stunning countryside!

My ticket from León to Sahagun cost 4.10 Euro ida solo (one way)
That and 1.10 Euro for the coffee put me at 5.20 Euro for the day.
Not bad.
I spent two lovely nights with Rebecca and Paddy at The Peaceable Kingdom.
Photo from the Web-my camera was broken


I tried to earn my keep by cleaning the art studio.
They were working on their bodega while I was there,
and I enjoyed long evening walks with Paddy.
They have a wonderful place there; be sure to stop if you can.  

After a short rest,
I was ready to continue to Jaca to begin walking the Aragones route.
But I will always be thankful that I took the wrong train 
and ended up in Vigo.

Sometimes, things happen for a reason.
One of the great lessons of the Camino
is to let go of the reins and just
ride the wave of life
and see where it takes you!

Oh yes, and remember,
the trains in Spain run ON TIME!

Buen Camino!
Annie


See my AnnieWalkersCamino website at 
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe