Blogged during Camino Aragone & Frances May 2018

11-05-2018: 01. The train journeys
The first day of my Camino is the train trip to Lourdes. A trip that is already booked on January 21. It could be exciting, because at the beginning of April, the French trade unions are announcing strikes for train staff. They will follow a strike pattern for 3 months. First strike 2 days and then work 3 days. As soon as it became known just watch the strike calendar. It looked good. But you never know how it will turn out. The unions are like cats that can make strange jumps. The day before departure no strange messages seen on the site, favorable sign. But still you don’t sleep well. I just want to make sure that everything goes well, no strikes, for anyone else, but yes. Now almost 4 months later I am writing this on the piece from Paris to Lourdes. I think it is indeed letting go and surrendering. Saint James will help you. Will this be the first time that he has accompanied me? Walking from Gare so Nord to Gare Montparnasse and on the way just visited the Tour Saint Jacques. Arrived in Lourdes with only half an hour delay. Step 1 has been taken. It is a feeling of coming home again. I cannot describe it differently. I am now here for the 5th or 6th time and every time it seems to get stronger. Searched for the overnight place after arrival. I.p.v. the regular bed in the dormitory gives me a single room. I will not say no to that. Just inform the home front and then eat, walk around, light a candle and then walk the procession for 9 hours. A good start to our pilgrimage. Also because 13.5 km have been walked.

12-05-2018: 02. Lourdes-Asson
So, I am there, no not in Santiago, but at the destination of my first walking day, a refugio at the church of Asson. It was not so bad by this first day, the distance only deviated a good mile from what was on paper, but that is because of me. The weather was not favorable, unlike yesterday, when it was nicely sunny and warm, it was colder and much wetter. I left Lourdes at a quarter to nine, after I first registered as a pilgrim and received my first stamp. As a precaution I put on my orange poncho in case it rains. Then I have won at least 1 fight. Turning it on and off goes with some antics but it works. Along the way I met another pilgrim early on. He was already on his way to Italy. This Croat walks back and forth and tries to provide for himself by carrying out work. But the last two days it was disappointing. From half past ten it started to drizzle, which became more and more towards the afternoon. The walking path went from forest to street to country road etc. It was up and down hill. Quite spicy for a first day. Especially at Bétharram, where it was past the church, follow the Kruisweg up. This was the longest steep stretch today. And the rain just kept falling. Arrived at 2.30 for my second destination, a small refugio in Asson near the church. A room with bunk beds, kitchenette, toilet and bathroom. I am the first, later came a Frenchman. We are both silent, do our thing and sometimes talk in French and English. Eat something tonight and then go to bed. The weather forecast for tomorrow? The same as today I heard: pluie. I hope my app predicts it better, but yes, we are not in control and so we just wait. The overnight stay for tomorrow is also arranged by Frére Pierre in Arudy.

13-05-2018: 03. Asson – Arudy
This blog has disappeared for some reason. So I’m just trying to recap, or something like that … It’s a rainy day again, breakfast consists of 2 chocolate croussants. The first time that Valeria walks with me. She had lost her way yesterday and had come to Asson by bus. Together we walk the route to frére Pierre in Arudy, where Jean will also spend the night.

14-05-2018: 04. Arudy – Sarrance
My third walking day would take me to Oloron St. Marie, but yesterday while eating at Frére Pierre I was told that I can also walk directly to Sarrance. The place that I would visit after Oloron. This means that I i..p.v. 2 days each 22 km to cover, on the official pilgrim paths, I now walk on 1 day 32 km (there should be 30) and then 1 day profit. This also means walking one day less in the rain, I hope. So this morning after breakfast and shopping for lunch, Carrefour hung pad open at 9 am, on the road. The poncho is on again from the beginning, it rains lightly and the dry periods will be scarce. But that should not spoil the fun, I write. The morning part is mainly uphill on the D918, a road that winds up the side of the hill. The great thing is that behind every turn something new becomes visible: trees, shrubs, asphalt and a turn. I don’t mind, it’s new to me, not familiar territory and I like that now. At home you know what you will see, here it is a surprise. At half past eleven lunch, where the highest point is reached. It rains a bit less but yes, you have to eat anyway. A German couple has it easier, they take the engine to let the asphalt pass by. Continue after lunch, mainly downhill. Since you pass a few houses, you walk again into the forest but still on the asphalt. And then suddenly there is a sign with Somport. Yes, another 48 kilometers, but not today. And then we also come across the white-red marketing with GR653 and the Shell, we end up on the route again, exactly binding the description. So we leave the main road and take an even smaller road. And then the camino feeling returns. Very quiet roads, small forks and paafjes where the mud party beers and my shoes cry. Even a small unexpected water passage that with an extra stone can become a ford, thanks to a friendly Swiss. And further. At the bridge for Sarrance the choice is to follow the path, which is not risk-free in this weather, or to walk on the busy road. So fewer risks, we still want to arrive undamaged. In Sarrance to the church lippe a knock next to the church at the monastery, there is still plenty of room. So a warm bed, I hope, a nice meal, I hope, and tomorrow at half past seven a breakfast. Based on a donation level. After taking a shower, relax and recover from the day, then at half past six to the evening mass and at half past eight dinner. It was tasty, 2 kinds of soup, then red rice with green beans and goulash. And of course bread and cheese.

05/15/2018: 05. Sarrance – Jaca
Now I can already hear you thinking: does that idiot walk about 70 km in 1 day? Yes and no, I moved my feet about 45 km in the bus and then walked 25. After advice of the people in the monastery I did not walk to the next 2 places i.v.m. the bad weather. It would continue to rain at least until Friday and even snow on the Col du Somport. I could have opted for 1 walking day in France, to Borce, but just like many other hikers, I decided to take the bus to Spain. For a paltry € 4.00 we drove from Sarrance to Canfranc. Beautiful mountain road where the bus regularly had to leave for trucks. Exit through the tunnel to the other side of the mountain and there at the old and very large, long-time no longer in use international train station. Chop something for lunch and then start. At 10 am the walk continues on Spanish territory. Just outside Canfranc is the first column with the remaining number of kilometers to Santiago de Compostela: 850 km. It is still a bit wet, drizzling, a lot of wind, the poncho stays on. Regularly look back to see if the clouds are not following us. Fortunately, the thing lingers and the farther we go, the more pleasant it becomes. The last 2 hours no more poncho on and the good on. I am a pilgrim and they will know. Walked all day with Valeria from South Korea and Hans Peter from Switzerland. Just call HP in Jaca but later found in the refugio. In a moment we will eat together and maybe tomorrow we will walk on for days. On Radio 2, Gerard Ekdom often calls out: I’ve got to have more cowbells. They have the goats here, they are twice as large.

05/16/2018: 06. Jacá – Arrés
The night was long, the sleep too short. The first night in Spain was one of them: you go to sleep in a forest, but when you wake up the trees are gone. The hand saws have been exchanged for expensive motor saws without silencers. I fell asleep very late, so I didn’t hear my alarm. So hurry up and get up and pack everything. Now I still have plenty of room, but it will not always be. So breakfast becomes the first coffee bar to go in, eat coffee and sandwiches and then walk. On the outskirts of Jacá I bought some supplies for when on the way nothing comes my way where there is something to eat. Today we walk quite a few kilometers along a busy road, interspersed with a path that we can follow. Fairly downhill and sometimes uphill again. Beautiful scenery especially the Pyrenees that are covered with snow peaks in the distance. Arrived around 12 o’clock in Santa Cilia, well in time for lunch. A baguette with choriso. Nice thick slices, a caffee con leche and a lemonade. Ready for the last session. The sting is back in the tail today, mountain path up to Arrés. A village with only a small 20 residents. The auberge is run by 2 Brazilians. The stamp is in the passport, a tour at 7 a.m. and dinner at half past 8.

05/17/2018: 07. Arrés – Fuerta
Today another decent stage for us, 28.5 km. The first night I slept reasonably well. Just after dinner, yes I know it is bad, lie down in bed. But yes, what do you want, they also eat here so late. After some talking in a small dormitory before eleven o’clock the eyes closed. I think it was 6 o’clock before I really woke up for the first time.
After breakfast and packing left around 8 am. First down again, because we finally slept on a mountain. The path to Arrés was narrow and the path this morning too. But once down we quickly walked on a gravel path again. Sometimes up and sometimes down, like every day it is beautiful. The view is magnificent and then again the birds of prey that play with the thermics.
Along the way we also see beautiful villages on hills and on 1 of them, Artieda, we have lunch: menu del dia. For me salad in advance, then pork with local vegetables and rice and for dessert a rice porridge with cinnamon. Everything for that mere € 10.00. At the checkout we were asked if we didn’t want a stamp, because that is what pilgrims want, so we brought out the passport.
Then further, it will follow an old road that is no longer in use. The larger road to the right of us is also no longer used. A new road has been laid that lies here, which nobody is driving on, in preparation for the expansion of the reservoir. But that will take a while, because the population stops it with procedures.
Then follow a narrow forest path up to the ruins of Ruesta, where we spend the night. And of course food.

May 18, 2016: 08. Fuerta – Sangüesa
So, today there is a short stage on the program, about 23 km. So weather can take it easy today. Half past eight, after breakfast, we leave. We make a short stop in a former hermit church and then on, 5 kilometers uphill. The sun is shining, wonderful and occasionally not to forget to look back. We no longer have a view of the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees. We make a stop at Unduës de Larda, here I eat my first tortilla, very tasty and filling. After some more drinking again. We actually walk the whole afternoon on a mini meseta, we can already see what we can expect later on on the Camino Frances. Only much longer. And we have our first siesta. We take a seat under a lonely olive tree and take a break from it. Because of the short distance it is better to also take your rest moment. Just after 3 pm we arrive in Sangüesa for the next night. Also do some shopping and visit the village, then rest again and have dinner.

19-05-2018 09: Sangüesa – Monreal
Today another difficult stage on the program. According to the booklet, there is little to buy on the road, so ensure that there is food and drink. Fortunately, so did the shopping yesterday. The night’s sleep was short and loud. The first pilgrim got up at 5 o’clock. I got up at 6 and started the regular ritual: toilet, washing, dressing, packing, checking and having breakfast. Today but the bread bought yesterday with cheese and a cup of coffee. Out of the door at half past seven and off. Out of town along a factory that stank and up the mountain. And the next mountain, and the next mountain. The latter was quite spicy and long. Taken above our rest moment and lunch. The other half of the bread with cheese, banana or 2 and then further. After 20 km there would be a village where there would be a bar, but today it was closed due to a local party. So then on again, the life of a pilgrim continues. In the next town luckily a candy / drink / medicine machine, taken a can there and further, another 3 km. And at the stroke of 3 we arrive again. Nice on time. The door is open but no one present, we look for a bed and after a cold shower walk around. Drinked beer and looked where we can eat. And of course pick up the stamp and pay the overnight stay.

20-05-2018 10: Monreal – Obanos
Getting up at half past six on Sunday, that’s something, but a pilgrim just goes for it. Make something from breakfast with what’s still in my backpack. And then on, the next leg to Obanos. A distance of about 30 km with up and down hill again, along elephant paths and paved roads. Sometimes quite spicy again. In Tiebas we take a break, our Swiss companion finds out that he has forgotten his wallet, which is still under his pillow in the inn in Monreal. So he takes a taxi back to Monreal, then back to Tiebas and then continues walking. We, Valeria and I, continue on to Obanos. Along the way we pass a special church, Santa Maria de Eunate. So there is a pilgrim bus. They have just had lunch there, paella, I get a stamp, take pictures and walk on. Registered again at the Auberge around half past three. Nice day again.
21-05-2018 11: Obanos – Estella
Today the tenth walking day, got up early and packed everything again. It’s starting to become routine. Then we had breakfast in the alberge and “Ab geht die Post”.
Outside the alberge we said goodbye to Hans Peter der Schwitzer, or Jean Pierre as he calls himself on the Camino. He is now going to do the Frances 1 stage in reverse, to Pamplona and then by bus to Bilbao and the plane to Bern. The busy town of Puenta la Reine is very quiet so early in the morning. I am leaving with Valeria, Oliver and … on the next leg to Estella. A short leg of 25 km. Some short but powerful climbs in good weather. Also seen separate things. Due to the short distance, you naturally also arrive early at the alberge. You can also make your blog early.

22-05-2018 12: Estella – Torres del Rio
So yesterday just forgot:
Today another walking day on the program. The night’s sleep was disturbed early by the early starters. There are already people who get up at half past four and then start at five. Then they walk quite a bit in the dark.
Today we will again visit the Wijnfontein, a well-known part on the day after Estella. You can taste a little wine and take a lot of water, not the other way around. If you want a lot of wine, please purchase it. The disadvantage for the early starters is that the Wijnfontein cannot be opened yet. Fortunately for us it was already open, on my video blog it will hopefully be shown.
The day distance for today is again 30 km. Yesterday we left with 5 people who know each other from Jaca, but lost each other during the day. But in the evening found each other again in the same Auberge.
So today started, again with Valeria, the day will contain a stretch of over 15 km where nothing will be for sale or drink. So bring provisions. Despite the distance and the favorable course of the route, we arrived quite early at our next overnight address. One of Jaca’s five are in the same Auberge. Tomorrow a short distance to Logroà ± o. And then buy new shoes, because my current one has a hole in the left sole. The walk-in will be the day after Logroño, a distance of 30 km.

23-05-2018 13: Torres del Rio – Logroño
Today is a short day for hiking. Only walked 21 km. You have hardly gotten warm yet. And of course much too early, a quarter past eleven we arrived at the alberge, at half past eleven the garden opened and at 1 o’clock we could register. The stage had some tough short climbs, but then again some nice flat slightly descending roads. For Logroño you walk through an industrial area, not very nice, so will Burgos. The descent to Logroño achieved a familiar stamp. There an old woman sat there giving stamps until 2002 and after she died at the age of 92 her daughter took over. Unfortunately no photos in recent days because the wifi is not very good, but that will come later.
24-05-2018 14: Logroño – Najera
I can call this the day of the new shoes. The store where I bought my now broken shoes wants me to take them back to the store with the bill. I’m really not going to drag another 900 km with those shoes. I gave them a nice place on the Camino. But how does a 30 km day like this work on new shoes? Not much different than the previous 12 so I say. It’s getting used to, from high to low shoes, and I don’t mean the heels ladies, and from leather to goretex. They look like slippery soles at first, but once on the real path things get better and better and better … We walk through the Rioja region, the earth is supposed to be colored red, but I don’t know what red it should be. It is going well again, pace was back. Along the way we also saw fellow Dutchmen who gave some advice about the use of the new shoes. Made a stop twice, around half past 10 in front of a café con leche and tortilla and then at 12 a tortilla with a large Radler. Arrived at a quarter past one at the municipal inn, which was still closed. An inn with 45 bunk beds, so 90 people, 4 showers, 4 toilets and 4 washbasins. The result: in the queue for the shower, in the queue for the toilet and even in the queue to do your daily hand wash. Unfortunately I have to report 1 major disadvantage about today: the predicted thunderstorm of 16:00 started 15 minutes early. Hopefully it will soon be dry when we have to find another restaurant for a Menu del Dia, 3 courses, walk again, with bread and wine included.

25-05-2018 15: Najera – Santo Domingo de la Calzada
So, my 2nd walking week will end today. When I walk back into my alberge I have 14 days of walking. The night’s rest was not to write home about, so don’t wait for a ticket. At half past three I had to get up, because old men can sometimes suffer from a full bladder. Someone was ready to leave then, not normally. In the dark it is a risk, the paths are not lit, the risk of falling is high and you must of course also be able to see the markings. Seen an old friend yesterday, Jean from France. After my first walking day in Asson I was hit in the refugio. The days were wet then. And perhaps seeing again is the reason that we are having it again today. We walk in the rain all day. That lowers my mood a little. My faithful companion Valeria is bothered by her ankle. So her pace is slightly lower today. The plan for yeasts was to extend today’s stage with an extra walk to the next place after Santo Domingo. But the weather makes me decide to stay here. Then my hand wash from yesterday, which did not get dry, can be put in the washing machine today and then in the dryer. After 2 weeks of hand washing, washing in the machine is nice. And nice in the dryer … tomorrow I will walk alone, because Valeria is thinking about giving the ankle some rest. Am now also planning whether it is not better tomorrow to expand the usual distance according to the book with 1 extra village. Everything depends on weather and condition and mood I think.

26-05-2018 16: Santo Domingo de la Calzada – Tosantos
I can’t complain about sleeping today, it went pretty well. But yes, I think it makes sense. Although there are more than 200 pilgrims present, there are no rows of bathrooms and toilets. Only in the kitchen is it busy. After packing and sinking everything again, looking for the shoes, because there are a few, then to the first the best cafe for breakfast. It is a bit busy at the beginning but my pace is increasing fast and so is my courage. Delicious this morning, despite the fact that you walk along a highway a lot. In the first village I meet 2 acquaintances who didn’t want to stay in the big inn yesterday. They were ready to leave, I have not seen them all day. Have a drink of water in every village and then on. The first part was dry, then wet and towards the end dry and sunny again. Valeria went to Tosantos by bus. It went wrong in the first inn where she wanted to register. She said that she had come by bus, she did not get a place to sleep for this. So another alberge. The small alberge with 20 sleeping places still had a few unreserved places occupied by 5 acquaintances.
05/27/2018 17: Tosantos – Agés
Today another Sunday, the third Sunday on my Camino. It will be a quiet stage of around 24 km. We take the time for it. And because it’s Sunday and we take the time, I don’t take time for a detailed report. The wifi is slow, the auberges full. Fortunately, reservations were made for us yesterday and we have space. The walking weather was not too bad, cold at the start and then plenty of sun, despite the less good predictions.

28-05-2018 18: Agés – Burgos
After a reasonably good night’s sleep, you wake up quite early, there are Pilgrims who always set off early and then make too much noise or disregard others. Already at 6 o’clock outside at the alberge, through the mist a dim light comes, so you don’t go out in the dark. No breakfast for a while, only at the 2nd village do we have breakfast. We have already had a considerable climb over rock. At the top of the summit there is a cross in the fog. At a certain point the road to Burgos has a difficult choice for the pilgrim, left or right. Turn right and you will walk almost 2 hours through an industrial area. If you go left, you walk a bit through nature and the suburbs of Burgos. So ……. Left. It is a rainy day and before 11 am I arrived at the alberge. Wait another 1 hour until it opens. It is again the municipal alberge that is cared for by volunteers. For € 5.00 you have a bed, with its own light and own socket, real luxury for the pilgrim. After the very nice lunch with 5 acquaintances of the Camino we visited the cathedral. Yes, just walked around for an hour and a half. A splendor, unimaginable. Not eating outside this evening but just instant noodles, because lunch hadn’t made enough room yet.

29-05-2018 19: Burgos – Hontanas
Yesterday, Tuesday, May 29, I could not approach my own dies and told my 2 sweet stayers that there was no internet at home. Did I have to work on my vacation…. Fortunately the wifi was quickly restored, within half an hour, but not accessing my site. So also have to do further research. In short: my IP address has changed. So by adjusting something to my DNS registration, my site can be reached again since this morning. Means that I will write my story of yesterday only in the afternoon, today probably a shorter day. The 32 km trip, but now it appears that we are walking 35 km on Wednesday. So the day from Tuesday to Wednesday written: What can I still remember? Yes it goes, time and impressions fly by. Walking out of Burgos takes about 45 minutes, then we walk through nature for a while and then walk along the autostrada for a while. Then we bow and dive back into the interior. As far as I can remember it was not difficult for the stage. We will now go on the mesetas. The first time about the granaries of Spain. So lie at a height of 800 meters or more. Fortunately it stays dry all day, the poncho does not have to be on. The mesetas are still green, we are early in the season, so the bloom of the flowers also gives a nice impression. The day will end in Fontanas. You do not see the village, only 300 meters before the village border you see the path. It lies in a valley, at the end of a meseta. You think you are wrong, the yellow arrows send you in the right direction. After depositing the things and appropriating your bed, have a quick meal, the pilgrim menu for € 10.00 including wine. At six o’clock to the pilgrim mission. A light international mass where every pilgrim gets a cross at the end, a nice conclusion of the holy mass. In the evening again a pilgrim menu and then to bed.
30-05-2018 20: Hontanas – Fromista
A short stage today? That was the intention first, but at the end a long, 35 km. We first thought we were walking 27 km but it went so well!?!?! The weather seems to be good, it is not cold when they leave, sometimes the people also seem to get through. But when approaching the first village the dark clouds come very close. This morning we have a 10% climb over a length of 1050 meters to a height of 911 meters, or better written for the feet. The summit cannot be seen through the clouds or fog. Once upstairs we are treated to a misty meseta. At the end there is a descent of 18%. The next low meseta is walked on. And that’s how we walk across 3 mesetas today, I think. The weather gets better around noon, sometimes the sun comes out. We decide to continue to Fromista, 6 km extra. According to the book 2 hours but we do it at our leisure, in 70 minutes, along the Canal de Castillas. At the end treated again to something special. Unfortunately, the wifi leaves something to be desired and there are no photos today. My blogs are also a bit delayed, they are ready but still have to be loaded up. The photos I will only post on the blogs, if the wifi is good …… Soon a menu del dia, where I do not know yet.

31-05-2018 21: Fromista – Carriön de los Condes
This day we did not deviate from our plan. We only walk to Carrión, etc., because if we then want to walk to the next place, then we have to cover a 12 km stretch and the day distance is again well above 30 km. After breakfast there is a disagreement where we have to pick up the thread, the road to SdC. Walking to the west seems to me the most logical and not to the east, with the sun in your back in the morning and the shade for you. But what should you do if the sun is not shining? See if you see other pilgrims or grab your compass. After leaving Fromista, the long road to the next village comes. Long road with a path next to it for the pilgrims. But in the first village you are faced with a difficult choice: left or right? We throw a coin to determine the fate: right. This means no more along the road, but a paved path towards W / NW. If you look behind you a little later, you don’t see so many followers, perhaps not the right choice? Halfway the two routes come together fairly briefly, so we switch after the other variant. Along the way, with more runners but straight ahead again. Then we arrive in Carriön de los Condes. Here we go to the Espiritu Santo alberge, near the monastery of Vincent de Paulo and the sister congregation. The volunteer is strict and points out all the rules that must be strictly observed. The first time we are prescribed the lesson.