Monday, June 29, 2009


Woke this morning with a dreadful tightness across my shoulder blades. I think I went out to it quickly and did not cover them up. I could not breathe deeply or cough until the arvo.
Set out for Castrojeriz which I bussed to last time after being violently ill. I had the idea it was 23 km and so was fairly motoring when I caught up with friends. Hmmm. It´s really 38.5 km. What to do? We decided to make for Hornillos (halfway) but the albergue was already full. Then started a sprint with people desperate for accommodation. The next place was abandoned, which left another just 9km or so from Castro. We made it there and the available places were very few. By this time I was butchered but I saw a car with Castrojeriz Hotel on it. When the bloke fronted to drive away I stopped him and asked for a lift. WooHOO! On the way the heavens opened with a violent storm of giant drops and hail. Asked the bloke how much for the night and he said 25 I thought. After accepting it turned about to be 35€, pretty dear but I was ruined and anxious. I had to go to the Farmacia and also hand in the lower legs of some trousers left behind at a cafe. I sure hope the owner can get them. Then I saw Manfred who spent the whole weekend at the monastery at Silos (I am sure I told you the story of the GREAT RIPOFF and he organised a light meal for me with Italian friends. They speak very little Eng and I no Italian but we get on well. Hard to believe isn´t it?
Found that my walking friend from last week - Peter from Sydney - has wrecked his feet and will have to return to Burgos to recover. His wife isn joining him in a couple of weeks to walk the last 100 km so I hope he´s ok in his feet and mind by then. He´s just been driving himself way too hard, and is the bloke I called the CEO. He may have retired but the time still rules his life.
Anyway, when I made the hotel (and they have washed and dried my clothing) I stripped off, poured a bath, stepped in and fell asleep. No way I could drown as it was too short to lie down fully in. I was out to it for nearly an hour.
Tomorrow´s trip is to Fromista and is 24km. Yes, I have checked.
God bless and keep you all.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Had a bocadillo (sandwich made from a baguette) tyoday in the plaza outside Burgos Cathedral. Main reason - I´d used their toilet. Sat outside and when the waiter appeared called out ¨Senor¨and then ¨Senor¨when I thought he hadn´t heard me. He replied, ¨"Senor, Senor" with a grumbled aside in Spanish. I asked for a bacadillo with ham, cheese, tomato, and lettuce and was told very firmly that the last two were not possible. They WERE possible at a little village a couple of days ago when the lady proudly produced a "Bocadillo Grande" for me. Yes, it was huge. I´ve also got pat the asking for a glass of orange juice. In France it´s jus d´orange. In spain it´s zumo de naranja. It was a nice enough meal but missing the vitamins and minerals I need.
After lunch saw the monastery or our Lady of Miraflores, a Cistercian, silent establishment. The monks can talk for an hour once a week, apparently. Despite thsi stricture, there are 23 monks living anf praying there. It is a very large walled establishment. Visitors are allowed into the church and its associated chapels which included much fine carved timber in the choirs, some interesting frescoes, some outstanding 16th and 17th c statues and effigies, and the usual gold froth and bubble from the 18th c.
Over the entrance to the main church was the sentence Felix Coeli Porta which I guess is something to do with it being a happy thing to do, to enter the portal leading to heaven. A bit different to the one in England which says this is a terrible place. The door leading off to the cloister was about 5 ft tall. Even short monks would have had to bob down.
Could not convince the hospitallera to allow me to stay two days so I harnessed up and walked to the third albergue I knew of, in a park on the outskirts. Met a few friends including the two young american girls who made up their minds to walk two stages in two days. One in particular is feeling the pain, but it´s great they´ve decided to put in the effort to keep up.
The cheapest place around, we were told, was in the uni opposite. Sure enough we had a uni caf meal of two plates (egg and bacon, and fish, chips and lettuce, as well as bread, water and wine.) 4€. Not bad at that. And we had a nice time chatting. Cornelia, a German who has to go home tomorrow with a toe infection, and the two US girls, both just 20.
Anyway, with my throat starting to hurt again and its being 9.45pm, now´s the time to hit the sack.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Good morning or evening to you all!
Woke yesterday with a sore throat so took the bus to |Burgos. Went to the Centro de Salud and the receptionist asked me for my card. I gave her the credencial. After a bit of argy bargy she accepted me and \i saw a doctor who decided my complaint was not likely to infect pilgrims in a refuge, and prescribed Algidol, a powder to be taken three times daily with water.
Fekt better as the day wore on. Went to Decathlon and bought a good pair of sandals. Ruined by then. Ate with others in the albergue - a small place with me supplying the bread. Just by a fluke I bought a whole loaf but I had been expected to feed all six of us. As i say, a fluke. A US couple from Indiana (no Dick, they don't know you. Strange isn't it?) made a salad, and Laura the hospitallera made soup with dumplings and a pasta. After we sat around and had a brief prayer and reflection service. Really, a very special time.
Today went to the cathedral for a service then the museum. They are doing a fantastic job on this world heritage building. I really felt dreadful but again it's not too bad right at this moment.
I'm being summoned for dinner, so I hope to send 14a later.

Burgos de Raneros statue

Burgos de Raneros PC (not sure what the 'PC' is - I'm just using Dad's captions)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Went looking for some sandals but the arch support was not great enough. (I left the flipflops at an albergue by mistake.) Then I asked for slippers as in many albergues they ask that you take off your boots and leave them downstairs. No again, he didn´t have a pair in my size. Then I got some tissues in a pocket pack. Most pharmacies used to sell them, but now, only in packs of six. Instead you go to a Tabac - a shop that sells all sorts of stuff including tobacco products. The one today was also the post office, sold comics and goodness knows what else.
I met a young Aussie, Michael Brooking from Melbourne. He has been in the army and is now seeking a job in the building game in England. We met to have a Menu del Dia of 8€ which was quite nice. Unfortunately we had to eat it inside although it was a lovely evening. We invited Pieter, a retired German chemical engineer, to join us and had a fine time. Both blokes like to travel alone but we will be staying at the same village tomorrow night and will most likely get together again.
The paseo was on again as usual. All the families out with g´parents, parents, and kids. The atmosphere is just lovely.
Manfred did not show in Belorado. We had made tentative plans to travel to Silos monastery on Monday together but it may be he has decided Sunday is a better day for the monks and taken the bus to Burgos. Whatever, I´ll get tomBurgos on Sunday, find a boot repairer on Monday morning, and get him to stretch the ¨good¨boots. The earliest I could pick them up would be the day after and it might even be longer. I won´t be able to stay in the same refuge and it may not even be possible to move to another refuge in the same city. If so, it will be a hotel, and I hope it will be quieter than the last time. The Spaniards seemed to believe that hotel corridors were designed to sing and talk loudly in. Anyway, it will give me a good opportunity to here these famous monks sing. It may even be possible to stay there overnight and have some more services with them.
Because the service was available and my clothes were filthy (hand washing with Dove is not the best) I had almost all my clothes washed and dried in the albergue. And by the way, five years ago almost all the places were called refugios. Now they are albergues. Such is progress. Anyway, time for bed.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Quite an easy walk today. The hills are flattening out and the paths are in the main better prepared. It is also a help to be walking towards and through small villages. It gives some interest. The weather was beautiful again, with the few clouds dancing on the hills. Greens of all sorts are everywhere and new growth dominates.
Last time I saw the interior of the church at Redecilla but on going through today I was told it would not be opened. Pity. Still I saw inside the church at GraƱon. Last time the path bypassed the village but now with a camino-mad priest the camino has been bent a bit. Some nice features inside but very dark.
Now typing at the computer in Belorado. The albergue is newish and privately owned. The owners ask for a donation and most people gave 5€, so it seemed. There are three floors with many, many beds, maybe 100, so you can see the potential to make lots of money with little effort.
I bought some items at the supermercado for lunch. 1l of milk cost 58(€)c, zumo do naranja (orange juice) was 70c, half a long baguette 35c, ham and cheese, orange and apple - the lot totalling less than 4€. I still have stuff left over.
This morning I woke with a crookish back due to the banana shape of the bed. 4am. At 5.15 I got up and after breakfast of milk, apple and orange, I packed then spent some time on Hotmail. I´m pretty weary now. I have asked Kate to contact Matt Marcos at school to find out why the emails are not arriving. Bit of a worry. I suppose they have set the server up to reject any e-mails to a large group, so we may have to find a way around it.
Met an Australian today. Peter is an ex-diplomat with a command of Spanish who is now a public servant in Canberra. Also two young USA women who are walking about 10km a day and have decided that´s a good amount! They reckon they´ll come again to finish next year. One of them, Deb, is a Psych major who said she had written a paper on the influence on children of the texts they read. She said that a search of the Internet showed lots of papers on similar aspects. Also, Deb, I earlier said that a young French Information guide said he enjoyed Australian music- ¨the best in the world.¨ Hope you are now receiving the emails.
Hope you are all well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy birthday from Kate

Today is Dad's 69th birthday and it is also the 2 month anniversary of his death.
It has been a really difficult day, with some special moments. I've been very aware of the person Dad is/was and so thankful for the years I am blessed to have known him. Years ago, a friend said how lucky I was to have Dad as my father because life with him would be so much fun and I'd be laughing all the time. When I told Dad, he laughingly dismissed it, saying it was a good thing she didn't know the reality. While I admit that life with Dad wasn't endless fun and entertainment, his enthusiasm, love, generosity and love of jokes and anecdotes brought warmth and welcome to our home.
Right now, I'm finding it difficult to believe that Dad's really gone. I keep expecting him to call me, or to be there when I visit my parents' house.
June 3rd will always be Dad's birthday and I'm sad knowing that all future celebrations will be without him.
I love you, Dad - happy birthday!

(L-R) Dad, Deb, Mum, Kate, Brea and Mike during our holiday to Port Douglas, August 2008.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

From Kate

I was very sad to hear the news that Dad's dear friend, Manfred, died on May 21st after a long battle with cancer.
Dad and Manfred met while walking the Camino trail in 2000 and kept in regular contact across the miles. Manfred's friendship and support were very important to Dad and he was one of the people Dad was sad not to be able to say good-bye to during his final days.
My love and prayers are with Manfred's wife, Luciana.