Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Good evening!
There was no interest in buying the Carrix, no doubt fostered by the hospitallero who, after initial interest, decided that it was too dear and therefore not worthwhile (irrespective of benefit). There were two women who would have benefited but they both knew everything ... Well, all one can do is show and offer and it's up to the customer. I've posted it home seamail.
The first bus to Irun (on the border with France) was 6pm so I went to Bilboa and saw the Guggenheim museum. The major exhibition is on the Aztecs so I'm very glad to have gone. I then strolled through town and caught the bus to Irun, arriving there just after 6pm. The Bilboa bus station was very well organised with a central info system, whereas the Pamplona one is a shambles.
In Irun missed the last train to Bayonne by an hour. A French couple took me to their home town of Biarritz only to discover the last bus had gone, so they drove me on to Bayonne! How good is this?
I booked into the hotel, had an expensive but excellent meal, and had the best night's sleep for a while. No shower available(!) so washed evening and morning at the hand basin. Not my favourite way of doing things.
In the morning I picked up the goods I'd left in storqge and wandered over to the Cathedral. The priests then started morning prayers. There were 9 priests, the youngest being older than me, with most in their 80s. The cantor intoned and the rest intoned in reply, about a minor third lower. As they progressed the chants became a little more interesting, but all were pitched much lower than any I have previously heard. The Cathedral is being restored as it is in quite bad shape, though interesting.
Today I'm off to Bordeaux and as the train leaves at 11.16 I will most likely stay there overnight. It is Saturday today so goodness knows what the train service will be like then. Not sure zwhere I'll go, either. I'm due in Zurich on Monday or Tuesday.
God bless you all

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Good evening all
It feels really odd to be back in Pamplona, and strange to tell, I´ve got itchy feet again! I see all these pilgrims with their new gear and I just want to hug them.
I got here last evening and am staying in a Fonda (low grade - 14€) where I stayed in 2000. It´s cheap.
Last meal in Seville was a pizza. It tasted OK but the base was bought, and the only things on top not from a can were cheese and a couple of slivers of pimiento (red pepper). I don´t think an Aussie restaurant would get away with that.
The train (Alta 200) to Madrid was full of rattles, was buffeted badly by the AVEs that passed, and our ears were affected by pressure each time we entered a tunnel. The one from Madrid to Pamplona was an Altaria and much better. I didn´t mind the day spent travelling as I needed the rest.
In Madrid, with a couple of hours to spare I went to the Prado Museum. Frankly (and please do not be offended) I would be happy to never see religious art of this Spanish type again. The poses are fake, the faces soppy, the colours pastel. (The only Crucifixion scene I have ever really responded to was by Dali, and it is not in the Prado.) El Greco painted his saints in dark tones, which is a change from the norm. There was a lot of sculpture of quality including Roman and Roman style from much later centuries. Velazquez had rooms full, there was a fine Rembrandt, but my favourites were the Brueghels (spelling?) There is such wonderful detail and the figures are meaningfully employed. In fact there was a lot of Lowlands art, not surprising in view of the imperial relationship of the times. Charles V, the HRE, was given prominence. Later it was fun to spot the relatives as they all have jutting jaws as opposed to that other European noble genetic trait - the chinless wonder.
The rail line section of the old station at Madrid has been turned into a rain forest with mist sprays. It´s very humid, of course, but very attractive. The new section is behind the old.
After Madrid the land was very dry with many previous water courses converted to the only cropped and green parts. Maize and olives predominated though nearer Madrid there were many fruit trees.
I cleaned the Carrix with water last night. Even the wheels came up very well. I will arrive at the Albergue soon after 12 and stay there with my sign - For Sale (picture from the Net) Se Vende - until I get a response. If there is no sale by tomorrow evening, I will send it back to Australia and continue the travels.
God bless you all

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Last night wandering Sevilla streets I saw some tram lines barely exposed. It´s a long time since they closed that service. Interestingly, though, they are installing a metro. The blasting and digging has caused a halt to repair work at the cathedral where two columns were found to have cracking. They have been encased in gigantic stacks of collars, custom made, liberally endowed with concrete. When the Metro is finished (at its closest point it is three hundred metres away and the same for the river) work will recommence on column repair.
It´s big, but I can´t say the cathedral is beautiful. It has some beautiful aspects, one of which is the bell tower, and the ceilings over the chancel are wonderful. As a building, it looks like it was designed by competing interests.
There is much of interest in Seville, and the prices are kept well down by intense competition. Postcards for 15 - 30 cents, last night´s Chinese Menu del Dia at 5.75€, the quality bedroom for 20€, for instance.
I managed OK to walk to the station dragging the house, but boarding the train was interesting. Being an AVE, it left on time, but the platform was not announced until 10 minutes before and we had to line up to have baggage screened. The first on placed their small bags in the luggage area nad there was literally no where for the later arrivals´ bag. Two passengers changed that. They identified passengers, and put the smaller bags above the seats until there was enough room for everyone and everything. But it took them 15 minutes! And yes, my bag was the greatest of them all. The trip was again quiet and short but I took more careful notice of the country. The greener-than-olive trees are oranges. Surrounding Seville there must be tens of thousands of hectares of them. The largest crop is maize - again, huge areas of it. And then, quite suddenly, about halfway to Cordoba, the olives took over. There must be something in the soil, becasue both places have hot climates.
It took about 15 minutes to walk to the city centre of Cordoba to find the Information office, and a further 10 minutes to reach the cathedral. I was directed to my Pension where I have a tiny room with double bed that´s very hard, and a washbasin for 18€. It is within 100m of the bus stop, so that will make tomorrow a little easier, when my destination is Pamplona (via Madrid). Departure is 8.55am, arrival 5.38pm, with a three hour stop in Madrid. If I can fit the luggage into a locker, I will go for a walk for an hour or so.
Cordoba´s old city is very small for what was one of the largest cities in the world in the 12th century (around 250 000). I found the oldest inn still standing - the Posada del Potro - and in the front there was an outstanding display of models with text in SP and Eng. There, the reason was made clear.
There was an economic collapse in the 6th and 17th centuries. I guess then, that large sections of the town fell into disrepair with people moving closer to the centre. Now, there are many wide streets apart from the three large boulevardes where it is possible for traffice to flow freely. Much of the city feels quite modern and considerable growth is happening further out. A km away over the river there is a very large retail complex dominated by Eroski. One the bigger chains of supermarkets in Spain, it is from the Basque territory.
I managed to find all the places recommended to me by the "i" centre, including the largest plaza where a guitar festival is right now taking place, Posada del Potro (Inn of the Colt), the Archbishop´s Palace, Castle, Synagogue (it´s Monday so most things were shut), and some very tiny streets. One is so narrow that two young men could not stand side by side in the narrowest place.
Another is famous for its flowers. There are artisan shops everywhere, many of them specialising in leather goods. During Muslim-controlled times, Cordoba produced the best leather in large quantities, so much so that English bootmakers were called Cordwainers. Oh, and Toledo produced the best steel for swords. Guess what artisanshops fill their streets.
Manfred asked me to take some photographs for him, knowing they would also be of interest to me. They were of statues of great Cordobans and I found five: Maimonides, Averroes, Seneca, the guy who built the Mosque, and one described as an oculist. The last has his name included on the photo but the other I will have to check on the Internet.
The big controversy in Cordoba for the last 800 years has been the Mezquita Cathedral. When it was conquered by a Christian king in the 1200s he brought in his bishop to consecrate the whole thing as a church. This is interesting, to say the least. Pretty obviously the Christians appreciated the beauty of these places. However, the worship styles are completely different, and just sticking chapels around the edge did not work. Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, and the mosque was a dark place, with only the important bit facing Mecca lit other than dimly. In the 1500s it was decided to put a Gothic nave, choir, and crossing in the middle to raise the roof, making it better for singing and intoning, and to strengthen the building. Even a casual glance shows that many of the pillars are not vertical and it most likely would have collapsed by now with that added strength.
There is a fine belltower which may have a Muslim base but it doesn´t look it, but it must be said the quality of desing and execution of the Gothic structure leaves much to be desired.
As to the question of whether the Christians should have taken over this Islamic place of worship, the largest in Europe, I say of course they should have. Let me see now, where did the Muslims build their mosque? Why, right over a Visigothic church! We don´t hear too many offers from Muslims to rebuild that. And why would they? They defeated the Visigoths. And why would the Christians back off? They defeated the Muslims. That all three cultures tolerated each other in Cordoba for along time is generally accepted, but the Muslims would never have been defeated if they had not bickered and fought with each other.
Anyway, I´m being told to pack up.
Two days time I hope to have sold the Carrix.
God bless you all

Monday, September 21, 2009

40 (whatever)

Once again, hello there!
Last evening´s meal was nothing to write home about. So I won´t.
When I aarived on the train a whole bunch of soccer fans was gathering to go to Madrid for the King´s Cup and Seville won for the first time for 77 years. Thank goodness for wax earplugs as I heard nuddings all night, though before I went to bed the crackers (small bombs) had started. My Hostal is in a quiet street, too.
Now that I am 65 años, I get some benefits such as reduced prices at venues. Today, entry was free for me to the Real Alcazar (Ray-AHL Al-CAH-thar) or Royal Castle, instead of 5€. They don´t take money from visitors to the Cath on Sundays, either, so the entries were cheap today!
Last evening it was so hot and still, I knew it would be hopeless going to bed early and ate at 9pm. After I wandered around looking to buy a coffee, the sound of music took me to the square alongsde the campanilla or bell tower. There were three Russian performers and the standard was HIGH. They had CDs and at the end I bought one. I gleaned the following from the third-named. Nikolai has been in Spain for about 12 years, unsurprisingly as his instrument is the Spanish guitar. Most of his CDs have been with other musicians, and about 4 years ago he invited Inna, a violinist, to join him. Together they played all the music last night, first, arrangements of classics, and then some Spanish. A moving audience of around 40 listened, and the coffers rang all the time. The third, Alejandro, joined them 4 months ago. He had just rung his wife when I met him and his heart was heavy, which is why he did not play his flute. His first questions to me were along the line of, Where is God? Who is he? an interesting start to a conversation. He was not anly sad but angry. In Russia (St Petersburg) he was a soloist, a professor of culture and a professor of flute but had no money. He earns more per month as a busker in Spain than in Russia. He would love to bring his wife and daughter out, but she is a music journalist and what would she do? She earns very little but she has a position. 130 years ago the two richest nations in the world were Argentina and Australia. Australia is still in the rich club, but Argentina is a basket case. A doctor earns $50 a month while a pair of Nike runners is $400. An article in the Daily Telegraph a few days ago was musing the same thoughts. How is Britain, which has shed 1 000 000 manufacturing jobs in the last 8 years, still able to supply services to its people? How can France generate wealth while insisting its workers at all levels put in 35 hours a week, while India is inventing the 35 hour day? It´s a mystery, but no wonder that people flee their homelands to wealthier countries.
I bought a case today, big enough to take all my stuff, and have packed up the Carrix. I´ll sell it as soon as I can.
Seville Cathedral apparently has a greater volume than any other church, according to the Guiness Book of Records. There is a central nave and four side aisles, 44 chapels, over 500 works of art, 50+ stained glass windows, and two interesting graves: Chris Columbus (Cristobal Colon) and one of his two sons. CC´s is a most interesting affair with his coffin held aloft by four bronze figures representing the 4 main kingdoms of Spain. His son was apparently desperate to ensure his grave would be maintained so assembled a huge library of books and donated them to the Chapter of Priests of the Cath, of which there are still 49! Ours this morning was in his 80s and was drowned out three times when the bells rang.
Photography was difficult inside as usual as the lights are kept so low. I took several videos instead. Apart from the bell tower, the oldest section is the orangery - 11th century. The trees are arranged symmetrically and are joined by a centralised water system.
Lunch was a bocadilla with ham and cheese. It most likely will be my last. They have lost their appeal.
I went to the Royal castle, built in two stages by Pedro I called the Cruel (because he lost his crown to his half brother, Enrique the Bastard. Others called him Pedro the Just) and Carlos V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Pedro made Muslim workers build it for nothing but in return they earned their freedom. They built it like a small (cheaper) version of the Alhambra in Granada. There are two hectares of buildings and fortifications, and five ha of gardens. Our guide (I tagged along) took us to the Juderia, the Jewish quarter, and said that the Jews´ living right alongside the Moors´ castle (which was where Pedro´s castle is) proved that they had happy relations with each other for centuries. Hmm. It seems to me that if you put a potentially troublesome group alongside your castle and barracks, you are ensuring control over them. It hardly implies trust.
Anyway, dinner calls!
Tomorrow I head for Cordoba.
God bless you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Good afternoon to you all
I left Toledo at 8:10 and arrived in Madrid on time but was unable to change my ticket from the 11am to 10am AVE service. This is the Spanish fast train, taking about one third of the time of the ordinary service, and charging 3 times as much! The trip was very smooth and quiet, the rail line seeming arrow straight horizontally and vertically. (Did I say that the French call their railways Road of Fire, and the Spanish, Iron Road?) AVE is bird in latin, I think, and the symbol of the service is four Vs overlapping each other like stylised wings. The A V stand for Alto Velocidad (high speed) and the E probably for España. The clouds gradually grew more sparse and we fled through apparently borderless properties of millions of thirsty olive trees. Pale blue-grey hills surrounded the rolling land of eroding gullies, reminding me of how Gallipolli must have looked to troops in 1915. There were scrub and dry grass interspersed for no apparent reason among the olive groves. Later we saw small bushy trees about the size of olives but much greener. On the trip I but rarely saw what would qualify as a tree. Perhaps it was this land that was denuded of oak to build the Armada.
We passed through Cordoba, so I booked to go back there on Monday and stop. If you look at a map, they are not in a direct line. The Information service (a private one) at the station rang and found me a fine Hostal at 20€ for each of two nights. It has a restaurante with an 8€ meal I´ll try tonight. There is no choice in the plates, so tomorrow willl probably try the nearby Chinese place offering a MdD for 5.25€.
My room has a double bed but unlike Toledo and the Pension Castilla, there is no fan. At 5pm today it was 34 degrees and while the temperature has dropped a little (it is now 7.50pm) it is still uncomfortably hot. Still, I am typing this in the Correos which is a. open til 10pm, b. charging only 1.5€ for 1 hour, less than the commercial opposition next door, and AIRCONDITIONED. It also helps that the guy in charge is polite, friendly, keen to practise his English, and HELPFUL! May he quickly be promoted to a position where he can influence others.
My Hostal is very near the cathedral which was closed today. Actually, there were marriages and baptisms and I am happy that they closed the church to all but those attending. It is not good that whille religious services are on, places are being visited by tourists. Anyway, there are several services tomorrow, of course, and the cathedral is open for tourists after 2.30pm.
I walked around the C. and after a bit started taking pics of the doors. Even the simplest is grandly decorated while the important ones are dripping with statuary. Over the years the natural sandstone (why did they choose this most erodable of stone for buildings they expected to last a 1000 years?) has blackened badly and work is now in progress. The most photoed feature is the Muslim tower for the mosque which stood where the Gothic cath is. Extra stories were added to this most imposing structure to make it a bell tower. (Which reminds me, the bells of a church were ringing as I passed and they turn right over. Spanish bells hang down but with a sizeable timber and iron superstructure. British bells also hang down, I believe, but the bell ringers turn them up before ringing the changes. Because they have no balancing weights, the bellringers have to use considerable skill to control them.) On the shady side of the C is a parking area for coches de caballo or horse drawn coaches to you and me. (The word coche is used for these as well as large buses and private cars.) When I passed there were 11 of them plus more working the streets. I saw three magnificent ones decked out for weddings, two very formal with the attendants/drivers dressed in black suits, white shirts and shallow but broad-brimmed hats. Another was a most flashy affair with four horses decked in red plumes, with the radiant bride sitting by her glum husband. Perhaps he was paying for it.
There are tourists everywhere. Lots are Americans, both gray nomads and students, with many European nations represented as well as some Asians. Cameras are clicking away, and I am amazed at how many shots are taken into the sun. The perpetrators will ponder why their pics are so pale.
Some of the passages (too narrow to be streets) are literally a metre wide, and they twist and turn confusingly. Despite having a good map I had to repeatedly ask the way to the Hostal.
God bless you

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Good morning all!
Another hot day in Toledo but increasing cloud meant the temperature was down. It was 22 at 9.00am and 28 at 7.00pm but as it had tried to rain several times (and in fact has just succeeded in a desultory fashion) the humidity is Singapore style.
I did a lot of walking today, trying to see all the sights and failed a bit. The only person I met and spent some time with was a 30yo Argentinian with excellent English who has the same camera. We spent quite a time discussing them, and showing each other our pics. Then he rushed off to see Cristo de la Luz, the converted mosque, while I tried for a museum I´d passed coming into town yesterday. Unfortunately it shut as I arrived. I spent quite a long time at a Franciscan church, and a Benedictine monastery founded in (1476?) by the Catolic Reyes, Isabel and Ferdinand. Once they married and then controlled most of Spain between them, the wealth they had and threw around was almost obscene.
As each Muslim outpost fell, its treasury built another monastery, hospital, or church (just to rub salt in the wounds), and funded the next conquest. Of course, the fall of Granada led the way to the capture of the Americas and the stupendous riches there. They were absolutely insatiable, but I guess, so would I have been in the circumstances.
This monastery´s church is interesting and rich as you´d expect, and the lower cloisters pretty standard stuff, but the upper cloisters! Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! The ceilings are the most amazing mudejar (Arab) timber work and I was allowed to photograph them without sneaking. Sorry I can´t show you but imagine an Arabic pattern of squares, triangles and octagons of some complexity. Then picture that as made from pieces of wood with inlays and the whole painted in rich tones. I reckon the three pics I took are among my best.
Lunch was a menu del dia for 8.50€ in an airconditioned room. They had to throw me out after 1.5 hours! For tea I had a 2.20€ hamburger from a small shop run by Argentinians. Tryng to keep the costs down.
At the station I bought the return ticket for tomorrow plus a ticket for Seville. I´ll get there early enough to look for a cheap place, and I think there are Information places which will help. They have an "i" on a green background rather than blue. I´ll have to leave Pension Castilla at 7.30am to be sure of making the 8.10 connecting bus.
First thing this morning was la ropa, getting the washing done. 12€!!!!! No wonder she only works 4 hours a day or less. I wanted to complain, but left it too late. The system is (as I now know) that you demand the complaint form from the business operator. Next time.
Something I have noticed is that some girls are wearing clothes based on the old Spanish layered style. Manfred, they are also walking with grace, so maybe all is not yet lost.
The traffic in Toledo is really bad. The old city streets are really narrow and despite some streets being one way, and others pedestrian only, cars take ages to reach their destinations. They are mostly filthy from construction dust and have sustained damage down the passenger side. If you watch carefully, you can see it happening! WHEE! Another scrape, and there a bingle! Yesterday I was standing by a wall when a guy drove up and crunched his fender into it on my left. Then for reasons known only unto himself, he backed out and parked audibly on my other side. I moved before he got his aim really true.
A canvas "roof" snakes its way through some of the wider streets, giving some shelter from the sun, but also the feel of something special. It starts in a large plaza and goes to the Teatro. I wonder what the shop operators feel when the "snake" avoids their street.
Last evening I spent 1.5 hours at a free concert of kids from a music school. Fulltime or part-time I know not.) They were aged from 9 to 19 and the standard varied a bit. The choir (I think it´s just kids who learn an instrument) were tuneful if wishy washy but they sang several quality pieces. Most of the string players played the top notes flat and bottom ones sharp. A 15 yo boy clarinetist was excellent, as was a 16yo girl pianist. Last was a brass group numbering 12. This was a senior group and the quality reflected it. The Dean of the school (I guess) was the conductor and was much better than competent. They started with Copeland´s Fanfare for the Common Man which was much played in a summer Olympics some years ago. That was intermission but I left for bed. The Teatro is in the European style of a small stalls with everyone else in horse-shaped tiers. Having now sat in the front row of one, I can tell you they aren´t much joy for most as it is almost impossible to have a full view of the stage unless you are front and centre. And then you have to lean forward.
Toledo, as I said yesterday, is built on a hill, but the hill is surrounded on 3 sides by a river. On the river-free side at one spot it is really steep so the city parents have installed a series of escalators under a concrete ramp that bends and twists its way up the hill. There are about 6 or 7 standard length escalator sections and it is open from about 8 am to 10 pm most days. Good thinking!
Early this arvo I went back to the room for a rest. Just before 2pm I came down stairs to find the two front doors locked. Madam security who insists on taking the keys from us and giving them back when we go out was not there. There was no response to the bell or a knock on any of the non-guest doors. After 10 mins or so she came in from shopping. What, I asked, was I expected to do in case of a fire? Oh, she breezily replied, it was only 5 minutes. Well, I could do a lot of choking, burning, and dying in 5 minutes. But of course, it hasn´t happened yet. Apart from that, I am very happy with the place which is well set up. I have not seen anyone else using my bathroom, either.
Next e-mail, Sevilla!
Stay well. (And if not, please get well, and stay that way!)

Monday, September 7, 2009


G´day All
Dined alone last evening for the first time in many days, the diminishing no. of pilgers from "my group" virtually ensuring this. Anyway, I bought goods in the Supermercado and ate in the park. Funny thing is, I spent 6.15€, and for only 0.15€ more I could have had a Menu del Dia at Manolo´s!
Walked to the bus station to farewell Deanne and Barry which was a good closure. At 10pm on the station waiting for the Madrid sleeper, I met three Vancouver women I had briefly walked and lost contact with, so that was good. My room mate in our 4 berth cabin was a Spaniard returning to Madrid. As he had some English I was more comfortable with what would occur on arrival. Our train was late so I hurried to the ticket office to find everyone standing in line. After 5 minutos I realised a window was selling Toledo tickets independently, so got mine and made the train with a few minutes to spare. As they are building a rapid transit line, we had to get off the train and go by bus the last section. People rushed off the bus, bought a map for 2€ and disappeared while I was still wrestling with the Carrix! Setting off, I met two Oregon girls who looked just as lost as me. It turned out several of the family of one of them had taken a taxi, but took the only map with them. Hey ladies, I´ve a map, you´ve a Pension, let´s join forces. They were terrific to me, giving me a hand up the steps, of which there were MANY. And the charge for the night is 15@ so I´m staying here for two nights. It´s a small room and I share facilities but who cares!? It´s much more private and spacious than most of the accommodation on the Camino.
First item, a shower. Then to get my clothes washed. Walked to the Auto-Servicio Tontoreria to find it Cerado (that´s shut, folks) with no note or times of opening. The pharmacist shrugged - perhaps she´s French?
After lunch, a bit of shopping, a tour of the cathedral and a snooze, found at 5pm the wash shop was still closed. As I am sweating so much I will really have to wash the clothes more frequently, and it´s just not possible in the Pension. GRRR
Anyway, Toledo looks largely rebuilt, there is so much obvious restoration. The colors are pale golds and browns, and the city, perched on a hill, has as confusing a set of roads, streets, and alleys as I have seen. It has good feel, though, so I hope to pretty much cover the whole place tomorrow.
God bless you all.

Friday, September 4, 2009


G´day All
We made a night of it last evening. I was in bed by 12.10 but the others partied on. Barry and Deanne leave today on the 6pm bus. Jean spends tomorrow in the Parrador (5 star), courtesy of her parents while Sabine and Stephanie go to Finisterre. June Masuda is thinking of walking but with the weather so hot and the second day 37 km it is not a good idea. I hope to talk her out of it. I´ll go to the bus station to farewell B abd D. They are good friends and strong Christians.
I spent all up about an hour and a half in the PO today, posting stuff to London, France, and home. You take a ticket and line up to purchase the mail bag. Then you get another ticket, retire to address and pack the bag, then wait in line to pay for the postage. To Oz it is terribly expensive, and under 2kg has to fly. Today I protested so the lady sent the packet of presents seamail. Sorry Family, you will get your pressies in three months time!
The jacket arrived today so I returned the other one. One more chapter closed.
Then there was pilgrim mass and at the end the bota did fly! I used the video facility and it looks to have worked a treat. It should show up well in a presentation. The cantor lost her voice during it, and the priest took over, singing the last verse and a half. I sang along but as I dont know the words ... Barry saw a girl returning from communion with the wafer in her hand and laughing, so he grabbed her arm and told her to be respectful. She was suitably chastened.
After, we all had a big lunch for 6.50€ at Manolo´s. They feed lots of people so don´t like table-fulls sitting around talking. We were happy to go as we all had things to do. B and D shopped and packed, the other shopped and flaked out in the heat, and I walked to the station to reserve my sleeper. 28€ just to reserve. I leave at 10.30 tonight and will stay in Toledo overnight before returning to Madrid. Then I THINK I will got to Granada (34€) but will think on it. My hostal is looking after my bag, for which I am VERY grateful.
ANyway, with sweat running off me (no aircon in the computer place) it´s time to go.
Next email will be from a different city, and my camino is now officially over.
Once again, God bless you all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Last evening I sat in some hope on the plaza for any hungry peregrinos to arrive and gradually 12 did, which was great. It took so long to find a place to eat though that two of them peeled off. There were some old favorites as well as youngish Craig from UK, new to me, Elma whom I met in Burgos, Wolf of the grey hair, who has been pursuing Elma, and the Oz couple I mentioned, Peter and (oops). Very good time though we really weren´t settled until 9. Tonight we´re meeting at 8:30 so it will not take quite so long to find a place and order. (When I was sitting waiting, an Englishman appeared and after a time invited me to join him and some Dutch guys if my arrangements fell through. Our groups are not the only ones meeting outside the cathedral at 7pm or so.)
I´ve shifted into a single room at the hotel for the same price and am looking forward to the botafumeiro but apparently it swang(!) today so I hope that doesn´t mean they won´t swing tomorrow.
Today I went to the PO but the packet had not arrived (not there at 7pm either) so went to Finisterre by bus. 9.45 left and arrived 11.45. Sun quite hot though there was a cool breeze. The atmosphere was very heavy with a mist blurring the coast but I took some good photos of plants and coastline, including a couple of jerky films. Since I come from almost the end of the world (NZ is) Finsterre has not the same effect on me as on the Roman officer who asserted that as the sun went down he heard a hissing such as comes from iron plunged into water. Wonder what he´d been drinking? There I met six pilgims of my acquaintance and had a drink with four of them. One had just completed her third camino in three years. It gets in yer blood, though I don´t think I´m likely to do it again, certainly not by myself. Finisterre was the end of a pilgrimage thousands of years older than the Romans, and it was these early Ps who started the giant pile of rocks at Cruzferro. They were apparently following the milky way.
I re-met Flemmng who had just arrived after walking three days from Santiago. He said so many people were walking, the refuges were full each night and people were forced to sleep out. Yet the numbers in Santiago itself seem to be less, so maybe we were just part of a glut. Still summer has just begun and the pressure will really be on in July.
Saw a young couple from UK on the bus. They´re on their annual fortnight (2 weeks to you foreigners) holidays and are touring, starting in Vigo and ending in Barcelona, travelling by bus and train across the north - backwards from the camino. Had a good time talking to them. She is an archivist in Bedford who spends much of her time answering queries about family trees. It costs 26 pounds an hour. One she pursued recently was a 14 yo boy transported for stealing 3 shillings and sixpence - about two weeks wages. He was sent to Tasmania and released at 21 for good behaviour. He married a local girl, moved to Sydney and became a cobbler - his father´s trade. Years later, a report on his life in a Sydney newspaper coyly said he had come to Australia from London. Now, of course, people proudly parade their penal past, especially if they are First Fleeters.
The airconditioning in the bus broke down on the return and the driver flew home in 1.5 hours! It was also the grubbiest bus I have seen in Spain. Normally they are very clean and beautifully maintained. The trip was an interesting one and very hilly with many forested and plantation areas, the Aussie eucalypt to the fore. It´s interesting they are still planting gums though they are a pest, squeezing out the native varieties. But I note they also fell them small sometimes, stacking in piles the stripped trunks, most not much thicker than my wrist. What their use can be continues to be a puzzle.
I´m not sure that I said, but now my plan is to go to Madrid by sleeper (saves a night in a hotel), and then to Toledo. The Eurail pass pays only to Madrid. Then I MAY go on to Granada or something though the distances are great. Then up north again to sell the Carrix. I think I will contact Jean-Pierre, the Qantas bloke as well.
Marc from Alticoop where I bought the jacket replied today. He said he had passed on the information to the company that made the jacket, and they had despatched a new one "some days ago". If it doens´t come Thursday I will send the old jacket back to Marc, and redirect the new one (IF that´s possible) to Lyn´s. I will buy another jacket (cheap nylon) if we get rain. It has been a real saga. Still I am seeing some more of Spain and Santiago.
God bless you all.