Sunday, September 30, 2018

Day 1 - Burgos - Fromista, October 1, 2018

I had an okay sleep and by 9 am, maybe 9:30, was on the road.  I plan to do 50 km/day to get to Santiago in 10 days but after today, I have my doubts.  Burgos is in the bottom left corner and I went to the 4th town Frómista - 67.5 km.  Holy shit it was a big day and the worst is that I'm travelling through the mesita which means small plateau.  It's prairie with over 1 km high rises in elevation so that is not really prairie to me-  I could be in for some long and difficult days-


Leaving the hostel with a smile, not having a fricking clue what I was in for-


Because I arrived so late last night, I only saw Burgos this morning.  The old city is walled-


Inside is the Burgos Cathedral.  It was closed so I wasn't able to go inside but it looks pretty gothic and gigantic-



The route started on pavement in the city.  I liked that but soon was on rocky roads.  There are a lot of elderberry growing wild in the ditches-


There are a lot of markers along the way, helping we poor suckers find our way-


Farming-


The soil is white and so are the rocks in the cultivated fields-


It was a hard climb up this hill.  The path is rocky and sometimes rutted.  I've had to walk up and down hills a few times, pushing my bike.  Believe it or not, the walking feels really good because I'm using different muscles-


Lunch of champions! in Hornillos Del Camino.  That's a smoked ham and queso bocadilla and awesome rijoa wine-


I stopped at a church in Hontanas-


Incense was burning and music was playing.  Most churches along the way are set up for we pilgrims.  The cross is a Patriarchal Cross which has been used since the XII century as a distinctive sign of patriarchs and archbishops.  It's a vertical line crossed by 2 vertical bars.  Here one could also light candles and read the Bible which was available in numerous languages-


Next along the way was the San Anton Convent, begun in 1146 by King Alfonso VII to welcome pilgrims and treat them for "Fire of San Anton" which was a prevalent disease during the Middle Ages.  They used the Cross of Tau as a sign of protection against evil on the way.  Today it's an alberque-



The castle on the hill at Castrojeriz has a great lookout and no I definitely did not ride up there-


Their church is beautiful-


The front altar-


The side altars are made of wood-


Beautiful stained glass-


Then we hit Alto de Mostelares.  It was a little over 1 km up at a grade of 12%.  I pushed my bike all the way and it was nasty-


Exhausted me-


Going down was an 18% grade but a  cement road so I could ride down.  

Part of the camino experience is meeting people and I spent the afternoon with Chris from Burnaby.  He's an experienced biker so I learned about the gears on my bike.  We're booked into an albergue municipal in Frómista for $13.50 for the night.  The doors close at 9:30 and we have to be out by 8 tomorrow so I'm hoping for a good sleep.  I'm so exhausted that shouldn't be a problem and there are only 8 of us in the room so hopefully it will be quiet-


Not sure if I'm looking forward to tomorrow or not.  Hope I'm not too stiff come morning!













Madrid to Burgos, España, September 30, 2018

What a shit show today!  I had a great sleep, finally, but then had to redo my blog so that took some time.  It was 11:00 by the time I left the hostel with the intention of taking the metro to the bus station and getting a ticket for the 1 pm bus.  The metro is only a 3 minute walk from the hostel so that was perfect.  I also had a final visit to Puerto Del Sol-


Gone are the days of little single paper metro tickets.  I had to by a plastic card (tarjeta) for $3.75 and then put more on it to go to my station.  The man at information suggested I take a bus because it only costs $2.25.  First mistake.  He showed me where the bus stop was - only a couple of short blocks away.  He tried to give me a map but I refused, saying I knew where it was.  Second mistake.  So I walked and walked and walked.  I needed bus 52 and finally saw one so went to that street, Gran Via actually-


and walked some more.  I found bus stops (paradas), but none that were for #52.  I asked a few bus drivers and they all had different ideas where I might find my stop,  So I walked.  Finally, a concierge in a hotel showed me on the map and I had been oh so close before I turned up Gran Via.  So, I went back and waited at least 25 minutes ... finally I was on a bus.  It was a short ride and once at the terminal, I couldn't find the ticket office.  I saw a long line up and with 10 minutes before departure, thought I'd made it.  Third mistake.  I started talking to a woman in line and she told me I was in the queue to get ON the bus, not the ticket line.  She then explained where the ticket booth was.  Off I ran.  Unfortunately, the 1 pm bus was full so I had to wait until 4 pm.  That turned out to be okay because I was able to go for lunch and a beer.  I had el menú del dia again and that meant Ensalada Ventresca- tuna on top of roasted red pepper, skinned raw tomatos and slightly cooked onions, drizzled with balsamic.  It was excellent-


The second course was lacón Gallega- baked ham on boiled potatoes, sprinkled with paprika.  Paprika is gross and this dish was nothing special.

Back to the bus terminal.  You wouldn't even know it's there - the bus and the metro are all underground.  So, the neighbourhood isn't disturbed by noisy diesel buses night and day.  Once on the bus, we drove underground a long way until we came up on the freeway.  What a smart idea!

Madrid to Burgos-


took almost 3 hours and arrived at 7.  My wasted day only confirmed to me that I should rent a car when I leave Santiago de Compostella and keep it until November 4 when I get to La Linea de la Concepción, which is the Spanish town across from Gibraltar.  I was looking yesterday and hesitating but I will spend so much time trying to find this bus station and that train station and walking aimlessly looking.  I think my time is too valuable to be wasting days like today! 

Along the way-


Harvesting sunflowers.  They are the only crop left in the fields-



It looks a lot like Saskatchewan but the soil is a yellowish white color and it's very very dry-


Luckily, the bus stop was NEXT to Hostal Burgos but I still wandered up and down the street a few times looking.  There are no numbers on the outside of the buildings.  I thought I had my own room but was disappointed to find I'm in an 8 bed dorm - at least I have a bottom bunk.  I also found my bike in storage at a local bar so once I figure out how to turn the handle bars around, I'll be good to go!

Not sure if I'm looking forward to this or not.  I'm a bit apprehensive but usually once I get going I'll settle down and it will be awesome!  Just have to get going!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Madrid, España, September 29, 2018

I had my blog ready to post last night and then poof, it was gone!  I hate that - so much work!  So I will try again.  
After a poor sleep, I'm not sure if it's jet lag or what but I was asleep by 10:30 and then awoken when someone moved in at 11:15.  The last time I looked at the time it was 2:15 so I woke up pretty tired.  Eventually I got moving and my first stop was back at Puerto Del Sol which is the main square.  It's packed from morning until late in the evening.  King Carlos III sits on his horse-


I decided to check out Retiro Park and walked along Gran Via which is Madrid's "Broadway".  The buildings have Art Nouveau and Art Deco facades and are gorgeous-


There are 30,000 leaves of 24 carat gold on this cupola-


A block further down the street is the Fuente de Cibeles, built in 1782.  It depicts the Roman goddess of fertility and agriculture Cibeles sitting on a chariot drawn by 2 lions, the mythological creatures Hippomenes and Atalanta-


Cibeles and the lions are made of marble and the rest is made of stone-


Another block down the street is La Puerta de Alcalá which is a neo classical monument found in the Plaza de la Independencia.  It's the first modern post Roman triumphal arch built in Europe dating from 1778-


Next to it is Parque El Retiro which is gigantic and a great place to hang out on a weekend, at least that's where most of Madrid seemed to be.  It's 320 acres and there are more than 15,000 trees.  There's an artificial lake where one can rent a boat and paddle around-


A monument to Alfonoso XII sits beside the lake-


Every weekend there's a puppet show for the kids-


The Crystal Palace was built in 1887 to house a Philippine Exposition.  It's over 22 meters high and made entirely of glass on an iron framework-





Nearby is the beautifully manicured Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez-



Peacocks roam freely-



The Walk of Argentina is a promenade of statues of different monarchs who ruled Spain-


I went back to Fun Hostel for a rest and then went to a Flamenco Show.  Along the way-


The Cardamomo apparently hosts the best flamenco show in Madrid.  Flamenco is dancing based on folkloric music traditions from Andalusia which is in southern Spain-



They could sure stomp their feet!  Afterwards, I went back to Plaza Del Sol to people watch.  It was such a beautiful night - it doesn't get cold and it's very comfortable without a jacket.  There was a huge stage set up and live music playing late into the night.

Looking forward to Burgos tomorrow!






















Senegambia et environs, The Gambia, December 10, 2018

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