Our Detailed Camino Itinerary – April and May, 2013

February 24, 2018

This time in 2013 Anita and I were doing a lot of hiking to prepare ourselves for our Camino Santiago hike across Northern Spain: our favourite trip of all time.

I know many of you are preparing for your own pilgrimage. I am therefore re-posting our own experience. You will find much detailed information and lovely photos of our own experience plus places to stay along the route and iconic things to see and stories.

Sincerely hope that this helps!

Our Camino Frances with more info:

Passport Page 1 Passport Page 1
Passport Page 2 Passport Page 2
Our Eclectic Camino Map Our Eclectic Camino Map

Mon Apr 22, 2013: In transit from Toronto to Paris

Tue Apr 23: In transit from Paris to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

The plan:CDG to Paris Gare du Nord every 5 to 7 minutes; takes ~25 min; TGV 8537 dep Paris Montparnasse 12h27 arr Bayonne 17h32; TER 67331 dep Bayonne 18:07 arr  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 19:33 Note: We missed our train from Montparnasse by buying the wrong ticket from the airport. Human help is sadly absent or too far away in Paris stations and we let a local buy our tickets for us. Our ticket didn’t let us on the subway at Montparnasse – the right one should have. For these tricky situations take the time to find an information kiosk. Don’t panic. We caught a later train to Bayonne (more money) and took a taxi from there to SJPdP for € 110!!

Stayed at Hotel Itzalpea 5 Place du Trinquet,  SJPdP Tel 33559370366  itzalpea@wanadoo.fr (€78/nt)

Wed Ap 24:  SJPdP

Got our Carnets de Pèlerin (Passports), bought hiking poles at La Boutique du Pèlerin, walked around St. Jean to check the way out of town, ate a lunch by the river, walked up above the town to the citadelle and ate dinner for the second time at Chez Dédé. Yum.

Thu Ap 25:  Begin Camino: Walk 8 km from Saint-Jean to Orisson

Stay at Private Refugio Orisson – Half Board 32 € (yes, that’s thirty-two monopolistic euros per person)   refuge.orisson@wanadoo.fr  Tel: 34681497956

Fri Apr 26: Walk 17.1 km from Orisson to Roncesvalles

Stay at Hotel Roncesvalles,  Mayor, Roncesvalles Tel +34948760105info@hotelroncesvalles.com Cost: 70 € using booking.com Arrived at 17:30 after a cold, wet 10 hour hike from Orisson. Borrowed rice to save my camera and we washed and dried our very muddy boots and rain pants in the lovely suite’s huge shower area. Ate our pilgrim meal at the hotel.

Sat Apr 27: Visit Roncesvalles; Taxi to Pamplona

Roncesvalles: Visited the Real Collegiata de Santa María (see above photos), Capilla de Sancti Spiritus, Capilla de Santiago, Battle of Roncesvalles Monument, the Silo of Charlemagne and the Museo.Ate lunch at nearby Casa Sabina, whose chef is also responsible for the kitchen at H. Roncesvalles.

Taxied (€55) to Pamplona, skipping one stage – Zubiri.
Book Early the Hostal Navarra Nr bus stn Db-€60 Calle Tudela 9, tel 948-225-164 There was no room when we called the day before. We stayed at Pension Arrieta (€ 40)  34-948-228-459, which has two nearby locations. The wifi is in the building with no elevator. Felt like we were disturbing the family whenever we went back there to ask questions or use the Internet, but they were nice and polite.We visited the cathedral: Choir contains “Mary of the Adopted Child; Mary is original but child is not; Tomb of Chas III in nave ooh aah.Ate supper at the Bar La Granja for € 33. A local bride-to-be, dressed in toilet paper and accompanied by friends, was one of the customers.

Continue reading “Our Detailed Camino Itinerary – April and May, 2013”

The Cockleshell and the Camino

Sewer cover in Arzúa sports the Cockleshell symbol of the Camino Santiago
Sewer cover in Arzúa sports the Cockleshell symbol of the Camino Santiago

Last year in Spain on our Camino Santiago my wife and I noticed that many sewer covers in towns along The Way contained motifs that showed the ancient symbol of the Camino: the cockleshell.

This shape of shell is found on the Atlantic coast beyond Santiago de Compostela. Early on in the 1000 year history of this pilgrimage, pilgrims returning home used the cockleshell as proof that they had completed The Way.

Among the blessings one, whether religious or non-theist, experiences are the reflective walk itself, the ancient architecture, the completely unspoiled countryside in some parts, researching the crazy, sacred HISTORY (omg!), the making of new, lasting friendships and, an unnecessary but wonderful bonus for us, spending tons of quality time preparing for the challenge, sharing the walk and sharing the memories – and talking about our next one!

Check out my posts in my Category, Camino Santiago. They vary from brief to very detailed with lots of photos and tips.

A Year Ago Today I Was A Geek

With backpack and MEC duds at Mount Chinguacousy
Anita with backpack and MEC clothes  at “Mount Chinguacousy” on Feb. 15, 2013

Last year I wrote this post and scheduled it to be published when we were already over in France/Spain doing our modified Camino Santiago. Somehow I messed up and it wasn’t posted, so it’s going in as an anniversary note, of sorts:

“Began real early preparing for our Camino Frances (the popular French route to Santiago de Compostela). First stage was to be through the Pyrenees. I estimated the “lowest freaky possible temperature ever” for our passage on the highest point at Col de Lepoeder (1427 metres above sea level) to be -7 degrees C on April 25 (when we expected to be doing it) My estimate was done by  checking the lowest temperature ever recorded for Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on that date and subtracting about 0.65 degrees for every 100 m increase in altitude.”

I know, I was a geek. Still am.

We actually crossed the high point on April 26, 2013. The weather was terrible, Continue reading “A Year Ago Today I Was A Geek”

Perspective

Anita on our scary Day 2 crossing the Pyrenees into Spain, complete with fog, rain, ice pellets, wind and snow. Luckily, not all at the same time.
Anita on our Camino Frances’  scary Day Two crossing the Pyrenees into Spain, complete with fog, rain, ice pellets, wind and snow. Luckily, not all at the same time.

I liked this photo right away and, after thinking about why, a few reasons come to mind. The way the shapes work, for one: the mountainside divides the image into two almost equal triangles, which simplifies things so that one’s eye is drawn to the end of the road that continues on to the left. The fog creates a feeling of mystery and uncertainty of what the figure in red will encounter along the way. (As it turned out – more fog.) The small,  red figure stands out almost like an apparition against the green and grey.

Size is important symbolically here: I can’t help feeling a humility when I compare the size of the human form with the vastness of the Pyrenees. We felt isolated walking here, though the faint sound of an invisible cow-bell hinted that this lonely place was occupied by other humans who were making a simple living by farming nearby.  I was moved by the evidence that humans here were living in a great deal more harmony with the land than humans like us who live on what was once prime Ontario farms and now is mostly asphalt, brick and concrete.

The cow-bell, it turned out, was a horse-bell. Three horses eventually appeared around the bend, almost invisible to the right of our path in the mist. The photo works better when I show only two.

The last photo I took on our hike from Orisson to Roncesvalles. Too wet to use my camera safely.
The last photo I took on our hike from Orisson to Roncesvalles. Too wet to use my camera safely.

The crossing from France into Spain occurred simply without kiosks, toll-booths and guards. It was marked by a sign that said Navarre.

Independence And Interdepedence

Le Tour de l’Îsle

Our Camino Frances began in Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port in Basque Country, France. It made me think of my native province of Québec and the aspirations of many Québecois for some form of “independence.” Walking through the beautiful, often unspoiled, countryside in Basque France (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and Spain (Navarre) made me sensitive to some of the legitimate reasons why choosing a different path into the future might make some sense. Globalization in its current form doesn’t. A path that has respect for the old and the traditional ways that were more in tune with Mother Earth would hold a certain attraction.

In 1659 my ancestor, Abel Turcault, sailed from La Rochelle, France, to Québec. I trace my roots to Abel through 10 generations.

Abel was granted a farm on Îsle d’Orléans, an island in the Fleuve St-Laurent near Québec city. The parish church of Sainte-Famille is the oldest parish church in North America still standing. Abel is buried in the yard there, though his grave is, like all the other very old ones, unmarked. The island is 42 miles (quarante-deux miles) in circumference. It is a “little camino” for locals and tourists, who do “le tour de l’île” by bicycle or on foot. I have done two tours de l’île… par automobile.

My ancestor operated a windmill. His mill ground wheat into flour.  When I saw the windmills between Pamplona and Puente la Reina I was reminded that the new has taken over the old. The bread of our new world is electricity.

A canadien songwriter, Félix Leclerc, wrote a song called  Le Tour de l’Îsle for his adopted home. It is very much a love song to the ancient island, which is still very French.

The old Québecois lived in harmony with nature. The ways of the new people of Québec, French or English, are not sustainable.

Félix Leclerc’s song is, I now realize, a song about respect for tradition and interdependence, not simply about independence.

Our Detailed Camino Itinerary – April and May, 2013

February 24, 2018

This time in 2013 Anita and I were doing a lot of hiking to prepare ourselves for our Camino Santiago hike across Northern Spain: our favourite trip of all time.

I know many of you are preparing for your own pilgrimage. I am therefore re-posting our own experience. You will find much detailed information and lovely photos of our own experience plus places to stay along the route and iconic things to see and stories.

Sincerely hope that this helps!

Our Camino Frances with more info:

Passport Page 1
Passport Page 1
Passport Page 2
Passport Page 2
Our Eclectic Camino Map
Our Eclectic Camino Map

Mon Apr 22, 2013: In transit from Toronto to Paris

Tue Apr 23: In transit from Paris to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

The plan:CDG to Paris Gare du Nord every 5 to 7 minutes; takes ~25 min; TGV 8537 dep Paris Montparnasse 12h27 arr Bayonne 17h32; TER 67331 dep Bayonne 18:07 arr  Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 19:33 Note: We missed our train from Montparnasse by buying the wrong ticket from the airport. Human help is sadly absent or too far away in Paris stations and we let a local buy our tickets for us. Our ticket didn’t let us on the subway at Montparnasse – the right one should have. For these tricky situations take the time to find an information kiosk. Don’t panic. We caught a later train to Bayonne (more money) and took a taxi from there to SJPdP for € 110!!

Stayed at Hotel Itzalpea 5 Place du Trinquet,  SJPdP Tel 33559370366  itzalpea@wanadoo.fr (€78/nt)

Wed Ap 24:  SJPdP

Got our Carnets de Pèlerin (Passports), bought hiking poles at La Boutique du Pèlerin, walked around St. Jean to check the way out of town, ate a lunch by the river, walked up above the town to the citadelle and ate dinner for the second time at Chez Dédé. Yum.

Thu Ap 25:  Begin Camino: Walk 8 km from Saint-Jean to Orisson

Stay at Private Refugio Orisson – Half Board 32 € (yes, that’s thirty-two monopolistic euros per person)   refuge.orisson@wanadoo.fr  Tel: 34681497956

Fri Apr 26: Walk 17.1 km from Orisson to Roncesvalles

Stay at Hotel Roncesvalles,  Mayor, Roncesvalles Tel +34948760105info@hotelroncesvalles.com Cost: 70 € using booking.com Arrived at 17:30 after a cold, wet 10 hour hike from Orisson. Borrowed rice to save my camera and we washed and dried our very muddy boots and rain pants in the lovely suite’s huge shower area. Ate our pilgrim meal at the hotel.

Sat Apr 27: Visit Roncesvalles; Taxi to Pamplona

Roncesvalles: Visited the Real Collegiata de Santa María (see above photos), Capilla de Sancti Spiritus, Capilla de Santiago, Battle of Roncesvalles Monument, the Silo of Charlemagne and the Museo.Ate lunch at nearby Casa Sabina, whose chef is also responsible for the kitchen at H. Roncesvalles.

Taxied (€55) to Pamplona, skipping one stage – Zubiri.
Book Early the Hostal Navarra Nr bus stn Db-€60 Calle Tudela 9, tel 948-225-164 There was no room when we called the day before. We stayed at Pension Arrieta (€ 40)  34-948-228-459, which has two nearby locations. The wifi is in the building with no elevator. Felt like we were disturbing the family whenever we went back there to ask questions or use the Internet, but they were nice and polite.We visited the cathedral: Choir contains “Mary of the Adopted Child; Mary is original but child is not; Tomb of Chas III in nave ooh aah.Ate supper at the Bar La Granja for € 33. A local bride-to-be, dressed in toilet paper and accompanied by friends, was one of the customers.

Continue reading “Our Detailed Camino Itinerary – April and May, 2013”

Our “Eclectic Camino” Trip Schedule

This is a brief summary. Here is a map to help you see the overall picture of what we did. As you will see, it is quite manageable.

Our Eclectic Camino Map
Our Eclectic Camino Map

As I said in my previous post, it is not the purest of caminos, but it is our very own and we seniors (both 68 years old) recommend it without hesitation. We planned this trip together and grew closer in the planning, the training and the Camino itself. We are still on our Camino and will be for the rest of our lives. We walked some of the hardest stages of the Camino Frances, about 200 km in all, including the high route through the Pyrenees. We walked 113 km across Galicia and received our Latin compostelas. Public buses were used as much as possible for routes we did not want to walk. Taxis were used when necessary. A full itinerary with accommodation and bus companies is in my post of June 1. I am also adding photos on the June 1 post. As the photo additions are a work in progress, you might want to revisit that post from time to time. I would really appreciate your comments or questions and will try to respond to all of them.  Splitting the last four stages up made it less grueling and more meditative. We left ourselves plenty of flexibility – still had four nights in Santiago and a chance to see Fisterra (Galician for Finisterre) and Muxía. Distances we walked are centered and bold type. I first became interested in Spain and the Camino while reading James A. Michener’s great book, Iberia – a non-fiction work describing, with great love and style, his visits over a period of about four decades. Michener has influenced the way I look at all aspects of that crazy, amazing and uniquely-historied country.

Itinerary Summary

Apr 22 Toronto à Paris CDG
Apr 23 Paris CDG à Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Apr 23 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Apr 25

8 km

Apr 25 Orisson PrivR
Apr 26

17.1 km

Apr 26 Roncesvalles H
Apr 27 Taxi
Apr 27 Pamplona P
Apr 29 Public bus
Apr 29 Óbanos PrivR (3 km from Eunate Church)
Apr 30

3.5 km

Apr 30 Puente la Reina Many routes funnel across this beautiful 12th C Romanesque bridge
Apr 30 Bus
Apr 30 Estella P – “Toledo of the North”
May 2 Bus
May 2 Santo Domingo de la Calzata Miracle of the chickens
May 2 Bus
May 2 Burgos P (Well worth 2 days)
May 4 Bus
May 4 León Parador J
May 5 Bus
May 5 Puente de Orbigo Crazy knight defends this bridge for 30 days against all braggarts
May 5

17.5 km

May 5 Astorga MR
May 6 Taxi
May 6 Foncebadón
May 6

2 km

May 6 Cruz de Ferro Drop your stones here and pray
May 6

20.7 km

May 6 Molinaseca H
May 7 Taxi
May 7 Villafranca del Bierzo P   –  La Puerta del Perdón
May 8 Bus 2 buses via Lugo, then Sarria
May 8 Sarria MR –  Start of the essential camino if you want a compostela
May 9

22.4 km

May 9 Portomarín PrivR
May 10

12.8 km

May 10 Ventas de Narón PrivR
May 11

12.0 km

May 11 Palas de Rei P
May 12

15.0 km

May 12 Melide H
May 13

13.9 km

May13 Arzúa Hostel
May 14

16.3 km

May 14 Santa Irene PrivR
May 15

13.8 km

May 15 Vilamaior CR
May 16

9.0 km

May 16 Santiago de Compostela P – Took bus tour to Finisterre and Muxía on May 18
May 20 Bus
May 20 Bilbao P
May 23 Bilbao à Toronto
Distances walked in kilometers centred and bold H = hotel, CR = Casa rurál, MR = Municipal Refugio, PrivR = Private Refugio, Parador = Parador