Wednesday, May 14, 2008

De Ages, en comunidad de Castille y Leon

The following photos were taken on the days covered in this blog post. As with the post itself, they are mostly in chronological order.
105. Taking coffee in a bar in Torres del Rio. Another Australian has left his mark. 106. The C12 Iglesia de Santo Sepulcro in Torres del Rio.
107. The cross-ribbed dome of the cupola of the Iglesia de Santo Sepulcro
108. The Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Asuncion in Viana
109. A wider view of the Viana church
110. The delightful Gudrun and Gerhard after lunch in Viana. Our paths happily crossed many times. Note the ubiquitous plasma screen in the background.
111. Vineyards, leaving Logrono for Navarette
112. The rich mud of La Rioja that produces the remarkable local vinotinto (red wine)
113. Crosses made from bark from the local paper mill added as a makeshift devotional site
114. Approaching Navarette. The Camino is essentially a series of walks between small medieval villages.
115. The ruins of the C12 monastery of San Juan de Acre formed to care for pilgrims
116. Cemetery outside Navarette. Its most striking feature is the entrance door which was taken from the pilgrim hospice at San Juan de Acre (see #115)
117. A side view of the cemetery
118. A view from the Camino approaching Najera 119. A welcome to pilgrims entering Najera: "Pilgrim, In Najera, you are one of us [one born here]". Irrestible.
120. Late afternoon, around 4.30 pm, in the albergue at Najera
121. The zona natural leaving Najera, in early morning light
122. The way ahead 10 minutes later
123. Another early morning Camino view on 12 May leaving Najera bound for Santa Domingo de la Calzada
124. Another early morning Camino view
125. Gert (Belgium), Marie (Sydney) and Chris (Brisbane) taking an early coffee at Azrofa. This is breakfast for most pilgrims.
126. Agata and Edina (Hungary), Michael (Siegen in Germany) and Gabor (Hungary) doing the same.127. A morning view from the Camino
128. A further view from the Camino en route to Santo Domingo
129. This roadside medieval structure between two small villages is known as a picota or rollo. Their medieval funcitons were as signposts but also possibly to punish law breakers. Some may have been used as gallows. The carvings on the arms of this picota are so worn as to be unrecognizable.
130. Looking back towards Azofra, but making for Santo Domingo de la Calzada 131. The slow climb towards Santo Domingo de la Calzada
132. Approaching Santa Domingo de la Calzada 133. A procession for the feast of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The delight taken in children is captured in the right rear. Saints must wait!
134. In the procession a statue of Santo Domingo is carried through the streets before the bishop in his mitre and carrying his crook 135. No bunk beds in my albergue in Santo Domingo! Unrolled sleeping bags claim the bed. This albergue has been run by the Cistercian nuns in the Calle de los Monjes (street of the nuns) for centuries.
136. A statue of Santo Domingo, carer for pilgrims, in the Cathedral
137. The Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) at siesta time
138. A square in Santo Domingo just before siesta time
139. The sign on the albergue door that pilgrims fear: ""Completo. Full. Complet". Franz from Holland, on the left, is undettered.
140. Gathering for a service in the Cathedral as part of the festival of Santo Domingo
141. Another view of the Cathedral
142. The bell tower stands separately from the Cathedral
143. The medieval streets of Santa Domingo at siesta time
144. The interior of the Cathedral at Santo Domingo
145. The day ends congenially with dinner with Fernando from Valencia.
146. The church at Granon, 7 kms on from Santa Domingo. Its albergue is justly for famous for its hospitality and the communal experience shared by its pilgrims.
147. This sign tells us that we are entering the Junta de Castilla y Leon, the largest of the autonomous regions on the Camino. (The next is in far off Galicia.) Here we leave the region of La Rioja. Before that was Navarre.
148. A view from the road towards Redecilla de Camino 149. Entering Viloria de la Rioja (the reference to Rioja is to the Rio Oja and not to the autonomous region we had just left behind)
150. En route to Belorado
151. En route to Belorado
152. The church of Santa Maria at Belorado. Note the storks nesting in the bell tower. Ah, spring in southern Europe! The parroquial (ie, parish run) albergue where I stayed is next door on the right of the church (obscured).
153. These caves were once occupied by hermits but have been converted for more comfortable modern (religious) living.
154. The parish church of San Pedro in the main plaza of Belorado. The church was built in the C18 although it replaces a C13 structure.
155. A processional statue of St James in in his martyred state, in the church of Santa Maria
156. A processional statue of St James in pilgrim dress in the same church
157. After inspecting the church none of us is in a hurry to make the dash in rain to the albergue next door.
158. A happy French pilgrim enjoys the ministrations of the Swiss hospitlero and a German pilgrim.
159. Some peregrinos in the albergue at Belorado. Karl, the Swiss hospitalero, is third from the left. On the right are three impressive Dutch women.

It is quite a while since my last post in Los Arcos. So much has happened since and many kilometres covered. Sorry for the silence. Not all albergues have Internet connection.

Logroño, Saturday 10 May

After Mass in the sumptuous (de trop--mix of extravagant styles but breathtaking nonetheless) parish church of Los Arcos the night before and its following Pilgrim´s blessing from the rather charismatic priest, I set off early morning for Logroño, 28 kms away. It was a punishing day in the rain and rich red mud, brightened by a Mother´s Day call (!!) from Mum, Mark and Chris (she´s in good hands) and the simple elegance of the tiny C12 church of the Holy Sepulchre in Torres del Rio. We had to walk on the highway for some of the way since the path was so wet. At Nuestra Senora Del Poyo, a mist rolled in and visibility was low. Trucks roared towards us. I met the delightful Fernando from Valencia (among others) gently sauntering. [We were to get to know each other well over the coming weeks.]

Just before entering Logroño. we passed into the comunidad (autonomous region with some devolved government functions) of La Rioja. Great wine growing region.

Had a delightful lunch in Viana with Gerhard and Gudrun from Bonn making the Camino on foot but staying in hotels with reservations. Gerhard has done it before on bicycle from Bonn but Gudrun has some standards. They warmed me with their unfussed urbanity and grace. Mr Gore's waterproofing failed at one spot on my left boot and it felt miserable for much of the time--the same foot as my ulcerated blister. Had it dressed in the evening in Logrono by a young Spanish doctor. Wish I could have understood her instructions for dressing but Marie saved me the next night (see below).

I stayed at the municipal albergue, the second last person to get in. (It´s ridiculously crowded on the Camino, not the track itself but the demand on accommodation.) Spent the night, after a delightful dinner in the Cafe Moderna with Jack from Holland (he is making the Camino for wife who died 7 months ago), sleeping at very close quarters between Utte from Germany and Maurice from France. Maurice´s English is so bad that we converse in French (yes, that bad).

Nahera, Sunday May 11

Made the long 29 om trek to Nahera. Wet, tiring day but the sun came out in the afternoon and I got some washing done. Welcoming hospitaleros in the albergue.

I stayed in the municipal albergue where one of the Australians, Marie from Summer Hill, saw my blister which I was airing. She told she was a nurse and give me great directions on how to dress it. It started to mend almost immediately. Still doing so some days later. It was great to catch up with pilgrims from previous days. I had dinner with Francois in the evening. We had first met at Orisson. He commenced the Camino at Le Puy.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Monday May 12

It was great to be in town for the last day of the annual festival for the name saint of the town who did so much for the Camino´s development in C12. His statue was processed through town on the shoulders of carriers before the Bishop. Everyone followed in suits and formal dresses. Bells tolled and dancers and musicians added to the festival. It was a public holiday, of course. (Christmas must be big in this town.) I had dinner and a passeo, a wander around town, with Fernando. A wealthy town very tied to the Camino and tourism.

Belorado, Tuesday 13 May

Stayed in the parish albergue of this lovely town. Two beautiful churches, one with storks nesting high above it in its bell tower. Welcoming hospitaleros, Carla and Karl, from Germany and Switzerland. I set off early for Ages, 30 kms away.

Must run. There is pressure for the Internet.

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