Week 19 – To Madrid, Salamanca and on to the Camino

  • Friday was our last day in Provence so we headed for more “plus beaux villages de Provence”. First stop was Gordes, obviously another artists town
A delightful, if small village – gets a big rap but we found many we liked better …
But the views of the Luberon were again brilliant
A couple of lovlies I found leaning on a wall …
  • From here it was back to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue  where the main entertainment was two of the young waiters at our restaurant having an egg fight, but we had found a Vietnamese restaurant and the opportunity for some different food was too much to resist.
  • Apologies to Carolyn but quote of the day after I expressed the need for a nutella crepe – “No worries, there’s a toilet inside ….” – is my French accent that bad???
Another photo for Helen to whet the apertite for Provence
And for our NZ whanau – this in rural Provence
  • And finally we headed for Saignon – Phil and Lorraine – these photos are for you
Saignon square – mid afternoon and not a soul in sight – all the old blokes were at the boules court near the cemetery
Just attractive at every turn
I offered to swap with the owner, but my car was not enough for his 2CV
A final picky tea at La Close Manoe to eat the “scraps left in the frig.”
  • Saturday we packed, took the car back to Nice, flew to Madrid, collected the hire car and drove to Salamanca – and at the risk of  hyperbole – this Spanish university town is stunning. Not only does it have the oldest university in Spain and the Cathedral is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen – but Saturday night and the town square was pumping. The next morning we wandered over to the Cathedral and took in a local triathlon bike leg on the cobblestones.
Plaza Mayor de Salamanca – Saturday night  – big crowd in, but no lock out laws and everyone was just having a good time
Just a side entrance to the Cathedral
A partial view of the front – it is too big to get it all in one photo from the lovely square in front
The local triathlon – the crowd was right into it – trumpets blaring, everyone cheering and clapping as the cyclists came by
“Romanes eunt Domus – Conjugate the verb” – for the Monty Python fans I found “graffiti” on the monastery walls
  • From Salamanca we headed for Santiago de Compostela and the Camino de Santiago. Monday morning we transferred to Monforte de Lemos near our starting point. And just to get us warmed up our night accommodation was in a Parador hotel – the paradors are protected and must be restored to a high standard – no unsympathetic or crass  renovations
Parador de Monforte de Lemos – 17th century monastery with a medieval tower in the front garden
The courtyard cafe
Somehow this is just a little more aesthetic than Best Western
  • Tuesday morning the day finally arrived for our Camino de Santiago adventure to begin. We are walking the last 122 kms of the Camino pilgrimage trail, (about 800kms full length), from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela  in northern Spain.
    LTR: Richard, Adrienne, Grant, Carolyn on a slightly damp morning at the start point
    The first bridge out of Sarria, and this is typical of the scenery we have walked through
    About 500 people a day jump off in Sarria but it never feels too crowded, and everybody has this instant bond of being on the Camino – anyone passing by wishes you “Buon Camino”
    And vistas over the rolling hills of hay
    The Camino distance markers are at every junction with an arrow to point you on your way. The scallop shell is the ubiquitous sign of the Camino
    Our accommodation on the first night – authentic stone house – good 3 course meal with beer and wine -11 euros each!!

    We are required to get two stamps at waypoints along the way to prove we have done the walking
  • We walked about 12 kms on Day 1 and finished about 1.00pm, so sat in the sun with a nice cold beer and got to know a number of our fellow Caministas – couple of Poms and Maria from Oatley, Sydney.
  • Wednesday, (Day 2), and we walked another 11 kms but we could be walking 15+ kms each day. We were done by midday. Perhaps we did not know how well all our training in Puglia was setting us up 😊.
A “doer-upperer” on the trail this morning. The yellow arrows are everywhere in addition to the formal distance markers – Stevie Wonder could not get lost on the Camino
The 100.000 km marker. This is the only one with graffiti as 100 kms is the minimum walk to get the compostela certificate
This morning started a bit wet and foggy after some thunderstorms last night, but it created photos like this
Rob P, this one’s for you. These are the local breed – lucky your bull did not have these horns!
  • Thursday we headed out about 9.15am. The day started fine and we had a quite steep assent to start with, but after that it was gentle ups and downs as we followed the main road for quite a distance.
    First kilometre and it was steep – heartbreak hill is kiddy stuff by comparison

    Adrienne goes weak over willow trees
  • We are gathering quite a group of friends – 3 ladies from the UK, 2 from New York, and at least 5 other Aussies, so lunches and dinners are becoming quite raucous with the addition of rioja and cerveza.
  • We walked 13.5 kms, but after a couple of hours the weather closed right in and started to rain. It was quite interesting that the chat diminished and most of us just put our hoods up and walked “in our own heads”.

    It was quite windy as well as raining and it didn’t matter that we were passing a 5th Century BC citadel – we were within minutes of beer and chips and that’s all that mattered
  • Tomorrow there is a 5.4 km deviation to a Knights Templar castle so we are going to do it on top of the scheduled 12.8 km. If we don’t do some extra walking we will end up alcoholics 😊 because there is not much to do after a quick spin around the village square in the small towns we are passing through.

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