Pig's Ear Park and Other Adventures

Month: June 2018


Deciding not to do the Primitivo walk gave me two weeks to fill. Did not want to fly anywhere and have to be back in Santiago on June 30 to fly to Paris. Asked the travel co who has organised my two weeks in France to look for somewhere warm and accessible. She came up with two places in Portugal and one in Catalonia.

Aha!!! Lisbon I thought. Been there a couple of times, a week with Terry and three days before the Camino Portuguese in 2014. Lisbon was a bit sad in 2014 but golly it is now a building site and heaving with tourists, 150,000 a day. On the cruise ship circuit and dripping with airbnb accommodation. Apparently it is now cheaper to buy an apartment in Paris.

Getting here was intetesting. Cannot buy tickets for Portuguese trains in Spain. So three changes of train, needed a taxi at one stop as there was even a change if station. At Porto had ten minutes to get off the train and get my ticket for Lisbon. Apart from a brief stop in the toilet queue by mistake, I made it almost with time to spare.

Aaah Lisbon at 1pm was warm and yummy.About 32c

I booked two different apartments in Lisbon, one in Alfama, newly trendy abd Belem , been trendy for a time!!!

Managed to cock up my bookings and booked both apartments fir the same week. Sorted that but airbnb then charged me twice for each apartment. Oh dear the hassle , five days later sorted.

Anyway apartment one in Alfama is rather nice, airy and quite new. Binging on Netflix!!!

Had a meal of octopus and rice, yuck, hate to think how many days old that was…

next day had a grilled vegie salad, yuck again, ratatouille on lettuce. Been to the supermarket so will self cater and abuse the chef!!!

Went to the enormous flea market just down the road, the fleas can have it….

Going to go to a fado performance, hope she sings as well as my nun.

Basically just enjoying being warm. The Black Frenchie is 8 years old the spottyone is 2 yrs old


Am writing this in case I plan another Camino walk. This is to remind me of all the reasons not to do

another one. It is either too hot or too cold and this year too wet. I was told there had been a lot of cancellations due to 15 days of rain and anothr two weeks forecast. Noticed on my last Thursday in Santiago that there were definitely less people around. Hustlers were outside the restaurants and cafes , not needed earlier in the week. Only One lovely sunny day during my six in Santiago.

So reasons other than the weather, the accommodation is usually OK, clean but very spartan and because they do not have carpet, usually tiles or wooden (like) floors ,you share your nighbours activities. Some hoteliers are great and go the extra mile, the one where I was ill was one of these even though she looked like a harridan. Majority of pilgrims stay in the alberques, anywhere from 5-10$ a night for a bunk in a mixd dorm. I would have enjoyed the company but the shared toilets was definitely a no for me thanks to missplaced radiation.

Oh yes, the absentee hoteliers, hated being given a key and told to let myself out in the am.

The food is  ninety percent boring and worst case scenario, inedible. A salad or soup, go for the salad the soup usually has the three day taste. Main is usually a crumbed ( sometimes not) piece of meat, I was often not sure what kind, sort of snitzel like accompanied by chips the best part of the meal usually but sometimes on their nth reheat. Dessert invariably supermarket creme carmel.

I tried the odd expensive restaurant , deep fried chops and nth heated up chips….had one or two good meals but not many over four weeks walking. They do great pastry goods and cakes!This salad was at a five star hotel, plentiful but unexciting.

The actual walkng followed a pattern, started off the day all chirpy and happy with a spring in my step, particularly happy if breakfast was plentiful and not just a roll and coffee. Or worse , the long  life rubber food items masquerading as food. Plentiful brekkies meant I was able to pinch enough food for my lunch. Often nowhere to buy anything between over night stays.

An ideal day for me now is about sixteen  ks  but invariably the days were 20 plus, worst/longest was 26. By the time I have walked 16 ks I am looking forward to getting my pack off, only 61/2 kgs but that gets heavy and by 20 ks I am snarling and muttering to myself, cursing loudly even…

Spanish men , drive me nuts , they are such chauvinists. One day I walked into a very busy restaurant, trucks parked outside, always a good sign , truckies do not eat bad food. The dining room was heaving so i changed my mind and settled for a plate of chips. While I was negotiating this in Spanglish a group of forty year something men came in, about six of them. They started muttering about English and all but pushed me, ENOUGH, I turned on them and Said I was from NZ, waste of time so I said , well if you want to remain ignorant for the rest of your lives feel free. Picked up my lemon drink and sat down. Mutter mutter mutter. Maybe not much different probably  to the behaviour of a group of similar aged men with an older foreign woman  in NZ , I hope not.

I wear my red hat most of the time, so the Spanish men look at that first when I walk into a bar, the  they look at my boobs , then at my face, sigh almost visibly  and look away. Being young and attractive must require a whole heap of protective skills I do not need.

I do enjoy the camaraderie of Santiago, everyone has shared a similar experience. People talk to each other, share experinces on the walk whichever one they have done.Oddly Santiago has become a ‘destination’ for cruise ship excursions , they stare at the walkers/peregrinos as though they are a subspecies. Seems to be a lot more 100 k walkers, walk the last 100’ks and get a certificates , they are obvious because they are clean, their gear is cleqn and newish and usually about my age!!

My pack is faded and sports a bunch of purple plastic flowers, the elastic on my socks has gone and ny boots are dirty and a pair of socks hangs drying off my pack. Plus no makeup and hair is getting longer.

The Pilgrims Mass held everyday at 12 noon is great. The cathedral is chocka. When I first went to a mass in 2008 you just walked in at about 11.55 and sat adown with your pack, plenty of room!

Now you arrive about 11 am if you want a seat. A nun runs the proceedings, telling us when to stand , sit etc. Just with hand gestures.About 10 clergy troop in but she controls it. She has a sublime voice and it is sublime to hear her and the organ become one…The swinging of the senser is spectacular.

The Camino Frances is still the most popular with 250, 000 people a year completing it. The Madrid Camino which I completed only has about 500 people do it!!! The second half of the Camino that I did following on from the Madrid one was the Invernio, hardly anyone doing that one either..

I found this walk harder physically  though I managed the 2000m scrabble OK  slow but OK. The final haul up the hill into Santiago was such hard work but I finally made it. Mind you I had ben ill, still have dodgy innards evn though I have run away to Lisbon .

Some of the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful some just dreary. The hills around O Barco are somehing but the ha.after ha. before Sahaguan was boring as and wet.The bird life is great, the skylarks nade the boring stuff more interesting. The hoopoes who sound like cuckoos are heard innthe forests but never seen.

Even though I ran out of puff quite a bit I recovered fast and apart from when I was sick was OK the next day.

Cancelled? Postponed the final walk, The Primitivo, 300 plus ks and the most remote and when I looked at the ks I had allocated daily, 20-24 I must have been mad but in my defence that was the only avcommodation and in that area, no taxis or buses!!!

So probably my ten year Camino journey is over- finally


Ultimate and Penultimate Days

Were truly awful. The weather did not help although I never got caught in a downpour still had to don the wet weather gear a few times. Easy excepting the new red hobbit cape gets caught around my pack so much wrangling to get it down over the pack. Have to get into  it  then turn it right around , quite claustrophobic. Easiest is when there is a willing person or unsuspecting person around who will pull it down for me.

The walk from Bandeira to Silleda over 22 ks eventually was apart from the first 6 ks done on the road. I decided that if I was going to fall over it was best done where I could be seen. There were no other walkers until late in the day when two cyclists passed me. N 525 is a busy road but has wide shoulders so not too dangerous. Every bar I stopped for a tea, still off coffee and basically off food. Last sort of food I had plus some ghastly commetcial chicken noodle soup 9e thank you very much! Yes!!!!!

Finally made it in the last shower of the day into Oterio where I had stayed before. Quite posh but the heating was on!!! Mr Posh said the rain has been awful and he shuddered to think what the price of fruit and veggies was going to be. Mr Posh also has big baths and vegetable soup!!!

Next morning, last day, woke to rain but by the time I left it was fine. Mr P insisted I did not walk the dangerous road, K and I did and made it to Santiago far faster and shorter than my last epic. My phone showed 26 k even if it is iff 10% not the 16 Mr P said!!! I did miss an arrow, first one, which took me up a horrendous hill only to met by a gateman at the top and told in Spanish to bugger off well that is what it sounded like…not nearly as long to get down accursed hill. Later when I finally arrived in Santiago met two older Aussie ladies who had just completed the Camino Frances  who said, like me, that the Spanish see flat where we see seriously rolling hills.

The Spanish would not even see this seriously uppy bit….

Many many tea stops later and the last one being a coke stop, the ultimate desperate drink I arrived on the outskirts of Santiago with still about 10 ks to go. Had to have a widdle stop, all that tea, found some long grass, beat it for ticks and snakes and emerged unbeknownst to me with a longish piece of barley grass attached to an earring, very mode.

On and on and on, by now I am having to stop about every 20 steps on any incline, pause and start again, slow hard work. Finally the Cathedral spires are in sight but there is a long hard climb to get into the walled part of Santiago. The spires are in there somewhere, pictures come out not that well in this system- David!!!!

Met the Aussie ladies , chatted, dived into a bar for a loo, all that damn tea , and could not find the cathedral!!!!  Could not believe it, the time I have spent here over the years and I kept going one street too many!!! A Canadian couple who gave me directions twice finally walked me there, came in the side opposite the Parador so had gone too far.!Hordes of people there, this place is now on the cruise boat run from Bilboa so heaps of elderly denizens…

Nice man took two nice pictures of me. Whoops try the other one!!! Whoops!! Then time to find my hotel. Had booked it months ago, cost more than Mr Posh but looked nice on!)  Imagine my horror when I found this studenty looking bar with the name Oxford Suites in tiny letters by the door. Instinctive reaction was ‘MISTAKE’ not on your nellie. Went in, amateur night on reception actually behind the bar, barman a surly little Spaniard and a poor downtrodden slattern who they both yelled at.

Showed to my room, minute right up above the bar which was very very nosiy, view of a wall and I was most upset!!! My view  Upshot was I decided I could pay for one night but not stay. Walked out down the hill to where Karen and I stayed- I was planning on lunching there anyway, one of the NH chain, asked what price they would accommodate me for, ended up only 30e a night more than the hostel, got a taxi(it was uphill back) asked taxi to wait for me and then had a stupendous stoush with surly barman, I thought I was quite reasonable, pay for an unused night  which they could easily sell again, and refund the other two. Went on and on, I went up and got my gear stalked back down threw the key on the counter stalked out and got in the taxi and roared off to my luvvy big bed and room service and cable telly and a BATH.

Contacted  who dealt with it, refunds were above nasty barmans pay grade, so getting a refund. Had very tidily hung my down jacket up in miniscule wardrobe so there were a few heated   calls before that was sorted. Hotel receptionist eventually dealt with that and I organised a taxi to go and collect it. Taxis are not that expensive, think they are regulated.

So all that  goodwill one is supposed to feel on arriving in Santiago went out the window because of one bad booking(have made a few this time). After a day snoozing in my big bed I am now almost human again, not sure about food  but feel heaps better, was not far from truly awful to heaps better.

Have cancelled the Primitivo, 500 ks is enough for a swansong , the thought of staggering up more hilly roads just does not do it and the rain is predicted fir at least another week.

Have booked accommodation in Lisbon for a week, (will pray at the mass this am for a good room- pity about the starving millions) then may spend a few days travelling back to Santiago for my flight to Paris on the 1/7

Now just have to  change my train booking from Oviedo to Lisbon, staying here till Sat. Lisbon is five hours by train and the forecast is 28!and Sun!!!!

Thanks for all the emails it does help!!!!




Lost a few days, from Tues to Fri…..

Previous night in Montfort  dinner at mine hosts recommendation, a Bodegas up the road, quite classy but the food was same old unless you wanted dried pig or cheese or wine. Had the lamb chops, mistake, they deep fry them, plus saggy chips. Was food I suppose, did not sleep well, had to get up early to catch the bus to Chantada.

Another middling town, service town? Lotsa agricultural stuff for sale from HUGE tractors to stills .Market day and it is hosing down. Took me ages to find my hotel, yes actually a hotel with a receptionist and all!  Found a nice restaurant around the corner  and had a yummy lunch. Then snoozed the day away, nice receptionist organised some heat for me, only 12c.

Slept on and on and woke middle of the night sick as a cat,  nice lunch? Stayed in bed as long as possible, checkout is noon.  By  11.30! the housemaids were all but battering down the door. No way was I going to be walking the 25 k to Roderio. Called a taxi from the botel, told him I was poorly and he iffered me a bag, said if I put my hand up STOP, he understood.

Staggered into the little pub really , usual Spanish bar with accommodation above it. Could barely make the stairs, Nice landlady brought up my pack. Slept until about 3 pm woke up ceeling a bit better, a walk is what I need, so trotted off downtown.  Not even the size of Katikati, started off back, pub of course on top of a hill, had to sit on a window ledge, no way was I going to get back to the pub under my own steam. Looked for a likely ride, eventually a man I asked went off and got his daughter who could speak English, thank goodness. Lift back to pub, of course the Spanish do nothing quietly he walked me into th pub announcing probably that I was unwell. I certainly was , had started Sunday I think… Landlady said Dr , then ambulance,  next thing I am in an ambulance on my way to Lalin. Into emergency , nobody there except staff, good this could be quick. Thank heavens I had all my details written in my trusty notebook. Dr could speak English, poked and prodded and commented on my very empty stomach… She declared it was a virus, how without any tests I am not quite surd, temp was up but I was freezing. Prescribed some vile tasting stuff and some electrolites. The latter made me laugh as thru Joan I had bought electrolites in pill form as the powdee was too bulky.

Ambulance took me back to the pub and collected the prescription on the way, what service, no idea what it l cost but I never paid anything, hopefully the insurance co will pay.

Everyone in the pub pleased to see me back, Mrs Pub cooked rice for my dinner and I told her to keep what I did not eat for breakfast. Slept again for hours and was taken to Lalin next morning by Mrs Pubs son, gave him 20evwhich was probably a bargain. What kind people! I so appreciated the help.

Hotel in Lalin was very sparse and austere, mean really,.Cold as hell, went for a quick walk took a few photos of things I had seen there before when there with Karen in 2015. Was much nicer weather thn!!! Then back to bed. Woke up this morning feelinga sort of OK and thought sod it I will drug myself up and head off to Banderia 24.7 ks and 8 hours later I made it. I was careful to stop every hour for at least 15 mins qnd 30 mins for a plate of french fries at a ‘blokes ‘restaurant. More about them at another time. Weather was nice until about 1 pm when there was a shower , cleared for a couple of hours then cleared again. Some pretty walking at times.

Throughout the morning /day kept seeing an Asian couple, one oack so obviously having packs sent on…mmmm maybe tomorrow. Decided after I had my chips I neded more fluids (and drugs) so seeing a nice cafe in Silleda I stopped there, a nice Dutchman  who lives in Spain and had walkd the Camino Frances asked if he could sit and chat to me, golly that was a first! Next thing along comes the Asian couple, Filipinas who live in Auckland. Just as well I had been nice to them saying Buon Diaz etc…Stayed chatting for ages but had to go had another  6 plus to stagger thru .

Managed it and the accommodation apart from a rock for a pillow is fine and Mrs bar plus accommodation is going to cook me rice and soup for dinner!!!!

whoops, the mad shoe photos were also in Silleda and anyway we are from the Southern Hemisphere and this last photo reflects that.

Only 16 k tomorrow, yeah, more drugs!!!!


Wet wet wet

Did not have Mum’s dinner , innards were too unhappy to eat anything.

Next morning was given a meagre brekkie on the terrace, it was 12c , of course I was effusive with  my thanks and stamped off down the hill to catch the train part of the way to Quiroga.  Busy busy station at Quiroga plus the driver and the guard having a chat while waiting for an express train to come.

It rained so stayed on the train and discovered when I got to Quiroga  that my digs were 10 k away. Like thinking I was staying in Omokoroa but digs were up Lindeman   Rd. Rained again so asked at a bar if there was a taxi, yes 7e , sigh.

Miles out in the countryside, in a tree shaded valley, not inviting in the rain. Who booked this!!  My goodness more amateur night, mine hostess had a broken finger and Dad was useless even so she cooked a meal, Sunday so lunch is at 2.30 and that is it for the day.  Broad beans and potatoes , roast chicken and potatoes and I declined dessert, 10e thank you. Internet was very sporadic.

House was a nice stone one but cold as buggery, since May 1st spring has sprung so heating is off. PLUS I had a shared bathroom luckily no other guests.

Snoozed and read in my chilly bedroom, down jacket on of course. Was offerd some soup for pm snack so ate that. Innards are ok jf I just eat junk but add in a greasy spanish dinner and rebellion occurs.

Taxi back at 9 am, I lept in and was outta there, still raining, even harder. Train to Monforte de Lemos, looks a nice small town accommodation a bit obscure,  newish  extension added to a big old house. At least it was walking distance from the station. This is turning into Camino by train but I rack up about 10 ks just getting myself about, finding the autobus station for tomorrows Camino jaunt to  Chantada  etc then that is the last of the 30 plus days done.

Some nice views of the River Sil from the train  and about 5 ks out of Monforte, suddenly out of the hills but still only 12 c.  Lots of grapevines around so the sun must shine now and again.

Aww, just spending time  mooching about downtown Monforte…

Back on the Camino

After a week of lounging about, O Barco de  Valdeorras definitely a notch or two up on Sahagan it was time to hit the road again. A mere 15 k to A Rua  and only a few uppys, main downy was 400 m into A Rua. And. .. amazingly after a week of wet cold  weather the sun was out.  A jogger took the sideways photo…

Foggy when  I left my  posh digs but after a few k had to stop and shed several layers.

Housing here mainly slate rooves and plasteredblocks , gray on gray. The odd alpine cutie.

Plus some interesting machinery

Usual huff  and puff to find my accommodation, supposed to be in A Rua but no, in the next village. Also, T always hated Mom and Dad b and b’s and that is what this is. Amateur night at the accommodation game. Half finished jobs everywhere.

Far too far for me to walk back to a Rua for food so Mm is going to feed me but not until 8.30.

Some dramatic scenery

Botheration , left this am’s stolen roll behind but still had my egg so a lunch of bits and pieces from various sorties into supermarkets even had some apricots.

Room I was shown was a dark pit so squawked of course and was offered a slightly lighter version upstairs, bet there  is an incontinent blanket! Lucky for me daughter speaks English but basically

she has no clue about the hospitality business otherwise there may be more than me staying at 60e a night plus 5 for brekkie and 15 for the mystery dinner Mum will get me.

Anyway there is a train out of here tomorrow morning so will catch it and that should reduce the 35 k to 20 k.

Glad the sun is shining and my knee only nagged me a few times not really even drug territory.


…and a train trip

Managed to fill in 21/2 days n Sahaguan eating pastries and drinking coffee. Plus bought another brass tap, has some features that the Turkish one does not have but probably both were made in. China. Posted this one home, cost more than the tap but threw in a few more things surplus to requiremnts. Down to just about three of everything and the drug pile is lighter by a third. Yip, been away a month.

Discovered a nice English speaking young man at the Sahaguqn railway station so easily got my ticket from Sahaguan to Barco de Valdeorras, a three hour train ride away and in the cursed mountains.  I also bought my train tickets from Santiago to Oviedo for a few  weeks  time( golly no 12 days time). Cost not too bad all up 80 plus e being old has its advantages.

Sahaguan is getting ready for a runnng of the bulls early June with huge barriers being put in place to protect who, the people or the bulls?

Actually  got a  halfway certificate in  Sahaguan even though I did not come down from France….A lovely old restored church now an art gallery is doing a good trade in 3e certificates, posted mine home, cost more than 3 e…

The sheep were being led by the dogs and the shepherd. Big mob for Spain and they were all being milked huge udders on them.

Finally creaked into Barco and decided I would walk to my flash digs 3 ks outta town of course but wanted my phone checkd to see if I needed any more dosh on it,  it was fine all the messages in Spanish were just propoganda. Nice man , customer in shop askd me where I was staying, he gave me a lift, thank heavens it is a steep hill. He manages the slate works, slate everywhere here and this hotel has it everywhere including place settings!!!

Room is huge, bathroom is huge, a 16c mansion but not quite a parador. Full of old furniture most 19c . Plumbing is 21c thank heavens. Menu is good and not badly priced, 16e for three courses but there is a more expensive a la carte menu. Brekkie overpriced at 10e but who is going to wlk downhill  for coffee. Pinched a boiled egg this am just to keep my hand in.. The huge black door is into my room.

Have had a  serious look at my next section, the Camino Invierno also known as the winter road or the Royal Road god knows why the latter. The guide book description is ‘ Mud, snow ,wind,fog, altitude and isolation means the  Invierno should not be taken lightly.’ Dear me no, one look at the hills we were travelling thru and I knew there was going to be some adjustments to the distances..35ks what was I thinking!!!!

Hope the receptionist  here likes me as I can see a few phone calls coming up.

Walked into town this am  and apart from pastry and coffee found a bike shop and managed to get a new pair of cycling gloves, now have a spare glove. Town is on a river which half an hour back by rail has a hydro station on it and accompanying lake. The river here is quite wide and I suspect there may be some more hydro  stuff further down the line(river).

oh yes, talked to some Americans yesterday, teacher and a marketing man, they think Trump is OK!!!!

It is colder here, have an assortment of clothes on while parked on my bed with a blanket around me! Pobably only about 12c at 7.45 pm. Dinner is 9!!   Wildflowers much more restrained but glorious roses and the broom both white and yellow is madly flowering on the lower(sigh) hills.




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