Day 22. To Fromista, thru Carrion & Terradillos to Moratinos

We've covered 185 miles with 235 more to go. 

As we travel west the farming of wheat, barley and oats has intensified. Lots of irrigation equipment and canals, both in and above the ground.  The vineyards pretty much stopped when we left the Rioja region.

 

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We've learned from the old men in the bars when we stopped in for our mid morning fresh orange juice and tortilla espanol.   

We started ordering a muscatel daily. They usually come with a tapa; on this case a super delicious white bean soup.

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The Camino has one, two or three picnic areas per stage of the trek (33 in total). We always stopped for a break. Our snacks usually included hard cheese, membrillo, Apple or pear, chorizo and 85% chocolate. Our longest walks between villages were around 7 miles. So we never carried more than a half liter of water. The days have become mostly sunny but with very cold breezes. We're walking at 2,000-3,000 feet these days.  

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Lots of rivers; mostly small, flow through our route. They're all blown out from the extra rainy season. No fishing for me!" 

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Pilgrim hospitals from the 11th century dot the countryside. Hermitages are never far away, too. 

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This little cave bodega so reminded me of our cave in Granada.  So old, so rustic, so soulful and used. 

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We detoured off the main trail onto an optional trail. After a nice uphill rise we walked on a Mesa along side a dwarfish oak forest. Thinking of wild mushrooms we dipped under branches to search. We found torn up dirt left over from wild boar tearing up the ground in search of mushrooms or acorns. Other wild life finds included rabbit scat and paw prints of a wild mid-size cat.

 

 

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Here's are midday fortification best choice, Pacharan (also the name of the berry).

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Our Albergue for the night, the only Italian Albergue on the Camino.  Nice outside space with a fountain. 

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The apple trees are blooming here too! 

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I love sauntering through Spring, noticing the changes by the hour and the day, up close and personal.

This experience , the daily walking, gives me a deep appreciation for the true tempo of the natural life around me.

An Evening in Castrojeriz

April 24, 2016

We were directed to the Casa Rural Castrojeriz by our good friends Dave and Patti who walked the Camino last   Fall. While they said the night would be a bit pricey, it would be a great splurge and well worth it.  And worth it, it was. 

Roberto, son of Gabriel, welcomed us with wide open arms. After showing us our room (house) he loaded up the wood oven with oak.

His Father, here with Franny and the leg-0-lamb, created a great roasted lamb recipe. 

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While the lamb baked we nibbled on a chorizo sandwich. At the next table Gabriel and his family ate lunch. They gave us a taste of the main, chicken breast stuffed with ham and smothered in a little tomato sauce. 

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Here is the father son team presenting the leg of lamb. Between dinner and next days lunch we ate the whole leg!

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Here is their faithful watchdog, Burro. 

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One of the best pleasures of staying in a Casa Rural, similar to a pension or hotel is having a bathtub for a long soak. We took a long soak, digested the lamb, did some reading and writing and slept soundly. No snorers in the room; no early risers packing for the Camino. Good night!

Notes from the weathered trail

April 23.

Just outside Hornillos del Camono, on the Meseta between San Bol and Hortanas, we hit a stretch of muddy trail that lasted several kilometers. In fact the thickly laid mud was so relentless that the work of walking nearly brought Franny to tears.

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The Meseta trail ran high and I could see Hortanas in the distance. I could also see our future path, our afternoon destiny off in the distance.

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I sat down at a cafe after the mud slog and enjoyed a tortilla and cafe. As we left the cafe rain began to fall creating more mud for the Peregrinos heading down the trail. 

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San Anton's claim to fame is a monastery, in a state of disrepair after many years of tattered and productive history.   Lots of Peregrinos sought  respite and repair inside these walls.

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Here's what I walked under for most of these first couple weeks of pilgrimage. I've learned to love the cool wet weather; pretty darn good walking conditions (except for the mud)!

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In a few days the weather will shift from mostly cloudy and rain to sun. More to come. 

Day 15. In Burgos looking through the past few days

Bells ring on the hour. While I don't hear them every hour, churches and bells are around many bends on the trail. We climbed the bell tower in Santo Domingo. 

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The storks love the height of the churches and don't seem to mind the clanging bells. Stork nests are everywhere so the thrill is almost gone. But the nests are so massive and the birds so big I never tire of seeing them. 

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We search out small Albergues in small pueblos to find community dinners with other peregrin@. The spirit of these groups shouldn't be missed. We have been with most of this group off and on for the past few days. 

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We walked through a sculpture garden in the 'middle of nowhere'. The spirit of the peregrin@ is strong and creative. Everyday! 

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Her we are at a summit under a cross with the 'sassy, gassy' Irish gals. We slogged through a couple hours of rain and mud to get here. Turns out I love playing in the rain. Good thing because we'll be walking through a bunch of it in the coming days.

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After watching several older men come in for their mid morning refresher, I asked the owner for one of the same. He gave me a warm large smile and gave me a muscatel with a splash of Orujp. We then toasted together to a buen Camino. We made each other's day a little brighter. 

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The second largest cathedral in Spain behind Seville. We'll tour the 21 chapels inside today. 

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The oldest humans found to date are in the Museo de Evolucion Humana. We took in a special evening filled with incredible displays and live music with fantastic acoustics!

The horns were so toe tappy Franny and I grabbed hands and began to dance. Our enthusiasm was caught on film by the museo PR rep and the local newspaper beat writer. Maybe we're in the local paper today. What a special place along the river on Burgos.

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A contemplative stretch on a wet day. 

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Franny walking a spiral. What a beautiful image! 

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Franny in her city touring outfit in the Museo. 

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Day 9. Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

A full on hike day of 13+ miles. I loved the lighting; the mix of grays, greens and yellows. 

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 Transporting water through the vineyard.  Spotted drip irrigation throughout this region. No dry farming! 

Transporting water through the vineyard.  Spotted drip irrigation throughout this region. No dry farming! 

 An ancient post lost on its way to Santiago 🏃🏼🏃🏼🏃🏼 

An ancient post lost on its way to Santiago 🏃🏼🏃🏼🏃🏼 

 I loved the contrasting colors, again. 

I loved the contrasting colors, again. 

 Franny heading up the hill, a gain of 350+ feet. 

Franny heading up the hill, a gain of 350+ feet. 

 A big field used for hop plants. Lots of beer in Spain. 

A big field used for hop plants. Lots of beer in Spain. 

 Gotta like the mustard, if only for the bright color! 

Gotta like the mustard, if only for the bright color! 

What a day and then flamenco on the street!

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We love the city so much we're in for another day; a hold over day for rest.

Day 8. Sotes to Najera

The gateway to a small village, Sotes. This old door allows one to pray and reflect on Sundays. The door of the Iglesia was locked this morning. 

The Rioja wine region presents vineyards and wine marketing much differently from SoCo. We couldn't find any wine tasting along the Camino but I loved the vineyards and the occasional wall sign. 

A traveling Uke minstrel along the Camino. This image is for all my Uke friends. Walk the Camino with you Uke! 

Another classic vineyard shot with snowy mountains.  

These huts were once used by the vineyard 'crew' to spend the night (watching for frost and other weather conditions). 

A river runs through it; our end point for the day, Najera. 

Time for crochet and a beer. Our hiking experience has been fun and balanced leaving us energy to spend in the evenings exploring and food sampling.  

Caves in the side of the hill in town. In the beginning these caves were used for defense.

The ruins from an ancient castle in town. 

Close out of another great hike and village experience.  

Day 6. Vianna to Logrono

Not far out of Vianna and just off the Camino towards Logrono the La Laguna de Las Canas reflects the movement of clouds heading north east. A birding  observatory, Embalse de Las Canas, Reserva Natural (all closed up) sat on a hill overlooking the Laguna and some hawks working the wetlands bush for lunch.  Franny and I sat on a bench looking out and observing. Our quiet directed us to a song bird fest of music and flutters. These sorts of moments begin to add up on our daily walks and influence our decisions in a new way.

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Daily journaling begins with notes 'on the fly'. A few moments for reflections anytime during a day is time well spent.

 

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The Ebro River generates electricity for Logrono. It's also home to trout and ancient bridges.  

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You might think we bought a hotel but no: turns out we have popular initials. 😎 

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We are now in the premium wine region of Spain. With each menu del dia you get a bottle of wine. These entire meals, 3 courses plus water and wine costs, on average $10-12 Euro. On weekend we have found fancier menus for $15-18 Euro. Great deals! 

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Foie Gras bedded sautéed in mushrooms with tons of butter.

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White beans with clams, shrimp and parsley. 

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Calamares in black ink sauce. My all time Spanish favorite from our Spanish tour in 1978. Just as good now as it was then. 

I'm sitting in an Albergue looking over maps and plans for tomorrow. In six days we have walked 57 miles; only 365 to go! I can't imagine ending this walk, though that day is only 50 days away. Such an unhurried way to visit Northern Spain. I highly recommend it.

On The Road To Findout

Here's an excerpt from a Cat Stenens song that has become the theme song for our pilgrimage. "On the Road to Find Out".

 

Well I left my happy home to see what I could find out.  I left my folk and friends with the aim to clear my mind out

Well I hit the rowdy road and many kinds I met there

Many stories told me of the way to get there

So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out

There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to findout

 

this song fits our journey so well. Onward.  

 

Day 5. Los Arcos to Vianna

Torres del Rio, s small village with some rich history. After climbing a very steep hill I came upon this vista.

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Country side filled with wheat, vines and long views. Air temp in the low 60s, heart temp in the high 90s! BTW, lots of LBBs (little brown birds) in the orchards and field.  

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The roof art has been catching my eyes for days. I finally took an image. Note the active sky! 

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Another superb menu del dia. The starter was baby artichokes and jamon in sauce. 

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We're entering the Rioja region! Great red wines. 

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Merluza and peas with baked cubes potatoes. Always perfectly salted."  

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Layered chocolate and vanilla cake with dried berries and carmelized sugar.$ 

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We pushed through 11 miles today. The distance was morphed by the rigorous ups and downs, the song bird melodies and my mental activity.  Still no aches and pains. Hmmmmm.

Day 4. Estella to Los Arcos

A classic shot from the stairs of San Pedro de la Rua that is in every tourist book. We're walking out of town after a very restful night in Estella.  Our pack have become one with our backs. Everything we need, everyday, at our finger tips!

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Could be the cliffs of Dover. But they're not and they've been watching over us for many kilometers. 

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We know we're getting close to our the next village stop when we see a cathedral in the near distance. This one is in Villamayor.  

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Wheat and grapes grow side by side throughout the Navarra region of Spain. The breads are good as are the Temprarnillo and Granache wines. 

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Wheat galore in this region. Perhaps fresh is the secret ingredient to the great bread I eat with every meal! 

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Franny coming in from our longest hike, 13 miles! 

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We rested well this evening after a long day. Tomorrow will be another 11 miles. Then we'll take it easy for a couple days.  Perhaps I'll have time for a few reflections on our rest day.

Day 3. Maneru to Estella

This hike covered 10 miles with some elevation gains that challenged us a bit more than yesterday trek over the Alto del Perdon.  

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Look closely and you'll see the world on a hillside sculptured with car tires! Whimsical and reflective. Yes, we are one world. 

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Our hike visits monasteries daily. Here's one with a classic look in Lorca. 

 A hermitage along the route

A hermitage along the route

 Ensalada Templada Gulas y Gambas

Ensalada Templada Gulas y Gambas

In Estella my menu del dia was over the top fabulous.  The restaurant held 40 guests and during our visit it was a totally local clientele.  

 Stuffed calamari with onions in mushroom sauce

Stuffed calamari with onions in mushroom sauce

 Flan

Flan

The Camino is loaded with historic buildings, wells and other points of interest. To catch even a handful of these moments one must saunter rather than walk briskly. Sauntering is a challenge for me so it's become a (nearly) daily practice.  In the Day 4 blog I break out of the saunter; just for a day. 

Not shown, a bottle of Rioja vino tinto.  

The Basque Country has some of the best food on the planet. We have been in food 'heaven' and this portion of each day has been a daily highlight. In the end the Camino walk will be more memorable because of the Basque cuisine. 

Day 2. Zariquuegui to Maneru

We expected the pass at Alto del Perdon to be a tough up and down hill. Turned out to be average for us but the views were spectacular all the way up and down. Lots of wind in the area generating lots of electricity through multiple wind farms. 

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here is one of the classic views walking up to and around the pass; Mount Arnotegui to the northeast. 

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There seems to be no shortage of art work on the cities and country. In addition the Camino walker tourist trade has grown like crazy so embellishing all things pilgrim is a priority.  Here are some wrought iron medieval pilgrims accompanied by a some modern day peregrin@s.

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Another example of whimsical art in a nondescript park along the Camino near Muzuzibal.

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When passing through or sleeping in cities , we stayed in the historic old towns. The Camino trail always laced through the old narrow streets to an ancient cathedral.  Here is a classical look in Puente la Reina.

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Water, water every where in Basque Country. The Arga River weaves around Puente la Reina.   

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My daily life begins with an early morning wake up, packing up, coffee y pan tostada, a 6-7 hour hike with a lunch stop, finding an Albergue for a bed, a tapa dinner and a bit of time to reflect. Certain parts of the day have become second nature.  But I'm just beginning some of the deeper work that will require me to release my hold on some of my own 'ancient' patterns of being in my world. It's all about the walk! I look forward to each new day of walking.

Camino day 1

April 7, 2016

 

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The first wave of peregrin@ woke me like a gargle mouthed song bird at 5:30 a.m. The next wave began a little after 6. Franny and I hit the trail at 7:45 after coffee and a muffin.  

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I'm looking forward to the simplicity, the nature and the active spring weather as they massage my aging soul.   One brings intensions on this 480 mile walk. Mine will be found, like sea shells nestled in morning sand, as the days rise up singing.

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For our first day we planned a short 7 mile hike. This plan allowed us to test our health and equipment. We passed with flying colors. After finishing the hike in 3 hours, we toured the village of 200 and took time to bath and give ourselves an afternoon off to read, write and craft.  No blisters, no aches, no pains and a good appetite.

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The scallop shell is ubiquitous in the cities, villages and countryside; as path markers, on sides of churches and in the city sidewalks on the trail.  

This walk started out as a pilgrimage and so it is today.  Saint James was a catalyst as were early pilgrims devoted to St. James. The scallop shell held by St. James which he filled with water saved a thirsty pilgrim from a devilish character.

The popularity of this pilgrimage has grown immensely over the past few years. Many pilgrims couldn't find a room at the Albergue tonight and had to press on into the misty windy night. 

Thinking ahead we reserved our bunks for tomorrow night so we'll be in no rush to hike our 11 miles. We won't think of time, we'll stop as we please and let the day shape us into .........  Saludos.

Pamplona

Wednesday April 6

 

Busing from Madrid to Pamplona gave us a fabulous transition into Basque Country. We last visited here in 1978.

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We first rewalked the old town's narrow cobblestone streets where bulls run during the San Fermin festival. We crossed a 12th century bridge to check out the Camino trail. 

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Basque food is rich and excellent.  Here are stuffed peppers filled with baccalo.

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Here's a view of the plaza where we arranged to meet a friend for the 1978 Running of the Bulls, pre cell phones. The city has been cleaned up and improved since I saw it last. All for the good.

 

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Here's a 'new' statute which wonderfully catches the culture and enthusiasm of the city. 

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The best tapa in town; Baccalo in puff pastry with softly sautéed potato and garlic. 

we bunked at the Jesus y Maria alburgue with 120 other pilgrims. Tomorrow is our first day on the trail!

Tapa Crawl

Last night we walked about a mile in the misty rain into old town Bilbao where we found tapa bars galore. In the Basque provinces tapas are called pinxtos.  Here are samples of pinxtos that we had for the evening. 

 One with eggplant and one with baccalo  

One with eggplant and one with baccalo  

 Olives, anchovies and small peppers

Olives, anchovies and small peppers

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Cranberry, Brie, dried tomatoes balsamic vinegar

 A typical counter

A typical counter

 Anchovies, peppers, both sweet and hot

Anchovies, peppers, both sweet and hot

 Raw merluza

Raw merluza

By the time we headed home the rain subsided and our smiles stuck for the 1.2 mile walk home.  So Good! 

I Love Bilbao

We have returned to Bilbao after a 38 year absence.  my oh my, how the city has changed. The orange river running through town is clean. People are bustling around town. Restaurants are full, culture peeks around every corner. Many attribute the change to the addition of the Guggenheim to the fabric of the city.

 

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The architecture including the sensuous curves soften one's soul and allows for a blending of one's mind with the art within the museum. Andy Warhol's Shadows gave us a look at some of his work from the 70s.

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The heavy metal sculptures of Richard Serra reflect the industrial history of Bilbao, particularly its steel industry. 

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We're wrapping up Bilbao with Serano ham, manchego cheese, leche frita and Rioja region red wine. Tomorrow off to Pamplona and Thursday we will hit the Camino. Saludos.

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Madrid, Day 2

After a slow start I enjoyed a morning coffee and toast with fresh tomato sauce. A totally satisfying breakfast.


A walk in the city garden came first. We decided to tour the Prado for free between 5-7. We were not alone as the line stretched around the corner and down the Main Street.  Lots of manicured routes. We circled the French garden; around some monuments, stopped for some chips and beer, visited an art exhibit in an abandoned huge green house, the crystal palace, and on and on.

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Before the Prado we ducked into a little cafe that served up a most brilliant merluza steak. The best we have had since our 1978-79 life in Spain.

 

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Madrid, day 1, con't

Meanwhile back at the 'food court' 

 

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More tapa selections including the olives and ...

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 Fresh mozzarella with various toppings  

Fresh mozzarella with various toppings  

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A few miles later we tested tapas at a small and busy cafe 'Stop Madrid'.  We stuck with the Rioja wine regions, most all the Reds cost 3 euros per glass.

 

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I always try calamares frita while Franny tried meatballs. These items chased behind a tin of olives and excellent bread, baguettes. Paijo peppers stole the show.

 

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We ended up walking 8-10 miles each day just sauntering around town.

Madrid, Day 1

Madrid, a six hour time difference to absorb over our two day stay. After landing early on Saturday we taxied to our Airbnb. After an introduction to a city map and metro map we mapped for less than two hours. Our first Metro ride took us to Picasso, Dali and other greats.

 

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Before the Reina Sophie museum we tasted tapas at a large food market stuffed with food, beer and wine vendors. The place was so packed with people, nudging and squeezing between folks became an art and a social event. Highlights included croquettes, seafood and ham, a prosciutto sandwich, and a fresh mozzarella and arugula bruschetta.

 

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to be continued on the next post. I'm experimenting with my new phone blog tool. 

 

Another Awesome Hike

Peekamoose Mountain, Catskills

 I’m settling into enjoying a raining day. The birds and squirrels remain busy as I plan a day filled with reading, writing and crafting.

Franny and I are routinely massaged when in Sebastopol.  However, while on the road we have been massage negligent.  But over the past couple days we’re catching up! The incentive resulted from sore leg muscles after a ‘killer’ (intermediate to strenuous) hike up Peekamoose Mountain.  The hike, 3.5 miles one way with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet, followed the incline through a partly shaded trail of leafless beech, sugar maple and birch trees.

Blanketing the surfaces of large boulders at the upper elevations, moss cheered us on.  Turns out that the mountain's name, Peekamoose, was a misspelling of the word moss. So I suppose the mountain would be properly called Peekamoss.  I have no story for the Peeka portion of the name.

Our first mountain to climb on the Camino will occur on day one.  The climb will be approximately 750 feet over 2.5 miles while the descent will be over just 2 miles.  Based on our practice hikes here and in Big Bend National Park and the Madera Canyon in southern Arizona our legs are working fine, We're now days away from departing for Madrid and good to go.