Day-29 (13 May—Monday) Tabara

I had a very challenging day not so much the distance of 16.5 miles (26.4 km) but there was a 1+ km section (0.65 mi) that was a narrow rocky path along cliffs with a steep drop off to the river that slowed me to a crawl. My balance is just shot. And I noticed several others actually skipped this section—smart!

The scenery changed dramatically over the past week which was mainly agriculture to going through forests interspersed with fields of grain. Just before that challenging section I had a spectacular view of the bridge over the River Else.

Here are a few memorable photos: first, we’re reminded that last night’s town was the bifurcation point of the two Caminos, one going via Orense (mine) and the other going via (Astorga); next the Else River and the bridge; and finally that challenging path. I wish I knew the name of those white blooming flowery bushes??

 

Day-28 (12 May—Sun) Granja de la Moreruela

First, for all mothers reading this: HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!

Cold this morning and I kept my jacket on almost the first 2/3rds of the walk. Then it heated up. The stretch was 22.7 km (14.3 mi) and I felt it. I arrived at the bar where they issued a sheet and pillow cover, then after my beer, I walked the 100 to another building where the alberge was located. Of course all the lower bunks were already taken. BUT, you know you’re getting up in the years when three people offered to move to an upper one—muy amable!!!

It was a real treat walking through old Roman ruins of a castle. Then it became known as the ancient town of Catrotorafe, popularly known as ‘Zamora la Vieja’, are in San Cebrian de Castro, emplacement already located in the XII century. So it became a medieval defensive site which appeared on the banks of Esla River.

Here are a few memorable shots: first the saying of the day (seen at breakfast) and the route; then, everyone on the Camino must experience negotiating one’s way around sheep, and finally a shot of the old ruins of  Castrotorafe.

It’s exciting for tomorrow I make a left turn to start Camino Sanabres.

Day-27 (11 May—Sat) Montamarta

The Camino spirit is alive and well—I discovered that last night when Luigi invited me to join his group of three Italians for a home-cooked spaghetti ragu, eight in all. We enjoyed the mish-mash of languages and laughed the evening away—no one wanted it to end. The hospitaleras were invited and brought out some of their stash of pâtés and spreads.

Today was a great day for walking the 19.5 km (12.2 mi). The albergue here was a far cry from yesterday’s, so I opted to stay at a casa rural with my own room and bathroom—only one other couple here—a real splurge that won’t be available once I turn off on the Camino Sanabres. Not sure where the others went—possibly to a new Casa rural advertised by a leaflet delivered as we were walking by a car!!!!!

Here are some pics: first, the street cleaner spraying down the streets; dinner from last night; my Casa Rural; lastly, cyclists, maybe a few dozen that passed me by and wishing me, Buen Camino.”

Day-26 (10 May—Fri) Zamora

The day started with an un-forecasted drizzle, so instead of a planned short 8-mile walk, my French buddy and I decided to take the bus for the short distance. Then he opted to stay there and I opted to walk 20 km (12.5 miles) to Zamora. The drizzle had stopped by then and I gained a day to spend at a more interesting place than a 200-people village. The short walk would have put me in town before noon with nothing to do. The whole walk would have been uncomfortably long.

Zamora is a fascinating city of some 60,000 with a history going back to Roman times. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest overlooking the Duero (that empties into the Atlantic in Porto, Portugal. With its 24 characteristic Romanesque style churches of the 12th and 13th centuries it has been called a “museum of Romanesque art. Zamora is the city with the most Romanesque churches in all of Europe. I visited the Cathedral and the museum in its former cloister and was overwhelmed—so impressive.

Here are just a few pics: my entry into Zamora as I crossed the Duero River and the view of the fortifications and cathedral in the distance; the next three are inside the Cathedral, the religious float made of silver and gilded, a St James altar piece, and the third, an amazing silver altar piece; lastly is the outside of the cathedral.

 

Here is a pic of our four-bed room—huge space between top and bottom bunks!!!!

Day-25 (9 May—Thu) El Cubo de la Tierra del Vino

Much less windy today and more enjoyable; walked 12.7 miles (20.3 km). Had a continental breakfast at the other albuerge which gave me a good start because nothing else was available along the way—that had to last me (and it it). Chose the Albergue Y&M and was one of the early ones to arrive at about 1:30 PM and first in the shower is always a treat.

Here are some memorable pictures: the first pic gave me a real scare, as in, do I really have to cross this water—panic; after looking at my electronic track, I realized I missed a detour about 100 yards back! The second picture is what the trail looked like paralleling the highway; the third and fourth pics, were common sights along the way.

Day-24 (May 8—Wednesday) Calzada de Valdunciel

Mucho viento hoy! First day trekking in Spain was an easy one: about 10 miles (16 km) on level terrain but the head- and cross-winds were fierce, maybe with 30 to 40 knot winds. Most of the route was over a dirt farm road. By noon I reached my first destination staying at a municipal albuerge for 5€—a real bargain. Only one other peregrino is here, a young Spanish fellow. About a half dozen others are staying at another private albuerge that offers breakfast—I’m going to try to get a breakfast with them tomorrow morning because there’s nothing else available. You can see from the pics the road and my albuerge.

Day-23 (7 May—Tue) Salamanca, Spain

MI left Vienna City Center right after a lovely lunch very close to the airport express train yesterday on Monday. My cousin, Martina, joined Susanne, Peter, and me. The flight was short of three hours and I had a hotel reservation at the Madrid Airport. To call the hotel for a pickup, I decided to get a SIM card for my phone right at the airport. After a good night’s sleep, I went back to the Airport today Wednesday, to catch a bus to Salamanca. So here I am checked into my hostel and ready to walk tomorrow morning. The weather here in Spain is quite a bit warmer than in Vienna which was hit with a cold spell. Nevertheless, I already miss all my relatives in Austria—we had such a great visit.

I spent more than two hours visiting first the new Cathedral (16th-18th centuries) and adjoining it the old Cathedral (12th-14th centuries). So much architectural character and art pieces as well as religious relics—it’s hard to take it all in. Since the Salamanca diocese was once part of the Santiago diocese, the two cities have a special relationship. Some of that comes through a special exhibit in one of the halls of the old Cathedral that has a statue of St James.

Before looking at some memorable pictures from Salamanca, I had to insert a picture of the alps we flew over on the way to Madrid—makes you shiver just looking at them. Next is the new Cathedral, then the house of shells built by a knight of the order of St James; the statue of St James in the old Cathedral; and the interior of the new Cathedral.

And I couldn’t resist a churro with hot chocolate in Plaza Mayor:

Day-21+ (5 May—Sun) Vienna

I spent a wonderful Sunday with family that culminated at a delightful lunch in the suburbs for nine of us—Harald, my three cousins’ father treated. With soon to be 94 years old, he’s doing wonderfully. Before dinner, however, Peter, Susanne and I visited the Ernst Fuchs Museum at the Otto Wagner Villa—amazing art is in understatement. Fuchs (1930 –2015) was an Austrian painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, architect, stage designer, composer, poet, singer and one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. In 1972, he acquired the neglected Otto Wagner Villa in Hütteldorf (just outside Vienna) which he restored and transformed into a magnificent showpiece. The villa was inaugurated as the Ernst Fuchs Museum in 1988. I was full of oohs and aahs.

After lunch, Harald and I went to Wolfgang and Maria’s house for desert and chit chatting.

Here are some memories from today: one of Ernst Fuchs’ creations; in front of the museum; entrance to the museum; lunch together; back to the museum (Otto Wagner Villa); the other end of the lunch table; and finally, Harald enjoying desert while Kurt and Wolfgang look on; (Kathi, Resi, und Gregor sind auch dabei).

 

Day-21 (5 May—Sun) Vienna

Since the last blog, it’s been a lovely time visiting my cousin Martina in Graz and my other cousin Susanne and Peter at their country home in Kreuzberg, about an hour south of Vienna, but also saying farewell to Martina soon after having a scrumptious Styrian lunch in Langenwang. After lunch all of us drove a short distance to Krieglach where the Peter Rosegger Museum is located. So who is Rosegger (1843-1918)? Well, quite honestly, I wasn’t familiar with him at all, even though I should have been after studying German literature. Above all,  he was an author but painted as well. Well ahead of his time, he believed in a tolerant church and party-less politics. He also advocated conservation and preservation of nature.

Here are some memorable pictures (not necessarily in order): first photo at the Rosegger Museum (Peter, Martina, Kurt); next, Peter and Susanne at their summer house; then, Peter next to the 1961 Steyr tractor, that some years ago we rode up the hill for a tour; then, Saturday taking a stroll in the drizzling rain; next to last, I’m standing on the Graben in the heart of Vienna with Julius Meinl in the background (Vienna’s deli in the heart of the city)—I had a hard time believing the large crowds visiting Vienna!!!; and lastly, on Saturday, the two sisters Martina and Susanne and Peter.

Today, Sunday, it’s off to a lunch gathering with as much of the family as we could muster (9 of us).

Day-18 (2 May—Thu) Graz, Austria

After an early start from Zagreb by train, went through some beautiful countryside and came to the Slovenian border of Dovnia. A squad of police boarded the train to check for illegals, a check that lasted about 15 minutes. Then we continued through nearly to the Austrian border and switched to a bus for the rest of the way on account of track maintenance.

When I arrived in Graz, Martina met me and one of the first orders of business was to change leftover Croatian money (kunas) into Euros. We drove to her house in St Oswald about 26 km from the train station. Martina had done some amazing home improvements starting with a covered car port and entry way that’s now more level. Her vegetable garden keeps her busy but rewards her with many just-in-time harvests.

Here are some pics: a fixer-upper still available along the way; typical countryside scene while traveling along the river before switching to bus;  Martina’s house with car port on  far  left, glass-house garden, and main house; lunch—all healthy things from fresh salad from the garden, and white asparagus and potatoes; and lastly, Martina with Sunny in front of the Glycine flowers that are stunningly beautiful.