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A long time ago I’ve knew about Camino de Santiago. It has a lot of names: St James’ Way, Santiago’s Way, France Kings’ Way. What is it? Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrim way to Santiago de Compostella, the city in Spain where the relics of one of 12 apostles keeps. It is not only one way; there are many ways from different parts of Europe, but the most popular is French Way: from the French border through North Spain.
Camino de Santiago is the very special place with very special people. Most of them go the Way because of religious reason of course. But you can do your pilgrimage by any reason either you hear any confess or you are even atheist or agnostic. Some people do it for health, sport, travel, challenge or another reasons. You can know more about the Camino here.
Also I recommend you to watch the very good movie: The Way.
Because of my love to cycling I’ve decide to complete the Way by bicycle. Well, 3rd August 2015 we were in Pamplona and started our Camino.
First of all you need to buy your Credencial. It’s a pilgrim passport that gives you possibility to stay overnight in special refuges for pilgrims: albergues. They are very cheap and always have beds. Also you have to stamp your credencial in every place you stay overnight or have a lunch. Those stamps are an approvement of your completing the Way and are the ground for getting a certificate of pilgrim at the end. Finally it would look like this:
Let’s go! First day. We understood that the Way is a little bit harder that we think. Honestly it was too much hard. Spain is the country of mountains. The Way goes through fields, rocks and forests. We did only 69 km and were very tired.
To go the right direction on the Way is very simple. There are so many special signs which point you where to go. Usually they are symbols of the Way: a shell or an arrow. Why a shell? Because ancient pilgrims collected shells in Muxia on the ocean shore, at the place where the Camino ends. Those shells were an approvement that they completed their pilgrimage. These signs look like this:
And even like this:
Sometimes the routes for bicycles and walkers were different, sometimes were the same. You can even choose the asphalt roads only.
The famous place on the first mountain’s top.
Sometimes the Way looks like this. You don’t ride a bicycle, you know. Bicycle rides you.
There were a lot of adventures during the first day. We were very tired because of pushing our bicycles on the top of the first mountain, than we’ve almost blewn out because of Spain portions of a lunch, found the wine-for-free-pot, choose the wrong way and 10 km rided in the darkness using a phone flash for lighting up the road. And we can’t find beds in the village where we’ve stopped! All the albergues (refuges) close at 22:00. And we’ve arrived at 22:30. When it had begun to rain I started to knock to some albergue’s doors and compeled the guy from here to open the door and give us beds. It were places for sleeping on the garret’s floor.
And our dinner was everything that guy has found in a fridge.
Wine-free-pot. It is on the building of the wine museum. Nice one.
Every day something interesting happened. Some holiday or interesting people. Or beautiful places. The Camino is very unique place.
Dominican monk on the Camino. His clothes is very clean and light.
Spanish people doesn’t know English. So you have to study either spanish or gesture language. I know almost 100 words in Spanish after my Camino. And I know how to say hallo, good bye, how to buy something, how to ask the way etc. It’s simple after English.
Spanish food is very tasteful as for me.
Hamon, cheese and wine.
Pulpos (I think you understood this word) and morcilla – traditional Burgos’ sausage from blood and rice.
A beautiful view from restaurants.
The first place. Paella.
And negro paella. Black. With ink of a cuttlefish.
At the second day we needed to buy some bicycle stuff. We were in the big city: Logronyo. And we have knew the most awful Spanish thing: siesta. From 14 to 17-18 everything is closed in Spain. Only restaurants is opened. We waited to 17 until the bicycle shop opens.
Nastya is boring.
Spanish villages are very beautiful. Houses from rocks. Nobody on the streets. Very old churches. This is a regular village:
Pilgrims. They are very special people. Maybe because most of them are religious. I don’t know. But they are… like a family. Kind and merry.
These pictures say everything about pilgrims. People leave food and things those another pilgrims could need.
Third day we’ve arrived to Santo domingo de la calzada. The small city with the beautiful cathedral. And we’ve met a huge group of cyclists: 58 people! They are professionals, some Spanish club. And they had a truck which drived behind them with all their things inside. Cool.
This guy from cathedral makes stamps in 58 pilgrim’s passports. Very hard job :-)
It’s very hard to take a good picture of any cathedral. Too less light.
On the roof:
Burgos. Our 3rd day’s finish point.
Just somebody’s house. Very cute.
The next couple days we were at the land of rocks and dust. Almost a desert.
Guy from albergue collects money from the whole world.
Oh, it was a very hard day.
The bar Elvis in Reliegos, very small village between nowhere and nowhere. Every person inside that bar was as a character from the movie. Bartender, waitress, alcogolic-grandpa… Music out loud. I can sit here forever and watch those people.
Cathedral of Leon
In Leon we got a puncture of a tire.
This hotel was in the movie The Way.
Gaudi museum in Astorga.
There is a chocolate factory in Astorga. A chocolate is good.
Btw, you must have cash! We had a real problem to find any bank machine or place where we can change money. And every shop where you can pay by a bank card denies card operations only if amount is more than 10 euro.
This is some special place where pilgrims leave rocks which they carry on the Way. Also they leave their names and even prays written on papers.
We’ve met only one girl from Russia on the Camino. Actually we’ve met Russians at the second day, but they were from Germany. And there is nobody from Ukraine.
You can choose a purpose of your donation.
A fire in a forest.
The last mountains before Santiago.
A little bit tired.
The last 2 days we cycled through villages with a lot of cows. Mines fields everywhere and a very strong smell :-) It seems there are the world cows’ shit producing center :-)
And Santiago! We did it!
Our Way was 785 km and took 9 days. I’ve lost around 5 kg here, so it was hard I think :-)
For the ending I want to tell you some amazing thing happened to us on Camino. 2nd or 3rd day we’ve met a couple from France. Cyclists. Usually we went faster than another cyclists but these two had totally the same speed. We met every day in every city where we stayed. And we’ve finished together at the same day. Amazing!
They did the Way second time. It was their 20th wedding anniversary. And they did it first time 15 years ago on their 5th wedding anniversary. The beautiful couple. I wish I will met them again once upon a time on Camino.
BTW, I think I wanna do it again by walking. When you cycle you can’t talk with people and people are very intersting here. So, I think I’ll turn here one day. And I recommend to you to do it. For any reason: religious, health, challenge… It would be an Adventure for you. Buen Camino!