Day 17: Carrion de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios aka Alban's Four Fears

Dear blister gods, why do you hate me so? I’m writing this with bloodstained socks. We woke up early this AM and went straight to the to the grocery store, knowing that we wouldn’t have anything to eat for 17.5 km or 10 miles on today's camino. The woman working there was pretty rude. I asked about any gluten-free options, and she responded with a quick and sure ‘no.’ Even when I showed her the bag of cookies I found in one of the aisles that clearly stated ‘Gluten Free,’ she said they weren’t. My Greek mom, minutes after asked if she spoke any English, and again she responded with a quick 'no.’ My mom then asked her if she was a nice person, and she responded (with no surprise), 'no!’ My mom then said, “I already knew that.” I nearly peed my pants watching this scene before my eyes. I realized Spaniards might hate us (pilgrims). Bridgette (you will hear more about her later) told us this is due to pilgrims having a history of being rude and offensive and even knocking on doors at 6 AM to use villager’s restrooms. I’d probably be annoyed with us too.

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Day 16: Fromista to Carrion de Los Condes aka RIP Taste Buds

Our abergue didn’t have breakfast. The owner says it’s because there aren’t as many pilgrims in the fall, so it’s not worth it for her. It was freezing out .. My phone read 30°. We stopped by a bar for coffee to get out of the cold, and because we needed some caffeine and calories. Today wasn’t too eventful. We stopped about 7 miles into a bar and bought some delicious ham and sheep's cheese (€5) that is from a local farm. The road was extremely rocky and give us both blisters. I know I keep saying this, but I’m over the roads being rocky and/or parallel to freeways. I want dirt, soil, mountainous terrain, not man made foot-killing paths.

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Day 15: Catrojeriz to Fromista aka Restart

It was nice to start the day off early, and I am feeling more like myself. But unfortunately our albergue didn’t have any gluten-free options for breakfast. We decided to get breakfast at a bar in town, but of course they were not open at 7:30 AM and it was 12 km to the next town. Oh well, I I thought... It will water for brekky. In addition to the lack of calories, we didn’t realize we would have to scale a huge hill. Karma for skipping out on walking 40k? I will say arriving at the top in time for the sunrise was something unbelievable. To top that off, there was a pop-up bar with coffee, bananas and other items. It was hosted by a guy named Javier, who speaks Greek! He overhead my mom and I talking (luckily we didn’t say anything too awful), and inquired within. He said he was confused because my mom looks Greek, but I apparently don’t? #someonepeedinmygenepool Anyway, he was a sweetheart. Turns out he had met his ex-girlfriend a few years back while traveling in Greece. They fell in love and he decided to move to Greece. He lived there for a year, but became homesick and had a bunch of projects going on here. So, he decided to end the relationship and head back to Spain. Now he has a Spanish gf.

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Day 14: Burgos to Castrojeriz aka Glamping

Woke up late and wasn’t feeling too hot. I think yesterday took a lot out of me. At breakfast we were told by the waitress that there were no busses heading to Burgos for the remainder of the day. We’d forgotten how far out of town we were and found out a taxi would cost us €20 to get to the city's center. Bummer. Minutes later, the waitress tells us that the owner was heading to Burgo’s to go to our old hotel to drop off a couple of things (same company) and that if we wanted we could ride with him. Once again, the Camino provides!

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Day 13: Santander (played hooky and went up north for the day) aka Gran Hotel!

Woke up to a rain storm outside, which was at first a bummer. It was at breakfast (provided by the hotel/really decent), where we met Marcy, who’s from LA and completing the Camino with her son. He’s a couple days behind us because she unfortunately got an infected blister and decided to take the bus to the next big city to wait for him, while she healed. It’s sad that I keep hearing these tales of infected blisters and toe nails falling off. I can’t begin to stress how important it is that you take good care of your feet on the Camino. That means good shoes, sandals to change into, nightly foot baths, short toe nails and Compeed or Second Skin for blisters.

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Day 12: Atapuerca to Burgos aka Burgers in Burgos

Today we started off early and it was quite rainy when we got into Burgos around noon. We’ve begun walking through the Meseta region (known to be the most boring portion of the Camino), which looks very desert meets House on the Prarie.

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Day 11: Belorado to Atapuerca aka Neanderthals!

We thought our very mediocre hotel would’ve a least included breakfast, but alas, we paid an extra €12 extra for some empty calories. How do you say BS in Spanish? It was 10K to the first town, and the trail paralleled the road the entire time. I can’t stand when the Camino parallels the road or the highway, as it takes away from the Camino charm. In the town of Villa Franca, we met up with other peregrinos and headed up towards the mountains. Inclines are never too exciting, but we ran into Noah, from DC, who we had not seen since the first day. He told me that our friend Ana was probably already in Burgos, and thought that he too would walk the full 30 miles to get there by today. He introduced me to a couple of his Italian friends, who spoke limited English. I love being lost in translation on this Camino... Communication seems to fluctuate between hand gestures and laughter.

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Day 10: Granon to Belorado aka "we don't eat backpacks here!"

For some reason, I was really tired today. Luckily for us, my knee has gotten better and so has my mom’s ankle. We woke up to clean clothes and ate a decent breakfast. We also got to talk to the South Korean a little bit more, and he even offered and gave us a ride to the city center. Before then, I got to play with Anna’s (the owner) puppies who are four months old and adorable. Anna also gave us a behind the scenes tour of the church attached to the arbergue that is seldom used because it’s farther away from town.

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Day Nine: Azofra to Grañon aka Pilgrim or Tourist?

We woke up to a cold and damp day, and decided not to cook the food we had, and instead start the day early. We grabbed some coffee at a nearby cafe (€4) and walked 10k to the first town on today's Camino, Curueña, where there was a random golf course (first one I’ve seen). There we ate some breakfast at the golf club, where we met Gregory from Ireland and discussed the Syrian immigration situation. As we moved forward, it started to feel like Vegas, hot and dry. Before we knew it, we spotted Santo Domingo de la Calzada, which truly looked like the Vegas strip… A pyramid shaped mountain behind an oasis of a city. Luxor? On this road, we met a Latvian girl, who I’d seen before, that appeared to have a chip on her shoulder. Amongst other negative things she said, she mentioned that anyone who uses the backpack service isn’t a true ‘pilgrim,’ but better yet, just a tourist. Meanwhile, I’ve seen her using her smart phone at various cafes.

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Day Eight: Logroño to Azofra aka The Camino Provides

Logroño was quite rainy this morning, but doable. I got to mail out my postcards (€1 to the USA), which was easier than I thought it would be. In Argentina, they ask you a million questions before they put a stamp on something you'd like to send out. Prior to leaving, we had coffee and a snack (€5) at a cute café we spotted yesterday. It´s a wine bar, with an adorable bathroom (see photo).

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Day Seven: Los Arcos to Logroño aka Fat Camp

We woke up in our regrettable hotel, where the wi-fi finally began to work late at night, causing us both technological insomnia. We had breakfast at a local restaurant which wasn’t great, and truly once again probably should’ve just stayed in a local albergue, as it would’ve been cheaper, and the sleep would’ve been just the same. My knee is still killing me, unfortunately… as is my mom’s ankle. So, we are taking things really slow. 

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Day Six: Estella to Los Arcos aka Wine Fountains!

Breakfast was great in our pension – They had fried eggs and gluten-free bread awaiting my taste buds. Turns out the super market in Estella has tons of GF options (see photo). Our goal for the AM was to eat, stop by the pharmacy for steroids and supportive braces and exchange some dinero at the bank. The first pharmacy we went to was not at all helpful, but we did buy a box Predisona (no prescription needed — €2.50). We decided to head to a different pharmacy (see photo) that was super helpful and found us a proper knee and ankle brace (€20 each), as well as electrolytes (€2.50 per packet). Electrolytes seem impossible to find here, so my recommendation is to bring a box if you ever do this. Ok, so the bank will only exchange $150.00 a day. We have decided the exchange rate isn’t too terrible at ATMs, that withdrawing money turns out to be a lot more convenient and less of a risk than carrying a wad of moola on you. But of course, it’s always important to carry cash on you, just in case. Another thing, the bank won’t exchange change, only dollar, dollar bills, y'all… Meh.

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Day Five: Puenta La Reina to Estella aka No mas albergues, por favor

No sleep last night. I mean, maybe 2 hours? Our room smelled of farts and BO. If that didn’t keep you up, it was the immensely loud snoring that ear plugs couldn’t cover. If you ever do the Camino, BRING EAR PLUGS. So two hours of sleep later, and prior to having to walk 15 miles to Estella, our ‘breakfast’ at the albergue was just as good as the sleep. A croissant, orange juice and coffee. I explained that I’m celiac (soy celiaca), and was offered an apple instead of a croissant...errrr. Being gluten free on the Camino is much easier than being vegan, but sometimes it sucks just as much. Especially when it’s too early for any markets to be open.

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Day Four: Pamplona to Puenta la Reina aka Running with the Bulls

We got some great sleep last night, thanks to the awesome hotel we stayed in. We decided to explore Pamplona this AM, because it’s Pamplona ! It’s a medium sized city, with a lot to offer. Something I noticed was a lot of cute hip dads with their babies... Machismo-ness (real word) is so last century. We got to eat at Bar Gaucho aka Pinxtos heaven for brunch (most are naturally gluten/dairy free). I believe my future ex-husband, Anthony Bourdain paid a visit there. Nonetheless, it was the most highly recommended place to dine. Each pinxto was roughly €3 each, completely worthwhile. Getting out of the city was a pain, as there was some sort of ‘Old Pamplona’ festival.

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Day Three: Zubiri to Pamplona aka Parque de la Taconera

Just about all of us had a late start today, possibly because some of us got into private hostels and we’re finally able to have sound sleep, who knows. Nonetheless, we started are day off with a cappuccino and breakfast pinxtos. We spoke to the gentleman working, who said he is trying to perfect his English so he can move to England, since there is no money to make in Spain. T'was bien. Ended up passing Klaus and Thomas, due to their hungoveredness (it’s a word). The trail was beautiful, without too many steep portions. I should mention that people, not just Peregrínos are super nice on the trail. It's like holiday season, all of the time. We’ve had waiters offer their place and a couple of randomers (another word) offer us assistance when we’ve stopped alongside the road. It’s refreshing. 

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Day Two: Roncesvalles to Zubiri aka “the Spanish have their kilometers wrong.”- Klaus

We had a late start, due to waiting for our bags to arrive from Orrison to Roncesvalles. Remember how I said we were supposed to stay in Orrison? So did our backpacks, but we couldn't afford waiting around for them, because of the cold weather.

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Day One: Saint Jean to Roncesvalles aka Ignorance is Bliss

I heard a woman at the end of the day in our bunk bed filled room, say “ignorance is bliss… Isn’t that why we are all doing this?” Today we had intentions of only walking 10k to Orisson, however the universe had other plans for us. We ate a decent breakfast at our hotel, as we started on the Camino. Again, such a shame that St. Jean was foggy/rainy. Climbing the Pyrenees was beautiful and strenuous. I noticed there wasn’t much talking amongst pilgrims on the 4,000 Ft elevation gain. Arriving at Orisson (10k in) was a feat in itself. Being wet and cold, we were able to find some temporary refuge in this Refugio, specifically the veggie soup (€4). We were actually supposed to stay the night there, but lo and behold, I didn't confirm the booking and they were FULL. Ugh. But it all worked out for the best. There we met our new German friend Klaus and a New Hampshire-an (?) Psychologist named Thomas. 

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Getting to the Camino Starting Line (Toronto, London, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port)

Toronto, Canada

We took a quick two-day detour in Toronto, Canada for my cousin's wedding, where I was able to take inventory of my backpack's contents for the next six weeks. Oh yeah, my cousin’s wedding was big/fat/Greek/simply awesome. I have the best family. 

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Intro to Camino de Santiago Journal

Your future female Anthony Bourdain, except traveling solo on a budget... And not a chef. This was my blog's original tagline, until my mom decided to join me for the entire length of the pilgrimage. I wrote in my journal and posted blog entries onto Tumblr everyday for my family and friends to follow along, despite any lethargy or physical pain for the kms of walking.

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