Bruma to A Calle

25 September 2019


Promptly at 8:30 am, Maria arrived at Nogallas hotel in Ordes. She dropped Henk and Annette from South Africa at their starting point. We said our goodbyes. It will probably be the last time we are able to connect with them because they were planning to arrive in Santiago on Friday and we planned for Saturday. Then Maria drove us to our starting point. After Bruma, Maria was no longer able to cab us to our destinations. She said it was out of her zone and it would be less expensive for us to call a local cab.

It was a foggy day and we started walking. We decided to extend our walk past Outiero to A Calle so we would have less of a walk tomorrow.

This is the parish of Ardemil.

Look, the Eiffel Tower! Not quite Paris but an interesting place none the less. Plenty of sculptures and very unique artwork around the Cafe Bar Uzal.

We were expecting great things at Cafe Bar Uzal and hoping to meet the artist or the creative mind behind the artwork. No such luck. It was a very ho-hum place.

Very nice, clean and somewhat boring compared to all the artwork outside.

We ordered cafe leche and split a Boar bocadillo.

This is one of my favorites. I call it “Three is a Crowd.”

Not a sculpture. These bossies have horns.

This was a giant dinosaur. After being on the camino for 7 days, it’s really fun to see this whimsical collection.

Apparently the dinosaur is eating a bad pilgrim.

Another beautiful house complete with flowers lining the front walkway.

Tree trimming looks like fun but not if that lady is yapping out orders.

Another beautiful horse.

Beautiful farm land with lots of sheep grazing.

This is the farmer. His name is Pepe and this is the farm he grew up on when he had ten siblings who all helped their parents work the farm.

Eventually all the sibling moved away. Pepe lived in England for many years so his English is very good. He has a daughter who still lives in England. He returned to the family farm and is the only one living there. Eventually, this beautiful farm will be abandoned because there is no one in the family to carry on with the farming tradition. This is very common problem in this area. It is not likely that someone will want to buy the rural farmland. Pepe is very sad about the situation.

After talking to Pepe for awhile, we move on down the road. This one is easy on the feet.

Interesting how the hedge is built into the stone wall.

We land at Cafe Bar Novo and cross paths with Merwyn and Debs. They are from England but bought a house in Galicia. We commiserated about the sad state of our leaders — Boris and the Donald and how much they look and act alike.

We also chatted with Walter and Mary Gratzia (Mary Grace) from Italy. Mary Grace is an interior designer and Walter is a mechanic in the food industry.

Another church and they are starting to all look alike from the outside. This one had a very interesting statue on the side. It appears to be someone who must have had their head chopped off … it has a very long knife blade across the neck. I tried researching it but no luck with this one.

The road leads us back into a town.

Looks like some type of carrier pidgeons.

And now the turkey yard with lots of young turks running around.

Modern vending machine not as good as a cafe bar. This must be the town of Outiero.

Back on the trail. A few more kilometers to A Calle.

Finally we reach A Calle. As we approach the town, we can hear the boom boom of fireworks and seen the decorations at the town entrance. We see the locals walking back home. I think we missed the festivities. Apparently, it is a feast day. They like to celebrate the saint days on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It was mid-afternoon on Monday and I think it’s over.

Breaktime at the O Cruceiro in A Calle. We called a cab to take us back the Nogallas hotel in Ordes which is now only a few miles away.

While waiting for the cab, I walk down the street. There are two stands left from the festival. There is a special cookie associated with this festival or the town. I bought a bag for 3E. They were circle shaped with a hole in the middle and had a light glaze. Very slight flavor of almond or anise, maybe both.

This was our last night in Ordes at the Nogallas hotel. We decided to walk the town and have a good look. There are several buildings with murals painted on the wall.

Love this mural … it’s the ultimate grandma who is bigger than life.

This is the killer mural … literally.


Terry was minding her own business just walkin’ down the street. We found the above mural very interesting and wanted to get a better photo of it. Both sides of the street had some construction in the gutter/sidewalk area. Terry stepped to the edge of the sidewalk and was about to take a photo.

This photo does not do justice … this little cement gutter under construction was about a foot deep.

All of a sudden, as the edge of the sidewalk crumbled beneath her feet so she jumped over the gutter construction and just about landed on her feet … but not quite … both shins hit the edge of the curb. OUCH! I was the one doing the shrieking and screaming. Terry somehow flipped around and was sitting with her feet in the construction area. I could see the stars circling her head. He shins were scraped up pretty good. I think we were both in shock.

I asked her if she was ok. Her instant remark was “yeah, I’m fine. I just need to clean up my legs.” She tried to stand up and then I heard the sound of pain. “NO, I’m not ok. Get a doctor.” Her ankle was swelling fast.

Good news travels fast. The townspeople gathered quickly. They showed great concern. They brought water and then some sugar to put in the water. A young man named Jose showed up and he spoke both English and Spanish. He translated for the group. They felt it was important to call the police so they see how dangerous this sidewalk is. So we waited.

The compassion of the locals was very touching. A police officer came and assessed the situation. He called an ambulance from A Coruna. We waited some more.

The paramedic with translator Jose

The police officer and the paramedic carried Terry and the stretch over the construction and into the ambulance. The hospital was 200 meters away … about two blocks.

Another first! Neither Terry or I had ever ridden in an ambulance before.

I was hoping they would let me go with because I don’t know how I would have found Terry. Jose our translator also rode in the ambulance. He told the ER docs what had happened and kept us informed. He stayed until everything was taken care of. We were very lucky that there were no broken bones. The Ordes hospital did not have x-ray equipment. If there had been a sign of a break, Terry would have been ambulanced to Santiago.

The end result was a badly sprained ankle accompanied by scrapes and bruises. We took a cab back to the Nogallas hotel with a quick stop at the pharmacy for prescription Ibuprofin and a pair of crutches.

With Terry on her new European crutches and told to be non-weight bearing for a week … we had many decisions to make tonight. But … more important — dinner first.

With Terry settled in the room and ice on her ankle, I ran out to fetch dinner from a nearby restaurant. We had salad mixta, octopus empanadas, a pork and cabbage specialty of the restaurant and a bottle of wine.

What a lonnnnnggg day! Tomorrow would be even longer … for one of us.


Presedo to Bruma

24 September 2019


We started the day with a quick breakfast and Maria the cab driver picked us up promptly at 8:30. Since we would be staying in the Ordes Nogallas hotel, we did not need to carry full packs. Just water and snacks. It was very nice to be in the same place for three consecutive nights.

Maria brought us back to where we finished yesterday, the Mesón-Museo restaurant.

Henk and Annette from South Africa were also being shuttled around by. Maria. We all started out at Mesón-Museo. They are fast walkers and will arrive in Bruma before us.

It was very convenient that we could just walk through the gate behind the Mesón-Museo restaurant and be on the Camino.

The first critter we saw today was an orange snail with eyes. There were several orange snails on the trails today.

We started with a beautiful walk through the Galician landscape.

A historic wall blocks the view of Church of Santa Eulalia de Leiro.

This church has a very large cemetery attached to it. Down a flight of stairs behind the church is a small shrine and an open restroom with hot and cold running water. That’s a first.

We do stop and smell the roses and this one was a beauty.

We stopped to admire this house. I was chattering about how beautiful it was. I looked up and there was a woman watching us from the window. I was startled. After a little scream and some laughter, I greeted her and asked if I could take a photo.

There was a long climb on a gravel road. At least it wasn’t a steep climb like we had been experiencing the day before. It’s always reassuring to see a Camino marker and realize you’re walking in the right direction.

Another eucalyptus forest. Lovely to smell.

We came to a parque called Encoro de Beche. It has a small reservoir and a dam in addition to restrooms with running water, hand towels, soap and toilet paper. We don’t see such good facilities very often.

Typical rest break snacks.

As these people came walking up to the park, I mentioned to Terry that the guy reminded me of my old friend Raul from Argentina. I started laughing when Melena told me that she and Miguel were from Buenos Aires. I told her why I was laughing.

Also stopping to rest and chat is pilgrim Juan Manuel from the Canary Islands.

Back on the trail we see a camouflaged tree house that some one is living in.

This is an amazing flower. We haven’t seen one like it anywhere.

Back on the road and the climb levels out but soon becomes steep.

We walked the fenced circumference of what appears to have been a very large chicken farm. No chickens in sight here.

A wonderful view from the top — there’s a village but it’s hard to see in this photo.

If you like mushrooms, Ordes is the place to be. They hold the Festa do Champinon (mushroom festival) during the last weekend of April.

Coming out of the woods and entering the outskirts of the village of Bruma.

A rooster and a few hens in a yard as we get closer to our Bruma destination.

A little rest stop.

The little village is in sight. Perfect pumpkins growing through the fence.

Next to the Bruma albuergue is a small stream that runs through the town.

Finally we have made it to Bruma and stop at the Casa Grana restaurant. Henk and Annette had been there for hours and had finished lunch. They were going to get a head start on the next day’s miles and walk a few kilometers. They asked us to pick them up on our cab ride back to Ordes and the Nogallas hotel which is where they too were staying tonight.

Casa Grana was an interesting restaurant with a big hearth shown in the upper left corner of the photo. The lunch crowd was just starting to clear out. Having just finished a strenuous 10 mile day, we opted for the pilgrim’s lunch which started with salad mixta. Terry had the chicken and I had pork. The bartender was kind enough to call Maria our cab driver for us. We did find and pick up Henk and Annette on our way out of town.

Next to the restaurant was an old church. We couldn’t find a name or any markings. This was our end stop for today and our starting place for tomorrow.

We were back in Ordes at the Nogallas hotel where we connected with Henk and Annette. We all went to the Verde Galicia Pulperia which specializes in Octopus. It is across from our hotel. Wine was served in these funny little cups. I was the only one with a wine glass and beer was served in it.

Iberico ham is one of the delicacies of Spain and it is found everywhere. It is sliced very thin and often served as a tapa with a slice or two of bread.

Interesting stonework on the entrance of Verde Galicia Pulperia.

Artwork on the entrance wall to the Pulperia. Combination of corks and moss and plants.

We ended the day with a gelato-like sorbet.


Betanzos to Presedo

23 September 2019


We started the day with breakfast at Hotel Garelos. It cost about 5E and included the usual assortment of breads, meat, cheese, fruit, cereals, yogurt, juice and coffee. No eggs.

Most of the people in the breakfast room were from Spain or Europe.

Terry is working on today’s route with the guidebook and our South African friends Annette and Henk are getting ready for their walk.

It’s very common for hotels to offer a buffet type breakfast.

This is a residence complex. Today is a very strenuous hike uphill.

There’s no glory in climbing a mountain if all you want to do is get to the top. It’s experiencing the climb itself — in all its moments of revelation, heartbreak, and fatigue — that has to be the goal.” Karyn Kusama, American Film Director

Mural to Fatima on the Terrace Wall

You know you’re going the right way when a pilgrim image is pointing to the direction.

By the time we reached the railroad tracks, the climb was almost over.

We always stop to smell the roses and other flowers.

These looks like Fuchia and they are growing wild here.

This looks like a holly tree with a rose growing in front of it. We have seen a wide variety of flowers and plant life … even succulents growing in this area.

Not sure what these are but I love the purple color.

Finally a nice road, in the tranquil country side and it’s not uphill.

A little river breaks up the walk giving us something new to look at.

On the edge of town, we start to see houses and guard dogs. This one doesn’t look too ferocious.

Entering the town of Cos and a pile of timber waiting to be moved.

Lovely old chapel in the Parroquia San Esteban De Cos. The courtyard of the church grounds was open but not the church itself.

Sheep grazing in the field. Presedo is getting closer.

The view of a hillside village can be seen from the Camino.

Dos cerveza por favour! Time for another stamp in the credential. We need to obtain two stamps per day in order to receive our Compostela at the end of the Camino in Santiago. It is suppose to prove that we walked it.

These are the door markers for the men’s and ladies rest rooms at the little tavern we stopped at. I had to look twice to figure it out — the Lady is blowing smoke rings with a cigarette. The man has a pipe.

Terry missed the signage. She excitedly reported that the bathroom had a “squatty-pottie”. I didn’t think so but took a second look anyway. It was the Men’s room and it had a floor urinal — no squatty-pottie. We had a good laugh and I was relieved to hear that Terry had used the correct restroom and not the squatty.

Beautiful yard full of flowers on the way to Sequero.

Not sure what these clusters of pine are but in this area we saw them hanging in a few places.

Finally — the outskirts of Presedo. We were very tired because of the steep hills. We had planned to stay at the Presedo Albuergue, which is the only place in town to stay. It has only 16 beds and it’s first come. We are slow walkers and were pretty sure that we would not get beds. Our good friend Begonia from our Betanzos hotel had called ahead to reserve beds for us. She was told that there was a big party in town and that we should not plan to stay there. We made reservations at Nogallas Hostal in the nearby town of Ordes and would have to take a cab back and forth.

We did walk by the Presedo albuergue and there was a line of pilgrims waiting around 2:00 pm. The albuergue never opened. The “party” we had been forewarned of was a feast day celebration for San Antonio who was probably the patron saint of the area.

Our end stop for the day was at a funky restaurant called Mesón-Museo. It was calling us.

We were so ready for some vino tinto.

This is Caldo Gallego. It is a specialty soup with potatoes, greens and chicken broth.

I also had cuddlefish served on potatoes. Terry had a salad mixta and a chickpea & sausage soup that reminded me of Pozole.

This is our cab driver Maria. She is a friend of Begonia from our hotel in Betanzos. The next two towns also had very small Albuergues. We decided not to take a chance getting stuck without beds so we booked the Nogalles hotel in Ordes for three nights. Maria was going to drive us back and forth to our end and starting points.

This is the strangest dinner ever. It was in the small dining room of the Nogallas hotel. We’re not sure what the attendant was trying to tell us but we ended up with a casserole kind of thing. It was a combination of potatoes, green beans and a hard boiled egg cut in half. Add the bread and that was dinner. We had a big lunch that day, so it was fine. Don’t think I’d order it again.


Miño to Betanzos

22 September 2019


Leaving LaTerraza Hostal in Miño, we start walking through the village on the Camino.

La Terraza was a good place to stay — very comfortable and convenient location.

Miño is a coastal town with three beaches. The Playa Grande is a sandy beach with calm waters.

A boardwalk leads through the park.

… And along a river with fishing boats.

Not sure what this interesting vine or plant is.

Here we come upon a statue that represents the noble Andrade family.

It’s a bear and a boar that represent the Andrade family … this image looks like a combination of the two.

Beautiful houses along the river trail.

The freeway lanes pass high over the village and looks very out of place in this serene setting. It looks like it would be really scary to drive over it too.

A beautiful walk today … at least here. It became very hilly with lots of ups and downs.

Lots of squash and pumpkins growing everywhere.

Ancient Galician bridge over the Miño river.

The Miño river is the longest river in Galicia and in the south, it shares the border with Portugal.

This cute little pup was so small he was able to escape through the lattice bars of the gate. Terry put him back in through a lattice opening and he jumped back out before she could turn around.

Looking back down a steep hill I just climbed.

This fountain flowing with spring water has been around since 1884. It is a very refreshing rest stop.

We started seeing these funny trees.

Gray mare in the barn eating squash.

Lots of squash piled up in the barn for the horse.

Down another steep hill. The countryside is beautiful.

These are the first grapes we’ve ever seen in Spain. We’re usually here in April or May and there’s nothing on the vines at that time.

Little colt on the hill.

Country church surrounded by a grave yard. Very common in Spain.

What goes up must come down. Lots of steep climbs today.

Just past the vineyard we can see Betanzos.

Another church on the way into town.

Over another river and on to Betanzos which maintains an authentic medieval feel. Until the 19th century it was the capital of the province of Galicia and home to the legendary Andrade family, the feared feudal lords of Galicia. Notice the white Galician glass balconies and red tiled roofs that cut into the hill, There is no formal town plan and no symmetry in the way the town evolved.

The Betanzos river splits into two branches that surround the city, the Rio Mendo on one side and the Rio Mandeo on the other.

The medieval gate into Old Town Betanzos is called the Arco da Ponte Nova. It is one of the original entry gates in the medieval wall. Once through the gateway it’s a steep climb into the old quarter.

A view from the other side looking out of the gothic gateway.

The medieval plaza of old town Betanzos with the focal point of the Church of Santo Domingo.

This is our hotel for tonight — Hotel Garelos.

Nice room. Very comfortable.

This is Begonia, the front desk person at the Garelos. She spoke English and was a wealth of information. It took us an hour to check in because she talked a lot and enthusiastically gave us a tour of some rooms.

This statue in the town square is of the brothers Garcia Naveira, to whom the square is dedicated and who were huge benefactors to the city.

Doorway of the Church of San Francisco. The tympanum (arched area above door) has a representation of the Adoration of the Kings and Saint Francis.

Later we met up with Henk and Anitz from South Africa. We went out for a beer, did some touring and had dinner together.

This small tavern was our first stop.

Betanzos is known for its Tortilla de Betanzos which is basically a very runny version of an omelette. Terry and I ordered a couple pieces … sorry, we ate it before we remembered to take a photo. It was savory and delicious. I did take a photo of the “salad”. It was tomato slices halved with onion and bathed in olive oil. It looked awesome and tasted awesome too.

On the way back to the hotel we cut through the old town square by the fountain of Diana the Huntress. It is a cast iron copy of the statue housed in the Louvre.

What a long day.


Pontedeuma to Miño


21 September 2019

Pontedeuma is a beautiful town which has developed over time thanks to its historical and heavily-trafficked bridge. Located at the mouth of the Eume River on the side of Breamo Hill, it maintains its medieval feel and preserves the legacy of the Andrade family who played a pivotal role in the town’s growth.

This bronze statue is called “The Panadera” (the bread woman) in the plaza del Pan (the Plaza of Bread).

Ancient statue of a monk greets those climbing the stairs to the Church of Santiago.

Galician two-sided crosses are commonly found on street corners.

A local enjoying the morning sun on her patio.

Lots of gardens everywhere with fall harvest in abundance. Looks like a watermelon.

Not sure what these are … squash? Pumpkin?

Morning glories seem to grow everywhere.

And the road continues.

This is the first time we’ve ever seen grapes on the Camino. The previous two caminoes were during the months of April and May which are too early for grapes on the vine./

This is the bread truck on his route. He pulls up and beeps the horn. Someone usually runs out of the house to get the bread …

And at some houses, they leave the bread hanging on the door or in a special bread box.

The camino cuts through a golf course.

There was actually a golfer golfing over the camino.

And the camino continues after cutting through a golf green.

We saw berries that looked like raspberries and blackberries coming from the same vine. They tasted terrible.

A horreo (corn crib) with a wonderful view.

Freshly painted house with color coordinated gate and horreo.

This giant fungi (about 10″ in diameter) was awesome looking but it is the enemy of the Eucalyptus trees.

Interesting stop sign graffiti.

Stopped at a coffee shop that had a statue of a pilgrim and his dog.

The coffee shop owner was happy to chat about the other antiques she had on display.

Snow White and the seven dwarfs on a display shelf on somebody’s second floor shelf.

Finally, we reached our destination, the La Terraza hotel.

The room was very similar to last night’s accommodations at Hostal Luis.

We joined Annette & Henk for tapas at a convenient restaurant across the street from our hotel. Then we all went shopping at the nearby Gadis grocery store.

It was cold and raining and we were tired from the day’s walk, Dinner from Gadis grocery store served in what Terry called, the “top drawer deli”.


Neda to Pontedeuma

20 September 2019


It wasn’t even daylight when we left the room at about 7:40 am. Since the little cafe under our room didn’t open until 8:00 we sat down on the steps and waited. Eventually a group of four men showed up and were also expecting the cafe to be open. One of them asked us “Ocho? Ocho?” We nodded and we all waited. They spoke Spanish and were from the Isle of Majorca (in the Mediterranean) which is located just off the east coast of Spain.

We had a quick breakfast of coffee and toast. The cost is 2 euro which is just a little bit more than $2.

The gents of Majorca are getting ready to hike out. We never caught up to them.

Lemon trees are everywhere.

Leaving Neda, we walked this lovely boardwalk around the Ria de Ferrol.

It’s always interesting when your walking through the countryside.

Great views of the village from another boardwalk.

This is the biggest snail I’ve ever seen. I think it was a good 5-6″ long.

This seemed to be the hot spot for taking a lunch break on the Camino today.

We took a break with Annette (and Henk) from South Africa.

This Siamese tabby shows off its tabby tail.

Today’s Camino walk had several lovely trails. We prefer the dirt trails.

This kind old dog escorted me off its property. No barking, just showed me the way.

Lots of apples hanging from trees. An entrepreneur of apple sales left a donation box along with apples in a chair making it convenient for pilgrims.

Your choice … long route or the short route that has one dangerous crossing. We took the short route. It wasn’t that dangerous.

A beautiful wall of what appears to be morning glories.

I’m a fan of sponge Bob. The rabbit it cute too.

Entering the Pontedeuma area with a view of Rio Eume.

We seem to be keeping pace with Henk and Annette. Time for a cerveza before they stopped for the day at Cabanas. We were trekking on to Pontedeuma.

We continued across the Pontedeuma bridge. The water was very clear and we could see large fish from the bridge. Many colorful fishing boats moored in the riverside gave this town the feel of a fishing village.

Pontedeuma is a medieval city with narrow streets cut into a steep hillside. We stayed in the old quarter.

Hostal Luis above Restaurant Luis is our final destination today. And a very noisy one. When we arrived around 2:30 pm, the restaurant was packed with locals enjoying Friday afternoon. Also, there is a popular square across the street from the restaurant.

Across from Hostal Luis, is a cement park where everyone hangs out. The parents sit at the outdoor restaurant while the kids play soccer on a very slanted court.

Salad mixta was the start of our Octopus dinner at Restaurant Luis.

Our room was small but very tidy and clean. Glad to be done walking for the day.


Ferrol to Neda

19 September 2019


Time to leave the Parador and hit the road to Neda. Finally, we are starting Camino Ingles. We were packed up and out of the room by 8:00 am but it was still dark outside. Couldn’t resist — had to have breakfast at the Parador.

The breakfast room at the Parador.

Among the items offered was an assortment of fresh fruit.

The Camino route took us through the main shopping street of Ferrol. We found an unusual statue. Viewing through American eyes, one would think this was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist hate group. Through Spanish eyes, it is a penitent from the Semana Santa procession that takes place the week before Easter. It has no sinister significance and, in fact, their symbolic meaning of the cone-shaped hat is that it is rising to heaven and bringing the penitent closer to heaven. It’s still scary looking.

The route passes by a number of Naval training bases.

… and a few churches.

The coastal views continue as the route wraps around Praia de Caranza, a volleyball beach (shown below).

Coffee break time! Chatted with a nice couple from Pretoria, South Africa … Annette and Henk. Being it was our first day on the Camino, chances are good that we’ll be crossing paths with them again.

Back on the road and through the industrial area. Not very interesting.

Oooops! We got on this path by mistake. It was very eroded, full of vines with thorns and led to a drainage tunnel where either a troll or an axe murderer lived. We quickly realized the error and got out of there.

The pampas grass is beautiful and it’s everywhere.

This is the monastery of St. Martin. It appears that someone is living there or at least having services there but we found it to be totally quiet.

We took a little break in the shade. It was very warm — maybe in the high 70s and full sun.

It’s nice to be out walking in the country again.

Even though we took the shorter route, it was miserable walking along the sandspit area in the heat and full sun.

Finally over the footbridge and into Neda. Day 1 accomplished.


On to A Coruna

16 September 2019

Late to bed, early to rise. All packed up and heading for the subway station on a brisk Tuesday morning. The air was crisp with a light breeze and the narrow streets were already humming with activity. The sound of suitcase wheels being dragged over cobblestone, diesel engines, supplies being unloaded from trucks, the rev of motor scooters and the clink of coffee cups from outdoor cafes serenaded us as we scurried down Calle de Carettas to the Metro.

Puerto del Sol was buzzing with energy. The usual tourists and tourist magnets were gearing up for the day. We entered the outer hump entrance of the Metro station and descended down several escalators and through ticket gates. We have become somewhat competent at maneuvering the subways and found our track. It was packed with morning commuters. We squeezed into the crowded car and a half dozen people squeezed in along with us. The Metro trains not only allow bicycles but scooters too. The ride to the airport was not pleasant but that’s the reality of rush hour on a Tuesday morning.

Our flight to A Coruna on a mid-size Iberia airbus was short and sweet. I was delighted to find recipes for Gallago Octopus and Paella (in Spanish and English) in one of the airplane seat pocket magazines. We chose to do the cheap flight alternative so that meant we didn’t get to choose seats. I had a window seat with two locals sitting next to me … Señora Dona and Señor Macho. The flight attendant was nice enough to move Mr. Macho to a better seat so we could all spread out. Mrs. Dona didn’t understand this. She rattled something to me in Spanish. I smiled and said, “habla usted English?” She looked at me, laughed and indicated that she spoke very little English. Then she said, “you English”. I nodded. In broken english she communicated that the flight attendant wanted both of us to move over to the open aisle seat. I said I wanted to stay by the window. She said ok and remained in the middle seat. The plane was stuffy and I don’t know how she survived in her thermal outer jacket. Her arm was secured by the arm rest and her elbow was poking into my ribs the entire flight. The seat next to her remained empty. At least it was a very short flight.

It was a quick Uber ride to our hostel. Like pack mules we hiked up three generous flights of stairs to our room with backpacks in tow. It was small, clean and comfortable with a large window draped so you couldn’t tell you were looking at a wall.

After settling in and shedding the hiking boots, we went out to explore. We chose to stay at Hostel Linar because it was located in the middle of two bodies of water. One was a beach and the other a harbor. Both were a short walk from the Hostel in opposite directions.

Being a warm, sunny day we chose to do the beach side first. We took the higgely piggely route because there is no other way to get there. Weaving through the town’s small narrow streets we window shopped and made a few stops. The cool breeze and smell of salt water led the way. One of the interesting things about A Coruna are the beautiful glass fronted balconies.

A Coruna is often called the Crystal City because of the glass fronted balconies on the sea promenade. On a clear day when the sun faces the harbor front during the evening, the reflection can be blinding.

It was about 80 degrees and sunny. The long sprawling beach was empty. Sun bathers were few and far between even though it felt like a beach day to us Minnesotans. A Coruna has a population of about 200,000 … where was everybody? Maybe this felt cold to them and September isn’t typically a ‘beach’ month and maybe not high season for tourists. We saw a few unsuccessful surfers. The waves just weren’t there today. And yes, the water was cold.

There are five beaches in the A Coruna area.

After testing the water, we spread out a Zubana (backpacker’s lightweight nylon version of a ground cloth) and began to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. The grainy sand was coarse and it felt good to grind my feet around in it. There was something sparkly in its composition. I examined it carefully but couldn’t identify what it was. For a brief moment, I thought about bringing some sand home to add to my beach sand collection which was started many years ago with several sands from Hawaii. I quickly realized that it would not be a good idea to haul it around in my backpack for five weeks. Customs might not like it either.

Looks like were the only ones on the beach today.

After we soaked up enough sun to feel rested and replenished with vitamin D, we set out for the harbor side. It was a slow walk because we went down the shopping street instead of the sea promenade. So many interesting things to look at. We have become Hyper Bazaar junkies. This store is a version of the dollar store but on steroids.

We weren’t really looking for anything but enjoyed perusing the maze-like aisles. Around every corner is a surprise … it could be hardware, cookware, toys, underwear, lawn ornaments and lots of plastic stuff.

Welcome to the Real Bazaar store! Very similar to Hyper Bazaar.

Tons of merchandise is compacted into an extremely small store space. Anything you might need to survive the Camino can be found for cheap at the Hyper Bazaar. They have many locations all over Spain and they are usually run by Asians.

It was about 3:00 pm and we hadn’t eaten since the fast food quiche found at the airport. Hunger was setting in. We beelined to the harbor side.

The harbor side promenade was interesting but not as pretty as the beach side. Lots of sailboats.

Terry with a giant flock of parrots.

We are back in the land of big drinks and tapas. Gin Tonica hits the spot followed by calamari, croquettes and Russian salad which is similar to what we know as potato salad.

From our seaside table Terry, who is employed as a business administrator for a church in St.Paul, Minnesota was conducting daily business via cell phone. What a lovely place to work from.

On to Old Town

We went to the Maria Pita square which was beautiful but a little quiet. Maria Pita lived in the 16th century and was a heroine in the defense of Coruna.

Leaving the square, we entered what is known as old town.

We continued walking around Old Town until we realized there were many flights of stairs to reach the rest of old town.

After a long day of hiking around, I wasn’t too excited to climb the stairs. It wasn’t just a few steps, it was many. I spotted something that looked like an elevator. Out of curiosity, I had to see what this elevator thing was. As I thought, it was an elevator but it looked more like a grain silo. I really wanted to ride it and so we did.

This is the elevator we took out of curiosity and to avoid flights of stairs.

The “grain silo’ style elevator had a glass ceiling and walls.

We stumbled across a beautiful courtyard with very tall trees that canopied the square.

Large blossoms hung from trees.

As we were soaking in the ambiance, we discovered a church. Of course we had to take a look at it. We circled to the front and eventually tried the door. Disappointed, we started to walk away when a local came running up to us and started speaking in Spanish.

The Church of Santiago La Coruna

He pulled out a ring of keys and directed us to the side door. To the best of my Spanish knowledge, he kept saying he was San Pedro. We just laughed and smiled as he led us into the dark church.

We sat down in pews as he locked the door and walked away. We were in the dark. Slowly and dramatically the lights went on one by one. Eventually, he came back and opened the main doors. This church had really good energy.

Santiago La Coruna is an ancient monument built in the 17th century. It is the start of the English Camino pilgrimage that leads to the tomb of Santiago (aka St. James) the apostle in Compostela.

San Pedro (aka Saint Peter) holds the key to heaven.

As we were leaving the Church of Santiago La Coruna, we crossed paths with a young man from the Netherlands named Thomas. He was starting his Camino the next day. This church was the start of the A Coruna leg of the Ingles Camino. We will be starting from the Ferrol branch which is longer.

Buen Camino! Terry chatted with a pilgrim from the Netherlands who was starting the Ingles Camino.

This was Thomas’s first Camino and he was very excited to start. Perhaps we will cross paths with him somewhere. We wished him a Buen Camino and we were all on our way.

Shoes and Tambourines

Heading back to the Hostal, we made one major stop. Terry has a fondness for footwear stores and this one was a gem. It was a combination shoe store and tambourine store. That is not a spell check error. Yes, I said shoes and tambourines. Both are made by hand at this store and you can pick the color and fabric of the shoes you want.

Handmade shoes and handmade tambourines.

You can buy a tambourine to match your shoes.

There was even a pair of tambourine boots. Can you imagine Mick Jagger, Prince or James Brown bangling around in these??

Terry was in shoe heaven and needed to call her daughter Helen in Peru for shoe consultation. There are only two places you can buy these shoes one being the store in A Coruna and the other in Pontevedre, Spain. The brand is Eferro and they do have a website which is quite interesting to look at.

We made a pit stop at our hostal to freshen up and then hit the streets again to find dinner. Being in a harbor town, we were looking for seafood.

Sea Scallops hit the spot.

Another pleasant day in Spain. Our next stop is the nearby city of Ferrol.


Good Morning Madrid — Or is It Afternoon??

16 September 2019

Terry slept like a rock … for 14 hours straight. I’m not so lucky. I was restless and kept waking up off and on with intermittent periods of reading and blogging. Needless-to-say, we got a late start today.

The first few hours were spent chasing around Puerto del Sol. The ‘grab & go’ vendors were busy. We call them Grab & Go because their ground cloth has a rope attached to it that lets them quickly escape with all of their goods and hightail it out of there for whatever reason … the police, find a new corner or to stop working for the day.

Busy day for the ‘Grab & Go’ vendors.

Our first stop was the Apple Store to resolve some problems I was having with my login. Mission accomplished. Next we tried to find a Fitbit charger. Mission not accomplished. In between we found a few non-essential stores that were fun to look through. A few non-essential purchases made.

By the time we got around to finding breakfast it was 5:00 pm or more like around 10:00 am Minneapolis time. Anytime is a good time for Sangria.

After a wonderful roast chicken ‘breakfast’ we decided to go to our favorite park which is El Retiro. But first, we had to stop and check out a church.

This is the Church San Jose which is on the World Heritage site. Simone Bolivar, the conquistador who founded Bolivia and killed a bunch of people, was married there.

We noticed that they seem to like putting bars in front of Baby Jesus. Maybe they think someone might steal him.

Very interesting architecture all over Madrid. Eventually, we made it to the park where it was so pleasant and a great place to work off some jet lag.

This is the formal entrance to Parque de El Retiro.

Pleasant music with a pleasant setting. El Retiro was an awesome place to relax.

We walked back to our neighborhood and ended the evening at Plaza Major.


Hello Madrid!

15 September 2019

We flew Delta to Boston and Norwegian Air to Madrid which was a six hour flight where they don’t even give you a drink of water. If you desire food on the flight, it must be ordered in advance. Otherwise your option is to order something from the Snack Bar via the entertainment monitor located on each seat. Norwegian Air is like Spirit Airline only you’re on a bigger plane … uncomfortable seats and no food. Lost my toothbrush somewhere between MSP and MAD.

Took the Metro from the airport to Puerto del Sol. A little bit of confusion at airport because Metro was under reconstruction. Found our way to the JQC Rooms. Great location but we had to hike up five flights of stairs. Room is an odd shape but very clean and with a newly remodeled bathroom. Beds with memory foam mattresses were comfortable and we tested them out real quick. Spent most of the afternoon sleeping.

Our JQC Rooms room had all the essentials.

Just to the left of my bed was a weird little hallway that led to nothing but a window that faced a gloomy brick interior courtyard. The weird hallway was useful for organizing.


After a short but restless nap it was time to get moving. We knew of a double-header of a deal … an Irish bar that was a Packer hang out. Don’t want to miss the Packer-Viking game. The James Joyce Irish Pub was our destination.

Terry and I like to check out churches because they are always peaceful, quiet and usually very interesting. We found a good one on our way. From the outside you could hardly tell it was a church. It was not freestanding and blended in with everything else.

This is the Church of Salvador and Nicholas. Inside there was a handful of people, mostly old and mostly women praying the rosary out loud in Spanish.

We like to refer to this as the Church of rubba-dub-dub (3 cherubs in a tub). This is the statuary that is front and center in the church. If you look a little harder you can find the a cross in the photo below.

This congregation gave a nod to Pope John Paul II with a bigger than life portrait over a small chapel.

Enough church, time to get back to our destination. We wandered in the general direction of Madrid’s El Retiro park and Paseo del Prado which runs along the park and Prado museum. It was a beautiful afternoon for some serendipity. Terry spotted a large gathering of people a few blocks away so we headed that direction to see what was happening.

The traffic circle near Atocha station was cordoned off, there were lots of police and many people waiting to see something. We were a little relieved it wasn’t a protest which we knew because we saw a two story carousel and lots of pop-up tents which made us think it was some kind of carnival.

Suddenly an entourage of vehicles blew through the traffic circle. Then a mix of motorcycles and more speeding cars. Was the president of Spain or some other dignitary in town?? Nobody moved. Someone said it was the Tour de Spain which was ending in Madrid. Come to think of it, on a TV monitor at the airport earlier I did see some coverage of a bicycle race and thought maybe it was the Tour de France.

Two story carousel looks like fun but no one was riding it … at least not during the race.

So now we had to wait and see what was coming. More speeding cars and then eventually the peloton arrived.

The “Vuelta a Espana” (Tour de Spain) is a race done in various locations throughout Spain. This afternoon’s 50K segment rolled out from Fuenlabrada. The entire competition is three weeks long.

So we saw the peloton go by followed by countless support cars with racks of bikes on top.

The above photo is one of the support cars. Most had a rack with 10 bikes mounted on top of the car. They were speeding along behind the group.

The intensity of the race picks up as they enter the final loop in Madrid. A Jumbotron screen projects the competition as spectators catch a blurred glimpse of riders as they speed by.

Ok, we saw the group of riders go through. Why isn’t anyone leaving??? It’s because they do nine 5.8K laps around one of the most prestigious venues in Madrid, specifically the one we were walking down to reach our Irish Pub destination.

Well that was all very exciting. I’m not much of a cycling fan but this was exhilarating to watch. We continued plowing through crowds to reach our Irish pub destination. Every so often the peloton would fly by.

We saw this really cool building wall covered with different grasses and vines. What a work of art!

There were many vendors along the race route selling everything imaginable. We finally found our destination bar, the James Joyce Irish pub and it wasn’t crowded either. I initially thought that was because of the race but then I recalled that in Spain, people don’t go out to eat dinner until 9-10 pm. Sure enough, the place was packed by 9:00.

I was giddy with joy — the Pack was winning 21-16. I think jet lag, lack of sleep, beer and Tour de Spain contributed to the giddiness.

This was our first meal since boarding the plane in Minneapolis on Saturday morning. The roast beef dinner hit the spot.

We observed two obvious packer fans watching the game intensely. Like us, they arrived long before the Spanish dinner hour of 9pm. They were sitting about two feet from the extra large screen … had to be Americans. Yep … they were.

David and Jenny joined us at our table for the last bit of the game. This delightful couple is from San Francisco. They moved to Madrid about three weeks ago. Jenny will be teaching English for one year while David works his San Francisco job remotely from Madrid. The conversation drifted in and out of football covering many topics about life in Spain, things to do in Madrid, Tour de Spain traffic, Washington, owls and much more.

After celebrating a Packer victory, Terry and I walked back to our JQV room. We passed a beautiful building lit with red lights. I think it was in honor of the Tour de Spain.

We returned safely to our quiet Puerto del Sol neighborhood. What a wonderful first day in Spain.