A Little Bit of Up: The Road to Rabanal

Today the way led out of Astorga and up into the foothills to the little town of Rabanal. A small town but of great importance on the Camino. This is our last stop before the Iron Cross–the highest point on the Camino Frances.

Hitting the road!

First second breakfast in Santa Catalina.

Now it’s time to walk past some pretty painted doors in stone houses.  Ready?  Go!

Then we stopped at the tiny town of El Ganso for second second breakfast:

Emma Dodd got to hold a hawk!

Finally we arrived at the town of Rabanal and our albergue:

Doing some laundry.

Ryan brought nothing but tie-dyed shirts!

Onwards to Astorga!

The way to Astorga led up some really nice hills. Great hills, wonderful hills. Then a plunge down a hill into the plain of Astorga followed by a steep climb up into town.

Getting ready to leave the albergue.

This was a stop along the way. There was fruit, juice and other snacks provided free for pilgrims or in exchange for a “donativo” (donation). Those of us who took something left a little something as well.

Annie and Jill take a well deserved break.

Kayla at the stone cross on the hill overlooking Astorga.

The Romans built the town at the edge of their empire on a hill with some hot springs. Later in the day we got a tour.

Walking to Orbigo

Today was a relatively relaxed walk to Hospital de Orbigo. They called it “Hospital” back in the day because a lot of peregrinos were hurting by this point.

Leaving second breakfast.

Arriving at the Medieval bridge to Orbigo. There is a jousting field on the plain below the bridge. Unfortunately we were a few weeks early for the jousting.

There are many old churches along the way. And most of them have storks nests on their steeples. (This is better than the power lines, which can get messy).

Dinner at the albergue.

Day 1: Leon to Villar de Mazarife

The way out of Leon led through a lot of suburbs and industrial areas.

But finally we got off the pavement and into the countryside.

Happy to be on our way at last!

Time for a break. We took the shade where we could find it.

Ready to go again!

Leon: Almost Ready to Go!

We bussed first from Madrid to Avila and then from Avila to Leon, arriving on the 20th of May.

Tomorrow we’ll set off for the first leg of our Camino: a 21 km hike to Villar de Mazarife.

But first we got to know Leon:  still a big city, but charming and walkable rather than the frantic metropolis of Madrid.

Class on the go.

Walking the streets of Leon.

An architecture lesson before going into the Cathedral of Leon.

Adventures in Avila

We stayed in a decommissioned palace. We found Saint Teresa’s missing finger.  And we walked the walls of Avila–one of the most architecturally uniform medieval city walls in existence.

Here we are just before our arrival in Avila. At the city gates.

The next morning we mailed off our Caja Verdes to Santiago (excess luggage that we won’t be walking with, but which we want with us when we get there).

Here we learned the secret identity of SUPER HOKIE!

Getting the hang of this

Hola amigos y familia! Day three of El Camino was very similar to the others yet also very different. Similar in that we are finally getting on a schedule, however, the views, emotions, and people we meet along the way are all different everyday. I swear the views of the Spanish countryside will never get old. I am an international studies and geography double major so the landscape and physical geography are beyond amazing to me. The sharp tops of the distant mountains are very different from the rolling blue ridge mountains I grew up in. The scarlet poppies I find a rarity in Botetourt are found filling fields as far as I can see. Sometimes you find that those you are walking with fade into the background among the breathtaking views of España.
Another important part of the camino is the people you meet. Just today I spent time walking with a Londoner named Ian and two Italian men named Fabio and Salvatore. It is amazing to hear the stories of why they walk el camino and what they have experienced. For many, this path is highly spiritual and key to finding out more about themselves. For ourselves it is also important to key into ourselves and our emotions. While walking today I feel like I overcame the first wall and was able to walk all 17 kilometers with relative ease. (As much ease as that could possibly entail). However, as soon as Kat and I came into the city I experienced an extreme low that was aided by a stomach ache, hunger, and exhaustion. The only cure for these is food and sleep (and possibly a “café con leche”). Overall my experience on el camino has already been one I will remember the rest of my life and I have made friends I have grown to know and love. Someday I encourage you to embark on your own Camino, in Spain or elsewhere. ¡Buen Camino, peregrinos!
Olivia White

Visiting Roman baths (and sewers)

The Museo Romano was an amazing learning experience.
My favorite part of the museum was looking at all the artifacts and searching for answers on the worksheet that was provided for us. After we walked though the museum we went on a tour of Roman bath ruins.
We learned about how the Romans picked a easily defendable place on top of a hilhttps://wordpress.com/post/35808072/new/l and how they built double trenches around the wall to make attacking their fortress even more difficult. The fact that so much of the baths were still intact and that it was possible to visualize where people were bathing hundreds of years ago was pretty cool. Their structural and building prowess is quite impressive that so many of their walls and parts of buildings at still standing today.Overall the museum and tour were a fantastic way to learn about how such a beautiful city was created.
Jacob Byrd