A couple of miles from O Rosal the road begins to climb gently into the mountains. Built to harness the Picon and Folon rivers, the first mill dates from 1702, with 60 eventually completed. They remain well preserved and linked by a hiking trail. Despite their entirely functional purpose, they manage to have a wonderful symmetrical pattern in two areas. The trail sneaked up the Campo do Couto mountain and the mills started to come into the view. They are in surprisingly good condition, with small irrigation channels running between them. The water usually runs directly through the mills, which…
Spain – but not as you know it. In this lush mountainous north west region people gather to give thanks for surviving a near death experience in a most extraordinary way.
Let me be brutally honest here. There are some languages that flow rhythmically and poetically from mouth to ear like some glorious Shakespearian, Mozartian love child – German is not one of them. In truth I have grown quite an affinity to the German people since being released by the cultural grip of semi disdain and suspicion often still experienced in England. Give me a a bushy mustached Hans in a lederhosen as a drinking buddy any time. That being said, a torrent of German still feels like I’m being flogged with cat and water boarded at the same time.
A long ancient bridge led us into the picturesque town of Hospital d’Ortega a few days after leaving Leon. At 204 metres it is the longest bridge along the Camino – and considering the tiny river it crosses – about 200 metres longer than strictly necessary. The majority of this aged relic stretches over a large expanse of bright green grass, which in all likelihood we could have just walked across. Our home for the night was a quaint little alberque that had been recommended to us – a peaceful and serene place until a large gaggle of Italian cyclists…
Outside the main Municipal hostel in Burgos I joined the back of a long line inhabited by a truly bedraggled bunch – all staring vacantly into space. Those who arrived after were given the solemn news that there were no beds left.
“You won’t like it” the taxi driver sneered dismissively as we climbed out in front of the Massara Hotel, “I will wait” he casually added. We were in the seaside town of Kohbar for the weekend. We did like it – I’m not sure if he’s still waiting.
There are few taxis in Al Hofuf. Those that do appear tend to fire past you with a look of repulsion in their eyes. It was a Friday evening in the mid size desert oasis town and we were standing by the side of the road. Nabeel threw out an arm, and within seconds a white Toyota truck came to a halt next to us. The briefest of negotiations took place and we all climbed in.
I’m always genuinely surprised when I successfully manage to get through an airport and onto the plane. Thanks to a litany of travel screw ups, I always fear I’m moments from disaster. An employee turning to me and asking flippantly, “You’ve got your B7236 per-authorisation form right?” or even the worryingly frequent “this flight is actually tomorrow sir”. On this day however, and despite the body complaining loudly about the rambunctious evening the night before, I breezed through.
In the grand scheme of a walk, it would be a little longer than a pleasant Sunday morning stroll. The Camino de Santiago, a thousand year old pilgrimage route, would take me from the edge of France and across Spain to the famed cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. A little less than 500 miles.