Camino de Santiago 2012

Oktober 8, 2012 - 19:25 | author: Bálint F Gyula | photo: the author

After the spring tour of the Saharun Adventure, a more environmental friendly trip followed. Two members of the Vitez Kurtos Team changed into bike gear and travelled to the North of Spain to ride through the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

On August 28, Gyula and Gáspár hopped on their bikes in Pamplona, Navarra province, starting their 9 days journey to Santiago de Compostela, riding 700 km to the cathedral.

Sign on the road

"When you’re in North of Spain and grab your bag to go on a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago on foot or by bicycle, you possess a status, which you can keep for such a long time, for hundreds of kilometres in only certain places." – said Gaspar – "You could be in the woods, on the field, in a village, in a city, on the surfaced road, by someone’s garden or on a gravel-path, people will greet you and meet you, welcome you, bless you and help you in needs. People from all over the World come here with the same intent: to get to Santiago. This is such an uplifting experience that made us decide to go through with this and tour the El Camino."

Winery in Villamayor de Monjardin

The journey did not start off with ease; not long after leaving Pamplona, we had to climb to the Alto de Perdon, where stands a famous monument. The hill-sided and bushy pathway made things even more difficult, every so often we had to get off our bikes and walk, pushing our heavy loaded (30kg of packages) bikes.

The Los Arcos church in sunrise

The team spent the first night in Los Arcos, then in the following places: Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Burgos, Sahagun, Leon, Molinaseca, Tricastela, Palas de Rei. Those, owning a pilgrim passport, Credencial del Peregrino, can use the pilgrim accommodations for a very low price. The collected stamps in this passport prove the performance of the journey. You can get stamps in albergue, churches, restaurants, and cafés; in certain villages you might find an aunt sitting by the front gate with a stamp. They normally have souvenirs and fruits to sell too.

Almost lonely

After leaving Pamplona and the Rioja wine region the surface became pall, therefore the daily distance taken has grown and on the fourth day Gyula and Gaspar rode 126 kilometres. The albergues had to be vacated around 8 – 8.30 in the morning. Breakfast normally took place on the road, in a park, as most places - including the bakeries - open around 9 am. During the day muesli, chocolate and isotonic drinks, and the blackberry and the grapes growing on the side-roads were the energy supplies. Dinner gave the opportunity for a few courses warm meal, after occupying the accommodation and preparing the laundry.

Inside the Leon cathedral

After Leon, we went uphill again, all the way to the highest point of the EL Camino tour up to 1550 metres. Not far from this point and only 10 metres below is the famous Cruz de Ferro.

"If you’ve seen Emilio Estevez’ 2010 movie, The Way, or have read of El Camino, you know that this is one of the most important part of the journey. Due to the tradition, all pilgrims leave a stone here, a stone that they have found on the way or brought from home. The Iron Cross – standing on the 5 metre tall stud with its 70 cm height - itself isn’t much of a sight; however it fascinates and enchants everyone visiting and walking round the now significant pile of stones. The messages on the stones, notes on the pillars and pictures left behind explain why the pilgrims decided to take this long journey. Sadly, most of the times the reason behind is an unfortunate, sorrowful event, that brought tears in my eyes." – remembered Gyula.

Somewhere close to the path

From the Iron Cross the road went downhill again, as the next town, Ponferrada is situated in a basin; however we were not out of the mountains yet. The next day the Vitez Kurtos Team had to overcome a 900 metres fall again, which proved to be more steep than those before and even on the surfaced road the team had to hop off and push the bikes for about 10 kilometres. The road took us to another wine region, the Bierzon and led us to O Cebreiro. The original plan was to lodge here, but the boys decided to go downhill in the afternoon heat rather than the next morning, when the temperature could have been cold.

We are approaching Astorga

"When we started our journey from Pamplona – in the 30 degree Celsius and above - , we thought we carried extra weight by bringing warmer clothing, but on the third day a cold front arrived and the temperature drastically dropped. We needed our raincoats, there were major sifts above 1000 metres. The weather changed again, and temperature rose the last few days, the mornings started a little less unpleasant" – added Gaspar.

Cows and wind turbines

On September the 5th, around half past 4 in the afternoon, the Vitez Kurtos Team finally rolled in to the fancy cobblestones of Plaza de Obradoiro, in front of the Santiago de Compostela. The final stamp and the certificate, proving the accomplishment was the last thing to get, before heading home in pure excitement.

As from the Saharun Adventure, the boys documented their daily journey through images and notes about the El Camino tour too. The reports in Hungarian are available on the following links (use the browsers translate function):

-2. About the tour
-1. Approaching Pamplona

0. The start
1. The first day with 100 km
2. In the clouds, above 1200 metre
3. More than the daily target
4. Freezing
5. Through the mountains
6. Tricky day
7. Up the hill, down the basin
8. Arrived

+1. Dipping in the Atlantic Ocean
+2. The way home
+3. El Camino on foot, by bike and by train

Tags: 2012 bike tour camino de santiago el camino spain