Getting to know my HOMELAND.
July 23rd, 2013. Taking advantage of the third longest high speed rail network system in the world (after China and Japan) and, first in Europe with 2,441 km, I will be sleeping tonight at a Hotel in Huesca (2 hours and 13 minutes by AVE train from Madrid) to start “My way of St. James” by bike. Alone, by myself.
As for now, the train regulation says that a bike can travel on the train but only in its bag for transport and, she is already there waiting to start the journey with me. Once in Huesca, I took the slow train to Canfranc known as ´Canfranero.´Be patient. The views are worth it. And, if you are as lucky as me to find a good train companion, the travel becomes quite pleasant.
In Canfranc I wanted to visit the ´underground laboratory´but, it is by appointment. The lab is excavated in a rock. The rock filters the cosmic radiation providing the “cosmic silence”, which is necessary to study rarely occurring natural phenomena, such as the interactions with an atomic nucleus of neutrinos of cosmic origin o,r of particles of the invisible “dark matter.” Dark matter provides 85% of the mass of the Universe, but we do not know what it is made of.”
Also, the Canfranc station was used to film Dr. Zhivago. I had lunch with Gustavo, a peregrino psychologist from Madrid, who kindly helped me with my bike when I got off the train. Then, I rode my bike to Jaca, and it was GREAT.
I loved Jaca. I slept in my first hostel/albergue de peregrinos, after visiting the city. I enjoyed the modest Romanesque style of the cathedral and the guided museum inside it. Below, pictures. One of the capitals has a musician carved with an instrument that, according to the guide, not a single expert in music has recognized. It is like a tube in ´z´ shape.
From Jaca I rode to Ruesta, a charming ancestral land with a Romanesque tower and small but quiet hostel with great sandwiches, and local beer. I took a big nap but did not stay over. Rode again; this time it was hard to get to Tiebas. Below the Ruesta village in Zaragoza plus way to Tiebas and, resting under a tree… What a wonderful World:
I had a great time in lovely Tiebas, a Navarra village. The hostel was great and most, the person in charge was all warmth and welcoming. Just in front of the hostel, there was a bench with a botijo (earthenware water jar with a spout and handle). Oh, yes!
That night the hostel manager gave me a private tour along with two other guests; a professor of psychology and his wife, who was a nutritionist. After sharing conversations and having (myself, a mouthful) of liqueur, off we went to visit the Iglesia de Santa Eufemia (s. XIV).
See church below:
On the road to Puente la Reina (meaning literally the “bridge of the Queen”). This place in Navarra is a milestone since it is the junction of 2 paths (WAYS) to get to Santiago de Compostela; the French Way and the Aragonese Way (the one I was doing). So, ¨from here ¨my French Way¨started.
See photos below:
This picture makes me want to live in a tree-house…
After a coffee with an extra virgin olive oil toast and lots of water, I went to Estella to look for a hostel to spend the night. I liked this village, again, in Navarra:
Y de Estella to Logroño, La Rioja, where I had a coffee break with a cyclist from The Netherlands (where else?). It attracted our attention how we had to have coffee here, 2 purchases at different places, since we bought the buns for the café in one place, and the café itself, in another. The explanation the store-owners had is that that´s the way to share out the money; not everything for one person. I love that spirit, and the fact that one shop was adjoining the other:
More cycling alone…:
On The Way, one finds the classic yellow arrows all over and sculptures, tribute to the pilgrims. Below, getting to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, still in La Rioja, an iconic stop on The Way. I spent a lot of time in the Cathedral, reading about the history of the town, and ¨the miracle¨ of the hanged man. To pay tribute to Saint Dominic and his miracle, there is an actual Gothic style hen-house inside the cathedral.
Have a look at the photos:
See the chicken up there?
Next stretch coming: From Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Burgos. 68 Km riding my bike. Nice Cathedral (scroll down) these inhabitants of Burgos have! I was there for one day, but did not sleep over in Burgos. In front of the hostel there is a charming small restaurant with great pasta. I tried this water with sage that was paradise water. There were playing jazz, not alive but, it created a welcoming atmosphere. Here I saw a father and his daughter on a tandem who were staying at the hostel. They were the admiration of the bikegrims and pilgrims.
I met Angel (scroll down) here in Burgos; a venerable pilgrim whose knees are a bit destroyed due to his many ways of Santiago by foot. He is the one who paints the famous yellow arrows, I talked about above, when they are faded or missing.
This statue is an homage to pilgrims: to their over-used feet and blisters, maybe.
In Burgos, after waking up from a restoring nap, I took a bus to go to Santander, on the North coast. I wanted to change and go to the coast. I spent 2 nights in Santander town. Loved it, except for having to pay to transport my bike on the bus.
On my day off, I went to the beach, met Charo and, spent a long time chatting with her. Then I went shopping, to the hair dresser, to have dinner and, sleep at a hostel where I met this Italian hardcore cyclist with whom I could not compete.
We shared a couple of kilometers and then parted ways.
After enjoying the art Santander has to offer, I rode to Santillana del Mar. What a lovely town! I stopped to have lunch in a delicious place, and then, when to the park to sleep under a tree, on the green grass. Below, a Spanish artsy roundabout.
I was still in Santander. Next place where I had lunch, had a tree coming out of the wall.
Santillana del mar above, and lovey horses below on my way to the next place to rest, a guest house in Comillas, a charming town where one can find, among many other things, El capricho de Gaudí, Comillas International University, Downtown Abbey-like places This is Gaudi´s but it is a bad photo.
ASTURIAS next. One of my favorite places on my way, LLanes, where I ate one of the best churros with chocolate I ever had. After stuffing myself with churros, I went to take a siesta, basking in the sun at the beach.
Next stop, San Vicente de la Baquera, nice fishermen´s place with cute colorful boats. I just stopped to take that picture.
Kept riding my bike til…
What an ugly place, to me! However, Niemeyer´s architecture was a neat bonus on my way. www.niemeyercenter.org/
I took these photos of Oscar´s characteristic style.
Pedaling like crazy to get to Pravia to catch a train and get to Ferrol. Ugly too, but it is the place where Franco was born. Also, there was a Medieval fair and decided to enjoy the atmosphere and relax mingling with people on my way.
I bought silver hand-made earrings from a ¨Medieval craftsman.¨ Love´m.
Ferrol, below —
Bye, bye, Ferrol… And FINALLY, from Ferrol to Santiago by bike. I made it! Yes! SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA. END. I refused to get inside the Cathedral because of the huge line… I refused to get the ´Compostela´,not really my cup of tea… I refuse to post pictures of Santiago de Compostela.