Thursday, September 30, 2010

Salamanca Spain Calling.

Say it, Sal a Monk a. That's Salamanca.

We are about one half way through our trip. Today's ride was very short and mostly down hill. Dirt path and dirt road. Fast speeds and cool breeze. Warm sun after thick fog.
Last night was wonderful. The place we stayed was so comfortable that we did not want to leave. Ham and eggs for breakfast and Coffee that was actually good!
The Women running the Hotel was so sweet. Hugs and kiss, (French Style, and that's not American French style girls!) There was a tear in all of our eyes when it came time to go.
First place that the Beers were huge! I will miss that for sure.

So were here in Sal a Monk a, Say it. Big city and incredible views with every turn of the head.
We will be here for the next two days. Good thing too, rain forcasted for tomorrow.

See the photos; and click on for larger views, The purple flowers are Saffron.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

3000 Feet Up

This is not easy.

You think,, Barb and Scott on vacation in Spain. Oh Boy! I wish I was them!

It comes across your mind a couple of times a day, What are we doing this for?"

The road is not rideable. The coffee sucks. The flies are ever present. (There is one crawlimg on my leg as I write),, (actually 2)

The conditions of the road surface constantly change. Average speed over the whole day is around 8 mph. Deep sand brings the bike to a stop. Tempers flare, Things get said,, then it changes to complete heaven. A view you could never imagine.

You ride along and flies land on your nose. You learn in short order how to blow in the direction to make it go away. Sometimes it gets launched with your puff and it feels good. But it comes back. They always do. When you say "Shoe!" They look at you funny sitting on your glasses and then hop back on your nose.

Your eyes burn from the sweat, Your feet burn from the heat and your butt burns from the seat. By the time you arive at the hotel, your done.

We came across a stretch of road today that someone, who I'm sure, had never walked or rode the route dumped gravel. It went on for about 3 miles. We rode as far as we could, but fearing shot gun type road rash, we pushed the bike. By the way, Pushing the bike is different then walking the bike. We figure the tandem when we start the day with the 5 liters of water, which we finish by the end of our day, weighs around 100 lbs
I knew the gravel would in fact stop because of the cost. Thank goodness.

Yesterday afternoon I walked around town with my Palm Pilot looking for Wi-fi. No luck.
The place we stayed was weird. Can you imagine a town that's its OK to walk Down Town in your bath robe? True.
Give the town the history and heritage os "Roman Baths" and watch out! All of a sudden, I guess someone does it first and then its not right unless you do too.
Here are some photos of the last 3 days, click on the photos to make them larger-

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Working our way North

Day three, four,and five were easier then the first two. Mostly down hill and smooth for the first two. Pig farms, Sheep farms and both Olive and Grape Vines. Wide open sky and lots of sun. The weather is perfect for what we are doing now. Yesterday there was a hard start out of town, It took us 16 k to find the trail going by what the book had to say.
Deep sand made the riding imposable and the bike hard to push. we walked all told about 3 hours and rode the rest. The last 25 miles, not Kelometers,on the pavement.
This part of Spain is quite beautiful. Wide open and long straight stetchs that you can see for miles.
We always have enough time to compleat the ride in the daylight and if things get tough we hop on the road, Route N630.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hello Again!

Finally, internet access!
Lets make this short. The riding here is tougher then tough. Everything you can imagne and then some. The colors in the rocks are unlike anything I have ever seen.Some have 5 differnt colors and look as if someone has hand painted them.
The trail changes constantly. From mud to sand, Clay to stone. Baby head sized rocks to deep holes that make you need to bring the bike down in speed so we dont crash.
Its a really good thing we brought the drum brake. I don´t know what we would do without it
We did however crash yesterday, Slipped on clay in the rain and down we went. Barb cracked her helmet, but is fine.
The food has been great for the most part. We had an 8 fish dish yesterday for lunch with frys and mayo. The beers could be bigger, but we have learned to just order another.
I only hope to be able to add to the blog as we go along but if you dont see any new postings, please know it just because we are indeed in the middle of no where.

Click on the photos to make them larger.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Significance of the Shell

The Scallop shell for almost one thousand years has been the sign of
St James and the Road to Santiago Compostela.
Two stories of miracles and how the scallop shell became the mark of St James remain.
The story of how James the Greater, apostle to Christ, after being beheaded and set afloat on a stone boat, came ashore North at Finistera covered with the white shelled mollusks. Funny thing though, Scallops are usually found on the ocean floor.
There is also a story about a knight after being thrown from his horse, had fallen in the ocean and at the point of almost drowning, called out for help to the saint. He came ashore covered with scallops as well! His life was saved and thus, another miracle!
The legends have turned the Scallop shell into an insignia for all Pilgrims who had made the journey and the sign of St James and his miraculous powers.
Travelers having reached Finisteera bought or obtained as proof of arrival the shell.
Like the Mickey Mouse hat of sorts showing that you in fact have been to Disney World, the shell became a sign that a Pilgrim had made and finished the journey.
Like a hand and its fingers radiating outwards to give and receive.
And now like the many roads to Santiago Compostela all forming at a center point, the Cathedral at Santiago Compostela and the Grand Plaza.
The Scallop Shell also with its radiating lines coming from one point symbolized the rising sun and a new birth.
The Shape worked perfectly as a dish for food along the route and an amount one could always afford and share with a Pilgrim guest and an amount one could pick up with one scoop.

One needs to ask, which came first, the legends or the shell?

Everywhere along the Camino, you see the "mark". You follow the trail by looking for them. Sometimes only a yellow painted arrow, but the Scallop shell shows the way.

Jewelry of all styles and material can be found that resemble the sign of the Saint.
Santiago,s streets have many stores with souvenirs of the shell.
Just like years ago, one can bring home the sign as proof, they have been to Santiago.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Passport and the Stamps

For years travelers on the road to Santiago were recognized as "Pilgrims" with their "Passports" This little card showed the Hostel where they would be taken in over night and given food to continue was used to show where one had been and that in fact they were on the road to the shrine of St James and not just looking for a free handout.
The tradition has lasted and if willing, one can obtain a Passport at the start and find places along the way that has the "Stamp."
Barbara took it upon herself to diligently seek out all the spots and score at each spot we traveled through.
Some of the stamps are just a simple calling card of the restaurant or hotel, but others are quite beautiful. Each stamp is different and each for free as long as you can find them. Hand written at the bottom of the stamp is the date showing when you had visited. Finding the stamps is not easy!

At the end of the journey, Travelers go to the "Pilgrim Office" and present there Passports to receive a certificate showing that they had at least covered 100 Kilometers of the trip. You are asked if you walked the route of traveled by Bicycle.