Rendezvous with Manuel of Bikespain at Barajas Airport in Madrid and then drove across the Guadarrama mountains to Burgos. The Hotel, El Meson Cid, was directly opposite the Burgos Cathedral.
Dining at the excellent restaurant at El Meson Cid. Top dishes were murcillas (blood sausage), supposedly the best in Spain, and escápulo de cordero asado (roast shoulder of lamb).
Early start, Manuel guided them out of Burgos and onto the Camino itself, leaving them to fend to themselves at Tardajos. 1 km short of Castrojeriz .
”The hotel La Cuchava was comfortable, the food unremarbable.”
From Castrojeriz , over the River Pisuerga (spanned by the 11 arched bridge built on the instructions of Alfonso VI) and then onto Carrion de los Condes. The Camino started with a tough climb up to the Alto de Mostelares.
In Fromista, where they finally obtained their Certificates of Accreditation as Pilgrims.
In Revenga, a few km west of Fromista, a lovely mural of a pilgrim, El Camino, and their final destination, the Cathedral of Santiago
Before dinner, in the late evening, they were invited to participate in a mass for pilgrims in the Iglesia de Santa Maria del Camino.
They chosen to take the Camino itself, since it promised a quiet road through farmland with wonderful views of the Sierra Cantabrica. Then, they ride to their hotel, the Puerto Sahagun, on the eastern edge of the town of Sahagun.
They drank their wine and ate their bread and cheese in the warm, dry comfort of their bedroom, after which they garaged our bikes for the night.
October 8th – 9th
On their first morning in Leon they bought wet weather gear anticipating heavy rain in the Sierra Cantabria and in Galicia – the afternoon they visited the magnificent Leon Cathedral.
Their first taste of Leon’s outstanding cuisine was a small restaurant, not far from the Parador – Chinchirrones en su tinta (baby squid in its ink) was outstanding.
The cuisine came into its own in the old city, the Barrio Humido, around the corner from the Cathedral; lubina salteado (seabream encased in salt) preceded by tapas of anchoas and fresh field tomatoes were the highlights of dinner with Juan Manuel Alonso, Javier Luengo and Paco Macias (owner and representatives of Frontera Copper Corp’s mining contractor, PEAL, in Mexico).
The following night, their last in Leon, Callos Madrilenos (tripe in a thick, ochre coloured sauce) served in brown clay bowls was « spectacular » &– in a small four table restaurant, hidden behind the tapas bar which fronted onto the street.
They set off gingerly from the Parador to Astorga, about 55 km to the west (Bikespain having delivered our bikes the previous day from Sahagun). This was their last day on the meseta, the road gentle and undulating, the day bright and sunny.
They lunched on the bank of the Tuerto River, on the outskirts of Astorga, a walled Roman fortress town built in the First Century to protect Rome’s gold mining interests. Today Astorga is best known for its cathedral, the Gaudi Palance and its outstanding chocolate.
In the evening they strolled down to the main plaza, and bought their lunch for the next day. For their evening tapa in the plaza, though still in Castilla y Leon, but they could not resist the octopus in the Galicia style (pulpo gallego), served with a good olive oil and a light dusting of paprika, was outstanding. They dined at the Gaudi Hotel which, Pablo told them in the evening phone call, has the best food in town.
« We were not disappointed – bacalau en cazuela (salt cod in a light tomato sauce served in a clay pot) was particularly good, as was the chocolate dessert. »
Their taxista, Dositeo, picked them up early in the morning of the 11th October at the Hotel Gaudi and drove them up the steep back road through pretty mountain villages of El Ganso and Foncebadon before arriving at Cruz de Ferro – fog shrouded, with temperature just 6 degrees C.
From the Cruz de Ferro, they had an exhilarating descent on the west side of the pass through Manjarín and on to Molinaseca at the bottom of the mountain.
They rode west from Molinaseca through Ponferrada (the site of the 12th Century Knights of the Templar castle) and then into the broad valley of the Rio Sil, where they stopped for lunch with this gorgeous view across the vineyards, looking south toward the major Roman gold project at Las Medulas, about 20 km away. Here at this site, they had their best roadside lunch of their Camino, which included the outstanding Rioja they had bought in Astorga, with cheese, ham and fresh bread, together with ripe grapes picked from the vineyard at their lunch site, warm from the sun.
They agreed with Pablo that their taxista, Dositeo, would pick them up early at the Parador and drive them to the summit of the next pass, Alto de Poio, thus avoiding a 2,000 foot climb, before commence their cycling. Once again they had a spectacular descent.
They purchased their lunch provisions in Sarria, and after a short stiff climb just west of the village, had a quick lunch and continued west on the blacktop, the road undulating, but essentially an easy ride, until they arrived on the east bank of the Río Miño, when the road swung north and followed the course of the river up to the bridge acrossthe river to Portomarín.
Later they strolled through the town and had their evening tapa in the plaza, in this case a plate of very ordinary anguilas fritas (fried eel). Dinner at the Posada was excellent though, the top dish being the starter choco a la plancha (grilled squid). Also a good dessert, a caramelised ice cream.
They got off to an early start, facing a 1000 foot climb over the first 20 km.
There was a light fog when they started off from the Parador, which burnt off just a few kms west of Portomarin. Wooden granaries constructed on a stone base protect mounted on a stone base are typical of the Galician landscape, as our the round stone granaries which date tothe Celtic area
They pushed on to Palas de Rei, where they bought their lunch supplies, then 15 km further west through Melide, where we committed an error – they rode past the Pulperia Ezequiel in the main street of Melide without stopping – they could have lunched at a long communal table on pulpos de Gallega . However, second best was this chestnut grove just outside Melide where they ate a late lunch of bread, ham and cheese.
They pushed onto Arzua and their lodging at the Pension Theodora, their last stop on the Camino, before Santiago de Compostela.
Dinner at the Pension was a modest, pilgrim’s affair, pollo estofado con judeos (chicken stew with green beans) – actually very tasty – breakfast the next morning was equally modest, fresh bread, with some cheese (the local soft, mild variety) and jam.
They started earl, planning to lunch in Santiago. The day was grey and cool, the clouds low in the sky. The road was undulating with a number of challenging, long hills – green Galician
meadows, and old circular Celtic granaries.
They circled around the airport, through San Pablo, then stopped at Casa Lorenzo to warm ourselves up with a mug of thick, rich chocolate, before continuing.
They were now within striking distance of Santiago. They caught their first glimpse of the spires of the Cathedral just after entering the city from the Rua das Ánímas, which then led into the Plaza Immaculda
On the east side of the Plaza Obreiro, the west façade of the Cathedral of Santiago and on the north side of the Plaza the south facing façade of the splendid Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos, where they were billeted for the night.
As required by custom, they immediately entered the cathedral, and embraced the jewelled statue of Santiago Peregrino from behind and then visited his crypt
After their initial visit to the Cathedral, they lunched at Las Carretas on the Rua do Trinidade, where they celebrated the completion of their pilgrimage with Huevos Revueltos con renuevos de Calentador (scrambled eggs with turnip shoots, surprisingly good), Perdiz de Cazador (Patridge in the style of the Hunter), and an outstanding glass of Albariño, the excellent white wine from the Rias Baixas, about 100 km from Santiago on the Galician coast.
They revisited the Cathedral at leisure after lunch and then went onto the Seminary, adjacent to the cathedral off the Plaza Immaculada.
They dined in the Hostal’s excellent restaurant in the evening – with the focus on seafood, being so close to the Atlantic, they enjoyed two outstanding main courses – Ostiones a la plancha and Lenguado a la plancha (Grilled scallops – mandatory since the scallop shell is the icon of the Camino – and grilled sole), washed down with another fine glass of Albariño.
They caught the 9am train from Santiago for Burgos, where they had started their Camino 11 days earlier, with scheduled arrival in Burgos at 4 p.m.
They had decided to enjoy the wines and food of Rioja to finish their Spanish adventure before returning respectively to South Africa and Canada. Mina Fernandez in Oviedo organised a rental car for them in Burgos and booked them into the Real Casona de las Amas in the village of Azofra, which, whilst at the southern margin of the wine growing area of Rioja, was coincidentally, on the Camino itself. Given their late arrival at the Real Casona, they chose to dine there on modest fare, the best of which was a berenjena rellena (stuffed eggplant) and a flan queso.
Mina had arranged a wine tasting for them at the Roda winery in Haro – to get there they passed the Bodega of Viña Tondonia. Good wine, light bodied and like Riojas of that time, brownish in colour.
Edurne, from Bilbao, was their bright, well informed hostess at Roda. On Erdune’s recommendation, they lunched at the Restaurant Beethoven 1 near the Plaza de la Paz in Haro. Raba del Buey and Sardinas al la plancha (oxtail cooked in red wine and grilled sardines) were the outstanding main course dishes at Beethoven, followed by two equally good desserts, the one a custard pastry smothered in rich chocolate sauce, the other small cylindrical pastries stuffed with custard and with the same chocolate sauce. They drank a Muga Riserva with lunch, to compare with the Roda’s they had tasted earlier at the Bodega – Roda won hands down they dined at a fine restaurant next to the cathedral and enjoyed a light dinner of puerros vinaigrette and caldo de legumbres (leeks in a vinaigrette sauce and a vegetable soup), before returning to the Real Casona.
They met Alberto (just arrived from the Democratic Republic of the Congo) at the Muga bodega in Haro for a quick tasting of their Riserva and then went onto Elciego for a further quick tasting of the Marques de Riscal Riserva – neither stood up to Roda.
Then, they were directed to Toni’s restaurant, where they had probably the most magnificent meal of their entire trip.
They arrived in San Vincente de Sonsierra during the harvest, the narrow streets were cluttered with tractor trailers (before noon and after 4 pm) hauling in their loads of Tempranillo grapes. However, they did have time to visit the pretty Iglesia St Vincente immediately after lunch.
They had booked into one of Rioja’s top restaurants in Ezcaray, about 35 km south west of Azofra – but having lunched as well as they had at Toni’s, they decided on an evening of Tapas in Logroño, about 40 km East of Azofra.
Travel trust to ensure your family stays in touch after your gone!
A SEND OFF (From Travel Industry Today magazine)
Where there is a will
15 AUG 2012: A growing trend for people to leave their loved ones travel related trusts has prompted a travel agency and a law firm to partner together this summer to start offering one-stop-shopping for trust creation and travel planning.
“You could give them money and they could go and buy a new car with it, or you could give them this and they can use it to create memories,” said Jim Bendt, president of Travel Beyond of Minneapolis, who advises there may also be tax advantages to setting up a trust that encourages travel.
“Despite the economy, this is the first generation of people passing away with substantial wealth,” said Avi Kestenbaum, a trust and estate specialist with the New York-based law firm Meltzer Lippe Goldstein & Breistone. He estimates he has set up 10 travel-related trusts in the past 15 years, while other clients have given instructions verbally or in a non-legal written “wish list.”
Whether it’s trying to make sure that their children stay in touch despite geographical distances, or wanting them to become acquainted with family roots in another country, some people are deciding that travel should be a part of their legacy.
Margaret Cronin, a partner with the law firm, Leonard, Street and Deinard, also of Minneapolis, said these trusts might provide other benefits as well.
“If you give a child a big inheritance outright, it’s exposed to their creditors, to their divorces,” she said. A trust is “absolutely something that people should consider.”
What to do
Some who bequeath money for travel want their offspring to connect with their heritage, culture or religion. They might go so far as to require the beneficiary to study or take courses in a particular country. Other trusts encourage travel with a philanthropic twist; for instance, the inheritance would need to be used for volunteer work in Africa.
Kestenbaum said one client he had specified Greece as a destination, while another identified a particular town in Italy.
“The creator (of the trust) has to be a little bit mindful or careful not to make it too rigid or too broad either,” Kestenbaum cautioned.
Keeping in touch
In the case of Lee Liebman and her family took a $6,000 vacation this year that didn’t cost them a dime. Her in-laws realized that with two daughters living in Israel and one son in the US, the cost of plane tickets might prevent his children and grandchildren from visiting one another.
At a family dinner in 2000, her father-in-law, an academic in his 60s, announced that once a year, he and his wife would pay up to $800 per passenger should one family be inclined to visit another, “and it will hold true even in the event that one of us passes away,” Liebman recalled. Four years later, he died unexpectedly.
So far, the money has been used by his children for five family celebrations, three in Israel and two in the US. The amount has been modified over the years to keep up with the rising cost of air travel. Liebman’s mother-in-law, who dispenses the money, keeps it informal and doesn’t ask for receipts, and she has covered the cost of a hotel when it was directly related to a family visit.
Most recently, Liebman, her husband, and their three children flew from the East Coast to Israel for a wedding and received a check to cover their flights.
“Because it was free that was a big incentive to do it,” said Liebman, who works in the health care industry. “Sure, we could have come up with $6,000 somehow, but we wouldn’t have. None of us is wealthy. ”
A matter of influence
Kestenbaum said parents and grandparents still want to provide for basic needs, but beyond that, he believes those with extra means are becoming increasingly philosophical in their estate planning.
“They are thinking about how to influence the behaviour of their descendants in a positive way,” he said, noting that often, family members don’t know what has been set up in the will or trust until after their relative’s death.
For Liebman, the money from her late father-in-law has had a very positive effect. In the past dozen years, the family has expanded through weddings and babies, and the interaction and shared experiences at the family get-togethers means, “there has been a new level of connection made.”
“It was really money well spent,” she said.