Thursday, June 12, 2014

Spanish church bells at Rabe

A bit basic when compared to the English ones. Video taken at Rabe, just outside Burgos, Kay standing outside the albergue we stayed in during our first Camino.  We were walking through on a Sunday morning, just as the bells were going to announce the commencement of a service.

MVI 1302 from Kin-Mun Kan on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Songs of birds in Galicia

You can watch this with your eyes shut. Just listen . . .  to the birds of Galicia.

Songs of birds in Galicia from Kin-Mun Kan on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

More photos

A link has been added to my Picasa album containing photos taken on the Camino 2.

Camino 2 photos

There are more than 500 photos in the Picasa album, so don't spend too much time on each photo!

Monday, June 2, 2014


On the Route de Napoleon section of the Camino de Santiago, Orisson is the last location between St Jean Pied de Port (France) and Roncesvalles (Spain) where accommodation is available to walkers. Getting to Orisson required a steep climb of 800m over a 8 km path. Beyond Orisson there is a further steep 500m uphill climb followed by a longer steep downhill stretch, a total distance of 17 km before Roncesvalles.

The view from Orisson is great - when weather permits. We were fortunate to have a short period of clear skies after we arrived.

View from Orisson on the Pyrenees (Route de Napoleon) from Kin-Mun Kan on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bells of Zabaldika


On the day we walked towards Pamplona, we had to follow a path along the small Arga River that was very uncomfortably muddy from previous days of rain. When we got to the village of Zabaldika we had had enough and so decided to take an optional route uphill where we expected the land to be drier even though it meant some steep climbing.

When we reached the top, we were rewarded with not just an excellent view of the surroundings but also a visit to an interesting 13th century church of St Stephens, which nowadays also served to basic accommodation for pilgrims on the Camino. We did not stay there but I accepted the invitation by a nun in charge to ascend the spiral stone staircase up the bell tower to ring the two old bells. It was an interesting experience even though I had to chance my life with the rather questionable timber floor boards. (You might notice from the audio that one of the bells had a crack in it)

MVI 0790 from Kin-Mun Kan on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Flock of sheep on the Camino

I will uploading some photos and video clips taken on the Camino. This one was taken just outside Rabe not far from Burgos where we ran into a flock of sheep.  The shepherd is in the background and Kay was in front trying to keep ahead of the sheep.

MVI 1327 from Kin-Mun Kan on Vimeo.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Reflections on Camino 2

We intentionally chose to walk our second Camino in a different season from the first.

Two years ago in autumn, the grain fields were either bare or golden yellow. The grapes were on the vines ready for harvesting or picking by passing pilgrims and wild berries were plentiful by the roadside.

This time, in spring, the fields were green with new plantings, and the vines were freshly pruned for new growth. So were the trees that lined the espolons of Burgos and Leon.

In spring, the country seemed full of life; the birds were chatty and the highly perched storks were at their nests which were deserted previously.  Roses wild and cultivated, like the wild flowers, were in full bloom. In Galicia their scent even overpowered that of the fresh cow dung, which are always  plentiful. 

For walkers May was more comfortable but still warm in the blistering sun at midday but not as unbearable as in autumn.The Pyrenees was freezing cold and wet; we were actually fortunate as those who crossed over the day before and after were met with sleet and snow. Perhaps there isn't a good season there!

The most obvious change for pilgrims is the dramatic increase in their numbers. There are many now who have prebooked accommodations through travel companies that bulk reserve rooms, leaving limited choices for individuals like us unless we choose to stay in albergues where the "true pilgrims " stay; nothing wrong with that of course, as many would say.

An interesting part of the Camino is in meeting fellow walkers, exchanging stories and experiences - the Canadian banker who changed his job to retrain as a nurse; the Czech who worked for radio Free  Europe thinking about his future;  the mother and two young children walking for the Dad who just died; the father and son striving for a new bonding; the determined French woman on her 9th Camino, the young Japanese girl on her own with limited  English (and Spanish ) and many, many more.

There were those driven by religion or spiritual causes; some strove with raw energy determined to finish without distractions.

Unfortunately we also saw many who ended up with injuries through lack of care or over enthusiasm. An education for everyone.

Destination Sarria

We walked into Sarria in glorious weather, which Galicia is never known for. For once we were lucky; two years ago it rained every single of the days we walked in this province and only stopped when we arrived.

Sarria is our final destination for our second Camino, which is rather strange because this is where many start on the walking pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, just more than 100km away. One needs only to walk from here to qualify for the "compostela" or certficate at the end.

We leave by train tomorrow for Madrid.


We complain often about the one particular  challenge of the pilgrimage - that which relates to food. The breakfast served is often too light, the cuisine offered in the villages limited (sandwiches, potato tortillas, Spanish ham) and restaurants don't open till very late (usually not earlier than 8pm sometimes 9pm).  It is often worse in Galicia where the sun is up till late this time of the year.

Still, we continue to learn, cope and discover. This may only be our second Camino but it's already our 4th trip to Spain, so we should know or have learnt! Soups are often available any time of the day when we asked and they are quite good. The unappealing blood and rice sausage turned out to be quite tasty , and when requested they would usually heat up the potato tortillas to make it more palatable.

At Triacastela, octopus was on the eonomical menu del diaz; perhaps the Spanish people  have stopped being self concious about their exotic dishes and are now offering them to the pilgrims. Best of all many casa rurales (B&B) and small hotels have offered dinners at earlier times. Last night we had dinner at previously unheard time of 7 pm, a time that is very respectful of walkers who need to rest early for an early rise the next day.

Today we will walk our last 9 km to Sarria and end our Casino there.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


We chose to take a route to Sarria that is different from our previous Camino, one that goes  via Samos famous for its largest monastery in the western world.

The path to Sam's was typically Galician, winding path through forests and farms with trees covered with moss and creepers, evidence of high rainfall in the province. Unlike our previous though the sky was blue and the ground dry and even dusty.

The sight that greeted us as we scaled the last of the small hills was worth all the trouble - the grand St Julian monastery from above.

We were even more thrilled to find a conducted tour of the monastery in English for the bennefit of just two of us.

We discovered that the place we booked was actually another 4km on and run by someone who less English than Kay speaks Spanish. Thankfully the lady bar owner helped by phoning for us and soon a car was sent to bring us to the location.


Scaling Cebreiro, the 1300m peak is not too difficult for most people but it was certainly strenuous. It took us more than 3 hours not counting the two stops, one for a drink the other a bowl of Galician vegetable soup.
Just before reaching Cebreiro we crossed into Galicia province .

One pleasure of the Camino is the meeting of different people of different origins. There are occasional surprises when we meet people closer to home. A real surprise greeted us at Laguna village when we found the American lady in the next table had spent time at Macquarie Uni just down the road from us.

Another surprise greeted us at our accommodation near Triacastela (Cebreiro being fully booked ) when we found another couple there were practically our neighbours back in Sydney !

Friday, May 16, 2014

Las Herrerias

We travelled more than 150km to end up at Las Herrerias at the foot of O Cebreiro, a journey that would have taken us 10 days to walk at our leisurely pace. We had gone from a busy urban centre to a tranquil rural environment. We cut across the Montes de Leon (the mountains of Leon ), through mountains and deep valleys and bypassing the string of villages and towns like Astorga, Foncebadon and Rabanal that we walked through 2 years ago. The views were  perhaps better from the bus given the higher elevation  though of  course they were only fleeting.

Gaudi in Leon

In front of Gaudi's architectural work.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Beautiful Leon cathedral, wish l have my wide angle lens with me.

We arrived  by bus from Sahagun after the driver pitied us and let us get on even though we did not prebook and prepay for our ticket; no one told us we needed to and we not know to ask. We did the honest thing by paying at the bus terminal on arrival.

The objective is to Herrerias tomorrow, a small village at the foot of a mountain range from where we would walk up to the top O Cebreiro requiring a climb of 800 m over 8 km.

Spain is on the western the time zone so even though it is still  spring the sunset is late and twilight lingers on till around 10 pm which suits the local  late dinner habits not so much for those who want to get to bed early for an early walking start

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


We have a few more kilometres to walk on the meseta, the length limited by the number of days we have left of our trip and the other items we still have on our to do list. (photo shows rest area on the meseta )

Buses don't stop anywhere near Calzadilla so we will walk till we hit a village along the main road possibly Terrillinos some 8km away. From there we will get a taxi to Sahagun, the regional centre with good train and bus services to Leon from where we will go on to Galicia.

Dramatic news in Leon few days ago  - a prominent woman politician was shot dead.