Santiago de Compostela

Camino Mozarabe, Spain, Via de la Plata


We are staying in a pension right next to the Grand Cathedral. The weather is cool and rainy and we are seeing a few other pilgrims wandering around. We met a German man who’d done 6,000 kilometers walking back and forth from home to here.

Carnaval is happening and people are dressing up and there are parades. We’re kind of on the edges of things but fun to see. 

We got our pilgrimage certificates and went to a special pilgrim’s mass in the Cathedral. The sermon recounted the story of Jesus telling a rich man it’s easier to pass through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to get to heaven. 

Santiago means Saint James, one of the twelve apostles, and he’s believed to be buried in the church. The edifice is over 800 years old and is undergoing serious renovations.

Pension Fonseca, we’re off season and rates have been quite low.

Cathedral courtyard


Saint James

Grand Plaza

Old town

Walking down towards the convent.





Street art

The Ruta Continues – Oranges and Cruise Ships

Camino Mozarabe, Spain

Santa Fe to Almeria – 15 miles, 2-15-17

We made it to Almeria last Friday. Most of the last day was on small roads and river bed walking. 

We walked past a man harvesting oranges and he smiled and gave us two of the best tasting ones we have ever eaten. Have I mentioned how incredibly nice the people are?

Almost there!

River bed trail.

Grand cathedral

We saw many small dogs dressed in warm sweaters.

The graffiti here is almost as good as in Granada.

Main market

Almeria is a port city. Beyond the cruise ship you can see the Alcazar on the hill.


View from the tower.

More street art.

As in most cities we’ve visited life seems to get going once again he sun sets.

The Ruta Continues – Day Eight, Wild Herbs and Liquor 

Camino Mozarabe, Spain

Albolodoy to Santa Fe – 11 miles, 2/14/17

Leaving the modular Casa Rural it was more river bed walking past the village of Santa Cruz. The crops, architecture and landscape are changing and becoming more desert like with irrigated green zones. As introduced by the Moors, river water is diverted into channels and fields with raised edges. These depressions are flooded according to a schedule. Some farmers are using drip irrigation from Israel but many continue to use ancient methods.

Casa Rural in Albodoloy

Way out

Many more orange trees.

Irrigation system

We stopped in Alhabia for lunch and had tapas and beer. (Fried food is so popular here there are public collection stations for used cooking oil.) Quality varies from amazing to meh. We almost always get a house salad with corn, tuna, olives, crisp lettuce, shredded carrot and sometimes cheese. Along with the salad comes excellent olive oil, vinegar and salt for dressing.


Into the mountains.

From Alhabia it was up and over three sets of fairly steep hills. The views were amazing so it was worth it; we could see Almeria and the Mediterranean Sea from one vantage point. Lavender and thyme are blooming everywhere and scenting the air.


Eiffel railway bridge.

Coming into Santa Fe we saw the railroad bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel and had dinner at Bar Manuel in the Plaza Mayor. We had a delicious Sopa de Picadillo, ensalada, vino tinto and flan. After dinner the waitress brought us an herbal liqueur to “give us strength” for tomorrow’s walk. It was strong and quite good. 

We got the Casa Rural key from her and gratefully accepted a ride to our lodging on the outskirts of town. There’s usually no heat and tile floors in the places we’ve been staying and with night time temps in the 30’s it’s quick showers and under the blankets!

Casa Rural in Santa Fe

Ruta Continues – Day Seven, Good Luck and Good Conversations 

Camino Mozarabe, Spain

Abla to Abolodoy – Day Seven 19.5 miles, 2-13-17

We left the gorgeous albergue in Abla and admired the view of snow covered mountains as we headed down the hill towards a bar for breakfast and the ayuntamiento, (town hall), to drop off the key.


View out to fields.

Breakfast is usually strong coffee with milk and a toasted baguette with fresh tomato sauce and drizzled olive oil. Next a quick visit to the grocery store to get yogurt, olives, mandarin oranges, cheese and bread for lunch.

We returned to the road in the river bed and walked on. Each day the countryside has changed despite the short distances we’re traveling; today the landscape became more arid and rocky and the hills were covered by dying prickly pear cacti, ( they’ve been infected by a cochinilla bug).

Almond trees

River bed view

Blue skies


Osana for lunch near the church.

Entering the manicured village of Nacimiento we saw their mirador, (viewpoint with benches), town center and church. I talked briefly with an older woman and commented on the beauty of her town. “Very pretty but there are no people” she sadly responded. We’ve heard this fairly often and have learned that many people own homes but have had to leave for bigger cities to find work. They come back with their children during the summer.

Mirador in Nacimiento.


The river bed continued and we walked though reed tunnels until coming to a small road. We went up this by chance and met a couple of shepherds with their herd. As usual they greeted us with warmth then said we needed to head up the mountain or we’d get stuck. We said we’d be fine going forward but when they shook their heads and said it was 5 hours in a water-filled river bed or an hour by the road we caved and went up the mountain. I do wonder what people think of hikers touring through their land.

Reed tunnel

1903 water cistern

View of valley farms

Almost to Abolodoy!

The road was closer to two hours, (we’re learning walking times are often longer than encouragingly suggested) but we did eventually arrive.

I called for the albergue key and our host for the Casa Rural came. He spoke very good English and had previously worked as a rural agricultural development agent in the area. He was incredibly generous with his time and answered a myriad of questions.

We learned that there are agricultural subsidies helping many small farmers hold on to their land and trees but the local market network has been undermined by globalization. Olives are still profitable but most other crops are not.

It’s been cold at night so we piled on the blankets and slept deeply.

The Ruta Continues – Day Six Wind Turbines and an Amazing Albergue 

Camino Mozarabe, Spain

Hueneja to Abla – 15 miles

Saying goodbye to the other pilgrims we continued towards Alba. Much of this day the path was in a river bed with wind turbines in the foothills.

Albergue in Huanaje

We also followed the old Royal Road linking Almeria with Granada. 

Calle Real

Wind turbines

Changing landscape but still have olive trees!

We had lunch in Finana and a wedding was going on.

Each town has fountains with usually potable water.

Toasted bread with tomato, olive oil and cheese

Camino Mozarabe stone marking Granada and Almeria border.

We arrived near nightfall in Alba with a darkening sky and threatening rain we tried to get the key for the albergue only to learn all was closed for Sunday. As a last try I called the president of the Almeria Jacobean Association and she and her husband drove over to let us in. The albergue is new and beautifully decorated with local photos; there’s even a washer and dryer!

Church in Abla

The Ruta Continues Day Five – Snow and a Warm Fire

Camino Mozarabe, Spain

Alquife to Hueneja – 13 miles

The night was cold and I was glad for the mound of blankets. Waking up we saw it had snowed several inches! Our host brought breakfast and assured us it was just a dusting and all would be fine.

Albergue Lacho

Road out of Alquife



We set off and passed a huge shuttered iron mine. From there on to breakfast in Callahorra, site of a large renaissance castle. The light rain increased and the sky closed in; soon the distant wind turbines vanished into the clouds.

Shuttered iron mine

Callahorra Castle

Arriving in Ferreira, (a settlement based on iron ore extraction since Roman times), we found the door to the Moorish architecture museum open and a school tour going on. We joined the group and learned how the still standing towers were built. 




The rain continued and we went into Dolar to find an open bar with a warm fire and great food.

Forest where children were sledding.

Now we’re at an albergue for pilgrims in Huanaje and for the first time we’re with other people: a man from Spain headed north and a woman from Scotland adding to her other Caminos.

Walking through Huanaje to the albergue.

Ruta Continues Day Three – Sheep and Tea

Camino Mozarabe, Spain

La Peza to Guadix – 16 miles

We left La Peza early and crunched through frost covered land to climb above the town. Soon we began to see some of the cave houses this region is famous for building.

These cave houses go deep into the hills with chimneys coming out the hill top and elaborate fronts welcoming visitors. We toured a cave museum in Guadix and it was very comfortable and warmer than outdoors. The docent said it’s a fairly constant temperature throughout the year.

At one point we lost our usual trail and saw solar panels ahead. As we walked up to see them a herd of sheep came trotting towards us bleating as the shepherds drove them to pasture. I smiled and said we were lost pilgrims but that all was well.

We continued towards Guadix only to encounter a canyon blocking our way with no clear way down. I looked back and saw one of the shepherds coming towards us. I asked about a path and he offered to lead us to a road into town. We happily acquiesced and had a lively conversation about American and European politics. As with most people we’ve encountered he’s deeply worried about Trump and general trends towards isolationism.

Rejoining our road I saw an English looking woman taking pictures. I greeted her and soon we were having tea and biscuits in the RV she and her husband were driving across Europe. They emigrated to Australia from England 50 years ago and have driven across South Korea, Siberia and Mongolia!

La Peza was a key place along the Muslim Christian trade route and site of a battle with the French in the Peninsular War.

The empty winding road led through a tunnel in the rock.

Red rock and canyons.

A freshly built straw bale house.

Los Baños, home to thermal baths operating since Roman times.

Cave houses in Marchal.

Solar farm


Ruta Continues Day Two – Snow Capped Peaks and Kindness

Camino Mozarabe, Spain

Quentar to La Peza – 18 miles 

Today was one of the toughest days so far; lots of miles to the next village and a big climb into the mountains. 

It was worth it though! The scenery was filled with sweeping views of the highest mountain in Spain, Mulhacen, nestled in with her sister peaks and blooming rosemary, almond and cherry trees scented the cool air.

We slept at a pilgrimage “refugio” in La Peza, ate dinner at a local bar and shopped at a small store for breakfast and trail food. Once again we were amazed and grateful for how kind people have been on this trip. We have yet to experience anything but warmth, despite our often limited language skills.

Cemetery on the outskirts of Quéntar.

Blooming almonds on the trail up to the pass.

Looking towards the Sierra Nevadas and still going up!

The route is well signed with these placards and yellow arrows; it’s like a treasure hunt.

Near a quarry there’s a danger warning.

Collecting pine tree resin.


Heading down towards La Penza.

Church in La Penza.


The albergue is supported by donations.

One of several rooms. We were the only guests this night.

The Ruta Continues -Granada to Almeria 

Camino Mozarabe, Spain

Day One – Granada to Quentar, 13 miles

 We’re continuing the Camino de Mozarabe for about 200 km from Granada to the seaside town of Almeria following Kevin F. O’Brian’s excellent guide and this information from the Almeria-Jacobea Association.

We’re actually doing the route backwards which has definitely been puzzling to people and makes following the myriad yellow arrows a bit challenging at times.

Here’s the route. Each stage is about 12 miles.

I was at last able to get our pilgrimage passports from the diocese in Granada. Once we get to Almeria we’ll visit the coast then go to Salamanca and do the Camino Plata route to Santiago.

Goodbye Granada!

Some of the produce we’re seeing in the markets.

Climbing up into the hills above the city a last bit of Granadian graffiti.

Snow covered Sierra Nevadas in the distance. You can also see some of the Moorish terracing done centuries ago. They were amazing with agricultural technology and much is still in use today.

Flowering Agave plant. This area reminds me of Arizona!

Goats near the ruins of a French built aqueduct from the 20’s. This was built to bring water for gold mining to the town of Dudar on the Darro River.

We arrived in Quentar and walked up the hill to the Fundalucia Guesthouse; a cozy spot with a warm fire and good conversation.

Shared kitchen

Lovely view from the patio.