Sunday, May 24, 2015


Well I guess it's time to update Gassaway's Adventures. After I walked the Camino de Santiago, I flew to Madrid where I met Cathie. We stayed in a really nice B&B in the old city. B&B's are hard to come by in large cities, and Madrid is no exception. When doing a internet search most responses are for hotels that serve breakfast, not what we were looking for. We did manage to find Artistic B&B and although up 4 flights of stairs, it fit our needs.

With Cathie arriving late on my second day in Madrid, I continued to do what I had been doing for the previous 5 weeks. I walked. Then I walked some more. Madrid is really walkable with lots of pedestrian only streets in the old center. It didn't take much to keep me entertained, with sidewalk cafes galore, it was people watching time. I did find myself looking for pilgrims I knew, but never found a one.

Cathie finally arrived after her flight was delayed around 9 in the evening. I took the bus to the airport and met her and we retuned to the city in the same fashion. Cathie hadn't eaten, so after dropping her luggage off at the B&B we headed to a close by restaurant for dinner. In Spain, restaurants don't start serving dinner until 8 or 8:30, so dinner at 11 pm was the norm. Madrid with a population of over 3.2 million is huge, but we pretty much confined ourselves to the old center of the city. After being in Northern Spain for 5 weeks walking the Camino, Madrid was overwhelming and expensive in comparison to what I'd been used to. Cathie really only had one full day in Madrid, so we opted to take the Hop On Hop Off tour bus to get an overview of the city. So, we hopped on and rode around for about 1.5 hours listening to the narration in hard to understand English, then we hopped off and stayed off. We decided that it was more enjoyable just to sit in a side walk cafe and watch the world go by.
For the remainder of our trip, I had attempted to rent a car in Madrid and drop it off in France where we were to catch our flight home. For a 3 week rental, the rental fee was around $550, not too bad, but the drop off fee was a whopping $2000. So back to square one. We could have used public transport to get around, but you waste time and have no flexibility. We had leased a new Peugeot in the past for longer trips, so I looked into to cost. More expensive than I had hoped, but it was doable. So on the day we left Madrid, we took a taxi to a predetermined location near the airport and met with the representative from Peugeot. He delivered to us a brand new Peugeot 308. The car comes fully insured with roadside assistance and is registered in my name. When we go home, a different representative will meet us at the airport in Mulhouse, France and take the car back.

So we left Madrid and drove the short distance to Segovia, a city with a roman aqueduct and a bunch of other old stuff. We stayed in a gem of a B&B just on the outskirts of the city, where communication with the owner was limited due to the language barrier. Even so, we managed to be served wine and beer both afternoons we were there on the terrace.
We spent the morning checking out Segovia, touring the Cathedral, the Castle and admiring the aqueduct. The two tiers of the aqueduct are believed to have been built between the 1st and 2nd century. It was constructed with out the use of cement or mortar, is 2388 feet long and has 165 arches. The castle or The Alcazar of Segovia is a sight to see from the surrounding area. The first written record of the Alcazar dates back to the beginning of the 12th century. It became on the the favorite residences for the crown of Castile throughout the middle ages.

After two nights in Segovia, we headed to Santo Domingo de la Calzada for our last two nights in Spain. The purpose for going to Santo Domingo was two fold. First, there is a Parador Hotel there and second is because it is on the Camino de Santiago. The Paradors are a Spanish Government hotel chain with many of the hotels occupying old historic buildings. I had stayed in one in Leon while walking the Camino and now it was Cathie's turn. The Santo Domingo Parador is in an old pilgrims hostel built in the 1500's and is right in the center of the old city. The second reason for going was to show Cathie some of the places I had walked.

There is also a legend about a pilgrim from long ago, and it goes something like this : A German family, father, mother and son, Hugonell, were on the pilgrimage to Santiago. In Santo Domingo they stayed with a farmers family, and the farmer's daughter tried to seduce Hugonell but, as a pious pilgrim, he refused her advances. She became so angry that she his some silver in his pack and after he left, called the authorities and accused the boy of theft. Upon finding the items in his pack, the boy was found guilty and hanged.

The grief-stricken parents continued to Santiago but stopped to see their son's remains on the return journey. It was common at the time that thieves were left to rot on the gallows as a warning to others. They were delighted to find that he was still alive, claiming that Santo Domingo had held him up so he did not die. The parents hurried to the magistrate and asked them to cut down their son, as he was clearly innocent. The magistrate, who had just sat to to a hearty chicken dinner, shouted, "Why he is no more alive that this roasted chicken I'm about to eat." At this, the cooked chicken stood up on his plate, miraculously brought back to life feathers and all, and crowed.

In remembrance of this story, live chickens are kept in the Cathedral and are said to be descendants of the resurrected fowl.

As I write this, Spain is behind us we are now in Pau, France. This is Basque country and three days to explore it, so stay tuned.