Tag Archives: hostel

Life is a Beach

Beach Day!

Beach Day!

Beach Day

July 9, 2014

Yesterday, we took the bus from Santiago back to Muxie to stay for the week on the coast. The beach is beautiful. White sand, clear blue water. Perfect. We also found a hostel to stay at for 22 € a night x 7 equals 154€. About $200 U.S. ( less than what I would pay for camping on the beach in the U.S.) It has a full kitchen a TV and a washer/ dryer. Plus it is a new place that a family owns. They are very friendly and helpful and they speak English. We like it.

We ate at a bar/ cafe a couple of hamburgers. I thought I had paid with a 20€ bill! but the man gave me change like I had paid with a 50€ bill! which was about $60 in return change. Neither Abby nor I speak enough Spanish to get it straightened out, but we had determined that I had paid with a 20€ bill and that he had given us the wrong change. We went to the counter to explain and lucky for us a woman sitting there was able to translate our concern. Both looked at us and upon hearing the story they both shook their heads in disbelief that we would return the money. No one would have done this if they had been locals they agreed and yet here we American tourists are doing it. We told them that we were very honest and did the right thing. We know what is the right thing to do. This man would have lost a lot of money and he could have lost his job over this missing amount.

We are taking the bus from here to the main bus station in Santiago in order to catch the over night bus that will take us to Madrid to fly out on July 16. It should all work like clock work. We ride the bus down from Muxie and arrive at 5 pm, in time to catch the 9:30 pm- 6:30 am bus to Madrid and from that bus station, catch a bus to the airport and have plenty of time to make our 12:30 pm flight. Well, I got to thinking that I should figure out the bus situation and make sure time wise we would have enough time to catch the bus to connect to an airport bus upon arrival in Madrid. I have enough time in advance just in case I need to rearrange plans. I put my questions out on American Pilgrims on the Camino seeking advice from others who had done so. I received a whole lot of information. More information than what was told to me from the one bus agent. Turns out that there is a bus that goes directly to the Madrid Airport and I won’t have to unload and find another bus. Great! This should work out. But then I found out that I need to reserve my seat in advance just in case it is sold out. Uh-oh.

This morning I went on the computer to the ALSA website, filled in the information, found the bus I needed, completed the form, typed in my credit card amount and nothing happened. So I did it again and still it didn’t go through. I remembered someone had said they could pay using PayPal. So I completed the form again and put in my passport number for id purposes and once again it wouldn’t go through!
I’m getting frustrated. There are only 10 seats left on the bus. I am going to have to go back to Santiago in order to book directly at the bus counter and turn around and come back. I was thinking of the bus schedule to Santiago and trying to determine if I should just take a taxi there this morning and catch a return bus late tonight. Ahhhh!

Then Javier, the employee who was helping us out last night with our laundry came in. He said no problem that he could figure out the website and get my tickets booked. Well…long 2 hour and call to the main ALSA office later, it was determined that my Visa card did NOT go through, even though the seats showed that they were taken ( the seats are placed on hold for 10-30 minutes in order for transaction to occur) AND since I had a foreign card I was directed to another bus site ( http://www.movelia.es) to pay there. So we went to that site, selected the seats, completed the form, paid with Visa, only for a message to come up from my credit union wanting my password. I put it in. Nothing. Access denied. I put in my other code. Access denied. Javier and I look at each other. He says, ” no problem, I pay with my card and you pay me” well…3 attempts later- meaning filling out the forms again, and again and again- it finally went through! We printed the tickets. I received an e-mail confirming the purchase and Javier and I jumped and shouted with joy. We had a bonding moment.

In the end, I booked the remainder of the week with him to stay at the hostel. He even gave us two large towels to use at the beach.

Which is where we are sitting at now. In the wind. With the sand blasting us. But we don’t care, because we are at the beach on vacation and letting the waves wash our stress away.

“See mom. I told you it would all work out,” said Abby.

When I’m on the plane heading back to the States, THAN, I will totally relax. Until then…I’m trying not to think of all the little things that could still go wrong and screw us up to have us miss our flight. I am NOT going to project my unspoken fears, just in case the fates are listening and think it would be fun to mess with the end of our trip just as much as what occurred in the beginning.

Please send good karma and thoughts and prayers our way that NOTHING goes wrong to interfere with this current arrangement. And keep reading, cause you all know there is going to be more to this adventure.




May 12, 2014

“I’m going to be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender”
(Jackson Browne)

And that is apparently what happens when one does things impulsively, like book tickets to Spain to undertake the Camino pilgrimage, based on a feeling that, “I just have to go!”

Apparently, things have changed over the years. First off, pilgrims don’t get to stay in albergues (hostel types of places) and eat for free in people’s homes. Nor do pilgrims receive free health care along The Way. One doesn’t get something for nothing, nor are we planning on getting by on our good looks. Which means it is going to take cold hard cash to make it from Orange County, CA to Spain and back again without going hungry or without a bed to sleep in during the 500 mile pilgrimage.

Secondly, if you are thinking of going off on the pilgrimage, I would highly recommend that you belong to the American Pilgrims on the Camino. The forum can be found on FaceBook. I wish I had found them a week earlier before I had booked my flights. I would have changed things around, but life is an adventure and we are just going to go have fun. But it is easier when there is a written plan in place without winging it.

The forum is a wonderful group of experienced pilgrims who will answer questions, offer their input, ideas, thoughts, opinions and encouragement. The group reminds everyone that, “it is YOUR Camino” and just because something worked for them, doesn’t mean that it will work for you and your circumstances. But I would listen to their advice. Also, go under the file section of their page and read the information located there. It is chuck full of first- hand knowledge to draw from.

This takes me back to my point about money. We put things off and procrastinate and make excuses about NOT taking off. We say things like “when I get more money…when I have time…when I retire…when the kids get older…when my health improves…when I lose weight…” And the excuses keep on rolling across our tongue. And so I threw caution to the wind and committed before finding everything out. It all will turn out in the end…one just needs to have faith.

I have used Squaremouth.com to access information and purchase traveler insurance. I bought a plan for both Abby and I that covers us for flight problems, medical issues ( will pay for med vac as well as hospital stays) and if we kick it, the policy even covers the return of our carcasses. A great deal for $120! We also have coverage from our Kaiser plan when we travel out of the country in case of emergencies. Given the state of Spain’s finances, we want to make sure that we are covered for those, “just in case” accidents. For everything else, that is what first aid kits and farmacias are for.

With regards to the cost of where we stay, well, we are hoping that the basic hostels- municipal albergues, parish albergues and the convent/monastery will not be full. We have a book that provides listings of the places for us to stay at. Some accept donations. Some have low set prices. Some include meals and some have facilities available to cook in. These places are set up for pilgrims along the way and you need a pilgrim credential to stay here.

Food is another major need to consider. After reading through the threads on the American Pilgrims on the Camino posts we have figured out that we will eat our main meal during lunch time at cafés, which is later in the afternoon than State time. We will purchase, bread, fruit, veggies, olive packages and tuna packs in the stores along the way for breakfast, snacks and late evening light supper. Evening meals in the towns don’t take place until late in the evening, around 9 pm. That is about the time we will be going to bed and there are curfews in the places we will be staying at. The rates I have seen suggest to plan on E25 a day (about $34 for both food and the cost of a place to stay) for each of us. Eeeek! We are going to HAVE to spend less than this in order to make it for 50 days. We are talking BASIC living. Nothing fancy or grand that is for sure.

See, even walking isn’t free once you start to factor in the cost of daily living expenses. But this isn’t the typical vacation either. Abby and I are on a spiritual quest- a pilgrimage- and we will do without the materialistic needs and comforts as we venture across Spain.

We will rely on faith, support and encouragement from others as we travel. Your donations are warmly welcomed. You can contribute towards our pilgrimage at http://www.gofundme.com/8hte10
And when you do donate, in return I will send you an original 4 x 6 watercolor/drawing.