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Calling all vegetarians

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Covey, May 22, 2010.

  1. Bella Tomato

    Bella Tomato New Member

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    Hiya,
    This is my first post ever! I am planning on walking the Camino in May this year (2013), and I'm super excited about it!
    I have been vegan for 3 years, and although I am pretty serious about it in every day life I am willing to make small compromises to make my camino tolerable.
    Last year I spent a month travelling in France and realised that if I didn't eat cheese every now and then I would find myself spending the entire day miserably trying to find something to eat. I did not want all of the other aspects of my travels to be dictated by what I could and could not eat, and found that maintaining a small degree of flexibility while still aiming to stay as vegan as possible worked very well for me.
    Having read all the comments about being vegetarian I expect I will be facing much the same situation whilst on the camino.
    Recently I have been making excellent improvement from a looooong chronic back/hip pain issue (walking the entire camino painfree is my motivation/timeline/goal for getting better) and beside the strict physiotherapy regime I've been doing, I've found that incorporating a lot of extra protein into my diet has done wonders. Mostly for me this has been in the form of vegan protein shakes (soy protein), which I drink after exercising.

    So in short, I am a vegan for whom it is very important to have a high quality and regular dose of protein whilst on the camino. A handful of almonds here and there and beans at dinner are good, but they just won't cut it.
    My usual protein shakes are out of the question (there is no room for a big bucket of protein powder in my bag!) and so I have been experimenting with how I might be able to make myself some compact "protein bombs" to bring along with me.
    I will be refining the recipe over time but this is what I have come up with so far:
    http://ridebitch.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/surprisingly-tasty-vegan-protein-balls/
    I am also considering taking a whole bunch of these, which have 10g of protein each and weigh 28g each:
    http://www.primalspiritfoods.com/products_flavor_details.php

    I also hope that I can do a lot of cooking in the evening and I really love the idea posted by someone above of carrying a lunchbox (or perhaps zip lock bags which would be lighter and less space hungry), cooking extra at dinner and then carrying it on for the next day's lunch.
    I'm a chef so cooking and eating are a very, very high priority for me while on the camino- instead of looking over the route and albergues I'm obsessed with looking up easy preparation camp food!

    I apologise if this post seems self centred, but I figure it might help someone :)
    I will be sure to provide some more vegan-friendly information when I can.

    Cheers! Bella.
     
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  2. backiej

    backiej Member

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    Thanks for this recipe. I adapted it and used it to send to my vegetarian son who is at universityu and not eating very well. Jackie
     
  3. Bella Tomato

    Bella Tomato New Member

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    Hi everyone! Hi Covey and thanks for starting this thread!
    I just wrote a fairly thorough post on being vegan on the camino here: (http://www.caminoforums.com/miscellaneous-topics/3749-being-vegan-camino-post24912.html#post24912) but I thought it would be good to add it in here too...


    A few weeks ago I completed the Camino Frances as a vegan and I wanted to share my experiences/knowledge with any others out there who are planning on doing it.
    Before I left for the Camino I hadn't found much useful or encouraging information about being vegan on the walk and I seriously doubted my ability to get through it without making the cringing decision to just give up eat
    tortillas (a kind of big eggy omelette) for every meal.
    Almost all the information I found about being vegetarian or vegan on the way was mildly discouraging- but never fear because I am here to boost your confidence!


    The most obvious issue with being vegan on the camino is what to eat (a vegan doesn't eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy), but there are also a few other things to address.

    BUYING GEAR
    Shoes
    It seems that most above-the-ankle-boots are made with leather and I had a lot of trouble finding vegan ones. I ended up going for a pair of Salomon hiking shoes (
    http://www.salomon.com/us/product/synapse-cs-wp.html). A lot of Salomon shoes are leather free. New Balance is another company which produces vegan-friendly shoes.
    http://www.newbalance.com

    General hiking gear
    You might consider supporting an ethical company for buying the rest of your gear, such as Patagonia, who have an excellent business mission.
    http://www.patagonia.com/
    I would also recommend Sea to Summit as another company with great ethical practices.
    http://www.seatosummit.com.au/
    Alternatively, you might be able to find second hand gear on freecycle or ebay or on the Camino forum, which I always tend to think of as the best option (though often the most effort).

    Cosmetics
    If you can get your hands on some Dr Bronners liquid soap I highly recommend it. It is vegan and you can use it for washing your body, your hair and your clothes while you are walking.


    WHAT TO PACK
    Since you will be doing a lot of cooking for yourself it is helpful to bring a few basic things for food preparation.

    Cooking gear
    - a camping spork
    - a good quality steak knife (I know, funny right? But steak knifes are actually awesome for general food prep and great for slicing tomatoes when you're on the road)
    - a 1L Tupperware box with a waterproof seal (the lid doubles as a chopping board in a pinch)
    - plenty of zip lock bags (for storing garlic, dry foods etc- trust me, they come in handy for a lot of things!)

    Food
    -a reusable, refillable squeezy tube filled with peanut butter (I found the tube at an outdoors store- it was much lighter than the jar the pb originally came in)
    - a small shaker of salt
    - a dozen primal strips in case of emergency (
    http://www.primalspiritfoods.com/products.php)


    WORDS TO KNOW
    Sin = without
    Carne = meat
    Atun = tuna
    Leche = milk
    Huevo = egg
    Queso = cheese
    Mantequilla = butter
    Nata = cream
    Soja = soy
    Integral = wholewheat/wholegrain



    WHAT TO EAT
    You will find out very fast that there is basically nothing on the way for a vegan to eat meal-wise (but snack-wise you will find a lot of things), unless it is prepared by yourself. While this is kind of daunting it is definitely possible, and you can do it! And you won't even get malnourished!

    You will need to try to stay at albergues that have a kitchen. I found the Brierley guide that I carried did not have accurate information on this, and ended up relying on some German friends I'd made who's guidebooks were more specific.
    I would highly recommend referring to this PDF before leaving and either printing it out or marking in your guidebook the kitchen information.
    http://www.caminodesantiago.me/camin...amino-frances/

    I usually cooked a big batch of whatever I was having for dinner at night so that I would have excess food. I would then store the excess in my Tupperware box and carry it with me to have for lunch the next day. It did add quite a bit of weight to my pack, so that is something to consider.
    Sometimes I also ended up carrying quite a bit of non-perishable food items. One time I found quinoa (in a 500g bag of course- from a small internet cafe/South American grocer in Santo Domingo) and I carried what I didn't eat for a week before I got around to eating it. It's the same with things such as spices, dried beans and soy sauce- you can only buy large amounts and unless you are willing to leave it at the albergue you will have to make sure you have enough room and weight allowance to do so. I would say I was usually carrying close to a kilogram of food at any one time.

    Before heading to the supermarket to buy ingredients for cooking dinner for the night ALWAYS check what is in the albergue kitchen- there might be spices, bags of pasta or rice, boxes of tomatoes or any other number of things that last night's pilgrims left behind. Also check what cooking equipment there is because some kitchens have very little and it might affect what you can cook. In the municipal albergues in the Galician region (towards the end of the walk) you will probably be shocked to find they have big beautiful kitchens but absolutely zero cooking utensils, which is very frustrating but good to be prepared for.

    You will find many people willing to share food with you and I often ended up cooking for a group of people, which makes shopping much cheaper and means you waste less food.


    THE PILGRIMS MENU
    Pretty much everyone but you will be eating pilgrims menus every night. This is generally a ten euro meal that consists of three courses, plus wine and bread, served either at your albergue or at local restaurants. While it is a little sad to be missing out on this social opportunity you will see that as time goes by everyone else will start getting very sick indeed of pilgrims meals (which seem to almost exclusively consist of insalata mixta, some sort of meat with fries and a flan) and more and more people will start joining you in the kitchen. You might find yourself in a town with no supermarket and nothing to eat, or maybe you just feel like joining in the fun of the pilgrims dinner. In this case it is usually fine to ask for a vegetarian version of the pilgrims menu (be sure to specify sin carne, sin atun, sin huevo, sin queso, and be particularly specific that the insalata mixta does not contain atun). They will probably look at you as if you are an alien but most times they will be accomodating because it means one more person paying for dinner. It will generally be a pretty crappy meal (penne with tomatoes from a box, a very uninspiring mixed salad, bread and probably nothing for dessert), but if it means you get to hang out with your friends then sometimes it is worth it. I have to mention here though that if you are a sensitive vegan it may be best to skip these altogether- I once sat at a table with a group of people who all ate whole fish and I was quite uncomfortable.


    STAYING HEALTHY
    Without the comforts and convenience of your normal life it can be hard maintaining a healthy and balanced diet- and that goes for everyone, not just vegans.

    Protein
    One of my main concerns was that I got enough protein. As a normal, healthy vegan it is not too difficult to get enough protein- but as a vegan recovering from a chronic injury like myself, protein is more important than usual. Before the camino I was drinking a protein shake every day as well as eating high protein meals, and I wanted to keep my protein intake high so that my recovery would not slide backwards.
    I would encourage you to read this article on protein by Jack Norris.
    http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein
    Unfortunately there is not a great variety of protein rich food available on the camino. I tried to eat as many nuts, legumes, beans and peanut butter as I could handle each day. You can find soy milk and soy yoghurt in most of the chain supermarkets and they help to relieve some of the monotony. In some places I found health food stores (there is an excellent one in Astorga in the same plaza as the regular supermarket) where I stocked up on mock meat and tofu- both excellent sources of non-animal protein- which lasted without problem in my backpack for a few days. Quinoa is an excellent source of protein- I was lucky enough to find some in Santo Domingo-which I then carried over the next week. Obviously this means I was carrying quite a few grams of extra weight but for me it was worth it to be able to have tofu and mushroom stroganoff in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere.
    If you do buy excess specialty goods (and I would strongly recommend you do) try to keep them in the middle of your bag so they stay insulated and as cool as possible. You don't want veggie hotdogs going off in there! Again, plan for this potential excess weight before you leave home when you are packing!
    You might also consider bringing some protein bars or similar high protein vegan snack. I have eagle eyes for that kind of thing and I didn't spy a single one along the way, so if you want them you'll have to bring them with you. I took some primal strips and nut-based protein bars with me for occasions when I either couldn't cook for myself or when I needed a snack. They basically stayed in the bottom of my bag the whole time, just as an emergency back-up. To be honest I found I didn't really need them but I liked the security of having them there just in case.

    Multivitamins
    I take a vegan multivitamin every day, even when not walking. Some people don't like doing this but for me I liked the extra security of knowing that I wasn't missing out on anything vital even if I ended up eating cookies for breakfast, a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and potato chips for dinner (this never actually happened, but it is certainly a possible scenario if you are not prepared and organised).


    WHAT I ATE
    My typical diet went like this:

    Breakfast: digestive biscuits (there are many brands sin leche y huevo) and a few pieces of fruit OR soy yoghurt (which you can find in some bigger supermarkets) with fruit and nuts, or multigrain bread (also again only in bigger supermarkets) with peanut butter. I once bought soy milk and a box of bran cereal then tranferred some of the leftover soy mlk to a smaller drinking bottle and the rest of the cereal to a zip lock bag, and then I was able to eat it for the next few mornings.

    Mid morning snacks: frutos secos (which is the name for dried fruit and nuts)- I got particularly addicted to the Mr Corn snacks, which is a combination of nuts, fried corn kernels and sultanas in seasoned salt, fruit, chocolate (you can find dark chocolate in almost every store, big or small- just check it does not contain leche, most don't), potato crisps.

    Lunch: leftovers from last night (packed in my Tupperware and stored somewhere cold overnight) OR fresh bread with tomato and avocado (if you can find avocado, which is like finding treasure) OR, in a pinch fresh bread with olive oil and tomato.
    In many towns in the smaller stores they sell small, one serve portions of olive oil, salt and pepper and vinegar. If you find one of these stores buy enough oil to last you a week, and hope that you find some more before it runs out. After some time I ended up finding a spray olive oil which was very light to carry but lasted a few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for those. You will almost never find oil in the albergue kitchens, but almost always there will be a surplus of vinegar and salt.

    Dinner: Always the best meal of the day because you have time to prepare something and usually can find a variety of ingredients to buy.
    I generally made a grain with a tomato based sauce with one kind of bean and one kind of vegetable. I always carried some garlic with me.
    In some supermarkets you can find pre-cooked brown rice in microwavable tubs, and I would sometimes make chilli to go with it or find a pack of microwave vegetables and add soy sauce. I found tofu a few times and made tofu burgers or wraps. Lentil soup and bread was always a good option.


    WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN THE SUPERMARKETS
    Without fail you will be able to find
    - a few varieties of fruit and vegetables
    - a few varieties of dried or canned beans
    - tomato frito (tomatoes fried and pureed and packed in tetrapacks)
    - dried pasta, rice
    - nuts
    - chocolate
    - bread

    If you are lucky, especially in the bigger supermarkets you might find
    - precooked brown rice portions
    - soy milk, yoghurt and custard (keep an eye out for provamel brand which is by far the tastiest in my opinion). It can take some persistence to find the soy yoghurt amongst all the dairy yoghurt. Premade vanilla and chocolate custard portions are usually found on the shelves, not in the fridge.
    - soy cooking cream (in small tetrapacks), which can last unrefrigerated for a number of days, even once open. Look in the fridge section next to the dairy cream.
    - veggie burgers and specialty vegan products (look for sojasun brand in the supermarkets)
    - tofu
    - a big selection of fruit and vegies



    VEGAN-FRIENDLY ALBERGUES, RESTAURANTS ETC

    Albergues

    I didn't specifically seek out vegetarian albergues, but I came across a few and heard of some by accident. Please note that when I say "vegetarian" you will most likely have to ask some questions and do some negotiating with the cook to make sure you get something without cheese or eggs.
    - San Antonio Padua in Vilal de Mazarife.
    This place had a vegetarian pilgrims menu when I was there and I have heard reports from others that it is always vegetarian. The starter and main were vegan without any modifications but the dessert was sadly crepes, so I missed out. The meal was excellent.
    - Albergue Verde in Hospital Orbigo
    I didn't stay here but know that they serve vegetarian pilgrims meals.
    - Albergue de Monte Irago in Foncebadon.
    I popped in here to ask about the posibility of a vegan meal, as it appeared to be a cute little hippy place and I figured they would likely cater to me. I didn't stay here nor did I end up eating here but they did say they could prepare a vegan meal. They also have daily yoga sessions if you're into that kind of thing.
    - Albergue Miriam in Las Herrerias
    Again I didn't actually stay or eat here, I just heard that they always serve vegetarian meals.
    - Albergue do Sol e da Lua in Finisterre
    This is a friendly place with a real hippy vibe (think meditation room and coloured pencils for expressing your feelings) who will cook a vegetarian meal on request.

    Restaurants
    I only managed to go to one real restaurant, so I don't have too much advice to offer here, except to please go to Gaia in Burgos! It is a few hundred metres past the municipal albergue on the camino route (Fernan Gonzalez, 37 bajo) and I had a wonderful meal there. I went for lunch and had a really delicious, healthy and nutritious four course set menu for ten euros in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. I cannot recommend this place enough.
    http://www.happycow.net/reviews.php?id=11280

    And then there's that vegan donativo stall in the middle of nowhere...
    Perched up on a hill about 5 or 6 km before Astorga there is a
    donativo (meaning "pay as you feel") stall with exclusively vegan food. There have rice and corn cakes, tahini, soy yoghurt, lots of types of tea and plenty of fruit. It's just like a mirage.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list of vegan-friendly albergues and restaurants- it is just the ones I know about.


    IN CONCLUSION
    You can totally do this! And now you know it's possible because someone else has done it before you. Sure, it can get pretty monotonous, but it's not because you're vegan, it's because it gets monotonous for everyone.
    And don't beat yourself up about it if something goes wrong. Try to be flexible and accepting of what is available to you and know that once you get home you can have all the nutritional yeast and seitan you want :)



    Buen Camino!
    Bella
     
  4. Leslie

    Leslie Administrator

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    Bellla thanks very much that is a killer post
     
  5. Bella Tomato

    Bella Tomato New Member

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    My pleasure :)
     
  6. traveldipper

    traveldipper Member

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    I walked the Camino with a vegetarian and one of the options in local restaurants with pilgrim menus was a bean soup. My friend seemed quite pleased with it. I asked for a simple tomato pasta at one Albergue and it was awful. I don't think some of them have ever cooked before! On one occasion in Burgos my friends vegetarian salad was better than my Tuna Salad. Sometimes vegetarian notices are shown on the menu del dia outside restaurants. I hope this helps?
     
  7. dusty

    dusty New Member

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    Hi Covey. I did Camino in 2011 as a 70yo. vego, near vegan, minimum eggs and cheese, no milk. Too hard! After walking all day, looking for veg. food was too much, had it if available but my travelling philosophy is " go with the flow". Trout was good in the east, chichen and atun later. I tried Chinese veg. in Burgos and Indian in Leon. Both were awful! I think people over estimate the amount of protein the body needs, as a result of advertising by the meat lobbies. Most good food has some protein and experiments have been done where people lived solely on potatos for months and kept very well. A person on a good, balanced veg. diet will never lack protein providing enough calories are consumed. Dusty.

    The problem seems to be sorting out which foods are readily available, and the specifics of life on the Camino, where cooking facilities are highly variable and what might be in the shop/s is a complete lottery.

    If you are a regular carnivore, life is OK, the only problem being quantity and trying to eat a balanced diet, where the energy demands on our bodies are outside the usual norms, and for an extended period of time. Lots of fruit, eggs, pasta, chocolate etc etc keep us going, yet we all seem to lose weight irrespective of what we eat.

    If you are the HuskyNerd version of being a vegetarian, it is doable without too much effort, because he can still eat chicken and fish and that still covers most of what is normally available to the Pilgrim (excluding the Chiritso sauce on pasta)

    The Sil version of being a vegetarian is much more difficult, as all the energy has to come from fruit, vegetables and cheese plus nuts. It would seem that you would need to bulk up the quantities quite substantially from normal life, to compensate for the continuous energy burn.

    I don't see how a Vegan would survive for very long on the Camino Frances. The cooking facilities in most Albergues are basic and are geared to quick cooking. Whilst fruit and vegetables are freely available everywhere, the energy burn is still there, so where does the energy come from? You can manage at home where you can bulk buy specialist foods and cook and store, but most of that is just not practical on the Camino.[/QUOTE]
     
  8. cw18

    cw18 New Member

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    As a meat eater who tries to have at least a couple of meat/poultry/fish days a month (ideally a week, but I'm also feeding a son who freaks if there's no meat on the plate!) my answer would be nuts. They've very high calorie for volume, so even on meat eating days where I've done considerable exercise I often have a handful of almonds for supper.

    My big problem is going to be dairy. I'm mildly lactose intolerant, but when it flares up I become very chesty and exercise is difficult - and unfortunately it flares up more when I'm doing a lot of exercise, which means I need to stay away from it as much as humanly possible while walking day after day. So no croissants for me, no (or very minimal) cheese unless it's feta or made from goats milk, all tea will have to be drunk black, and coffee will be off the menu as I can't drink it without (soya) cream.
     
  9. ricitosdeplata

    ricitosdeplata Member

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    I'm vegan but I have decided to go with the flow when it's not possible to follow my regular diet. But that said, I am going to do my best to stay away from meat and dairy.
    The app, happycow, has helped me locate some vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants along the VDLP. Vegandir.com is a good website from Spain where you can find not only vegan restaurants, but also health food stores. Piccavey blog has a helpful piece called "Vegetarian in Spain." He lists the names of mostly vegetarian dishes and a few vegan.
    I'm taking a small heating element to heat water for soups and pasta. I'll try to get some lentils or split peas since they take less time to cook than beans. I can make bean burgers with them and rice and oatmeal. When I do find a health food store will buy bulgur (trigo bulgur) and couscous, both which cook even with just cold water. I'm also taking some plastic tubes open at the bottom to fill with peanut or other nut butter.
    Luckily a lot of English vegan words are the same in Spanish, like seitan, tofu, tempeh, hummus, soya, and TVP. Livestrong.com en espanol has page Lista de ailmentos que comen los veganos with more useful vocabulary.
     
  10. ricitosdeplata

    ricitosdeplata Member

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    Bella tomato, thank you for your post. I'm guessing that vegans know to make sure they bring vitamins with b12, the only vitamin you can't get from plant based eating.
    One question I have is about the rest of the menu at restaurants. Don't Spanish restaurants have vegetables a la carte?
     
  11. YogaWalk

    YogaWalk Member

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    There is a great vegetarian private albergue in Pieros, just past Cacabelos, called Serbal y La Luna.
    Also a sweet and sublime vegetarian Casa Rural in Acebo (after Manjarin and before Molinaseca) called "La Trucha del Arco Iris". Jaime, the proprietor of La Trucha, is a dear man, and the room and the food was divine. Both places require that you stay there to eat there (they are small so need to know how much prepare) and both towns are not part of the "traditional" itinerary. Completely worth breaking up the walk days as they not only served food I was longing to eat (there wasn't a patata frita in sight, hoooray!) but the personal connections in both places were kind, deep and appreciated.
    Way back in Orisson, only a few km past St. Jean Pied de Port, they will make a vegetarian meal for you if you tell them ahead of time. In the summer I think you have to book ahead of time to get a bed anyway. So when you email, ask for a vegetarian dinner, s'il vous plait.
    Also, both "donativos" I stayed in in 2012 served a vegetarian dinner. They were Grannon and Ermita de San Nicolas, and highlights of my camino. Both are full early in the day, so difficult to get a bed/or place on the floor. They do not say you will get a veg meal, but they were accommodating, and it seemed to have something to do with the cost of the ingredients (veg being cheaper). Information in case you have the chance to stay in either of this simple and spiritually spectacular places.
    Cooking in albergues was great, especially early on when there were pots and pans in the kitchen. Often pilgrims chipped in together and were happy to share veggie meals. Lots of folks are grateful for some vegetables after days and days of the pilgrim's menu.
    No one was ever overtly rude to me about being a vegetarian, though I had some funny conversations when trying to explain I wanted the ingredients they normally put in a salad on my sandwich. Just kept smiling and asking nicely and almost always we would end up laughing and I would have a yummy meal.
    Though it was tough to be vegetarian on the camino and required I be okay with monotony in the food department, for me it was completely doable, and was well worth it!
    Is there a way to keep a list going Leslie? I could add to Bellatomato's list, but then folks who saw it once might not look for updates.
     
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  12. T70

    T70 New Member

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    So I see from scanning the posts that "Whole Food Plant Based" is not a Camino way of life or even a concept. I am hoping to find pasta, rice, wheat or corn tortillas, fruit and vegetables in whatever form -- but will accept anything that the road has to offer. Thanks for your posts.
     
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  13. Tina-Marie Brownie

    Tina-Marie Brownie Well-Known Member

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  14. T70

    T70 New Member

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    Thanks for responding, Tina-Marie Brownie!
     
  15. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey T70 - For vegetarian fare, let me recommend spending the night at the Albergue San Antonio Pádua in Villar de Mazarife (Stage 21 in Brierley's book). Going to Mazarife allows you to travel one of the less populated alternative routes that day and end up in a lovely town along the Camino. The albergue specializes in a vegetarian paella. The paella pan is large enough to feed 25-30 hungry pilgrims at one time. The chef/owner then turns around and does it again for a second seating. It was one of my favorite pilgrim dinners on the Camino.
     

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  16. raymond john

    raymond john Well-Known Member

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    Wily
    I stayed there in October 2014 and we had cod fish paella it was superb. The breakfast was also was one of the best.I remember recording in my Brierley Guide book an excellent Albergue. The owners came from Barcelona and had Salesian connections. Also all the stork nests on the houses Amazing. Thanks for the memory.

    RJ
     

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  17. T70

    T70 New Member

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    I have noted it in the book. Thank you for responding. Great photo!
     
  18. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Raymond - speaking of storks in Mazarife, I hope this photo brings back fond memories. The cafe across the street was a perfect place to enjoy lunch, a cold beer, and photograph some of my favorite nests and storks that I found along the Camino.
     

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  19. raymond john

    raymond john Well-Known Member

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