Janis Brothers Adventures
Spain 2002
El Camino de Santiago
§         León – City founded by Romans in the year 68A.D. Spent the day touring and walking. Visited famous gothic cathedral – 1500 windows of stained glass, the most in Spain . Stayed overnight at famous San Marcos Paradore – a 16th century monastery hospital. We all received our passports for the pilgrimage to Santiago. This is one of three pilgrimages – Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago. It began with the discovery of the body of St. James (the Apostle) in Santiago in the early 1500’s. The journey originates in many locations (mostly in France ) and ends in Santiago at the Cathedral. To qualify as a pilgrim, you must walk 100 miles or bike 200 miles. The tradition has grown and now over 200,000 people walk or bike the camino each year. Once completed, each pilgrim is absolved of 50% of his sins for the past year (plus as a bonus ½ off all air fares on Iberia Airlines).
§         Santa Maria de Carrizo Posada – our second stop after a short ride from León. Summer residence of the Marquis of St. Mary. Beautiful gardens and streams. Les and Larry beat Juan and Carlos in ping-pong. Great triumph with no rematch!
§         Ride to Molinaseca – back roads and short, very steep climb past Roman walls and Medieval bridges – always following yellow arrows that mark the Camino de Santiago. Each day we stopped at 6-8 locations (churches, restaurants, and shops) to have our Camino passport stamped. A 51 mile day that seemed like 100 with all the climbs!!
§        Cebreiro – more steep climbs and great descents – visited Knights of Templar Castle – rode through several small villages with cobblestone streets. We thought we were lost and ended up at the Café Sevilla – exactly where we needed to be!! After a very long day, we began “the climb to Cebreiro”. The brothers had remembered El Torcal as our steepest and most difficult climb. This 10K was punishing. Even Juan and Javiar felt this was the most difficult ride. Naturally, the Janis Brothers did EFI and never walked or rode in the van. We stayed at the Hospederia San Giraldo in the midst of a Medieval village of stone and thatched roof structures on top of the mountain. A very strenuous day but an exhilarating feeling for each of us. We slept well in our humble abodes.
§         To Portomarin – Rode on dirt and paved roads. Scenic routes through small villages. Afternoon visit to Samos Monastery (largest cloisters in Spain – 35 monks still in residence). Lenny took a great picture of us with a diminutive monk who gave us the tour (in Spanish). More long steep climbs to our Pousada. We all had a great time at dinner. Drank a special “Fire Water” brew concocted by Mario. Lenny was in rare form. You had to be there – a memorable evening!!
§         Casteñeda – We now followed the old authentic Camino 100% - no more asphalt. Through ancient oak and chestnut forests, over stout Roman and Medieval bridges and past Romanesque churches. This was all new riding for us. We even carried our bikes up stream for a quarter mile in the unrideable section. Small but steep climbs all day with a long dirt road climb just before our stay overnight at the Pazo de Sedor – a rural palace built in the 1500’s. We had a great meal in our own private dining room. Beautiful views of the rolling countryside. It stayed light until close to 11:00 p.m. each night.
§         Ride to Santiago – Followed the authentic Camino and filled in the last pages of our passport with some great stamps. More and more pilgrims on the path as we approached Santiago. Biked through forested paths and small medieval villages – cows – cow pies – goats – gravel, dirt and cobblestone surfaces. The Camino continued through woods and forest paths. Even the steep descents were treacherous and slow on the dirt roads. We finally arrived at the Town Square and a two-night stay at the Hotel Palacio del Carmen – a magnificent Parador just across from the Cathedral. We had a spectacular dinner in a setting that was used as a hospital 500 years ago.
§         Santiago – We toured the old city during the morning. Shopped for gifts – unsuccessfully and very fatiguing!! We attended Mass at the Cathedral at noon so we could see the traditional swinging of a huge incense cauldron by 8-10 priests. We then had an informative guided tour through the cathedral of St. James. A lot of history – true or myth – it’s not for us to say!!

We all went to the passport center to receive our final stamp and authorization making us official pilgrims. We took a picturesque walk to dinner and returned to our Palacio in preparation for our return to reality.


§         Being together again – this is the 9th trip for the brothers.

§         We did EFI (at ages 60, 58, 55) a very tough trip of steep ascents.

§         Lenny again supplied us with hats and shirts.

§         Welch’s Fruit Snacks Len gave to Larry on “the climb” made the difference.

§         Les promised to update the Janis Brothers website under a simpler name – JanisBrothersBikeAdventures.com – No doubt this should attract a lot of attention!!

§         Fewest Advil per day ever taken by Larry (down to 6 from 16 high #). Back and neck problems gone after 3 days of biking. Could it be psychological? Probably!!

§         Lenny – Best sense of humor – especially every dinner.

§         Juan & Javiar – our best guides.

§         No falls or injuries (except video camera)

§         The brothers knew the most important Spanish words to survive – Pan and Cervesa.

§         Ride down from our mountain village in a misty rain with our red jackets – cold and tired – we stopped for a hot chocolate in July.

§         Les – total euphoria – after being served dessert of 3 scoops of chocolate with extra chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

§         Dinner with Mario

§         10th Anniversary trip – To be determined. Possible suggestions: Italy, Crete Canary Islands, Afghanistan, West Bank, Akron, OH. See website for final decision and chance to purchase Janis Brothers shirts at reduced prices.

Here’s Lenny on his way to our next European Adventure.