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What, Where, and Why

Walk, eat, sleep, repeat.  That, along with wonderful food and great wine, describes the life that I will share with two friends as we walk across Spain following the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) from the city of Irun to Santiago de Compostela.  We are allowing six weeks to complete the 500 mile journey and plan to travel the Camino Norte, the northern most route.  I have set up this photo blog so that friends and family can follow our journey.
This journey actually began one evening in May 2015 over drinks with two friends, Denise and Judy.  We were talking about where we would like to travel on our next vacation when Denise, our American friend residing in Germany, brought up the subject of the three of us walking the Camino de Santiago.  I had never heard of this walk or understood what it entailed but fueled by wine and good friendship, I agreed with enthusiasm.  The next morning I laid awake in bed thinking, “How do I get out of this?”.   Just the same, I was intrigued and decided to pursue the idea.  Over the weeks and then months that followed, I researched the Camino.  Judy, who was somewhat familiar with the Camino,  insisted we watch the movie “The Way”.  That helped.  Over the next several months we watched a documentary or two and Denise continued to coach us from the other side of the Atlantic.  My enthusiasm was building but it was my first trip to REI with Judy that sealed the deal.  We were going to do this.  We had just spent hundreds of dollars on boots and backpacks–life changing in itself.  I realized at that moment I had not just begun planning a long walk, I was starting a whole new chapter in my life.  Walk, eat, sleep, repeat . . .

 

Santiago and Beyond 


Judy chats up her new friend.

Some pilgrims continue their walk another 100 kilometers to Finisterre, once believed to be the end of the earth.  We elected to be driven to the town and then walked the final 3 kilometers with Steve and Jim. There we found the final kilometer marker for the Camino.



As you see, the men have joined us.


Posing with the bronzed boot at Finisterre.




A pilgrim said his or her farewell to the Camino and left their boots behind.

Muxia:


 

 

 

The facade of a very old cathedral. Circa 12th century, if I remember correctly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santiago!!!!

We arrived in Santiago at 12:15 in the afternoon on October 24th. We are two very happy gals!  The final walk, while a short seven kilometers, felt particularly long especially as we wound our way nearly 3k through the city of Santiago to the Cathedral.  It was an emotional arrival to say the least.

Perfect weather on our last day.


On approach to Santiago:

 

At last!!

 

We then ran into two Dutch women from the Norte that we had not seen in a few weeks. Wonderful to see familiar faces.


Thanks to all for following along. I can’t tell you how much your support meant to us over the past six weeks. There were many challenging moments, both physical and emotional, but it was knowing that family and friends were cheering us on that often gave us the courage and determination to take the next step.

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I will continue to post but now we are off the Camino and truly in the vacation mode.

 

Almost to Santiago

We have spent a few more days on the Camino Frances. Compared to walking the Norte, this trail is gentle with rolling hills rather than mountains, and is well groomed and well marked. Much of it has been spent on quiet wooded paths with farms along the way and the occasional small village to wander through.  A very enjoyable end to a most amazing walk.

An old 9th century church in a very quiet village:

 

 

 
We came across this woman washing her clothes in the town’s laundry hut. We’ve have seen a few of these old structures but this is the first one that was actually operational. When I asked about taking her photo, she happily obliged.

 

 

Mother Mary can be found in the oddest places.  Here, as we passed through the city of Palas de Rei, she is standing in the middle of what is now a municipal parking lot, probably an old pedestrian plaza from many, many years ago.

 

Upon leaving Palas de Rei this little guy was spotted near his mom:


An abundance of wild mushrooms:

 

Rocinante (“old nag” in Spanish) and her owner have been wandering through Spain for the last few years.

 

 

Here and there:

 

 

 

 

 


A stone “bridge” across a stream:

 

On the other side:

A drive leading to rural accommodations:

 

Entering a small village:


They love their cows. As they should–they produce wonderful cheeses!  They are memorialized here . . .


And the real thing in front of us on the Camino . . .


The color of our upstairs bathroom is a paint by Benjamin Moore called “Twisted Oak Path”.  Yesterday we walked that path and it made me smile.


We’ve seen many dogs throughout Spain. Many are treated like royalty, especially in the cities where they go everywhere with their owners. In more rural areas, the treatment can be different and at times it appears to be less humane by U.S. standards.  As hard as it’s been, I’ve pretty much ignored many of the dogs I’ve seen except for sending them a kind word. However, when this sweet, shy girl was politely waiting at an outdoor cafe late one morning, we couldn’t resist helping her out.  She happily, yet with much dignity, accepted the leftover breakfast sandwich we had with us.  Yes, she is missing a paw.  If I had found her State-side, she would have come home with me.


Peregrinos setting out in the morning with their dogs:


Morning walk:


Another beautiful, ancient church:


This is where we are spending our last night on the Camino. It’s just outside of Lavacolla and it’s perfect. Tomorrow we walk our final eight kilometers into Santiago.

Walking the Camino Frances

As I may have mentioned our plan after Oviedo was to drop down and finish our walk into Santiago on the more popular Camino Frances.  We were delayed in Lugo an extra day and a half by a stomach bug. Considering we’ve been eating out for nearly 6 weeks straight, we consider ourselves lucky that we made it this far without any major issues (blisters and lost toenails don’t count).

Unfortunately we can’t say the same for our friend and walking partner, Denise. While we were in Oviedo we learned that Denise had twisted her ankle. It was a tough decision but after two days of recuperating in Navia, she realized she needed to return home.  We were saddened by this news but her spirit continues with us as we near Santiago.

The Frances can’t compare with the jaw-dropping scenery of the Norte but it has a soft beauty which I’m finding more difficult to catch on camera.


An old pedestrian bridge that was once part of the Camino. I was relieved to learn that there was a newer, more modern bridge available.


A peaceful walk in the woods:


We came across this peregrino memorial cross on the trail. Flags, pictures, rosaries, shoes, coffee beans, prayer cards, stones, and much more, all left behind by pilgrims.


Cafe stop and our feline entertainment:

 

 

 

Very pastoral setting in this part of Galicia:


And a few small pig farms:


A peregrino ditched his boot on this beautiful wall:


I believe this is another type of grain storage house:

 

Judy along the Camino:


On the Norte, one might hike all day without seeing another peregrino. Not on the Frances. This is a bar in Portomarín filled with peregrinos.  The numbers and activity were overwhelming at first but we’ve adjusted.


Back onto a quiet path:


Ivy covered trees:

 

A welcoming shell at an albergue:

 

A lovely home:


A man and his dog out bird hunting. If you look close enough you can see a couple of birds hanging from his belt.

 

Camino ready:

Lugo

Yesterday we made it to Lugo by bus and today we will pick up the Camino once again.

Buses in Spanish, a highly used form of transportation, are clean and comfortable with wifi and flat screens.


Here are a few pictures from Lugo.  The old city is surrounded by a 2000 year old Roman wall.
Entrance to the city:

 

A section of the wall:



The locals out for an evening stroll along the top of the wall:



Within the old city:



 


Old Roman bath encased for protection:


Ancient church just outside the walls:


Slate/stone rooftop:

A Short Break from the Camino 

When we learned that good friends would be passing through Oviedo, Judy and I decided to take a short vacation from walking and took a bus from Luarca down to meet them.   This was a much needed rest for our feet and gave us the opportunity to park ourselves in a hotel for three nights in a row!

A few photos from Oviedo:

Cathedral Oviedo:


 

 

 

 

 

The Celtic influence in Northern Spain is apparent.

 


 

And then their were  men on stilts for no particular reason:

 

And a canon . . .


Friends watching the entertainment:


First course at dinner:


And after dinner:


Around the city:



Basilica San Juan:


 

 
Above the train station, Salvador Dali – 1974:


Moon over Oviedo: