Sunday, May 14, 2017

WE ARE DONE.....FOR NOW

It's been a week since we have stopped walking in hopes of Cathie recovering from her tendonitis.  We have holed up in the city of Burgos where we planned on staying until we started walking again.  Cathie is greatly improved, but each time after walking around the city for an hour or so, she is limping and in pain.  We thought we might continue tomorrow (Monday) and see how it goes, but thinking it through we made the decision to stop Our Camino.  Walking day after day was too much of a risk.  Plus we would have been entering the Meseta a 7 to 10 stretch with few facilities if we had needed special attention.


Anyway, all is not lost as I have spent the better part of the morning cancelling reservations and making new ones.  We have extended our stay in Burgos one more day and will be leaving here on Tuesday.  We will take the train to Santiago and as luck would have it, there was a cancellation at a very nice family run hotel which I stayed in two years ago.  We will stay in Santiago for two nights and will recover the suitcase we had shipped there.  There we have reserved a rental car for the remainder of our trip.  I have made reservations for one week and will make more once we figure out exactly where we want to go.  First stop is a monastery converted into a hotel on the coast in Spain.  Then it's on to a countryside B&B near Porto, Portugal .  I'll provide links below so you can see that we will be enjoying ourselves.


Although we are both extremely disappointed in the outcome of all our planning, the show must go on.  We are not cancelling our trip, just changing our plans, but there is already talk of returning to Spain to complete Our Camino in the future.


For the remainder of our time here I will be switching over to Gassaway's Adventures, so be sure to follow along as the adventure continues.


HOTEL IN SANTIAGO 


MONASTERY


B&B NEAR PORTO


BURGOS CATHEDRAL 

  
EL CID
 
PILGRIMS
 
BURGOS CATHEDRAL 
CHOCOLATE AND CURROS
VIEW FROM OUR ROOM
  
CATHIE MADE SOME FRIENDS
 
CITY GATE
 
SOMEONE BROUGHT TOO MUCH STUFF
 
THERE'S ALWAYS WINE

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER AND A CHICKEN

I am sitting in the lobby of the Parador Hotel  in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on a very comfortable leather couch.  We are taking a break from walking, so I thought this would be a good time to tell a Camino story.

Parador Hotel


As legend has it, many years ago, a young German man, Hugonell, was walking to Santiago with his parents.  I suppose his parents where with him because he needed a chaperone.  But anyway, while in Santo Domingo, they stayed with a farmer and his family.  As many farmer stories go, the farmer had a daughter.  Now the daughter, most likely looking to leave the farm, tried to seduce unsuspecting Hugo but as a pious pilgrim he refused her.  That turned out to be a big mistake on poor Hugo's part.  The young girl became so angry that her amorous intentions were repulsed, that she hid some silver in his pack.  After he left, she called the authorities and accused the boy of the theft.  Upon finding the silver in his pack, he was promptly found guilty and hanged.  There was swift justice back then, not like today.  As was the custom, the body of the accused was left to hang in the town square as a deterrent to others.


His parents, though grief-stricken, continued on with their pilgrimage to Santiago.  It was common back in the day, that after reaching Santiago, pilgrims would turn around and head back home.  So on their return journey they stopped again in Santo Domingo to pay a visit to their son who was still hanging there.  Much to their surprise he was still alive, if you can believe it.  Hugo's folks figured it was a miracle and that Santo Domingo had held him up so he wouldn't die.


So off they went to see the magistrate and ask him to cut poor Hugo down, as he was obviously innocent.  The judge, who had just sat down to a hearty chicken dinner exclaimed, "Why, he is no more alive than 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.  So Hugo was saved to live another day.


To this day, in the church in Santo Domingo there is a chicken, who is said to be a direct descendent on the resurrected fowl in the story.  For a few euros you can go a pay a visit to said chicken, or like us, we've seen chickens before and opted of some vino tino in the bar.


A warning though.  Santo Domingo is surrounded by farms and I am sure many a farmer's daughters looking for a way out.


 

Monday, May 8, 2017

INSPIRATION ON THE CAMINO

I suppose that one can be inspired on the Camino by many things.  For many who come here, it is a religious journey and they are many times inspired by the teachings of Jesus or a bible verse.  Some are inspired to walk in the memory of a loved one or a friend who has passed.  A whole bunch of people who walk the Camino Santiago because they were inspired by the movie, The Way.  It is probably the one reason that the Camino is so popular today.


As for me, it was not just one thing that inspired me to walk, but many things over the years.  Yes, the movie was part of it, but I wanted to walk the Camino before the movie.  I can't remember where I first heard of the Camino, but over the years, books, blogs, documentaries  and people's personal experiences motivated me.


One such person was Bill Bennett, an Australian film maker who walked the Camino in 2013.  First his blog, which I followed as he walked, and later a book he wrote about his journey, The Way, My Way.  Since I have walked one Camino and now on another, people I meet continue to inspire me.


One such person is Henry.  I met Henry a couple of nights ago in Viana and I along, with others, shared dinner with him.   Henry comes from California and is 87 years old, or should I say young.  Thirteen years ago, Henry's wife died, and at the age of 74 he walked his first Camino.  He has walked the Camino from different starting points twice a year since then and said he will continue to do so as long as he is able.  Besides the French route starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port, there are many routes throughout Europe ending in Santiago and Henry has walked many of them.  He has walked from London, crossing the channel to Calais and walking the length of France to SJPDP then on to Santiago.  He has walked from Paris, Le Puy, France and from Southern Spain.  And remember he does this twice a year.  Some of these routes are over 1500 miles!  Obviously he is extremely fit.  He said he started this year in SJPDP, so I asked if he spent the first night in Orrison as we did.  Told me, no.  Why would someone stop after just five miles?  He always ops to do the full crossing of the Pyrenees in one day.  Now that's inspiration.


 

ENTERING LOGRONO 


 


 


 


 


NAVARRETE CHURCH


It's Cathie who now need inspiration.  The walk from Viana to Navarrete was pretty easy in terms of up and down, but a good portion of it was on pavement.  You must walk through the city of Logrono, which is a large city with a population of about 200,000.  After leaving the city proper, you walk several more miles on pavement through a large park.  We think all this pavement and the fact that Cathie's pack weighs too much to a toll on her.  By the time we reached Navarrete she had pain in her hip and could hardly walk.  The next morning was no different.  So we opted for taxi to Najera our next stop.  Of course we arrived before our room was ready, but the hotel owner was accommodating and got our room ready.  She suggested we see a doctor and called a taxi to take us.  Our driver, Nacho, stayed with us at the clinic and helped with translation.  We got an appointment for later in the afternoon, so back to the hotel until then.  At the appointed time Nacho picked us up again and returned us to the clinic and again stayed with us until we got to the correct doctor's office.


Using Google Translate we were able to communicate with the doctor who gave a diagnosis of tendinitis, a common ailment on the Camino.  So there is no walking for Cathie for a while.  I have changed our reservations so we can have a week off.  So tomorrow, Nacho will drive us to the next stop where we will spend one night.  The following day we will take the bus to Burgos and remain there through the weekend.  If Cathie gets better we will continue walking, shipping her overweight pack ahead each day.  If she is not better we will rent a car and go to Portugal and lay on a beach.  One must be flexible on the Camino.


 

CATHIE'S CURRENT MODE OF TRANSPORTATION 



    

Friday, May 5, 2017

THIS IS THE CAMINO

NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

We're doing great.  Both of us feel pretty darn good for having just walked 95 miles.  We each got some blisters in the first couple of days, but they are now nearly healed and no new ones have appeared.  Taking care of one's feet is paramount to enjoyable Camino.  We stop often, change our socks and check for hot spots.  Vaseline works wonders as a blister preventer.  Physically we are a little sore and of course tired at the end of the day, but we're keeping a respectable pace while not over doing it.

 
Just one pilgrim's foot care

As I write this, we are in a very nice hotel in the hilltop walled city of Viana.  I am sitting in the hotel bar drinking very good Spanish wine that cost the equivalent of $1 a glass.  Cathie is upstairs reading her bible and taking a nap.  We are taking a scheduled day off as we are on a vacation of sorts.  In the morning, Cathie will sleep in while I explore the city in the early morning light.  We will also spend time with our fellow pilgrims as a Camino family is forming. This is the Camino.

 
THIS IS THE WINE FOUNTAIN, FREE WINE FOR PILGRIMS

Yesterday, we walked 13 miles on the first warm day since starting.  We try to pace ourselves so we don't get worn out before arriving at our destination for the day, but we were slowing down by the afternoon.  We were walking through fields of young wheat on mostly flat terrain.  Having each brought music on our iPhones this seemed like an opportune time to stick in the earphones and sing along.  Now Cathie usually doesn't sing along,  but I do, and I do it poorly but loudly.  I think I embarrass Cathie, but I don't care, it's what I do.  One thing that happens to both of us when we listen to our music.  We pick up the pace.  Before long we are moving right along, passing pilgrims, many who give me a sideways look when they notice my musical talents.  At one point I was singing the song "Happy" and doing a slight dance of sorts when I passed a woman.  When she saw me, she too started dancing.  There are times of pure joy like this as one walks along.  This is the Camino.

 

 

Last night we stayed in a very nice pension in the town of Los Arcos.  We were greeted by the owner, a man in his 50's.  He spoke some English and we engaged in some small talk about where we were from, family and the fact that I have a girls name.  In Spain (and Mexico) Dana is a girls name.  We paid the bill and he gave us the keys to the room and said goodby.  We figured we would probably never see him again.  So today, while checking into our hotel in Viana, he appeared a the hotel desk.  He was bringing something that one of his guests at the pension had left behind.  He drove here to do so.  When he recognized us, it was like old home week, with Cathie receiving two cheek kisses.  This is the Camino.

 
ALL CAMINO TOWNS ARE ON THE TOP OF A HILL, SO IT SEEMS

231,780.  Now there is a number.  That is, according to my iPhone, how many steps we have walked so far.  Now, that's not just the steps from point A to B, but includes the steps one needs to locate a bar.  We eat in bars.  Restaurants too, but for small meals and bocadillos (sandwiches) the bar is the usual choice.  Yesterday while walking in the afternoon, we came upon a Spanish entrepreneur has set up a bar out in the middle of nowhere.  You come over a low rise in the wheat fields and there it is, and oasis where it is least expected.  He has tables and chairs set up and is selling both hot and cold food and drinks.  He even has beer on tap. And he is making money, as he is the only game in the wheat field.  This too is the Camino.

 
For those of you reading this, please, if you have questions about our journey, do not hesitate to ask.  You can do so at the bottom of each blog post, or by e-mail and Facebook it that works better for you.  If you use the latter options for your question or comments, I will copy them to the comment section on the blog.  I hope that others will be inspired by our journey and may perhaps want to walk their own Camino.

Before I close this episode of Walking Our Camino, Cathie wanted me to give a shout our to her church family who have been following along.  She wanted to thank them for their continued thoughts a prayers.

 
APPROACHING VIANA

   
THE CITY GATE
 
PILGRIMS

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THE CAMINO

If you seek creative ideas, go walking


All is well on the Camino.  We are at the 70 mile mark in the town of Estrella ensconced in a really nice B&B in a room with a terrace and a view overlooking the city.  It is 4 in the afternoon and Cathie is taking a nap in a huge king sized adjustable bed.  Who said the Camino can't be comfortable.  It is siesta time in Spain and most of the business are closed till about 5. Even so our laundry is being done downstairs for the small fee of 4 euros.  Soon we will head down the hill into the old town to explore and to pick a restaurant for dinner, which is served starting at 8 pm.

Our B&B


The generosity on the Camino is contagious.  Jim, helping Cathie with her pack.  I saw someone carrying a woman's pack when she was struggling over the Pyrenees.  Sharing what food you have is common.  In Zubiri while drinking and talking with other pilgrims, Erica, a young woman from Germany was talking about being cold at night in the albergues.  She said the thin blanket provided was not enough and she was sleeping in her clothes to keep warm.  Cathie got up and when to our room and returned with her sleeping bag, giving it to Erica.  Erica was beside herself with emotion, that someone she just met would do what Cathie did.  Cathie told her that we would be staying in private rooms the rest of the Camino and the sleeping bag was just extra weight.  That my friends is the Camino.


Speaking of extra weight.  Walking across Spain with a bunch of extra stuff in your pack is only asking for trouble.  You feel every pound you are carrying.  There is a train of thought that one should only carry 10% of their body weight.  In SJPDP in the pilgrims office you can weigh your pack.  Cathie's came in at a whopping 27 pounds, way more than 10% of her body weight.  But girls have to have stuff to make them look pretty, right?  I have learned a long time ago that my suggestions usually fall on deaf ears.  What do I know anyway.  Well Jim, you remember Jim, the guy that adjusted Cathie's pack?  When he picked it up, he immediately made a comment or two how heavy it was and stuff needed to be removed to lighten the load.


Well, that got Cathie to thinking that perhaps she didn't need all the makeup for a hike across Spain.  So yesterday when we arrived at our stop for the night, we gathered up some of the needless stuff, put in a box and mailed it to Santiago, where we can retrieve it when we arrive there.  Cathie still refuses to give up her pillow from home.  Yes, she had managed to stuff a full sized pillow into her pack.


We are both basically doing fine physically, although Cathie is discovering new places on her body that hurt.  Normal aches and pains one gets from walking 13 miles a day.  Just so you know, according to my iPhone, that's 33,500 steps.


We are enjoying ourselves, the scenery is spectacular and the weather has be cool.  That makes for good walking.  Tomorrow the tempatures are expected to rise so it will be time to put away the fleece and long sleeved shirts.  Having walked for one week now we are beginning to recognize other pilgrims and remember their names.  This evening we sat at a sidewalk cafe in the main town square and chatted with others that we have become aquainted with.


I will end now and try to get this posted before I fall asleep.


EARLY MORNING IN PUENTE LA REINA 

 
PUENTE LA REINA (THE QUEENS BRIDGE)
 
APPROACHING CIRAUQUI
 
THE SCALLOP SHELL POINTS THE WAY
 
ESTELLA
 
PLAZA DE LOS FUEROS, ESTELLA

Monday, May 1, 2017

FIVE DAYS IN

So after 53 miles we are in the small village of Uterga sitting on the patio at our albergue for the night.  It is 3 in the afternoon and we are done walking for the day.  I have a glass of vino tinto and Cathie a tall cold San Miguel beer.  We munch on Spanish olives, Iberia Ham sliced very thin and fresh baked bread.  Sitting across from us is Dennis and Fran from Australia, who we shared a table with us in Zubiri.  Bill and his wife Diane soon arrive and join us.  In the Camino you keep running into others that you have seen before.  Sometimes it is old home week with hugs and cheek kisses all around when you haven't seen someone for a week.  This is the Camino.


Before going on this Camino when Cathie and I would talk about the trip I would say, "I would like to go slow this time and see more."  Her immediate response was, "It's my Camino and I might want to go faster."  I had also described to her what the 1st couple of days would be like.  I told her that the 1st five miles are the worst and the steepest.


After two days crossing the Pyrenees and another day reaching Zubiri, Cathie has had a change of heart.  She told me that she was satisfied with my planning and said, "You're doing a good job, keep doing what you're doing."  Until such time as you have actually walked, day after day, you can't understand the toll it takes on your body.  So the best advice is to go slow, rest often, take your boots off and air your feet, put on dry socks and enjoy yourself.


Since crossing the Pyrenees, we have walked in below freezing temperatures, on the way into Pamplona we walked in the rain for the last 2 hours, but today, partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 60's.  Great for walking.


We spent Sunday night in Pamplona and being Sunday, many of the restaurants were closed, but we managed to get our sustenance by visiting several tapas bars.  Tapas are small appetizers and at a tapas bar there is a vast selection, all of which are on the bar for you to see.  At the first stop, wine and a beer and 5 tapas for 11 euros.  At the next stop, 6 tapas wine and beer for about 14 euros.  So you get the idea, a meal with wine and beer for 25 euros or about $27.


Our hotel provided breakfast so we were out the door at a leisurely 8:30.  The first several miles were through the city and suburbs, then into the wheat fields and the climb to Alto de Perdón.  With a stop for refreshments in a village below the summit, we arrived at the pass after 4 hours of walking.  On the way we passed a spring, El Fuente Reniega, or Fount of Renunciation.  Legend has it that a pilgrim was extremely thirsty, and the devil came to him in the form of a wanderer and offered to give him water if he would renounce God.  The pilgrim stayed strong in the faith and refused.  Having passed the test, the devil disappeared and Saint James appeared to the pilgrim and offered him water to drink for a scallop shell.  There are many legends like this on the Way of Saint James.


From the pass you can see for miles, both back to Pamplona and to the west with upcoming villages spread out before you.  There is a pilgrim statue here depicting a band of medieval pilgrims walking, pressed forward against the wind.  From the pass it is a steep rocky path down where upon leveling out you are once again passing through fields of wheat.  We were soon at our stop for the night at our albergue when after a shower, visiting with others we sat down for dinner with about 30 other pilgrims.


Where we are staying


 
    

 
 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

OVER THE TOP



There are no shortcuts to any place worth going


After a night of absolutely no sleep, it was actually good to get up and get out of there.  After a quick breakfast of orange juice, bread and coffee the French way, in a bowl, we were out the door into the below freezing air.  Normally the cold air would have woken us up, but we were already awake when we got up.  The cold air did cause us to move on up the hill to get warm.  The plan was to cover just over 12 miles over the Pyrenees.  We could shorten the route slightly by stopping at Roncesvalles and sleeping with about 100 of our fellow pilgrims, but we weren't doing that again.  Actually our plan all along was to stay in private rooms whenever possible and we had reserved a room in a Casa Rural in the next town of Burguete.  It in this small Basque town where Hemingway stayed on many occasions.


As for the climb over the mountains.  I had told Cathie that the first day of 5 miles was the most difficult.  It is for the most part the steepest part of the climb.  The second day, less steep but a much longer day.  Much of the route is on a one lane paved road, which was clear of snow from the overnight storm.  We were lucky and had clear skies and very little wind.  I'm not sure of the temperature, but it was well below freezing because all of the puddles were frozen solid.  A very beautiful walk, Cathie would call it a slog, over the mountains to the pass at just shy of 5,000 feet.  That may not sound like much but we started at just 600 feet above sea level.  It was very beautiful with the fresh snow. 


There is a shelter or hut near the top so one can get out of the weather.   It was windy at this point so we opted to eat our lunch in the hut out of the wind.  Inside we found Jim who we had met on the way up.  A retired U.S. Marine and a Camino veteran.  He offered to share his sausage and cheese with us, which is pretty normal on the Camino.  He noticed that Cathie's back pack was not fitting her properly and offered to adjust it for her, which he did.  This is the Camino, pilgrims helping pilgrims and sharing what they have.


Anyway we did manage to make it over the top and down the other side all in one piece.  We stopped for refreshments before finishing the last 2 miles to our room for the night.  A private room I might add.  Cathie told me that I had lied to her about the first part being the most difficult as she felt it was all hard.


Besides the blog, I've been posting on Facebook and l have received some comments that give me ideas for the blog.  After writing in the last post about the snoring and sleeping with 9 of my closest friends, one person made a comment about how they could never do that.  A person who had previously walked the Camino replied that for her the Albergues was where she made the most intimate connections with other pilgrims.  I have to agree with both persons.  On my Camino 2 years ago, I stayed in Albergues for about a week.  I could not sleep.  So on this Camino it will be private rooms when ever possible.


I do understand both opinions about staying or not staying in albergues.  I made many connections with pilgrims on the trail and in the evenings at the towns where I stayed.  The connections with other pilgrims is one of the best aspects of the Camino.


It is possible to walk the Camino and never stay in an albergues.  There are tour companies that will plan it all out for you and make reservations for the entire way.  Don't want to carry a pack?  That too can be arranged.  There are services that will take your pack or suitcase for you from town to town.  Heck, even the post office in Spain will do that for you.  It is not uncommon to see pilgrims carrying just a small day pack, opting to have the luggage or large pack transported each day or just for a few days if they get tired.  So if one has the desire to partake in this wonderful experience, it can be done.  You want my suggestion? Just do it!

 

 

STARTING UP

 
GETTING COLDER
   
 

 

LOOK! ONLY 765 KM TO GO

 
COLD