All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. M. Buber
I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or, who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… to make each day count.Jack in “Titanic”
Jack was pretty insightful and I think this has been the gist of our experience on the Camino. We have had great times sitting on the side of a road and at some very nice places (including our cruise to start this journey). Every day brings a new experience and new adventure. All in all the most fun has been meeting people, watching people and sharing stories. The only easy choice the day is what to wear (as we can only carry three sets of clothes…)!?
The great news is we are happy and healthy (although sore) and have just reached Sarria, Spain. This marks a milestone on the Camino. Many Pilgrims start here as it is the last town outside the 100km mark for the Camino. This is important because to receive a Compostella (certificate of completion) in Santiago, a pilgrim must walk at least 100km. What this means for those starting in St. Jean, France or other outer points is that the trail just got busy. It also means more interesting people and better services.
Tomorrow we begin the final week of our journey! We are looking forward to getting to Santiago (with dozens of new friends…!) and taking in the final days of this interesting experience.
Two little mice fell into a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned, but the second mouse, [s]he struggled so hard that he eventually churned that cream into butter and [s]he walked out. — Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can.
Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; then suddenly you are doing the impossible. Saint Francis of Assisi
We have had a great week of walking and touring. A little less rain and many interesting places to visit, most notably in Astorga and Panferrada. Astorga was a great stop for us as we were again surrounded by great architecture including the Bishop’s Palace designed by the famous Spanish Architect Antonini Gaudi.
We stayed the night at the Astur Plaza Hotel on Plaza Mayor.
We spent a little time exploring after our arrival and visited the cathedral ……
And then we spent some time in the Bishop’s Palace.
All Men Die, Not All Men Truly Live. William Wallace, Braveheart.
This quote reminded us of Ponferrada, Spain which was home to the Knights Templar Castle.
And then we were off early morning with headlights on for the long road to Sarria and the final week!
I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light. – Helen Keller
Twenty years from now, you will be most disappointed by the things you did not do, then by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain
After a few wet and windy days of travelling the flat fields of the Meseta, we finally reached Leon, Spain (population 130,000) and one of the last large cities on the Camino.
We reserved a great hotel on the Plaza San Gaudi Domingo and started exploring.
This was a great stop and we took the time to explore a bit which paid off greatly.
Especially the Gothic Cathedral built in the 1400s when Leon only had a population of 5,000. Definitely an “If we build it they will come!” moment. This place was ultra cool and had to be an unbelievable achievement for its day without all the technology and building materials we have today.
The best or most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller
All in all a great stop in Leon and we are on to Astorga.
I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. Jimmy Dean.
From Burgos, Spain we reached a high plateau area known as the Meseta. This area is known for being windy and it did not disappoint.
This area reminded us most of Iowa (God’s Country) with its flat croplands for miles. But for the wind, these were easy walking days without much up or down. Our first night after a brisk 20 mile walk was to Hontanas, a small village tucked away in the cleft of two hills.
We had an interesting group dinner with Pierre from Conques, France who had walked from his home to Santiago and was now walking back home. He spoke no English and we very little French but we had a good time trying…
From there we have travelled through Castrojeriz, Fromista, Carrion de Los Condes and passed the halfway point of the French Camino in Sahagun, Spain.
One day on our travels outside of Fromista, we were nearly accosted by a herd of sheep that had wandered away from their shepard and were making a break for it down the main highway….
All in all, a lot of walking and chatting with other pilgrims, but we are managing to have a great time and find interesting places and people along the way.
More to come on the road to Leon and beyond when the WIFI starts working and we download the pics.
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that is what we are really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is the experience of being alive, so that our life experiences purely on the physical plane will have resonances with our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth.
Hi All! We have made many miles since our last post! Tonight finds us in Burgos, Spain after a number of 20 mile walking days. Only a little over 300 miles to go to Santiago… No moss growing on these boots….
We met some friends in Lograno but we quickly outpaced them ….
Really though, we have met some great people on the Camino who we hope to keep in touch with in the future.
May the road rise up to meet you on your way home to Ireland tomorrow!
Some fun pictures of the Road to Burgos. Hope you all are having a great April!
I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me. John Lennon
The last three days were a challenge as we covered over 60 kilometers stopping in Puente La Reina, Estella and Los Argos. All the guidebooks for this journey say that the first 3rd of this pilgrimage is for the body and we were feeling it. Lots of sore limbs and feet as these 40 somethings kept trudging on through the Spanish countryside. We were mostly in the Navarre Region which is agricultural and has the start of the wine growing region. Lots of vineyards and open fields throughout the day. As we entered Logrono (more later), we have now passed into the Rioja Region (the heart of wine country).
Day 5 – Our morning from Zariquigui started early (6:30am) before the sunrise with our headlamps guiding the way up the mountain to Alto del Perdon (Hill of Forgiveness) which features a wrought iron sculpture of traditional pilgrims and a ridgeline full of windmills. Some nice pictures at sunrise!
We ended Day 5 at Puente La Reina at Hotel Jakue for a much needed break from our other pilgrims and our own room!
Day 6 took us through the countryside with good weather to start and rain to end as we reached Estella. Lots of cool architecture on this route including Roman Roads and bridges and interesting tunnels.
Lunch was at a Pilgrim “Bar” which is the coffee shop, sandwich place, bakery and bar in Spain.
We ended in wet Estella at a San Andres Pensione (pilgrim House) on a great square.
Day 7 started with Bad Timing! We walked through Estella early morning to a Pilgrim’s favorite location, Fuente de Vino (Fountain of Wine). This is a favorite fountain because it not only has water but also free wine! Unfortunately, it was 8am! … So we filled our water bottle with wine and walked on!
We ended our day again with an hour or so of rain but safely in a Pensione in Los Arcos off a pretty church square.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can; begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic in it. Goethe
Hi all! Saturday found us in a pensione (B&B) in Pamplona, Spain and we took a few hours before continuing our journey to look around a bit at a small but interesting city.
…. And we were feeling good enough to Run with the Bulls!
Our walk was fairly short today with heavy escalation. We were happy at the end of the day to find a bunk bed in a room of ten pilgrims to lay our heads. Goodbye Pamplona, back on the journey to Santiago.
Hi All! A part of the Camino experience is taking time to reflect and focus on the important people in your life. Day 3 starts with a shout out to our Pop/Dad/Mentor/ and friend on his birthday… Happy Bday big guy!
It’s not the years honey, it’s the miles. Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Arch
And one more thing before we describe our Day 3 trek to Pamplona, Spain….
Grandma/Mutti/ Mom … the Camino is known for healing. We will all rally around you as you fight your tough health news today. We are dedicating this trip to you. You better get your list together and start making your demands! It is time for others to give back to you for all that you have given us. Love you! G&P
Day 3 – Another rainy walk in Spain! Yesterday’s walk was covered in snow today and we were fortunate to be at lower elevations. Our walk was 13 miles mostly along the river and then into the suburbs of Pamplona, Spain. Pamplona is well known for its bull fights and the “running of the bulls” every July where men dress all in white with red scarves and try to outrun angry bulls let loose in the street…. Well Hemingway thought it was cool!…. Some quick pics:
Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. Kahlil Gibran
Hi all! Day 2 was the mirror opposite on our 15 mile trek to Zubiri, Spain today, ALL DOWNHILL…! It was an early start from our Alburgue in Roncevalles at 7am with the rain coming down heavily to start the day.
The motto… Don’t Stop Walking! (I am the one in the fashionable blue hat!)
We stayed at a bed & breakfast (pensione) near the river and enjoyed our first night in our very own room. This was a treat after a tough second day.
A journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with Just One Step. Chinese Proverb
(In our case, we will walk about 1,000,000 steps over the next 35 days.)
That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger. Friedrich Nietzschke, German Philosopher
Hi All! We are finally at the start of this journey that we have been researching, thinking about and planning for over the last few years. Today’s hike was 15 miles through the Pyrenees Mountain range. It included great views and a fun first day except for a brutal increase in elevation over the last 6 miles of almost 1000 meters that left many Pilgrim casualties on the side of the trail.
The day’s weather changed over our 7 hour journey so our look changed as the layers peeled off and went back on.
Here is the start of the day….
About half way through the day we optimists just knew we were kicking this trails butt! See the mountains in the background … we ended there not as optimistic but stronger…
The last six miles tested our resolve but we made to the top … sore but satisfied.
One mile walk down the other side to Roncesvalles, Spain (pop. 100) with a hostel built out of the medieval cloister space of the adjoining Royal Collegiate Church of Saint Mary. It houses 183 pilgrims in rooms of 2 bunkbeds per room with two other pilgrims for the night. After the pilgrim meal, we are done for the day. A baptism by fire and we are happy to have Day 1 behind us!