The Pilgrim’s Mass

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Wandering around our [world] has changed me more than I thought. I am not me anymore. At least I’m not the same me I was. Ernesto Guevara de la Serna in “Motorcycle Diaries”.

One of the great rights of passage for a Pilgrim when they reach Santiago de Compostella is to attend the Pilgrim’s Mass at the Cathedral.  We were lucky enough to make a Pilgrim’s Mass that includes the huge incense burner (Botafumeiro) that is swung by a rope from the Cathedral ceiling.  This was an awesome experience and a great way to cap off our journey.

Getting Started! (click here for the video!)

The Great Swing! (and click here!)

After the mass we airlifted out of Spain to sunny London for a one night drop in to our favorite little French Bistro, Le Bistro Savoir Faire on Oxford Street.

Airlift by RyanAire!
Airlift by RyanAire!
Special Dinner.
Special Dinner.
Hungry!
Hungry!

This little French restaurant has great food and is known for being eclectic.  Like this blog, this little spot is known for its quotes ( which are  written on the ceiling).  Fortunately, the ceiling quotes had just been updated and some great quotes are below for your pondering!

I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives. Anon

If something is hard to do, it is not worth doing. Homer Simpson

Inside every old person is a young person wondering what the hell happened! Anonymous

Man does not live on words alone despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.

May your God take a liking to you, but not too soon. Brendan

We are all here because a woman said yes.

The scientific theory I like best is, the rings of Saturn are comprised of lost airline luggage.

So we made it back to the Midwest!  A great adventure and experience complete! Thanks for being a part of our adventure!

See you all soon!
See you all soon!

We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliott, Four Quartets

Love to All! G&P

 

 

 

WE MADE IT!!!

Adrian!…We did it! Rocky Balboa, Rocky II

We do not follow maps to buried treasure and X never, ever marks the spot. Indiana Jones to his students in “Last Crusade”

After a number of days of trail work, we were finally nearing Santiago.  Some pics from the trail…

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Next Big Town... Santiago!
Next Big Town… Santiago!
Santiago Bound!
Santiago Bound!
Cow Crossing Outside Arzua.
Cow Crossing Outside Arzua.
The Trail Head in O Pedrouza ... Santiago 20km!
The Trail Head in O Pedrouza … Santiago 20km!
Are we done yet!?
Are we done yet!?
The Pilgrim Monument above Santiago
The Pilgrim Monument above Santiago
City Limit ... Santiago!
City Limit … Santiago!

And then we were there and it seemed like the party had already started….. (Press Clip below for video!)

Arrival Clip-Santiago

The Cathedral Square.
The Cathedral Square.

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After wondering around a bit…. All that was left for these tired Pilgrims was to go get the Compostella (Certificate of Completion) for the Journey.  And it was a journey in and of itself….

After a long search...We found the line...!?
After a long search…We found the line…!?
Finally at the front....legs don't fail me now!
Finally at the front….legs don’t fail me now!
Got it!
Got it!
Done!
Done!

The Compostella, Proof of Distance and Our Pilgrim Passports with Stamps of the Places We Stayed and Visited on this Journey.

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Now nothing left but to celebrate with a little high class treatment at the Hotel San Francisco de Monumental!

Let the Pampering Begin!
Let the Pampering Begin!
This looks nice! .... How much does it cost?!
This looks nice! …. How much does it cost?!
The Hotel was the Monastery to the Cathedral.... Very Cool!
The Hotel was the Monastery to the Cathedral…. Very Cool!
Fountain Girl .... (After the Long Bath...)
Fountain Girl …. (After the Long Bath…)
Nice to Have our Forwarded Luggage Back!
Nice to Have our Forwarded Luggage Back!
The Interior Courtyard.
The Interior Courtyard.
The Dining Room.
The Dining Room.
Pilgrim's Feast Time!!
Pilgrim’s Feast Time!!

Before we go tonight, we want to thank all of our family and friends that helped us by keeping things going at home during this long trip and keeping our spirits up on long sore days with your comments and communications.  We could not have completed this trip without you.

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. Isaac Newton

Mom!…Mom!!!….Mom!!…Mutti!!!! …… we did it….

Love to All!

G&P

PS – Next Post … The Pilgrim’s Mass at the Cathedral.  Don’t Miss It!

 

 

The Road to Santiago… Halfway There.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

We can sum up the start of the final week of this journey with one word…. Anticipation!  It always seems as if the journey gets longest when you are near the end.  We have had some great weather days to start our journey this week.   As expected the trail is much busier!

Pilgrims to the front of us....
Pilgrims to the front of us….
And Pilgrims to the back!
And Pilgrims to the back!

There also seems to be something we are calling “Camino Lite” which occurs when a big bus comes and adds Pilgrims onto the trail at particular points and picks them up a few miles later.  I can see how this might be an issue with some of the long-mileage Pilgrims.

Camino Lite Bus Tour.
Camino Lite Bus Tour.

Our first day out of Sarria we had a 12 mile walk to Portomarin.  We crossed the 100 kilometer barrier during the day which was a welcome sight!

100 kilometers to go!
100 kilometers to go!

At the end of our day was a bridge over the lake and a long set of stairs up to our hotel.

Hitting the Trail.
Hitting the Trail.
Stairs to end a long day.
Stairs to end a long day.
Time to Rest!
Time to Rest!

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The view from our Hotel.
The view from our Hotel.

The next two days brought us through Palas de Rei and Malide.  We are now only 50 kilometers out!

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We have changed up our exit plans a bit to fly from London versus Paris and only take a day.  Life at home is getting pretty “big in the window” and we are both looking forward to the new challenges, adventures and friends that await summer in Wisconsin!

Love to All!

G&P

 

We Can See It From Here…!!!

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”

A foggy mountain morning on the trail to Sarria.
A foggy mountain morning on the trail to Sarria.

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.

The River Celerio outside our hotel.
The River Celerio outside our hotel.
Old Roman steps into Sarria.
Old Roman steps into Sarria.
Decent Tapas!
Decent Tapas!
The Last Tower left of the Castle after the peasant uprising in the 1400s
The Last Tower left of the Castle after the peasant uprising in the 1400s

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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.

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Love to all!

G&P

Architects and Knights Templar – Astorga to Ponferrada

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.

Cool spot outside our hotel.
Cool spot outside our hotel.
The bell tower chimed on the hour....
The bell tower chimed on the hour….

We spent a little time exploring after our arrival and visited the cathedral ……

Another Incredible Cathedral!
Another Incredible Cathedral!
Another Side Door to Squeeze Through!?
Another Side Door to Squeeze Through!?

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And then we spent some time in the Bishop’s Palace.

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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.

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The Audio Tour....In English!
The Audio Tour….In English!

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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

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Love to all!  G&P

Some Touring in Leon, Spain.

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.

Wet but we made it!
Wet but we made it!

We reserved a great hotel on the Plaza San Gaudi Domingo and started exploring.

The Alfonso IX Hotel....It has a Bathtub!
The Alfonso IX Hotel….It has a Bathtub!
Plaza San Gaudi Domingo.
Plaza San Gaudi Domingo.

This was a great stop and we took the time to explore a bit which paid off greatly.

The Town Hall and Casa Botines.
The Town Hall and Casa Botines.

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

Leon Cathedral
Leon Cathedral
Squeezing through the side door into the Museum!
Squeezing through the side door into the Museum!
Incredible Stained Glass!
Incredible Stained Glass!
Hard not to get religion...
Hard not to get religion…
More glass!
More glass!
60 foot ceilings!
60 foot ceilings!

All in all a great stop in Leon and we are on to Astorga.

Love to all!

G&P

 

 

 

 

Headwinds! Tailwinds! and Crosswinds!

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.

The most prevalent "Tree" of the Meseta.
The most prevalent “Tree” of the Meseta.

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.

Our Hostel for the night.  Nice place!
Our Hostel for the night. Nice place!

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…

Our new friend Pierre.
Our new friend Pierre.

From there we have travelled through Castrojeriz, Fromista, Carrion de Los Condes and passed the halfway point of the French Camino in Sahagun, Spain.

Lots of old churches...
Lots of old churches…

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And cool fountains...
And cool fountains…

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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….

The leaders...
The leaders…
..and the co-conspirators!
..and the co-conspirators!

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.

Old Gymnasts Never Die!?
Old Gymnasts Never Die!?
Meeting another Pilgrim... Although this guy was a bit rigid!?
Meeting another Pilgrim… Although this guy was a bit rigid!?
Great Dining Opportunities!
Great Dining Opportunities!
Gateway to Halfway! 250 miles done!
Gateway to Halfway! 250 miles done!
Interesting Cathedral Museum in Sahagun.
Interesting Cathedral Museum in Sahagun.

More to come on the road to Leon and beyond when the WIFI starts working and we download the pics.

Love to all,

G&P

 

 

Making the Miles…

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….

No Moss! (Mas)
No Moss! (Mas)

We met some friends in Lograno but we quickly outpaced them ….

They kept up with me for a little while....
They kept up with me for a little while….
Penny blew past them!
Penny blew past them!

Really though, we have met some great people on the Camino who we hope to keep in touch with in the future.

Patty and Kate from Killearney, Ireland.
Patty and Kate from Killearney, Ireland.

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!

Some days we are feeling this fast!!!
Some days we are feeling this fast!!!
A nice Winery on the way to Santo Domingo De Calzada.
A nice Winery on the way to Santo Domingo De Calzada.
One way to travel yesterday... but no mule and no cut up Fiat.....
One way to travel yesterday… but no mule and no cut up Fiat…..
We finally made it to Burgos but Penny got in trouble with the police.....
We finally made it to Burgos but Penny got in trouble with the police…..
Into Burgos main gate.
Into Burgos main gate.
The Cathedral at Burgos.
The Cathedral at Burgos.

Love to all.  G&P

One Step at a Time …. Days 5-7

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!

Greg's New Friends!
Greg’s New Friends!
We wish we had a mule to carry packs!
We wish we had a mule to carry packs!
Great Views!
Great Views!

We ended Day 5 at Puente La Reina at Hotel Jakue for a much needed break from our other pilgrims and our own room!

Wine bar at Hotel Jakue.
Wine bar at Hotel Jakue.

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.

Puente La Reina Fortress gate.
Puente La Reina Fortress gate.
12th Century Pilgrim's Bridge
12th Century Pilgrim’s Bridge
A Gardener with too much time on their hands!
A Gardener with too much time on their hands!
Tunnels under the Highway.
Tunnels under the Highway.

Lunch was at a Pilgrim “Bar” which is the coffee shop, sandwich place, bakery and bar in Spain.

One stop shopping!
One stop shopping!

We ended in wet Estella at a San Andres Pensione (pilgrim House) on a great square.

A room with a view!
A room with a view!

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!

Penny filling the Pilgrim shell with wine. A good luck tradition!
Penny filling the Pilgrim shell with wine. A good luck tradition!
Greg following suit.
Greg following suit.

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.

View from our Pensione.
View from our Pensione.

Pamplona and the walk to Zariquiegui -Day 4

The  Pamplona Cathedral.
The Pamplona Cathedral.

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.

Home for the night - Cool Door!
Home for the night – Cool Door!
Greg at the Government Building
Greg at the Government Building
Penny at the Plaza del Castillo (Pamplona's main square.
Penny at the Plaza del Castillo (Pamplona’s main square.

…. And we were feeling good enough to Run with the Bulls!

She beat the bulls  by the  length of a walking stick!?
She beat the bulls by the length of a walking stick!?
I almost caught a horn!
I almost caught a horn!

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.

Goodbye Pamplona!
Goodbye Pamplona!