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Thursday, May 19, 2011

After walking from Villar de Mazariffe to Astorga...

I decided to come home.  Actually my knee decided for me.  Aside from sore tired feet, and tired calf muscles, my knee decided it wasn't happy.  While walking along the ligaments behind my knee decided that they had either been over extended or just stretched too much... especially while going UP hills, or stairs.  Since the next few stages of the Road were up and into the mountains my knee and I decided we would finish the trip next year.  As awesome and beautiful as the whole journey was, I think knees can only take about 175 miles at a shot.  So I am almost home... 

I'll post more photos when I'm at my familiar internet connection...  See you all soon!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Leon!! What am I doing in Leon you ask?

O.k. to catch you all up...

After the first couple of gruelling weeks, Janet couldn't take the pain and suffering. She walked over 40 miles and through the mountain pass, Alto del Perdon (the Hill of Forgiveness), and then went home.

I have continued and since that gruelling day on Saturday, where I walked 34.6 kms to Fromista, I was so pooped on Sunday that I decided to take the train to Leon. (I jumped ahead a bit) It was either go to Leon and take a break or go home. So Leon it was. I took a break for two days. It's a wonderful city, smaller, population of about 130,000. The church(s) were great. This is the inside of the 13th century Gothic Cathederal, Pulchra Leonina. There are lots of historical monuments here.

After walking around a bit, taking it easy, I decided today to head off on the next leg... Stage 21. I walked from Leon to Villar de Mazarife. 13.8 miles! O.k. not a long day, but still 13 almost 14 miles...

It must have been the right thing to do today because on my way I was 8.5kms out, in the village of La Virgen Del Camino, and I met a NUN! I was near the church San Froilan, when a nun met me on the street and told me I should see the basilica, go see the basilica...Ok. I will. She wished me a safe journey, told me it was great I was doing the Camino, and she gave me a hug and a kiss!! (I'm thinking I got a blessing out of it or something... I felt pretty good after that little exchange)

Later in the day I met a French lad, Francois... a young guy working on his Phd in Antropology. He was studying "The Camino". He had walked it a number of times already. Also met a Swedish girl, Amanda, a South African, John, and my two bunk mates here in Mazarife are a couple of Italian women. So far I've met people from almost every country... except China. I met a Korean girl walking the Camino in "reverse" (from Santiago to Roncesvalles)... she was helpful because I was lost that day! I was on a trail but it wasn't the "main" trail... I could see Burgos in the distance so I wasn't in danger... I just didn't want to have to walk any farther than I needed too. I've met Slovanian women, Belgiums, Germans, English, Ireland, Indians, Austrailians, Sri Lankans, more South Africans, Mexicans... John from New Jersey, Mary Ellen from Seattle, Katherine from Michigan.... and many others I can't remember right now.

Well that's it for now. Must check my socks to see if they are dry yet! My socks, next to my fleece, are my most prized posession out here. Later...

Buen Camino!

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Cirauqui: Remember earlier when I mentioned about sleeping in a "Manger" well this is the village of Cirauqui. This is where Janet had her first "Toe Repair". Also the Hospitalera (guardian of the Albergue) offered comfort to her poor aching feet, by asking what size was her foot... Small, medium, or large. She then put a large "fémina pad/producto" into each of her sandals. They were absorbant and comfy, and the adhesive strips kept them in place! It was too funny... I guess Janet has big feet because she required super absorbancy. :)

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Stage 3

Larrasoana, then coming into Pamplona. After a nice lunch, Janet, my pack, and 4 Australian women caught a taxi into Pamplona to the main Albergue.

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Stage 2 pictures

O.k. I've got a decent internet connection... So we have pictures.

Stage 2 was from Roncesvalles to Larrasoana. This is the trail for the most part up to Zubiri, about 25 km, through the Witchcraft Forest, through lush green woods, open fields with horses, sheep, green pastures... Very beautiful serene and peaceful place.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stage 14 into 15 - Hontanas into Fromista

Another LONNNGGG day... 35+ km´s!!  (21-22 miles)  One word for the day... TIRED!!  Really tired... I´d give you more pictures but I think Pakistan has better internet connectivity than some of these remote areas of northern Spain.   Climbed about 1000+ feet to the table top called the 3000 ft. Very green and lush... All of Spain is very green and lust... just beautiful. 
Later,  Buen Camino

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stage 11 into Stage 12 - In Ages

27.9 km's!!!!  Holy smokes... That's 17 Freaking miles... Today alone!!  MY FEET ARE KILLING ME!!!  That wasn't the worst part of it... I had to "gain" about 400-500 meters... THREE times!!  I think that's like 1500+ feet in elevation..  (that's why I'm sitting here drinking a beer right now)  The hight point today was at 3773 feet at the top.  Not really that high but still....

I walked from Belorado to a small village called Ages.  San Juan de Ortega was a very very interesting and beautiful village.  San Juan was a disciple of Santo Domingo (a saint dedicated to protecting and helping the pilgrims on their way to Santiago).  The church and Monastery were incredible.  The sarcophagus of San Juan was in the monastery.  The monastery was built in 1477, built somewhere else and moved in 1901 to this location.  I'll have pictures soon I promise.  

Anyway, I'm checked into my Albergue, showered and now waiting for dinner with my fellow pilgrims.  I can't tell you the number of people from so many different countries I've met. Last night I shared a room (6 beds) with a couple from the Netherlands, another gentleman from the Netherlands, and a Spanish fellow... the room next to us, 2 Americans, 2 Germans, 3 Sri Lankan's (Dad and friend living in Australia, son living in Brooklyn NY), an Italian woman, 2 Slovakian women... and on the road today met a couple from Brazil.  Very interesting... 

Now in Ages, I'm here again with the Spanish guy, the one fellow from the Netherlands, and a few of the others I've met over the last few days... In my ROOM is 2 Catalonian women, older women, 2 French folk, the Netherlands fellow, an Austrian, and god knows who else... only one problem with sharing a room with such an eclectic group... folks tend to run around in their skives!!!  (unders, pantalones...know what I mean?) Sorry that's just not for me... only 60 year old dude I want to see in his unders is Dewey!  

More to come...  I'll tell you about Janet's foot problem and the solution in a moment, after I find the pictures.
Buen Camino!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What day is it? Where am I? Belorado!

I think I walked 33.7 miles in the last two days.  Today I walked from Santo Domingo De Calzada to Belorado, 14.2 miles.  Yesterday 19.5.  Just had a nice "communal" dinner with a bunch of other pilgrims, the three at our table were all Germans.  A very nice bunch...  It rained a little today.  Just a light sprinkle, but it was mostly warm and comfortable.  

Yesterday a middle aged Spanish fellow took his morning walk from Ventosa to Najera and asked every pilgrim he ran across if they spoke English.  He then found me... he walked with me for two hours just talking in English. He was unemployed and wanted to practice his English.  He said he gets out daily for his walk and keeps up his english skills talking with pilgrims along the way.  Then he gets on a bus and goes back to Ventosa.  Nice fellow.  

Lights are out for now... More later, and hopefully more frequently.
Buenos dia hermana, Yo pie es mismo. Donde esta ?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Credencialas so far!

These are our credencials so far. At every stop... hotel, Albergue, bar, cafe, store... we receive a stamp. (really I think it's just proof that we made a purchase!--By the time we get to Santiago, we'll receive a nice document thanking us for helping the Spanish economy) ;)

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Starting trail

At the start we walked through woods... actually it was the forest of "Witchcraft"... seriously! Back a few centuries ago witches were persecuted here... don't know much of the history, but was observed by another pilgrim that we walked with that there were "witches" everywhere, on the houses, on signs... We were just loving the forest!

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O.k. bear with me... trying to get pics up.
This is Day 1, before we start to walk. We're in Roncesvalles. Just on the Spanish
side of the border between France and Spain.
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Thoughts for the next trip

Take less clothing
Take less 'extra' stuff... anything
Take no toiletries... except toothpaste
Maybe just wear the clothes on your back and a small small pack only to hold your rain plastic, fleece and extra socks...
Take NOTHING else!

Would probably even leave the camera at home (have Great pictures but have been unsuccessfull at sharing with you all)

Also yesterday... we walked through fields of PEAS!!  and Peach orchards!  Very cool... Now if it was only a month or so later, we´d be eating GOOD!!

Uterga to Circuaqui

After a long days walk (14 some miles) we get to this cool HILLTOP town of Circuaqui... did I tell you it was a hilltop?  Narrow steep streets.  Population 500.  We stay in a local private Alberque.  Get a room for 2 this time instead of sleeping in a communal bedroom.  Climb to the third floor... small room has a balcony and BEAUTIFUL views over the tiny town and rolling green hills down below.  Absolutely awesome!  We have a peregrino´s dinner (set menu for pilgrims) down stairs after going to mass at the church, which is front of the Albergue.  Very cool...also the shortest mass we´ve ever been too... 25 minutes, including communion (for you catholics out there)  Went to dinner down below in the 'basement' which looked like an old stone bunker.  Also very interesting as we sat in a stone room (walls, floor, rounded ceiling) all stone, and had dinner with four other germans.  Here´s the interesting thing.  Two of the germans were an older couple, another gentleman was a single guy traveling alone and the other woman was an older german woman... 72 years old!!  Traveling alone!  She was particularly interesting...  She said she had alway dreamed of walking El Camino but didn´t have the time.. Her words of wisdom were that she had wished she had done the things she had always dreamed of earlier in life... so Do Them Now!  she said.  Do them when you are younger because time gets away from you.  Interesting! 

The german couple... mid-sixties... had been walking the road for three years now... since somewhere in northern Germany... So far they have walked OVER 2500 kms!!  That km´s but still that´s a long long way!  In fact we have met many different people that have been walking this road for many years and from destinations far away... One gentleman said today on the bus... Oh, did I let that slip?.. that he had walked over 2000 miles not km´s, from Amsterdam.  (yea, we took a bus for a bit, but more on that later).

Pretty fun... Still having problems with the picture download.  Will get that going soon.  Later All...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 4 - Stage 4, Cizur Menor to Uterga

O.K. we´re a day late.  Two days ago we walked from Zubiri to Larrasoanna.  Both very nice towns, Larrasoanna being a very very small, one bar town (note: Bar in Spain is also a diner, coffee spot, all purpose cafe, so don´t be alarmed if I reference it a lot).  We had a nice lunch at the BAR, the only bar in town.  Janet´s feet, legs were really bothering her from the 14 mile walk the day before.  We sent Janet´s pack ahead to Pamplona early in the day in a special "pack taxi".  So even though she was pack-less, she was still hurting.  After lunch Janet and three Austrailian women shared a taxi to Pamplona... along with my pack.  I walked into Pamplona pack-less, to meet her at the Albergue Jesus y Maria, in the center of Old Pamplona.  I walked many miles and finally reached the east entrance to Pamplona... I was so happy to see that sign!!  Then after walking and walking... it turns out Old City Center is on the WEST side of town... for my California friends, that´s like arriving into Del Mar, seeing the San Diego city limit sign, then having to walk to Chula Vista... in Iowa that´s like getting to Joe´s house then having to walk to Mom´s house!!!  I walked an extra 9 miles that day.  It was worth it though as I walked along the rio Arga, along narrow wooded trails, on hill sides, through horse pastures... really beautiful country side.  It had rained earlier in the day so the 9 mile walk was on mud, the entire way.  Finally arrived at Jesus y Maria Albergue... a large building which was part of a 17th century Jesuit church.  It was a large dormitory where 112 of my closest peregrinos and Janet and I shared a large communal bed room.  We felt like we were sleeping in a manger.  You were given a sheet and a pillow and told to find a  bed.  Sleep wasn´t so bad... till 5:30am when most people decided to get up early to head out for the road. 

We hung out in Pamplona for the morning then headed out for Cizur Menor.  Short walk that day, only 3.1 miles.  Ended up at a private Albergue, Maribel Roncal.  Very beautiful little place, two bars, two churches.  Arriving to Maribel Roncal, we met Maribel.  Very nice, cute... looks like an old converted barn.  Maribel takes us to our stall and this time we are lucky... only 8 beds in this one room.  Now we are thinking this is really a manger.  I swear... wait for the pictures.

Pîctures are coming but haven´t been able to upload them yet.  Hopefully in a bigger town with more facilities.

Today we walked from Cizur Menor to Uterga, 9.4 miles.... BUT most of it up hill! 1500 feet elevation gain up through the Alto del Perdon.  Today walking through many rolling fields of wheat and mustard (?), lots of greens and bright yellows.  Very nice day.  Met many nice people again on the road.

Later all... I´m running out of time on the internet meter.  Pictures to come.
Buen Camino

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 3 - Stage 3-4, Pamplona to Cizur Menor

O.K.... you  wouldn´t believe it... MJ has 27 miles under her feet!!!  Did read that right 27!!!  Janet has Less than 27 (she followed me in a taxi part of yesterday). Spent night in Pamplona, just arrived in Cizur Menor, outside of Pamplona by 6 miles... ooohhh, that means I´ve got 32 miles going now!!!  Janet did not take the taxi today.  Yes our feet are doing o.k.   More to come...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 1 - Stage 2, Ronsconvalles to Zubiri

O.k. walked 12 miles today.  Got up late, alarm wasn´t set right, started at 9am.  Ended at 7pm in Zubiri.... I have so many good things to say about today´s trail.  Can´t even put in words how beautiful it was... but it was Beautiful.  Through woods, forests, along a mountain ridge, next to really peaceful rolling green pastures with sheep, cows, sheep, horses, more sheep, over rivers, streams, and tiny bridges, down rocky trails, steep rocky trails, with lots of flowers, and color. We have lots of pictures and they will be up soon.  There were many metaphors for life on this trail... the main one for me today being about Baggage, and not because my pack weighs 20 lbs. At the end of the 12 miles it weighed 40.  It didn´t bother me really but as I walked through this really awesome place I couldn´t help think about the baggage we carry around in life.  You don´t realize how much clutter we have physically and mentally, and how much it consumes you and prevents you from seeing the really important stuff in life, the truly beautiful and meaningful stuff.  Note to Dewey, DO NOT go and empty the garage.  I know what you are thinking.  Well pictures are coming soon... then you will see what I mean.  Off to Pamplona tomorrow.
Buen Camino

Thursday, April 21, 2011

And pictures....

Thank God the camera battery went dead... we took 383 pictures today... of which ONLY 250 were of the Sagrada Familia.  I promise to post more but then maybe a link to a web album would be easier.  (I think Janet has "mapped" every inch of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia... and boy is there a lot of detail there!)

Out on the town... Barcelona!

Today we took the train from Sant Cugat to Barcelona.  Walked part of Las Ramblas, had a coffee and a bite at  the Moko Cafe.  Janet then posed with one of the famous Ramblas mimes...
Other things we did, the Mercat...

Then the small church off of Plaza di Pie, The Cathederal, shopping, Roman columns, shopping, another Plaza, shopping, taxi to Sagrada Familia...