Lavacolla to Santiago de Compostela

Day Seventy Seven. 6.8 Miles, 11.0 Kilometers. Total miles walked to date: 969.1. Total Kilometers: 1,558.1.

Written on July 5, 2012.

We have arrived in Santiago de Compostela!! We walked for a short time this morning. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. There were other Pilgrims walking in at the same time. We all seemed to be walking at a fast pace. There was definitely excitement “in the air”.

A sign at the entrance of Santiago.

Many people were going to the same place: The Oficina del Peregrino, (Pilgrim Office). We were at the office for approximately thirty minutes. The volunteer helping me looked up my Latin name and added it to my Compostela.

My Compostela.
We left the Pilgrim Office and saw many people either coming into Santiago or were already here. We wanted to leave our backpacks at our room so we could go to the Cathedral for the Pilgrim Mass by 12:00 noon.
We heard from many people that today the Botafumeriro will be used. It is a giant incense burner, a symbol of an ancient tradition to fumigate Pilgrims.
The swinging Botafumeiro.
The Plaza in front of the Cathedral is full of excitement, contemplation, gathering of friends, and a wonderful view of the Cathedral.
Vern and I in front of the Cathedral in Santiago.
We saw many Pilgrim friends today, some who we have been seeing everyday, and some who we have not seen for two or more weeks. We were at the Mass with Tom, Kat, and Robbie. We saw Barbara and Jordan before Mass and Dieter shortly after.
Barbara and son, Jordan, from Texas.
Vern and Dieter.
Vern and I last saw Dieter as he rode by us on his bicycle many days ago. It was very special for us to see Dieter at the Cathedral. We have known many Pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago, but have never known anyone who is a bicyclist. We are grateful for the time that we have spent with Dieter and that the perfect “timing” of the Camino allowed us to see him before he left for the airport today.
A few days ago we met Anna, her parents, Jose Miguel, and Consuelo. We saw them yesterday and made a plan to meet for lunch after Mass. We ate at a very good place in Santiago….Gato Negro.
Vern, Consuelo, Jose Miguel, and Ana.
We had a great lunch and a fun time together. We decided to go back to our rooms and then meet again at 7:30 p.m. We were in the Plaza and saw Jose Miguel. He proceeded to take us on a wonderful tour of the Parador, Hostal dos Reis Catolicos, built in 1492.

One example of the exquisite beauty of the Parador in Santiago.

After some time together in the evening we were walking back toward the Parador and discovered that a band was playing.

A Tuno Band.

We had a wonderful time singing and dancing to the music of this band. What a great way to say hasta luego after an incredible evening!

Tomorrow we will stay in Santiago. On Saturday we will start walking toward Finisterre.


Astorga to Rabanal Del Camino

Day Sixty Six. 14.5 Miles, 23.4 Kilometers.

Written on June 24, 2012.

Not far from Astorga is a sign indicating that this is the “Residence of St. Francis de Assissi”. I’ve always been Interested in St. Francis. His prayer is a well known prayer and is written in many languages.

We walked for about three miles and entered Murias de Rechivaldo. This is a village where many people continued to after reaching Astorga.

The next village was Santa Catalina. We stopped…Vern had his normal Cafe con Leche and I am now ordering iced decaf. While drinking our coffee I met another Nancy on the Camino. She is from Belgium. She told us that she started walking in France. She was in pain, at one point, and had a high fever. A Hospitaliero took her temperature and then took her to a Doctor. She had been walking on a fractured foot for four weeks. The Doctor created an insert for her shoes and treated her foot. She is now doing well and on her way to Santiago!

Cowboy Bar in El Ganso.

Another 5.5 miles of walking and we’re ready to refill our water. We stopped in at the Cowboy Bar and saw some familiar Pilgrims. Louis had been thinking about the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, he found it on his phone and he and I started singing it with headphones in our ears. Shawna and Vern suggested that we keep the headphones in our ears!

The walk today, especially from El Ganso, was hot. I tried to keep well hydrated and walk in the limited shade, when possible. I was glad to reach Rabanal del Camino.

After a shower, clothes washing, and a nap we were ready to eat dinner.

As we entered a Hostel/Cafe down the road we saw Barbara and her son, Jordan from Texas.

Barbara and Jordan.

Rabanal Del Camino is a great place for Pilgrims to gather before the long ascent the next day.

San Martin del Camino to Astorga

Day Sixty Five. 14.0 Miles, 22.6 Kilometers.

Written on June 23, 2012.

It is a great morning for walking. Several of us left the Albergue at the same time. One of the first sights this morning: a decorative water tower.

Water tower in San Martin del Camino.

After walking four miles we crossed the Puente de Orbigo into Hospital de Orbigo (name of village) to have a coffee.

Puente de Orbigo.

While having coffee and a banana in a bar/restaurant in Hospital de Orbigo we met a family from Georgia, U.S.A., (parents and two children). We spent some time getting acquainted and then continued on.

Several miles later we found a bus stop with shade and took a break. Just then a French lady Pilgrim came by with a kitten asking us where the nearest village is. She had found the kitten and was worried about its health. She was returning from Santiago.

As we kept going we greeted a woman who was walking not far from her home. She wanted to talk so we used our “un poco” Spanish and had a “conversation” with her. She was pleased to have her photo taken.

Friendly lady with Vern.

Three miles after meeting the lady we were ready for another break in San Justo de la Vega not far from Astorga. As we were sitting outside our friend Brigitte, from Switzerland, came by on a bicycle. She is resting her feet for a few days and is riding a bicycle instead of walking.

Brigitte on her rented bicycle.

We arrive in the center of Astorga. We “need” a coffee and an ice cream. We are sitting in front of a Museum.

Museo de Catedral in Astorga.

A street artist Musician in Astorga.

While spending time in front of the museum and near the Cathedral we heard someone playing a guitar. Vern was interested in the style of music he was playing. The performer showed Vern a few chords.

Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Day Fifty Two. 14 Miles, 22.5 Kilometers.

Written on June 10, 2012.

Sometimes I wonder how do we know if we’re on the Camino de Santiago? Yes, there are yellow arrows pointing the way and since 2009 there are added manufactured signs that are very easy to follow. But today when I saw this ancient marker I knew that we were walking exactly where pilgrims of centuries past have walked.

Ancient way marker.

We steadily climbed today from Azofra to Ciruena. Ciruena seems to be an attempt at creating a suburb. There is a golf course, condos and apartments.

Pilgrim sculpture in a roundabout in Ciruena.

Many days ago between Ronscavalles and Zubiri we had to walk on the highway. As we started to walk on the highway I heard singing behind me. I turned around and saw a group of Pilgrims pushing a man in a wheel chair and walking beside him for traffic “control”.

Not shown: two women with waist straps ready to pull their friend.

As we entered Santo Domingo de la Calzada we heard a marching band and saw a crowd of people. We learned that it was a Corpus Christi festival. Many children participated. Girls were throwing rose petals through the crowd.

The Corpus Christi Festival.

In St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France we stayed in L’Esprit Albergue. That is where we first met Ali and Maire. Later the next day we saw them as we were all making our way through the Pyrenees. Today we celebrate with them their determination and achievement of walking from St. Jean to Santo Domingo in 11 days. They walked in joy, love, and laughter. We are grateful for time spent with them.

Ali and Maire. The best of friends.

Rest Day in Pamplona

Day Forty Five.

Written on June 3, 2012.

Knowing that today we will just stay in Pamplona and take care of ourselves, we got up just long enough to find a cup of coffee at a local bakery and walk around for awhile. Very few people are on the is 8:30 a.m. As we walk we hear the sounds of some bakeries opening up. It is Sunday and very few businesses will be open until the restaurants and bars open on the plaza for dinner.

It is time for me to explore some of the areas that I was too tired to check out yesterday.

Street performer in Pamplona.

A bicycle tour through the City.

Pamplona isn’t just a place to have a party, Pamplona IS a party. The activity is never-ending.

An incredible sculpture depicting The Running of the Bulls.

Peder, Vern, and Reidun.

This evening we left our room to eat dinner. We had found a good place to eat on the Plaza. We saw two Pilgrims from Norway and asked them to join us. We had a great dinner and fun talking about where we have been and what we had done since we saw each other last.


Limogne-en-Quercy to Bach

Day Twenty One.

7.5 Miles, 12 Kilometers. Total Miles to date: 194.8. Total Kilometers to date: 312.2.

Written on May 10, 2012.

It was so warm this morning that when we left at 7:30 a.m. I did not wear my windbreaker, just a tank top. It was so awesome to not be climbing up and up when leaving a village. Still lots of rocks but it keeps me alert. After four miles of walking we stopped in a village to get something at the market and saw Carmen and Louis. Before entering the village we had seen the four Canadians that we had met at the Chapelle Sain’t-Roch. We called from the village and spoke to a young woman to make a reservation at a Gite in Bach, Gite d’etape Relais Arc-en-Ciel. When we arrived we were the first ones. It is a beautiful Gite. We love our room . Cleaned up, washed clothes, and took a nap. Chloe was preparing our evening meal. She had her laptop in the kitchen and was listening to American metal music. Soon we had a roommate…George from Paris. He speaks English and is helping me pronounce names of towns and villages on the Chemin. Our dinner was wonderful..a lot of fun.

Thanks to Chloe and Michelle for a Gite that is more like a home!

Pictured: Michelle and Cici.

Pictured: A small Chapel in the rock wall in front of Gite Relias Arc-en-Ciel.

Criss-Crossing The Seine

As we were standing under the pyramid entrance to the Louvre I happened to look back to catch this sight. I love it! It says it all. A beautifully constructed classic building as viewed through a “modern” structure.

We spent most of the day and through the evening walking back and forth over the River Seine to the Museum D’Orsay, The Louvre, a river cruise, and to the metro.

We heard music at every turn: in the metro station, (a full band), in the metro, (an accordion player), and on the street, (bagpipes)!

We have had some wonderful meals and great service. Today we board a train….next stop: Clermont-Ferrand.