I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills….

from whence cometh my help.

Today’s walk was a gentle constant ascend into Monte Irago. We left Santa Calina (pop 50) around 730 so we could walk in the morning light before breakfast. We stopped in El Ganso, a 12th century village, at a family home that had a little store and offered hot coffee on the porch.

As soon as we started our ascent, our path was lined with a wire fence to our right. Looking closer at it you could see crosses that were placed in the wires. This went on for at least a mile.


I wonder when the first one was placed and how long ago. We nicknamed it The Fence Of One Thousand Crosses (plus one, with mine). In Rabinal del Camino (pop 60) we were greeted by a man with a falcon raising money for a children’s cancer hospital and of course had to help.



The town still continues a century old tradition of caring for the pilgrims before taking the steep climb, and Templar knights that protected their journey.

The picture above is a church run by an order of monks that still hold a blessing everyday for the pilgrims. We also came across the parish church, Iglesias de Santa Marie that was built in the 12th century that gave us the rest we needed before going on.

The hike was one of the prettiest so far frequently coming across respites of cool water.


We finally saw our town ahead

and turned around to look were we came from and realized we had walked from as far as you can see- we have walked 150 miles, half way there.

The village, Foncebadon, is a semi-abandoned village that flourished during the Middle Ages. It is starting to come back to life with the re-awakening of the Camino. Our Albergue, Convento de Foncebadon, was one of the few buildings in the town but had everything we needed: a place to sleep, do laundry and enjoy a wonderful meal.




My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Surprises along The Way

The mornings are a very special time for me. This morning we woke to Rick playing Amazing Grace. You then here the rustling of the other pilgrims rising and packing their gear. We are all going in the same direction on the same mission. It is quiet and respectful. You then share some coffee, a good morning in a variety of languages and head outside. The town is transformed by the light and we begin to walk in silence not knowing what the day will bring. .

It wasn’t long before I had my first surprise. She poked her head out and gave me a sniff and a lick.


Little did I know that animals would be a theme for the day. We walked through farm lands and was greeted by another person with a wonderful cart of fresh fruit and drinks.



We then came across the Cruceiro Santo Toribio stone cross where we said a prayer and headed down down down the valley to Astorga. You can see it in the background.



Astorga is another beautiful town where we enjoyed a lunch in the main square listening to the bells every 1/2 hour.


It was here where I saw my first donkey!!


As i said before the sight of your Albergue after a long day is the best and this in the village of Santa Catalona de Somoza did not disappoint.

Maybe one of the most beautiful yet. Oh yea, the animal theme. When we went in the back courtyard to do our laundry look who was there to greet me.



Enough said.

In a Little Spanish Town…..

This is yesterday’s blog since I did not have wifi last night.

We left Villar de Mazariffe (pop 400)


And stopped for cafe with some other pilgrims in Villavante. They were from Denmark , Germany, and Portland!


Lunch was in Hospital de Orbigo after crossing Puente de Orbigo

It is one of the longest and best preserved medieval bridges in Spain dating back to the 13th century.
The legend says that on this bridge a knight from Leon confronted some foreigners who wanted to cross it in a duel in order to undo a pledge of slavery to his beloved Lady Leonor, under which he would have to fast every Thursday and wear a heavy iron ring around his neck. He must have broken 300 lances. He did not succeed, but the judges of the contest repaid Don Suero by freeing him from the ring. For this reason, the bridge is known as Passo Honroso (Honourable Crossing).


One of the great feelings is when you come over the hill and see the town you are going to stay in on the horizon. We decided to stay in Suntibanez de Valderglesia to break up the 20mile trek to Astorga. We always head for the church which is the tallest structure in town and the Albergue is usually close by.

Ok back to small towns. Our last town was bustling compared to this one. This was a one horse town but with out the horse.


We checked into an Albergue run by the church of the Holy Trinity- how bad could that be. Well, there is an ivy branch growing in the bathroom stall. The place was run by Juan, a pilgrim that walked ten years ago and now volunteers for 5 months running the place.


If you saw the movie The Way we thought we met the crazy guy. But as in life Juan surprised us all. He made the best paella and we had a family style dinner with people from Russia, Australia, Germany, and Canada. The night turned into a night of song where we were treated to Danny Boy in Spanish.

20140530-180539-65139802.jpg. Love these little towns.

On the Road Again.

Leaving Leon we passed San Isadoro an 11th century Basilica Church. There was a Door of Forgiveness through which medieval pilgrims, too ill to travel on to Santiago, could still receive forgiveness.



We also passed the Leon Museo and stopped to sit with a pilgrim of old resting.



After our morning ritual of stopping for cafe in La Virgen del Camino we were soon off the hard surface of the streets and back on a dirt trail. Even with the rain, there was something comforting about it.

We came across a man selling fruit,coffee, nuts and chocolate to pilgrims for a donation.

20140528-184005-67205567.jpg<It was a fairly short day of 22km to Villar de Mazarife, but blisters are really getting the best of some of us.


We are staying at Tio Pepe- Uncle Peter and have a great room for just the five of us.


Of course right next to a church dedicated to St James.


I have to share my journal with you. Debbie, Lindsey and Jenna gave me a journal with a saying or note for me to read every day. When I opened today’s day I found this note and had to share. It made us all laugh.


We had another nice dinner after we used our dictionary to find out what are choices where on the pilgrims menu.


Leon, Spain

Today I put down my pilgrim backpack and picked up my tourist camera and spent the whole day exploring the city of Leon. It began at 10am with breakfast at an outdoor cafe and ended with mass at 6pm said by the Bishop of Leon. It was a glorious day and I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Mom, the St. Francis statue is right next to our Albergue.










100 miles.

After 7 days we have settled into somewhat of a routine. Lights go on around 615am and we start to get ourselves packed before breakfast at 7am. Breakfast is comprised of bread, butter, jelly and coffee for 3 euros. Some places you can buy some fruit or yogurt for a couple more euros. After breakfast we pack up and head out between 730 and 8am. Today we traveled from Calzadilla de Los Hermanillos along the oldest Roman road in Spain. I was thinking that it was actually built around the same time that Jesus was alive.



We walk for a few hours until we hit a town and stop for coffee and a snack. Lunch is a few hours later at the next town. Today was a long stretch with no towns so we stopped along the trail and made sandwiches from the bread, cheese and avocado we bought the night before. Always taking a stretch before walking again.


We then walk to our alberque, check in and get shown to our bunks. The first thing we do is shower and laundry. Each of the albergues have an outside sink with actual wash boards and clothes lines. So you find a space for your underwear next to all the other drying socks, pants and shirts.

Dinner is always at 7 so we have a few hours to journal, nap or explore the town before dinner.



Tomorrow will be a different day touring the city of Leon

Ooops. Lights just went out. Good night.

Pilgrams old and new

At 615am, they usually turn on the lights to wake you up. If for some reason that doesn’t do it, we have the Rick alarm. It is a gentle shake of the shoulder and a soft voice saying “wakey, wakey”. I gathered my stuff and headed down the back stairs across the courtyard to the bathroom and came across a group of pilgrims singing. In front of them was a man that we had been walking with for a few days in a white vestment saying mass! I stayed to participate with toothbrush in hand. Come to find out he has been saying mass every morning wherever he is staying.

After our typical breakfast of bread, fruit and coffee we discussed as a group that today maybe the day we take a rest and only go as far as Sahagun. We were all pretty sore and after all it was the Sabbath. In Sahagun, we stopped for more cafe and a pastry.


followed by a rest in the main square:


We decided to take it slow and headed for Calzadlla de Los Hermanillos along a road built by the Romans 2000 years ago.


And at times sharing the Camino with the locals



We found out that the markings on the back are caused by a bag of chalk the males wear on their chest. You figure it out :-).

There are constant reminders of the care given to the pilgrims long ago and to us still today. Our trail went past an old pilgram hospice


and to the fuente del peligrino in the middle of a five mile long trail through the countryside. Here is where you are to drink water from your scallop shell and taste the sacredness of what you are doing.


Some time the day gets long and we end up getting a bit silly. Most days we start to sing but today Monica taught us a marching step to keep us moving.


We were thrilled when we got to our Albergue, Via Trajana for a few reasons: it was right off the trail, hot showers, beds with sheets, and only 3 of us in a room.


buenas noches, my loving family and friends.

Wheat Fields, And Then Some

Today is a short blog for a long day. Our first 17km was through endless wheat fields.


The sun shone again and was actually warm. At one break we were greeted by Rick in his usual fashion. We purchased food for our trek the night before and we were surprised by a little beverage truck in the middle of no where.


So we stopped and enjoyed our fresh bread,cheese and chorizo.


We were very excited to get to our Albergue- Jacques de Molay in Terradillos de Templarios because after 27 km all of our dogs were barking. Well, we found out that they cancel your reservations after 330. The bad news was we did not have a room but as Rick said our walk would be shorter the next day. Yup, 3 more km down the Camino was a place- actually not as bad as it looks. They fed us a wonderful pasta dinner downstairs.


After 30km, we r going to see how we feel in the morning and decide where we go from there.


Fromista – Carrion de Los Condes. 20.5 km. Thank you all for your prayers. It worked. The sun was out all day. Now if you could work on the wind and temperature. It was 46 when we started out and maybe got to 60 by days end. We didn’t really mind because we were dry. Today was a shorter walk, which was welcome since we were all a bit soar from yesterday. We decided to take our time, and truly enjoy our ever changing surroundings even stopping to take in a swing.


At a crossroad in Villovieco. we met two pilgrims. The older gentleman did not speak any English but his companion was able to tell us he was 80, did 1/2 the Camino last year and was completing now. Embarrassed to say he passed us about an hour later.


We found a beautiful church to take a break and enjoy the sun and then headed to Villacazar de Sirga for a tortilla lunch and to see Santa Maria la Blanca. Many of the churches are not opened in these small town but this one was and we took the time sit in silence.

On our way out of town we thanked St. James for our journey so far and headed to our final destination of Carrion de Los Condes.
I must have been getting tired because I think I saw two of Rick.



Our alberque is Spiritual Santo run by the brothers Hijas de San Vicente de Paul. Mom, you would of loved it when a sister came out to greet us, walk us by Mary

And then check us is.



There is a pilgrims service at 8 and then to bed for tomorrow’s journey to Terradillos de Templarios, our longest walk yet- 26.8 km.

It is becoming harder to find wifi so will blog when I can.
Hasta lugeo…