Soaking In Every Last Moment….

Vilasari to O Logoso, October 19, 2016

Today was a 14 mile hike that started out in the mist of a silent trail through the hillside. It wasn’t eerie at all, but very comforting. Someone said it was like walking through a cloud and being hugged by God. 

The trail took us up through beautiful farmlands and sun came out to lift the fog away. 

The trail is much quieter and has a different feel. Not many pilgrims go on after Santiago so the towns and services are all a bit smaller. Here is our Albuergue and town for tonight. 

A nice meal together, just being, and anticipating a big and final day tomorrow.   (And the battle of the snorers-I swear I purr)

22.4 miles, Yup You Read It Right. 

Santiago to Albergue Vilasari, October 18, 2016

My dogs are not only barking, but howling!  We left around 7, with the first 1/2 hour walking through the quiet empty streets of Santiago. 

We quickly found a place open serving cafe. They aren’t typically open but on the Camino route you can find them open this early for pilgrims.  We walked out of town and looked for the familiar yellow arrows and markers. 

The difference is, is the the markers begin to count down the miles that you have to do to make it to the ocean. 

It was a very long day, a lot of ups and downs but the day was a beautiful day for hiking. We came across this wonderful water fountain for pilgrims to soak their feet. It was cold, but refreshing and helped us with the last 5 k. 

Our Albuergue was in a tiny town-an alburgue, cafe and……..yup that was it.  Going to sleep at 9 was not a problem.  Oh yea,  short day tomorrow, only 15 miles…on Ricardo Francais time now. 


Santiago, October 17, 2016

It was a sleep in and rest day……and guess who I ran into in front of the Cathedral?  This guy is everywhere!!

We met up with Rick, Kevin, Donna and Lainy. Had a wonderful time getting acquainted and heading out to the ocean in the morning. Going to try and make the 4 day trip in 3-which means 18 to 20 miles tomorrow. You’ll know when I do, if I make it!

Buenas Noches

Train to Santiago 

Burgos to Santiago, October 16, 2016

Today we left for Santiago on the train. It will take us about 7 1/2 hours to get there-the same distance it took me 3 weeks to walk on my first Camino.  My feet are enjoying the rest and It is nice to sit and watch the scenery go by. I recognize the stops: Astorga, Leon, Pomferada….and take the opportunity to read my blog posts when walking through the towns before. 

We will be meet up with Rick and his fellow pilgrims tomorrow. 

2 1/2 Years, 200 miles in 2 Weeks

San Juan Ortega to Burgos, October 15, 2016

Burgos is the end of the beginning and I now go onto the beginning of the end. It was May 19, 2014 when I last was here and it seems like only yesterday. 

The walk in the morning took us through Atapuerca. 

The Archaeological Site of Atapuerca is a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site. The earliest human fossils and tools known in Europe were found in the nearby caves. The site was inscribed by UNESCO in 2000.

Here is a video on the findings.

Their are memorials built outside the town to signify the importance of the findings and honoring our ancestors. 

It wasn’t that much farther that I got my first glance at (almost ) final destination. 
The city of Burgos is magnificent with the cathedral at its center.

 The Albuergue was  conveniently located nearby as always. It was one of the most modern one we stayed in. The cost was only 5 euro but the view of history outside our window was priceless. 

The evening turned out to be one of my most favorite moments. All the women that I had been hiking with off and on for the last two weeks magically appeared and we gathered for one last time. We were from Germany, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland and the United States. Strong, beautiful and inspiring.  I could not have asked for a more perfect way to celebrate my little moment of history making in my life. 

From Wheat To Woods

Beldorado to San Juan Ortega, October 14, 2016

Today was a long 15 miler but the terrain changed so much it made it enjoyable. 

The trail went through a few small towns, and I mean small. Some of them with inhabitants of 100 people. At one point I came over a hill and heard Elvis music. I can upon this area with stumps of wood to sit and rest. 

On a women selling fruit water and of course wine. 

The nights albergue was in a monastery built by Saint John of Ortega himself, with the help of his friend and fellow saint, Domingo de la Calzada, around 1142 as a help point to the pilgrims. 

It had two rooms with 50 beds, a little cafe and a church. Mass was at 6 and the priest invited pilgrims to come up a read the readings and prayer of the faithful. When you walked in you could get a copy of the mass in your own language to follow along as the priest said the mass in  Spanish. So, when the pilgrims  came up to read it was said in their own language. It was truly wonderful. 

A simple meal was then served and off to bed before the lights go out at 10am sharp. 

Hey! Hay

Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado, October 13, 2016

Happy Anniversay Mom and Dad!

Today was a 14 mile hike through a lot of wheat farms. A lot of them.  

This was one of many stacks we saw. 

The weather turned to rain for the first time. So, guess what we couldn’t make?  A euro if you got that one. 

One of

Did You Hear The One About The Chickens In The Cathedral?

Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, October 12, 2016. 

Today’s 13 mile hike was through beautiful farmlands and vineyards. We are now in the La Rioja region, renowned for its superlative wines. And I will attest to that!  In fact, Kings and noblemen were proving the Camino through this region as early as the 11th century as a means of exporting its famous wine and wares through Europe-and a way to attract artists and stonemasons to build all of the amazing cathedrals and monuments I have been seeing along the route. It was in this region where the defeat of the Moors happened which gave a great boost to Christianity and by extension, the Camino de Santiago.  

Okay, I know you want to here about the chickens.   Well, The story goes that in the 14th century, a German 18-year-old named Hugonell, from Xanten, goes on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with his parents. A Spanish girl at the hostel where they were staying makes sexual advances toward Hugonell; Hugonell rejects her advances. Angry at this, the girl hides a silver cup in the German’s bag and then informs the authorities that the youth had taken it. Hugonell is sentenced to the gallows, in accordance with the laws of Alfonso X of Castile.

The parents sadly decide to examine their son’s body, still hanging on the gallows, but suddenly hear his voice –he tells them that Saint Dominic has saved his life. His parents quickly make their way to Santiago de Compostela to see the magistrate. The magistrate, who is at the time eating dinner, remarks: “Your son is as alive as this rooster and chicken that I was feasting on before you interrupted me.” And in that moment, the two birds jump from the plate and begin to sing and crow happily. 

And as early as 1350, it has been documented that there is  a cock and a hen in the cathedral. 

I could not get a good picture of them because of the light so I found one to show you up close. 

I have a great punch line for my headline, but since my Mom reads this blog I leave it just between us chickens. 

The Meaning of Life are the Moments in Your Life

Naverette to Najera, October 11, 2016

I had a wonderful conversation on a park bench tonight with Tamiara. It was after meandering through the town of Najera and we decided to sit awhile on a bench near the river. We talked about how the Camino represents life-your own life. 

You are always moving forward.  The miles have past and you don’t know what is ahead. The only thing you know is the road underneath your feet and in that moment there’s so much to look around and be thankful for – if you let it. 

If I only thought of the next town, the next albergue I would miss the moment the sunrise touched the hillside, the taste of fresh grapes growing on the vine just before harvest, the unexpected bench that appears to offer rest, and the opportunity to bless and wish everyone that passes me a good journey. 

There is a special moment that only comes with solitude when it’s just you your thoughts and with the Lord. For me it is the morning. It is quiet and the only sound you hear is your own footsteps. 

I’ve had some wonderful conversations with her and have experienced that moment where you knew you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. 

Yes, there are the struggles of hills, the pain of blisters and sleepless nights because of snoring and the wrestling of sleeping bags. My pack of burdens and regret gets very heavy at times. These too are the moments that give meaning to your life. 

Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise. 

Laura Song, Blessing

And, don’t forget to look for those funny times and laugh and smile as much as you can. 

Here’s the only picture of the day that I know you won’t forget. Even for a moment

Beun Camino