Today is my last full day in Spain until Steve and I reunite in Madrid on June 25. We spent the morning packing up our respective bags, mine to accompany me to England and Steve’s to stay here till he returns after completing his Camino. He left behind some things to lighten up his pack which always is a blessing!
The rest of the day was spent walking up and down every street in all of Santiago proper. It reminded me so much of Santa Fe with its over abundance of tourist T-shirt shops, cafes and trinket shops. It was another overcast day but free of rain, so that was nice. We re-visited the cathedral and again took some photos there and around town.
It will be very interesting for me over the next few weeks being in England, being away from Steve after spending 30 days side by side and not walking the Camino. I imagine that I will have a number of different feelings and responses. If you’ve been following me from the beginning you know that I had a number of anxiety reactions/attacks ranging from heart pain/palpitations, insomnia, hormone issues, weight gain and all around anxiety prior to my trip.
Since I’ve been in Spain, the only thing I have experienced have been a few nights of insomnia and an increased appetite which made a lot of sense when we were walking 10-18 miles a day but what has unfortunately continued since we’ve stopped!! I am hoping to have a good detox while I’m in England and resume my regular way of eating and take off some of the weight that I have gained. Regardless, Of anything else, I hope most importantly to have fun!
Again, thank you all for following me and please stay tuned for Pas Deux!!
And although this isn’t my MR2, it reminded me out what I would be doing tomorrow!! Adios, Estevan and Espana!!
Just a few minutes ago I told Steve that I really didn’t know what I was going to say in my blog today. He suggested that after dinner I might feel differently so we headed downstairs to borrow an umbrella and to get directions to the restaurant that our friend Bill Bennett recommended. The helpful inn keepers showed us the way but reminded us that the restaurants don’t open until 8:30 or 9 pm, so we headed back up to our room which is when I saw for the third time today the name St Salome on the placard outside our door. So many of the hotels, pensiones, alburgues and inns that we’ve stayed in have named the rented room after a saint or town but this is the first one that really jumped out at me. So since we had 30 minutes to kill and it was raining out making a stroll less attractive and we had wifi, I decided to find out who Salome was.
Salome, also known a St Mary Salome , is one of the 3 Mary’s present at the crucifixion of Christ. She is also the mother of St James and St John. But, what struck me as more fortuitous and ironic is that her feast day is October 22 and the write up that I chose was written on October 21. Perhaps you are wondering what the significance of those two dates might be. Well, October 21 was Steve’s deceased wife, Shelley’s birthday and October 22, was my fathers birthday! So, is this the Camino in action again? It sure seems like it, doesn’t it?
Earlier in the day we did tour the central part of Santiago beginning with the Parador Hotel which was originally a hospital. It is an incredible structure adjacent to the Cathedral and was also featured in the movie, The Way! Steve and I spent about three hours there exploring the hallways, listening to what was essentially a mariachi band but who were dressed in elaborate, colorful, decorative robes and sharing a mid day snack with a lovely couple from the Channel Islands.
I was totally taken with the landscaping of the court yards and the art that was displayed in the hallways as well as some of the architectural details. Hope you will enjoy their diversity as much as I did.
Last but not least we finally visited the famous cathedral where St James is said to be interred. I’d like to tell you that it was an unbelievable experience and how connected I felt to it but it just wasn’t that way. First of all I am much more familiar with churches in Italy where everyone is silent and reflective when they are visiting a sacred house like a church, cathedral or the Vatican. No photography is allowed and certainly no talking, laughing or carrying on. But here in Spain there seems to be a very different ethic. The Cathedral was busy, noisy and did not engage my spiritual side as I would have liked or hoped. But, that’s me.
Also, I had been so struck in the movie with the large statue of St James at the entrance of the Cathedral that I was sorely disappointed that it either did not exist or due to renovation, was missing. I definitely felt a sense of disappointment. Here are just a few shots that I had taken of the inside of the Cathedral.
Tomorrow if its not raining we will head out to one of the two final cities of the Camino that most pilgrims don’t visit. I will fill you in tomorrow as it is getting late and I don’t know exactly how to spell either one of their names properly!
So, Buenos noches.
At our last breakfast in Leon, who should appear but our lovely lady friends from Ireland. We all chatted and caught up with our plans. They are off to Bilboa and then will fly to Ireland and Steve and I off to Santiago. Seated from the left is Maura, Helen, Noreen and Rosemary. By the way, they loved my boots!!
We spent the early afternoon again bracing against the now winter-like conditions that have replaced the sunny weather of two days ago. We ended up at a Roman/renaissance fair which fit the town just perfectly. Sorry to say but it put our Thursday night Fair in Palm Springs to shame. The people, the food, the craftsman, the entertainment where all first class. Even though we had just finished a late breakfast we ate a tasty lunch under a Mediterranean canopy while we watched the natives and the rain.
The last thing I saw leaving the city were these two delightful reminders of the wonderful city of Leon (now I get it, Lion!) And one last look at the Cathedral and we were off!
All aboard!! We boarded our train on Platform 1 in Leon heading to Santiago de Compostela. I might not have walked it all but I still got here. Here are a few shots from the train. You can see how the terrain is totally different from the Meseta. No longer flat but much more like the start of the Pyrenees way back around May 18.
After a 5 hour train ride we finally made it into our final destination of Santiago. It immediately felt very different from the other cities we’ve been. It feels touristy. And if course that is just a 5 sec interpretation but it does not have the same feeling as Burgos or Logrono or even Leon. We have 3 days here so perhaps it will feel differently after we wake up fresh tomorrow.
We checked into our cute hotel and were told that the famous yellow box that we had shipped a month earlier was waiting for us! Sweeter words were never heard! I was going to have my favorite belongings in my hands and on my feet , so I was a very happy girl. Until, I don’t know what but suddenly Steve and I were like the two people we had come to dislike in Palm Springs! We had our first fight 30 mins after arriving here! Can you believe? The nice thing is we were able to let it go and within a short 10 mins ( which of course felt like a long 10 mins) were perusing menus trying to sort out where and what we were going to eat! So, it seems as if the Camino’s magic is continuing to work!
There is one more wonderful piece of news. Within seconds of putting on my stilettos, my foot pain was gone! For real, it’s like I had on my bedroom slippers! Thank you St. Servatus! ( and in case you don’t know, he’s the patron saint of foot problems!) So, alls well that end well here in the city of St. James, Santiago, Spain
As you know by now, Steve and I decided to catch a bus to the lovely city of Leon for two days of rest prior to taking the train to Santiago, where we will prematurely end our journey. Well at least that’s what the plan was. We arrived yesterday afternoon and walked to our hotel just a few blocks from the main Cathedral. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm, er actually hot. I know, now I’m complaining cause it’s too hot!!
We had a lovely lunch outdoors at a cafe with a delicious menu and perfect service. A bit more expensive then we had expected after eating “cheap” pilgrim meals but it was quite enjoyable
And of course is in viewing distance of the Cathedral which of course all these cities are built around.
Leon is renown for its unusual architecture which has so many different styles from Gaudi to classical French to Moor, reminding me of Barcelona, the French Quarter, not to mention Paris and actually reminded me a lot of Chicago, where I had lived for 8 years.
We ended up eating so much for lunch that we just had “nice-cream” for dinner. Now what you ask is “nice- cream”, well I’m not sure that I know but it isn’t yogurt and it isn’t ice-cream and actually tasted very similar to what we in Buffalo, NY called custard. Not NYC egg-cream, but something that I thought at the time tasted incredible. Anyway, we walked around for a few hours( like I hadn’t had enough) and of course went into every shoe store in town on my hunt for, what else, boots!!
To my delight, I found one pair that had heels. You see it turns out that flats are totally in right now,well at least here in Spain. I mean there must be 5 dozen different style boots, ankle to knee ( I did see only one over the knee style ) height with totally flat heels. Well, as you might have guessed I am not a girl who wears flats. No ballet flats, flip-flops( weren’t those called thongs back in the day) slip ons, kitten heels or for that matter wedges! Gotta have my heels, so I was pleased that I found one style at least.
Normally, I would stay away from any boot that resembles a cowboy boot ( because I already have like 10 pair) but little slouchy cowboy boots are also really big right now. So, as they didn’t have my size in black, I opted for the “blue jean” shade and attempted to wear them back to the hotel! Mistake! My blisters and fallen arch made it really clear that it wasn’t time yet. I only pray that I will be okay next week for my trip to England because I not only want to go sight seeing, but I want to go “dancing” and will cry if I have done anything to my feet that would prevent that. My life would not be the same!
Okay, winding this up here comes the clincher. This morning as we were walking to the travel agents office to secure Steve’s ticket he reveals that he might not be ready to end his journey, and thinks he wants to stay and finish walking the Camino! Well, Id like to say that I was shocked or surprised but to tell you the truth I kind of figured it out last night. You see Steve is the type of person who wants all his ducks in a row and needs to have a plan and a schedule. He had already contacted the agent he used in Houston to have her make the arrangements for our new plan. Interestingly, she made mine with no hitches , glitches or problems but when it came to Steve’s, well there were issues. At the exact same time Steve had been trying to post a blog which took him 3 days to eventually do. I remember thinking to myself, well you can’t inform your blogging followers of your decision and you can’t get a ticket out of this place , so maybe it’s not time for you to leave! But, I figured it wasn’t my place to tell him that as I think this is what his Camino is about. So, now Steve will come to Santiago with me and then will turn around on Monday and come back most likely to Leon and walk back to Santiago to complete his Camino. We will hook up on June 25 in Madrid to spend our last night comparing notes before going our separate ways the next day!!
So, never say never and keep tuned in cause only God knows what’s about to happen.
Believe it or not we have decided to say Adios to the Camino for the time being after having reached the half way point! I know, I know you probably can’t believe it. Not sure that we do either!
It kind of just happened. As you know I was unable to post for 2 days so let me catch you up from my last city of Castrojeriz. We stayed in a lovely room in a La Posada Hotel with the window open all night long because it was so comfortably warm. Can you believe!
However, the blister situation got more complicated. I developed 2 more blisters on the big toe and the nail on my baby toe split! Needless to say, that sucked. But, I kept on walking. I taped, I used compeed, I tried 2 different types of moleskin, along with some different socks and put tape around my instep to help it from not falling, and I kept on walking. We did 26 km that day and another 20 km yesterday. Until that unusual moment when Steve said his feet hurt and he didn’t know that he felt any conviction to keep on walking. He devised a plan where we could bus to Leon , the next big city on the Camino and then train or bus it to Santiago to collect our suitcase that we had sent off 3 weeks ago. I was surprised yet happy to hear that he too would go with me to Santiago as we had discussed many different options over the last week. Suddenly we had a plan.
Now , I’d like to explain a few things to you regarding this trip and some feelings that I had had prior to coming over. When I was graduating from high school it was fashionable to backpack thru Europe. But, I had graduated a year early from HS and was very torn between Europe and believe if or not California. I opted for Cali ( no surprise) and it wasn’t until I was 37 that I took my first trip to Europe. Now , in the. 90’s, when I co-owned a store in Santa Fe, I traveled almost exclusively to Poland to buy the artwork for the store, so I took an number of trips abroad. However, Steve and I only traveled to Europe once back in 2006 for a 10 day Mediterranean cruise that started and ended in Barcelona, Spain. So since 1999 the only time I’ve been in Europe it’s been to Spain! Therefore, when we decided to take this trip, where we were spending 6 weeks abroad, my hesitation was that I really wanted to enjoy either France or England. I kept trying to figure out how I could incorporate them into the trip but couldn’t see my way clear, that is until yesterday.
As it turns out , Steve was ready to go back to Texas and didn’t want to go anywhere else. So, we settled on spending the next 6 days together exploring 2 exciting, historic cities, still part of the Camino and then on Monday the 10th, he will fly back to the states and I will fly to England to do my “thing!!” I will be staying with a good friend of mine, who will also be hosting some mutual friends from So Cal, who also want to see Paris. So more than likely all of my dreams will come true thanks to the Chunnel!
Trust me when I tell you that we have both has mixed feelings about stopping. Those of you who know us, know that we are not quitters, but maybe that is exactly the point! Perhaps the Camino for us is to do something unexpected and not feel bad about it or have buyers remorse. (I think you know what I mean). After we made our decision we sat in an outdoor cafe ironically across from the bar that sold bus tickets! As we sat and contemplated our decision who comes walking up but the 2 people we had become closest too. We all sat and had a last drink together and then took a parting photo!
From the left its Janet Schwind, Steve Langham, Jill Langham, Clare Chua, Alex ?? ( never did get his last name)
Following are many shots from our last days on the Camino
Please notice the lovely blue skies and the flat lands that we walked thru. Quite a change from where we’ve been. Along the way we met another Shepard as well as a country donkey that was part of the contingent. We then met up with his townie cousin at lunch who really wanted to hang out with us!
We passed thru some quaint little towns separated by some unusual topography. At one point I thought I was stuck in a gigantic sand trap and another moment thought either Burt Reynolds or Horatio Caine where going to come flying thru on an airboat pursuing Smokey and the Bandit or a Cuban Mafia Kingpin !!
We ended up last night in the town with the first monastery that we has seen and it was appropriately named San Zoilo, Z for the end of the alphabet and our journey! They assigned us Room 21, appropriately my birthdate! It was a lovely property with many original structural beams and areas. Gregorian Chants could be heard eerily echoing through the hallways ( brought to you of course by CD and not the Monks who sing them so beautifully)
So, we have arrived in Leon where we will stay for the next 2 nights. I will continue to post as we have already run into a few other pilgrims who decided enough is enough ( at least for right now!)
For those of you who may decide to stop following my blog, thank you so much for accompanying me for what now will be referred to as My Camino; Pas Deux!
Again, no Wifi, so I will try to update you as to what’s been happening.
We left Burgos Saturday morning to begin the 2nd phase of our Camino, the Meseta. Leaving this city was a bit hard for me because it was the first city that I felt a connection with. I would have preferred to have stayed another night but at the same time am beginning to feel the time crunch about getting to Santiago on my birthday, June 21. So off we went. Here are as they say, are some parting shots:
Passing thru the farthest side of town afforded us to see some amazing shots of storks and stork nests high atop the churches. I think it must be a sign of good luck for storks to gather there as there is no indication that they are trying to prevent them from nesting. How lovely is that??
We encountered small churches along the way which were quite charming.
Not to mention some larger churches and a fabulous fountain full of faces! I love that!!
And then we hit the Meseta! My friend who had just been to Ireland confirmed that it does resemble the bluffs and the moors but I will leave it up to you to decide.
But, at the end of the day we had two different surprises. The first was an overnight stay at a hotel that at first seemed a bit like something from the “Shining” but ended up being an incredible stay with a charming host who wowed us with his wit and charm. The other was both a blister and a corn/callous that got inflamed! Yes, on my 16th day I got a blister from shoes that I have been wearing for 3 months now with no problems! The only thing I can figure is that the heel pain caused me to start walking differently which subsequently caused a blister to form and an old callous to be worn down. So when I put my shoes on this morning I just about died when I felt the pain. “Are you kidding me ?” Come on now, this was supposed to be the time that we made up time or at least got to chill out some. This wasn’t in the plan,was it??
It took alot out of me today as every step was a reminder of the blister on my big toe and the callous on the outside of my baby toe with the corn pain on the inside of that same baby toe leaving me to try and walk on my heel to avoid the foot pain. Amazingly I never noticed the heel pain! Now there’s a cure for ya!!
But we did have some great scenery along the 20 km stretch. Including the castle of our final town where we will spend the night. Hope you will enjoy them and that you have a pain free night!!
Well, it’s happened, we finally took a day off! Woohoo! We weren’t sure if we could get our hotel room for an additional day and were told to check with the reception desk at 10:00 a.m. So, we got up and had the last meal with our two French friends, Christiane and Ghislaine at 8:00 and then putzed around our room till the appointed hour, when we finally heard the magic words, “the room is yours.” Okay, so now what do we do? We go to visit the famous Cathedral of course!
Burgos is home to a 13th century Gothic Cathedral named Catedral de Santa Maria where El Cid and his wife Jimena are buried. Her little dog is curled up at her feet but it does not say if he too is entombed there. ( Bubbie, our dog, whom Steve has custody of, sleeps at his feet every night, so it was quite sweet to see this reminder)
The entry door as you can see is incredible and were we quite surprised to realize that the front of the Cathedral is deceiving in relation to its size which is massive. Once you enter it, you are struck by its depth and by the 22 or more rooms that it houses along with the main place of worship. WOW, is all that I can say. Talk about geniuses! Whether they were architects, artists, builders, quarryman, painters or holy man the amount of talent, vision and money is truly beyond belief and I’m sad to say puts many of our modern “works of art to shame” only in the thought, “will they stand the test of time?”
The ceilings fascinated me whether it be the shapes of roses or stars, or just great geometrics, I loved them all.
And finally for some dramatic patterns in my favorite colors of black and white tugging at my Art Deco heart.
My final shots include a painting of El Cid that I think may have been either a Disney inspired movie poster or a Romance novel cover and mock-up of the cathedral to show it’s expansive size.
All in all it was a great time and now were just gonna hang out, rest our bodies, catch up on some sleep and do tons of plantar fasciitis exercises to prepare me for our first day of the middle part of our journey called the Meseta, also known as the Death portion ( not real death , of course , but the death of all those unnecessary parts of our personalities that weren’t really working for us) So, please stay tuned!!
Well we were offline again last night so this is a combination of the last couple of days.
Wednesday began as we had come to expect with 4 hours of morning rain followed by the 4 hours of sun, followed by rain as we reach the town of the day. So now that we know the plan the only thing left to do is to accept it and like all things in life move on.
I’ve determined that it’s the rain gear on my bottom half that cuts off my energy and d-rains me ( get it). No, but seriously as soon as I take off my gaiters which are now in pieces ( the’re XL & were the only pair the man who sold them to me had & he told me they fit all sizes and of course they did get me thru that first snow storm but I mean really)and pull off my rain pants I’m the energizer bunny that you all know. Who knew??
Then, as a result of not having to wear that gear I was able to truck along at a great pace with little to no heel pain ( thank you heel angel who gave me an insert for my shoe that raised my arch and decreased the plantar fasciitis)How great is that.
When we first started out the wind was blowing straight into our faces so I pulled my scarf tight around my neck and covered the bottom half of my face. Kind of remind me of the Frito Bandito! We’d been warned the night before at dinner by a 14 year veteran of the Camino that we would have wind at our face the whole 24km. His name is Gerhardt, from of course, Germany. He is a mathematics professor and has walked each year since 1999. He told us that the elevation would be tough and the wind strong and he was right.
He volunteered that he was going an extra 3.9 km to the village beyond the suggested route from the book we were following and it was only this morning (Thursday) that we wished we had followed his lead. More on that later.
I was secretly praying for one day of no rain and as I was deep in thought I came up with a little mantra: ” No more wind, no more rain, please take away our pain!” And as I started saying it out loud, over and over again until I realized the sun was shining, the wind had died down and it did not rain( save for a few sprinkles and one minute of hail) I was a happy camper!
We got to our destination at San Juan de Ortega rather early and checked with the municipal alburgue for space, which they had. We were quite surprised because we had heard that it was full up and had actually made reservations at the same place Gerhardt had 3.9 km away. Boy do I wish we had walked on! For 5 euros you got your choice of a bunk in one of three rooms, two of which had heat after 10! Woohoo. No hot water in the building and meals at the bar between 7-8 only if you are seated. The alberque had 70 beds which were all occupied and the bar had seating for about 40! You do the math!!
This morning, after getting woken up, God knows how many times by people snoring, getting up to go to the bathroom, turning over in their bunk bed with old fashioned spring mattresses and by a woman who insisted on opening the window next to my bed to “get fresh air”, we got up and were out the door by 715! On the road again, we decided to grab a bite at the next town where Gerhardt had stayed. An hour later we entered the town of Ages, population 60! (San Juan: pop 20!) only to find 4 places to eat, one newer than the other! We saw the accommodations we had given up and realized we’d made a huge faux pas. Live and learn.
At one point we met a farmer and his herd of sheep. I took dozens of photos of them and have only included a few. What great subjects they are. Right after that we walked up our last hill of this phase only to see what reminded me of the “merry old land of Oz.” let me know if you agree? But looks are deceiving. From that view it seemed like we should be hitting the city in about an hour. But no, it was much farther than we realized.
We spent the remainder of the day heading to the long awaited destination of Burgos pop 175,000. It marks the end of phase One of the Way and is the beginning of what is known as the Meseta or Mesa or flat lands. Burgos dates back at least to the 12th century so you can imagine the history here. So, we’ve gone thru the mountains of France and now Spain and are now 40% through and we have walked 190 miles!!
We will either spend the next day here resting and recuperating or we will head into Phase Two. One of our blogging friends Bill Bennett made reference to the fact, as he was told, that Phase One is compared to our lives, filled with ups and downs, hi’s and lows.
Let’s see what Phase Two has on store. I predict warmer temperatures and like the second trimester of a pregnancy, good, stable growth period. Let’s see how I do!! Xoxo.
As much as i attempted to put the photos in after each paragraph, it is not letting me do it today. So you may want to refer to the photos after each break. Sorry.
After a delightful afternoon sitting in the sun drinking my second beer in 30 years, and enjoying clear skies with the local folk of Najara, we woke to a rain shower which dwindled to nothing within minutes of our 21 km day. We had stayed on the east side of town and I felt so good that I was snapping photos right and left. This town was made for me as you will see in the following shots!
As we walked up to the first hill of the many we would climb today, it began raining. We had just seen some beautiful scenery and seen the first of the new markers counting down our Kilometers to Santiago, when the sky opened up and it began pouring! For the next 1 1/2 hours this is all I saw! The red cover on Steve’s backpack said it all “sailors take warning”.
And if you are ever considering a mud pack for any of your ailments make sure you find an indoor spa rather than the roads we traveled today. Oh and by the way, gaiters work in rain but are really a pain in the mud. My feet felt like I was wearing concrete boots!
I have to admit that there is no better light for photographs than that of a rainy day. And as much as the scenery the last few days was rather monotonous and mediocre at best( I know, i know, all nature is beautiful) but today I felt like I was being transported to the bluffs in Ireland( from movies I’ve seen and novels I’ve read). The topography was incredible and assisted my sour, energy less mood. I’m not sure if it was a result of the cold I again woke up with at 2am that kept me up till 5 or the fact that I am more than likely dehydrated. Regardless, I didn’t let it stop me from smelling the roses as they say.
After we stopped for our lunch and rested my weary heel( yes, it is still a problem) and mildly drying Steve’s head to toe wet clothing we emerged to a gorgeous, sunny afternoon that elevated both of our spirits.
Although, we had intended to stay in a private pensione we ended up running into our friends Janet, Melanie, a girl who is basically a professional blogger that we started our trip with Day One in St Jean and a new blogger, who Steve has been following named Rocky. They were all staying at the largest and oldest alberque on the Camino, so we joined them in the charming town of Santo Domingo.
As you may have figured I wasn’t able to post this last night so here it is now. Wifi is sketchy at best. Enjoy. Xoxo