Friday, September 21, 2007

Hola de Santiago de Compestela

I have made it to Santiago on the 18th. I am in Madrid now visiting the city. Sad as it is my last night. I am to fly back tommorrow morning to London, Toronto then Seattle. I really will miss things here. I weighed myself today lost 25-30lbs. My body had changed from walking 500 miles. I still can not believe it when I look at myself. Changes are not all on the inside.

August 15th

The Irish girls wanted to find a bar that played the world cup in Rugby. It is Saturday night and Spanish soccer rules. We did manage to find a place. The Irish girls drank 2 bottles of wine each and I had a couple of beers. I had met Arturo from Portugal. He came in the bar to see what we were doing. I learned some new things tonight. First Galacia the last part of Spain on the camino is so green. Looks just like Seattle area. So weird to get off the train were it was hot and desolate like the plains of US to such green and lush view. Second lots of history here. Celtic ties. Irish music in the stores and mystical believes. While the Irish girls were watching the rugby match I chatted with Arturo and the owner of the bar. He told me to try Orojo. Local drink. Quite strong. He then wanted me to come back at midnight for a quimada. It is a blessing/spell for the camino. He would not give it at 11pm. We had to go back to the albergue. I was tempted to leave
and go back to find out about quimada but did not want to get locked out. Went to bed instead.

August 16th

Walked to next town. Had dinner with some new Spanish friends and Arturo from Portugal. and with Irish girls. Because Irish girls much slower I had decided to go on my own after this night. Got emails and will write.

August 17th

Walked morning by myself. Quite nice. I have never walked any of the camino by myself and decided needed to. Put in IPOd to keep people from talking to me. Only worked until after lunch. I took ipod out and heard American English. I have met my first American. He was walking with an English girl and German guy. I ended up hanging out with them and played cards until bedtime in the next town.

August 18th

My last day on the Camino. I got to Santiago about 2pm. I met alot of people now so close to the end. One person every 50 feet. The woods smell like home except for that there are so many Eucalyptus trees. It will be my memory of the road to Santiago. The smell of Eucalyptus. I went fast as I have alot to do in Santiago. I can walk about 5km an hour now. My feet are pretty bad now. I am glad to have skipped 7 days. I though how sad to come into the city alone. Just as I was feeling bad I had a tap on the shoulder. I was Katia. I cannot believe we met up in the city of 50,000 on different days than we we both thought starting together. The Camino is strange this way. Always giving you what you need. We hung out all day. I recieved my certificate for completeing the camino. Ate the local octupus speciality and saw the famous cathedral. I am sad to fly out tonight as my name will be read at noon mass tommorrow along with my age and country of origin. I hope I represented well.

August 19-22

Adios until tommorrow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hola de Portomarin,España

Sept 13th

Going into Leon. Day started off bad. They had the pilgrims go across bridge on 4 lane highway into city. I tripped and fell almost into traffic and scraped my knee and tore my pants. The only thing good is that it made me stop itching my bug bites because my knee hurt more. We stayed in the abbey with nuns. Very clean and welcoming to pilgrims plus 2 blocks from Leon Cathedral. I put 2 links on site to right. Amazing building. I had been depressed about not seeing Lety and knowing that I only had another day with everybody before going on to Sarria. I was hanging my clothes out to dry when guess who had stayed to find me. Lety!! She and I are like sisters. We both love to laugh, are spontaneous, though it gets us into trouble sometimes, and love travel and adventure. We sat and chatted. She had stayed at the other albergue that does not have a curfew and had gone out till 1am night before. She met another Spanish amigo to travel with. He had done the route last year on bike. They were going to Astorga and wanted me to go with them. If I could quit my job and go I would. We sat and chatted and agreed to met in Astorga tommorrow and then I could take the bus from there to Sarria. I went to find the rest of my friends. In Spain everyone goes to the Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is in every city. Found Toiya, Tony and Theda. They were surprized to see me and that I had found them. Found out the 3 French I have seen the last week where at the next table. They speak English. We chatted. Tony laughed with the waiter. 3 Germans other table, 2 sweet French girls on the other side that also spoke English. Tony was the only one who does not speak English and the only Spanish. Funny in his country. Toured Leon cathedral. Amazing. Saw 10th century church Basilica and other famous sites. Went to bus station for next day ticket. OMG they are idiots. Tony who is Spanish was so frustrated with me. You can only get as far as Villafranca from Leon. The next stage you are in a new county and they do not have a phone number to contact nor is there a schedule. They only know one bus daily and you should ask someone in the village when it leaves and where. What!!!? The autobus lady then got frustrated with us and turned her back on us. We then headed to train station. I can get as far as Sarria on the train for a little more money around 20 euros. I had to take it. I will have to walk 30km a day to make it to Santiago by 19th as is. I have underestimated the time it will take to walk the Camino by a week and because of my blisters. Amazing that a 4 hour train ride saves you 7 days walking. But because I need to get to Santiago by 19th I can not stop in Astorga. I am going to cry. Toiya wanted to go to the mass in Leon Cathedral but because so much time was spent helping me we must eat dinner and return to albergue for curfew. Went to the 10 pm mass in the abbey. I am really getting more spiritatual on the camino the longer I walk. The service was very nice.

Sept 14th

I have walked with about 100 people a day. Most are familiar faces now on the Camino and near the albergues in the cities. Though I have not had a chance to chat with all of them 30 came to give me hugs when they found out I needed to take the train closer today. I will keep in contact now with about 30 people including the 3 French. I am crying again. We went to mass in Leon Cathedral. How many people can say that. Not only do the Spanish not charge to go into the church it still has mass daily. I can not express how amazing the sound was with the singing. You can see why the church was built for vocal expression. Cried again saying bye to Tony and Toiya. Promise to write and visit. Theda came with me to train station. Cried again saying bye. Met two Irish girls on train with same problem as me and they were sad to leave their friends. We traveled together to Sarria. The new albergue was horrified to find out about the bedbugs and I am to write in Santiago where I think I got them and they will investigate. Toiya, Lety, me and now Gronya who has them too

Sept 15th

Walked to Portomarin today with Gronya and still trying to figure out other girls name. First time in weeks can talk fast and easy in English and it is their native tongue too. We are making dinner tonight in the kitchen. Not sure if I can travel the whole way to Santiago with them as they have an extra day than me. At least through tommorow. Cried again today. Lety had been so happy to get to Astorga to see me and when got email she cried that I was not meeting her. Now I am crying that she cried. The camino is very spiritual and I now understand why people do it 5 times or more. Connections to the human spiriti like you can not believe. It is what I talked about with the Irish girls today. The camino has changeed me in so many ways.

Talk soon

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hola de Mansilla de los Mulas

Yes the town has something to do with mules at one time hence the name. Kinda funny.

Sept 9th

Stayed in Convent with Spanish nuns as municipal Albergue was full. Bad idea. Lety ended up going to hospital for rash. Had a great Spanish lunch in cafe. Learned today about meals in Spain. There are five desayuno, al muerzo, comida, merienda, and cena. The last starts at 10pm. I cannot eat that many times a day. Tony loves to eat all the meal times and enjoy the siesta. I finally had to stop going out today after merienda. I was too full for cena.

Sept 10th
Lety stayed in Carrion de los condes for another doctor diagnosis. I should have stayed with her. She said she was fine. I continued on. though about her all day. I started itching. Learned I had been bitten by bedbegs. Lots of Spanish names for these. I have bites everywhere including my face. Learned Rascar-to itch in spanish. Picadura-bug bites. My vocabulary increases by 20 words daily. We ended up in a nice Albergue waiting for Lety. She did not show up. worried we called all the albergues on the way. found her in the town before us. She also had reacttion to bedbugs and given injection. talked to her awhile and went to bed.

Sept 11th

went to an albergue that ate dinner and breakfast together. Cute young hospitaliero (guy that runs the albergue) flirted with me. Toiya and Tony in their 60´s consider my their daughter and were given him a bad time. went to watch a game of Patonca. Spanish game where a small red ball is thrown and two teams with bigger balls try to throw closest to red ball in sand. all the old guys in town were playing. when they saw us watching they asked use to join. I was the only girl. did alright for not knowing how to play and comprehension about 30 percent of conversation. titar -to hit in Spanish. watched the sunset in town with everybody. Kinda nice. town like south dakota desolate in the plains of Spain. Saw some news about US rememberence of 9-11 on the news here. Not to much about US comes through Spanish news other than Iraq war. Been invited anytime to visit Japan to see Toiya and his wife. I have met so many people here.

Sept. 12th

Have lost Lety, so sad she is on her way to Leon. At super nice alburgue today. decontaminating everything. I will be in Leon tommorrow and will have to take the autobus to get ahead after that. Will miss my other new friends and will have to start over. Hopefully will keep in touch I have met through email. Katya emailed me she is ahead past Leon. I will try to met her so I know someone from before in Santiago. I am in a bar on internet. Weird drunk Spanish guy just kissed the top of my head. I must now tell him to keep his distance. Running out of euros. See you tommorrow in Leon.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hola de Carrion De Los Condes

I am having a cafe con leche and writing on the computer in a cafe.

Sept 7th

After exploring the town and looking for Lety twice she found me at my Albergue. She was in a private one that was more hippy than anything. I sat and enjoyed the sun with her at her Albergue. At 8pm I went back to mine. I sat with Toiya and practiced Spanish until bedtime.

Sept 8th

Left with Toiya and his new Pelogriño friend Tony from Valencia. Rule: no English. I learned alot in 8 hours of walking. Feel better about communicating. We arrived in Fr´omista about 2pm. Was getting hot. Lety arrived about 30 minutes after us. We each have our style. She goes slower and I wait for her in the town. Seems to work out better. I had the Pilgrims special at the bar with Toiya and Tony. The town was closing for a parade. We joined in the crowd. I am not sure why there was a parade. Something to do with a Saint. The children were doing a local dance. Great fun. Took lots of pictures. Bad news, I took off my bandages. 9 ampollas are almosted healed. 1 was infected and had alot of bruising around it from the pressure of the shoe against the blister. I had to go to the pharmacy (farmacia) again. I hoped on vacation not to be in the pharmacy so much. Tony is an expert on Ampollas having made the trip to Santiago 5 times. The Spanish pharmacist gave me more special bandages and some betadine and an insulin needle. Tony had to use the needle to extract 1ml of fluid from my foot and inject back in the betadine to get rid of any infection. Toiya held my shoulders down as he injected the Betadine. OUCH! Afterwards off to the bar where everyone gathers to eat and drink suddenly reopened. We had some wine and went to bed.

Sept 9th

Slept and my foot already is much better. Does not hurt to touch. Walked with Tony and Toiya again as Lety slept in a little longer. Again no English to be spoken. I have become a better listener. Met Theda ( a German dentist from Goettingen) she joined us our travels. Saw some old churches and had lunch at a nice cafe. It was close to 30 degrees today. Hopefully will stay nice weather for the rest of the journey. After the cafe Lety caught up to us. There was also this cute dog that reminded my of my dogs. Spanish looooove dogs. They are everywhere even in the cafes. I wanted to take the dog with me. We walked into Carrion de los Condes. The first person we saw was sitting on the side of road fixing his bandages on his foot. He was named Siento Picasso from the Phillipines and walked from Le Puy, France so far. He had just pulled out his second toenail. Everyone now does not feel bad for me as this guy was a mess. I hope he makes it to Santiago. He planned to walk 50km today. We only walked 18km. I was to walk 38km but needed to take it easy on my foot. Because I am a little behind I must at Leon take the Autobus to Ponteferrada to make up some time. Darn Ampollas. Will write soon.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Hola de Castrojeriz, España

Sept 5th
Walked to Burgos. OMG my feet are on fire. It is about 50km including the city of 100,000. The albergue is on the OTHER side of town. 10km through the streets of Burgos getting lost. I was so tired could not even enjoy the Burgos Cathedral. Barely made it to the Albergue at 2050 pm. They yelled at us for coming late and were not going to give us a bed until they saw where we came from. We got the last bed. Had to share with Lety. They had so many people that the bunk beds were pushed together. 3 Italian bike riders on the Camino were next to us and above us in the bunks. Our bed was original another guys but because we would be next to the strange French guy from the other day we switched. The Italians loved it. Keep kiddding to the one guy sleeping next to us that he had two women in is bed and snapping photos at us in the dark. Everyone in the room was laughing. So tired from walking 12 hours slept immediately.

Sept 6th
In morning the cute Italians still laughing about accomidations. Got European kiss on both cheeks from them.We got some pictures of us together. They will ride 100km we will walk 20km. The Swiss girls from the Paella party in Logroño are here. One has decided to bike the Meseta from now to Astorga. We shall see. Saw Burgos Cathedral and some other site seeing. Amazing. Try to walk about 30km today hopefull but only made it to Hornillas.
Hornillas is a dirty little town in the middle of no where. Walked from Burgos. Met a Spanish chica from Mallorca. She speaks some English so she walked with us today. Staying in a silo/gym because rooms are full. Mattress on floor with about 20 of us in the room. Had another great bottle of wine with Lety and Berlin(from Mallorca) until she met someone from Barcolona and took off. Another guy sat down at the kitchen table. Roberto from Spanish. Another bike rider. Will probably not see again. Great fun drinking wine with him too.

Sept 7th
I am in Castojeriz the largest town I have seen since Burgos. Has amazing cathedral built around 1100. Paid a Euro to see the inside. No photos allowed but pretty amazing with the arches and stonework and stained glass. I am in a nice albergue. Very clean and hip. All modern with video games and washer and patio to have coffee on. I am in a bar on the internet. Able to communicate better and understand more and more Spanish. The day is beautifull at 26 celcius and not a cloud in sight. Lety needed some space it seemed today. Not sure where she is at the moment. I walked with this Austrian this morning. He is like the 7th person I have met that has walked out his door to walk the camino. Will by Santiago walked 3000km!!! He has lost 20kg already. Met some Irish guys coming into the town. Will see who is here by tonight.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hola de Burgos,Spain

It is early here. Everyone woke up around 6am. Could not sleep.

Sept 3

Nothing rememberable. We finally reached the boarder from the Rioja region. It was like Sonoma Valley in California without the commercialism. Endless fields of grapes. We saw again some Danes and met a new guy half German-Dutch grew up last 4 years of high school in US. He has an American accent kinda weird. I finally saw my first American working at an Albergue in another town where we were asking for directions. Anyway more on the German-Dutch guy later. We made it to some small town population 300 for the night. There is nothing but wheat fields before the mountain into Burgos. The albergue was pretty basic. Since nothing to do in the town Jan the German-Dutch guy and some others drank themselves into a stupor. Of course he was our bunk mate. Snored (Reconadar-spanish for to snore) like you would not believe. Left early the next morning.

Sept 4

Lety had pains in her knee. We had hoped to make it to Villafranca de la Oca but we only made it 10km into Villamajor. It was raining and cold. Town again about 200 people. We got there about 1pm. At first kinda depressed with the weather, speed and what to do for the day. Went to the Pannaderia and bought some ham,bread, cheese and wine. 3 euros gets you a nice bottle of wine here near the wine country. We sat at the table. Because of the weather everyone was giving in early before the mountains and stopping here. We met another fun Spainish family of 4. The retired father was telling dirty jokes that I half got. We spent the next couple of hours talking. My Spanish is getter better. We saw at least 4 Germans, the Danes and some others from previous Albergues so we had plenty to talk to. We did not mean to finish the wine but conversation was fun. Perfect time for Siesta. Met strange French guy that came in late. First to speak English to me. He said he begged his way through the Camino. More on him later. We went to bed early.

My time is up. I will write later today on the adventure to Burgos

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hola from Azofra, Spain

Hola, I am in pilgrims paradise. Will explain below.

August 31 continued

Escabamos de Alburgue. Once we escaped the Alburgue and went out we immediately ran into the 5 Spanish. Now it was tough. Javier from the family did not know the 5 Spanish though both had been walking the same route. When we had checked into the hotel the manager forgot to give us keys to the door. Jave had the only set. Can not lose him. We started off together but lose Jave in the crowds. Luckily we called him and he was sitting with about 20 other Spanish. He was kinda mad. Told him to hang out with us. Had many shots of some kind of Spanish liquor. We then decided to go dancing. Danced until 5am. Turtolitos not getting along. Have great pictures. Javier and the 4 Spanish guys hit it off. Walked back to the hotel and crashed.
Realized many pictures were taken. Cannot wait to see them.

September 1

Woke up with terrible headache. Bo Kwong (Spanish name of Letti because Spanish cannot say her name. Will refer to her as Letti from now on.) had huge bruise on foot. My feet are a mess. Dancing was not productive for healing the blisters. Can barely walk now. We went out with the 11 Spanish for breakfast. Saw the 5 Spanish and 11 Spanish off on trains. Very sad. Do not know where my German friends are either.

We walked only 9km to next Spanish town of Naverrete to stay. My feet need to rest. Found out how to care for feet and not get blisters. Will write a page on this later. Anyway Naverrete is a horrible strange town like some where you would see in a horror film that seemed quite but had strange vibe. First town with no Holas, Buen Camino, and lots of stares. Also had a wedding at the great Baroque church, Everyone dressed up and made me miss my real clothes. Cheap Albergue was completo (see a previous post for this word) had to stay in private for 10 euros. We were so sad not to reconize anybody on the street. At the Albergue it was almost filled with strange, boring people. Only a dutch couple to talk to. Everyone else keep to themselves and went to bed at 9pm. We were so depressed just went to bed too.

September 2

We woke up and walked to Azofra. On the way passed through Na'jera. It is the furniture capital of Spain. Like North Carolina to us. Had a great lunch of tapas and coffee con leche. Gonna miss those in the U.S. Snooped through the town. Made it to Azofra about 4pm. This is the most amazing Alburgue for 5 euros. Built eco-friendly with pool, garden, patio, two beds per room, clean, kitchen and lots of vending machines even a coffee one. Because it is Sunday nothing open. Can not get breakfast at the pannaderia. Vending machine next best thing. Of course nothing is perfect. This town has so many flies. They are on everything. Terrible. First thing in the Albergue we ran into yoga Spanish couple ( so sweet, they are the Spanish that was in room with weird French guy in Zubiri, saw them do yoga standing on their heads, got a picture, she always looks perfect with make up) Australian Dutch couple from Zubiri, German guys from going to Los Arcos, the Dutch couple from yesterday, met a Swedish lady named Anna ,nice, and this Swiss lady that we walked with this morning. She forgot her creditial and had to take the bus back from Najera to Naverrete (only 20 minutes) last night. This morning there are no buses on Sunday so walked with us and it took 4 hours by foot. Town full of holas also. Nice to see familiar faces again.

Hasta Luego Michelle

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hola from Logroño, Spain

Ampollas,Turtolitos,Tuerta, y Cincinati. To be explained below.

I had waaaay to much fun last night. Did not sleep until 5am. And got up at 8am so quite groggy.

New words in Spanish

August 30th

In Los Arc0s we did not stay in the first nice Alburgue but went on to the bigger one in the middle of the city. It was where most of the Spanish are. I did not realize when I planned my trip that the Spanish have the month of August off. Every Spanish person here is doing the Camino for only 10 days as part of their vacation and will continue in the city next year where they left off. I am sad to find out that most of the Spanish people will be going back to work September 1st. Which explains the empty bakeries in the morning. I am something of a novelty to the Europeans being the only American that I know of on the Camino. The closest I have found have been some Canadians from Quebec and Toronto. The Germans have had this famous comedian in their country write a book about the Camino. The book is number one on their best seller list and everyone from Germany is walking the Camino which explains why I have met so many Germans. I came to Spain to experience Spanish culture but will be more difficult now with every one back at work. Next time I will come in August. For now I will hang out with the Germans as they speak English. The French I just speak my few words with.

After finding something to eat we met up with the 5 Spanish. The 4 guys are friends from college walking together. Alexia is from Barcelona. She met Rafael one of the 4 guys on the camino. The other 3 guys tease them by calling them Turtolitos. Turtolitos is Spanish for lovebirds. They are sweet together. The 3 guys now hang out together. And Alexia and Rafael usually a bit behind them. We ran into them at the bar for tapas since nothing else open during the Siesta. Had a great time spending the evening with them. Had 2 hour dinner and dessert. While at dinner one of the guys asked where I was from. Seattle. Near Wisconsin he asked. No. By Cincinati? NO. The other way. They thought is was great fun to not know where Seattle was. Now all the Spanish on the Camino call me Cincinati.

On the way back from dinner it was cold. I started running back to the Alburgue. One of the Spanish guys tried to out run me. I beat him. Everyone started chanting Cincinati. He told me he was a gentleman and let me win. Everyone was laughing. Went to bed to the sound of multiple people snoring like bad music.

August 31

We left Los Arcos for Logroño. We were in the room with the Turtolitos. The 3 Spanish came in. Desayuno Turtolitos! and Hola Cincinati and Koreana. Sigh. I started walking with Bo Kyong and some of the other Spanish people. Then we walked with some Austrians (father and son). Then we came across the 11 spanish family. I started walking with Javier again. 7 hours later arrived in Viana. Great small city with amazing church. I never get tired of sitting in the pews and staring at everything. Great feeling of peace. Had tapas and vistited the Pannaderia for some great pastries. I can eat anything I want after walking 7 hours. Then I took of my shoes. Ampollas are blisters in Spanish. I know have 8 blisters between both feet. Ran into the Turtolitos. We are to met in Logroño for a special dinner as this is the last night for the Spanish. It took another 4 hours to get to Logroño because I had to stop because my feet hurt so bad. At the Albergue the man said that people had been looking for us. We checked in. Cold shower and bad beds. Off to the pharmacy to fix my blisters. They have blister stuff right in front. Very common on the Camino. While in great pain fixing my blisters this Spanish guy on the street wanted to have drinks. I was in such pain I could only look up with a pained expression. Felt bad as he walked away. I was not even nice. We called Alexia for the party. I felt bad because we were late. When we got to the party we saw that it was only desert. NO paella. It turns out the two other Spanish cooked for everyone they liked and met on the Camino. Two Swiss girls, Toya the guy from Japan, Bo Kyong and I and lots of Spanish Pilgrims. Everyone Spanish is stopping. Alexia was upset with us for not staying in a hotel. You must be in the Alburgue by 10pm or get locked out. The Spanish do not start anything before 10pm as they have the long Siesta in the afternoons. After desert,pictures, and some beer we left very sad. Everyone felt the same. Back at the Alburgue with 10 minutes to spare. Suddenly Bo Kyong came in and said the Javier was here and we had we not called him as it was the families last day also. He told us to go out with him and leave the Alburgue. The people there thought we were crazy. Left before they locked the gate with everything a mess. Stayed in a hotel room with Bo Kyong. The family had a whole suite. We went out dancing and drinking until 5am. We ran into the 5 spanish and many others. Alexia was so happy.

Ran out of time will write tonight from next town.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hola from Los Arcos, Spain

I am in Los Arcos now.

August 28th

The Basque party was a great hit. I forgot to mention that this is the area where the ETA and Spanish have been fighting. A strange Marilyn Mason like Basque man was hitting on me at the bar. No thanks. Zunkel was laughing saying that he could find more normal people in Berlin and thought what a strange place with such religious people to have such characters in the bar.

August 29th

Woke up with people leaving soooo early. Toiya was in the room with me. It was good to see him again. I left the Albergue at 8am with Bo Kyong. Saw the famous bridge in Puenta de la Reina that was built by the Romans and had breakfast in a cafe. The town was quite quaint with back streets and cafes. While there we met the 5 Spanish, who were upset that we did not go to their party in Puenta de la Reina. We are to meet in Estella. Also met the 11 Spanish. This is a family 30-70 years of age all traveling together. The cafes and Alburgues get all worked up when they see the family as they take up quite a bit of room. Bo Kyong was walking slower and slower and finally we lost her along the way so I walked with Javier ( a brother in the family) . He spoke great English and helped me understand the Spanish. We had a great time walking to Estella. About 7 hours walking. The amazing thing is it takes 30 minutes by bus. I will never look at 26 km in the same way again. I am getting very tan and my pants are loose after a week. Javier liked that I played soccer but was amazed that a girl played on co-ed team. Does not happen in Spain. He has been playing on a team for years. I will have to ask him again. It had a funny name. Once in Estella the family went off to try to find 11 beds. I sat in the grass and waited for Bo Kwong. I took of my shoes and got stung by a bee. Decided she could meet me at the Alburgue. I took a shower and came back out. Bo Kyong had arrived. We and the 5 Spanish hung out on the benches outside the Alburgue drinking Spanish beer from the vending machine. Went out to dinner and had a great time having tapas. Slept poorly as weather is changing and I was cold.

August 30

Today I hurt. My feet hurt after walking over 120 km. I am starting to get a blister so put some moleskin on it. I did not realize that breakfast was only served between 6-7am. We left without breakfast again. Thought next couple of towns would have food. No comida. I do not understand the Spanish. It depends if it is open or not I do not know what else to say other than that. I walked another 6 hours today without something to eat. Since I already ached it was worse. When I got to Los Arcos it looked like a very small town with like 10 buildings. It was strange. The city is big with all these side streets and cafes inside. Learned my lesson and bought a bunch of snacks for the road ahead. I do not care if they weigh me down. We stopped at the first albergue and ran into part of the 11 Spanish family. We were going to stay, they had beds but then decided to stay at the muncipal one instead where the 5 spanish are. We said we would met. Learned that of the 5 spanish the one girl did not know the 4 guys before the camino. She is now dating one of the guys for 3 days now. Had a great lunch of tapas and a Siesta. Oh that is the other thing everything closes 3-5pm. Bo Kwong and I walked fast to get to Los Arcos once we realized that. We need to go the pharmacy but need to wait until after 5 to do so. Tommorrow have been invited by the 5 Spanish to go to Logroño nightclub instead of staying in the Alburgue. I have a feeling will not sleep. Will keep you posted.

Hasta Luego

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

hola from Estrella, Spain

I am having the time of my life and have mannnny stories now to tell. The Camino is like the road on Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter mixed. Everything I wanted it to be and more.

August 26th

After coming back from the internet cafe I went back to the Albergue where Dwoerthe has finally shown up. She was about 30 minutes behind me. She told me of this strange French guy in the bed below her. He refused to speak French with her and told her in English not to move in the bed above at night. Katja came about 15 minutes later and our Alburgue was full. She had to go to the giant one with everyone sleeping together. We decided to meet for dinner at 7pm. At the restaurant it was myself, Katja, Dwoerthe, an Italian/Hungarian who spoke no English/German, a German from former East Berlin who spoke German and Russian. Next to us was the Japanese guy (Toya), the Dutchman ( who walked out his door in the Netherlands 900 km later and is still walking towards Santiago now), and two more Dutch. We had a great dinner and headed back to the Alburgue.

August 27th

The strange French guy had gone to bed at 9pm though lights out are at 10pm. He screamed at anyone coming in to shut the door. About 6am everyone in the room (8 people total me,Dwoerthe,a Spanish couple, an English couple, lady below me and French guy) heard someone going through their things. It was the French guy looking for his Creditial to be able to stay in the Alburgue. Dwoerthe started yelling back that he would not find it in her bag. It woke everyone up. The English couple started argueing with him also. Now everyone was awake. The French guy was not even embarassed, just brushing his teeth. We decided to get cafe con leche at the bar from the previous night before walking to Pamploma. The bar of course was closed for some reason. We decided to go to the next town for breakfast about 3km away. It was Dwoerthe and I. She had bad blisters on her feet now and was going slower. When we got to Larrasoaña it was like a ghost town. A Spanish guy with a dog said that it was closed. While I was waiting on the bench for Dwoerthe to fix her shoe Bo Kyong came by. She is a pilgrim from South Korea. She speaks great Spanish, better than me. No coffee we told her. The English couple came by. No coffee. The Dutch came by no coffee. About 20 other people came by no coffee here. The Spanish guy said there was a vending machine in the next town. We shared what was in our pockets, a cracker, granola bar and a banana and set off with Bo Kyong,Dwoerthe and myself. 2 hours later in a middle of another deserted village was a lone vending machine. Nada mas. Everything but the Sprite button was sold out. No Caffine. 4 hours later we came to the outskirts of Pamploma. I have never been so hungry in my life. We ate and ate. All the same people came after us looking the same way. Every one stopped and ate. Lesson of Spain. They close things on a whim. Always carry extra on you. Pamploma is a wonderful city. You come through a draw bridge and see the old castle walls. The city is so colorful with the buildings all a different color. As the 3 of us were walking toward the Alburgue Toya came around the corner. He helped us find the new Alburgue. I in life have not had good money luck but always seem to have good travel luck. The Albergue was clean and only 13 days old with a better kitchen than mine. Free washer and 1 euro dryer. Washed clothes where I met up with the 5 Spanish traveling together. Katja joined us there after getting lost on the bus from the town where we finally ate. We went out to explore the city. Not enought time to really see to much. Saw the street where the running of the bulls is located. Katja went one way and Bo Kyong and I another. We arrrived back at the alburgue at 10:02 after some wine and tapas to find the door closed. Luckily Katja was waiting at the door and let us in. I have finally gotten over my jetlag and was able to sleep.

August 28th

The nuns start kicking you out at 7am though you technically have until 8am. The cute 5 Spanish told us to leave early as it was going to get hot. Dwoerthe said she could not go on because of her blister and wanted to stay in Pamploma to see the city. Dilemma do I go on with Bo Kyong or stay with the German girls............................I decided since one of the reasons I wanted to go on the Camino was to make changes in my life and to put myself in unknown situations. I chose to leave with Bo Kyong onto Puenta de la Reina. It was so hard. The German girls and I had bonded over the Pyrennes. We exchanged emails and agree to catch up at Burgos in about a weeks time. We left after having a great breakfast and seeing the city together. It was about 11am when we left. OMG mistake. Once we started walking outside the city I looked at my thermometer. 110 degrees.....It was a long and painful day in the sun. We ran into another cute German guy named Zunkel. He decided to walk with us awhile. We had a great chat and because we were walking slow in hot sun he decided to walk faster on his own. We got lost a couple of times and decided to follow the road. Finally at the top of the mountains. We met another Spainish guy. He only had 2 stamps on his Credital. St. Jean and Zubiri. See my posts. He did over 50 km a day! 60ish. Damn. The other Spanish bike rider that was listening called him correo camino (beep Beep road runner in English.) Going down the mountain in the heat was just as hard. At the top of a town about 3 before our destination I ran into Zunkel. He wanted to go on with us. I saw some of the French from the first night in the first town. Bonjour. On we went. The 5 Spanish yesterday had invited to a party at the Alburgue in Puenta de la Reina. Zunkel in the town before Puenta de la Reine asked if we wanted a beer. It was so hot. We stopped. After the beer decided to just stay in the Basque town of Obano for the night at their alburgue. We got the last beds as their was a fiesta that night. We decided to go to the only bar to get some food. A Basque man (Ignostio) befriended us. Lots of Spanish beer. He told us he wanted to us to see the Toro de la Fuego. What is the Toro de la Fuego I asked. Come he said. OMG. It is this metal Bull head with all these fireworks shooting out the head. A person is inside and runs around chasing people. The children were crying. He charged us and I felt something hot. All the fireworks (like Sparkalers) had singed my shirt. I ducked down. Crazy Basque. The partied until 4am. We had to return at 11pm or be locked out. Crashed.

I am running out of Euros for the internet. I will continue with more stories tonight.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Zubiri, Spain

looking onto Zubiri

and a town between Roncevalles and Zubiri...

My in the Pyrennes somewhere and some wild horses that live there, to the left is a picture of signs leading to Pyrennes from St. John Pied de Port...

Hola from Zubiri, Spain currently 91 degrees and hot.

August 24th

Loooove St. Jean Pied de Port. I started on a little red train that takes you up to the pass of the Pyrennes. The view is fantasic. I thought the Pyrennes would be like Snoqualmie area of the pass but they remind me of the San Francisco Bay (Marin County) area, almost sub tropical with Banana plants and Hibiscus flowers in the yards. St. Jean Pied de Port is the best of Europe. There is an old Citadel with the city inside the walls that you can walk on. The Espirit de Chemins hostel was the best place I have stayed at in a long time. The owners are Dutch and didicate 6 months to the pilgrims that want to do the Camino. Only 13 people allowed at any one time. On the 23rd 8 French, 1 dutchman, 1 Japanese, 1 Chilean, 1 German, and 1 American (me). Everyone sat together and talked about the camino and gave helpful hints. It felt so great to have everyone together wanting to do the same thing. I spent the day exploring the city, some built in 1500´s. The church was amazing built I think in the 1100´s. Everything before that was burned down in varies fires. Learned alot more French to be able to communicate on the streets. Had a fabulous dinner with everyone from the hostel outside. I have finally adjusted to culture. Feeling more comfortable and even understand some German when Katia and Dwuarta talk to each other. My jet lag is going away also, 9 hours ahead here. I wasn´t hungry or sleeping when I should and finally catching up on both.

August 25th

Crossed the Pyrennes. OMG it was hard. Katia (the German) and I decided we did not want to go it alone so started walking together. About an hour into it another German from another hostel in town named Dwuarta joined us. It started raining and was so steep. Orisson, the mountain hostel, at the peak was completo (see previous post. A bad word in French, means no vacancy). We stopped anyway for some hot chocolate as we could see our breath from the cold and rain. It took 11 hours to cross. Beautiful, I will always remember the sound of sheeps bells. There are no trees just sheep,horses and the ranchers homes. It started to clear up on the downhill side into Roncevalles. It is the first town into Spain on the other side of the Pyrennes. An ancient monastery and two restaurants consists of the town. Need to be more awe inspiring for all the work it takes to get there. 100 people came down the mountain with us, all going at varies stages. Though I was much faster than Katia we stayed together on the mountain. It can be dangerous. We had the Spanish version of fish and chips: fries and grilled trout for dinner. I love the history. Charlemagne battle monuments are all over the area.

August 26th

Onward to Zubiri. Still Basque country. Everything has a Basque name and a Spanish name. The Spanish accent is hard for me to understand. I now have the edge. The Germans have been speaking English for me and helped translate the French for me. Hardly anyone I met is English as first language as of yet. The girls do not know Spanish. I helped them. At breakfast another German girl told us of two girls last night that got lost and had to spend the night in the Pyrennes and did not make it in until 7am this morning. There was another wicked thunderstrorm last night and it had to be rough to be in the dark and cold till morning. I was one of my fears before going and I am glad it did not happen. I am so glad that Katia, Dwuarta and I stayed together yesterday. We decided to go on our own today. I am in better shape than I thought. I only hurt on the hamstrings but still bearable. Coming out the Pyrennes now looks like Eastern Washington near Wenatchee. Pine trees and more arid. Beautiful montains. Inland is hot. Now 90 degrees. I have not seen the two German girls. When I came into town it was Siesta time and the Japenese guy from the first night told me it was booked up here. Great!! I had 2 nice French guys who I walked the last 5 miles with help me get a room in the next town over for 50 euros. I needed to find the German girls. As I was walking back I saw the hostel here up open and got a bed. What luck but now I feel bad as the French guys probably are going to wonder where I am at. Hopefully I will see them in Pampalona and can say sorry in French. Hasta Luego until Pampalona.


Friday, August 24, 2007

my first night's hotel and a view of whats to come


August 22

Life Lesson 495

Do not wait to finish itenerary until last minute. I had a cheap ticket to France for 80 dollars. Thought to much and forgot to book. Realized last minute that I had not booked ticket. Went to buy...400 dollars now on Ryanqair and time slot needed was sold out to make train connection. yikes... whats a girl to do...instead now take train to Paris 200 dollars and TGV train Paris to Bayonne 100 dollars. 12 hours with layovers. life lesson cost me 220 dollars and extra 6 hrs of travel and one reservation for first night because last train 6pm and I arrive 8pm.
I got up at 5 am to fly Toronto to London. I lucked out and because a family wanted to sit together I got a window seat with no seat in front of me. Found out no 5pm flight to London so had 4 hr layover in Toronto. Toronto to London long...economy class sucks.

August 23rd

London landing delay and customs caused me to miss Eurostar 10 am train to Paris. Underground took over and hour to Waterloo station. Twice as long as I thought: NOTE Eurostar, if you can not call ahead, they will not credit ticket to next time slot. The girl behind counter felt bad that I was near tears. She let me change to 1040 ticket. Thank you. Once in Paris navigated from Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse to catch TGV to Bayonne. I am glad I figured this out before I left because that information is not easily known from signs. My 10 words in French escaped me because I was so tired and I know I pissed off the ticket people in the subway and train station to buy tickets. Train ride from Paris to Bayonne beautiful but too tired to really appreciate. I was qfraid to fall asleep and miss my stop. Once in Bayonne the hotel I was recommended to get a room from was completo...Means no vacancy in what to do: I asked the hotel where to go and she said good luck everything is full. two more hotels turned me down and I started to get upset. A guy in a car passing by asked me in French what was wrong. I realized I needed to get a grip. Saw two homeless guys sleeping in a doorway and ironically realized just like home and to keep trying. Viola, the next place the guy behind the counter at Hotel San Miguel felt sorry for me and in his little English give me his last room for 48 euro (60 dollars) included shower and toilet in room instead of hallway. Merci Beaucoup to him. I ordered some food across the street in pointing qnd gesters and waiter pointed back. had a wonderful dinner and lots of wine to help me sleep. I woke up to thunderstorm.

August 24th
Guess what I feel much better. Can not cross Pyrennes today because of bad weather. I overslept and am now taking later train to St. Jean Pied de Port. It is for the best. My reservation for tonight was accepted checking my email. My little French came back to me with some sleep. I was able to order a train ticket in French and even the girl behind counter said bien and smiled. I have regained my faith. Au revoir until St. Jean Pied de Port.

Will try to figure out how to doznload pictures tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

About the Camino de Santiago:

A pilgrim undertakes this journey to search and find not only themselves but to invest in others, lose dependance of "things" and embrace life in its natural state.

The Camino de Santiago in Spain is the Pilgrims' Road from Roncesvalles, though I am starting on the French side of Pyrennes at St. Jean Pied De Port to Santiago de Compostella (where in the 813 a wandering hermit named Pelayo discovered a tomb which was taken to be that of the Apostle James (Santiago in Spanish)). The road is around 800 Kms long and typically takes a month to walk. The road is also called the Camino Francés as once people headed towards France. Now most start east and head west to Santiago.

To qualify for the Compostela, the traditional Latin certificate of pilgrimage, the Catholic authorities in Santiago require that pilgrims must
1) carry a credencial or pilgrim passport (which entitles you to a place in the Spanish refugios) and produce it, stamped and dated at each stage of the journey; 2) have walked or ridden on horseback the last 100 km to Santiago (at lot of people with little time or stamina start at the 100km, or cycled the last 200 km, and 3) declare a spiritual or religious motivation. There is a certificado, also in Latin, for those making the journey for other reasons, or not meeting the criteria.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

El Camino de Santiago

Heading off to the great roads on August 22nd Feet First!