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.