The Camino Frances

The Camino Frances

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Wed April 30 This has been 2 days of frustrations trying to get my blog up, so I will stick with the bare details. On tuesday, we walked from Estella to Los Arcos. It was a beautiful day. A pilgrim has 2 basic concerns - weather, and what gear to wear, and feet and how healthy they are. I have some red spots, but nothing to worry about as they aren´t developing into blisters. So it was a fine day. The municipal albergue in Los Arcos was our second choice, but it was ok, and run by a couple of Belgian hospitaleros. See my picture of dinner on Facebook - I´ll try to load it. Today we walked the farthest yet - 30 km from Los Arcos to Logrono, and tomorrow we hope to do the same distance to Najera. I got a bit of a burn on my wrist, the sun was so hot today. Here we are at dinner last night.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Pilgrim is Grateful


 Monday April 28, Day 7, Puenta La Reina to Estella, 22 km

The rain held off today, and there was a fine mist blowing on us, keeping us cool, especially as we climbed the hills. The theme for the day was gratitude, so here is my list.

A pilgrim is grateful for
*others with wifi - thanks to David, who took our picture and posted it on Facebook, and friended me so I could use it here. It was taken on the bridge before Lorca
*others who offer to trade bunks so we more mature women can be on the bottom
* chivalrous men who buy us cafe con leche
* banana bread muffin tops, which I brought with me and am still snacking on. Here is the recipe link
* a clean dry towel for the shower
* socks which are clean and dry in the morning
* new pilgrim friends to walk the last 2 km with and carry us along
* shouts of Hey Toronto, Yo Canadians, and Darling as greetings on the trail
* Dave Debbie and Mark, our very entertaining dinner companions last night
* the beauty of the countryside- wind rippling the wheat fields - Roman roads that have lasted 2000 years-sun on the white cliffs - purple iris and purple butterflies
* the strength to walk and enjoy this marvellous experience
* a company that ships your bags when you need a rest to recover
* hostel workers who take the time to find you a bed
* cafe con leche to start the day
* blister free feet
* This pilgrim is also grateful for friends who comment. I love to share!

Buen Camino

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Happy, Happy, Happy!

Day 5 , April 27, from Pamplona to Puenta La Reina - 24 km

Anyone who has walked with me in Toronto may have heard me say this mindless/mindful mantra  *Happy, happy, happy*, and that is just how I felt all day today. Why? Well...

Yesterday was difficult, both mentally and physically. But thanks to a good sleep and all your positive comments and encouragement, today was wonderful.
Yesterday, the backpack felt heavy- today it felt like an old friend.
The sun shone the whole day.
I saw black slugs, magpies, hawks, dogs and horses - so interesting.
I saw olive, fig and almond trees, white asparagus growing in the fields, the canola fields are completely yellow, and we walked through vineyards. The wild poppies are in bloom - all beautiful.
Dinner last night was at 7, (that is early for Pamplona, and late for us) and I had paella, which is not often on the menu, chicken and chips, and yogurt and berries - yummy! And don´t forget, wine is always included.
I began the day with cafe con leche and a banana, then snacked as I went along on 2 more bananas and a banana bread muffin top from home. Wendy and I had lunch on Alto de Perdon - rice cakes and cheese ( from Paris), fresh green beans and a carrot, and an orange. I celebrated arriving at the albergue with a chocolate ( thanks, Meg, Arlo, Cy and Lola)
I was able to prebook the albergue Santiago Apostol on Alto, so no worries about accomodation.
I found a silver medallion on the trail.
My feet are great - a bit of redness on the right bunion, but otherwise, fabulous.
I could have walked farther. I think I have hit my happy place!!

The Puenta - bridge, over the river Arga, built in the 11th century by order of the queen.

Alto de Perdon, with Pamplona in the background

Blessings to you all!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rain Rain, go away!

Friday April 25 from Roncesvalles to Larasoana
What an ambitious day this was! 26 km, and almost entirely either up or down. It rained almost all of the day, but there were some highlight.
First, the first real cafe con leche .. this is what I am talkin about!! So good.

Back to the rain, which was intermittent, and made the path slippery. It was almost entirely paving ..cement, with stones of all sized embedded in it, and sometimes it was scored diagonally on the really steep parts.
We took the wrong track out or Burgette, by taking the  highway 135 instead of the Camino, but Brierly´s maps are good, and we recognized the trail when we encountered it a few kms on.The most steep and dangerous part was down to Zubiri. I didn´t fall this time, but Wendy did.
The rain eventually stopped, and after our lunch break at 3 pm in Zubiri, we decided to go on. I was talking with a guy from San Francisco, so the time went quickly. We stayed in the munucipal albergue in Laransoana. It is very basic- plastic sheets, simple showers with lukewarm water, but only 4 in a room.
Dinner was different - there is only one bar in town doing dinner, and we couldn´t get into the 7 pm sitting, so I went looking and found Casa Elita - she does home cooking. She is Italian, and a real spitfire. She chastized Wendy for not finishing her risotto with liver, and when I asked her for a gluten free meal, she asked me if my other friends were same as me, or normal! Best of all, she had pictures of Martin Sheen and Emilio Esteves on the wall taken with her and her son. Some of the filming of the Way was done here, and her son is briefly in the movie. When Martin took off his backpack and it fell in the water, they used the bridge in this town.
There was a party in the town hall, which is in the same building as the albergue, fronting the town square, so the noise didn´t die down til quite late, so I didn´t get much sleep. But..

Saturday April 26, Larrasoana to Pamplona 15 km
Walked 4 km before breakfast, in the intermittent rain, all up and down. I am now looking forward to the Meseta! It felt gruelling again, but that was probably the lack of sleep. We arrived at the albergue at about 1 pm, so I have showered, done my laundry, and am now on the internet. There seems to be less computers, and most people have phone and use wifi, so the blogging will be random, but I love your comments, so keep them coming.
We are staying at Albergue Jesus and Maria. It is a former seminary, and was refurbished in 2011, so is quite nice. 2 bunks in semi-cubicles, and some of the characters we met in Orrison, Roncesvalles and Larrasoana are here, including Sharon,  from Toronto, who walked last year with Michelle, and a guy from the Czech Republic, who said his boots were his best friends, as he lovingly cleaned them last night.
Pamplona has been the capital of Navarra since the 9th century, and before that was a fortress town, founded by the Romansin 75 AD. The walls are amazing. Here is a picture.
Out for dinner later with a crowd, organized by Bob from San Francisco.
 Buen Camino to you too


Walls of Pamplona

Thursday, April 24, 2014

In Spain, and on the Camino

In Paris
By the time we napped there wasnt much time left, so we got a picnic and wandered Square George Brassens. It had pony rides, a carousel, a rock climbing area, a herb garden, a wading pool and beach, a waterfall, and a flea market for books on Sunday, and all in about an acre.
Travelling to St Jean pied de Port on tuesday the 22nd
We had a great trip on the train through the french contryside.. Though we could only get an unreserved seat, we got fine ones. We wandered Bayonne for 2 hours, then a bus to St Jean and our albergue. We got info from the Pilgrims office, then dinnner. He kindly made me an omelet, as the meat was veal. No eating animals for me! Of course, when lights were out, the chorus began: snorers!
Up to Orrison´on Wed the 23rd
We had a lovely day for a very steep climb to Orrison. Slow and steady, with lots of breaks for water. The farms were beautiful, perched on steep slopes, and we saw lots of sheep and a few ponies. We arrived at 11 am, after a 3 hour climb, with no injuries.I did a lot of puffing on the way up. After a shower, laundry, and a brief nap we had lots of time to get to know the other 34 pilgrims staying there, while watching those hardy souls pushing past, all the way to Roncesvalles. I finished a book, wrote in my journal, and just vegetated. Dinner was at 6:30. and everyone introduced themselves. Dinner was vegetable soup, roast pork, white beans in a tomato sauce and basque cake (I got fruit salad). Lights were out in our room by 9 pm.
Up and over to Roncesvalles on thursday
We left 7:50, and it was a gruelling day. We encountered every kind of weather. First the sun shone, then clouds formed, drifting across the paths. We saw banks of snow, still unmelted. Then it became black, and it sprinkled. Then more sun, but as we descended to Roncesvalles, the clouds opened, and both Wendy and I fell,on the muddy path as we took the steep route down, but no injuries and the laundry is done and drying.
We saw many sheep, horse and cattle, wandering, as most of the pasture is unfenced.
The terrain is as varied as the weather; paved paths, stones, gravel, mud, rocks with a river running through, and mulch as we walked through the forests. The path was as steep as yesterday in places, and the descent was about 45¨´ the whole time. We climbed to 1440 m, so were above the clouds most of the time. The valleys were filled with mist
Monks have welcomed pilgrims here at the monastery since the early 12th century. Since I was here in 2007, they have updated the albergue, and there are cubicles with 2 bunks in each, and they expect 300 pilgrims today. They will do your laundry for 3 euros. I will go to dinner at 7 and mass at 8. I missed both last time, as I arrived at 8 pm then.
So we had a challenging and rewarding day today, and after a great sleep tonight, we will be ready for another great day tomorrow.

Buen Camino! ( the monastery in Roncesvalles)

Monday, April 21, 2014


We are in Paris .. April in Paris.
Im struggling with a French keyboard;  cant correct the typos, sorry.
Here is a picture of me and Cici  at Beach United yesterday: It was a last day for her too; she is off to Indonesia and Switzerland; I will be back but she wont.

The flight was uneventful but mostly sleepless.
I napped when we checked into the Arty Hostel here in Paris. Thanks for the reference, Mike. It is the smallest double room I have ever been in. You cannot close the bathroom door while standing at the sink.

We will go out and wander later and have dinner  and people watch.

Tomorrow we travel by train to St Jean arriving about 7:30.
Wednesday morning it is up the mountain.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

One Day to Go

I'm ready to go - my hair cut, to minimize the weight, backpack on, and on a training walk.
Tomorrow we leave, and I am so excited I am vibrating.
Yesterday, we had our last training walk led by me until my return. The group will be ably led by Linda and Pat in my absence, and they have planned to walk in some new territory.
Wendy and I walked about 23 km yesterdaywith the group - from home to my church, then along the waterfront, picking up more people at  Leslie and Lakeshore, then down the Spit - a total of 10 km down and back.Then we returned to my house for tea and cookies. The happiness and good feelings in my apartment lasted all evening.
We fly Air France tomorrow, arriving at 8 am Paris time on Monday morning. We'll spend the day in Paris, and travel by train to St Jean Pied de Port, arriving Tuesday evening in time for dinner. Wednesday we'll climb up the mountain to Orrison - a short day to begin. Roncesvalles on Thursday evening, then we will let the Camino tell us where we start and stop.
The adventure, which began when we decided to walk together, begins in earnest tomorrow!