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    Everything Else Fabulous

    Farewell USA, Our Grand Adventure Continues

    Off We Go Again

    Location: Planet Earth

    Our visit to the USA comes to an end.  We have enjoyed our ten weeks in our native country, but we are also ready now to go.

    As hard as it might be for some people to understand, we don’t consider the USA our home right now, we enjoy being on the move and we are ready to say Farewell USA, our Grand Adventure continues.

    I had a lot of things I wanted to do while in the USA.  I didn’t get them all done, but we enjoyed family and friends, hiking and cycling, and quick trips to Nashville and Utah.

    And it was enough.

    So now we go.  We are relaxed and unstressed about departing, unlike the first time we headed out.  We know the ropes now.  We are confident and secure in our ability to navigate the world.  And we can’t wait to get back out there and enjoy this amazing planet.

    The next chapter begins. Unlike our last segment, this time we will spend more time in Europe. We will spend August and

    A route looks roughy like this. LOL.

    September in Europe; Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Romania and Greece.  Then we have ten days in Egypt and Jordan.  Following that we hike another Camino de Santiago, this time from Porto Portugal to Finisterra Spain (250 miles).  We then end our time in Europe with visits to Sevilla, Malaga and Cádiz Spain as well as Gibraltar.

    In November we will fly to Miami and visit Key West and the Everglades before boarding a cruise ship that will take us to Columbia, Panama, Ecuador and Chili.  Followed by a month in Brazil (Christmas and New Years) followed by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republican and possibly Cuba before returning again to Washington State next June for another summer visit.

    Time with our sons

    We have worked hard on this itinerary and we are excited about the adventures ahead.  We hope you will continue to follow us, comment and share.  Thank you for being a part of the growing My Fab Fifties Life Family. Stay tuned for news from Denmark! We look forward to our second visit to Denmark and exploring more than just Copenhagen this time.  A beautiful and friendly country where we have family!

    It’s time to fly! Farewell USA, our Grand Adventure continues. T minus ONE!

    Fabulous!

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    Fab North America Travel

    Favorite Hiking & Cycling Trails in Puget Sound

    My Summer in Washington State USA

    Location: Puget Sound, Washington State, USA

    I’ve spent ten weeks in the beautiful state of Washington in the north-western United States.  This is where I grew up and where my family is.  It was fun being back, if only for a little while.  There were so many things I wanted to do and see, and I didn’t get it all done.  But I did manage to spend time enjoying my favorite hiking and cycling trails in Puget Sound.

    Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

    On top of Buckhorn pass

    I absolutely love cycling, and even though I started this sport rather late in life (48), I have embraced it.  I ride a road bike (‘Specialized’ brand) but prefer to ride on paved trails rather than out in traffic.  And there are two of my favorite trails less than an hour from where I have been staying;

    1. The Chehalis Western Trail is a fantastic trail on an old railroad bed, well maintained and very beautiful.  It is located south of Tacoma Washington beginning in Lacey.  You can start or stop at several locations along this 50-plus mile trail.  You can make the ride even longer by continuing
      Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

      Lunch break on the Chehalis Western Trail

      on the Yelm-Tenino Trail.  If you do the entire length of both these trails it’s more than 80 miles of paved bike path (with the small exception of about 100 yards of gravel). The trail includes views of Mount Rainier, bucolic farmland, the city of Olympia, and the Deschutes River. I was able to ride the Chehalis Western Trail three times while I was in Washington.

    2. The Olympic Discovery Trail is a spectacular trail on the Olympic Peninsula.  You can ride more than fifty miles round trip on this trial, including a newly added section to Discovery Bay.  There are a few sections of the trail that take you out to
      Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

      The Olympic Discovery Trail

      ride short distances on the highway, but for the most part the trail runs along the old highway and well maintained paved trails and bridges.  Highlights of this trail include crossing Dungeness River at the historic Railroad Bridge Park, riding through beautiful lavender fields in Sequim, enjoying views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and more bucolic farmland.  Simply spectacular and my favorite by far.  Unfortunately I only made it up to ride this trail once, but it was a beautiful day and I loved it.

    Both of these trails are for non-motorized vehicles only, and walkers are also encouraged.

    Speaking of walking, that is another of my favorite pastimes.  Last year when we walked the 486 mile Camino de Santiago from France to Spain we trained for more than a year.  Three months from now we plan to walk the 250 mile Camino de Santiago from Portugal to Spain and we have barely started our training!  So during these ten weeks here in

    Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

    Hiking on the Big Quilcene Trail

    Washington we have tried to get out and do urban hikes as well as two beautiful hikes on two of my favorite trails in the Olympic Mountains;

    1. Upper Big Quilcene / Marmot Pass Trail has a lot of elevation gain, but if you take it slow most anyone can do it.  And what does elevation gain mean?  Well of course it means spectacular views when you get to the top.  It’s about five miles to Marmot Pass and another steep scramble if you want to reach Buckhorn Ridge.  On a clear day you can see Seattle, all the Cascade mountains and for miles of the Olympic range as well.  The trail is well maintained, although you will need to walk through a rocky section where a slide has taken place.  This hike round trip if you go all the way to Buckhorn Ridge is 14 miles.  Or to Marmot Pass about 11 miles.  Be sure to have a Northwest Forest Pass (purchase ahead of time at many area locations).
    2. Lower Skokomish River Trail is one of my favorites.  We usually do a ten-mile round trip on this trail, but you can go further.  This well maintained trail takes you through
      Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

      Our lunch spot on the Skokomish River

      beautiful old growth forests and then along the Skokomish River for miles upstream.  There are a couple of places where you can get down to the river bed for a picnic or to camp.  The start of this trail is pretty steep, but once you get through the first mile it flattens out into a beautiful meandering trail where you hike through forests and cross creeks.  There is another climb but its easy and then again a flat and Favorite hiking and cycling trails in Puget Soundenjoyable walk from there.  This trail is rarely busy and I feel safe enough to walk this trail alone.

    So there you go, some of my favorite active pastimes in the Pacific Northwest where I have been since May.  We are now just days away from parting the USA again.  We will return to Washington for another visit next June.  Hopefully I’ll have more free time then, to cycle and hike around this spectacular state.

    Departing in T minus 11 days.

    Fab Food

    Top Ten Dining Experiences Around the World

    Our Favs From the Past 18 Months

    Location: Around the World

    We have been traveling now for nearly 18 months.  We stayed in a lot of places.  We have seen a lot of sights.  We have eaten – well – hundreds of meals.  Some better than others.  Most acceptable.  A few downright spectacular.  So we thought it was time to share our Top Ten Dining Experiences Around the World on our year and a half Grand Adventure;

    Lisbon Portugal– our number one most favorite meal of our top ten dining experiences around the world took place in Lisbon, where we seriously

    Top ten dining experiences

    Lisbon Portugal

    gorged ourselves on the best seafood meal I have ever enjoyed.  Thankful to have our son’s friend Salvador there to order for us, we ate non-stop for several hours at Lisbon’s famous Cervejaria Ramiro restaurant.  It’s memorable for many reasons, the most important the way Salvador managed the waitstaff, ordered food and beer at breathtaking speed and told stories of his growing up in Lisbon.  I would love to relive that meal again and again.

    The remaining top ten dining experiences around the world are in no particular order –

    Sofia Bulgaria – Hidden in a neighborhood behind a tall fence is the historic Sofia restaurant of Manastirska Magernista where we were introduced to Bulgarian cuisine.  Here we tasted for the first

    Top ten dining experiences

    Sofia Bulgaria

    time the warm crusty bread dipped in olive oil and a Bulgarian dry spice mix.  The slow roasted pork knuckle as big as my head and falling off the bone.  The fresh and delicious Shopska salad of cucumber, tomato and feta.  Staple foods of a cuisine we knew nothing about but now is one of our favs.  We ended up at this restaurant twice we loved it so much.

    Nesebar Bulgaria – Bulgaria is the only country to land two spots in the top ten.  But our lunch in the beautiful seaside town of Nesebar deserves to be on the list.  At Plakamoto we again had pork

    Top Ten Dining Experiences

    Nesebar Bulgaria

    knuckle, a huge piece of meat we shared with fresh yogurt soup, cucumber salad and cold frothy beer on a sunny day overlooking the sea.  Perfect.

    Piran Slovenia – fresh from the sea anchovies smothered in local olive oil and garlic still makes my mouth water thinking of it.  We ate two platters full in a tiny restaurant onboard a boat in the

    Top Ten Dining experiences

    Ladja Padlanika Restaurant in Piran Slovenia

    harbor called Ladja Podlanica, with about 15 other local Slovenians.  After we licked the platter clean we then ate a gigantic bowl of linguine con vongole (linguine with clams) in a perfect wine and garlic sauce.  We loved it so much we ate there twice, both times with our friends Marbi and Raymond. Tiny Piran is not a place you would expect to find one of our top ten dining experiences around the world.

    Asilah Morocco – one of our most favorite Airbnb’s and one of our most favorite local cuisines were combined during our wonderful ten days in Asiliah, Morocco.  Here we met Latifah, our cook and housekeeper who opened our eyes to

    Top Ten dining Experiences

    Latifah unveiling the tajine in Asilah

    the wonders of Moroccan food.  She cooked for us everyday, she taught us how to cook, she took us to the market, she smiled and enjoyed watching us consume her scrumptious concoctions – all while not speaking a single word of English.  We loved her and wanted to take her home.

    Top ten dining experiences

    Hoi An Vietnam

    Hoi An Vietnam – two separate experiences put the colorful city of Hoi An in the top ten dining experiences around the world.  First  I took an amazing cooking class here, in a beautiful cooking school called Miss Vy’s.  One of the most advanced cooking schools I have experienced, I learned so much about Vietnams cuisine and Hoi An’s local specialities, which I learned to both cook and enjoyed eating.

    Top ten dining experiences

    Hoi An cooking class

    Furthering our Hoi An experience was our bicycle food tour with Grasshopper Tours.  We headed out at dusk and spent three hours going from place to place eating our way through Hoi An and enjoying everything from Bahn Mi to Chicken Feet, Vietnames Pancakes to “Jumping Chicken” (frog), noodles to ice cream.  Loved it.

    Barcelona Spain – we had been a bit disillusioned about the food in Spain, since the cuisine on the Camino de Santiago was less than inspiring – until we arrived at Bodega 1900 in Barcelona.  We

    Top Ten Dining experiences

    Barcelona Spain

    began perusing the menu after we were seated but then the waiter arrived and whisked our menus away and announced the chef recommends a tasting menu of his choice, “is okay?”.  “Well, umm, okay”, we agreed reluctantly.  Arne’s eyeballs turning to dollar signs not knowing what we were getting ourselves into.  But not to worry – a gastronomic feast of a dozen small plates from olive oil blobs to sardines, from sashimi to squid and so much more.  A lovely experience at a reasonable price.

    Swakopmond Nambia – our favorite tour guide

    Top Ten Dining experiwnces

    Swakopmund Namibia

    Seven made sure we had a chance to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary in style.  He surprised us by making a reservation for us at Swakopmond’s best seafood restaurant, The Tug, overlooking the beautiful bay.  Here we tried for the first time two different fish – Kingclip and Kabeljou.  Both were prepared perfectly and absolutely delicious and a now a new yet hard to find favorite. It was a lovely evening.

    Luang Prabang Laos – We stayed in the beautiful Maison Dalabua hotel in Luang Prabang complete with a UNESCO World Heritage Lily Pond.  It was a lovely place and we dined at the Manda de Laos

    Top Ten Dining Experiences

    Luang Prabang Laos

    restaurant that sits over the lily pond.  The evening was warm and lovely and it had been a long time since we dressed up and had a nice dinner.  We enjoyed the local Laos cuisines including papaya salad, noodles, chicken and more, all served impeccably and presented with fresh flowers as garnish.  A top ten memorable evening and a top ten dining experience around the world.

    Top ten ding experiences around the world

    Peka in Dubrovnik Croatia

    Dubrovnik Croatia – Learning to make the local dish called Peka in a local families home outside of Dubrovnik was a wonderful experience for me – even though the dish is extremely complicated and not something I think I will ever make at home.  But I enjoyed it so much we made a reservation later to enjoy it again at Dubrovnik’s famous Konoba Dubrava restaurant high above the hills of the city.  Peka is a dish of pork, lamb or beef cooked with potatoes and vegetables in a giant metal pan (Peka) buried in the coals of a blazing hot fire.  It creates a sweltering kitchen with a mouth watering result.  A very memorable meal both times.

    Is it any wonder I haven’t lost any weight on the Grand Adventure?  LOL.  Life is fabulous!!  Fat and happy travels.

    Read more of our food blogs here

     

     

    Fab Europe Travel

    Top Five Things to do in Beautiful Barcelona – Ole’!

    Plan now for a visit in 2018

    Location: Barcelona Spain

    Headed to Europe or planning for next summer?  You need to include time in Barcelona Spain.  Ancient yet modern, here are our top five things to do in beautiful Barcelona.

    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Park Guell

    One of Europe’s top destination cities, Beautiful Barcelona is a vibrant, cultural, colorful and historic gem, nestled in the warm and sunny Northeast corner of the Iberian Peninsula on the Mediterranean Sea. Bravo – Ole!

    <img alt ="mercadobarcelona">

    A bounty of fresh

    A visit to Barcelona can be done in as little as three days, but why not spend more time? Beautiful Barcelona is one of those special places where you should just wander… around every corner you’ll stumble upon ancient architecture. In every nook and cranny find local cuisine featuring the bounty of the Catalan region. Sit and sip a coffee or Spanish wine and practice your Spanish with a local – who will likely speak both Spanish and Catalan but not English. Language is never a problem though, everyone is kind and knows a bit of English and you point and smile and communicate however you can (and it doesn’t hurt to have a translation app on your phone!). Muy Bien!

    1. Ramble La Rambla (and more)
    Top Five Thingsro so in Barcelona

    La Rambla

     One of Barcelona’s favorite places to see and be seen is La Rambla, the famous and beautiful wide promenade in the old city. Walking in Barcelona is encouraged, through beautiful pedestrian areas like this one, although Barcelona also has an efficient, clean and fast subway (Metro). Be sure to look into the Barcelona Card for your best transport deals in the city (as well as deals to museums and more). www.barcelonacard.com

    Along La Rambla you will find shopping and dining and many places to sit and relax. You will also find the entrance to the wonderful Mercado de la Boqueria (see more below on this).

    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Lunch at Mercado de la Boquerie

    Barcelonians can also be found promenading along the boardwalk area of Barcelona Beach, popular for sunbathing in the heat, dining and walking any time in this city by the sea.

    For more upscale shopping be sure to stroll the Passeig de Gracia, or just to window shop at such designer stores as Hermes, Michael Cors, or Yves Saint Laurent. This area is known for its modernist architecture, theaters (Flamenco and Opera) and dining. Fantastico!

    1. Bon Profit – Buen Provecho
    Top Five Things to do inBarcelona

    Spanish wine is amazing

    No matter how you say it, in Catalan or Spanish, eating well in Beautiful Barcelona is easy to do. The Catalan cuisine focuses simply on one thing – fresh, seasonal ingredients. Don’t expect spicy foods, or lots of sauces as you might find in France or South America. Spain’s cuisine, and in particular the region of Catalonia, uses simple seasoning and lets the fresh ingredients do the talking.

    Jamon (please don’t call this prosciutto in front of a Spaniard) is found through- out Spain and the locally produced Iberian Black Pig Jamon is some of the finest in the world (check out the Jamon Experience www.jamonexperience.com ). Spanish olive oil is also spectacular, and unbeknownst to many people, you are often buying Spanish olive oil when it’s labeled Italian.

    Top Five Things to do inBarcelona

    Spanish cooking class

    Whether or not you are a foodie, a visit to the
    impressive Mercado de la Boqueria should be high on your list during your time in Barcelona. It’s a fun experience and feast for both the eyes and the
    stomach. Wander through the stalls eating “take-away” tapas ranging from olives, to empanadas, jamon to calamari and everything in between. Sidle up to the bar at one of the handful of restaurants serving fresh made Catalan specialties to customers perched at a narrow bar on stools. Delicioso!

     Consider a food tour where an experienced guide will take you to multiple restaurants, tapas bars, wine bars as well as through the mercado. This is an excellent way to learn about the cuisine and the city and its passion for fresh food. There are many options for tours like this in Barcelona. Check out www.withlocals.com or www.visitbarcelona.com to learn more.

    Top Five Things to do inBarcelona

    Black Pig Jamon

    Delve deeper into the cuisine with a cooking class. Classes can focus on the delicious and colorful and beautiful foods of Barcelona such as tapas, seafood or a selection of some of the region’s best-known dishes such as Paella, Tortilla, and Gazpacho and usually include an in-depth tour of the Boqueria. www.bcnkitchen.com

    1. Ga Ga for Gaudi
    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    La Sagrada Familia

    Barcelona has become synonymous with Antoni Gaudi, the influential architect from the 1800’s who was far ahead of his time. There are three main sights in Barcelona to marvel at his genius, and all three are recommended. Be sure to book in advance – these are the cities most popular tourist destinations and you don’t want to miss out!

    Incredible architecture

    La Sagrada Familia – designed by Gaudi, this Catholic Basilica, named for the Holy Family, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Construction began on Gaudi’s masterpiece in 1882 and he devoted the remainder of his life to the project. Since Gaudi’s death in 1926 construction has continued, being interrupted only by war, and continues to this day. Visitors can see the varying stages, including (with a special ticket) going up inside one of the towers. Like all of Gaudi’s works, elements from nature play heavily in the design, and the magnificent stone forest, and masterful use of stained glass on the interior makes for a spiritual and natural experience. It will take your breath away. Current goals are to complete the remaining towers by 2026, the centennial of Gaudi’s death. Do not miss La Sagrada Familia – an absolute highlight of your tour of Beautiful Barcelona. www.sagradafamilia.org.

    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Park Guell

    Park Guell – The combined vision of urban planner/businessman Eusebi Guell and Antoni Gaudi
    conceived this residential neighborhood, which failed commercially due to its high cost and location too far from the city center. Began in 1900, it became a Barcelona city park in 1926. Today there are portions of the park that are free to the public, but to really experience the UNESCO Heritage site, reserve one of the limited numbers of visitors tickets sold each day. The park includes more of Gaudi’s inspirational and astonishingly forward thinking nature-themed style, from the covered seating areas to the water features, houses and other structures. Park Guell is a must see in Barcelona. https://www.parkguell.cat/en/

    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Park Guell

    Want more Gaudi? Stroll the Passieg de Gracia to see Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, two more remarkable buildings showcasing Gaudi’s striking modernist art style with homage to nature. This block of homes (Gaudi and non-Gaudi) is one of the most beautiful in all of Barcelona. Tickets are needed to enter, or you can admire from outside. Learn more about Casa Mila at www.lapedrera.com or Casa Batllo https://www.casabatllo.es/en/

    1. History Lessons
    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Passieg de Garcia

    This city’s history is deep, with some of the earliest findings suggesting occupation in the region dating as early as 5000BC. Clearly the region has been an important crossroads for millennia, with Romans playing a major role in development with many sites viewable today dating to this period. A walk through the Barri Gotic takes you back in time, and a visit to the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulate shouldn’t be missed. More indepth and fascinating history can be found in the Catalonia History Museum and the Barcelona History Museum. Both are worth the time.

    For a fun and educational lesson check out Free Barcelona Walking Tours www.freewalkingtoursbarcelona.com or www.visitbarcelona.com

    1. Afield

    If you are blessed with additional time in Catalonia, there are numerous day-trips outside of Barcelona including Montserrat Mountain and Monastery, Costa Brava with its beaches and historic villages, and many cycling and hiking options.

    Visit Barcelona and spend at least five days – a week is even better – and get to know this magical place. Yo amo Barcelona! Ole!

    Note- interested in more information on Spanish cooking class at Mercado de la Boqueria? Click here.

     

     

     

    Everything Else Fabulous  --  Fab Europe Travel

    The People You Will Meet on the Camino de Santiago

    My Camino

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    I can’t begin to count the people we have met. Hundreds. Thousands? Unique all.

    Hiking Skirt Lady – Cheerleader  Guy – Peter &Jane – Pennsylvania – Crazy Wine Guy – Dan & Louann – Japanese couple – Argentina – Gail from Sequim – Calgary Ladies

    It’s another amazing aspect of the journey we are on. You can’t begin to comprehend the array of nationalities, personalities, physical abilities, age and languages you encounter amongst the pilgrims on the Camino.

    The Marys – Guy with Dog – Bad Leg Australia – Denver – Super nice Italian Guy – The Brits with the van – Mexican partners – Nebraska

    We can’t remember everyone’s names so we give them nicknames.  “Hey look there’s little Japanese lady.  We haven’t seen her since Burgos.”  Or “Was that South Africa #2 we just passed?”

    So many conversations.  We learn a little bit about a lot of people.  Once again it’s astounding how each person’s journey is unique.

    Sisters from Sisters – Nathan – German tour group – Quebec – Lady/Man? With stuffed Tiger – South Korea – Brazil Guy – Obnoxious Vegetarian American

    A woman from Australia told us she hates the Meseta, it reminded her too much of the Outback. So she took a bus and skipped the entire section.  What??  That was my favorite! So beautiful.

    French boys – Finnish Family – New Zealand – Cute Irish couple – Richmond Virginia – Rogue River – Flower hat lady – Texas Gals

    For weeks we have encountered a British group of
    six walking, and one woman driving a van to meet them at the end of each day.  Another group of Germans also with a support vehicle following but they stopped at the halfway point.  They will return next year to do the second half.

    Old Slow Man – Toronto – The Dutch – Big guy with tattoos – Mexico – Catalan Girls – Guy with long hair – Salt Spring Island – Northern Ireland

    A conversation with  Spanish man who thinks too many tourists on the Camino take away from the “original” purpose – only to find out this guy is riding a bike.  Doubtful many original pilgrims had a mountain bike.

    Mutt & Jeff – Munich – Maia from Australia – Vancouver – Wilkerson WA – Chain Smoker – Guy in my Bunk – Ohio

    At the same time we arrived at the Cruz de Ferro the other day two huge tour buses pulled up on the road and out piled at least 100 Korean tourists.  We had just walked up to the 5000 foot mark while they came up on a bus.  Then they proceeded to walk down the other side making the trail crowded and making me irritated. I was exhausted and they were fresh and fast.  This seems wrong to me to see the Camino done this way, but I’m trying hard not to judge.  It’s hard though.

    Couple celebrating 30th Anniversary – Punk Rocker from Taiwan – Loud Woman on her cell phone – Utah – Munich – Blind Guy with Brother

    On our first day we met an older woman from Australia and she was walking alone.  She said she was slow but could go far.  I’ve thought of her every day since. Particularly on the days where I was struggling, when the weather was bad or the trail was tough. I hope she is still out there. I wish I had gotten her contact info.  I’m worried for her.  This isn’t easy.

    Spanish Six – Curly Redhead – Irish Hiking Club – Scotland – Tattoo Girl – Phoenix – Lost Lady

    In just a few days we will reach Sarria, 100km from Santiago.  We know the Camino will change at this point and we feel sad about it.  Here is where we will be joined by hundreds of pilgrims who only walk the final 100km.  I know the experience will be different starting here and I expect not as serene.  It will also be odd to suddenly be surrounded by fresh new pilgrims we don’t know.  I hope our comrades aren’t lost in the shuffle.

    Seattle – Grey Couple – Slow Walkers – Coug – Hawks Fan –

    What do others call us I wonder?

    We all are here for different reasons with different goals, life experiences and expectations.  But we all share one name in common;

    Pilgrim.

    Buen Camino.

    Miles walked 375. Miles to go 114.

     

     

     

     

    Fab Europe Travel

    The Highest Point on My Camino – Cruz de Ferro

    Meaningful Moment

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    It was ten months ago today that we left the United States and we marked the occasion with a very memorable moment on our Camino journey – reaching the highest point at 5000 feet in the Montes de Leon range.

    For thousands of years pilgrims have marked their own moments here, and beneath the iron cross a mountain of stones and mementos symbolize the collective journey.

    Throughout the Camino we have noticed stones placed on wayfinding, markers and crosses. I wasn’t

    Letting go of your sorrows

    sure why, so I googled and learned the placing of a stone in this manner is said to be a way of leaving your sorrows behind. And truly many pilgrims leave not only a stone but

    Wayfinding sign with stones

    perhaps a photo of a lost loved one.

    Even though we knew we would be walking the Camino before we left the USA I hadn’t heard about the tradition of bringing a rock from your home to place at the Cruz de Ferro.  So

    Cross with stones

    over the past months on our travels I have collected three items. I was going to chose just one but now I feel compelled to leave all three.

    First the stone heart I found on the beach in Portugal. We leave this to represent our love for each other and our sons.

    Our gifts to the collection.

    Next the coral I picked up on the beach in the Seychelles. I like the branches that represent our families back home whom we miss and love.

    Finally the shell from a beach in Thailand. To me it is symbolic, the empty vessel holding dear all our friends throughout our lives.

    Today at the Cruz de Ferro it was truly a sacred and emotional place for many pilgrim to let go of their sorrows. Pilgrims walk for many reasons including gratitude for surviving illness or disaster or in memory of a loved one.  Some people finish the walk for loved ones who have died on the trail.  It happens more than you might think.  So arriving at the iron cross means many things to many people and we certainly felt the healing power there.

    It may sound corny, but I feel gratitude for this journey we are on and thankful I can share it. Gratitude is my religion and today at the Cruz de Ferro our hearts were full.

    Buen Camino.

    Total miles so far 350. 139 miles to go.

    Fab Europe Travel

    The Scallop Shell “Vieira”

    My Camino

    Location: Camino de Santiago


    The Camino is many things including a walk through history, legends and lore. And the history and lore that surround the significance of the ever- present scallop shell is fascinating, religious, utilitarian and beautiful.

    Scallop in Spanish is Vieira.

    The shell I am carrying

     

    The connection between the scallop shell and the Way of Saint James is very deep. So deep that in France a scallop is called Coquille Saint Jacques, while in German scallops are called ‘Jakobsmuscheln’ (James mussels).  Not a coincidence. (taken from caminoways.com)

    You cannot walk The Way of Saint James and not be  surrounded by the scallop. It has become, in the

    Embedded in the sidewalk

    modern times, the “brand” of the caminos. But in medieval times it had many purposes and stories.

    One story is the scallop shell represents the numerous caminos that all lead to Santiago. The lines on the shell all pointing to one center.

    Another story is that before Christianity, pagan

    Artistically in the road

    walkers went to Finisterra to the sea (50 miles past Santiago) believing it was the end of the earth. The word Finis Terra meaning the end of the world.  To prove they had made the journey they returned bearing the scallop shell that is found there.

    Ancient and worn symbol in a fountain

    Because the Camino Frances is essentially a walk west to the sea, many associate the scallop shell and its shape with the setting sun.

    Medieval pilgrims began carrying scallop shells as symbols of their pilgrimage and the tradition continues today. EVERY pilgrim carries one. In addition to the symbolism, pilgrims of old times found the shell useful as a utensil for both eating and drinking. Today the shell has become a souvenir more than a eating utensil, although many pilgrims use their shell to drink wine from the

    Modern day graffiti

    fountain provided for the pilgrims at the Bodega Irache.

    This use comes partly from the Catholic story of the devil appearing to a pilgrim who was dying of thirst.  The devil promised to save the pilgrim if he would renounce God.  When the pilgrim refused, Saint James himself appeared and fed the pilgrim water from a scallop shell.

    A home and garden decorated

    The  people of Spain embrace the symbol and often you will find the shells on homes and fences and in gardens and art.  A constant reminder of how much history is present in every step of “the way”.

    Viera

    La vieira ilumina el camino.  Muy Bien.

    Total miles walked 339.  Miles to go 150! 😁