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    Europe Travel

    Favorite Things – My Camino

    Marking the Halfway Point

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    All my senses are on overload on the Camino. I don’t want to miss anything!  The scenery, the sounds, the people, the food, the wine. Amazing all.

    But this is an ordeal. Forty days and forty nights!  I’m halfway there and already I’m having trouble remembering things I don’t want to forget!

    So at the halfway point here is a list remembering my favorite things;

    Just below Orisson day one

    Day one as we climbed from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Orisson the  sview was breathtaking and I knew we were in for a real treat.

    The summit day two

    By the next day, soaking wet and exhausted reaching the summit and finding hot coffee there. Heaven in a cup.


    A very difficult descent one day outside of Pamplona as we came down off the Alto Del Perdon.  One of the hardest things I’ve ever walked.  Exhausting but I did it!

    Alto Del Perdon

    Being serenaded at 6:30am in Puenta La Reina is possibly my most favorite moment so far.  A beautiful way to begin our day.  We felt so blessed.

    Historic Puenta la Reina

    Roman bridge

    Walking on the 2000 year old remains of a Roman road and Roman bridge just outside of  Cirauqui made me feel very insignificant in the whole scheme of things.


    The section of the Camino that wandered through the vineyards for days, so beautiful and peaceful and historic as we went from ancient village to ancient village.

    Wheat fields and vineyards



    Tortilla potata

    Spanish omelette.  Also known as Tortilla Potata.  I am in love with this National Food of Spain and could (and do) eat it everyday.  I must learn how to make this.

    The Meseta

    The Meseta.  Geologically my favorite area so far.  Here the villages are in the valleys but the Camino rises and falls from the valley to the plateau and it is gorgeous.  Often providing a Vista of the trail as far as the eye can see.

    Salad Mixta

    Salad Mixta – my answer to daily veg.  I’ve learned to order the Mixta that does not come with the Pilgrim dinner because then it arrives chock full of so many delicious things like beets and asparagus and egg and olives.

    Burgos Cathedral

    The Cathedral in Burgos  in a word, stunning.  I’ve seen a lot of cathedrals in my travels and this one could possibly be the finest.  Just awesome and inspiring.  I highly recommend  a visit if you are in Spain.

    Monastery San Anton ruins

    I loved how the Camino unexpectedly passed right through the arches of the ruins of the 12th century hospital of  the Monastery of San Anton.  Meandering down the tree-lined street then coming around a bend it was such a beautiful sight to see.

    Early morning light

    There are other things too – moments both poignant and humorous.  Drinking wine from a fountain at 9am on the path.  Stepping aside to let a giant draft horse saunter by.  Walking before dawn and watching the sun rise behind you.  Getting lost and retracing our footsteps to get back on track.  Talking to people from all over the globe and learning their story.  Walking in silence next to my husband as the fog lays still in the fields and the birds wake up with a song.

    Halfway to Santiago.  A walk of a lifetime.

    Buen Camino!

    257 miles walked. 232 to go!





    Europe Travel

    Signs Signs Everywhere the Signs

    My Camino

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    Closing in on three weeks now and since day one I have spent a lot of time thinking about signs.  The Way is marked throughout the 500 miles with an astonishing variety of way-finding.

    Finding your way on the way is usually simple, sometimes humorous and rarely difficult.

    We missed a marker only once and found ourselves about a mile off the Camino. As back up we have an app that we can follow the route on our phones.  We try not to use it – and keep our noses out of phones.  But the day we took the wrong turn we

    The missed turn

    went to the app to see where we went wrong.

    Signage can be very amateurish and even cryptic in some places, and it was one of these that we missed that day.  But you get used to seeing the signs, so if you’ve made a wrong turn you won’t go along too far before you begin to suspect you’ve done something wrong because the yellow arrows have disappeared.

    Official signage is often very pretty blue tiles with the yellow Camino scallop shell.  These signs are most often found on the sides of buildings in the small towns and villages.

    Some towns and municipalities have taken it on themselves to create their own unique Camino signage. In Logrono they created a more stylized modern look using stone and metal.  In the teeny village of Redecilla Del Camino a long yellow stripe in the middle of the road through town bearing the Camino scallop shell guided you on your way.

    Sometimes the Camino runs parallel the highway and sometimes you have to cross a busy road.  Here the signage has the look of official highway signs, but still in the familiar blue and gold.

    Much of the directional marking is done with yellow spray paint.  It’s not clear to me who does this.  Locals trying to be helpful? Pilgrims who have noticed a need?  Sometimes you can barely make out the yellow spray paint.  Sometimes it’s unclear which way the arrow is actually pointing.

    As we climbed out of the valley and above the town of Najera we went through a beautiful section of red rock mountains.  The yellow arrows stood out against the red rocks.

    Sometimes pilgrims get creative.  Often we stumble across arrows or messages made from stones or sticks.  One place an entire labyrinth with a tiny cross in the middle was laid out.  A good sign.

    I still have close to three weeks to go.  No doubt there are still more signs ahead to amaze and amuse.  But these are the ones that have guided us along these past weeks.  On our journey full of
    hopeful signs for grateful life.

    Buen Camino!

    229 miles done. 259 to go! 😃


    Europe Travel  --  Food & Drink

    A loaf of bread A Jug of Wine & Thou

    Hikers Cannot Live on Bread Alone

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” —Omar Khayyam

    The sentiment in Khayyam’s words are not lost  on me. Particularly as I try to walk my Camino with an open mind for a simple life. Medieval pilgrims certainly would have been grateful for bread alone and may have subsisted solely on it – with a watery soup and wine thrown in from time to time.

    Tortilla Espanola

    But man I want a salad.

    As in most European countries bread is life.  In Spain the Panaderia on every corner is busy from the break of day.  This is true in the cities and in the small villages we walk through.  Some small towns we find the “Bread man” (my term) driving through the streets honking his horn.  Kinda like the ice cream man when I was a kid.

    Croissant with ham and cheese


    Along the Camino finding food is a bit of a challenge unless you are in a large city.  And finding food that includes nice fresh produce is even harder.  And dinner before 8pm? Forget about it.

    Likely for convenience and cost, the places that pop up for sustenance on the Camino sell baguette sandwiches called bocadilla, or the national dish of Spain, Tortilla Espinosa (an egg and potato torta/omelette), and coffee.  Sometimes apples and bananas.  This is what is considered both breakfast and lunch food.  It’s cheap and easy to carry.

    I’ve learned to pick up fresh fruit when I see it and stash it in our pack.  Clearly we are a long way from starving but a girl needs something to help her walk 14 miles each day.

    Eggplant Hummus

    A couple of days ago on a particularly uninhabited stretch of our walk I had  ham and cheese on a dry baguette for breakfast, tuna on hard focaccia for lunch and ham and cheese on baguette for dinner.

    That was the day I said no more bread.  No mas!

    And there was the one night we shared a can of tuna and a whole zuchinni while laying in bed.

    At the end of each day we can usually find what is

    One salad mixta from a very good Peregrino dinner

    called the Peregrino Dinner.  In every town we have found this except for one.  This meal is usually $10-12 Euro and includes two or three courses with choices.  The first course may be a choice of salad mixta, soup or pasta.  I always get the salad which 99% of the time is lettuce, tomato, canned tuna and maybe carrot and egg.

    But the second course is ALWAYS French fries with some meat.  You can choose chicken, pork, beef or

    This was an excellent salad in Burgos

    maybe veal or lamb.  No veg.

    Sigh.  I just want some nice zucchini or spinach or green beans or kale por favor!

    One evening we did encounter a Peregrino Dinner with a vegetarian option.  I happily ordered the vegetarian paella instead of meat and fries.  It was warm and yummy saffron rice with peas, beans, cauliflower and carrots.

    In our 16 days on the Camino our best meals have

    Catalan soup with pork and pasta

    come in the bigger towns.  No surprise.  I’m still dreaming about the Caesar Salad and Eggplant hummus we had in Pamplona or the beautiful Salad Mixta with fresh tuna, asparagus and beets I had with Catalon soup in Burgos.  And the best peregrino meal we enjoyed was a pork knuckle and the first course was fresh baby artichoke hearts with lemon in Puenta la Reina.  Happiness on a plate.

    Thumbs up for this Paella

    And so I’ve grown even more appreciative of fresh food with fresh ingredients and a variety of fruits and vegetables.  And when I can’t get it, well I am then grateful on those days for a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou.

    Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; – Ecclesiastes 9:7

    191 miles done.  298 to go!

    Buen Camino!


    Europe Travel

    The Long Haul

    My Camino

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    Day 14 and there is something happening that hadn’t occurred to me before – mental fatigue. Walking everyday, all day it begins to set in just how long this adventure is, both in miles and in days. At two weeks in I’m astonished at how far we still have to go. The days, weeks and miles unfold ahead in and endless fog and the end seems nowhere in sight.

    And so we settle in for the long haul. 

    After two weeks we have made some adjustments to help both the physical and mental strain;

    1. We are taking days off. Today we arrived in Burgos. Originally we had planned Burgos to be our first day off but it is actually our second. We plan to take at least one day a week off from here on. Originally we planned to arrive in Santiago around
    October 8th. Now we think it will be the 11th.

    2. I got rid of my pack. Arne has changed his mind about it being “cheating” not to carry the pack. I feel so much better now. The service picks up the pack in the morning and it is waiting for me when we arrive at our destination. We have lightened Arne’s load too, putting much of what he was carrying into my pack to take at least ten lbs off of him. 

    3. We are listening to our bodies. Most of our early aches and pains have gone, but we both have colds and the plantar fasciitis has continued  to give me trouble. Today, rather than take a chance of completely ruining my foot we called a cab to take us the last three miles into Burgos. My thinking is better I take a cab three miles than have my whole Camino ruined.  Tomorrow in Burgos I might go shop for some shoes that can provide me some additional support.

    With all that said, we are really thankful to be here.  Each mile has something new be it people or scenery or history or weather. Spain is a gorgeous place and all along the Camino the people are kind and supportive. We have met people from all around the world – Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Germany , France, England, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, and of course the USA (Nebraska, Ohio, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Florida).

    We have found our comfort zone in our pace and in
    our style of accommodations. Still working out the food however (blog to come on that).  Rain has threatened but only materialized twice and Mother Nature has been very gentle on us and we are very grateful for that.

    Walking side by side with my husband we sometimes go thirty minutes without speaking.  And other times we talk about the future or reminisce about the past or laugh and sing and pass the time in idle chatter.

    Each day is good.  We have settled in for the long haul.

    179 miles so far. 310 miles to go.

    Europe Travel

    Keep to the Paths of the Righteous

    My Camino Day Seven

    Location: Camino de Santiago

    I am not Catholic or particularly religious. I am not walking the Camino de Santiago for religious reasons, although it has a definite spiritual quality.  I believe anytime you have the opportunity to spend hours walking quietly you will find your inner peace and personal spiritual being. Whatever that is for

    The path crosses this 2000 year old Roman bridge


    The Camino or Way of Saint James has an incredible history that goes well back before Catholicism to Pagan and Roman times and perhaps further.

    Difficult rocky descent

    Pilgrims walked for many reasons for many thousands of years.  Read an interesting article here.

    And today the renewed interest in the Camino as a physical or spiritual journey has created a tourism destination that spans thousands of miles, numerous routes and multiple countries, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to Santiago each year.

    Up and away

    Buen Camino.

    I’m not all that familiar with the Bible but as I walk and contemplate I’ve found certain bible verses I know come to mind as I reflect on things I’m seeing and doing.

    For instance I am a bit astonished at the variety of pathways and conditions of pathways we have walked on over the

    Meeting friends on the path

    past seven days.  This verse comes to mind;

    So you will walk in the way of good men And keep to the paths of the righteous. Proverbs 2:20

    A dirt path through the vineyards

    Not all of the original “way” is still available. Unfortunately over time and when the Camino had fallen out of favor some of the route was paved over and destroyed. But it’s still easy to envision walking

    Through the hay fields

    where pilgrims a thousand years ago and pilgrims just yesterday have walked – and keep to the paths of righteous.

    While trying to be righteous I’m also trying to not trip on loose rocks, slip on scattered shale, step in horse or cow dung or fall in creeks and streams. I’m also trying to remember to look up from the path and enjoy the

    2000 year old Roman Road

    scenery, stop and smell the flowers or taste the wild blackberries and drink water and put on sunscreen.  I’m also trying to not get run over by cars or cyclists

    Here the path parallels a busy highway. Pilgrims weave crosses into the chainlink fence

    keep my eyes open for markers and arrows pointing the way and cheerfully greet other pilgrims with a sincere Buen Camino!  To walk in the way of good men. 

    84 miles done. 405 Miles to go. 🙃