Category Archives: Spain

Life Happens While Making Plans

The Via Francigena pilgrimage had been in the works for almost two years – August 28th to November 19th – generous time to walk, explore and then return by means of a transatlantic cruise.In April of this year we learned our son and daughter-in-law were going to have a baby – the due date coincided with our walk.

Plane and cruise tickets had already been purchased and commitments to our pilgrim partners had been made. We decided to continue and make a plan when the time came.

Graciella was born October 8th.

Rome was five days out and the proud parents wanted some alone time. This allowed time to finish the Via, rest a couple days and fly home for some Gracie time.Oh, to hold a grandbaby. What a miracle.

It was only 36 hours after arriving in Charleston that Bill and I looked at each other said let’s fly back to Italy and get on that ship. The boat sails in 14 days…

The cruise took off from Civitavecchia, an hour outside Rome. We stayed near the airport and meandered our way to the port.First stop, Barcelona. We have great memories of our time here. I was particularly looking forward to seeing the progress of the Sagrada Familia. A Gaudí designed church. It’s a fantastical whimsical fortification – part adult hallucination part child’s mind. Within a year of the corner stone being set in 1882 Gaudí became the architect. He abandoned the original Neo-gothic theme for his own modernistic style. Rumor has it that the goal is to finish in 2026. This – Gaudí’s last project.

On the opposite end of the spectrum both in time and in design we toured his first commission, Casa Vicens. The juxtaposition from the start of his career to the end is a lesson in the creative mind.

The ship was scheduled to arrive in Funchal (an island just west of Portugal) in two days. However, a northerly storm with twenty foot swells put an end to that and we remain another day in Barcelona.

Tomorrow we head west, out into the Atlantic, where we will sail seven days to St. Maarten.

Best of the Best Camino Attire – Shoes and Clothing

One of the hardest decisions to make about walking the Camino is what shoes to buy.

I have had the privilege and honor of first walking the Camino de Santiago Frances (all 800 kilometers of it) in September and then the Portugues route (616 kilometers – minus a bit for flooding and adding some for getting super lost) in May.

So.. with some authority I will tell you about the hands down primo shoes to walk in and then share what clothing worked best for me and what I would change in the future.

Altra Lone Peak 2.5Shoes: Altra Footwear Lone Peak 2.5  For men and women, without question these are BEST, most comfy and light weight shoes (the 3.0 is out now).  You do not need hiking boots!!! My Camino buddy and I both wore these and did not get blisters.  Why? The size of the toe box.  It’s large and roomy. Your feet will swell so it is important to buy 1/2 size larger than what you normally wear.   Click on Altra Running for technical information. Altra Lone PeakAfter reading about these and other top recommended shoes I ordered 24 pairs from Zappos and returned 23.  Zappos rocks – delivery and returns are free!

It wasn’t until after our first Camino Frances that I learned how many people agonize about what socks to buy – some spending a fortune. I bought thin, cheap Hanes socks – thinking less was more – less to rub.  For fun and warmth I wore Bad Ass knee socks from Sock it to Me – made of cotton, polyester and spandex – more proof that socks don’t matter.Bad AssImportant factors in choosing what clothes to pack: comfort, weight and quick drying.

Since we were traveling through Europe before this last Camino I needed clothing that would work for travel as well as the walk. My wardrobe dictated what kind of trip it would be – no fine dining or theaters for us!

So here are the clothing items that I had in my pack:

  • Target  tank top – great for sleeping, layering or when it’s hot
  • Prana short sleeved t-shirt
  • Lululemon short sleeved shirt
  • REI’s Smart Wool Mid-Weight Long Sleeve Crew
  • Icebreaker BodyfitZONE Zone Long Sleeve Half Zip
  • Lululemon Studio Pant – love the versatility of the drawcord hem
  • Nike Rival 6″ short – getting harder and harder to find the 6″ length
  • Patagonia Tech Fishing Skort
  • Eddie Bauer Micro Therm Down Jacket (ultralight)
  • Icebreaker Flexi Chute – neck thingy
  • Crocs backup shoe for the end of the day, shower, etc.
  • leggings, undies, bras, merino wool glove, hat and a cheap rain poncho

What would I change? Probably the Studio Pants by Lululemon.  They were perfectly comfortable for both Caminos but this time we experienced lots of rain.  UGH!  The bottom of the pants got in the way (too wide and quasi heavy when wet) and the fabric absorbed the water all the way up to my bum. Two of our Camino buddies had lightweight rain pants that they wore in lieu of regular pants on rainy days.  Depending on the time of the year I would consider those, ditch the Studio Pants and figure out an alternate super lightweight pant.Chilling with my CrocsNext, a better rain poncho since the cheap one allowed the rain to soak through.  Lastly, a better neck buff – one that fit tighter.  The Icebreaker model was too loose and didn’t do its job – it was more like bling but did not provide warmth.

That’s it – no more changes.  Super easy.

OR easier yet – you can pack like my husband.  He walked into REI – picked out t-shirts, shorts and a pair of pants off the clearance rack without trying them on.  Went to Goodwill and bought  a $5.00 sports coat (he said we all look like we stepped out of some sporting goods catalog and refused to fit the mold) and 2 pairs of Nike flip flops. YUP – he walked the Camino in flip flops!

 

Camino de Santiago Portugues Final Day 20

Life is simple on the Camino – walk, eat, sleep, walk, eat, sleep, walk… Oh and follow the yellow arrows – sometimes it’s like “Where’s Waldo” but that’s part of the fun.Yesterday, June 4th we walked 26,850 steps and 11.38 miles into Santiago de Compostela. The crazy Peregrino video. Click here.

We had the best time and couldn’t have asked for better Camino buddies. Some picked up new trail names: Rocknstein and Chapmeister. Darrell had a love affair with Vino Verde. Bill managed to wear his flip flops everyday and was discovered to be a contrarian and I talked too much and was referred to as being a pain in the ass. 

Bill did the math and realized that we spent approximately 400 awake hours together which equals about 5 to 10 years of socializing. Sort of like speed dating…Our bodies stood the test of time and distance. Consider the writing on a Pilgrim’s t-shirt: Know Pain Know Gain.We are Peregrinos!!!The video of our entry into Santiago de Compostela – click here

Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 18

I took way too many photos today. So how about I post some (still too many) and you tell the story.

If you decide to share your story please sign your name to it.

37,357 steps and 15.81 miles to A Escravitude, Spain. 


Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 17

Every morning we start with jackets, beanies and knee socks. The air is crisp. Within 2 hours we’ve worked up a sweat between our backs and packs – the rising sun forces us to exchange clothes for sunblock. 

Below are photos taken in order so that you may enjoy the Camino with us. 

Today we all felt like barn horses hoping to reach our hotel in Caldes de Reis  (known for its thermal waters) sooner than later. We walked with purpose. 

31,108 steps and 13.41 miles took us to our rooms at the charming Balneario Hotel Dávila. 

A peek into the kitchen at our morning coffee stop.

Our 2 accordian players and their amigo.

Another dog looking for lunch!

Train tracks.

Our 2nd coffee stop.

The stench coming from this building was awful!

Flowing river plants.


Darrell sipping his wine bowl.

Bamboo garden at our hotel.

Public thermal foot bath.

Camino de Santiago Portugues 16

This day couldn’t have been more beautiful – magical in fact – from the weather to the Camino.We started out with a heart pounding – lung squeezing steep climb.We walked through fern forests, up narrow traversing streets, across a Roman bridge where the Spaniards beat Napoleon, quiet suburban neighborhoods and up again over mosaic rock paths worned by Roman chariots – topped off with song birds and crystal clear rivers with trout and fouls gold sparkling in the sun.

Roman Chariot indentations in the rocks

Roman Chariot indentations

 

We walked 27,714 steps and 11.76 miles into Pontevedra, Spain – famous for seafood and the birthplace of the Santa Maria – the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus.

The Atlantic.

At times we walk on busy highways.

Laundry time at the local community fountain.


Roman Bridge.

The tide is out and the boats hang out.


Taking off layers.


Killer dog trying to eat us under the gate.


Camo Fisherman


Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 15

Bill and I slept with a mosquito last night. That darn thing buzzed our ears for hours. After jumping out of bed and turning on the lights 4 times trying to kill that f**king thing Bill ultimately smashed it in his ear. We only had 2 hours left to sleep.

Another glorious day through wooded areas on cushy paths and rural neighborhoods on pavement.

Ferns, ferns – everywhere.

Yucky burbs.


We had the best Pilgrim’s lunch today. It is where I fell in love with Fabado – cooked beans similar to pinto beans. I dressed them with vinegar, salt and a bit of Tobasco Sauce. Unbeknownst to the rest of the group I have never eaten a bowl of beans. My new favorite meal! When Bill and I walked the Camino Frances we learned to eat the Pilgrim’s menu (a starter, entre and dessert) at lunch time instead of the usual 8:30 mealtime. Opting for a glass of wine and less heavy tapa in the evening.

We walked 28,330 steps and 12.02 miles into Cesantes, Spain where some of our rooms overlook the Atlantic. 

The Atlantic.



Hydrangea bigger than my hand.

Granite walls for the longest distance.

The outline on the ground for displaying flowers for Corpus Christi Day

The afternoon washing of our clothes

Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 14

What a marvelous day! 

It was so good to be back on the Camino after 2 days and 3 inches of rain. Not to mention it is wonderful to be back in spectacular Spain!

España cares about marking the Camino, they cater to the Peregrino, the towns are lively but that darn siesta hour is so hard to get used to. 

Our walk today was filled with delightful views, soft terrain, goats, sheeps, crosses, horses, Roman bridges, roses, kiwi farms, hydrangeas, trout streams, lots of pilgrims and Chappy’s bottom.

We walked 26,489 steps and 11.26 miles into Porriño, Spain.

The building sign says Vending

Here is the vending machine.

Pan = Bread. This is in the block wall around a house.

Mail and Bread

Lots of Pilgrims


Chappy

A painting on a block wall.


Kiwi Farm

Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 13

It POURED last night and continued this morning so once again only our waterproof amigos headed out to walk to Tui, Spain. 

We were paid huge amounts of money to go ahead and secure a hotel with heaters and a bathtub for Roxanne. 

Adios Portugal – Hola España.

Our rock stars walked 13.5 miles through the mud and around  lots of puddles. The clouds parted and they showed up dry!