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Irene's Adventures

Camino de Santiago

SPAIN | Saturday, 2 May 2015 | Views [538]

Heading out at dawn with barely enough light to see the trail, the air is clean and fresh. It feels cool, but I don't wear a fleece because soon I'll be warm from walking. The air is so still and quiet. This walk makes my senses come alive. I hear the sounds of my breath, the crunch of stones under my boots, the clink of my walking poles, the birds singing inches above my head yet invisible, the wind in the trees, a hidden stream babbling. I smell the forest, the flowers, fresh baked bread and brewed coffee from a farm house, an occasional dead animal. I see the path, the vibrancy of the flowers, the trees, bees, butterflies, the path, my breath, crops waving in the breeze, the path, snails. I feel my feet, my individual toes, my pack on my back, my hips, my shoulders. I feel the poles in my hands, the wind on my face and arms. I pray for the sun to come out to warm m bare arms, later I pray for the shade of a forest path.

I feel like I am the only person on earth, yet I never feel alone. The feet of a million pilgrims have trod this path, their energy lingers. Soon other pilgrims will overtake me as I will overtake others. Buen Camino, we greet each other, then quietly trod on. Though the trail is a constant string of thousands of pilgrims, I walk alone. I walk my own Camino. I walk for my own reasons, at my own pace, in search of my own meaning. There is an deep inner knowing that I am being changed forever by this experience. A change that touches my soul, my DNA. All of life is a pilgrimage. I will always be a pilgrim. What a privilege!

Buen Camino

 Camino map


Little is needed. Wear the same thing every day. Clean socks and feet are most important. Wear two pairs of lightweight natural fiber socks. Have good boots. Two walking poles.

Dry out your boots every night.

Tape toes in the evening, to prevent rubbing. Can't see to tape them in the morning. And it takes time.

No sleeping bag. Slept in clothes. Fast get away in morning.

A light sleeping bag would have been very handy.

Ear plugs and eye mask are essential.

Only carry one liter, or less, of water. It is heavy & there are fountains along the way. Have it handy, not inside of pack.

Fresh squeezed orange juice is the best to refresh & rehydrate.

Bars are the only place to be guaranteed to have food in the morning, mostly pastries & sandwiches, sometimes pimento (yummy), olives, herring, egg potato pancake. Always cafe con leche.

Stock up on food the night before. Small bread, ham, cheese & veg or fruit. Boiled eggs are handy, if you can find them.

You never know when stores are going to be open. Their attitude is “Why work so hard? I provide for my family as it is.”

Shops close at 14:00 and don't reopen until 17:00.

Stores typically close at 14:00 on Saturday and do not reopen until sometime on Monday.

Cook for yourself when available. Share the extras.

Wash everything in your pack when there are automatic washers and dryers. Hand washing does not get all the grime out.

Locals do not know anything beyond the town they live in. They are of no help with directions, or distances. Customer service is sloooow.

The Camino keeps many of the small towns alive. Support them when possible.

Common to walk an extra 2-3 km to pass a church in the guide book that is closed.

Stretching helps stiffness.

A small hard rubber ball is great to massage the bottoms of feet in the evenings.

Keep phone on vibrate. Beeps and whistles are annoying at night.

Plastic is the most annoying sound to other pilgrims, especially when they are trying to sleep.

Do not keep track of the money. When it's gone, get more.

Enjoy the peace and simplicity of the journey. Stop to take pictures or to enjoy the sights and sounds.

Do not wait for anyone.

This is your Camino. Do not feel guilty or pressured. This will become self-evident as you go.

You get out of the Camino what you bring and what you are willing to take.

Staying off the Guide Book schedule allows for more availability of rooms but less services and people.

Good idea is to get up early and stop early. Remember, albergues don't open until noon or 13:00.

Sometimes it seems as if the town moves away as I walk toward it.

Spanish crosswalks are 50 feet back from the intersection.

All bathrooms have motion sensors for the lights.


Nightly Regime:

Shower. Stomp on clothes while showering to loosen dirt. Finish washing clothes properly. Eat. Make daily notes. Explore the town. Stock up on food. Calculate distance to next town. Terrain. Weather. Services. Total distance to walk. Tape up toes. Prepare vitamins for morning (multi vitamin, glucosamine, magnesium, probiotic)



Pavement is hard on the feet.

Gravel is hard on the feet.

Sun is hot.

Nights are cold.

Food is not great. - Everything drenched in olive oil – no butter only olive oil

Eggs soaked in olive oil – need a napkin to soak up excess

Bread is a baguette with a thick crust (day old could be used as a baseball bat)

Beds are not comfortable – saggy or springs poking

Bathrooms are generally messy – wear flip flops.

People snore.

Phones beep and whistle all night.

Feet stink.

Early mornings.



Forest paths are the best!

Get to think.

Everything that seemed important is not anymore.

Meet amazing people.

Beautiful country – see more than by car.

It is a different walk every time. Some have walked 8 times. Not sure why I was called.



Day 0 - 2 May 2015

From his front step, Len points to the right. With tears in his eyes he said, “The yellow arrow points that way.”

London – Biarritz


Met a couple on the plane who invited me to share a taxi to St. Jean Pied-de-Porte.

5 of us shared the taxi – 30 Euro each.

Vivianne from Germany and Melina from Switzerland also shared a room with me. 20 E each.

Had dinner of anchovy salad for 9.50 E

bought a walking pole for 15 E

registered 2 E at the Registration Office #37 – turn left at the church, go up the hill, can't miss it

my Spanish comes in handy


miracle: shared taxi, room mates

 Irene Cabay - Pilgrim office  

Day 1 – 3 May 2015

St. Jean – Roncesvalles

8:00 – 16:30 (8.5 hours) 24.9 km


lit a candle at St. Jean for myself, Mom & Dad

19 km uphill through Pyrenees mountains

Tough going. Rain like needles. Wind. Uphill into the wind. Poncho was like a parachute. Wind even pushing the walking pole. Hid behind a big rock to eat.

Vivianne travel partner

Louis, Kirsten, & 9 month old Oscar from Toronto

190 beds at alberge, 6 showers (3 male, 3 female)

Washed clothes but didn't dry due to rain.

There are no blankets at the albergue. Slept with clothes on. Was cold.

Mass at old church in Roncesvalles

miracle: Vivianne

     ready to go  Pyrenees  Pyrenees trail  Viviane

Day 2 – 4 May 2015

Roncesvalles – Zubiri

7:00 – 13:30 (6.5 hrs) 22 km


woke up to guitar & singing “Wake up Little Suzy” & “ The Camino is Waiting”

found out that 400 pilgrims registered on same day as me. Accommodations could be a problem.

Rained last night. muddy path. cool weather. no rain today

bought a pocket knife

many small bridges

Beechwood forest & wild orchids

Vivianne travel partner. From Germany. Is in Human Resources. Used to be a carpenter & appreciates sharp knives & chisels. Studied in Japan for 2 years. Slow to make decisions.

small albergue but very nice

I bought ham, cheese,& bread, Vivianne bought cucumber, tomato & carrot for shared meal

feet are very sore – didn't want to explore Zubiri because of it.

Small town. Butcher shop, bakery & pilgrim shop to stock up.

All very expensive, but cheaper than France.

have blister on right big toe where it touches the tape and left ring toe on top

Note: heavier socks do not work well

left my boots outside to dry up on the inside of boot


miracle: Laura with Rub-A535 for sore shoulder & hip, Bien Viaje ring tone from a guy from Brazil

     wild orchid 

Day 3 - 5 May 2015

Zubiri – Pomplona

6:50 – 13:30 (6.5 hrs) 21 km


down hill is worse than up hill, harder on knees

narrow paths. rocks cut as benches

San Esteban Church – got a nice blessing and got to ring the bell

crossed medieval bridge

passed through Puente de Magdelina & fort

shells on sidewalks to mark the way

Jesus & Maria Albergue is huge, nice garden in back, laundry facilities – shared a wash with Vivianne

super saggy mattress – had to put a pillow in the hollow to level it off

bought SIM card 15 E

running of the bulls statue

Cathedral de Santa Maria

found that stretching helps stiffness


miracle: ringing the bell at San Esteban Church


Day 4 – 6 May 2015

Pomplona – Puente la Reina

6:37 – 15:30 (9 hours) 26.2 km + 5 km to see Eunate


morning was 7C warmed up to 26C in shade

pilgrim memorial

helped woman down steep & stony trail

trail was hard but not as hard as expected

guys picking snails to eat

Eunate (Templar temple) 5 km out of the way

Marion from Australia told me to look up Richard Rohn

Vivianne saw me walk by and called out to stay at her albergue

huge garden at albergue

the bridge (puente) at Puente la Reina

bought another walking pole

orange juice is drink of choice

everyone is searching for something to be a better person


miracle: shepherd with sheep at Eunate – magical, birds singing


Day 5 – 7 May 2015

Puente la Reina - Estella

7:00 – 13:30 (6.5 hrs) 22.5 km


tough day - lots of up and down on trail

hot and sunny

lots of vineyards

snails on branches

medieval bridges

crossed on remains of old Roman Bridge

nice old church was closed as we passed

Albergue run by a church up a hill and off the path. No garden only cement.

no WiFi at algergue, had to go to library

Electric candles in old church. Alabaster windows

Beautiful old churches, massive gold alters yet no one cuts the grass (weeds)

Butcher shop on every block

church on every 3rd block

huge tomatoes

Orange juice is the best!

bought my own rub-A535 for shoulder

decided not to track expenses anymore – I came with 720 Euro, I will go until its gone – act of letting go

injini toe socks are supposed to be good for the feet (later saw people leaving them behind)

by adjusting the tape on my toes and not wearing heavy socks, my small blisters are healing


miracle: hip didn't hurt, found a shell necklace


Day 6 – 8 May 2015

Estella – Los Arcos

6:42 – 12:45 (6 hrs) 21 km


wine fountain outside Estella – help yourself

saw a huge hill with what looked like a fort on top. Hoped that was not where the camino headed – it was.

Got a sweet blessing and a kiss on the cheek from an old man in the church in this town.

more vineyards

people left boots behind on trail

bar on trail 6 km from Los Arcos - little oasis on a long hot stretch of camino

best albergue so far

ringer for clothes

pebble pool for feet & cool water

massages by Julian

beautiful courtyard beside church, dining tables, people laughing, drinking, wine, lone guitar player


miracle: blessing at church

double miracle: the pebble pool for feet


No one is truly interested in my opinion. They only want affirmation to what they already decided upon. Let people do what they want, they are not interested or have a desire to another way. It is my ego that wants them to be interested and do things my way. Why is the approval of others so important?

Letter home:

The Wayne Dyer conference kept stressing how we have the power to manifest. Yesterday I FB with Kaitlin saying I had sore feet. She asked if I packed a massage ball for my feet.  I am currently in Los Arcos at a wonderful albergue with a small pool of marbles to massage our feet.  It also has a pool of cool water to soak our sore feet. Also a massage person!  Sweet!  I have a massage booked for 19:00. If I don't do it the Universe will not be happy with me.... Oh, and while exploring the town, I saw a toy shop that had rubber balls in the window. Amazing!


Day 7 – 9 May 2015

Los Arcos – Viana

6:19 – 11:00 (4.5 hrs)19 km


beautiful roses along path

almond trees

steep 10% grade

French guy adjusted my pack

prayers placed under rocks along the camino

not very nice albergue – bugs, no locks on toilets or showers, no garden or place to dry clothes outside

dried clothes in park behind the albergue

shops close at 14:00 on Saturdays and don't open until Monday morning!

only difference between pilgrim and regular menu is the high priced ice cream bar for regular meal

Roasted peppers are very good


miracle: French guy who adjusted my pack – my shoulder does not hurt anymore, the park to dry my clothes.


Day 8 – 10 May 2015

Viana – Navarrete

6:37 – 12:15 (6 hrs) 22 km


Logrono is a dirty town, garbage and broken bottles in streets. Poorly marked camino through town.

It got better in the park. Huge park & lake. Lots of runners & cyclers.

really nice restaurant in Logrono, backpacks lined up

hot sunny day

Difficult to walk on pavement.

Vivianne disappeared

clean, white albergue, lockers to charge phones

old lady gave me roses from her garden

miracle: snail who walked the camino


I came across a translucent snail. The light came through it, almost like the light was inside of it, making it appear like it was not of this world. But it cast a shadow, so it was of this world. The spirals on the snail cast no light; it was dark, like our egos.


Letter home:

The Camino is really peaceful, especially when I walk alone and through forests or through farms.  I get up early, about 5:00-5:30. Someone is usually stirring and it wakes me up. I have a breakfast of a sandwich made of ham, cheese and, if I'm lucky, tomato, cucumber or avocado. The bread is a baguette, thick and crusty. I cut off whatever will fit in my handy plastic box and put it in my pack for lunch.  Although this practice will change.  I am not going to pack a sandwich unless I know for certain there is no town for several hours. The lunch is weight and every ounce starts to feel heavier as the day goes.  I am also going to pack less water, unless there is no town for hours.  There are sometimes fountains along the way. I have been drinking from there and packing water for nothing.  Water is HEAVY!!
I am walking by 6:30. There is enough light and it is cool. Also, it is very quiet, only the birds singing. It is so nice! There are also not as many people so you don't hear them chattering or their walking poles clinking.  Peaceful. I have time to think as I walk (nothing else to do except look where my feet are stepping, which can sometimes take ALL my attention).
I have been reaching a town and getting a bed around noon or 1:00 anyway.  I am think this practice will continue.  It gets really, really hot (30+°) and walking with a pack is just not fun at that point. My feet start to swell and sweat from the heat. Thus far I have had no blisters so I want to take care of my feet. As well, even with a hat my head gets hot. I don't want sunstroke.  I slather up with sun screen in the morning but I don't want to get a burn either. 
The hostels (albergues) vary in size. There is a municipal one in every town and the prices is set at €8. Some can accommodate only 20 people, others 200.  There are also a few private albergue. They are usually €10-15 per night. The pricier ones include breakfast - consisting of bread, nutella, jams, coffee, tea and cereal. Its fine for many people but I need more so that is why I buy my stuff in a shop and make my own. The private ones are usually a bit nicer, too. One had a small kiddy pool filled with marbles to massage our feet and a small man made stream to cool our feet.  It was super nice!
They are all dorm style, bunk beds and plastic sheets - probably to prevent bed bugs.  Some have coed bathrooms others have segregated.  The dorms are all coed. Ear plugs come in very handy.
The Camino takes you through many little towns. Every town is built around the ancient (10-14 century) church. And every church is built on the highest hill around. There was one place where there was what looked like a castle high high high on a pointed hill. I thought "boy, I'm glad that place looks abandoned. I wouldn't want to have to climb THAT hill". Well as it turns out there was a small town on the backside of the high high high hill that I couldn't see yet.  And guess what, I ended up about 100 meters from that abandoned monstrosity! 
It was in that town that there was an ancient church (surprise) that I went into to light a candle - I promised Mom I would light a candle for her. This church had real candles! A lot of them have a coin dispensed electric candle. Drop in your minimum 20¢ and a little fake candle lights up. I guess it helps raise money, reduce smoke damage and is safer. Although they are all made of solid stone..... Anyway, as I was leaving the church a man was coming in. I'm not sure if he was the priest or the maintenance man. He kept motioning for me to stay a bit longer. Something compelled me to stay. He turned on the lights, which was very nice, then motioned for me to look again at the cross that hung over the candles.  It was very ornate. I had not noticed that there was a mirror behind it to show that the back of the crucifix was even more ornate. He was motioning for me to take a picture. He even showed me where the grill protecting it has a wider space for my hand to fit through. Then he told me, in Spanish, that Christ walks with me on the Camino. Then he gave me a nice hug, kissed both cheeks and wished me Buen Camino. (Good journey. Good walk.)  It was very nice.
Each church has a MASSIVE alter, to the ceiling - about 15 meters high, and encompassing the entire nave. And all gold!  One fellow commented that the gold probably came from the Incas. Interesting theory, and probably correct. One church bragged 7 kilos of gold on the organ alone!  Plus side alters, all gold again.  The churches are all very very old and built of stone so they are always really cool - almost cold. Sometimes I go to the Peregrino (pilgrim) mass in the evening. They usually start at 8:00 and sometimes I just want to get ready for bed already. But it is nice when it is really hot to go inside the church and take my shoes off to cool my feet. Maybe not what is considered appropriate, but I figure God knows how sore my feet are and being the loving Father he understands. LOL. At the end of the Peregrino mass the priest always invites the pilgrims to the front for a special prayer. Sometimes he hands out a blessing to each person, in their own language.

I met a German girl, Vivian, at the airport and we have been walking together a lot.  She is walking to get closer to God, and keeps commenting how she has to go to church to do that. I told her that I think God honors her dedication to walk 800 km in search of Him. Listen to the birds, smell the forest, see the flowers, feel the ache in your feet, taste the cool clear water. THAT is your church for then next month. She was amazed at the simplicity of my attitude,  but had to agree.  But we still go to the churches and masses because there is something about a church that has seen millions of devout pilgrims cross the threshold. There is a lingering energy in that.

I have met some interesting people. Everyone is so nice. Someone commented that only the 'nice' people walk the Camino. The jerks just stay home and complain about their lives but do nothing to improve it. We 'nice' people are trying to become better people, even in some small way, and maybe we can change the world - one good intention at a time. Nice! All I know is people are very nice. Sharing bread, cheese, Band-Aids, Rub A535, adjusting a pack so it feels better,  help up or down a steep slope, putting found items in a visible place for the owner to find. Some of these things I have had others do for me, some I have done for others too.

I met a fellow from Amsterdam. He admitted that he was not a very nice person 10 years ago. But now his life is completely changed.  The change happened before the Camino. Anyway, he said his dad never had much nice to say to him or about him during the first 30 years of his life - he's 41- because by his own admission he was an ass. But when he told his dad he was walking the Camino, for the first time his dad told him he was proud of him. He got all teary telling me. But it made me think,,,, are mom and dad proud of me? You?  I get razzed a lot for traveling and maybe I should be there to help them now. But I tried to get them to downsize and offered to help for years, now it is in their face and I'm not there. Jim and June will get all the accolades. Oh well, one thing I HAVE figured out here is that my ego needs to get out of the way. I like me and if I were a castaway on an island, with no one to judge or point fingers, I'd still like me. And at the end of the day, I have to live with me for the rest of my life. Others may come or go, but I'm stuck with ME.  Got to be myself, because I can't make everyone happy anyway.

3 shirts (1 long sleeve, 1 short sleeve, 1 sleeveless) 1 long trousers, 1 shorts, 1 lounge pants for walking or pajamas. 3 panties, 5 pairs of socks, rain jacket, fleece, flip flops for evening to air boots out, shampoo, comb, tooth brush & paste, soap for body & clothes, deodorant, towel, silk sleeping bag liner (supposed to keep bed bugs away), sunscreen, nail clippers to trim long toenails, toilet paper to pee on the bushes, hat, scarf, sunglasses, water bottle, plastic snack box, flashlight, camera, phone and charger. All I need stuffed in one pack. I have a guide book to inform me where towns are, what services they have and how far between towns. I try to keep it to 20-22 km/ day. Some people have been pushing it ( young people, 10 feet tall and bullet proof) and have HUGE blisters. Everyone walks like they shit them self after they have sat for a while - the muscles seize up.  My yoga stretches have come in very handy. I feel really good in the mornings, barely stiff or sore.

As typical in warm countries, the shops close at 2:00 and don't reopen until 5:00.  Saturday they close at 2:00 and don't reopen until Monday morning!! Supper is at 8:00. Too late for me. So I find a bar and eat the tapas (bar food). Actually very tasty but very oily - olives grow here.  I usually order a large salad. It always has tuna on it and served with some bread so it is a meal in itself.  Yesterday a small group of us went for an early dinner. Every restaurant serves a Peregrino menu. It is basic and about €3-4 cheaper. Some meat, French fries, small salad and a dessert. They always come with a glass of wine too, or you can change it to water or pop. There was one guy and four women. The guy decided he was hungrier so he ordered from the regular menu - a pork dish.  The woman next to him ordered a pork dish from the pilgrim menu.  They were identical!  We laughed and laughed. Now here's the kicker, he ordered rice pudding for dessert - not on the pilgrim menu. She ordered ice cream - included in the pilgrim menu. He gets a small dish of pudding, she got a large Magnus ice cream bar! They cost about €2 in the shop.  And her meal was €3.5 less.  Too funny!!!

There you have it. The life of a Peregrina!

Day 9 – 11 May 2015

Navareete – Azofra

6:30 – 12:20 (6 hrs) 23.5 km


hot, sunny but breeze

wore shorts all day

vineyards & almond trees

giant spider web in bushes

met a golfer on the road – teased him that he hit his ball a long way. He said he golfs everyday so is strong

shelter along camino in case of bad weather

Albergue is semi-private 2 per room, small pool, very nice

shared my room with Jackie – an EMT from Luton UK

shared a glass of wine with Anne Marie from Denmark 2E for bottle

she is hair & makeup artist for Danish films & did worked with Sofie Gråbøl on The Killing & Fortitude

made a big salad for dinner


miracle: semi-private rooms at albergue - no snoring


Day 10 – 12 May 2015

Azofra – Granon

6:15 -12:00 ( 6 hrs) 21 km


Ciruena – no cars to be seen, no people seen. New looking town. Ghost town feel. Creepy

Santa Domingo – start of festival, marching band

vineyards give way to grain fields

noisy frogs

bird on camino arrow

water fountains shaped like shells

ancient pilgrim markers – before shells and arrows

Granon – albergue is in a church

dried clothes from church top

our little traveling group had drinks together – me, Vivianne, Osa, Bietr, Kathy, Chris, Marie, Barry

I was made to live this life! So peaceful, so simple, so happy

prepare group meal, ate together, cleaned up together – very nice

no Compostella stamp at church, had to get stamp at a bar

Madonna brought by procession to protect crops – will go back in the fall

meditation & blessing in choir balcony – very nice

Chris from Australia played guitar & sang in the evening (found out later he was part of a popular band in Australia)

slept on gym mats on the floor

no one allowed up before 6:30


miracle: bird on the sign, Chris playing guitar, marching band, communal dinner


Day 11 – 13 May 2015

Granon – Villambistia

7:22 – 1:15 ( 6 hrs) 23 km


had to wait for communal breakfast – left late, missed coolest part of the day

great photo at head of long trail

very hot - 33C. Long slow incline

had a nasty yogurt at breakfast – fruit flavored aspartame, gave me an upset stomach – took pepto

toughest day yet.

Hot, windy in my face, - had to lean into it

felt like I was being dehydrated – physically, emotionally & spiritually.

Lots of dust devils

weird sign with radioactive mouse on it

hand & foot print tiles on sidewalk in Belorado

storks nesting on chimneys

sat in a church in Belorado to cool off

butterfly with wings wide open on path

wash clothes daily – socks are the worst

clothes dry fast in hot sun and wind

sore feet, no blisters

super nice hostess at albergue

best sleep yet, comfy bed, not cold


miracle: butterfly


Day 12 – 14 May 2015

Villambistia – Atapuerca

6:30 – 14:00(7.5 hrs) 23.5 km


left before Vivianne – may part ways today, her feet are bad

I feel fit and strong

Waited for Vivianne 90 minutes in Villafranca, finally went on

nice albergue – garden, deck, benches

Baby Oscar singing in restaurant & got applause

Ed bought Jack's house in Edmonton

hip is not sore at all. It either got lubed up with the walking or decided that I was not going to stop walking so it may as well stop complaining.


miracle: baby Oscar singing


Day 13 – 15 May 2015

Alapuenca – Burgos

6:15 – 10:40 (4 hrs) 21 km


Very cold morning! Walked fast just to keep warm

Warmer at Burgos

a guy pointed out an easier place to walk, in the grass along the river

lots of statues in Burgos

Got to Burgos and saw some travel partners. Had a coffee & pastry with them.

queued for one hour outside of albergue

a guy sang opera to the queue

huge albergue – very sterile looking

statue outside of albergue of a guy rubbing his foot - appropriate

cultural bands in costume all over town

Burgos cathedral – amazing!

got nose pad on my glasses fixed

looked all over town for a hotel to spend an extra night – none to be found

bought new flip flops – old ones gave me a blister on the top of my foot from the strap

Louis, Kirsten & Oscar are busing ahead – had to say good-bye to them.


miracle: guy singing opera, got my glasses fixed



Day 14 – 16 May 2015

Burgos - Rabe de las Calzadas

12:08 – 15:15 (3 hrs) 12.5 km


late start – waited to say goodbye to Vivianne, she's going back to Germany

lots of statues as I left Burgos

lady along the trail redirecting pilgrims to go through a construction site (closed on Saturday) to save one km of walking

cool winds, cool mornings

church bells ringing full on for about 15 minutes

nice albergue – supplied soap!

Left my rub A535 behind

went to the nunnery for vespas – nuns gave us a blessing and small medallion

one guy had blisters that covered the entire bottom of his foot – ouch!

Found out some people have been hospitalized for blisters, constipation from not eating veggies, rashes, and allergic reactions to anti-wicking socks.

First questions at albergues – where are you from? How are your feet?

got into discussion about how to prevent blisters. I said to wear 2 pair of natural fiber socks & wash and dry my feet and socks every night. I was ridiculed for it. I pointed out that they have the blisters, I don't.

miracle: church bells

Letter home:

I stayed in Burgos until noon to say goodbye to Viviane, then got as far as Rabe de las Calzadas. Nice albergue! She supplies soap! Funny how that little thing is so important as you walk. Now I walk alone. But maybe not... I keep running into a sister and brother from Australia. And a fellow from Seattle. They are here tonight. The Aussie guy is a musician and has played guitar at one albergue. Very nice. There is a guy who just came in with blisters so big they about 2 cm across. Absolutely raw. The hostess took scissors and cut away the dead skin then put iodine and bandages. He said he considered going to the hospital in Burgos but wanted to keep walking. Yikes, it must hurt!  I hear of all kinds of people going to hospital for all kinds of reasons. Infected blisters - one guy was so bad it got on his bones, rashes from mysterious things (one guy was only on one leg above the sock I think he walked in stinging nettles to go pee and a lady who brought new moisture wicking socks and was allergic to them), constipation - some young guys who are not eating veggies, only meat and bread. All sorts of interesting things... Me, I am fit and fine. I take my vitamins every other day, I eat salads every chance I get, I eat an apple or orange everyday and drink LOTS of water, especially when I am settled in an albergue.  I will have to walk farther than usual tomorrow because there is no decent albergue closer. Not unless I do only 16 km, but then I get into town before they open so that is pointless too.  



Day 15 – 17 May 2015

Rabe de las Calzadas – Castojeriz

6:05 – 13:15 ( 7 hrs) 28 km


cool walking in morning. Afternoon hot and sunny

bright green lizard

red poppy fields

ancient monastery – can stay there but must sleep in the open, no facilities

wine cellar dungeon at albergue

monastery – missed the monks chanting by a few minutes

revolving wooden door to prevent seeing the nun when I bought the necklace (Toa)

Amy from Cincinnati toured the town with me for a while


miracle: red poppy fields



Day 16 – 18 May 2015

Castrojeriz to Fromista

6:30 – 13:30 (7 hrs) 25 km


more poppies, purple flowers

Jan's Mom died on 17th – she loved poppies

peaceful paths

long gentle downhill path

start of meseta

canal lock system

Ibo playing mandolin at albergue


miracle: Ibo playing mandolin


Day 17 – 19 May 2015

Fromistia to Carrion de los Condes

6:00 – 11:00 (5 hrs) 19 km


cold wind all day 15C

stopped early because I had heard lots of good things about this albergue run by nuns

helped the nuns unload the supply truck

beautiful singing by nuns

blessing from nuns - colored paper star to light our way

new boot liners & socks

made a huge pasta and shared with Debbie, Beth, Mareza

good sleep, comfy beds, 2 blankets


miracle: nuns singing, TWO blankets


Day 18 – 20 May 2015

Carrion de los Condes to San Nicolas de Real Camino

6:10 – 14:00 (8 hrs) 32.2 km


3C in morning, used socks as mitts, no wind

long walk, feet very tired

got a phone call from Carrie

met a guy from France who worked in HR. Was told he had to lay off 200 people. Didn't have the heart to do it so he layed himself off.

His quote: You get what you bring and want you are willing to take.


Miracle: the quote


Day 19 – 21 May 2015

San Nicolas de Real Camino to Reliegos

6:20 – 15:20 (9 hrs) 38 km


frost on ground

turned right when I should have turned left – got lost

was supposed to stop at Burgo Ranero. Walked an extra 4 hours and estimated 16 km

rocky road, no reprieve from bad footing. NO ONE on the trail.

Meseta is hard – even harder when alone and lost

saw a bird on the sign

Reliegos has wine cellar caves

Jackie was at the albergue

small rubber ball was a life saver for my feet

pain killers to sleep tonight


miracle: the bird on the sign


Day 20 – 22 May 2015

Reliegos to Leon

6:20 – 11:43 (5.5 hrs) 24.3 km


frost on ground

washed all my clothes in a machine – I had a rash on my butt and feet

fell in the shower – hurt my right arm

church is closed until 14:00

got a massage on my lower back and legs

Cathedral was beautiful. 1800 square feet of stained glass

kids were playing soccer in church square amid all the tourists


miracle: stained glass


Day 21 – 23 May 2015

Leon to Hospital de Orbigo

6:20 -14:30 (8 hrs) 33.7km


frost in the morning – socks as mittens again. sunscreen by afternoon

decided to stop lighting candles for Mom at Virgen del Camino. I need to start walking for ME!

bridge 300 meters long. 20 arches. Built in 10 or 11 century

large stones on bridge hard to walk on. Mortar gone. Stones polished to glass finish

Templar albergue

made huge salad for dinner

bought more sunscreen

lots of birds singing. Lots of flowers along the way.


miracle: birds and flowers



Letter home:

I have been making real good time.  One day was a real oops!   There were 2 ways. I intended to stop at a place called Burgos Ranero. I went right when I should have gone left.  When I realized I was on the wrong road it was an hour out of my way to get to Burgos Ranero. I thought, screw that, I'll carry on for that hour and be that much closer to the next town, which I thought was 2 hours away..... Oops, it was over 4 hours away - even after the one hour I thought I was ahead.  OMG!  It was on the meseta, the plains. Very much like the prairies. No trees. Flat. And a  loose gravel road that had stones ranging in size from walnuts to eggs to grapefruit. It was so hard to walk on. And I didn't see one person or car. I felt like I was all alone on the earth. I was never so happy to see the town!  All along I kept telling myself, just over that rise I'll see the town. Just around that bend I'll see the town. Just beyond that clump of shrubs I'll see the town.  I ended up walking 38 km.  Now I am really paranoid on looking at the map.

Yesterday I got a massage on my legs.  Ahhhh..... So today I did a mere 32 km.  Lol. 

My pack is getting lighter with shampoo and soap getting used up. As well, I have learned to pack it better. It really makes a difference where in the pack things are.  Also, early on a guy following me caught up to me saying my pack was crooked and it made him crazy so he adjusted it for me. So much better!

Also, I learned not to pack too much food or water. Everywhere gives water for free or I buy an orange juice, fresh squeezed and so sweet, yummy.  And I don't get hungry while I walk. I eat because I know it will give me energy, so I don't eat much.  I have taken to buying food along the way. It is so cheap it is ridiculous!  I bought the fixings for a big pasta dinner and homemade sauce a few days ago. There was enough food to feed all 4 of us with leftovers for another 4.  It cost me €20.  One of the girls gave me €10. A nice full meal with salad, chicken, fries, dessert and wine (or other drink - I am staying away from booze because it will affect my walking the next day) will cost €10.  Snacks in the bars are even cheaper.  And they are wholesome and good!  It is costing me between €20-25 per day, that includes a bunk and blanket (if I have to rent one).  Not bad. Cheaper than living at home.  Everywhere has a special price for pilgrims.  Meals, drinks, entry fees to museums, churches, etc. are usually 1/2 price. 

I am loving it. I can see why people say they want to just keep walking when they are done. Everyone is so nice on the walk. Some of the merchants are ignorant, which is surprising considering the pilgrims are their only source of income.

Not of the churches are open during the day, which is surprising considering we sometimes walk 2-3 km out of the way to see the church. I am told they don't have the money to keep it open all the time. Catch 22, if it was open pilgrims would leave money.... These Super old churches have electronic candles. Drop in your coin and a little light goes on. Good idea, but it loses something in the ambiance.  I think God understands though....


Day 22 – 24 May 2015

Hospital de Orbigo to Valdeviejas

6:20 – 14:15 (8 hrs) with 3.5 hrs in Astorga


Saw a deer

Hermit living on trail – had meditation spiral

guy playing guitar on the road

Gaudi House

Chocolate Museum

Cathedral de Santa Maria

Roman Museum – part of tunnel system

stranger stopped van on road to ask me something & motioning me closer. I stayed in Valdeviejas to get off the road early. (2 women were abducted between Astorga & Rabanal. A 3rd got away)

Room all by myself

Real bathroom

taxi to next town for a meal


miracle:  guy playing guitar, room all to myself


Day 23 – 25 May 2015

Valdeviejas to Foncebadon

6:30 – 12:45 ( 6 hrs) 23.3 km


lots of police on the road

hard path uphill, loose slate, fantastic views

beautiful path with lots of flowers and smells (honeysuckle?)

nice park to eat. Some pilgrims camped there.

Memorial to pilgrim who died on the Camino

bus load of senior German pilgrims – hike 5 km, bus 20 km or to miss harder hikes

Foncebadon is an old dilapidated town

Marianna from Brazil (lawyer), now in Germany teaching Portuguese

Robert from Australia


miracle: the smell of the flowers - heavenly


Day 24 – 26 May 2015

Foncebadon to Ponferrada

6:25 – 14:00 (7.5 hrs) 27.3 km


Cruz de Ferro - Left a stone with the prayer, “May this stone balance the scales in my favor on judgment day”. Left a second stone symbolizing everything I want to let go of. Liberating and very emotional.

The peace of letting go of our garbage.

Leaving the rock @ Cruz de Ferro, then passing the highest point.

Symbolic of troubles on the other side of that mountain.

Found out later it is on a spiritual vortex, similar to Sedona, AZ

Uphill then steep stony downhill - very slow going

Incredibly beautiful

dinner in the shadow of the Templar Castle - amazing

Templar castle (a proper castle!) & museum

(Templars were too popular so the Church stole their castle and belongings. The original court transcripts are being examined to see who was at fault.)

Melanie from Switzerland

some people use pedometers, but they are not accurate due to taking smaller steps on hills.


miracle: Cruz de Ferro – biggest miracle of entire Camino


Day 25 – 27 May 2015

Ponferrada to Pereje

6:25 – 14:00 (7.5 hrs) 29.3km


sculpture gallery in the middle of nowhere

huge roses, loaded bushes

super hot (28C) – heat trapped in the valley

blister on my thumb from the walking poles strap

albergue near creek – lots of mosquitoes

Amy from Cincinnati

solar charger is a blessing – not always enough plug ins


miracle: Amy


Day 26 – 28 May 2015

Pereje to Hospital da Condesa

6:10 – 14:10 (8 hrs) 28.9 km


uphill lots but beautiful views

very high up

crazy high and long overpasses

Marianna & I posed for selfie with view behind us

washed clothes in washer

cows outside of bar

funny trout dinner – more like big sardines

Robert lent me his fleece to use as a blanket & some dried fruit for breakfast


miracle: the merino wool fleece


Day 27 – 29 May 2015

Hospital da Condesa to Samos

6:08 – 12:50 (7 hrs) 25.2 km


very foggy, super steep morning climb

Mary Anne & Susan from Seattle applauding as I reached the top

walked with Brent from Kingston ON – sounds like Red Green

Asked God why am I here? Immediately left foot hurt. Then shoe laces came undone (twice, never happened before). Then I got a stone in my shoe (first time). Then I had to pee. SLOW DOWN! Learn to pace myself and enjoy the moment. Robert said the same thing. He started out before dawn and missed the trail, had to backtrack 3 km. We agreed to hurry is not always productive. It will happen when its meant to happen.

5/6 century monastery albergue – distillery blew up in 1951 – reconstructed but with modern theme (designer did movie sets)

Most of library gone – massive old bible with sheep skin pages remains

3 Euro tours helps them to rebuild

used to have 150 monks & 200 apprentices, now 10 monks & 2 apprentices

rude French man


miracle: Slow Down!


Day 28 – 30 May 2015

Samos to Mercadoiro

6:30 – 13:45 (7 hrs) 31.8km


rocks shine like they have silver in them

cloudy and cool so walked more than expected

lots of cow poop on path – burns my nose

fresh orange juice is everywhere

Boson Terrier with puppy at albergue


miracle: puppy


Day 29 – 31 May 2015

Mercadoiro to Palas de Rei

6:10 – 14:00 (8 hrs) 30.6 km


morning solitude & birds singing. Cool weather

lots of cows and poop on trail – stink is causing me to sneeze and burning nostrils (thank God its not hot weather!)

sometimes not sure if I am walking through a town with cows or a farm with shops.

dinner with Mary Anne & Susan – octopus is town's speciality

Mary Anne offered to wash my clothes with hers - lost a sock

damp rainy weather, poor drying area for clothes, not drying

lots of weekend pilgrims closer to Santiago


miracle: nice crowing rooster



Day 30 – 1 June 2015

Palas del Rei – Arzus

6:00 – 14:30 (8.5 hrs) 28.8 km


lost an hour in Melide looking for a new SIM card

lots of manure being spread

feel very stuffed up today – got some medicine

light rain in morning, afternoon cool but no rain

New albergue off the path. Had room to self. Nice bathroom. Nice garden.

Bought a small watermelon.

Finally had butter – after 3 days of walking through cows and their poop


miracle: room to self


Day 31 – 2 June 2015

Arzua - Santiago

6:00 – 17:00 (9 hrs) 39.2 km


free philosophy sayings

John Lennon's “imagine” written out over several kilometers on trash cans.

ran out of water. Hot!

should have stopped but I was drawn forward


Knackered. Nearly dropped from exhaustion.

Robert brought me a bottle of water, said I “looked spent”

90 minute queue at Peregrino office – nearly collapsed, had to sit on ground.

wept when I got my Compostella. So emotional.

Wept when I hugged St. James statue

Went for dinner with Robert, neither wanted to eat alone this night.

Met Robert at Cathedral to see Botafumeiro swing.

Priest said we will always be Pilgrims throughout life


Miracle: Robert bringing me water.


Day 32 – 3 June 2015



feels weird to not walk

explored Santiago

fanny pack pilgrims – send their packs ahead so they don't have to carry them


miracle: feeling the magical energy of centuries of Pilgrims

     helix staircase  

Letter home :

I started in St. Jean Pied de Port in France and walked the 775 km to Santiago. I started May 3 and arrived in Santiago yesterday, June 2.  I am resting one day here then continuing to Finisterre, another 90 km.  Martin Sheen made the Camino popular in the movie “The Way”. However, my son walked itseveral years ago and within one week he called me and said I HAD to do it. I kept brushing it aside thinking I'm too old, its too far, its too hard. But every time I brushed it aside something kept poking me to do it. So I tell people I was called to do it. I am still not sure of why I am here. I've been told the answer will reveal itself when I return home. Maybe. All I know is I really don't want to go home. The life of a pilgrim is tough but rewarding. I call home every so often and I hear the drama of what is seemingly SO important.  Its not really. It is drama we create for ourselves through our belief that is how to feel important within the world. If we don't have drama then we are insignificant. No one will notice me. My need to feel important. I hope I can retain this feeling of I AM important because I am alive, and I am here, now. In this place in time. In this place on earth. In this place in the universe.
Everyone on this pilgrimage has their own reason to be here. Many lost a loved one, a job or are searching for meaning in their life. I came because I was called. I didn't have an agenda. I was, and am, open to whatever the universe wanted to give me. What ever I am willing to take away.
I know I sound like some sort of converted guru. But all this time alone, walking, has really put things into a different light. Mostly I walked alone. Sometimes someone would walk with me or I them. Sometimes for the better part of the day. Sometimes for a few minutes. Most evenings were spent in the company of others. All sharing our experiences and reasons for being here. Every evening, a round table discussion on what we are learning. Some are so eloquent. Others only say a few words. Always something that I can put into my own experience to enhance it.
I did a big push yesterday (40km) and made it to Santiago. I was wasted when I got here. There
was a long queue (90 min)/to get my certificate. As I was just beginning to queue a guy I had been walking with a few days ago was just leaving with his certificate. He saw me and came over to give me a congratulations hug. He made the comment that I looked 'spent'. He asked if he could buy me a bottle of water. I am so glad he did. I was beginning to get dizzy. I sat on the ground nursing my water and the fellow behind me in queue told me Just sit here. I know you are in front of me. I'll motion for you when we get closer.  I must have looked like shit!! I certainly felt like it.  However, as I got closer toSantiago I could have stopped and came today but I really felt a pull to be here.  I was in tears when Robert hugged me. I was in tears when I got my certificate. I was in tears at the mass. I didn't think it would affect me this way. I was really in tears when I went up into a little alcove behind the alter to hug the statue of St. James.  Its not that I am suddenly religious or going to start going to church, but I think the energy of millions of pilgrims over hundreds of years has left its pure faith energy. The original pilgrims had it really tough. There were no yellow arrows pointing the way, no regular albergues set up, there were wild animals and bandits. Then they had to walk back home. No bus. No airplanes.  They endured all that because of a pure faith. A belief in something thing bigger than them. That energy is palpable here.

Day 33 – 4 June 2015

Santiago – Negreira

6:08 – 13:00 (7 hrs) 21 km


Santiago had a pull on me now I feel at peace with all the time in the world

hot day

not as many people. Less arrows too

nice walk through forests, brutal on pavement

We got the house in Edmonton

naked guy near water falls in Ponte Maceira

bad bug bite - oozing down my leg

Meet a couple in Negreira who are getting married in Finisterre. They were going to have a big wedding back in the USA but decided to take the wedding money and travel around the world. He was a lawyer. Said he met so many interesting people on the Camino, none behind his desk.

someone left a ½ bag of pasta – Bonus


miracle: peacefulness


Day 34 - 5 June 2015

Negreira – Olveiroa

6:10 – 14:45 (8.5 hrs) 33.4 km


slow going due to annoying cake decorating girl from Chicago with a bad knee – I stayed with her because it was a desolate area

she finally had to stop, I kept on.

Grain storages on stilts


miracle: when the girl decided to stop


Day 35 – 6 June 2015

Olveirao – Finisterre

6:08 – 15:00 (9 hrs) 31.7 km


didn't want the Camino to end – walked verrry slow

very windy

hot in afternoon

lunch on beach at Escaselas

picked up another rock to symbolize things I want to let go. What if I stumble across the rock I left at Cruz de Ferro? (They take those rocks and spread them on the path periodically)


miracle: found a resin shell to hang on my house


Day 36 - 7 June 2015

Finisterre – Santiago


Santiago – London UK



miracle: getting the last seat on the plane


People I met:

Vivianne – Germany

Bietr – Germany

Robert – Australia

Chris & Kathy – Australia

Willem – Holland

Mareza – Holland

Osa – Sweden

Marie – Holland

Weiwei – China

Jackie –UK

Beth & Betty – Canada

Louis, Kirsten & Oscar – Canada

Brent - Canada

Barry – Seattle

Amy – Cincinnati

Melanie – Switzerland

Paul Benoit Zimyle - France



The peace of letting go of our garbage.

Leaving the rock @ Cruz de Ferro, then passing the highest point.

Symbolic of troubles are on the other side of that mountain.

Getting to Santiago & feeling the energy of millions of pilgrims.

Days of old – this was life or death, endured because of faith, a belief in that “something”.

The hardship of the journey.

The days when you want to give up, yet carry on.

Was it the energy of the early pilgrims that helped me through?

In the hardship comes the peace.

Focusing on the next step.

Forgetting the worries of the material world.

Where will I eat?

Where is the next albergue?

Basic survival.

Which, to me, speaks of getting closer to God.

Almost animal like.

So many people truly struggling the last days.

Where did they draw that last drop of energy from?

Really focusing on the now

People die on the Camino, Now is all you get.

Mindfulness in every action.

We let ourselves get wound up in other stuff.

It will all work out in the end.

We get caught up in - it has to be this way, on this schedule etc.

Maybe the shop opens at 9:00 or not, either way I wont' starve.

Some do the Camino every year to remind themselves how to live life.

Live that life all day long, everyday.

On the flip side, we were lamenting how we hoped our butts would be firm – not.

Some younger struggle, some older go fast why?

Dedication more than physical strength?

Not easy. Exhausted but another 3 km to next albergue or bar – dig deep deep deep - keep going.

Only nice people do the Camino, the jerks stay at home and complain.

Pilgrims do something to change.


Theory: the more expensive the boot he more severe the injury



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