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Ciao, Camino! It’s been belissimo. Really.

Now is the time.

Goodbye, my Camino Frances.

I may not return, especially alone.

If you’ve followed this blog, you know how I love ❤️ Spain 🇪🇸 and, at this moment, detest my Divided States 🇺🇸 of America. So happy to have four weeks away from the man who shall not be named.

Regardless, it’s about time to fly home to the D.S.A. and my loved ones.

Really loved ones.

Many post about the post-Camino blues and readjusting to their normal lives. Back to normal responsibilities and cares that don’t involve 20-40kms walking 🚶 per day.

I admit that I did had a bit of that after my first Camino. My first European experience was special and rather emotional with my two daughters.

Not as much this time. Just as special, just much less emotional. Except for happiness. Very happy few weeks here with everyone. I love this world 🌎 even more now.

Moving on…

I have a wonderful, gorgeous, and super successful wife, partner, mom, and sales pro supporting me and wanting me home. Two boys that miss me too. Two girls out on their own adventures. And a great life and belissimo hometown to return to in no time.

This last week began in Samos and its Monastery from the 6th century. I made a couple of friends from France 🇫🇷 and Boston/San Diego and they made my lunch and my evening walk joys.

This was and is a lovely town of Samos.

Off to Sarria and just passing through. Too overcrowded. Roughly 60% of Camino pilgrims start there. 5 days to Santiago for that piece of Compostela paper. To each his own Camino.

I filled up my APOC credential and I am now using the Espana credential that I bought for €2 at the Samos Monasterio. Lots of room for stamps.

This last week, as well as parts of the last four weeks from Burgos to Santiago, have been my long goodbye. I know the end of a very good thing when I experience it. Like a sweet beach town with nothing but locals in business turning over to chains and big $$$ business interests. That’s when I need to move on. The magic is gone.

Our Camino now smells of ample Euros. What was €5-7 is now €8-11. Habaticions to ordinary pilgrim meals, the smell of money 💰 is in the Camino air. BTW. Check out the number of BMWs and Mercedes in very strange Camino places. One huge BMW parked on the lot/sidewalk of the newest Albergue in Tríacastela. Not a pilgrim, I’m guessing.

Standard “sandwich ” signage everywhere for sugary desserts and carbon copy pilgrim menus. Hamburgers and pizzas??? I came here to escape America. Not eat more of it.

Please understand.

I love Spain 🇪🇸!!! Her countryside. Her authentic food and her vino tinto. Her happier people. Her rare villager who will smile and offer “Buen Camino!!!” …those 3 older folks…one sweet woman in her gown with a cane, one cigar chomping man on the road, and one beret wearing man sitting under a tree in his backyard….three brief joys and my heart and mind were lifted as I responded “Gracias!!!” to each “Buen Camino!!!!!” each of those three offered right when I needed it. All too rare moments this time on my Camino.

I will indeed miss the cool daily walks on uncertain paths and the sights, sounds, and smells of rural Spain. No doubt there. But, as I’ve shared with many, one can make one’s own Camino everyday, anywhere. Just walk.

Walk through any wooded park. Walk through fields. Walk around any small town or village, if they still exist.

Just walk. And think.

No phone. No tunes. No distractions. Just walk and listen to the natural 🌎 world including your own footsteps. Easy to do in rural Spain. Little traffic. Mostly people on foot. Locals and pilgrims alike. Just walking.

Outside the old to ancient towns and villages, there are a million+ calm and beautiful places to walk by and through…..excluding the tissue strewn areas where grown men and women squat and literally dump on their Camino. 💩 Yuck.

I’ll never understand that level of disrespect for such a special, historic Way of St. James. Tissues used to wipe off the disrespect are all up and down the Camino and don’t think that the locals haven’t noticed. Hence, the lack of “Buen Camino” in the air. More Camino magic lost on me.

Back to the beauty of my last week here in Spain.

Beauty is everywhere here.

My walks alone. Walks with others. Just walking.

Jeremy, an actor from California, was another joy to walk and chat with. We only learned our names hours later at the top of Sarria. Funny. Hours after meeting in the Tríacastela dark. I had a flashlight for us to see our way.

What I love most about my Camino, and travel anywhere , is the unknown that turns into a discovery. A wonderful discovery. Sarria is too big and busy. Barbadelo offered a resort and farmhouse. I wanted more. Delicious menu and belissimo company for the evening. Si. Every night!

Is there a country spot that’s peaceful and smells of fresh air? Yes, there is.

Milano de Marzan.

Her owner looks very young, but acts like a mom to this middle Age pilgrim. Kinda funny. She did not appreciate my efficiency for vino tinto consumption in very remote regions of Spain 🇪🇸. Fair enough. She grew on me.

I chose to miss out on the Barbadelo resort for a farmhouse that wasn’t attended until 1pm. It was 11am. I moved on, with my trusty guide book, and found my paradise for one night. It was more magic.

Once the usual cleaning and laundry was hung, I went for …what else???…another walk. Met several peregrinos along The Way and offered all Buen Camino! with gusto. Most were happy.

God was watching and caring.

I arrived home that night to an almost full room of Italians. I had just slept with a small room of Italians the night before. No bueno.

This group was different. Young to my age. Maybe older. Who knows??? Very friendly. Not detached like the albergue before. They were and are very sweet at dinner and beyond….

I won’t forget our belissimo time together that night and the brief morning walk together too. More than belissimo.

Made my way to Portomarin and very familiar sights. Small river town, but not as small as the Gonzar ahead that we enjoyed before. This town did not smell of cow 🐮 and had more dining and sleeping options.

However, “Completo. Completo. Completo….” was all I heard until I ventured off my Brierley guidebook grid and found a small, family bar albergue with two bunks, four beds and that’s where I settled, washed, and cleaned early.

Sometimes, you just take what you can get for 10€.

Later, to be joined by one BASQUE biker 🚵 and two other Spaniards. There’s a difference… Basque is not Spain 🇪🇸, even though the Basque territory straddles Spain and France 🇫🇷. Watch “The Way”. It explains.

All 3 gents are very nice, very fit, and probably very curious about this large fellow that is not from around here. I understand.

Fine healthy meal, churchside!

y

Belissimo siesta. Bueno tour around Portomarin.

No cow smell. All good that night.

Tomorrow is another day….

What began as a short 4 hour day turned into an almost 7 hour day covering about 27kms. About my maximum. The nice cafe owner 10km back advised me that his albergue was Completo or full with reservations tonight. One group. A growing Camino issue that goes against the history and spirit, in my opinion. So, I kept walking. I’m pretty well trained these days. Another 10k came and went with beauty…

Until, after offering “Ciao!!” to my Italian ladies, I found my next albergue paradise. First one there again….

Casa Domingo was recommended by a friend of the owners at the Ant sculpture albergue that was Completo. I made it. I rested. I napped. I ate. And I loved Casa Domingo…

After I inhaled my super burger for only 4€, I chatted with the owners who live in the distant farmhouse. They own 8 albergues. Guess where I’m staying tomorrow night?

But, another dinner with a lovely Italian family of 4 and my bunkmate, a German….

The 21 yr old daughter was my family interpreter. They were a joy.

We chatted in the yard all afternoon and after siesta while it rained at dinner. All belissimo. Italians are very curious about America.

I tossed and turned a bit that night, let most bump and thump their way out by 6 and I finally rose to get ready to walk at sunrise.

Other than my classic sunrise 🌅, grande croissant 🥐, and those ancient Roman bridges…all that’s left to show before today’s siesta is the most beautiful young couple in the 🌎!!!!

That photo cannot begin to describe how beautiful these two new “friends” from Madrid are!!! Then, add their curiosity, their youth, their spirits, and their collective energy….so beautiful to spend seconds with them everyday and a good hour with them today!!! They will be missed, as we had to say buenos Dias and Buen Camino to Marta & Danny one last time….

Goodbyes sadden me.

A few family updates and a short siesta later. I’m back. Ready for dinner. Menu sounded so limited and bland, but I am stuck in this one kitchen town. So I thought!

First, my sweet server gives me choices.

Insalata, por favor…..ehhhhh…no tuna. Jamon??? Si, she says. Grilled steak???? Si!!!!

The best grilled meat, fried potato, and fresh insalata with Jamon I’ve ever had…no dressing needed Perfecto!!!!

Then St. James tarta and a mysterious shot. Looked harmless.

Goodnight, sweet Saint James.

Another 20km done today in rain. A 4 hour slog was enough for me and The Way Pensión I booked in Brea allowed me in 2.5 hours early. Being soaked may have helped. The pool is perfect for kids and polar bear challengers.

Hoping for the sun to make an appearance soon or sometime tomorrow. Then on to Santiago on Thursday.

I recall a pretty industrial landscape between here and Santiago de Compestella. Not going to bore anyone with those sights.

Not going to selfie the historic Cathedral either. Plenty of those out there.

I’m just going to end my almost three year fascination & Love affair with Frances this way.

The Way. My Way.

My Love, you know who you are.

Our way from now on.

Gracias for following along.

Find your Camino where your heart is…just be there, walk long walks, and think about your Way everywhere and everyday.

Finally…..

Buen Camino!

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Home. Camino. Home. All sweet.

I miss home…again…and that’s a very good thing. Just a few great reasons why here…

When we get away from home, it’s almost always as a family, sometimes as a couple, and rarely on business or pilgrimage. That’s just how we roll.

Although, My Love did ask me the other night if she could go stay on the coast of Mexico next February with a great friend and fellow working-hard mom/business pro. I’m in Spain for four weeks. I’m sure you can guess how easy my answer came. Of course.

This will be my last Camino Frances for a while. I need time to process and explore other pilgrimages with loved ones. It’s just not the same solo. I did not expect that thought. But, it’s true for me.

We all need to getaway. With family or alone or with best friends. It’s healthy and makes you realize who and what you miss. But, you also have super, rare moments that will be etched in your brain forever…

My 2017 Camino is etching beautiful caverns in my brain this month. Half of it dig a little deeper with the help of July, 2015. Other half brand new.

The kind of caverns I see My Love and willing kids and others carving through all of Europe by train and foot, through the Sea of Cortez, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and ??? by sail, moorings, marinas, and other friendly confines. Deep memories that last for generations. Not what we did for a living. Nor what we owned. But, what we did with what we had and who we shared it with…that is my intended legacy for our future kids I’ll hang with and those I’ll never meet. In the meantime, My Love and I plan to share really fun, interesting, and mind-altering places and people with the kids we have, those they bring to the adventure and those we cannot imagine.

If you can’t tell, I’m already thinking about post-Camino.

A sad American curse is struggling to live in the moment. We are always thinking about the next thing. Or 22 next things. It’s sad and I’m guilty too. Another reason to love Spain and other “in the moment” cultures.

Dinner outside at 10pm , even with kids, with little regard for tomorrow. Siesta in the middle of the afternoon because you need it…and it’s just feels good.

I had a communal dinner several nights ago with 6 Italians, 1 older German gent, and 1 very young Hungarian gent…all very entertaining and too curious about the America that I gladly left behind.

Tonight, it’s dinner with my new Israeli/Irish young couple. Already caught up with them after siesta as we lounged on our respective bunk beds in our cool (literal and figurative) bunk house/room with a new bath and stairs to it!!!!

The other 3 dining companions were Italian, of course…it is August…and worked very hard to speak English for all of us to understand. We did. Another young couple and a fellow a few years younger than me with a story of love. His new love is just a couple of days walk behind up. We wants to wait for here here or in the next town. Not sure how that love is going to work out. We shall see.

These five from Italy 🇮🇹, Ireland 🇮🇪, Israel 🇮🇱, and our hosts from Brazil 🇧🇷 & Italy 🇮🇹 joined in a round of Happy Birthday 🎈 in their respective languages…so, Reagan had a happy birthday from this world 🌎.

So sweet.

Take #2 happened (to be posted later) with a different group of pilgrim diners since I decided to hang back and stay in La Faba, Spain 🇪🇸 a second night. Not usual for a non-injured guy on my Camino like me. I just need my second dose and I will move on. Maybe. We shall see. Hard to move on from all of this lush green and simple agrarian life. Except for animal poop everywhere. I could live without that, like people 💩 along the Camino.

Then, today, a little 4.5km day trip to O’Cebreiro….up there and back….

…to pay homage to Father Don who , before his death in 1989 at age 60, he led the yellow arrow waymarking movement along the Camino. Many salutes and memorial plaques with his likeness outside and his resting place in this church. Thank you, Santiago & Father Don for The Way.

A day trip to O’Cebrieo was a good morning climb, kind of touristy past the beautiful church, but also had gorgeous views and I met several beautiful young people from Wales and Spain on foot and on bikes. Both asked for pictures and I took mine too plus conversations with each, before I went one way and they another..

Back up early before 4am. Cannot make too much noise, like the Italians behind me…

…during my lunch today.

We were in bed and not a courtyard. I waited for the two Spaniards to wake up and make noise before I even moved.

Then, back in the dark to Galicia…

Long 26km to Tríacastela. Passed my Canadian friends as they pushed their bikes a km or two to O’Cebrerio. Arrived there. Filled my 1.5 liter agua bottle. And onward through several little towns. Jewel of a meeting was Elizabeth from Australia 🇦🇺. About my mom’s age, I’m guessing. So strong. So beautiful. Left her son in her dust. Oh, so funny too. Our encounter was just minutes, as she needed coffee ☕️. I can only imagine our conversation past family chat we had. I was strong and needed to keep moving. No caffeine required. Which led to meeting Louis from Paris. I passed him at a cafe and he quickly caught up. He had a hearing issue or something that we did not discuss. We just walked and talked.

Fortunately, he was a fan of Americans and his English beat my French hands-down. We walked a long way together, discussing life , and parted ways when my body told me to find rest. His young frame took him onward, I’m guessing.

I passed the Albergue that I knew from last time, toured and declined the historic one I liked in my book, then tripped over the chosen one. I helped “Completo” this one. Bunking with more Italians. All Italians. Maybe one family. Very loud people. Everywhere.

Moving on. Great 10€ meal with calamari, pulpo, Santiago tarta, and a bottle of vino tinto. Alone. On a patio. No Italians. By design.

Now relaxing in my pension garden. All clean. Clean clothes. All packed for quick launch 🚀 tomorrow and ready for Jean.

Jean is the very lively U.K. gal I met while she searched for an Albergue. She seemed so relieved meet someone who spoke fairly good English, by mother land standards.

She asked if I had enjoyed dinner yet. I said “no, I just ate it” and she carried on to eat hers. I’m expecting Jean anytime for sundowner vino tinto….

…alas, Jean never made it back. Must have had a better offer. Goodnight, Jean. Off to bed to rest with 7 Italians in our tiny bunk room. Then. This!

and then this…

Most peaceful, tranquil, and lovely solo walk over 10k in my life. Only to arrive here early and find my ideal habaticion privada for €20 in …

Samos town revolves around this 6th century Monastery that is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the western world 🌎. Pretty cool, no?

Si….

Last picture. My room view. Gracias.

Samos is small and lovely. I walked around town in a few minutes. Found places of rest. Ate a late lunch…

8€ plus vino tinto de la Casa🍷. Done.

Then, siesta in the lounge….

…with windows open and a nice breeze.

The Camino provides again!

Home for tonight. Still thinking about our actual home 🏡 and my loved people. Happy to share with and speak to some via FaceTime today with this strong wifi.

Less than one week now to Santiago. Last week of 4 weeks away from home. It will be time. I could go home now.

But, I will finish. I will continue. I will pray even more. I will take it all in as it reveals the journey to me. And, I will continue to share the highlights.

All great. Goodnight from Samos in Galicia, Spain 🇪🇸 !

Buen Camino.

And, Ultreia.

#MyComfyCamino realities..

I'll bet you $'s to €'s that you've never read such a post as this!

Older men issues on the Camino….

It looks like #MyComfyCamino blog post earlier this month struck a nerve in a mostly positive way.

But, I left out a few important and practical matters about why I choose to find my best "uno habaticion privada" options on My Camino. It's for me AND for my nightly group of fellow pilgrims, for what are just a few more Euros going to good people anyway.

My Comfy Camino issue #1:

I wake up too early. 3am last night. Almost 4am this morning. Toss and turning. Deep breathing. No more sleep for now. Tossing makes noise. Getting up makes noise. Connecting with home and reading on my phone creates a light. If one is self-aware at all, who wants to be that guy who invites all around him to his wake up party?

My Comfy Camino issue #2:

Older men usually have to pee in the wee-wee hours of the morning. On road trips, My Love and our girls would joke about "dad's bladder of a yak" when stopping more frequently for them to make water. (Granted, this was before google and our Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. "Y" was back at the house. If we insulted any yaks along our way, sincerest apologies to any offended yaks.)

Back to the here and now. Getting up to relieve oneself is annoying enough to the one you sleep with at home. I can't imagine the level of irritation from any light sleepers when one or more of us pilgrims/strangers get up at random times, maybe shake the bunk a little, maybe creak a bit with the floor, squeak a door or two, then FLUSH!!!!, and creak and squeak all over again upon return.

You feeling the love for older men yet?

My Comfy Camino issue #3:

Older men make noises. Snoring is one of the top pilgrim complaints. Ear plugs can help, but what if there's a chorus of men AND women heavy breathing to sawing very tough logs with their symphony of esophageal instruments? No one sleeps well, especially the ones suffering from sleep apnea, which is fairly common with larger people. I had it years ago when I weighed over 300 pounds. Not pretty for all involved. And, we older men make other noises just breathing, clearing the throat, sniffing, snorting, and blowing our nose too. We just do and everyone we love, who's travelled with us, knows this so well.

I understand that the pilgrim experience is different for everyone. My Comfy Camino may not be the cheapest budget, but I appreciate the Comfy options for me and, indirectly, for my fellow pilgrims. And I'm sure that our various hosts here in Spain appreciate the extra Euros. It is, along with communal meals, how they pay their bills. Gracias.

On that note of thanks, I must take my leave and do what older men do, just across the hall. This former yak must empty again.

BTW, this is one pilgrim who refuses to poop on the Camino. I would give you my older man secrets there, but I've shared enough already. 😉

Buen Camino. 🌅

Ultreia!🇪🇸

Long day with a few blessed oasis sightings…made it to Leon!

It's always strange to be the first pilgrim up and moving. Hosts here not up. Other late-arrival guests were not moving. I had a €10 bunk in a 4-bunk room all to myself. Window open. Cool and quiet past 11pm. Slept fairly well.

My alarm goes off at 6 everyday here. I get up about 6:30 or so and get out the door by 7. 7:15 today and the sunrise 🌅 and Galicia mountains glowing purple in the far distance was my morning highlight.

Not much to see from Religeos to Leon. Few places to eat and be refreshed. Pack your own snack and the first town I walked to surprised me with this very green peregrino park.

Beyond that, not a lot.

Until you reach Casablanca!!!

Delicious selection, cafe seating, and very clean bathrooms. Tortilla, croissant, and grande zumo de nanjara filled me with goodness.

Several new pilgrims to me passed my way and I was alone most of the day.

But a fellow was taking pilgrim pics for his "1,200 pilgrim" book to come. Search on Instagram.

He was a joy. Used a real camera and a Polaroid too! Funny.

Dragging a bit, I ran into this cutie and dropped €.50 for a tiny spot of limon Fanta.

Sweet moment. Then.

Sweating a lot and climbing a man made hill next. Blahhhhhhh.

Then, just a few km from Leon, I caught up with an older gal from Sweden and younger gal from Ireland. The Swede was more my speed. She has quite a story too. God's speed, Camino Swede! She rides to Santiago tomorrow. Gave me advice about my challenged left shin. Gracias.

Irish gal needed to see the pharmacia, so I offered my Buen Camino and found the yellow arrows again.

Winding my way by memory, I found our first Albergue on our last Camino. Host was nice, but explained the bank holiday this Tuesday that somehow fills up the city on Sunday. Could not even pull up my Marriott app to fix this. With no cell service nor free wifi available, it was up to me and Brierleys book to figure this out. I walked around a while, found completo signs on doors, briefly considered the Parador, then desired to leave town for a B&B I barely recall about a mile from the bridge leaving town.

But, Brierley strikes again.

Here I am. Next to a miniature Central Park with no crowds. Sweet Rhea serving me a starter cervesa and now my dinner with chilled vino tinto. Life just got a little better. When I saw the mix of older and younger couples staying here, I knew that this was my place. And it is. Picture staying the afternoon and evening in a cool corner of Brooklyn or like vs. Times Square.

So yummy.

4 hours to sunset and what shall I do as a well fed, still large for Spain, ready to stroll guy. I think I'm about to find out.

Beautiful still in Leon.

Then, I must find Jamon.

All delicious. Jamon, chorizo, queso and vino tinto too. Perfecto!

Buen Camino

Getting to ONE’s next Camino…

1 day away…then here!

Love those relaxing Saturday mornings at home.

This Saturday was special.

Coffee. Cool weather. Cereal. No humidity. Yogurt with honey, blueberries, strawberries, and granola. More coffee. No TV. Chocolate chip pancakes. NYTimes. A sweet morning for 4, 2 boys and 2 parents. Mom goes for a run. Dad goes to Kinko's too anally retentively copy his passport, credit cards, and other id documents.

Sweet last hour of lunch on our patio and customizing messages on stones.

Prayers too. Then, we load up for the airport.

We are there 2 hours before my fight. One hour less than recommended. It was fine.

Hugs. Kisses. Love you's. Texts of well wishes and Love. All good. Really. Great.

Breeze through security and I'm roaming around my gate and concourse.

Then, my Camino officially began. Tap. Tap. And, two nice gents, long-time pals, just stopped me in international concourse to ask about my Camino out of the blue. They noticed my backpack shell. It begins here, it seems. Unbridled friendliness, curiosity, and quick fellowship, before we all 3 take on our Camino's (theirs from St. Jean in France). That wonderful tap on my shoulder ended with handshakes and, of course, "Buen Camino!"

I can almost taste Spain after that.

Suffice it to say, this flight is not Air France. Delta is fine. Just enough. Adequate. Our last trip to Spain went through Paris and it showed. This one went through Atlanta and it shows. Even sleeping on this flight lacks in potential for recharge, relative to the French. C'est la vie.

On our plane, a lovely college girl named Jessica plops down beside me. She's heading to Madrid to intern with disabled kids. Good for her. Plans to graduate on a six year plan after changing majors. She's young. Plenty of time to figure that out. She reminds me of our
girls, especially when she curls up on the two seats reserved for both of us , as I gave up mine to cross the aisle for more room for both of us. Much to the displeasure of a young man who thought that he could make a sofa out of three mid-plane seats. Sorry, Charlie. You might just have to sleep upright or leaning into the middle seat like a grown-up flying to Spain. FYI. It's not even 6pm, my friend.

Even after cocktails, I'm jazzed, finished a Doc about stand-up comedians, and I'm blogging. And dinner is on it's way. Smells good, but we shall see.

Before and after the big reveal….

Okay. Delta veg lasagna tastes good. The rest. Ick. Cheesy lasagna is just fine.

Back to #MyComfyCamino …it's here. Nighttime over the Atlantic. Delta folks just killed the cabin lights. I guess mom said that we are all supposed to sleep now. Hmmmmm… nope. Not me. Watching or listening to another stand-up comedian and I'm fine. Just sayin'. Okay. Okay. Mom, I'm just blogging again!!!! And falling asleep. Never was good at all-nighters.

Made it to Burgos…next post will just let my pictures and videos do the talking, from walking into Burgos from the nearby bus station to my AC Hotel by Marriott, to my walking tour and 3 tapas & wine stops for under €15 combined. Pulpo (€3), seafood combo (€2), and 3-course (€7)…all three with vino tinto.

Can't you just taste Spain????

Ultreia!!

Walking the Camino as a couple

Walking the Camino as a couple By Cathy Seitchik Diaz David and I went to see the documentary, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago on February 21, 2014. As we left the theater, I said to David, “I want to do this. I want to walk the Camino de Santiago.” At that time, David, not […]

http://thecaminoprovides.com/2016/02/08/walking-the-camino-as-a-couple/

A Tale of Two Pilgrims

A Tale of Two Pilgrims By Daniel DeKay Salvitur ambulando ‐ St. Augustine (All things are solved by walking) Jeanette Lansbergen closed the front door of her home in Rotterdam and began walking south. Two months later she arrived in St. Jean Pied de Port. Along the way she camped out, cooking her own meals. […]

http://thecaminoprovides.com/2016/02/10/a-tale-of-two-pilgrims/

Buen Camino! We made it!

  
We started early today for us. 6:30 was so early that our pension’s kitchen wasn’t quite ready to serve.  That was fine.  A great nights sleep was all we needed, after hot showers and delicious dinners, of course. 

Our intent was to split yesterday and today into nice 25k days. Geography had another idea. 24k yesterday and closer to 28k today. And it felt like it. 

But, we rolled into the cathedral squares right around noonish and here’s a sample of the welcoming structures…

   
    
   
…massive & beautiful , even under renovation. 

The pedestrian-only areas go on and on out from the plazas. We window shopped and scouted out cafe’s and park areas before our respective ciesta s. Our boutique pension is just down the hill from the cathedral, the quiet side of the old city.  It’s managed by a husband & wife with two little ones running around or needing care too. The may live in the apartment behind the hotel. Another chic, yet affordable place to rest, get clean, and adventure out of for a couple days of recovery & exploration. We even have air-conditioning. Bonus. For my improving health, I sourced our supply of mineral water, bag full of huge oranges, and a couple more 1.55€ liters of local vino tinto for nightcaps on the patio.  

Obviously, post-ciesta now, I continue to yawn like never napped. My body is telling me that 13 days straight crossing northern Spain might just be my limit. That’s my understanding of certain aches and weird pains in weird places. 

However, it’s been remarkable from concept to making it happen. All thanks to a remarkable daughter…

  
…and my unbelievable partner at home who encouraged this journey and stayed home to care for all solo. 

  
Thank you, My Love. I miss you, our boys, and Lilly terribly , but this time with our oldest girl & a huge cast of characters has been fun, enriching, exhausting, and culturally educational. 

Our huge world just got a little smaller thanks to My Love above and to that little girl of ours who’s all grown…but wonderfully not quite grown-up. 

Love to you all back at home in the U.S., in Munich, and right here in Santiago, Spain. 

And, all the best the world can offer you & yours who are reading, sharing, and encouraging our journey. 

I’ll be offering reflections about this challenging “spiritual” journey next time. For now, here are the last images we took on the Camino….

    
 
   
 
  
For the last time, unless My Love wants to bring me back, Buen Camino!

Cheers. 

Our first pilgrimage. The Camino. The Way. 

If you enjoyed “The Way” film with Martin Sheen, you’ll have a head start here. If not, find it on Netflix.  It’s quite the true story…but no one had to die for my oldest girl, Brianna, to convince me to go. Just go. 

  
You see that look. If looks could kill, that would not be her. Her looks run the gamut from sly to lovely.  But, mostly funny. 

After a few months of planning, we were off this week. Flying over 24 hours with a train ride, via Atlanta, Paris, and Madrid, we arrived in Leon around 8pm.  Fortunately, the sun sets here after 10 now. I’m typing this around 10:30 and there’s still light. Last vino tinto (red wine) of the night. 

  
I digress. Last night was a great first night, as short as it was. We hopped between three or four tapas bars, enjoying cervesas and free food. Yes, that’s how they do it here. Buy beer. Eat well.  Spent 3-4€ at each stop. Hands down, last night’s winner was “Jamon , Jamon ” , the quaint, little bar with various meats hanging from the ceiling. Jovial gent served us up the usual beverage and a plate of chorizo, Jamon Iberico, and manchego cheese. Nice way to start our three-week experience…great food, beer, conversation for hours..for less than 20€ or $24.  I would have pictures to share if we weren’t determined to avoid looking like the giddy tourists we were in Leon. No apologies here. 

We turned in early for me, but it had to be done. No TV. It’s all in Spanish.  Who knew?  No writing. Just get to sleep, damn it, since your body clock is thrown. 7am or so, we hit the trail. 

   
   
We ended up and out before 8 and we were too early for the first cathedral. So, we got going. Too far to go to wait until 9:30. Especially, when we begin with weather in the 50’s Fahrenheit.  On this leg of the Camino, in July, you hike early and rest, eat, sleep, imbibe, and enjoy the rest of day. We travelled through Leon’s downtown and industrial district and this little guy appears….

  
…the beginning of our countryside and villages experience had begun.  

  
Today was a hoot. We traveled 22k on foot, through many a field, village, virtual ghost town and historic landmarks. All good, as were the baguettes, olive oil, meats and cheeses, finished off with a 4-course veg meal with wine. All for about 28€ for everything. Bonus, local store sells bottles of Spanish reds for 1.35€ to 2.75€ per bottle!  No wonder they give it away at 9€ price fixed meals. 

Lastly, my nicest surprise today was meeting so many nice pilgrims on the Camino.  Donna from Canada was nice on the trail. Another family of three from Canada chatted poolside (we paid 10€ total for this auberge tonight and the same in 1€ drinks all day). A guy from South Africa. A hippie loud-talker from the coast of Spain. A dapper fellow from Austria. Another from Germany. Yet another father and child from Italy (awkward dining partners, as none of us spoke his one language). A family of three from Vancouver, led by mom Suzanne, who offered me her phone to text home, before I figured out the limited wifi range.  And last, and best, the sweet family of four from Barcelona on their fourth leg of the Camino in their fourth summer trip. Mom, two girls, and one spunky boy, Lourense…just look….

   
 
He introduced himself in Spanish, then smartly switched to English. We chatted. He took my sunglasses. Tried them on. Took a selfie with his Nikon. Another with my phone. Bounced around. And we did it all again after dinner with Brianna and his sisters. Very entertaining, especially when those four started pouring Spanglish, English, and Spanish like waterfalls. Too sweet. Mom was cool and spoke excellent English, and her kids could to in varying degrees. We will see them all again and again as we continue. 

What a day. Brianna is out. Our auberge bar is starting to wind down downstairs and hopefully the remaining loud-talkers will allow all to sleep.  Maybe not. 

Goodnight and Buen Camino!

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Good morning. Just edited a few things while waiting for Miss Brianna. 

Happy 4th from the Camino!

  
Buen Camino!

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