justbecausetwit

Just another WordPress.com site

Tag: Spain

Burgos, Spain…today!

That's how I'm ending my long travel day and 10kms walking all around Burgos. Simple dining alfresco from my hotel room now…

Buen Camino and goodnight!

Advertisements

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!!

Guilt & Wildlife. Everywhere. 

An amazing July is coming to a close. 

I loved my 2+ weeks with our oldest daughter on the Camino de Santiago, 

  
my weekend with our youngest daughter in Madrid,

  
 and my four days or so in Costa Rica with my love….

  
…only missing two little dudes who I left behind for almost a month…

  
…and they let me know it. They broke down while I was away on separate occasions and I’m getting it today as Mom had to take off for a product launch meeting early this morning. We have a little quality time due as the start of school is coming fast. 

As I explained to our oldest boy, though his tears, this is just another lesson in what life is really like. You go on unexpected adventures. You miss people. Things don’t get done around the house without effort. Parents need to spend great times together. Job demands time & energy at the family’s expense. That’s life. 

But. Big but here. I promised him that our two decades of fun, tasty, traditional beach trips may be done. More non-traditional beach, mountain, village, and cross-countries experiences may just be our new norm. That’s my promise to these boys. 

From hailing taxis in Manhattan to doing the same in Europe to trekking through countries and soaking up sights via Eurail and Amtrak. My eyes are wide-open now to giving these boys travel experiences that we gave our girls and beyond, as our girls have ventured in their teens and early adulthood. Our boys need that wanderlust sooner than later. 

We’ve referred to our boys, amongst ourselves, as monkeys and they need to greet and meet other wildlife, as we did last weekend…

   
    
    
 
Holler monkeys are tough to see, but easy to hear, especially before sunrise.  Iguanas act like they own the place. Raccoons and birds use the pool as a watering hole. And, then, there are these guys & gals we enjoyed on the way to breakfast….

  
Funny little boogers. Nice early morning surprise.  Loved it. 

Here’s to you and yours , with monkeys or not, finding your happy places, vistas, conversations, and lasting memories….& motivations to do it over and over again. 

   
    
 
Cheers!

Home. Sweet. Home. 

   
    
 
Well, we made it almost 3 weeks without a solid drop of rain in Spain…not even on a plane. 

Sunny everyday. Cloudy morns in Galicia. 52-55f degrees every morning and hot afternoons for cervesas & ciestas. 

Then, there was Madrid. Sunny and damn hot. Thank God for the metro. 

Then, yesterday. Gloomy, rainy Paris. I just hunkered down with duty-free libations and waited for the long haul home. 

Air France has a good grip on comfort. Personal movie/tv/music/where the hell are we? screens kill 9 hours nicely, along with tasty food & decent red wine. 

My movie medley began with a favorite of ours, “Chocolat”.   Very fitting. Small French village where chocolatier heroine and her little girl change lives for the better with chocolate. Then, “Four Weddings and a Funeral “.  Sure, London fun. Hilarious love story. Another classic for My Love and me. Next….

“Wild”

   
    
 
I do love Miss Witherspoon. She’s one of the coolest actors, moms, producers, and entrepreneurs…all of it…of our generation. The movie is gritty and involves hiking the entire Pacific Coast Trail. Another hike to consider someday. 

Lastly, one of our family soundtracks and fun 1980’s Classic…”When Harry Met Sally”….

   
    
    
    
 
I’ll have what she’s having. Funny. 

Back in the states and here’s my welcome home sign created by our little guys…

   
 
Notice the love & touches of Spain. I won’t do any future European adventure without them & My Love. It’s too much of a joy to not share with them next time. And the next. And the next. 

Between my body clock of 2-4am or so, the four of us kicked back to my pick of movie, the 1960’s Classic “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. Looked a lot like the last two weeks+ of villages we enjoyed. I just couldn’t stop myself. 

Back to our daily routine today and tomorrow. Then. Costa Rica awaits. 

Stay tuned.

  
 Cheers. 

Size matters. Europe knows it does, American behemoths. 

  
I’ve always been tall. Then, I became big. Pretty big. I’m certainly not svelte, as I was three decades ago. To be specific, I’m 6’3″ and around 265-275lbs or so, depending on how my week is going. There’s the back-story. 

As I sit here in Paris, awaiting my long, yet pleasant, 9-hour flight home on Air France (they treat even peasants pretty darn good with food & drink), I am reflecting upon how this one oversized American was perceived and treated in the sweet country of Spain and the rather short-shrifed airport of Paris. 

With a nod to the very Frenchman himself , Andre’ the Giant, I kinda know what he may have felt like when in America.  In weird way, I felt like an American version of him (albeit he was a foot taller and maybe twice my weight in his prime…which is why he died in his prime 40’s) across the pond this month. 

I’ve never ducked so many times walking through airports, not so much around train stations, but almost anywhere awnings protruded from buildings or when entering and circulating around historic structures. I avoided head injuries on an all to frequent basis. And I loved it all. 

Most of all, I got a lot of kicks from the reactions of towns people and fellow pilgrims. Here were my favorite ones:

  
#3….checking into our last pension in Santiago and we were shown a private room with only one double bed, but with a leather futon. Our host spouted off something about my size to Brianna and she was correct. God bless her. After we checked in and went out to explore the town, our host came in and made that futon as comfy for me as possible. However, there was nothing anyone could do about 2ft of my legs hanging  off the end. I still slept well, after 13 marathon days of hiking the Camino. (See all recent posts)

  
#2….one of our daily traditions was starting fresh after a good nights sleep, not rushing that part, and stopping a few kilometers up the Way at a small village cafe’. One morning, we had to go about 7 or 8k just to get to our first option, along with many others. Brianna had her usual and after a bit, I started to want something more than my daily, fresh-squeezed Orange juice (you should see the contraption that makes it fresh everywhere). I finally went in, apologized in advance for my espanol, and effectively asked for just sliced chorizo. No bread. Just meat. The older lady retorted “no bread?”  I said no. She pushed the issue. I said no. She held up two sizes of chorizo and I chose the large one.  She filled a plate and took one more run at my need for carbs. She pointed to my size. Discussed her point with her beautiful sidekick behind the bar and the said to me “you so strong (she did that muscle man pose) and so handsome…” with a really coy look on her face. Those two then looked at me like Ringling Brothers was is town and I retorted “Well, you two are so beautiful ” and they giggled like little girls. As they were, I was being generous too. BTW, my chorizo was outstanding for an early lunch….along with a grande cervesa. 

  
And #1……no doubt!  There were several moments with all of our Spaniard ladies who we were happy to sleep with (see a few posts ago), if only for one night. They giggled. They chatted in espanol. Their ring-leader spoke excellent English. They, in short, were the most entertaining group of pilgrims that we kept passing, allowing to dart ahead while we slept, and then catch up to everyday. I think the last time was the best as they giggled about me and I heard the interpretation from time to time. This last time demanded a photo. A really short, cute, funny shot the older gal wanted on the trail with me. Of course, I played along. Stooped over, the picture was snapped and we did that cheeky faux-kissing thing all around. They all giggled and we were off again for the last time. Ladies, you will be missed. 

Call me Andre’. Call me an albatross. Call me that super sized American…but don’t call me collect…(insert snare drum)…I have no qualms about being this size. It’s the way mom, dad, God, food, and booze made me. I’m fine with it. It’s Europe and their means of travel (not the trains, just the planes and taxis) that don’t serve big strapping, aging John Wayne types, with toupe’ or not,  very well. 

Won’t stop me. Next time, My Love and I, with any to all willing kids,  will be here and all over this country or countries of choice. I won’t do this again without My Love and willing & excited & engaged kids along for the ride.

   
   
Travel, no matter your preferences, your desires, nor even your size, is something you should share with all you love. I learned that lesson this week. 

Looking forward to decades of destinations with My Love, our kids, our grandkids, and only God knows who moving forward 

Cheers and happy & safe travels to you and yours!

Just Kaitlyn. In Madrid, Spain. 

   
    
    
 

   
    
 

  
Goodbye to Madrid. Shuttle to airport is almost here. 

Cheers!

So you think you might want to hike the Camino?  Let me help you, por favor. 

Just read. Read a year before. Read that entire year. Read on the plane. I bought four of the best books I thought Amazon could produce and each offered good to great advice. The best, by far, was the upbeat, practical, and even mystical back-pocket sized book of all Camino books…

  

 

Looks a little rough. You bet. If I wore you out for two weeks straight, you might not look too good either. This was my Camino bible. 

Next, what to pack. Quick dry shirts (Patagonia or Mtn Harware), same in shorts (Columbia , Marmot, Mtn Harware, Patagonia),  and underwear (Ex-officio only) work the best. Just 2-4 of each depending on your laundry accessibility. I took 5 of everything , which was too much. Lesson learned. Oh, and hankies. It’s our family thing.  But I used a lot of handkerchiefs on the Camino. A sun blocking Columbia hat too. Where did all of my stuff go …
  
…my Osprey 24liter backpack. Light, compact, fits easily on planes and trains. Held more than I needed for the Camino, plus strapped a water bottle, my back-up Keens, and a bottle opener to it. No problem. 

No trekking poles for me. Too noisy. Not physically helpful to me. Just adding tap dancing to a peaceful hike. 

Most important items of all:

Great wool socks (SmartWool or Wigwam, my choice) that may claim to be “blister-free”..and they almost were. But those dry socks with these big ol’Keens…

  
And you have a winning combination. 

No running. Just walking and hiking. Unless… cervesas are up ahead.  

(Yawning my head off…I’ll finish this tomorrow)

I’m back. You know Ameican influence has reach Madrid when..

   
 
Nothing rustic cafe’ about this AC Hotel and its breakfast buffet. But, I digress. 

Sure, bring all of the toiletries you think you need, but my toothbrush, floss, comb,  gel, soap, shampoo, quick-dry towel , and deoderant all fit nicely. 

Lastly, bring plenty of euros and your wifi capable smartphone and you will be set, with Camino bible as your ultimate guide to each day’s landmarks & destinations. 

Lastly, for real this time, bring a best friend or loved one to share this journey with and remember forever. I’ve been on Dad-daughter adventures to our known places of NYC and Pass-a-Grille, but never two weeks plus into the unknown.  If you just want to be alone, I guess it’s possible. Come to the Camino alone and you will meet a wide spectrum of characters, 99% well-educated Spaniards, French, German, Italian, or Canadian.  We Americans are rarely seen or heard on the Camino, at least during our two weeks in July. And it was wonderful. One retired steel mill fella from Ohio, who strongly resembled Santa Claus, was the loudest person at each cafe’ stop. His vast knowledge of everything reminded me of my Dad. 

Go do it, if you like. Alone or not, you’ll never really be alone. You will be with various “pilgrims” as you go. 

As the song says, you will never walk alone, at least on the Camino. 

Our Camino proved it. 

For more prep, laughs & mostly true things about the Camino (we had no bladder issues) check this out:

http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/20-truths-walking-camino-de-santiago/

Hope all of this helps. Go explore. If you can affordably get to France or Spain, do 100km, 300km (like us from Leon to Santiago), or the entire 800km from St. Jean. You will be challenged and probably glad you did. 

Just travel. Wherever you go. 

Cheers. 

  

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. 

Sleeping with Spaniards. 

It’s only happened once…so far. Spanish women are fun, impossible to understand, and a laugh a second.  That is reason enough to spend a fun-filled night with them. But, so is a lack of private rooms at your local aubergue. These are such women with my lovely daughter…

   
   
Too much fun. The lovely gal on the left side of this last pick spoke English well. She was my connection to the others when Brianna was not around. Very nice women on a great trip. 

We all slept in the same room due to the packed town of pilgrims. We all ate, washed clothes, relaxed, and chatted in common spaces or sidewalk cafes as needed. It was an experience. First and last. 

You see, Brianna and I have been putting all of our energy and sweat into the Way. The walk. The hike to Santiago from Leon, Spain. 300km of the 800km Camino Frances that demands 5-6 weeks of hiking. 

I’ll make no apologies for needing comfort after our days on the Camino. We paid 10€ for our first private room and 20€ for our favorite aubergue experience and 55€ for a remarkable B&B in the smallest village. Other private rooms with clean beds and killer baths have all been in that range , averaging us about 35€ per night. Well worth the 15-20€ per night for securing our stuff, clean everything, total privacy, quiet naps, peaceful overnight sleep, and NO BEDBUGS.  Yes, Yes, those are an issue in cheap hostels and aubergues on the Camino. 

Not worth it. Budget accordingly or just camp outside. Either way. Avoid those critters. Ridding them from your person, clothes, and backpack is quite the ordeal. 

From where we are now, it’s Camino paradise @ 45€ + 20€ total for both 3-course dinners with vino. Not bad….

   
    
 
Yeah. I get that look a lot. Regardless, this idea of hers has brought us here. Fun. Challenge. Laughs. Endless memories. Cultural education for me. My first and best trip to Europe yet. 

Gracias, Brianna. Mucho gracias, señorita. 

She’s off to bed now. 4.50€ and my nightcap awaits me…

 
Viva Spain!

Viva Brianna!

And Buen Camino!

Cheers !

Ode to Larry. My new South African friend. See you in Belize someday. 

Imagine a funny guy. A balding guy. A joke-telling guy. A guy who ran a profitable ranch with 5,000 head of cattle. The same guy that was stripped of his investment in property by the Zimbabwe government with no appeal nor recourse. $5 million or so gone  forever, along with his life. 

Just add a little salt to his wounds. His wife leaves too. What does Larry do?  Hike the Camino in Spain, head to Ibeza for kicks, and go explore the “walking with lions” business potential in Belize. I love it. Here’s Laurence, Larry to me…

   
   
He does like those big beers. Who doesn’t?  2€ and you have a German-style jug of beer. Great deal. 

So, on our last night in one of our hippie villages, La Faba, I picked up a 1.50€ bottle of local white wine as Larry was checking out the cattle farm. 

   
Then we saw each other..

 As I ascended the village hill to watch the premature sunset over a tall mountain, Larry came up to my place on a stone wall. We chatted. Cheers!  

And We forgot the sunset as we headed back downhill. 

We were stumbling just fine until we heard the voices of the sweetest family we knew from Barcelona. We popped in during their communal serving of dinner… 

   
…and the old man in-charge showed us the door. Another couple of jugs of beer later, and we were chasing cattle. Well, Larry was…but, a couple of nights before…well…..to be continued…this video from our second night past Leon says it all. Laurence tells his joke  we laugh and proverbial chips fall…

Warning:  keep tender ears away from this video!

  
I can’t wait to catch up in Belize. Or wherever. 

Buen Camino, Laurence!  And cheers!
  

%d bloggers like this: