Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Oh my goodness -- another absolutely gorgeous day on the Camino!! A little toasty, but not too bad (and my generous application of sunscreen today prevented me from getting extra crispy). There is joy and laziness that accompany the knowledge that a shorter day of walking lay in front of you; CJ and I possessed both as we slept in until quarter past seven this morning, sat for breakfast at the cafe next to our albergue, and lazily made our way out of town at 8:30am. 

Of course there were climbs, but they weren't as steep and the views at the top -- be still my heart. My soul feels at peace as I walk amongst the mountains. As the trail climbed the first time, we found ourselves on a mountainside overlooking a river carving out the space between the peaks -- though we were at least four hundred meters above the river, the crashing and rushing of the water over rapids and logs could be heard amongst the birds' morning songs. To the right, hiding in the fog, were giant windmills only visible when you were within seventy meters. The walk was tranquil, the sounds of nature interrupted only by the crunch of our boots as they marched upon the trail. 

We entered a tiny town about five kilometers out and stopped for some water and a bathroom break. About three kilometers further was another cafe that read "last chance for food or drink for the next fifteen kilometers" 😳 Well okay then. We went inside, neither of us very Hungary after our breakfast of tostadas and colacau at the albergue, but the sweet lady running the cafe insisted we take sandwiches with us -- so we did. And we were glad we did! 

Up up up a little while further brought us to a long stretch of flat, sunny trail -- it was as if we were on the top of the world. Of course this resulted in some very hot and sweaty pilgrims, so we were extremely excited to see a shady rest area with stone picnic benches adjacent to a little church on a tiny hill in the middle of nowhere Spain. We ate and drank and soaked in the shade before venturing over to check out the church -- and wouldn't you know: it was Capilla da Nosa Señora das Neves, the chapel of Our Lady of the Snows! Not only is the Shrine of our Lady of the Snows (in Belleville) one of my favorite places, it is also where CJ and I were engaged. How beautiful that this tiny chapel be here in the middle of our journey. It was unfortunately not open, but we said a prayer outside and continued on our way. 

After a few more kilometers up on the top, it was time to descend to the bottom -- but those views as we made our climb down! There is nothing like seeing the ocean on the horizon, the way the deep blue water meets the light sand before expanding out into deepness, darkness, as far as the eye can see. I couldn't help but stop to take photos every so often as we walked; each bend brought with it a new view! The climb down was pretty steep, but we made it without any tumbles (phew) and were at our destination for the evening: Cee. We checked into our albergue and took a nap; I think all the time in the sun is making me extra exhausted! Then we showered and went down to the beach. We spent a little time sitting on the beach, looking out over the Atlantic, before going back up into town to find some dinner. Ox burgers were on the menu, so ox burgers it was! Accompanied by croquetas, of course, and patatas for CJ. 

When dinner was finished we made our way back to our albergue where we played cards for a bit and visited with some girls from Italy -- their plane leaves for home tomorrow out of Santiago, and they want to walk all the way to Finesterre ... so they walked over forty kilometers today so that in the morning they can make it to Finesterre, catch a late morning bus to Santiago, and make their flight home. Phew. I'm glad we are able to take our time a little -- rushing is no fun, especially when there is so much to see! 

Here are a few pictures from today: 

This is the spring that runs near the convent of St. Lucia, the patron Saint of eye ailments. It is said that those who wash their eyes in this stream will have healing from their eye afflictions. 

Foggy view of the river below. 

On top of the world, out for a walk. 

Waymarker love! Who needs a guide book? Just follow the arrows! 

This is why you. We'd need a guide book -- sometimes the arrows want you to go all the ways! (Not really -- this is where the trail splits to go to Finesterre or Muxia.) 

Love of Christ in the middle of the forest. 

A sunny day on the Camino! 

The chapel of Our Lady of the Snows! 

Close up of the church

At the top, before traveling downward ... 

I see the Atlantic!! 

Ahhhhhh!! There it is. What a view! 

And our view from the window of our albergue. 


Beach selfies! 

con mi amante 

And my bed for the night -- CJ is already in his bed! 

Tomorrow we walk to finisterre -- I'm so excited to reach the offices "end of the world"! 

Buen Camino. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Another beautiful day on the Camino!! But before I start with today, I'd like to talk about last night. A younger pilgrim (early twenties maybe) was already asleep in her bunk when CJ and I arrived to the albergue yesterday afternoon. She would moan from time to time and then started puking. She had a fellow pilgrim who seemed to be tending to her, so I offered her the tissues I had and left things alone. After her third round of puking, however, I felt bad for her (and the rest of us ... she was puking in a bucket in the room full of bunks) and decided to see if I could help. I asked her if she knew why she was puking (something she ate / drank) or if was random, if she was dizzy, etc. I also noticed she was really weak and a little spacy -- she hadn't peed all day and was super dehydrated. I gave her some Dramamine to help the room stop spinning and told her it was really really important that she try to drink water / sports drink and eat something salty. I showered and left for the store and cooked dinner, and when CJ and I returned to the room she was sleeping -- which is better than puking. But the poor kid got worse as the night went on and around eleven she fell out of her (bottom) bunk and got sick again. Thankfully some Spanish speaking pilgrims stepped up to help out, because this girl needed IV fluids and antiemetics. By about midnight they took her to a hospital -- the point of all this is twofold: First, if you could all keep this girl in your prayers; I'm not sure where she started or where her home is, but being so sick when your not with your family or in your own bed is miserable. I hope they got her feeling better. Second: this is why CJ and I were not up early this morning -- we were up late with all the commotion. 

So, this morning we got up a little before seven, ate some fruit for breakfast that is picked up the night before, packed up our packs, and headed on our way. Today was a long day with many many kilometers to cover, but we did it AND we did it without getting grumpy. ☺

After leaving our albergue around eight, we quickly knocked out about twelve kilometers through forest paths and pastures finally arriving at a cafe for breakfast. We spent some time resting (frequent breaks are the key to covering lots of ground!) and playing with the kittens before going back out on the trails. 

The weather was perfect for walking: cool breeze, sunny enough for the sky to be a brilliant blue but enough fluffy clouds to ensure the sun didn't get too hot. And though there were more ups than I like (I mean, I really would prefer no ups at all -- which makes accessing my favorite mountain trails a bit of a conundrum), the inclines were steady. We ran across many more pilgrims today: from Germany and Czeck Republic and Italy and the United States; we also ran into the nice couple from Sweden; CJ and I stopped to rest at a bench where they were resting, too. She gave us a handful each of salty pub mix; she said we were losing lots of salt walking in the afternoon sun. haha We stopped at a second cafe for a drink about ten kilometers after the first then powered through the last thirteen kilometers. Sure If we had woke and left earlier we would have arrived at the albergue earlier, but as it was, we checked in right around five pm. Not too shabby for a thirty five kilometer day with two hour long breaks and lots of mini breaks in between. 

After we checked in we assessed the damages: a few blisters, some sore feet, and sunburn. Could have been worse! After a shower, a foot rub, and hanging up clothes to dry, we went down to the cafe for dinner: finally, a pilgrim menu!! With full bellies we returned to our room -- CJ is already sleeping; I'm not far behind him. Some pictures from today: 

Statue when leaving Negreira this morning -- it is meant to represent immigration. 

Hello beautiful Camino!! 

mi amante 😍

I love those waymakers!! 

You can see a huge lake off in the distance. Such a beautiful day for a walk. 

Gorgeous green pastures; we also saw a lot of cows today -- I think we got moo-ed at more than we got barked at today! 

Lentil soup -- one of my Camino favorites! 

Tarta de Santiago -- breakfast staple, pilgrim menu desert. 

And my bed for the night. 

Tomorrow is not such a long day of walking -- our feet will be glad for that! And tomorrow I think I will remember to put in the sunscreen. Until then, I shall sleep. 

Buen Camino. 

Monday, May 29, 2017


Today was a beautiful day on the Camino de Santiago! Hm -- is it still the Camino de Santiago if I'm walking towards Finisterre? We got a much later start than intended this morning; much much later. We were going to rise at five thirty and leave by six ... we rose at seven and left at eight ... and stopped for breakfast, putting our official "leave Santiago" time at 8:40am. Eek. Finding our way out of the city and onto the path was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be; usually we get a little turned around coming in and out of the bigger towns. We climbed up and out of Santiago, took a look back at the city from the top of the hill, and kept on climbing. 

About this time it started to drizzle. I didn't want my pack to get wet at all, so I put my rain cover on -- smart move: putting on the rain cover at this point; dumb move: not putting on my rain jacket. About five minutes after the rain cover was in place the skies opened up and buckets poured from above. God is in the rain. I actually love hiking in the rain. I prefer it to hiking in the sun, even if I don't have my rain jacket on. With the rain falling, CJ and I pressed on up hills and through little towns until we got to our first cafe where we dried off and ate a (second) breakfast: tortilla and tea for CJ, tortilla and colacao for me. I really do love Spanish breakfast. After a bit of a rest and fueling up, we went back to the trail -- a big hill was yet to come. 

While approaching the start of the incline, we met a nice couple from Switzerland -- they started in Santiago and are just walking to Finesterre; they have walked caminos in their past. They soon let us pass them and veered off at a cafe while CJ and I walked on. Hills are not my favorite, but this one was made less terrible by the tall sheltering trees surrounding the path: the damp ground, the cool breeze, the smell of eucalyptus -- if I must walk up, this is how I like to do it! After a three kilometer climb to the top, we started to make our way back down, crossing over a really neat old bridge and a beautiful waterfall. We stopped at a cafe right before the waterfall for a cold drink before pressing on. 

And finally we made it to Negreira, a tiny city boasting four albergues and two grocery stores. CJ didn't feel well when we woke up this morning (stuffy nose, sneezy, headache) so when we got to the albergue he went to sleep while I showered and went in search of groceries. I found the store, grabbed some veggies and noodles and milk, and came back to the albergue to make us some dinner. By the time I got back, CJ was awake and getting ready for a shower. I joined the rest of the Camino chef pilgrims in the kitchen and got to work. 

CJ and I enjoyed our dinner in the company of a pilgrim from Australia and a pilgrim from Montana -- both were excited to share of their adventures prior to Santiago on the French Way; it was fun reminiscing with them about the French way, comparing different albergues we stayed at and delighting in the times we stayed in the same albergues. I forgot how much more busy the French Way is than the other routes -- this walk to Finisterre is much like that: packed with pilgrims, filled albergues, pilgrims cooking and taking up every corner of the towns ... On one hand, it is fun: it is social and conversational and familial. But on the other hand, it is noisy and exhausting and busy. There is something to be said for the smaller, less populated routes. I think the part of me who does the Camino to find peace and prayer and wholeness prefers the smaller routes. The part of me who enjoys meeting new people and learning from the stories of others is very much enjoying this section, the route to Finisterre. 

And now CJ and I are in the bunk room amongst already sleeping pilgrims and those preparing to settle in; I think if the sun set earlier I could be sleepy, but because the sun stays bright until after ten (the sun sets at 22:04) it is hard to think about sleep. So instead we are exchanging foot massages (CJ is the best -- my achy feet have received massages almost every day!) and playing cards. 

Here are some pictures from today: 

Breakfast: chocolate and chirps!! Churros ... not chirps. haha

The first mile marker!! Just ninety more kilometers to Finesterre! 

Looking back towards the cathedral spires is of Santiago. 

A little hamlet to venture through ... marine imagine hearing clicking chickens and bleating goats as you walk through ... 

I love forest paths! 



On the bridge!! 

I'm a Camino chef. Tune in tomorrow for my other specialty: rice. haha 

All the boots lined up at our albergue: Albergue Lus. 

And my bed for tonight -- CJ gets the bottom bunk. 

Tomorrow is a loooooong day: 35 kilometers. We plan to get an early start (though as you can read, we haven't been very good at early rising ...). Maybe tomorrow will be different. Pray for small hills and strong feet!! 

Buen Camino. ❤

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Apologies for a skip in the blog -- we have reached Santiago!! And though that usually means the journey has ended, for us it is only the middle ... more on that in a minute. 

On Saturday morning, we rose around seven to eat breakfast and begin our walk into Santiago. With about seventeen kilometers ahead of us, we knew we would not reach Santiago in time to attend mass at noon, so instead we decided to take our time, enjoy the decent into the city, and attend the pilgrim mass on Sunday. The weather was (thankfully) a bit cooler thanks to the rain the day before which made the walk more enjoyable. About one kilometer before the city, we could see the spires of the cathedral -- a welcomed site after so much walking. We reached the front of the cathedral around one o'clock and joined the pilgrims from all the routes celebrating their arrival. I'm always in awe when we enter Santiago: the history of the city, the significance of the pilgrimage, the majesty of the cathedral, the celebration of the pilgrims, and the sense of accomplishment overtake me. Even more special is arriving in Santiago with my husband at my side. 

After asking in the shadow of the cathedral for a while, we made our way to our albergue where we dropped off our packs before walking to the pilgrim office to receive our compostelas. The line was long, but no one complains or seems to be in a hurry -- everyone is just so happy to have reached the goal! Many pilgrims in line recount their journey to the pilgrims around them, comparing stamps, comparing blisters, comparing routes and albergues and hills, all convinced that their experience was best. Finally the line that has been inching forward rounds the corner so that the front desk is visible and you can watch as pilgrims are awarded their compostelas. Soon it was my turn, then CJ's -- and just like that, we had completed our third (second for CJ) pilgrimage. Inside the pilgrim office is a chapel where we sat for a few quiet moments and prayed in thanksgiving for the journey completed and for safety in the journey yet to come. Once we had finished, we walked back to our albergue. By this time it was nearly five o'clock -- restaurants were not yet serving dinner, so we decided to take a well deserved nap. 

As we walked to dinner, music and pilgrims and tourists filled the streets -- but there was something a little funny about the tourists ... first, we saw a little girl dressed as darth Vader; next some child storm troopers; then adults in Jedi robes with light sabers and even a baby yoda -- that's right, ladies and gentlemen: Santiago was hosting a Star Wars convention. Even the street musicians playing bagpipes and wooden flutes played the familiar star wars tunes. We observed the happenings while we ate dinner but then retired to our albergue (after some gelato of course) -- we were very tired. 

We slept in late this morning -- almost ten! Then got up, ate breakfast at a cafe, and went to the cathedral for the main event: the Pilgrim Mass. It is amazing the amount of people who pack into the cathedral to attend the mass (or at least to watch the Thurber swing). CJ and I were waiting outside the door twenty minutes before they opened and ninety minutes before mass started and still we did not get a seat, though we did get a spot at the base of one of the pillars so that we could sit on a ledge rather than the ground. Because this was a Sunday mass, they swung the Thurber before mass started resulting in the exodus of the majority of people prior to the actual start of mass -- a welcomed occurrence: now we could move a little! Many priests were there to concelebrate, including a priest from the United States. I thought the gospel was appropriate: Jesus told the disciples to go out and make disciples of all nations. Is that not what St. James was doing on the very land we have been crossing? Is that not what this pilgrimage, the Way of St. James, commemorates? After mass was over, we fulfilled the remaining "duties" that accompany the reception of our compostelas: we prayed in the crypt of the relics of St. James for the intentions of the holy father and attended confession. We also partook in the tradition of climbing the marble stairs into the space behind the main alter and placed our hands on the shoulders of the larger than life golden St. James, thanking him for a safe journey. 

Following mass we walked around Santiago for a while before returning to our albergue for ... a nap. All the walking catches up with you after a day or so and exhaustion sets in! Around three we set out again for the cathedral plaza, this time in search of an old friend who also completed the Camino this weekend: Collie. You may remember that we walked the Camino Portuguese with Collie last year -- when we discovered that we would all be in Santiago at the same time, him completing a portion of the Camino Frances and is completing the Camino Inglés, we decided to meet up to say hello. We reunited and spent the next couple hours having drinks and walking around Santiago, window shopping and catching up. It was so good to see Collie! I wish all my Camino friends could be waiting at the cathedral every time I enter Santiago. After saying good bye to Collie, CJ and I grabbed a bite for dinner (pasta!) and are now back at our albergue planning and preparing for tomorrow -- when the journey continues. Tomorrow we begin walking again, to Finnesterre. It should take us four days to reach the light house, the true end of the journey. I cannot wait!! 

A few pictures from the last few days: 

Last forest path before entering Santiago 

We made it!! Standing at the base of the cathedral. 

Pilgrim Number One. 

Pilgrim Number Two. 

Blisters are no match for stubborn determination!! 

I love this statue -- Mary the Pilgrim. It was inside the chapel in the pilgrim office. 

Wahoo!!! So proud of us. 

At breakfast, waiting to go to mass. 

Side enterance of the cathedral since the main enterence is still under renovation / restoration. 

Thurber lit ... 

Thurber up ... 

Thurber swinging!! 

Stairs to the statue of St. James, worn down by the thousands of pilgrims who have climbed them. 

Meeting with Collie -- what a happy pilgrim reunion. 

And now for a good night's rest before starting out again tomorrow. 

Buen Camino.