Backpacking

Camino de Santiago - Day 24 Lovely Leon

I really liked Leon and almost immediately upon leaving knew I'd have to return someday.  It felt strange to me to look forward to a bigger city after the small towns of the Meseta and yet only have a few hours there to look around.  I had a conversation with a woman I walked with almost every day from Astorga on--Natalie from Denmark, about how hard it can be to turn off tourist mode in your brain and just accept pilgrimage mode.  In other words, it's in my nature to want to see everything I can--always on the look out for interesting little museums, wanting to see the historic buildings and wander the streets, reading up on the history or the famous foods of the area.  Instead, on this journey, you are always simply passing through. The physical path of the Camino is what you get to know so well and you have to learn to ease your grip on all these interesting places you pass through. 

Always on the look out for interesting signage - usually easy to spot on the approach into a big city like Leon. For me the walk into Leon didn't seem as drawn out as Burgos. Halfway through the Camino and the idea of needing solitude to think and be "present" is much less appealing than good company and conversation to pass the miles.

Always on the look out for interesting signage - usually easy to spot on the approach into a big city like Leon. For me the walk into Leon didn't seem as drawn out as Burgos. Halfway through the Camino and the idea of needing solitude to think and be "present" is much less appealing than good company and conversation to pass the miles.

Just the type of odd city scene I like to paint!

Just the type of odd city scene I like to paint!

On a Saturday in Leon it seems that there are dozens of weddings and almost as many festivals occurring.

On a Saturday in Leon it seems that there are dozens of weddings and almost as many festivals occurring.

Gaudi on Plaza S. Marcelo!

Gaudi on Plaza S. Marcelo!

Calle Ancha, Leon

Calle Ancha, Leon

What is happening?! A collision of two festivals results in an impromptu street waltz.

What is happening?! A collision of two festivals results in an impromptu street waltz.

The cathedral closed early and I was so sorry to have missed it, but now I have an extra reason to return to lovely Leon.

The cathedral closed early and I was so sorry to have missed it, but now I have an extra reason to return to lovely Leon.

The "wet district" is quiet right before tapas hour chimes.

The "wet district" is quiet right before tapas hour chimes.

The camino provides...because I visited S. Isidoro, I was provided with a very nice Scottish couple who I'd seen often and they invited me for tapas.  First, I spied on the pilgrim mass which was ending as I arrived.  Each place does it a little differently, but at the end of mass, the priest invites the pilgrims to stand or approach and offers a blessing. Here, he's also giving a history of the Church as well.  My favorite pilgrim's mass was in Estella, where the priest seemed to speak every pilgrim's language and had a holy card for each of us.

The camino provides...because I visited S. Isidoro, I was provided with a very nice Scottish couple who I'd seen often and they invited me for tapas.  First, I spied on the pilgrim mass which was ending as I arrived.  Each place does it a little differently, but at the end of mass, the priest invites the pilgrims to stand or approach and offers a blessing. Here, he's also giving a history of the Church as well.  My favorite pilgrim's mass was in Estella, where the priest seemed to speak every pilgrim's language and had a holy card for each of us.

As a kid, I used to pray for myself all the time: "Dear God, please give me magic powers." "Dear God, please help me pass my test. I promise I'll pay attention in Church from now on."  I've fallen out of the habit of praying altogether, but on the Camino pretty much every holy icon got an earful: "Please God, bless my feet. Please God, direct me to a pharmacy so I can get more Compeed. Please God, keep my foot from breaking. I don't have great insurance anymore and can't afford a podiatrist."  Happy to report God listened and my feet are on the mend!

As a kid, I used to pray for myself all the time: "Dear God, please give me magic powers." "Dear God, please help me pass my test. I promise I'll pay attention in Church from now on."  I've fallen out of the habit of praying altogether, but on the Camino pretty much every holy icon got an earful: "Please God, bless my feet. Please God, direct me to a pharmacy so I can get more Compeed. Please God, keep my foot from breaking. I don't have great insurance anymore and can't afford a podiatrist."  Happy to report God listened and my feet are on the mend!

always onward!

always onward!

Days 6 and 7 - Uterga to Lorca and a rest day in Estella

I am suffering from muchas ampollas. After a hard hot days walk with a lot of pain I stopped in the tiny village of Lorca for the night then hobbled a couple hours the next morning to lovely Estella where I booked a room all to myself for rest and foot care. It's been beautiful scenery though and very nice people around every bend in the road. 

Early morning hang gliders (?) outside Uterga

Early morning hang gliders (?) outside Uterga

always grateful to see an obvious Camino sign to guide the way  

always grateful to see an obvious Camino sign to guide the way  

Walking through Puente La Reins

Walking through Puente La Reins

The queen's bridge, built in the 11th C to help pilgrims across the deep river

The queen's bridge, built in the 11th C to help pilgrims across the deep river

Walking through vineyards and Oliver groves today

Walking through vineyards and Oliver groves today

The pretty and very unbaked hill town of Cirauqui

The pretty and very unbaked hill town of Cirauqui

The Roman road remains along this not of the Camino  

The Roman road remains along this not of the Camino  

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This morning I made it to Estella, a short day so I can rest my feet.  I e made it about 71 miles. 411 to go! Estella is small but ver picturesque. Perfect place for a break.  

 

Out of Lorca, bypassed by a dog on a donkey   

Out of Lorca, bypassed by a dog on a donkey   

But I caught up. Note the shell on the donkey... They are in pilgrimage too! 

But I caught up. Note the shell on the donkey... They are in pilgrimage too! 

10th C ermita de San Miguel Arcángel .... Hermitage and pilgrim hospital

10th C ermita de San Miguel Arcángel .... Hermitage and pilgrim hospital

Arrived in Estella to find a farmers market outside my door.... Cooking in tonight

Arrived in Estella to find a farmers market outside my door.... Cooking in tonight

Rio Ega

Rio Ega

Cafe chairs in Plaza Fueros

Cafe chairs in Plaza Fueros

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Camino markers and Camino feet

Camino markers and Camino feet

Self care

Self care

Day 4 and 5 - Zubiri to Pamplona to Uterga

Two rough days with blisters beginning to develop but the pain was dulled by the beautiful Navarra region.  

Started in St Jean with 482 miles to walk to Santiago. At the end of day five I have 429.5 to go

 

Puente de la Rabia leaving Zubiri

Puente de la Rabia leaving Zubiri

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Tortilla, orange soda sand new friend at Zuriáin cafe

Tortilla, orange soda sand new friend at Zuriáin cafe

The alterpiece at Iglesia de San Esteban

The alterpiece at Iglesia de San Esteban

Hemingway hideout on the back of Cafe Irunia in Pamplona

Hemingway hideout on the back of Cafe Irunia in Pamplona

day five, free of the city and headed over that hill. Hot and dry  

day five, free of the city and headed over that hill. Hot and dry  

Beautiful skies

Beautiful skies

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Made it to the top! Alto del Perdón and the monuments peregrino  

Made it to the top! Alto del Perdón and the monuments peregrino  

The long hot walk down to Uterga, my end point for today

The long hot walk down to Uterga, my end point for today

Relaxing in Casa Baztán, a relaxing little albergue  

Relaxing in Casa Baztán, a relaxing little albergue  

Day 3 - Roncesvalles to Zubiri

A long long day owing to sore muscles and fatigue from the last couple days. But a beautiful real through woods and farmland at dawn, passing through Burguete, one of Hemingway's favorite towns.  

 

Lessons learned from from the  long hot walk into Zubiri in the afternoon:

take shoes and socks off at least once during the walk; use every font to refill water bottles; lots of snacks especially when you start to zone out during the last five km.  

Papa was here... Burguete  

Papa was here... Burguete  

Basque style

Basque style

Looking back

Looking back

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Zubiri cafe

Zubiri cafe