hiking

Camino De Santiago: Days 31 -33 - Las Herrerias to Fonfria to Sarria to Portomarin

A beautiful but long, steep walk up to O'Cebreiro.

A beautiful but long, steep walk up to O'Cebreiro.

Beautiful Galicia

Beautiful Galicia

The absolute best thing to eat in the quaint town of O'Cebreiro-- a big bowl of caldo gallego and rustic bread (and caffeine of course)

The absolute best thing to eat in the quaint town of O'Cebreiro-- a big bowl of caldo gallego and rustic bread (and caffeine of course)

The Monumento do Peregrino looks out over the sweeping Galician view on the Alto San Roque.

The Monumento do Peregrino looks out over the sweeping Galician view on the Alto San Roque.

Descending from tiny Fonfria in the early morning reveals mountain tops emerging from clouds like islands.

Descending from tiny Fonfria in the early morning reveals mountain tops emerging from clouds like islands.

Breathtaking light filters in serene valleys outside of Triacastela.

Breathtaking light filters in serene valleys outside of Triacastela.

Galician guard dog. Or maybe he's just sunning himself.

Galician guard dog. Or maybe he's just sunning himself.

Leaving Sarria with lots of new faces who have arrived to walk the last 100 kilometers to Santiago.

Leaving Sarria with lots of new faces who have arrived to walk the last 100 kilometers to Santiago.

a mysterious misty morning

a mysterious misty morning

picturesque country roads on the walk to Portomarin.

picturesque country roads on the walk to Portomarin.

The little Galician Camino mascot. He looks like a Miro inspired peregrino

The little Galician Camino mascot. He looks like a Miro inspired peregrino

the reliable yellow arrow leads the way.

the reliable yellow arrow leads the way.

The fortress and Church Igrexa de San Juan. (in the Galician dialect Igrexa = Iglesia)

The fortress and Church Igrexa de San Juan. (in the Galician dialect Igrexa = Iglesia)

Camino de Santiago: Days 25 - 27 - Leon to Villadangos del Paramo to Astorga to Rabanal del Camino

Leaving Leon, I passed the beautiful Leon Parador, a 12th C pilgrim's hospital (hostal) spruced up to become the headquarters of the Knights Order of Santiago. 

Leaving Leon, I passed the beautiful Leon Parador, a 12th C pilgrim's hospital (hostal) spruced up to become the headquarters of the Knights Order of Santiago. 

In front of the parador, another statue of a weary pilgrim.

In front of the parador, another statue of a weary pilgrim.

Some interesting farm contraptions--my only photo of the day into Villadangos. It was a highway adjacent walk through pit stops for truckers.  Nothing going on in Villadangos but good company and a delicious dinner at the albergue with new friends.

Some interesting farm contraptions--my only photo of the day into Villadangos. It was a highway adjacent walk through pit stops for truckers.  Nothing going on in Villadangos but good company and a delicious dinner at the albergue with new friends.

Sunrise through corn stalks. It's actually quite creepy to walk through corn during the pre-dawn. believe it or not.

Sunrise through corn stalks. It's actually quite creepy to walk through corn during the pre-dawn. believe it or not.

I only passed through, but really liked the town of Hospital de Orbigo. This long bridge dates from the 13th C. Legend has it that a knight was thwarted in love. To restore his honor he vowed to defend that bridge against anyone who would challenge him.  In 1434, Knights arrived from all over Europe to joust against the heartsick Don Suero.  300 knights were defeated, and I guess that was the magic number because a victorious Don Suero then journeyed to Santiago in thanks for being cured of his heartbreak.

I only passed through, but really liked the town of Hospital de Orbigo. This long bridge dates from the 13th C. Legend has it that a knight was thwarted in love. To restore his honor he vowed to defend that bridge against anyone who would challenge him.  In 1434, Knights arrived from all over Europe to joust against the heartsick Don Suero.  300 knights were defeated, and I guess that was the magic number because a victorious Don Suero then journeyed to Santiago in thanks for being cured of his heartbreak.

Yellow arrows mark the dusty path toward Astorga.

Yellow arrows mark the dusty path toward Astorga.

Casa de los Dioses, which I anticipated because it is so beloved by my guidebook and favorite Camino forum.  Entirely donativo, sustenance, good vibes and a shady place to rest is offered. 

Casa de los Dioses, which I anticipated because it is so beloved by my guidebook and favorite Camino forum.  Entirely donativo, sustenance, good vibes and a shady place to rest is offered. 

After a long day, weary pilgrims (including me!) on the outskirts of Astorga.  Look at that sky!

After a long day, weary pilgrims (including me!) on the outskirts of Astorga.  Look at that sky!

Cannot resist the handpainted signs.  Or patatas fritas for that matter.

Cannot resist the handpainted signs.  Or patatas fritas for that matter.

At this point in the trip, I can handled the blisters, but my foot is killing me and I feel like I've aged 30 years. I really enjoyed my meal Plaza Major, though, and watching people gather to see the clock at the top of the Ayuntamiento chime -- it has little characters like the Glockenspiel in Munich!

At this point in the trip, I can handled the blisters, but my foot is killing me and I feel like I've aged 30 years. I really enjoyed my meal Plaza Major, though, and watching people gather to see the clock at the top of the Ayuntamiento chime -- it has little characters like the Glockenspiel in Munich!

Astorga was lovely. With a beautiful cathedral too.

Astorga was lovely. With a beautiful cathedral too.

I like comparing the grandiose cathedrals with the tiny hermitages I'd pass along the way. Even though it was sunrise, this medieval chapel, Ecce Homo, was manned by a friendly elderly woman who tried to tell me the story of the chapel's well. From what I gathered a miracle happened, but my Spanish wasn't up to the task of sorting out what type of miracle. So I blessed myself and looked as the display of antique photos of parishoners past.  As I was leaving the tiny woman mimed my putting on my backpack and trudging away.  She must see a lot of us droopy pilgrims.

I like comparing the grandiose cathedrals with the tiny hermitages I'd pass along the way. Even though it was sunrise, this medieval chapel, Ecce Homo, was manned by a friendly elderly woman who tried to tell me the story of the chapel's well. From what I gathered a miracle happened, but my Spanish wasn't up to the task of sorting out what type of miracle. So I blessed myself and looked as the display of antique photos of parishoners past.  As I was leaving the tiny woman mimed my putting on my backpack and trudging away.  She must see a lot of us droopy pilgrims.

I thought the walk toward Rabanal was stunning. Sunny with walled paths, then later, a forest trail. I came to love the entrance to small towns. 

I thought the walk toward Rabanal was stunning. Sunny with walled paths, then later, a forest trail. I came to love the entrance to small towns. 

The Camino "color scheme" of yellow arrows against a blue background is truly accurate.  To me the Camino is yellow against blue.

The Camino "color scheme" of yellow arrows against a blue background is truly accurate.  To me the Camino is yellow against blue.

Besides Elvis Bar in Religos, Cowboy Bar in the sleepy Maragato town El Ganso was a favorite.  The inside is like the prop department of a spaghetti western

Besides Elvis Bar in Religos, Cowboy Bar in the sleepy Maragato town El Ganso was a favorite.  The inside is like the prop department of a spaghetti western

Rabanal in silohuette.

Rabanal in silohuette.

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!