Fife Coastal Path: Anstruther to Elie with an angel

9-14-15:   I believe there are angels among us…  ~Alabama

Yes, so many times when we may be tempted to take a wrong turn down a difficult path, someone appears to help us find our way. Today was no different.

The cold rain is drizzling down on us as we shuffle our way along the muddy path. We approach a coastal church with high tide up to the gated cemetery in front with no easy path around. The sign points to the high tide path which goes away from the coast and is quite long, but we decide that is our best option. Out of nowhere and in the rain, an older woman appears and stops us from taking our chosen path. No, that path is a muddy mess with all this rain and very long. Take these steps up and go around the front of the church, inside the cemetery and go over the stone fence. That will connect to the path directly on the other side of the church.

Anst-1110590We also find the church open for viewing and take refuge from the rain for a while. Coincidence?  I think not. Thank you, Angel lady!

Anst-1110609I believe this structure may be the remains of Lady’s Tower built for Lady Jane Anstruther in the latter part of the 18th century and was used as a bathing house for her. She was a naturist and from this point she was able to enter the bay below without being seen by the local residents of Elie. ~ longdistancewalks.org

Anst-1110663After arriving back at Anstruther, we walk uptown for a rewarding pint and supper. According to this sign there is no need for a babysitter if parents need a night out!!

Anst-1110680rThe evening views in Anstruther are spectacular as we consume our hot, crispy fish & chips. We try NOT to feed the birds as instructed!

Anst-1110688rThe evening walk after fish & chips includes a visit with this gregarious Scottish fisherman. Mackerel are the fruits of his labors today which will be sold to area restaurants.

Anst-1110707rOur B & B includes a nip of sherry for a nightcap and a decadent chocolate treat. Ah-h-h-h…  Sweet dreams as we rest our weary bones for the bus trip to Edinburgh tomorrow.

Below is a YouTube link to a short video of our adventures today.

 

 

 

Strolling Santiago de Compostela

2014Camino-1070857dmvView from our small third floor room with 5 bunk beds for a total of 10 persons in our room. Cozy…

 

2014Camino-1070858plcrWe call Roots & Boots our home for two nights. It is in the old part of town, three levels of multiple rooms down narrow hallways with as many bunk beds as they can possibly put in each room.  We had two bathrooms for our floor, so we had to be patient or find an open bathroom on another floor…maybe.

We shared a room with sheep farmer from Portugal, college students waiting for housing and a grandfather/grandson pair (Sweden? ), as well as another silent partner that did not converse with us.
2014Camino-1070813dmvcrRandy is wearing his strolling attire today, so let’s start exploring.
2014Camino-1070810dmv Interesting, but I don’t think I’ll put these sculptures on my deck.

2014Camino-1070830plThank you, Random Strolling Ladies, for following the photography Rule of Three and Odd Numbers.

2014Camino-1070832dmvcrShe must be my relative since Pemble women are known to wear bright red attire.

2014Camino-1070834dmvObviously, she draws the attention of old and young alike.

2014Camino-1070838dmvcrSign reads:  Painter looking for work urgently – I’m hungry. 

2014Camino-1070881dmvcrYou’re going strolling whether you want to, or not!

2014Camino-1070829plBeggar outside the coffee shop.

2014Camino-1070855dmvNeighborhood near our hostel.

2014Camino-1070871dmvWe crossed through Alameda Park several times as it was between our hostel and the city center. The origin of the park goes back to the donation of the grounds to the city by the Counts of Altamira around the middle of the 16th century.

2014Camino-1070824plcrHarry Potter influence here?

2014Camino-1070867dmvWe see many monuments amidst the garden area of the park.  Mirador da Alameda.  Translation: Viewpoint of Alameda

2014Camino-1070883dmvWe are thrilled to meet up with Al, our Spanish friend that we met at the pilgrim meal in Fonfria just past O’Cebreiro. I sincerely hope he is doing well with his new job in South America.

2014Camino-1070889dmvThese Italian pilgrims are all smiles and glad to be done with their journey.  We shared the trail frequently with them the past few days. A smile is comprehended in any language.

2014Camino-1070841dmvWe attend the Pilgrim Mass and they did not swing “the thing.”( Botafumeiro) We are 0 for 2 on this, so if I ever return to the Camino experience again I will not be leaving until they do swing “the thing.”

2014Camino-1070845dmvOutside the church, I notice this beggar who is prepared for rain with an umbrella tucked behind her.  I’m guessing she is a Gypsy, which is a slang term for the Romani people that frequent European countries.  More to come on this topic in future blog posts.

2014Camino-1070826plcrThese gypsies appear to be quite stern.  Is this an omen?

 

Camino de Santiago ~ Lucky Day #13

Or, maybe not so lucky for some…

2014Camino-1070727dmvTranslation: Parents and students in defense of the nusa (neighborhood?) school. We see this as we leave the town of O Pedrouzo.  Destination ~ Santiago de Compostela!

2014Camino-1070730dmvThe path leads us through wooded areas…

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2014Camino-1070733dmv…and small farms

2014Camino-1070735dmvSmall hay bundles

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2014Camino-1070742dmvThe path is now closer to the road.

2014Camino-1070746dmvcrOne last photo opp before we enter the city.  Thank you, Random Pilgrim, for taking our picture! Liz and Bryon hiked at our pace so that we could arrive together.

2014Camino-1070751dmvpopFence next to the Santiago Airport is full of crosses made from branches. Lavacolla is recognized today more for the name of the international airport than the place where medieval pilgrims came to wash lavar and purify themselves before entering the city.

2014Camino-1070759dmvcrWe still see livestock and small farms.

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2014Camino-1070774dmvWizard of Oz?

2014Camino-1070778dmvMonte do Gozo (Mount Joy)  The monument commemorates the visit of Pope John Paul II.

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2014Camino-1070780dmvThere it is… Santiago! We can see it!

2014Camino-1070784dmvcrWe pass by the ruins of an old church. Spooky…

 

2014Camino-1070786dmvCity limits?

2014Camino-1070790dmvpopHere we go!

 

2014Camino-1070805dmvcrTa-Dah!!  What?  Under construction?  Seriously?  Oh, well…

Might as well drink in the celebration…

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2014Camino-1070814pl 2014Camino-1070817plBuen Camino! After 165 miles of hiking, we look forward to new adventures and challenges after a good nights sleep.  A bunk bed at Roots & Boots is calling my name… hmmm, wonder who our roommates will be tonight?

I have a feeling we won’t be the only ones counting sheep tonight!

 

A planned fast forward on Day #5: Pamplona to Ponferrada

It’s the morning of Camino de Santiago day #5 and we pack cookies purchased in a quaint little cookie shop last night in Pamplona.

2014Camino-1070180dmvNo, we didn’t buy all these cookies.

2014Camino-1070181dmvcrThrough the dark morning air, on our walk to the bus station, we pass a life-size monument depicting the running of the bulls.

map_dotsThe black dots mark our route via bus today.

2014Camino-1070183dmvWe notice the drier appearance of the terrain on the flat plains on the plateau of central Spain which is referred to as the Meseta.  I have read that this section is challenging in a way that is more mental than physical, but can also be beastly hot in August.  Since we don’t have enough time to walk this section, we are fast-forwarding by taking a bus today to Ponferrada, Spain.  Maybe this would be a good region to tour on a bicycle rather than walking?

2014Camino-1070188dmvkpOur bus arrives in Ponferrada, which is surrounded by mountains and is the capitol city of El Bierzo in the province of Leon, Spain. In 1178, Ferdinand II of Leon donated the city to the Templar order for protecting pilgrims on the Way of St. James who passed through El Bierzo on their road to Santiago de Compostela.  The castle hosted the Knights Templar’s Grand Master of Castille.  The Templars were only able to enjoy the use of this fortress for about twenty years before the order was disbanded and its properties confiscated.  ~ Wikipedia

Seems like a lot of work for just twenty years.

2014Camino-1070197dmvcrEven though we spent the day on a bus, we still seem to have an appetite and find a cute little bar/restaurant with a personable owner. It appears as though the locals frequent this establishment, so that should be a good sign.

2014Camino-1070192dmvcrRussian Salad – a cold, vinegar potato salad.  It’s not only pretty, but delicious, too!

2014Camino-1070193dmvCocido, a hearty chick pea stew with pork.

2014Camino-1070196Cochinillo (roast suckling pig)  Pork dishes are common in this region.

The mural above brightens the street near our hostel as we dream of the adventures that lie ahead. We will be taking a short bus ride in the morning to Villafranca del Bierzo where we will start walking again.  Oh, it will feel so good to drink in the surroundings and just walk again…

 

 

 

 

Planes, trains, buses… oh, my!

us-europe-mapflatIt took three days of traveling by planes, trains and bus to finally arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port, the traditional start of the Camino Frances or the French Way of St. James, to begin our hiking adventure along an ancient Roman road steeped with history along its challenging path.

Plane from Minneapolis to Iceland (8 hour layover), another plane from Iceland to Paris and train from Paris to Bordeaux, from Bordeaux to Bayonne, train/bus from Bayonne to St. Jean.  Whew!!

map

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (literally meaning “Saint John at the foot of the mountain pass” in French) is an ancient town in south-western France in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. The town is also the old capital of the traditional Basque province of lower Navarre.

2014Cam-1070128dmvBasque people have managed to preserve their own identifying characteristics such as their own culture and language throughout the centuries and today a large part of the population shares a desire to be self-governed, either with further political autonomy or full independence.  ~ wikipedia.org

2014Cam-1060799pophpLooks like we aren’t the only ones to discover this location.  Are all of these people really going to start walking early tomorrow morning?  Crowd and traffic control may be needed, if that is the case!

2014Cam-1060797popdmvIn St. Jean Pied de Port, flows the Nive River. For years, it has been an inspiration to artists such as in The Bridge at St. Jean Pied de Port by Louis Dewis.

2014Cam-1060789dmvWe find our cute little hostel, Gite Azkorria, leave our boots in the entry and settle in to our home for this night only.

7325973Hooray for railings on the top bunks!  Not always the case…

2014Cam-1060795pophpcrPilgrims attempting the walk may light a candle at the local cathedral before embarking on their journey.

2014Cam-1060800popcrWe found a local outdoor bar, instead, to calm our nerves for the upcoming start of our hike.  A restless night of sleep lies ahead as we wonder if we have bitten off more than we can chew.

2014Cam-1060803dmvhpThese jet lagged, travel weary pilgrims are just chewing at the bit to get started – can’t you tell?

Oakwood Lakes State Park 2014

State park camping spots tend to fill up quickly, so we thought we’d end up camping in our backyard this weekend until one spot happened to pop up on the Oakwood Lakes SD State Park reservation site. Oakwood Lakes SD State Park is located near Bruce, SD and is a beautiful facility with clean rest room, friendly staff, hiking trails, boating and fishing. We snatched it up quicker than Usain Bolt sprints down the track.

Here’s the view…

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No camping trip is complete without the traditional marshmallow roast.
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Enjoyed the “Praise in the Park” service provided by the Preston Christian Church on Sunday morning. Preston Christian Church is located three miles from the campground and provides the worship service at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday morning at Oakwood Lakes State Park from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
2014Oakwood-1060719dmvhpcrCampers were all invited to their church at noon for a meal (fundraiser?).  We all know church dinners are always delicious (FYI ~We are farmers so dinner is eaten at noon.) and after stopping in nearby Bruce, SD at noon on a Sunday, I realize that offering a church dinner was a smart move since everything in town was locked up tight.  They may have quite a resource to tap since they have hungry, tired campers close by that would just as soon grab a meal on the way out on Sunday noon versus preparing, cooking and cleaning up after another meal.  After all, Sunday is a day of rest, right?  Well, maybe not for the Preston Christian Church…

2014Oakwood-1060723dmvcrEveryone wants a back pew, even at an outdoor worship service.

Update!  I was contacted by Pastor Smith of the Preston Christian Church and the Sunday noon meal during the summer is just a meet and greet get-together – NOT a fundraising event.

A mother’s love…

God sure knew what he was doing when he designed this feature of human nature.
mother's love1
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. ~ Psalm 127:3