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?

 

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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!

 

Almost there, but not there… Melide

Today is going to be the longest day of the trip as we cover about 30 miles or close to 50 kilometers.
Portomarin-to-Palas-de-Rei-Elevation-MapPortomarine is a couple of kilometers to the left of the map above.

Palas-de-Rei-to-Arzua-Elevation-Map Randy, Bryon and Liz start walking and their destination is Melide which requires walking the full distance of the top map and half-way into the next stage.   Will the feet survive?

2014Camino-3 Adios,  Italia!!! 

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2014Camino-1070620nrFoggy day in the woods.

2014Camino-1070625crOccasionally a cement picnic table will appear to facilitate a quick break.

2014Camino-1070627dmvThe path is worn down from centuries of pilgrims walking to Santiago.

2014Camino-1070632dmvcrWhy can’t we stay here?   In March of 2013 we did stay here and woke up to fresh snowfall.

Have Joan and Joyce been kidnapped?  Where could they be?  Um-m-m-m… shopping?

2014Camino-But first we go to the Church of San Juan since it is Sunday. This church was reconstructed brick by brick when the dam flooded the town to build a hydroelectric power plant and they were forced to relocate the city of Portomarine.

We say a little prayer for the other three trudging down the 30 mile path today.
IMG_20140824_042957_700dmvNow we hop into a cozy taxi for a joyride to Melide where we check our group into the albergue.   Every Sunday in Melide you will find a fruit, meat and cheese market where farmers bring their produce in to sell. Randy took my camera so I’m stuck with a low-end cell phone camera and Joan’s Ipod to document the day.

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IMG_20140824_043511_793dmvcrPigs feet?  Not sure how I’d cook them so I’ll pass this time.

IMG_20140824_043540_275dmvcrThis little piggy went to market…

IMG_20140824_043601_120dmvcrNorwegian cod caught in Spanish waters. Is this like lutefisk?

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IMG_20140824_043740_452dmvcrThe air is filled with noisy chatter.

IMG_20140824_060430_499dmvcrJoan negotiates our transaction and we will be supplied with delicious cheese straight from the farmer for the next several days.  Delish!

IMG_20140824_060507_631dmvJoan and I have the great plan to walk back on the trail to meet the rest of the gang to show support.  We walk and walk, but don’t see pilgrims.  This can’t be right?  We go back, find the right road out-of-town, and wait for them…and wait…and wait… and wait some more.

Finally, after almost every pilgrim has gone by, we finally make radio contact and walk to meet them. The last 10 miles have been brutal and Randy, Bryon and Liz finally limp into town, too tired to take pictures.

Painful feet, blisters and exhaustion dictate the mood tonight.

How about some cheese with that wine?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

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.

I saw the light…

…the Lord turns my darkness into light.  ~2 Samuel 22:29
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Light is an interesting subject. Without it we are in darkness, lost and feel alone.  Just the slightest ray of light gives us vision to see what’s in front of us and keeps us from stumbling in the darkness… as does the Lord.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

~ Title quote by James Michener

Our backpacks are ready to make their last trek of this trip, and we see the ever impressive Aqueduct as we leave the hostal.Spain-1040888rhp  We saunter to the Segovia, Spain bus station, drinking in the sights before we head to Madrid so we can fly back home to cold, wintry Minnesota.

Spain-1050295dmvWe pass by the butcher shop with its unique (to us) featured products.  What is that large white item in the window?  Pig stomachs? Brains appear to be on the lower shelf.

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Last chance for shopping. Spain-1040851 Spain-1040852
We’ve learned that completing challenges in life can be an empowering experience.

Spain-1040845Last chance for a group photo before we go our separate ways.

Spain-1050307I look out the bus window to see this trio sharing a good laugh.

Could it be the sight of Randy and his “harem” of women getting on the bus that is tickling their funny bones?

Spain-1040355dmvWe’ve been living out of backpacks for about 2 1/2 weeks now and the comfortable feeling of home is calling our names.  This whole Camino experience has had a surreal feel to it and I often had to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream.  The Camino has been a unique experience in that we not only visited Spain, but also visited with people from all over the world, joining us in the communal mission of reaching Santiago on the Way of St. James. Gives a United Nations feel to the Camino.  Plus, the side trip to Segovia was just icing on the cake.

Walking the Camino de Santiago may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done ( Even childbirth didn’t take this long).  Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat.