2014 Camino de Santiago Video

My winter challenge was learning to work on a Mac computer which includes iMovie.  Here are my first results in video form:

Most still and video clips were captured with a Panasonic Lumix 150. Very good travel camera.  Lightweight, great zoom lens and can capture raw files. A few of the still photos were captured with a basic phone camera.

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!!! 

2014Camino-1070619dmv

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.

IMG_20140824_043026_673cb

IMG_20140824_043244_987_dmv

IMG_20140824_043403_529dmvcr

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?

IMG_20140824_043626_426dmvcr

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camino Day #8: Fonfria to Sarria

2014Camino-1070432kpdmvWe’ve had our typical breakfast of tostadas (toast) and coffee only to step outside and discover pea soup fog this morning as we leave Fonfria, Spain. Kind of pretty in a surreal way, but not good for viewing scenery.

2014Camino-1070437kpdmv50Fog clears off and the trail starts descending, steep in places.

2014Camino-1070440dmvpopIt’s turning out to be a lovely day as we walk through the quaint village of Biduedo Above is a tiny chapel dedicated to San Pedro.

2014Camino-1070442dmvcrArrows continue to point the way.  I sure hope we keep seeing these helpful guides.

2014Camino-1070443dmvclThis little guy is quite friendly and does not pose a threat.

2014Camino-1070445pldmvThis spectator doesn’t seem to mind our presence, either.

2014Camino-1070446pldmvclHey, you are walking the opposite way!  Inquiring minds want to know…  We stop to chat and discover he is Australian and walking backwards to meet his wife who is walking with her sister.  Hmmm… familiar story here.  I play back the camera images from the albergue near Vega de Valcarce and it is confirmed that we are both talking about the same lovely Australian sisters.  Technology is useful, even on the Camino.

2014Camino-1070447pldmvMeet World Peace.

2014Camino-1070448hfm20pop40dmvRandy poses for a photo opp with Australia and World Peace.

The trail now descends down to the small hamlet of Pasantes.

2014Camino-1070450pldmvHuge size to this tree so it may be worth stopping to read the sign. Locals claim this unusually shaped chestnut tree to be around 800 years old. An albergue is located right next to the tree.

2014Camino-1070451dmvplNeed to take a picture since I know I won’t remember what it said.

2014Camino-1070454dmvSparse population with just a few homes and yards appearing along the trail. It’s another good day for laundry.

2014Camino-1070459hfm20pop50clWe stop for coffee in the town of Triacastela and meet this American woman walking the Camino alone from Burgos to Santiago.  Flight landed on her first day at  4:00 p.m. and she started walking immediately, arriving at an albergue at 8 or 9 p.m. after walking in the dark. Brave lady!

We leave Triacastela and need to choose the best route to Sarria. Left or right?  O.K., left it is.

2014Camino-1070462dmvcrWe pass a church with its adjoining cemetery.

2014Camino-1070465dmvcrGardens are maturing all around the old cemetery.

 

2014Camino-1070469dmv Thank you, Random Gardener, for wearing a color complementary to green.

2014Camino-1070473dmvcrOpen areas nestled in with wooded areas are used for growing crops for feed that are cut by hand.

2014Camino-1070477dmvcrThis section of the path is steep and slippery and we don’t see any other pilgrims.  Are we lost?  Did we miss a sign?  We come to a fork in the road and see no yellow arrows. Should we turn back? Should we panic? We gingerly trek to the right. Thank goodness... we finally see a yellow arrow.

2014Camino-1070479dmvplcl50crColoring with his daughter in front of his home along the Camino de Santiago.  What a great dad!

2014Camino-1070480kpdmv50crThe Camino takes us along the village of Samos and the Benedictine Monasterio de San Julián de Samos. It was founded in the 6th century by San Martin Dumiense and renovated by San Fructuoso in the 7th century. Unfortunately soon after the monastery was renovated it was abandoned because of the Moorish invasion and it wasn’t until the Asturian King Fruela I reconquered the area did the monks return. Some years later King Fruela was assassinated and the monks gave refuge to the King’s wife and son, who was later to become Alfonso II of Asturias. Because of this the monastery was granted royal protection.  ~ Galicia Guide

2014Camino-1070484poppldmv13th century Iglesia San Salvador. The belfry is a later 19th century addition.

2014Camino-1070481dmvkpcrPilgrim Statue along the Camino route.

2014Camino-1070485dmvcrFinally, we reach the town of Sarria.  How much further to the albergue?  Elizabeth and Bryon have gone ahead to get us booked into the albergue in time so we try to make radio contact now. We make contact and we must keep going through town to the other side.  A-r-g-h…

2014Camino-1070488dmvcrReally, this many steps?  We’ve already gone about 30 + kilometers (extra credit since we find out later that we took the long route) and we are hungry and tired. Our albergue is at the top of these stairs, but at least we see the yellow arrow indicating it is on the Camino route.

O.K., here we go...  anything for a bed to sleep in tonight.

 

We begin to descend…

Our trek past O’Cebreiro takes us through little hamlets and rural areas.

2014caminoblog-1070391Wash day for this family with a  l-o-n-g clothesline.

2014caminoblog-1070395The chickens don’t seem to mind pilgrims trekking through their turf. As if to say, Whatever…

2014caminoblog-1070403The Iglesia San Esteban in Liñares was built prior to 1120 and restored in 1963.

2014caminoblog-1070407I read about problems with mean dogs along the Camino route, but we have Randy, A.K.A The Dog Whisperer, so we pass by with ease.

2014caminoblog-1070411Beautiful mountain scenery which includes small hay fields.

2014caminoblog-1070412This wood pile has a Celtic design. Solution to roof issues doesn’t seem to be period correct, however.

2014caminoblog-1070413Reminds me of The Bear Went Over the Mountain song we use to sing in kindergarten.  And what do you think he saw?  He saw another mountain…

2014caminoblog-1070416We arrive and take off our boots for the night at Albergue Reboleira in Fonfria which has 86 beds and a nice patio area for relaxing and visiting. Entertaining conversations with German soldiers walking the Camino and a German woman from Minnesota complete a delightful Camino day.

2014caminoblog-1070414Taking advantage of multiple clothes lines and strong sunshine. Watch your step when you take the clothes off the line, or you may find an unpleasant surprise on the bottom of your shoes!

2014caminoblog-1070418Pilgrim meal is served in this old Celtic style building across the road from the albergue.  The village gets its name from its fountain Fons Frigida or cold spring. During the 16th century there used to be a pilgrim hospital in Fonfria that would give heat, salt and water and a bed with two blankets to healthy pilgrims and to the sick a piece of bread, eggs and butter as well. ~ galiciaguide.com

2014caminoblog-1070427The room is quiet at first…

2014caminoblog-1070421 …but the wine begins to flow and soon the air is humming with conversation.

2014caminoblog-1070422Here we meet Al, a personable Spanish gentleman from Madrid that has worked in Iowa and Texas and is walking the Camino before he moves to Lima, Peru.

Salud!

camino-frances-26o-cebreiroIt’s the end of day #7 and we have walked about 25 kilometers, or 15 1/2 miles up the mountain and now we are working our way down. No wonder I’m so tired and ready so crawl into my cozy bunk bed.

 

Down, down, down… to Roncesvalles

Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.
~ Ed Viesturs

We continue on the 2nd day of our Camino through the fog with the chilling rain cold on the fingers.

2014Cam-18dmv

2014Camino-1060980Keep smiling!  Here’s one for Liz’s blog called  Fashion Backwards.  Click link to see what that is all about!

2014Cam-24dmvcrRoland, commander of the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army, was defeated by the Basques in 778.  It was fought here in Roncevaux Pass, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain.  While oral tradition has the Christians defeating Muslims, both sides, actually, were Christian.  ~Wikipedia

Decision time… take the longer, but easier, hike along the highway or this steep trail risking a tumble down the path.

Pyrenees-36-road-down-and-shell-stoneWe opt for the steeper trail and Joan is the lone highway hiker of our group and we hope she doesn’t get lost.   It’s raining, the trail is difficult and I just plain forget to snap a shot, so the camera stays in the pouch. (Image above from rscottd13.blogspot.com) It is a tough descent down to the village and I find it helpful to grab tree branches (tip from another hiker at the top) to keep from sliding down.

2014Camino-1060994Challenging, but worth it for the colorful view.

2014Camino-1060997Slugs were plentiful on the trail and were quite entertaining, serving as a good excuse for a rest break.

2014Camino-1070010-2plWe arrive at our destination, Albergue Roncesvalles, and hope for a bed.  The available beds fill up quickly so the slow pokes may not be in luck. We are able to score enough beds in the newer three floor albergue which is set up in cubicles of 2 bunk beds each. 183 beds total.  They open the old church albergue for overflow (120 beds) and some will be sleeping in little box-like houses resembling fish houses near the grounds.  Unfortunate pilgrims arriving too late are forced to either sleep outside or keep moving on down the trail.

2014Camino-1070012-2dmvIn order to help pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees along the St James’ Way, around 1127, the Bishop of Pamplona, requested by King Alfonso I ‘the Battler’, founded the Roncesvalles Hospitality Institution.

Now, it’s time to sign up for the Pilgrim meal so we can be assured that our evening is complete.

2014Camino-1070026-2dmvWe take time to visit this small early Gothic chapel, The Chapel of Holy Spirit, built in the XII century. It is the oldest building in Roncesvalles.

2014Camino-1070025-2crSome legends state that the Frankish warriors killed in the battle of Roncesvalles in 778 were buried here and that fact was the reason to build that chapel. Some scientists and researchers say that is very doubtful and the Chapel of Holy Spirit was built in XII century. Pilgrims and Augustinian canons that died in Roncesvalles used to be buried here.  ~ Virtual Tourist

2014Camino-1070016-2pldmvcrWe attend the Collegiate Church Pilgrim Mass at 6 p.m. to see what that is all about. Built in the XIIIth century, pews filled up quickly plus people stand all around the back.  Air in the chapel is damp and chills to the bone after walking in the cold rain.2014Camino-1070015-3

2014Camino-1070009-2The stairwells are open between floors so we hear  fun conversations (In other languages) upstairs in the kitchen until light must go out.  It’s time to settle in for the long night and by now expect to be lulled to sleep by a serenade of snores.  I’ve been told that I am also a member of that choir.

Tomorrow we begin day three.

Day #1 from St. Jean… Can we really do this?

A restless night filled with anxiety. Dreams of falling off a mountain. ARE WE INSANE?
stage 1 camino ele_st.jeanOur destination for the day is Orisson. We opted to book our first night at Refuge Orisson instead of trying to do the entire 27.1 kilometer Napoleon Route over to Roncesvalles in one day. The first day seems to always be the hardest and combined with the steep grade would make the route to Roncesvalles miserable.  We choose not to be miserable as we don’t want to suffer that much!

2014Cam-1060805Visions of streets filled with noisy people starting their Camino de Santiago experience were quickly dashed.  Where is everybody?  Are we the last ones to leave?

2014Cam-1060821dmvThe St. Jean Farewell Committee on duty.

2014Cam-1060820pophpWe see a few stray backpackers, look down and there it is!  The shell…  We will see several shells in the next couple of weeks, but none as fancy as this until Santiago.  Note the French wording, “Jacques.”

2014Cam-1060818Follow the arrow!

2014Cam-1060833 The views become spectacular as we ascend the increasingly steep path.

2014Cam-1060837dmvRandy finds a new friend. If only he had brought along an ear of corn…

2014Cam-1060854Ding, ding, ding chimes the cowbell in the distance.

2014Cam-1060861dmvBreathtaking scenery and the path is challenging but not painful.

2014Cam-1060868dmvWe are not alone as we find walking mates throughout the day from Columbia/Miami, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Canada and Spain, to name a few. Columbia/Miami on the far left is doing the Camino on bicycle.

2014Cam-1060871dmvDoing A-O.K. and enjoying the view.

2014Cam-1060877View from my path location to the path below as a small group of hikers rest and chat.

2014Cam-1060883The climb becomes more difficult as we labor towards our destination.

2014Cam-1060884Yes!  Can’t see it yet, but it’s always comforting to have hope and the guidance of a sign.

2014Cam-1060885Ah-h-h-h….  There it is. Refuge Orisson consists of this albergue building and across the road is a terrace including tables from which we can enjoy a spectacular view of the valley.  All beds are booked and they are filling up the back yard with tents. Eighteen beds (bunk) in three rooms, two toilets, showers and a bar with food downstairs.  Who could ask for more?

2014Cam-1060890Boots are not allowed in the rooms so we park them here.  We are in a room with three bunk beds so one poor soul from Sweden will be joining us in the snoring chorus tonight.

We watch some wet Pilgrims arrive later as the rain drizzles down on them.  We are thankful to have arrived early enough to beat the rain.

Now we must make sure we are signed up for the evening Pilgrim meal and rest so that we can stay awake during the meal. I will be using the video features of my camera tonight so stay tuned for the results!

 

 

 

 

One year anniversary… Camino de Santiago

O-o-o-oh, I believe there are angels among us… ~ Alabama

It’s been one year since we embarked on a pilgrimage across northern Spain ~ Camino de Santiago. While I’m the first to admit to not being a true pilgrim, being neither Catholic or even attempting to go without all amenities, (wine, bed, food…) I do feel that a deeper layer of my inner soul has been tapped.

The experience reaffirmed my faith in mankind and that God is looking out for us. I did believe in the existence of angels before and I’m even more convinced now.  If not angels, God certainly knows who to put where at just the right time.

Spain-1030684Swollen creek?  No problem. God has it covered and the singing Spanish Angels magically appeared to help us across.

Spain-1030598dmvLost your group and still can’t find them after searching every downtown bar and albergue?  No problem. God came through with this one, too. Thank you, observant hiker from San Diego.

Spain-1030382dmvNo place to stay?  Carmen, Isabella and others welcomed us in.

Spain-1030376dmvNeed a good “muscle relaxant” to ease the aches and pains after a miserable, rain soaked day topped off with jet lag?  Damian to the rescue.  I can still hear our laughter bouncing off the small bar walls.

So, even though the Compostela de Santiago was the ultimate goal, the journey itself was the real experience.

God came through to help us on several occasions, but a snowstorm meant that hiking the mountain, O’Cebreiro, was not in the cards for our group of pilgrims.

Spain-1030752crdmvUnfinished business?  Hmmm…?  Maybe not during a season that involves rain or snow.

Camino Day 6 ~ Meet Carmen, Luisa and Ireland

Portomarin was where we slumbered last night in Albergue Ultreia which is run by a charming woman named Carmen.  Carmen’s eyes sparkle and shine and she has a way of getting her message across with grand gestures of arms and hands.  She is a strong, hard working woman, grabbing two wet backpacks and hoisting them up a flight of stairs as though they were merely purses.

We settled in to our dorm room filled with about 10 bunk beds and were immediately invited into the kitchen area by a fun group of young Spaniards having happy hour before their home cooked meal.  They offered us shots of some kind of liquor that had a good “kick” to it, so that helped warm us up inside and out.  I’m guessing it’s the anise liquor made in Spain. Again, must have been too tired to take a picture.  You will meet them later, though.

We were lucky enough to have a washer and drier which is accessed by going outside to the upstairs balcony.  Carmen’s English speaking daughter, Luisa, is extremely helpful with everything from washing and drying clothes to planning our next day, day six.

camino-frances-29

Thanks to Albergue Ultreia, our clothing has been washed and dried and our boots have been on little heaters all night.  The blisters on Randy’s feet catch the attention of one of the young Spanish girls staying at the hostal and she offers sympathy and blister salve, if he needed it. People on the Camino show such kindness to complete strangers, that it warms the heart and gives a positive outlook towards mankind.

Coffee machine in the kitchen brews me some delicious, hot java to get my groove on and we eat the rolls we had purchased the night before at the local grocery store. What a great way to start a new day!
Spain-1030715dmvWe are in the center of town so Lori is getting directions from Luisa.

Spain-1030714dmvDiane, Jane and Joan pose for a photo with our friend, Luisa.  Luisa is also a pharmicist along with helping her mother with the albergue.  We met Dad this morning when he was opening up the albergue for the day. Wonderful family.   I am wondering if the black and white photo on the wall is of the old Roman bridge that is now under water.

Spain-1030720dmvLuisa manned the camera, so this is one of the few photos I am in.  I notice the sidewalk is dry and no rain is falling ~ Hooray!

Spain-1030724dmvcrMeet our new friends from Ireland.  They are all turning 30 years old this year and are celebrating their birthdays together on the Camino.  They signed up with a travel tour that transports their luggage for them, so they only have smaller daypacks.  With or without bags, they will still get wet today. Rain gear is essential no matter what you are carrying.  From now on they will be referred to as Ireland.  Such as…

Did you see Ireland at the pub today?

Yes, I did see Ireland at the pub today!  No, wait… that’s tomorrow.