I’ll marry you anywhere as long as it’s Paris

Love is in the air as we tour Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France and see wedding photo sessions on the cathedral grounds. My shots are quick little snaps from quite a distance and just for giggles and kicks.

Every day of the year, masses, vespers and the sacrament of reconciliation are celebrated at Notre-Dame de Paris. Since the cathedral is no longer a parish, baptisms, marriages and funerals are no longer held there. Even though weddings are no longer performed in the cathedral, it doesn’t stop brides from using the grounds to jazz up their wedding photos.

2014Paris-1080081hfm20fp20popcmUnlike Minnesota or South Dakota, only brides and grooms appear to be photographed as no bridesmaids or groomsmen can be seen anywhere.

2014Paris-1080080dmvAlthough he was quite close to the action, I believe this photographer is a tourist since the real photographer was shooting Canon and orchestrating the posing.

2014Paris-1080040hfm40fp40pop40plcrIs he wearing flip-flops?  Might as well be comfortable.2014Paris-1080032dmvcrThis photographer carries flowers, brides arm and his camera is under the flowers. What a guy!

2014Paris-1080026dmvkpPigeons are plentiful around the cathedral. Bread for sale…

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2014Paris-1080036dmvThe line to enter the Cathedral of Notre Dame moves faster than it appears.

2014Paris-1080039dmvcr Gypsies are known to run begging, pick-pocket and other scams in the Paris tourist areas and metro. This little lady is working the line for the Notre Dame Cathedral.

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2014Paris-1080044dmvConstruction began in 1163, and Notre-Dame would be completed some 100 years later, in 1272. Click on the link for more information – The Official Notre Dame website.

 

 

 

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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!

 

End of Day #6 – Strolling Ambasmestas

camino-frances-25vegaMap reads from right to left.

We started at Villafranca del Bierzo and stop for the night at Ambasmestas, Spain, one kilometer from Vega De Valcarce which is situated at the bottom of the mountain, O’cebreiro.   It is a quaint, little village with plenty of local color, but not many people.

2014Camino-1070242cr 2014Camino-1070243crWho’s the creeper in the window?

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2014Camino-1070255dmvcrIt’s a pleasant evening for conversation.  Probably discussing politics or those crazy pilgrims.2014Camino-1070256dmvcr

2014Camino-1070257dmvcrInteresting albergue.  They do allow pets, however.2014Camino-1070262crIt’s a nice, warm evening so we are able to hand wash and dry our clothing in the window.  We meet two lovely sisters from Australia and share Camino experiences with them.  I will soon find out that snapping photos can be helpful when tracking down pilgrims on the trail.

 

Camino Fast Forward… to Pamplona

The end of Camino Day Three is becoming more challenging.  No beds to be found in Zubiri (Rats!) No beds to be found in Larrasoana (Double Rats!).

Not being able to bring a bed back to Joan, waiting at the Rabies Bridge, we collect her and locate a cafe with wireless capabilities.

Time to figure out what Plan B should look like.  Elizabeth, A.K.A. Guru of Travel, works the daylights out of Joan’s Ipad at a cafe in Zubiri and she and Joan team up to find enough beds in Pamplona, Spain. Fast forward, via taxi, about 12.5 miles.

2014Camino-1070091dmv We end day three with a stay in a hotel near the Camino route about three miles from the city center. Day four begins with a leisurely three mile walk to the historic city center, which is quite easy compared to the previous days.
2014Camino-1070098dmvcrIt appears other tourists are eager to greet us, ignoring the poor homeless man.

2014Camino-1070095dmvcrWhile passing a city park I observe that kids are kids the world around, complete with moms overseeing their activities and sharing a conversation.

2014Camino-1070100dmvcrAfter a little bit of wandering and asking directions, we find our place of lodging  (above and on the left) and are early enough to get five beds.  This albergue opens at 1:00 p.m. daily and will fill up by 2:30 p.m. today. Finding beds has become a race in itself due to the number of people walking and biking the Camino this time of year.

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A little background on our lodging tonight:

2014Camino-1070120dmvAnother way of re-purposing, which is a trend these days.

2014Camino-1070117dmvPosters advertise bull fights, but no running of the bulls… that’s O.K.

2014Camino-1070096dmvcrNow, which street do they run the bulls?  Could be any of these or all of these.

2014Camino-1070097dmvcr Quite narrow and I would surely be trampled!

2014Camino-1070132dmvWe tour the massive Pamplona Cathedral, mostly dating from the 15th century.

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2014Camino-1070129dmvcrRandy visits with the French monk that we met the day before while on the path.

2014Camino-1070138dmvDo I see a clothesline through these enormous pillars?  Adrenaline rush.

2014Camino-1070134dmvMy day is complete.  Boom!

2014Camino-1070160dmvThe guy in the red t-shirt seems to be training for the running of the bulls!

2014Camino-1070113dmvTime to locate a meal for these starving pilgrims and Menu del dia is a favorite.

2014Camino-1070176dmvYum!?

2014Camino-1070106dmvTraditional paella is on the menu… why not?

2014Camino-1070121dmvHome, sweet home, for tonight.  Our tummies are full and it’s time to call it a day.  Tomorrow includes another Fast Forward, as scheduled in our original Plan A.

2014Camino-1070126dmvThis creepy doll is across the street from our albergue… watching us as we sleep.

Sweet dreams…?

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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!!

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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?