Video From The Camino (A Sketch)

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Reaching Santiago & “The End of The Earth” (Day 35 Pedrouzo – Day 42 Muxia = 136 km)

Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostella = 21km – Day 35

I woke up around 7 am and my plan was to get some bread and stuff to put in it and then go out in the forest to wait for Ricardo.

While in Pedrouzo, I met the German girl from the eucalyptus forest  and we caught up with each others situation. She had been sitting in the forest waiting for a couple of pilgrim friends, that did not show up, but got her self to Pedrouzo later in the evening.

I walked into the beautiful eucalyptus forest and found a spot up against a big tree and began to eat my breakfast. A lot of pilgrims were passing including the father and son duo who I ate with last night.

I asked them if they had seen Ricardo, but declined.

While munching on the bread with a kind of dry impanada inside, I saw the Canadian couple from yesterday and asked if they had seen Ricardo and before I heard an answer  I saw saw him walking right behind them.

Phew… was good to see him and we caught up with each other as always and began the walk I had already walked once. We got to the hotel, where I had asked for directions  yesterday and had a break.

An Interview With The Famous Father & Son Duo

An Interview With The Famous Father & Son Duo

Cooling & Healing of Feet

Cooling & Healing of Feet

We then began a longer walk in the woods and on gravel paths along a creek and here, Ricardo discovered what he had wished he had on the entire journey.

Putting his feet in the cold water really helped his feet – nice to figure out the last day on a 800km journey, right? 🙂

I put my feet in the water as well and it was very cold but enjoyable especially when walking again.

It was a short day in distance and we could have been in Santiago within 3-4 hours easy, but we took our time. Enjoying that we were still on The Camino. Taking a few more breaks that lasted longer to just enjoy and look back at the span of time that you had been on this voyage was in the cards to do this day.

Santiago was Indeed Close now

Santiago was Indeed Close now

 

After a few breaks here and there as well as a HUGE bocadillio Ricardo and me shared in an open green field, we got to Monte de Gozo. Do you remember yesterday, when I got to the hotel and asked for directions, that the next albergue was 10-12 km away? – Well, that was here and only about 5 km from the finish line and Santiago de Compostella.

The Monument at Monte do Gozo

The Monument at Monte do Gozo

This place is on a hill where you overlook Santiago and vaguely can spot the cathedral.

We did not really stay long and continued… and here a couple of good replica pictures of my book was taken that I will like to show you.

Front Cover of Your Unique Journey

Front Cover of Your Unique Journey

Check out my Daily Blog for More Information About The Book: Daily Blog

Replica of Back Cover

Replica of Back Cover

 

Now we were close and it was odd… walking into Santiago. Beginning to see that we got near a city again and know that it was the finish line was really a different experience. We had walked for 35 days today and now it was “the end”. I did know of course, that I was continuing to the coast, but it was like you could not believe you were here. So many days, so many nights, so many steps and all of a sudden you were here… – wow!

On the Edge of Santiago

On the Edge of Santiago

I was in awe the whole way in and Ricardo and me I believe had a similar feeling.

Ricardo only had a couple of days before he had to go home andn the way in he had not yet made up his mind if he wanted to continue to the coast, but coming in just before the city sign, he knew that this was the end for him and also our trip together.

Throughout the day, I had stayed in touch with Steffen, because him and Daniela had stayed in Santiago and today was their 3rd day and they basically waited for us to come in. We both looked forward to see them – we still took our time, this was indeed special moments walking into Santiago.

Right before the city sign another monument and plaque was worth a picture.

Probably the Last Monument on the Trip

Last Monument Before Santiago

El Templario Peregrino

El Templario Peregrino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And… THEN we got to the official city sign and entering Santiago de Compostella. 800 km had been passed. Mountains, rivers, forests and a lot of flat terrain as well as hundreds of villages and a few big cities has been on our path and FINALLY we were entering the place we had pursuit from the start in Saint Jean Pied de Port.

I did it! Arrived Santiago de Compostella

I did it! Arrived Santiago de Compostella

 

Getting Closer & Closer to the Cathedral

Getting Closer & Closer to the Cathedral

It was sort of a big moment and still weird and unbelievable to finally be here.
We continued towards the middle of the city and as you know from the journey, it takes a bit longer to get all the way into the middle of these older parts of the cities for a pilgrim.

As we got closer we walked in as a smaller group and we actually arrived with Gale and his almost blind son Dave, the famous duo on The Camino. Gale told me something great, that I want to share.

 

 

 

We Could now see one of the Towers of the Cathedral

We Could now see one of the Towers of the Cathedral

He told me, that back when he was in high school, he had three good friends, all having names with a “G”. I don´t remember the names, but he told me, that all three compared to him was very athletic, good in school and quite well all around.

He then said; “now… two of them are dead and the third can´t get off his couch because he is so big. I am over 60 and have just walked 800km across Spain.” I could tell he was proud and happy to have done this as well as having done it with his son, whom he said had kept him honest.

A lovely man, who was a nice person to talk to and who obviously shared “The Three Phases” that I shared with you on day 18.

We entered the center of Santiago and approached the cathedral slowly. We knew that Steffen and Daniela was waiting on us. We got to one of the sides of the cathedral and saw them sitting on a stone bench near the stairs down to one of the entrances of the cathedral. They had not seen us, so Ricardo took out his video camera and told me to see if I could surprise them while he was recording.

In the cue for our Compostella Diplomas.

In the cue for our Compostella Diplomas.

I found the right moment and went around and behind them and sat myself down right next to them. They first saw me right there – a nice surprise and great to see them again! Great friends and companions on The Camino.

The plan now was to get our diplomas and see the cathedral and enjoy the evening in Santiago.

 

 

 

 

As you know, it was of course good to officially get a diploma for your accomplishment, but doesn’t  mean a whole lot in the big scheme of things. It is all in your body, mind and soul now and you know it and feel it – you are here.

Steffen and Daniela, helped us with where to go and so on as there were a couple of places we went for diplomas. First, the official Compostella and this year was a special year as St. James had an anniversary, so you could get a diploma, that is not going to be issued for the next 100 years.

After, we went to the big square in front of the Cathedral and here was the final mark, that meant that it was km 0 in Santiago.

Officially Here at the Goal!

Officially Here at the Goal!

 

The stones with writing below was in the very center of the square, basically where the above picture was taken from.

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The Official Stats:

800 km
35 days in total on 33 days of walking

Ricardo and me found out that tonight there was a pilgrim mass in the cathedral and we wanted to go as it made sense to do so instead of tomorrow, since we arrived today.

The mass was at 6 pm and we had found a place to stay prior and arrived to the mass a little early to find a seat and to just sit and enjoy the quiet. It was interesting, because after 5-10 minutes I just began to cry. It was like a faucet had been turned on behind my eyes and water just flowed out… and it was for good reason.

SO much had happened during this trip, so much emotion has been felt and so many experiences and impressions had been a constant way of life and it was like it just made itself burst out of me and reveal the importance that this trip had on me.

During this incredible voyage I had experienced pain and suffering on my body and gotten used to being in pain basically, because no day was easy and you felt it all the time in your legs and feet as well as under them.

My mind had gotten accustomed to beauty and so much good, but also worked on a lot of stress and old things that through this trip gave way for release to something better and perhaps gave me a key to open a new door towards a new path in life.

My heart had been touched. I fell in love on this trip with a girl and in addition I felt and got close to a special person and a special friend in Ricardo along with the special group we were a part of.

It all gave way for tears of being grateful. They say when you die, your life passes before your eyes – here I was grateful and felt happy and due to that my life flashed by my eyes, I thought about my family, my friends, all that I had been through on my travels, the struggles in my life, the accomplishment and so much of what this journey had concluded, that it all goes on and it all makes you grow into who you are supposed to become.

I cried for at least 30 minutes and Ricardo put his hand on my shoulder with the compassionate understanding of what this meant – what a friend. It is rare you find people who you are so connected with, that words are unnecessary.

Another Wine now in Santiago

Another Wine now in Santiago

When the mass was over it was time for some tapas and wine and while I had forgotten my hat in the cathedral, which I never got back, I guess was a point that now the trip with that hat was over…

We had a nice dinner with Daniela, Steffen and one of his friends from Holland that he had befriended the past days.

It was such a nice evening, with laughter and a sense of satisfaction and we all felt good especially because we were able to spend a bit more time together.

 

 

Steffen was leaving the next day and we said our goodbyes after we had something sweet in a café. It took me three hugs to say my goodbyes to Steffen and it would be unknown before I would see him again.

1st Dish

1st Dish

Ricardo and me went to our room and Daniela to hers and we slept until the next morning where we had a brunch and used the day to relax in Santiago.

The next day, Ricardo was leaving so had our last dinner together tonight.
We had a traditional Santiago menu and the famous Santiago tathe.

 

 

Main Dish

Main Dish

The Famous Santiago Tathe

The Famous Santiago Tathe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day after Daniela was going to continue on towards Finisterre, so we split up with her on our way towards the train station. As I told Ricardo, we have been together all the way, “I will go with you all the way to the station and finish our time together on The Camino, there.”

The night before I had decided to stay in Santiago one more day, because I wanted to surprise Gemma, who I knew would come into Santiago this morning. However, I did not know how I would find her, but thought that the big square in front of the cathedral would be the spot.

I waited for a few hours. I was doing some writing on everything that has happened the last few days and continued to see if I could spot her.

One of the Greatest Gals I Know - Good times!

One of the Greatest Gals I Know – Good times!

All of a sudden I saw her, and started to sneak up on her, which actually took a while, as I wanted to be sure to surprise her in the way I had wanted to.

When I got right behind her she sat down. I then threw my stuff, quickly took a couple of steps forward, sat down – sat for a second and said “it is an amazing sight, isnt it?” – she surprisingly turned around and we hugged like I had not hugged a person before – so awesome to surprise her that way.

 

 

 

The whole experience being in Santiago was quite amazing, because so many of the people you had seen along the way had also arrived either on the same day or within 1-3 days. This meant that for a few days, it was like you had lived in Santiago for a long long time and knew everyone around.

It was so fun, nice and comfortable, it was like being in your own city and home of the world and I guess to us pilgrims. It was a new home.

1/3 Stamps From Santiago

1st Stamps From Santiago

2/3 Stamps From Santiago

2nd Stamps From Santiago

3rd Stamp From Santiago

3rd Stamp From Santiago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santiago – Negreira = Day 38 – 22,1km

I stayed in Santiago and walked towards Finisterre early in the morning. The walk out of Santiago was interesting. I had now crossed the “main” finish line and was now on my way towards Finisterre and “The End of The Earth”.

Early Morning Departing Santiago

Early Morning Departing Santiago

Almost 90 km was ahead and it was a real nice day to walk.

It took a while to get away from civilization and Santiago, even though the beginning was through some forest as many bigger cities houses and so on are all around the outskirts, so it took sometime to get out and away.

Santiago in the Horizon Like the sun

Santiago in the Horizon Like the sun

 

 

 

 

More & More Light on The Path Surrounded by Hills

More & More Light on The Path Surrounded by Hills

When we were in Ligonde, there was a woman writing a Phd about The Camino, the pilgrimage, the history about it and much for. She had walked The Camino three times and she said that it is kind of weird coming into Santiago and also leave, but that you quickly get used to that you are still on The Camino – and so it was.

 

 

After some kilometers it was easy to feel you were still on The Way and towards what was left of my journey to the coast – so that was nice!

Walked by a Main Road for a While

Walked by a Main Road for a While

On Track Ahead...

On Track Ahead…

Not long after I got to gravel paths and forest and moved through small villages and got to a beautiful oasis, where I took a stopped to enjoy a river, the sun and do some writing.

A Nice Place to Enjoy Nature

A Nice Place to Enjoy Nature

A Real Nice Oasis

A Real Nice Oasis

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went down on the left side of the bridge, put my feet in the cold water to cool off and did some writing on the warm rocks.

On Track if I you go Left

On Track if I you go Left

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I stayed around the river for a while, also wondering if Gemma was behind me, I kept going and it was really not a long walk today, so I got to Negreira just past noon even though the albergue was a little hard to find initially as I missed it the first time.

On my way to it I found what is probably my most favorite sculpture on The Camino.

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I love it a lot and to me it shows a craving to perhaps be free from something and maybe a pilgrim is an illustration for what freedom can represent.

When I found the albergue, a shower, some writing and a little nap came to be before I took a walk back down to the city from the hills where we were. I found a bar, had a beer and did some more writing.

Later I wandered around and then bought some fruit as well as a veggie burger for dinner before I headed back to get ready for another day tomorrow.

Negreira - is in the Books!

Negreira – is in the Books!

 

Negreira – Olveiroa = Day 40 – 33,2 km

I was the last one to leave the room of 8 beds and took my time. From the hills I passed a lot of forest and it is always nice to walk around in the quiet woods – it has a nice and quiet vibe.

The First Sign of The Day

The First Sign of The Day

 

I had actually already seen this before, as I had passed it when I missed the albergue yesterday.

It was a variety as always going through villages, gravel paths and on more concrete type of roads. What I really enjoyed was to see that some places in the world are still like it was once and still have their cows etc. walking right down the local roads.

Always a fun Sight - Have to get out of the way Though!

Always a fun Sight – Have to get out of the way Though!

There They Come

There They Come

 

It was over all nice to be on the go again, 3 days in Santiago made my feed itchy to get going, after all we had been used to walking for 35 days.

Entering Olveiroa

Entering Olveiroa

As always the nature was nice, with hills fields and much more that cannot be captured on pictures, I did think and hope on the way that I would meet up with the last person I would probably see again from “the camino family”. Daniela was already two days ahead of me, so did not expect to see her and all I knew was that Gemma was somewhere around where I was.

 

Olveiroa, was near but it took time to get there. It was also a long day, getting to over 30km and this was after a short day and 3 days off, so it was definitely felt in the legs. I still felt strong though, because your legs was obviously pretty strong at this time on The Camino.

I wanted to find the albergue municipal and it was a real nice sight to see Gemma there and to catch up with her. We talked about what had happened since, do writing and making dinner and enjoying a beer at the local bar in the evening.

Olveiroa

Olveiroa

Olveiroa – Finisterre/Fisterra = 31,9 km – Day 40

We started out walking around 8am towards “The End of The Earth”. Gemma and me, but also Eva who was a friend of Gemma and had walked together from Santiago.

I still knew I would have another day ahead on The Camino from Finisterre to Muxia, so this was not my last day but for many it was – as it was for Gemma.

On Track Towards the West Coast of Spain

On Track Towards the West Coast of Spain

Left is Finisterre - Right is Muxia

Left is Finisterre – Right is Muxia

The first main mark of the day today was the split road that went to Finisterre and Muxia and regardless of which one you take there is path connecting the two along the coast as well. This means that many goes to Muxia and finishes in Finisterra or vise verse as it was with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Pilgrims Onward to the end

Three Pilgrims Onward to the end

And below there was obvious confusion about where I wanted to go 🙂

WHERE TO GO!?!!?!?!?

WHERE TO GO!?!!?!?!?

 

Nice Road...

Nice Road…

The pillar above was on a hill and was the first time we could sort of spot the ocean, but it was still far away and far from clear. It was like the heaven and ocean melted together.We got closer and closer and we took a few breaks here and three to enjoy the last kilometers and time we had.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we were on a pivotal point today, the milestone that literally told us we were at the end!

To The End

To The End

 

Two Pilgrims Finally at the Coast!

Two Pilgrims Finally at the Coast!

A really nice view and for the first time we could see the ocean and Finisterre more clearly.

Officially Entering Finisterre

Officially Entering Finisterre

After a long way down from the hills through a few villages and a larger town, we finally got to the entrance to Finisterre. Actually I was alone when taking the picture on the left, as I walked faster and then thought I missed the way again and did not know where to go for a while.

I was sure that I was still ahead and when I got to the VERY beautiful and almost perfect ending of today and the journey itself the beach: Playa de Langosteira.

 

 

 

Great View out Over the Ocean & Finisterre

Great View out Over the Ocean & Finisterre

Since I was ahead and had not seen them, I walked along the walkway-path and had the beach and ocean on the left. I wanted a beer at the bar I saw, and thought it was a nice place to wait for them.

Playa de Langosteira - Just Before Finisterre

Playa de Langosteira – Just Before Finisterre

I sat down, took my shoes and socks off and kicked back with a cold one and just sat and relaxed. Not long after a guy came and asked if he could sit down. I had seen him earlier in the town just before Finisterre. A really nice man, who was a psycho therapist from New York.

I asked Jay, if he had seen two girls or passed them on his way here. He had not and it surprised me, for where in the world were they then? Should I really miss ending all of this with Gemma?

We talked back and forth a bit, but eventually I wanted to get going and get into Finisterre.
On the way there I met the Canadian guy of the couple whom I met a couple of days before Santiago. We updated each other and also asked him if he had seen a couple of girls walking by, but nothing.

I went up and walked into the little cozy town and as I walked by a good looking pilgrim hostel  I saw Els, from Holland in the window, whom I had not seen since two days before Santiago, when she had decided to take the bus in to meet her loyal companion Niklas. We had a quick chat, before I went up to find the albergue municipal and fortunately saw Gemma and Eva there.

Magnifico Afternoon

Magnifico Afternoon

The rest of the afternoon and night was going to be a thing of beauty.

Besides the afternoon where we were chilling around the rocks on the beach, we gathered and made a dinner and then too it to the light house. Here, the tradition is to take off your clothes and burn it as a symbol of the completion and accomplishment on The Camino, which we saw some people do.

 

 

 

 

Two happy pilgrims at what was found NOT to be “the end of the earth” 🙂
But the beginning of much more in both of our lives.

The two pictures below is from the walk to the light house.

Pilgrim Next to a Pilgrim

Pilgrim Next to a Pilgrim

Gemma Loving the Moment!

Gemma Loving the Moment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The light house is the final stop and place where you officially see that you cant walk any further now and for many that is a big deal after 890+km.

Kilometer 0,0 - it is set & Done

Kilometer 0,0 – it is set & Done

It was a perfect sunny day, a perfect evening with perfect company to finish it all here today. Yes, perfect is a big word, but it did not get much better than this. Our own food, with a Santiago tathe and great company to enjoy while the sun was setting. It was just a marvelous night.

Time to Enjoy the Moment

Time to Enjoy the Moment

Food was served and the sun was setting…..

Great Company

Great Company

and... Santiago Tathe!

and… Santiago Tathe!

 

 

What Beauty to Finish Matters

What Beauty to Finish Matters

A lot of people watched the sun set and it was such a great night, no words…

We walked back when it was dark and got ready for bed after a gorgeous day.

Finisterre "The End of The Earth"

Finisterre “The End of The Earth”

 

Day off in Finisterre

 

The Cool Hitchhikers!

The Cool Hitchhikers!

Gemma and Eva was leaving today and they actually hitchhiked back to Santiago – brave and cool girls! It was of course a bit of an emotional moment as that was the last person from “The Camino Family” and now I officially was alone.

 

 

 

A Great Symbol - That Here the Walk for Many is Complete

A Great Symbol – That Here the Walk for Many is Complete

I knew I had another days walk to Muxia, which I looked forward to and knew would be good and important for me, just to process everything and wrap it up in body, mind and soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finisterre – Muxia = 32,2 km – Day 42 (Final Day)

Yesterday I had checked into the place where I had met Els when I arrived into Finisterre and she was still there when I came back last night. We had such a beautiful and emotional conversation – we shared all that had happened to us, we cried together and just shared the magnificence we had in us now. It was an important moment of processing for both of us – this journey is magical and the definition of a Life-Experience. 

Ugh...

Ugh…

I saw Els this morning before I went on my way towards Muxia and a day that looked like it would be quite terrible to walk in, the forecast was rain, rain and rain… :-S

I covered up and began a walk in the wrong direction, even though I was helped by a very kind woman who walked with me all for a while to show me where to go.

Being on Track is the Best in the World!

Being on Track is the Best in the World!

I of course could have misunderstood all that I did not know in Spanish 🙂

I did find the path and went on my way and life was good. It is something that is so beautiful and another of the many metaphors for life: Being on track is so important and one of the best things in the world!

The weather slowly cleared up, became more dry and a little later could take off my poncho.

It was a long finish today, over 32 km, but a day that was filled with forest and quiet time to think, process and appreciate.

The trek was mostly like the path on the picture above, but in and along forest, coast line and through hilly landscape, it was an important day, the last one for me on The Camino to conclude and complete it all.

Inside the Many Forests

Inside the Many Forests

Another Marker

Another Marker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In and Through Small Communities

In and Through Small Communities

Muxia Left, Finisterre Right

Muxia Left, Finisterre Right

 

I met only about ten pilgrims today, all but one coming from Muxia, but it was nice to walk alone, especially today. It was interesting because when I was getting closer to Muxia all of a sudden it felt different.

The Last 2 km Before my Finish Line

The Last 2 km Before my Finish Line

When I saw the ocean after the 2 km sign, I instantly felt- that now my Camino was complete, it is now done and finished, there is no more walking, nothing more to do –

I did it!

It was now Complete

It was now Complete

It was a great moment of satisfaction and actually not really emotional as you might think. It was set in stone already before I reached the village of Muxia – it was done and finished now.

In Muxia

In Muxia

Its Done!

Its Done!

The ONLY Chinese person I had met, I met on the last 500m and ran up to him to ask if he wanted to take the pictures above, he gladly helped me and I returned the favor.

The Beautiful & Roaring Ocean at Muxia

The Beautiful & Roaring Ocean at Muxia

VERY Last Marker - in Front of the Ocean

VERY Last Marker – in Front of the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Finish!

A Great Finish!

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The day was spend walking around Muxia, to see the church here at the coast and was a great to finish at the sea.

Im the King of the World!

Im the King of the World!

After the sunset that never seemed to set and did not see it do, as I was about being late for when they closed the albergue, so I had to run back to make it.

Last Sunset on The Camino

Last Sunset on The Camino

Here, I got ready for the last night in a bunk bed, last night on The Camino, tomorrow would start a new time – the time that pilgrims call: The Camino after The Camino – the life where you go into and implement what you learned from the long pilgrimage.

It was now done and all finished and tomorrow a bus-trip would take me back to Santiago towards what was next in my life and had yet to show up.

Muxia

Muxia

—–

 Insights & Reflections


“Awareness of change, leads to detachment and is the way to joy, inspiration, humor & love.” ~ Gemma & Gideon

You have seen this quote before, but this is in essence of what I got out of walking The Camino to Santiago, Finisterre and Muxia. I can´t find an insight or something that can be more real and true about The Camino than the quote above and fortunately I put this down on paper by mixing Gemma´s and my own ideas.

One Millions Steps to Change Your Life

Official Stats: 920+ km walked.
42 days in Total 35 walked.

Did you know that every time you take one step you walk on average less than 1 Meter?
A quick calculation will show you that walking around 1000 km will make you take way over ONE MILLION steps!

Reflections

The Camino was a magical and a full-on consistent definition of a metaphor for life. What I wrote in the VERY first blog about The Camino was that this HAS to be experienced to be understood, that is just the way it is.

When I finished and was done in Muxia, it was so natural a transition towards a new life and towards everything else, and while I sometimes miss being on The Camino, I know that I will always be there because my heart, as explained in “Phase Three” expanded as I got closer and closer to Santiago and myself.

I am so happy that I did it, happy I took the time to do it and had the courage to pursue the unknown and come through and learn and understand a lot within myself, how I saw myself, other people, what I want to do in my life and the world at large.

“If you want to go somewhere you have not gone before, you have to do something you have not done before.”

The above is my favorite quote and I am proud that I live it the way I do and I hope that this entire story and LONG blog posts has given you joy and inspiration to pursue what it is you want in your life.

From here, I want to just wish you and your loved ones a beautiful journey in life.

Thank you for having been with me, followed me, been a friend and become a friend.

We are all pilgrims in life – walking a journey only we will experience, but one we can share with each other.

With love… Gideon

And… Buen Camino!

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Closing in on Santiago de Compostella (Day 29 Villa Franca del Bierzo – day 34 Pedrouzo = 171km)

Villa Franca – La Laguna = 26,5 km (Day 29)

Ricardo left Villa Franca after having wandered around a little while to find the correct way as it was not clear.

Probably the Biggest sea Shell we saw on the Journey

Probably the Biggest sea Shell we saw on the Journey

After a lady from a balcony guided us in the right direction, we were actually not going to see each other for the rest of the day. There were two different ways, one up a VERY steep mountain pass and the other along the road. Ricardo wanted to take it easy and I wanted the mountain. We split up and wished each other a good day.

The first 1-2 km was the steepest I have ever walked in my life. It literally went up more than 20-25% I am sure. Pheeeeeeew…….!

It was a beautiful mountain and walk although tough as nails! It was also a long one as it took about 3 hours to cross it. When descending again I was of course curious if I would bump into Ricardo when reaching the road..

Down I Went

Down I Went

The Small Village you Came Into After the Mountain

The Small Village you Came Into After the Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually thought I had gone the wrong way, but fortunately I ended up in Trabadelo and on track along the road. No, Ricardo was not to be seen and I walked by myself for sometime. I later saw a familiar person in front of me and quickened my pace to catch up with my friend Troels from Denmark. We walked the rest of the day together and we talked thick and thin about all that we had not gotten into yet as well as many things from home our mutual experience from school and much more.

Some of the steepest ascents was found today and it was not over yet, up to La Faba and what would be our final destination for the day La Laguna was some of the toughest climbs I have had and then it was all on the same day – it was grueling and when we got to La Laguna I caught myself in throwing in 1 Euro to a vending machine and chugging down a soft drink faster than I could breath… I/we was DONE for the day!

Troels was as well. We had our own bed tonight, meaning no bunk bed which was nice. I was so tired, it had been a very long and tough day, where it felt like half of the day had been used on walking upwards.

Besides a dinner and a conversation with a really nice guy from Romania, I just wanted to sleep, but where was Ricardo – was it possible he had made it up here today?

La Laguna

La Laguna

 

La Laguna – Samos =  33,5 km (Day 30)

I woke up early, I wanted to get a move on and it was a beautiful way to wake up walking upwards in the mountains as the sun rose. It was a pretty sight and I sat down to enjoy it.

A Beautiful Morning

A Beautiful Morning

The Views Impeccable

The Views Impeccable

The top of the mountain was O Cebreiro and as I went through the few stone buildings and houses here, I passed a bar where I saw tons of backpacks outside. One stood out and to my surprise Ricardo was here, wow – he had walked further than me yesterday… yes, again… I was like “how is this possible?”.

I turned left as I saw that and walked in and the first person  I saw at the end of a long table having breakfast, was Ricardo. He reacted with a look to the side like he could not believe this and we were both happy to see each other again.

I joined him and had an enjoyable update as well as break fast.

Fun Times & Great to be With Your Pilgrim Brother Again

Fun Times & Great to be With Your Pilgrim Brother Again

 

We walked down the mountain together and talked as we always did. You know, Ricardo is and was one of those special people… we could talk about everything and supported each other when necessary and were very loyal to one another. I got so much respect and love for Ricardo, he is a great friend and loved our time together on this voyage because we were together from start to finish.

Where are we Stopping Today?

Where are we Stopping Today?

Down we go, Once Again...

Down we go, Once Again…

 

 

The Mounument "Pilgrim Against the Wind"

The Mounument “Pilgrim Against the Wind”

It was enjoyable and the views were amazing… it was today that we officially entered the region of Galicia when passing the peak of O Cebreiro and a spectacle of beauty when it came to the terrain.

Santiago is the capital of Galicia, which has 4 provinces.

 

 

 

A last little knuckle of a hill was the last major ascent the rest of the trip, but also a tough one to test you a last time. Here, we enjoyed some orange juice, mingled with some other pilgrims and found a celebrity of The Camino – or, at least one from my guide book.

Fun Stuff :-)

Fun Stuff 🙂

 

Down we go AGAIN! (Last Time Though)

Down we go AGAIN! (Last Time Though)

Moving on and onward to Triacastela. It was going down the entire time, but it continued to be so beautiful and it was tough to believe you were seeing what you were.

Mountains as far as the eyes could see, green fields, cows grassing and…. yes, just a union of nature was present the entire time.

 

 

 

 

In the bottom, just before Triacastela, we encountered the famous chest nut tree.

Big it was...

Big it was…

Triacastela was Near

Triacastela was Near

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was time for a break and so we did. We were not finished for the day yet though, we wanted to continue to Samos. It had been a long day so far, but I guess we just wanted more of it. It was also here, we began to have longer days time wise as well and about all days from here on end we first rocked up at the albergues at 5-6 pm in the afternoon.

Samos Ahead

Samos Ahead

Beauty Next to the Path

Beauty Next to the Path

 

We continued and besides a couple of breaks we did get to Samos, but it was again one of those times where you in now way could trust the signs of how far there was left.

Lastres - Right Before Samos

Lastres – Right Before Samos

Lastres, was the village before Samos and as the sign indicates, you are aparently not allowed to take a shit here 🙂

It was quite a funny sign to see as I guess they maybe have a lot of pilgrims doing that out in the open as a last option.

 

 

 

0,5 km... THAT was not True!

0,5 km… THAT was not True!

Samos in the Valley

Samos in the Valley

 

I reached Samos first and Ricardo and a German girl he had met the day before was along. It took some time before they came, which game me time to enjoy the peaceful place that Samos was.

Peace in Samos

Peace in Samos

 

Monastary in Samos

Monastary in Samos

We got a chance to sleep in a big one room albergue connected to the big and very ancient monastery, which was a nice experience.

 

 

 

 

We had another bench-meal where we had bought some bread, tomatoes, cheese and wine to enjoy the evening out. Here, we were joined by Niklas from Germany and another German who was at Albergue Verde as well. Niklas had actually stopped walking, because of immense pain in his legs a few days ago and arrived here on a bicycle as he wanted to finish!

That was how the day went and sleeping was next…

The Peaceful Samos

The Peaceful Samos

 

Samos – Portomarín = 37,7 km (Day 31) (could have been way of 40+km) 

Due to information from our two companions in front; Steffen and Daniela, we about knew when they would enter Santiago. We had a great desire to catch up with them, so since we “only” had 130+ km left we would make this a long day to make it all the way to Santiago in 4 days.

Another Monument Departing Samos

Another Monument Departing Samos

One of the Many... Indicators

One of the Many… Indicators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarria

Sarria

We walked and walked… and about 15 km later we entered Sarria, which is a significant point on The Camino. Here, there are just a little over 100 km left, which means that many pilgrims actually begin their trek into Santiago from here, because you need to have walked at least 100 km to receive the official Compostella diploma in Santiago.

 

 

100 Left!!!

100 Left!!!

 

I got in front of Ricardo once again and awaited him right outside the pilgrim office here. We went into the city and here we got bread and stuff to make what became our famous meals on the trip; home made bocadillios.

We Made a Bocadillio and it was GOOOD!

We Made a Bocadillio and it was GOOOD!

 

We walked on… and while I knew we saw a lot that day and went through many villages I know that we just walked and walked and walked… We must have gotten to around or over 40 km that day and it was about to be felt in our lower extremities. We wanted a different day today, Ricardo said that he had not carried his 2 kg tent for nothing and not use it.

This meant that as we got into the village Ferreiros and the albergue there, that had some familiar faces instead of checkin-in, we just had a pilgrim menu and walked on after to find a spot for the tent.

We were ABSOLUTLY SMASHED! – and we had yet to find a spot to camp… I have never had so much pain in my legs before and we literally humped our way there, almost dragging our led-like bodies along. We were right in the middle of nothing, fields all around and Portomarín getting closer. We were in the small hills right before the town, and we saw a patch of green far over on the right side, and we eventually found a spot to begin setting up the tent for the night.

Our "albergue" for the night

Our “albergue” for the night

It was as painful of a trial to get the tent up as it probably was to observe us do it, I am sure… not pretty and not fun at all. We walked around like old men who had taken a serious shit in their pants, our legs were SO out of it and now we had to sleep in what was a VERY small two person tent.

But you know… we had a lot of fun. It was just before 9pm and early, but when we were trying to get comfortable and get some needed rest we had a good time, laughing at it all. I was happy I had brought an inflatable air madras, although it does not work that well, when you have camped on a spot that is not totally flat. I scooted down the entire night and like a worm had to crawl back up and lay for a while again until I would have to do the same again… anyway… rest was possible and we must have been tired because we slept for a long time.

Portomarín

Portomarín

(We got the stamp in the morning at a bar registered to give stamps for Portomarín)

Portomarín – Ligonde = 15,6km (Day 32)

We slept until it got light outside and it was first after 8am we began getting ready and begin the walk down to Portomarín. It was a beautiful place, all white buildings enclosed by a large and wide river, a very pretty sight from anywhere you were.

Entering Portomarín

Entering Portomarín

 

The Beautiful River

The Beautiful River

The River From Another Angle

The River From Another Angle

 

 

 

...

It was a nice place, calm and peaceful even though it was a larger town. Today they had a market so after a little breakfast we gathered some fruit for the day and began to walk on.

 

 

 

 

We were recovering from the day before and it was not going to be that much fun today and it did not take a long time before we had to accept that getting to Santiago in just 3 days would not be possible with the condition we were in.

But… pain and suffering is very much a part of this journey and we all we can do is to take that one leg in front of the other and so we did… just a little slower than all other days 🙂

Santiago is Near

Santiago is Near

 

My Companion Leading the way

My Companion Leading the way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walked slow and waited for each other a lot. Took longer breaks and were definitely not in a hurry to move on from the places we sat down to save and build extra energy.
We literally did not have much energy, it was consumed by all the pain we were in, we was taught a lesson and were feeling the symptoms from it.

Nevertheless we had our usual fun and good conversation and we also struck up a conversation with a pair of pilgrims who were on bicycles having been in Portugal and were going to Germany. They had a blind passenger, literally… in a dog that was blind that they took care of – as they meant that this is a life worth saving.

A Really Nice Conversation & People

A Really Nice Conversation & People

 

We move on, but also moving closer to making a decision of looking for an albergue. I really was done walking for the day and we both needed rest. As we went into Ligonde, we found a donation based albergue that was an Evangelica albergue founded by an American who had started this because he believed as many has, that The Camino had been commercialized way too much.

Entering Ligonde

Entering Ligonde

Ricardo and me got the very last two spots and here we were around the Brazilian brigade as I began to call them and others we had seen along the path.

It was an evening with a lot of social focus and it was nice because the volounteers there, really wanted to make something out of it for the pilgrims and make the focus on the present and day be to share stories and much more and it all made for a very special evening. I believe we must have been more than 25 pilgrims eating at the same time, sharing fun stories and enjoying the company of one another.

I made everyone laugh with the Piere Story from our 3rd day and besides the amazing food, it was another special evening… interestingly enough those usually happens and happen with a bunch of other people…

Ligonde

Ligonde

 

Ligonde – Mélide = 23.6 km (Day 33) 

Up and about at 7 am-ish and onward. It was misty and a little cool, but nice.

About 62 km Left...

About 62 km Left…

My legs were definitely better than yesterday and my belief was that so was Ricardo´s.

We were getting closer and closer to Santiago and while in the back of our minds that was obvious, it was all normal and without change. The way of life as a pilgrim was natural and in rhythm now.

We were not walking that fast and while it was probably a mix of being a little tired it was also a feeling that taking it easy was all okay and enjoyable too…

 

 

 

Palas de Rei

Palas de Rei

The first main stop we did was when we got to Palas de Rei. Here, we as so many times before encountered familiar faces and people. We both wanted something to eat and wanted to create one of our bocadillio´s so we got stuff for that to make. I also needed a new notebook and a pen, so I got that fixed to make sure I had content for this very day to share with YOU ALL 🙂

 

 

After a great bocadillio as always, we began walking… We were about to get lost one time because we missed a marker, but got on path again.

Here, you can Leave Food to Help Fellow Pilgrims

Here, you can Leave Food to Help Fellow Pilgrims

 

Entering the Province Corüna

Entering the Province Corüna

Today became an average day distance-wise. Ricardo was still struggling with his feet and walking slower, but was still pushing through… I gladly waited for him – I would not leave my friend behind now when we had been together for so long and now were so closer to the finish line.

Another Bridge

Another Bridge

 

A Monument for The Knights Templar's

A Monument for The Knights Templar’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was having a break right in front of the monument above. I had an orange and pondered that here, in what was a bit of an industrial area, once was knights galloping around fighting with swords to defend pilgrims on this path, hmm…

This was right when we were getting below the 50 km before Santiago. Wow… it was really close now!

 

50 km Left... Wow... We are Almost There!

50 km Left… Wow… We are Almost There!

 

We shortly after got to Mélide. It was some tough last kilometers and we were happy that we had finished the day. Later after we had relaxed been having a nice shower and so on, we wanted to get some food. Ricardo did not want to walk far, because of his feat, and we walked way further than he wanted around this town where we could not really find anything to eat.

We eventually found something and talked about the current situation, how we felt and so on. Because there were much going on in between both of us for many different reasons and it was really nice to have each other as support.

A walk back and then we were both ready to get some needed rest.

Only two days left now before reaching Santiago de Compostella…

Mélide

Mélide

 

Mélide – Pedrouzo = 33,2 km (40+) (Day 34)  

It was unsure how today would go as Ricardo was gingerly walking out of Mélide next to me. We were both doing fine as we got into the rhythm and not long after we stopped for a break to stock up on the inner energies as well as gather some for later on.

What was a fun experience was that a girl who had been walking with the Brazilian Brigade told us that SOMEONE HAD SEEN PIERE??? We could not believe it, although when she told us about who it might be and the story behind her revelation, it was clear that it was not him as the person believe to have seen him was not around the people we were.

It was just so funny that this rumor and phantom person and idea had been spread across The Camino and other people than us were looking for him! 🙂 Fun stuff indeed!

A Nice Little Stop :-)

A Nice Little Stop 🙂

We walked on again and a little later we caught up with the Spanish girl Ricardo was with when I saw him just before going to Hospital de Orbigo. I walked on to the next bar as he wanted a little break and we met up there.

 

After we had taken a break he told me to just walk on as he needed a break and knew he would be much slower than I today.

 

 

 

Mélide, was also the town where The Northern Camino merged with The French Route. The Northern route follows the northern coast all the way from around the area of Pamplona and meets with The French route and the official Camino, which meant that a lot of new people were here now along with all the MANY others who have just started The Camino from Sarria.

The two in Front had Walked the Northern Camino

The two in Front had Walked the Northern Camino

All of a sudden the trail was slightly more crowded and while it was nice to meet knew people and so, it was rather odd to all of a sudden see SO many, especially ones who have only been walking for 1-2 days.

The Charm of The Camino

The Charm of The Camino

30 km Left now....

30 km Left now….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was beautiful today was the comfortable path within forests and on gravel, which made it easy to walk. Along with that, John Lennon´s spirit also was around…

 

Imagine...... if you can.

Imagine…… if you can.

 

Pretty much the whole song was written in chapters on these blue buckets for a while. It was quite nice to read and be reminded of the truth and beauty John put into this song.

Ricardo and me had agreed to meet up in Salceda, but when I got there he never showed up. I let him know through a text message that I was here, and I walked from the bar I had stopped at and down to the only albergue there to ask if anyone had seen him, but nothing. I met the same Romanion guy from La Laguna and his girl friend and talked to them and had a break for more than an hour.

Salceda

Salceda

I decided to walk on and hope that I would see Ricardo tomorrow for our last walk together on The Camino, because that was his final stop.

 

ONLY 25!!!

ONLY 25!!!

 

Now 20!! Goes Fast!

Now 20!! Goes Fast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the text to Ricardo, I had told him that I would stop in Santa Irene, which was the next village. BUT… when I got there I was not liking the look and atmosphere, so I wrote him I would go to Pedrouzo.

It was already around 5.30 pm and late… so also knew that I could not take too long to find an albergue. I walked on and the most beautiful and tranquil forest I have ever been in came. It was an Eucalyptus forest and such a marvelous one.

Eucalyptus Forest - Pure Beauty!

Eucalyptus Forest – Pure Beauty!

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walked into it and right after saw a person sitting in there. I recognized that it was a girl I had seen earlier in the day and I said hello and sat down. We talked for a while and enjoyed the peace. You could not hear anything, and I actually thought of camping in here. Another German came this time a guy who I had also seen earlier. He was one of the people having walked the Northern Camino and he talked to us about that, how it was more remote, with more mountains, less people and albergues.

I stayed over an hour before I wanted to move on to Pedrouzo. I walked and saw the signs leading to the many different albergue´s. I saw the signs that pointed in the left direction and kept walking past them as I had not encountered the village yet.

I passed through another beautiful and bigger Eucalyptus forest and another, before I came back out on the other side and began to figure out that Pedrouzo was not coming
– I had missed it!!! I began to beat myself up – thinking how in the world could I MISS A VILLAGE???

I looked in the guide book and saw that there was at least another 10-12 km to the next albergue, but fortunately got to a hotel. I entered and asked for directions and was told that there was nothing for the next 10 or 12, but if you go back, Pedrouzo is “only” 3+ km away.

At that time I had already been on the road for about 12 hours and had walked close to 40km. I thought that I HAD to finish this with Ricardo and bit my own tongue, put my head down and began speed-walking like you have never seen before. Smashing through the trail and forests I had passed before – going really fast!

My legs were actually feeling surprisingly good and I enjoyed the intensity in them and in my muscles. I got to the spot with all the signs and began walking down the street with albergues in about all the directions you could think of.

(You probably ask yourself, how I could miss the village right? Well, this was the ONLY time on the entire trip, that you did not come through a village, but actually had to go off the trail in a way to get to the village. So, in the back of my mind I “knew” that the village would come as I would walk into it like always.)

I finally got to a nice one, checked-in, showered up and wrote Ricardo a message that I would wait for him in the forest after Pedrouzo tomorrow. I figured he must be behind me.

I went out to get some dinner and were drawn to a restaurant for good reason, because here I saw the Brazilian Brigade as well as Gale and David who was the famous father and son pair – David being almost blind and Gale his nice father with his great character invited me to join them.

I had a nice 3-course meal that was well deserved before I said my goodbyes to them and a little latr found myself in a new bed, the last time before hitting Santiago. Hopefully with my loyal companion Ricardo.

Pedrouzo

Pedrouzo

 

——————

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León & to Cruz de Ferro & Beyond (Day 22 Leòn – Day 28 Villa Franca del Bierzo = 131,2km)

Rest day in Leòn – Day 22

Another day began and what would be a day off in and around Leòn. Ricardo and me had a short walk-around with Daniela, before she took off. She would not stay in Leòn and that was the last time we saw her before Santiago.

León (Credit to Ricardo for the Picture)

León (Credit to Ricardo for the Picture)

 

A Little fun in Front of the Cathedral

A Little fun in Front of the Cathedral

We found some breakfast and checked-in to a cheapish hotel in town. Nice to have a real bed to kick back on as well as a private shower. We then took a short walk and guess who we stumpled upon?

Gemma, of course! And… Gary from Minnesota was also taking it easy with a cup of joe in front of the cathedral. Beauty is found in meeting great people at unexpected times!

It was a nice and relaxed day, Ricardo and me enjoyed our private space and as always had great conversation about this impeccable journey and much more.

 

León – Villar de Mazarife = 21,7km (Day 23) 

The next morning, I started out earlier than Ricardo. Due to his feet he wanted to take it slow and take care of them first. We decided to meet at the same albergue though.

Small Break Exiting Leòn

Small Break Exiting Leòn

 

The walk out of Leòn was long and not the pretties of places. Industrial area and kind of a cold metal-concrete athmosphere, that made you just want to get out of there and into nature.

Entering the Oasis Oncina de la Valdoncina

Entering the Oasis Oncina de la Valdoncina

So I did, it was such a blessing and a total opposite place to enter Oncina de la Valdoncina, which was such a tranquil oasis of a village. Only a few houses that was leading up to a plateau. A totally secluded and quiet path lead the way – what a place and scene!

Such Beauty - All Alone in the Quiet... Me Like

Such Beauty – All Alone in the Quiet… Me Like

 

 

 

I had an orange on a rock and enjoyed the peace. An American woman whom I met the day before in front of the cathedral came by at the same time and we had a short conversation.

The day continued on the secluded paths and was alone all day, which is always a pleasure when you are in nature. It is like it speaks with you as you walk along side of it. The day in hours and kilometers was short and I did not take many breaks – my legs were good!

Villar de Mazarife

Villar de Mazarife

After a long stretch of road seeing Villar de Mazarife in the horizon, I got to the De Jesus albergue where Ricardo and me had agreed to meet. I checked-in and found a room of four bunk beds. It was still early and must have been the first pilgrim to arrive here. I walked around town after some writing, but Ricardo did not show up.

I bought some bread, can of fish and some cheese before I headed back to eat and dialed down until I took a long nap before the next day would come about, of course with the thought, will I see Ricardo again?

 

 

Villar de Mazarife – Hospital de Orbigo = 14,6km (Day 24)

I was not in a hurry the next morning. I actually took my time for once as I knew it would be a shorter day. Gemma, was at an albergue in Hospital de Orbigo not too long from here and was going to stay and help out for a few days, so I would go and visit her.

I walked out alone but met up with the Brazilian guy who was in the same room as me. He lived in France where he studied engineering. We had a great conversation for a while until we reached Hospital de Orbigo, unbeknownst to me, as I thought it was Puente, the one just before.

The Beautiful Bridge

The Beautiful Bridge

It was here we would get to the 300 m long and beautiful bridge made out of stone that went over the Río Orbigo, the longest on The Way. I had just written down a website-link for my new friend to look up some information and then… right before the bridge I saw a familiar backpack and person. I could not believe it – Ricardo! I quickly in a funky-chicken-walk kind of way parted ways with my new friend from Brazil and yelled “where have you been?”

 

He was with a chica that I had not seen before and apparently they had been at an albergue around that area. So yesterday he had walked further than I had, again… I was impressed. A hug and an update while we crossed the bridge. I began looking for Hospital de Orbigo. Ricardo´s new friend told me that we were here and as I was looking for albergue Verde, I had to walk backwards to find the sign going in that direction.

Ricardo reached out his hand to say goodbye for now, as I was about to walk back, as he wanted to continue, but did not see it as so and asked in a positive way; “dont you want to see Gemma?” He inclined to come along and so we all went.

We rocked up and I was the first one to walk up the wooden stair case and enter the lovely home-like type of albergue and said hello and was soon greeted kindly by Gemma – good to see her again.

Albergue Verde

Albergue Verde

Ricardo was not looking at staying at first, but I think the atmosphere as well as the environment made him want to. We enjoyed the beautiful garden and the kind people and place that all had an organic vibe to it. It was serene and I felt good about taking a half day off and just chill. I got into a book of Carl Jung´s named Man and his Symbols, fascinating stuff. I helped out a bit in the garden with Gemma and we all had a nice lunch in the afternoon (yep, lunch is afternoon en Españia).

Musica!

Musica!

Before Dinner This was the Line up!

Before Dinner This was the Line up!

Albergue Verde - Love was key Here...

Albergue Verde – Love was key Here…

The evening was spend together with all the other pilgrims to a an organic feast of a meal – wow! I was like a little kid as I love that kind of food. There was also music from Minchu and his two companions Eva and El before and after, and it actually developed into a lullaby when it got late – a nice way to finish a day which was in the sign of peace and relaxation.

 

 

 

 

 

Hospital de Orbigo – Astorga = 19,4km (Day 25) 

The next morning started and at 7.30 there was yoga! Real nice besides I in additional to already having stiff legs know that walking is not the best way to become flexible. It literally felt like my legs were wood that I tried to bend in different ways, quite difficult if you think about wanting to solve that equation. 🙂

This morning was also going to be the last time I saw Gemma before Santiago, she was staying here and I walked on with Ricardo and some of the pilgrims who stayed at albergue Verde – probably the best albergue I stayed at on The Camino.

Today, we were heading towards the chocolate capital of Spain, which Astorga is known for.

Nature, Nature, Nature on the Path...

Nature, Nature, Nature on the Path…

Getting Closer to the Chocolate

Getting Closer to the Chocolate

 

 

 

It was also here we met one of the most special people on The Road towards Santiago. It is rare to meet a person who has find a calling to live in the middle of nowhere and just give out of his good heart to all the pilgrims crossing his path.

That was exactly what this guy did… (Ricardo is the one with the camera)
I don´t think we even got his name, but the guy on the right is that special soul.

What a Person, I was in aw of Meeting Such a Genuine Soul

What a Person, I was in aw of Meeting Such a Genuine Soul

 

He walked 15-20km a day to get clean water, buy snacks, fruit, tea and loads of other goodies for all the pilgrims passing by, and all he charged was kindness via donations. The ruin you see on the right is his “home”. He met a woman at one time who was also on pilgrimage and she made the ruin into an association in his name so no other can claim it, this is his now and always. He did not really care about that type of possesion he said, and in addition he did not have a phone or any technology. Writing this I get teary, because it was pure love and kindness from his heart.

“ La llave de la essencia es presencia”

“ La llave de la essencia es presencia”

Special Place, Special Person

Special Place, Special Person

 

 

 

 

“La llave de la essencia es presencia.” = The key for essence is in the present.
(I believe that it is more or less correct translation)

We stayed quite a while and when hugging him goodbye, it was like a heart of love and compassion warmed you like a blanket and lifted you up in new positive light. I will never forget his pure and clear blue eyes that shined with radiation of presence of who he was and why he was doing this – remarkable!

Astorga slowly got near in the horizon and when we got to the village right in the valley of it, Ricardo and the German girl Kristin who was with us from albergue Verde took a break. I walked on and waited for them when I got into Astorga, but I never saw them at the bar I had sat down and taken a beer at. It was down a street from an albergue and wondered where in the world they were, I could not have missed them sitting here?

Chocolate is VERY Close now!

Chocolate is VERY Close now!

Statue Right in Front of the Albergue

Statue Right in Front of the Albergue

I walked back, sat closer to where you came up the trail to the town, but nothing. I then went across to check-in to the albergue – it was enough now, I wanted to see if he was here or what. A guy named Ricardo had checked-in, but his age stood out to me, he could not have been that much older than me could he?? I checked-in nevertheless, found my room and then I wanted to find him if it took me to check all the rooms in the big albergue.

I walked out my room and I did not even get to the one next to mine, before I practically walked right into a hug with Ricardo, who came out of that room – I guess he was here! 🙂

My Room - Ricardo´s was on the Right

My Room – Ricardo´s was on the Right

We took a walk around town and walked into a tent of a wine and cheese festival. Trying the local cheese and got some wine for dinner. We bought some food to cook in the evening as well as some chocolate of course, the very dark kind.

 

 

 

Astorga in the Books

Astorga in the Books

We ate with a great view out over the hilly landscape in the back of the Albergue and ended with a little desert of a magic show by a fellow pilgrim who happened to be a magician and amazed people with his skills!

We finished and agreed to start out at 7.30am the next day and off to bed we went…

 

 

 

 

Astorga – Rabanal del Camino = 20,2km (Day 26)

We met in the morning and went on our way for some breakfast. Oh yea – chocolate a la tathe! Hot warm and thick chocolate with 3 different pastries for only a few dimes, heavy but solid energy to initiate today´s excursion towards the mountains, Cruz de Ferro and extraordinary landscape.

As we slowly exited Astorga, we gradually got into more hilly landscape on the gravel roads. It was always appreciated leaving the concrete jungle and enter nature with less noise, traffic and all the city-distractions.

The Path Towards the Hills & Mountains

The Path Towards the Hills & Mountains

 

The mountain began slowly and the peak was Cruz de Ferro, which on The Camino has much significance and a place I looked forward to see and experience.

Cruz de Ferro, here we come!

Cruz de Ferro, here we come!

A Cozy Albergue & Bar on the way Upwards

A Cozy Albergue & Bar on the way Upwards

 

I slowly got in front of Ricardo who was consistently slower because of his ongoing feet condition, but his heart and will to continue would never take an end. He was as tough as I have seen a person!

Along the path…. there was SHEEP!!! Watch out…

The Flock Came Fast!

The Flock Came Fast!

Sheep Sheep!!

Sheep Sheep!!

 

 

Bells and Sheep-Jappin all the way!

Bells and Sheep-Jappin all the way!

Funny Sight - Fortunately no Pilgrims was Caught in the Middle

Funny Sight – Fortunately no Pilgrims was Caught in the Middle

 

Rabanal del Camino was reached and we were getting closer to the peak of this mountain. Since I had walked for a while and wanted to keep sticking around my good friend Ricardo I sat down at the nearest bar and had an empanada and a beer without alcohol. That is much tastier in Spain and normal to serve in the bars and is a nice thirst quencher without the effects.

Entering Rabanal del Camino

Entering Rabanal del Camino

Ricardo arrived and we took a break together. He ate something and after a while we began walking again. Into what was such a pretty village with the most amazing views -a really mountainous village we both liked it a lot!

We sat down in a little green area on a alternative bench and enjoyed the view and began a long and great conversation about many different things.

We stayed for a long time and eventually decided to stay here. We had encountered Justin from Seattle who you might remember from my first days. I had also met him in Astorga actually when I was waiting for Ricardo. We followed his lead and went to the same albergue.

Rabanal del Camino in the Mountains!

Rabanal del Camino in the Mountains!

We checked-in to what was a nun-albergue and was based on donations and currently for a three week period run by a mother and daughter from England. A siesta in the garden, enjoying the sun and views and walking around the village made for purchasing some food and later I kicked a soccer ball around with two kids up in  the mountains – I loved it!

A glass of wine before bed time and then it was over and out once again. This village could easily have been occupied by me for more than one day, to just enjoy the views and the quiet. Worth the thought at least 🙂

 

 

Rabanal del Camino – Molinaseca = 25,2km (Day 27)

I really looked forward to today, because it was going to be a big day. The reason was that I had carried a burden for almost three years. Do you remember, that I on the second day explained how my stomach of emotional pain was like a rock that had been sitting there for very long? Do you also remember the rock I found the morning starting The Camino?

Well… it was today that I would let this go and have the rock that I had in my little stash pocket on my left side and I looked forward to do so.

My Loyal Friend and Brother the Entire Way to Santiago - Thank you for This Awesome Trip my Friend!!!

My Loyal Friend and Brother the Entire Way to Santiago – Thank you for This Awesome Trip my Friend!!!

Foncebadón

Foncebadón

We headed upwards and got to Foncebadón much faster than we had expected as it said was more than 6km away. We took a break at the alternative albergue that offered yoga and organic food etc. just like albergue Verde.

 

 

 

 

We then walked on and all in all the journey upwards on this mountain was quite beautiful. We got really close to the snow capped mountains and was up in close to 1500 meters in altitude and that could be seen when it came to the views all over!

My Companions: Ricardo, The Way and Beautiful Landscape

My Companions: Ricardo, The Way and Beautiful Landscape

 

I arrived at  Cruz de Ferro (1528 m) first as Ricardo had to sit down and take a break and look to his feet a little earlier.

Finally I was Here to Drop This Symbol of a Burden

Finally I was Here to Drop This Symbol of a Burden

Let it be so...

Let it be so…

 

The Lords Prayer: “Lord, may this stone, be a symbol of my efforts on the pilgrimage that I lay at the foot of the cross of the Savior, one day weigh the balance in favour of my good deeds when the deeds of my life are jduged. Let it be so.”

The above is a tradition to say out loud right before you toss your burden in front of the cross.

There are SO many rocks here and so many things that have been left behind. There are written on many of the rocks. People leave things for all kinds of reasons and when you try to imagine the variety of burdens we all carry the thought goes wide. Many people must also leave things for loved ones who has passed away is my thought.

Here, you really respect each others space, not to interfere and to be utmost compassionate towards all other pilgrims as everyone is here for a specific reason and many has an even more significant reason to take their time to leave what they need and want to move on, not only on this journey but in life.

A Beautiful Image of a Special Place on The Camino

A Beautiful Image of a Special Place on The Camino

 

The descent from Cruz de Ferro was long and had a VERY narrow footpath down the side of the mountain where you could only be one person most of the time.

Down we go.......

Down we go…….

 

Walking down is not dangerous, but it is not a lot of fun and you do have to be careful in how you walk as it can easily go wrong with knees and so on because of the weight and pounding they take when gravity pulls your legs down with as it descents.

Albergue on the way Down

Albergue on the way Down

Long Ways to go to Many Places!

Long Ways to go to Many Places!

 

 

I eventually got to Acebo and waited for Ricardo. I had already bought bred, cheese and tomatoes and waited on a bench, and when Ricardo arrived he bought some more stuff and without even talking we just split everything. It was like we knew each other so well and did not have to speak at times.

Out of Acebo

Out of Acebo

What seemed to be an even longer trip down to the next village which was Molinaseca, which supposedly was a marvelous little village and area in the valley. I had taken the “wrong” way down on the actual road instead of the gravel food path. I did discover that I probably made an unknown good decision as the foot path was the same type of descent as from Cruz de Ferro and the road was quite easy to walk on in comparison.

 

Molinaseca

Molinaseca

Nice Pilgrim Monument in Molinaseca

Nice Pilgrim Monument in Molinaseca

 

Walking over the bridge of the river and into Molinaseca was such a quaint sight. People sitting on the grass next to the river with a drink or eating at the nearby restaurant. It was time for a beer and break and I did not want to walk more today.

Molinaseca...

Molinaseca…

I waited for Ricardo who came with Justin and after a break where I was and a check-in at the albergue that was famous for its owner as he had done the pilgrimage 12 times and been honored by the Spanish King.

Some personal stuff was nagging me today and Ricardo was a good person to have next to me during these days and it was nice to have a room with many more bunk beds than people, it made for a quiet place that night and that was needed.

 

 

 

Molinaseca – Villafranca del Bierzo = 32,5km (Day 28)

I started out by myself. The inner storm that I had going was understood by Ricardo and he knew I needed space and said to just walk on, so I did.

Lets go Right Shall we

Lets go Right Shall we

 

It was a Nice Morning Entering Ponferrada

It was a Nice Morning Entering Ponferrada

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first main stop was Ponferrada and a big castle was the main attraction there.

The Templars Castle of Ponferrada

The Templars Castle of Ponferrada

The Templars Castle of Ponferrada

The Templars Castle of Ponferrada

I basically just walked through Ponferrada, stopped to just take a quick picture and help a pilgrim out with one before I was gone. I just felt like trotting out there! I walked by myself all day and it was a long one, but VERY beautiful. Know that we were around the Galicia area in the North West part of Spain, which is stunning!

Stunning! Beautiful! (No Words)

Stunning! Beautiful! (No Words)

It was Pure Beauty 360´

It was Pure Beauty 360´

It was hilly and impeccable views of nature and vineyards shaped the landscape more than anything else.

They were all over the place as far as the eye could see and so was the mountains. It was one of the more beautiful days as well as tough, because it was long, up and down all the time.

 

 

Entering Villafranca was long awaited – I was smashed! It seemed like that path kept going. You could see the village down in the valley, a marvelous one by the way. It looked so good tugged in there. In addition I managed to pass the albergue that was in my guide book, (great Gideon, especially now) but after being guided by a cherri-salesmen and in exchange for his help, I bought some and found the albergue.

Villafranca is in the Books!

Villafranca is in the Books!

Here, I saw a few familiar faces, my friend Troels from Denmark, Els who I met some days ago. There were 5-6 people waiting to check-in and I joined the cue.

I caught up with Troels and after we had checked-in we found a bar to get a beer and kick back. He had gotten clear on continuing his education, which was why he walked The Camino and now just wanted to get to Santiago and finish!

Ricardo I had not seen and it took a while before I did. All of a sudden as I was sitting writing near the entrance to the albergue, I saw a guy on the outside with his video camera filming me, Ricardo had arrived!

1st Course was Salad - With Bread and Wine of Course

1st Course was Salad – With Bread and Wine of Course

Second Course was Salmon

Second Course was Salmon

 

He wanted a siesta a little later and while I wanted dinner and he was still in siesta-land I took a walk around. I found a nice little restaurant, with a nice menu.

Second Course was Salmon

Second Course was Salmon

When I was Done - The Other 3 People Around me Started

When I was Done – The Other 3 People Around me Started

 

Villafranca del Bierzo

Villafranca del Bierzo

Later I saw from my seat that Ricardo had come down to the square of where the restaurants were along with two German girls and as you see on the picture, opposite me I was joined!

Great times to be a pilgrim, great times to be alive, great friends and people to be around!

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections and Insight of the day

“Awareness of change leads to detachment and is the way to joy, inspiration, humor and love.”

This sentence sums up what I got out of walking The Camino… it is truly essential to be aware of the idea around change and detachment.

Reflections

Word number three in the above sentence was the word of the day. When passing all the vineyards, the beautiful landscape and looking back at all that had happened over the course of this magical voyage, I began to think about change. That change is inevitable, that everything changes in you all the time and at the same time everything around you changes as well. Everything is change! Nothing stays the same and you can not do anything about that!

I kept saying that I was walking change around living change and that it was all moving and being different all the time. A conversation with Gemma a week before we split up grew the quote you read above, because it just made sense that when we are aware that everything is change and that we are never the same and always evolve and much more, then that automatically leads to the fact, that we cannot hold on to anything or control anything whether it is people in our lives, experiences or even WHO we are!

I connected those two ideas with the outcome that I had come up with much earlier on the journey, around when I first met Gary actually. Since then it just made sense to me that when being aware of change and detachment literally everything comes to you.

Joy of life is the fuel to create through inspiration and in humor we find not to take this mystery of life so seriously and all combined with living a life of awareness that is full of love and compassion.

——————

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Rest Day in Burgos & Week 3 (Day 14 Burgos – Day 21 Leon = 182,5km)

Rest day in Burgos – (Day 14)

We left the albergue before 8 am and went to the familiar bar across the street. We got some breakfast and here, Ricardo, Daniela, Gemma and me found a cheap hotel for the night to enjoy some deserved comforts. Before we headed there we went to see Esther and Steffen who would leave Burgos today.

Besides touring the incredible cathedral in Burgos and chilling in the hotel, we had our toughest goodbye to date – Ana was leaving The Camino. We had grown close and it was easy to see and feel when saying our goodbyes at the bus station.

Info: I have not included any images of stages because the terrain was so flat throughout.

Burgos – Hontanas = 31,6km (Day 15)

The four of us began to walk out of Burgos together and what would be a long day. We were now heading towards an important part of The Camino, one where the mental challenges would enter “flat-land” and that has a difference and impact as you will see explained later in the “Three Phases” (Day 18).

A Picture Before the Cathedral and Next to a Pilgrim

Before Departure A Picture Before the Cathedral and Next to a Pilgrim was Taken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day was the first long walk without any mountainous scenery, which made for an “easier” walk physically, but it was now the mental part that was going to be worked more and more. I believe, we people have a subconscious addiction to constantly wanting to be stimulated and when you have been used to mountains and breathtakingly beautiful landscape and all of a sudden there is not much, there are not many other places than inwards that you now can go and be stimulated and for many if not all pilgrims, that is the challenge and why you are here.

Gemma and me walked together most of the day as Ricardo had to take it slow and take more breaks to take care of his feet and Daniela was his loyal companion.

Nice Image - do you see the Road in the Distance?

Nice Image – do you see the Road in the Distance?

On the Hill Another Pilgrim Memorial

On the Hill Another Pilgrim Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onwards to Hontanas was flat for many kilometers and the landscape did not change at all. Gravel path and green fields on both sides – mountains in the far distance on our right was visible though.

On it Goes........

On it Goes……..

I Walked With a Great Phographer

I Walked With a Great Phographer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was interesting entering Hontanas, because… where in the world was the village???

As the Sign Indicates, just 0,5km, but the Village was not in Sight at all!

As the Sign Indicates, just 0,5km, but the Village was not in Sight at all!

It was hidden or squashed right into the rocks of the little gorge and here I met Gary from Minnesota again.

The Hidden Village

The Hidden Village

We Stayed at the Albergue on the Right

We Stayed at the Albergue on the Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a conversation a little after Gemma and me had checked in, at the same time as Ricardo and Daniela arrived and we all had another nice evening together.

And to finish this day off with this lovely photo that Gemma took on route for Hontanas, one that I love due to its tranquility of being in the middle of nowhere on the journey.

Thanks Gemma! :-)

Thanks Gemma! 🙂

 

Hontanas is Down

Hontanas is Down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hontanas – Boadilla del Camino = 28,7km (Day 16)

The weather had changed a bit from the first 10-12 days of sun and hotness. It was a little cooler and grey now but was actually great conditions for walking.

An Avenue of Trees Came After a few Km of Walking

An Avenue of Trees Came After a few Km of Walking

San Antón - one of the Oldest Ruins on The Camino (12th Century)

San Antón – one of the Oldest Ruins on The Camino (12th Century)

 

Another Village Ahead

Another Village Ahead

One of Those "funny" Ones

One of Those “funny” Ones

Ricardo and Daniela started a little ahead of us and besides crossing one steep ascent today it was another long flat walk.

The Only one, but a Serious Uphill Walk

The Only one, but a Serious Uphill Walk

Just a 18% Decline... phew! :-)

Just a 18% Decline… phew! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I find it easier and much more fun to walk upwards, so I was quickly ahead and gone from our little group. I continued my quick pace and first took a break in the last village Itero de la Vega before Boadilla del Camino where I waited for the others.

This was What my Shoes Looked like after two Weeks

This was What my Shoes Looked like after two Weeks

Another day of Almost 30km was Finally Close to be Done!

Another day of Almost 30km was Finally Close to be Done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We followed each other to Boadilla del Camino with our provisions for the evening.  They were enjoyed on a bench in the square outside of the albergue, where all we had was 4 knives that we poked at the veggies we had sliced up and passed a wine bottle around for drinks – one of those great memories 🙂

And... Boadilla del Camino

And… Boadilla del Camino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boadilla del Camino = Carrión de los Condes =  26,3km (Day 17)

Today things would begin to change, it was time for some of us to begin walking alone. It was time to begin exploring what it was we were here for and that necessity started this morning. Daniela started out by herself and we followed a little after, even though I knew Gemma would like to walk by herself as well later on.

Just Before Entering Fromista

Just Before Entering Fromista

Entering Fromista

Entering Fromista

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got to the first village of the day; Fromista and saw a few familiar faces here. After a little breakfast Gemma and me  said our goodbyes to Ricardo as he had to take care of his feet. Shortly after I walked on from Gemma. It was all a bit emotional, but needed for the time being – it was important for all of us to spend walking-time alone.

And out Again

And out Again

This was the Path for the Entire day

This was the Path for the Entire day

The picture above on the right was literally how it was the entire day – right next to the main road. Obviously not the pretties or quietest walk during The Camino.

I had a lunch-break some time after and of course, right when I got back out on the trail, guess who was in front of me? I took a picture below and that was right before I caught up with her.

Getting Closer to the Main Goal of the day and Entire Trip

Getting Closer to the Main Goal of the day and Entire Trip

 

As fate would have it though, we all ended up at the same albergue. Both Steffen and Esther was there and Daniela and Ricardo as well, so it also seemed quite difficult to get away completely, but maybe it was more important walking alone and then be together in the evening, it was a great combo either way.

Entering Correón

Entering Correón

Entering Correón

Entering Correón

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was an nun-albergue, a municipal that made community meals in the evening and where everybody staying there had to bring something and help prepare it.

After check-in the two vikings gathered with a few beers and Orujo´s on a near by square. It was always nice to hang out with Steffen and be around a fellow Dane.

The Danes Tasting the Sweet Juices of Spain. But What is up With That Tooth of Mine???

The Danes Tasting the Sweet Juices of Spain… but What is up With That Tooth of Mine???

The evening began with many of us helping to prepare food and eat together.  After there was music in the lobby, a fun to way to gather with many pilgrims and experience all of this.

One of the most important things on The Camino was said during this that I will always remember. The man of the couple who ran this albergue said in a little speech to all of us, that “now when you are walking The Camino, you have the freedom to do it in whatever way you want and if you don´t feel freedom on this walk you will never feel freedom in your regular life either.”

He said the above because he related it to how a regular life is filled with obligations to yourself, family, work and so on and on this trip you basically don´t have any in comparison. It was quite a strong statement, but one that I feel was very accurate.

Carrión is Down

Carrión is Down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrión de los Condes = Terradillos de los Templarios = 26,3km (Day 18)

Next morning Gemma and me took the responsibility of making a warm oat-meal breakfast and had enough for everybody in “the family”. Steffen was the first one to go and after a little clean up I felt that it was now my turn. Esther was saying goodbye to all of us also, as she was heading to León from here and would not see us again because she would take off from there and back to Holland.

On Track

On Track

Vamos!

Vamos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was motivated to walk by myself and it was going to be a mental test for all pilgrims today! 4+ hours of straight flat walking with nothing but the same terrain was today´s recipe. Cool wind on a plain field, with sun but cool weather was the mix. Here, you got a real opportunity to be alone with yourself and not be distracted by scenery and for me, people.

A chance to focus on what was going on inside and through movement reveal some of those things you are there for and want to uncover through this journey and voyage that obviously is a physical, mental and spiritual one.

This was how it was the ENTIRE time for 4 Hours!

This was how it was the ENTIRE time for 4 Hours!

When arriving at the bar below from the plateau, many exclaimed how boring the walk was, how it was all the same and not exciting or beautiful. While I agreed with its less intensity of scenery, I disagreed with how boring it was, because I knew it was such an important time on The Camino – this was what you were here for – to explore yourself! For me, this was a vital time on The Way, because you are here for yourself and much more will be found on the inside here, than when you walk with a group and also are “distracted” by amazing scenery.

Not many people in the world are used to being alone, the silence and only having few distractions around and it is obvious it is a challenge for the mind. It is healthy though to gain some perspective of what that means and such a stretch gives you the opportunity but the question is, if you are listening?

Calzadilla de la Cueza - Another Village in a Vally

Calzadilla de la Cueza – Another Valley Village

An Albergue was Here Also

An Albergue was Here Also

 

At the bar Steffen had stopped for a break and we had a quick catch up before he headed on. I had a tea, did some writing but not too long after I went on my way again.

One of the Hundred Pilgrim Monuments

One of the Hundred Pilgrim Monuments

Pilgrims Helping one Another to Help be on Track

Pilgrims Helping one Another to Help be on Track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving in Terradillos de los Templarios there were only two albergues to choose from. The first one I passed looked a little commercialzed and was in the outskirts, so to me it did not look attractive – I wanted to be in the village.

Entering Terradillos de los Templarios

Entering Terradillos de los Templarios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I arrived and was a real nice place, more pilgrim-like and what I prefer. I quickly checked-in found my room/bed and went outside to the top patio to eat some fruit, chocolate and do some writing. A little after a beautiful surprise stood in the door way – Gemma! “Hi” – she said and we gave each other a nice hug as she walked up to where I was sitting.

It was so nice to see her and it also gave me hope that we perhaps would see Ricardo and Daniela. Steffen stayed in the albergue before ours and came to pay us a visit.

Gale from Alaska came up to where I was sitting and we struck up a conversation. He and his son Dave who was almost blind was walking The Camino together. Dave got rather famous on the journey as that was of course quite amazing and also a beautiful father and son-story.

Great Picture Inside the Dining Area

Great Picture Inside the Dining Area

Gale told me something interesting that relates to what I began this blog with when it came to why people was beginning to feel the desire and need to walk alone.
He said that he had heard this idea from a few people and when he told me it totally made sense and along with that a whole host of connections and so on seemed to connect some dots to understand the pilgrim in ourselves and fellow pilgrims as well.

This is what he shared with me:

There are three phases that you go through on The Camino to Santiago…

First Phase:
This phase is about the physical breakdown of the body. The long distances, the pain and suffering that your body goes through. Not many if any are used to walking so long distances or ever have in their life and in the first phase it is simply getting your body used to this. It takes some time and I will say that it took about 10 days for me to feel “used” to it, because in my book, there were no easy days. Remember my blisters ans shin-splints? And I was far from one of the people having the worst of times…

Second Phase:
This is the mental phase and one that opens the more you got used to the physical aspect of it, when the pain and suffering was “easier” to cope with and not the main focus anymore. Thoughts, habitual way of thinking, mental stress, attitude and many other things that relates to the “mind-aspect” was being worked here and a significant change of mind the great possibility. Another possible outcome is the acceptance of yourself and where you are in your life and also with the work you do and perhaps the life you have had up until this very point. Acceptance and gradual understanding of this, seemed to me to be a key point in this second phase. It got clear the more I thought about it and the more I talked to people about it.

Interestingly enough this was also when the more flat terrain began and ALSO here where people in our group as well as people in general felt it needed to be on their own. To me it seemd to connect some very mysterious dots. After 2+ weeks it was time for people to walk for the real reasons they were here and it was like the landscape and this idea of the second phase as natural as anything corresponded to this.

Third Phase:
This is the spiritual or “heart” phase, where the deepest of human emotions can enter or is at least opened up for more and more. Being grateful for the moment, feel love for where you are walking, yourself, the people you are around, the nature and landscape you are witnessing and all in all more connected to who you are, the people you have in your life, the nature you are in and the universe at large.

The third phase will begin if it does during the end of The Camino, here you are used to the physical aspect and have also spend more time processing a lot of the stuff that you have had inside of you before The Camino and perhaps has gotten to the surface during the second phase. This also means that it is perhaps was more enjoyable, that many things had gotten natural in terms of this way of life, where you were and lifted up the good things even more although keep you very grounded. The landscape in the end of The Camino also became increasingly beautiful when entring Galicia – the remarkable connection and idea of these phases, the landscape how you felt and saw things more and more was SO mysterious and beautiful all at the same time.

Terradillos de los Templarios

Terradillos de los Templarios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terradillos de los Templarios – Moratinos = 3,2km (Day 19 – Sickday)

Today became very different. We had a nice dinner and evening the night before, but during the night I developed an uncomfortable stomach-virus. I did not sleep, it was like what I had eaten was not able to be digested and just rumbled around in there.

Early hours in the morning I was just standing around, leaning and felt bloated. Gemma had similar symptoms and so did a few other people. I threw up  before we left. We discovered that Daniela had also had the same thing the night before. I thought it would help to walk so we did even though Gemma and me felt like wounded animals walking behind.

We both wanted to stick together today and only 3km later, we stopped at a bar to take a break. Ricardo and Daniela could continue, but it was impossible for us. I fortunately threw up the third and last time outside the bar, before we found an albergue and literally slept for the next 20 hours.

We heard that because of how flat it is in this area, the water is more dirty because the water is still. I guess it was a mix of being tired, stomach virus and a time to accept that sometimes, you just need to relax and allow your body to recover.

Sick day in Moratinos

Sick day in Moratinos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moratinos – Bercianos del Real Camino = 20,2km (Day 20) 

We were a lot better this morning, but took it slow. We did not have a goal of a long journey today, but gradually felt we were getting back to normal. It was nice to have such a great companion during these two days and especially Gemma as she is such a sweet and gentle person.

Sahagún was a few villages away from where we started, but was the place Ricardo and Daniela had been for the night. We checked if they were still there, which they were not.

Another Bridge

Another Bridge

Crossing

Crossing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice Image of the Path

Nice Image of the Path

Entering Bercianos del Real Camino

Entering Bercianos del Real Camino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We continued and throughout the day it was all slowly getting better, although we still had to get through the day to fully recover. After around 20km it was time to stop and when entering Bercianos del Real Camino we found an albergue based on donations, which also had community dinner etc.

A Pilgrim Notes That we Pass

A Pilgrim Notes That we Pass

The biggest surprise today came after check-in when I came down the stairs from the rooms to head outside to write and hang out with Gemma, when a voice sitting at the check-in counter calmly said in Danish “Whats up Gideon?”

I looked perplexed and realized that it was a friend that I knew through the famous basketball school Oure, where we both went our 10th grade year. We were one year a part, but that place is special and many of us has a strong bond because of how special it is to be there. THAT was a surprise and he asked me, if I was out taking a little stroll down here? 🙂

 

 

We had a catch up talk after he had checked-in and how interesting was that to meet someone you actually knew from home on The Camino – wow!

I did the daily writing I always did at the end of every day to prepare for writing this blog and to reflect on what happened on the inner and outer world. It was soon getting to be dinner time and besides how nice that was, to sit and eat next to Troels, it was time to prepare for another lonely walk tomorrow.

Bercianos del Real Camino

Bercianos del Real Camino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becianos del Real Camino – León = 45,4km (Day 21)

After waking up a little past 6 am Gemma and me said our goodbyes again, I walked alone the entire time until I reached Mansilla de las Mulas. I got there just around or a little after noon and felt like continuing. Even though I met Gemma who stayed here it was simply a time to be by ourselves, so I continued.

The Sign is a EU-Landmark Protecting The Camino to Santiago

The Sign is a EU-Landmark Protecting The Camino to Santiago

I had already walked about 26 km and there was another 19 to León, which was the destination I was heading for. This was during the strong heat, as the wind had settled and temperature increased significantly compared to the whole week. It was a hot and a walk that got longer and longer, because I got more and more tired and felt more and more pain.

 

 

 

 

It was dusty and heavy and even though I got closer it felt like not much happened. After a break on a top of a hill about 6-7 km outside of León it was really hard to get going again and I felt my feet were too small inside my shoes and perhaps swollen or something due to my shoes being too tight.

I began again and as I got closer to a blue zigzag-type of bridge that goes over the main road I believe I saw a very familiar backpack. I began to walk a little faster to be sure and even though I was not 100% I yelled “Where is Piere??!!!!” – it was Ricardo! Wow – my energy picked up! As I got over the bridge and was much closer due to his slower and very painful and gutty walk he turned around as I yelled the same again – it was SUCH a blessing to see him there and we gave each other a big brother hug and appreciated the moment.

That way

That way

Ricardo had grown into a great friend and companion – a very like minded person. We literally had such similar thoughts it was scary at times when we talked and so on.

 

 

 

 

We were both in pain, him with his feet and me well, I had just passed walking 40+ km for the day, and I could feel it, phew……! We finally got into León after having met the actual man who was the painter of all the yellow arrows in the area of León and told us we had some way to go -of course it being in the middle of city it had to be, man!

We eventually got there and after check-in and the usuals we had a siesta, it was all pure pain and exhaustion. We had a walk around town, a beer and nice conversation in a bar, where we of course had to bump into Daniela also.

Do you begin to see the magic of this journey, just a little bit?

Yes, Famous Authors Quickly Becomes the Main Attraction Here in León

Yes, Famous Authors Quickly Becomes the Main Attraction Here in León

 

Ricardo and me wanted to have one day of rest in León and………

In León

In León

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Towards Burgos – (Day 10 Azofra – Day 13 Burgos = 90,6km)

Stage in Profile – Day 10

Azofra - Grañón (Grañón has a "number" instead of dot)

Azofra – Grañón (Grañón are two stops after Santa Domingo)

Azofra – Grañón = 22km

We woke up in our two-bed dorm, which was nice for once to have more privacy and less noise. Most of us got going around 8 am, but Ian and Steffen felt like sleeping in and we left before them. Both being military guys, we knew they would catch up with us eventually.

Heading out of Azofra

Heading out of Azofra

We left Azofra and walked in yet more landscape that soothed the already satisfied soul of a pilgrim. More fields and vineyards were present in the flat terrain as the rest of “the family” walked on.

We came to a wealthy area with a golf course on a tip of a hill, but also a rather ghost-town type of place as not much life was there.

Ian and Steffen caught up with us here. We all followed each other to the next bar and got a bite to eat. Here, a familiar figure was sitting having a little break as well and I went up to greet Gary from Minnesota. Nice to see him again and one of those special people I bumped into constantly to give and receive updates and insights of this journey.

 

 

Nice Image of Pilgrims and the Group I was With

Nice Image of Pilgrims and the Group I was With

A Happy Pilgrim!

A Happy Pilgrim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started walking a little later, towards Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada in the Horizon

Santo Domingo de la Calzada in the Horizon

We all entered the nice looking town, but Ian was not there. Steffen and me walked on to find him, but was not successful and turned back to find the others again. Daniela and Ana wanted to tour the cathedral so Gemma, Ricardo and me then took a walk around. Gemma and me ended up at the square of an albergue where we saw Ian, the French guy from Torres del Rio and Steffen sit down with a drink. They had all checked in there, and here the first split-up of the group occurred.

Ricardo wanted to walk longer today and so did Daniela, Ana, Gemma and me. So now the group was down to 5 as Esther also stayed in Santo Domingo. It was a hot day and another 1½-2 hours of afternoon-walking was our last cup of walking of the day.  We ended up in Grañón and to a very different type of albergue, than we have tried so far.

Grañón Reached

Grañón Reached

The albergue was based on donations, kind of a “hippie” place, but had a focus on freedom and spirituality. It had been started by a German who had driven a tractor all the way from Germany on The Camino down to Grañón and said it was quite a journey – I bet!

Even though we had bought food to cook for the evening, wine etc. the albergue unbeknownst to us provided food, but the only way of getting it was for every nationality of people who was there at the albergue to sing out loud outside the next door kitchen. I lead the danish duo of me and another woman, singing the danish national anthem, even though I messed up the 3rd verse it was approved by the kitchen. 🙂

Four volunteers was asked to carry the food from the kitchen down to the basement and eating area, all wearing interesting wigs, below is one of them.

Do you Know who This is?

Do you Know who This is?

Even though the decline in our group, the five of us had a great time and what I had not mentioned was that the couple I met in Bayonne before SJPdP also stayed in this albergue, so again, you just kept running into people you had seen before, which was a lot of fun.

I headed to bed earlier than the others. I just felt like relaxing my legs because I from arrival today was unable to walk normally. Walking “gingerly” was how Jeff from the couple I met in Bayonne put it.

Grañón is Down

Grañón is Down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage in Profile – Day 11

Grañón - Belorado

Grañón – Espinosa del Camino (3rd dot after Belorado)

Grañón – Espinosa del Camino = 24,7km 

Another day began and the contingent of 5 began today´s hike. In the morning it is usually a goal to hit up the first and best bar to eat and drink something, which we did.

Beautiful People I Became Very Close With

Beautiful People I Became Very Close With

 

Do you Know What This Sign Means? (If you do, I will Compensate With a Copy of my Book)

Do you Know What This Sign Means? (If you do, I will Compensate With a Copy of my Book)

The next major break was after about 3½ hours and here we found Esther, who´ve had some pain in her stomach and other places during those days, so she had taken transport to keep going as much as she could.

I was the first of us to see and greet her. Here we also got the news that Ian had left The Camino. He had been awaiting a work-call in Germany and walked until it came, and so it did the night before.

Steffen, came a little after we had all been sitting down a bit and it was obvious he was both hit of physical pain, but perhaps also sadness due to see Ian go, as they had grown a good friendship. Interestingly, the talk Steffen and I had in Azofra came to mind, because this is how easy the group could dissolve.

Belorado, was the next little town and here Gemma met up with her parents, and Steffen and Ester stayed here, and while we would meet up with Gemma later, Ricardo, Ana, Daniela and me walked on.

One of the Many Churches we Passed - This one in Belorado

One of the Many Churches we Passed – This one in Belorado

Beautiful Painting of The Knights Templar's

Beautiful Painting of The Knights Templar’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Belorado, a lot of Urban Area was Covered

From Belorado, a lot of Urban Area was Covered

After a failed check-in to an albergue that was full, we continued on to Espinosa del Camino, which was one of the last chances we had to find a place that night because it was late in the afternoon, because it was very small villages, if you could even call it that. Here, we met up with Gemma again.

Here, we got a unique experience, with an old Camino-veteran in a normal looking house although with the proper looks of an albergue, but private. This elderly man lived alone, had walked the Camino a few times and gave us tails of his thoughts on this special path, inside of his quaint and nicely decorated house with antiques and collections of small swords, images of castles along The Camino and much more – like a little museum.

Our Very Nice and Comfortable Home for the Night

Our Very Nice and Comfortable Home for the Night

I dont recall the name of the man, but he was quite serious about this journey. He wanted to make sure we were real pilgrims, which meant that he would hold on to both our real passports and pilgrim passports until the morning. He definitely saw this spiritual path as honorable, one that unfortunately was being commercialized and he wanted to be sure to show and tell us that he did not believe in that, he wanted to do what he could to keep The Way in its old tradition.

He cooked for us and while he only spoke Spanish I understood when translated by my fellow companions. There were two rooms up stairs and the one on the left was with 3 bunks. All in all it was such a sweet place and I think we all needed and liked the feel of being in a “home” and it was a perfect fit to relax and recoup after a long and hot day.

Espinosa del Camino was a Nice Home-Like Experience

Espinosa del Camino was a Nice Home-Like Experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Stage in Profile – day 12

Espinosa - Atapuerca

Espinosa – Atapuerca (the hill on the far right)

Espinosa del Camino – Atapuerca = 24,6km

Do you remember the day we were woken up by nun-music? Well… this morning we woke up by yet some more music – this time military music! So cool and one of the first people I saw up was Gemma, who had jumped out of her bunk and did a little dance. The music continued and varied, playing a lot of great songs, a couple I remember was from U2 and R:E:M, but was classical type of variations, and not the regular pop versions – real nice!
Made me think of all the classical music I had listened to in concert halls for the months leading up to this long walk.

This place was also based on donations, and after our breakfast we donated and got our passports back before heading on, getting closer to the first main and important city of The Camino, Burgos.

We went on our way and the day started up and down with beautiful views to the mountains and later for a long while on a forest trail.

A Nice Stretch of Woods on the Path

A Nice Stretch of Woods on the Path

Later we passed a memorial for the republicans who were shot in 1936 in the Civil War. I believe it was 300 people that was killed here. This is what it said on the description on the monument: “It was not their deaths, but the manner of their deaths that was senseless. May they rest in peace.”

The Memorial From 1936

The Memorial From 1936

The Monument

The Monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were not far from Burgos, which many signs on the path as well as road signs indicated, when we occasionally were close to the main roads.

Burgos is Near

Burgos is Near

It was a pretty flat walking day today and not much landscape which can be mentally challenging, when you have been used to great scenery. We had a couple of stops, and the last break we had before we ended the day was in Agés. It was such a nice and cozy little place where we all sat down and shared some of our provisions of fruits and nuts with one another.

Agés

Agés

Another Pilgrim Symbol

Another Pilgrim Symbol

 

 

Here, another indication which besides the probable incorrect exact number of kilometers, showed that we were getting closer to Santiago.

518km to go - Behind the Sign is a Great Idea of how Pilgrims Relax Along the Beaten Path

518km to go – Behind the Sign is a Great Idea of how Pilgrims Relax Along the Beaten Path

We ended up in the village on top of a hill named Atapuerca and after check-in we enjoyed some drinkable comforts along with a few snacks.

Entering Atapuerca

Entering Atapuerca

Atapurca´s Friendship Villages

Atapurca´s Friendship Villages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then of course… we all took care of our feet and such, some more than others… because one needed assistance.

This is how Feet can Look When you Hurt A LOT! (I will neglect to mention any names here)

This is how Feet can Look When you Hurt A LOT! (I will neglect to mention any names here)

Some fun outside of the albergue and all in all it was such a great day post-hike. We enjoyed each others company and just relaxed. I think we all waited with our showers and focused more on gearing down, before food was purchased for cooking up tonight’s dinner.

Pretty Pilgrims Covering up

Pretty Pilgrims Disguised as Bandits

Masked Pilgrims - Guess who? :-)

Masked Pilgrims – Guess who? 🙂

We gathered with other people around dinner time and I got acquainted with Nick from Australia, who shared an article he had written about a spiritual festival in Australia and I shared my book with him.

This was all before we once again found ourselves in bunk beds all close together all sleeping in different beds recovering from another day on the journey and resting up for another day to begin – this one a bit more “important” as Burgos was an important stop towards Santiago.

Atapuerca is in the Books

Atapuerca is in the Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage in Profile – day 13

Atapuerca - Burgos

Atapuerca – Burgos

Atapuerca – Burgos = 19,3km 

It had to happen again at some point – rain was over us and our day began wet.

Two Cute Looking Human Turtles, Ready to Meet the Rain

Two Cute Looking Human Turtles, Ready to Meet the Rain

When Gemma, Ricardo and me were walking around Santo Domingo, when waiting for Daniela and Ana touring the cathedral some days ago, Ricardo bought a big poncho for him and his backpack for this reason. When rain just comes down and all you have is what you got in your backpack, there is no mercy and it could really make an impact, so I am sure he was happy with that purchase then.

He and I both covered our shoes with some plastic bags to keep out most of that wet stuff and so we began a hike which started upwards and on a really rocky surface. It was not easy to walk on and we were quickly scattered all over the place.

It took a while before we all caught up to each other and so we did when we got to the only albergues since Atapuerca.

Nice to Know That an Albergue was Coming Soon

Nice to Know That an Albergue was Coming Soon

I remember Gemma was ahead of me, but not how/when we all gathered in the albergue. We stayed in the bar-area to eat and drink something as well as be inside for a little while. Ricardo had some really troubled feet and he was not happy about his situation. Big and painful blisters and having all wet shoes and socks is not a great combination, so he thought of staying here today and tonight.

Enjoying Comforts of Warmth and no Rain

Enjoying Comforts of Warmth and no Rain

Gemma and me wanted to get going and headed out before the others. We all hoped that Ricardo would continue and when he talked about a solution of putting his feet inside plastic bags for a temporary fix to get to Burgos, as he would take a day off there, brightened my hope that we would see him there later.

 

 

In the door way going out, Steffen and Esther had to our surprise just arrived, catching up to us since we left them in Belorado a couple of days ago. SO good to see them! They obviously wanted to get inside for a while too.

Gemma and I began a wet and windy walk towards Burgos. We enjoyed each others company and had comfortable conversation. It rained less now, but was windy, cloudy and when getting to the edge of Burgos, we began what seemed like a marathon of a walk into Burgos. About 15km was covered since our break, so quite some way all together.

In Burgos

In Burgos

Remember, that the middle of town is where we are always heading as that is the oldest part and since the year of the carrot, the city has developed where the industrial area is what you encounter first.

A good guess would be at least 1½ hours of walking before we were in the actual city of Burgos and again, not fun to walk so long on concrete at the end of a day like this.

 

 

 

 

We FINALLY arrived… it took a long time, but eventually we got to the albergue municipal and saw the familiar faces of Ana and Daniela, as well as many others we had seen on the way the first few days of walking. They were all in a bar across the albergue and some of them had a rest day in Burgos today.

Ana and Daniela greeted us and we got inside to sit down. After a little while we saw a very familiar backpack, blue poncho and person under it – Ricardo! He had gutted it out walking a long way alone on his feet on blisters, he was in pain but a tough guy indeed – I was impressed countless times on this trip!! We all were happy to be together again and we knew Steffen and Esther was behind us.

Not long after we checked-in, I saw Gary sitting in the common area. After the usual’s our group went down to wash some clothing together, do some writing and here I caught up with Gary who dropped another pearl of insight, he said: “Walking The Camino is like breathing, you inhale people in and exhale them out.” – He explained, what to a pilgrim is now well-known; you meet a lot of people and you also say goodbye to many very often.

Looking at it as breathing I guess relates to the very natural way of how it is to walk The Camino as well as how it is to live life. On The Camino we encounter people who stay around for a few minutes or hours or days, and in life you have people there for a quick conversation a few days, or years of short or long term friendships.

Through modern communication we had established contact to Esther and Steffen who had found another place to be for the night and we agreed to meet in the late afternoon. This began to develop into one of the better nights on the trip.

Another Spanish Wine

Another Spanish Wine

Here we were: Ricardo, Gemma, Daniela, Steffen, Esther, Ana and me who all had been close for what is long on this kind of a voyage and just enjoying each others company, it was an epic evening!

We first had some wine in a square and we then took that to a restaurant and another pilgrim menu with more wine and laughs. It was such a blessing to be among these beautiful people!

 

 

 

 

The albergue would close at 10.30, so after a little bit a bar hopping we went back to the bar across from the albergue where we had all been when we arrived earlier in the day.

Here, we all finished off with Bob Marley music, a little bit of dance, the Spanish drink Orujo, that we had grown fond of and then said our goodbyes to Steffen and Esther before we headed to our bunks for the night and now we could really relax, because we knew that tomorrow, we had nowhere to go…

Burgos... a Rest day Awaits

Stamp in Burgos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections

Two weeks had passed before I started this impeccable journey. It was already a way of life now and even though it was only two weeks it felt like much more. The sense of time was very different and the way of going about life was different too, both in positive ways.

I remember Steffen had told me, that he had spend much less time looking into the mirror on the trip, and while it can sound odd, I know when he meant. It was like the “normal” things or the thinking of outer things of ourselves was less important than the present moment, walking, being around people and pay attention to what was going on inside, because that was the reason we were here.

I can only say that these first 13 days of walking was amazing, the words I have used over and over again is simply the only words that are possible to express the special bond that “the family” had established as well as the ongoing “specialness” of landscape, cultural experience, being on a age old journey, which history we now were a part of.

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Friendship – (Day 7 Torres del Rio – Day 9 Azofra = 58,5km)

Torres del Rio - Logrono

Torres del Rio – Logrono

Stage in Profile – day 7

Torres del Rio – Logroño = 20,5km

As all the previous days, today started early and we walked from Torres del Rio as the sun came up and towards hilly landscape. It was always pretty and beautiful scenery, only when encountering too much highway etc. the beauty dissolved a bit, but fortunately it was not often.

The sun is Rising When Leaving Torres del Rio

The sun was Rising When Leaving Torres del Rio

Gemma, Patricia, Ana, Steffen and me walked together early, but not for long, because we quickly saw that Steffen had a different speed and was ahead of us in a jiff!

One of the BEST Pictures of Pilgrims on The Camino (From Left: Patricia, Gemma and Ana)

Beautiful Pilgrims on The Camino (From Left: Patricia, Gemma and Ana) The BEST People Picture I Took on the Journey!

 

Besides the few blisters I had acquired the day before I was doing well, but after we entered and left Viana, which was the first main village of the day, I had to sit down and take care of my feet.

Entering Viana

Entering Viana

Ana kindly helped me with some of her blister band-aids and walked on a little after. So had all the others, and I was now behind what was now referred to as “the family”.

I got back on my feet, but in my mix of emotions and pain, I managed to miss a marker and walked the wrong way for a short while. Fortunately I saw Ana´s yellow jacket way over on the right across a field, so about ran all the way back the road I had walked down and got on the right path again in my new painful and awkward walking style.

And… wouldn’t you believe it, a little later guess who I saw on a bench sitting having a little break – Claus! My friend from the bus was relaxing and was great to see him. We talked for a bit before we said “buen camino” and off I went. So much fun to see people again. This was my last time seeing Claus on The Camino though.

It was a painful to walk, but got used to it gradually and eventually I caught up with Ana. My shinsplints had also come back so a mix of blisters and shinsplints was the story of my day.

Love was Around :-)

Love was Around 🙂

We saw These Types of Things Often

We saw These Types of Things Often

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ana and me walked into Logrono together.

It was Pretty Walking Into Logrono

It was Pretty Walking Into Logrono

Here we met a guy from Germany who asked us for help as he had a broken credit card. He was looking sad and confused when he showed us his wallet with his problem. I had my left hand on my last 20Euro note in my pocket and seeing Ana giving him some change that she had left, I squeezed it tightly until my good heart gave it to him and wished him well.

 

(later on the journey we found out through other pilgrims, that he was a trickster! Hopefully karma catches up to him some day)

We saw Steffen a little up the street and found the albergue municipal. It has yet to open because it was just around noon. Eventually the familiar faces gathered outside and Ian already had a menu on his mind for that evening. Most of us helped to prepare the meal and once again 15-20 people gathered around a table full of food, wine and the good vibes we all gave to the gathering made it for another great evening! It was a constant pleasure to be alive and around these fantastic people – life was indeeeeeeeed GOOD!

More Wine From Another Place in Another Place

More Wine From Another Place in Another Place

What wasn´t  good was my left shin. It had swollen a bit today and still had blisters, but not a problem in comparison. Ian, was not only a good cook, but had both military and Camino experience and had great products to help with these types of problems. He was my savior and he was kind enough to give me his Deep Freeze and information about Tea Tree Oil, which I bought.

Amazing Products - the one on the Left Helped my leg get Strong Enough to Finish The Camino

Amazing Products – the one on the Left Helped my leg get Strong Enough to Finish The Camino

 

The Deep Freeze was for rubbing on soar muscles etc. and used it for my left shin. The Tea Tree Oil was for all open cuts or wounds – like blisters. I used it this evening to prepare myself for the next day.

Besides the above it was such a nice evening. The majority of the pilgrims in the albergue sat outside in the little court yard and talked, laughed or wrote in their notebooks, either with a glass of wine, beer or a smoke. Just special and cozy, you got to know so many new people every day.

From here it all winded down slowly, before another nap and hike was due.

Stamp of the day

Stamp of the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Logrono - Ventosa (Ventosa is the black dot just before the little hill)

Logrono – Ventosa (Ventosa is the black dot just before the little hill)

Stage in Profile – day 8

Logrono – Ventosa = 20km

The first departure from our little camino family happened today. Patricia was going back to Barcelona and her friend Gemma from home and I walked out of Logrono together about the same time as the rest of the group.

Getting Ready... (From left: Ricardo, Gideon, Ana) Ricardo Became a Great Friend

Getting Ready… (From left: Ricardo, Gideon, Ana) Ricardo Became a Great Friend

Happy Pilgrim in the Morning in Logrono

Happy Pilgrim in the Morning in Logrono

Gemma and me started what would be an ongoing conversation and build on the knowledge of each other we had gotten from the last couple of days. But today´s headline was pain and lots of it. My left shin was not well and the Deep Freeze had only helped in the beginning of the day. It felt like the type of pain that was developing into an injury. It was like the shin was wood and felt so stiff that rock would be more flexible than my muscles at that point.

Ian had talked about a pilgrim albrgue in Ventosa, where a lady from Schwitzerland had a nice place and also woke you up with calm nun-music 🙂 – sounded interesting and enticing.

The way to.....

The way to…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naturally it was what “the family” pursuit and it also meant that the day would be shorter, which was a score for me. Scenery, conversation and companionship was all nice, but the big BUT, was that because of my pain I began to hump and walk rather awkwardly all the way to the albergue.

We arrived, and but my let shin had swollen so much, that my skin almost was coming out and folded out over my socks! Not a nice sight, especially not when it was only day 8. I did have the worried throught; “if this continues, will I be able to continue or finish this?”

Cooling Down...

Cooling Down…

We checked-in and I put my legs up to relief the pain a bit. I also put a lot of Deep Freeze on and took care of the blisters. After some rest it was time for some beer and pilgrim gathering in the yard out back. A nice little place and Ian had already started cooking and as that could sit by itself, we all had another beautiful time, with music, laughs and for some, writing.

 

 

 

 

What a Help That was!

What a Help That was!

Ricardo had been working in a fitness center in the past and became our one-day massage therapist as he was kind enough to help a few pilgrims out with their legs, that included me. Thanks amigo! 🙂

The Great Person and Cook Ian!

The Great Person and Cook Ian!

Fun times it was – dinner was served later and another evening with many pilgrims gathered + “the family” was a beautiful blessing. Steffen and Esther got a great idea which was to buy Ian an apron and we all chipped in.

A walk with Gemma and seeing the full moon with Ricardo, Ana and Daniela made it a great finish on another extraordinary day on The Way towards Santiago. It seemed like it was living in a dream of pure goodness that just stayed…

 

 

 

Stamp in from Ventosa

Ventosa

Ventosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ventosa - Azofra (Ventosa is the dot to the left and Azofra is 3rd black dot)

Ventosa – Azofra (Ventosa is the dot to the left and Azofra is 3rd black dot)

Stage in Profile – day 9

Ventosa – Azofra = 17km

It ticked 6 am and nun-music began… and wow… if you have not heard that before it is quite like being stroked by a wind of silk, just beautiful vibrations – a nice way to wake up indeed.

Another pilgrim note is, that usually when the first person wakes up and begins to get ready it is like an “okay” to everyone and then all follows suite. It does not take more than 30-40 minutes before everyone is out of the room and either gone or ready and it is usually around 7am.

My leg was a lot better today and it seemed that the days with shorter distances was appreciated and taking it slow was enjoyable for everyone.

Throughout the day I walked with Gemma, and later we met up with Steffen and Ian who had developed a good friendship. W walked together until reaching Nájera, where Gemma and me went to a supermarket to stock up on our rations. While we agreed to meet Steffen and Ian later we missed each other, so after some needed lunch by the river on a piece of grass in the city we began the walk to Azofra.

It was past noon now and that is another factor on The Camino, because it gets HOT as HELL! It really is not wise to walk in the afternoon, but we did…

Beauty.....

Beauty…..

It was a beautiful walk with a gravel road as long as the eye could see, green fields and snow capped mountains out on the left, it was as magical as you can imagine. Colors and sun shine and when having a fantastic walking companion of course makes it all even better!

Pilgrims "Only" 582 Kilometers From the Goal

Pilgrims “Only” 582 Kilometers From the Goal

We rocked up at the albergue, the last one before you headed out of the village and we wondered if Steffen and Ian would be here. I recognized some familiar shoes, which meant they were here.

Azofra

Azofra

They had obviously already planned the meal that night and another pilgrim and “family”- evening with great home cooked dining, wine and magnifico people all around was an absolute pleasure! It was like the magic and pure beauty of this trip would not take an end it was all in such high positive vibrations, yet balanced that made the experience serene and quite perfect!

The one Without Label Basically Means Local

The one Without Label Basically Means Local

Another evening was winding down – I know that it can sound like it is the same words I use, but it is indescribable to explain what special and magic that was found on this path, with these people and experience within myself.

 

Reflections 

During the afternoon in Azofra, Steffen and me had a great conversation. We talked about the vulnerability of the group, because even though we feel great friendship all together, we are all here for our own reasons. We are walking this thing for a reason and even though we know the motivation for going we still don´t know what it will give us. You need space to uncover what we are here to discover and the attachment to people is not the way to get it.

The last sentence is not something I realized that day, that came later. It was inevitable though that something would change… and that will come later when I write about The Three Phases of The Camino, something that is very interesting and connects immense amounts of dots, that is difficult to comprehend.

Hasta Proximo…!

————————-

Next blog is coming up within a week to 10 days!

Please SIGN UP up to my newsletter Here! – To follow the blogging of The Camino experience and get the blogs immediately after I post it!

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Companionship Develops – But… Where is Piere? – (day 4 Pamplona – day 6 Torres del Rio = 72km)

Where is Piere???

I don’t know where he is, was my confused nonverbal answer…? My mind was not quite awake at 5.30am. I was in my top bunk looking down with an odd face on the woman or “hospitalera” who was part of Albergue Casa Padaborn, who had just entered the room.

Apparently she was looking for a person named Piere. Her voice was loud and some of the pore pilgrims who were sleeping in the bottom bunks were met with the question: “Where is Piere?” – No one obliged to her question, just mere confusion and almost terror was the natural reaction. She asked three different people and woke them up without any regard for human life!

The day before I had met Ricardo from Spain and he was on the top bunk next to mine 4 feet to my left. I had observed that he had not been unable to sleep, but finally had gone back to sleep.

It was like the woman saw this as her absolute last chance and raised her hope by going to the top bunks to find this person; Piere… and in one instant, she ripped the covers off Ricardo and asked…: “Are you Piere!?” – The reaction from Ricardo was priceless! I am sure that he thought the world had just gone under or that he were just absolutely bewildered to why in the world HE would be Piere??? That was how the morning began in Pamplona, with the experience and now… ongoing joke about:  Where Piere is?

Pamplona - Puente la Reina (First black dot after main green color)

Pamplona – Puente la Reina (First black dot after main green color)

The Stage in Profile – Day 4

Pamplona – Puente la Reina = 20km

Walking out the door to the dormitory I surprisingly stumbled into Daniela. She was in the room next to mine which I did not know, but began walking out of Pamplona together. We caught up with a bigger group, where Ricardo and Steffen also were among. Extraordinary landscape was before us, mountains 360´ and with pure green and yellow color fields. It was absolutely spectacular!

On the top of the hill some way from Pamplona was an important monument for pilgrims and on the way I gained a new companion and friend, Steffen from my mother land Denmark as we talked a lot and go to know each other well. Steffen was walking The Camino to uncover what he was meant to do for his life, he had been in the military before and as contradictory as it sounds, he hated walking, but he was very strong and had much endurance and speed, that was for sure!

Spot a Pilgrim!

Spot a Pilgrim!

 

The Entire Monument

The Entire Monument

The Association for Pilgrims in the Area of Navarra

The Association for Pilgrims in the Area of Navarra

We walked together the entire day and it was the beginning of a friendship. Obanos was one of the “main stage”- villages; a little oasis of a village although a typical one you pass many of on The Way, but much smaller than Pamplona.

You Began Loving the Sea Shell Symbols!

You Began Loving the Sea Shell Symbols!

The Shadow of my Danish Companion

The Shadow of my Danish Companion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This village also had it´s own pilgrim markings walking into Obanos. The 3-4km after Obanos were loooooong… but we arrived in Puente la Reina after a day filled with impeccable scenery, but also finishing with gingerly legs. We checked-in and got our new daily stamp.

Our Stamp in Puente la Reina

Our Stamp in Puente la Reina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the usual we took a stroll to find something to eat… and SO we did!

The Danish Boys out for Three Courses - and it was GOOOOOD!

The Danish Boys out for Three Courses – and it was GOOOOOD!

It is time for some pilgrim info: The prices to stay in the albergues ranges between 5 and 10 Euros and the albergue “municipals”, which are public pilgrim albergues, are the cheapest with more pilgrim atmosphere, a kitchen and is within the old tradition of The Camino – meaning not commercialized.

In the supermarkets the prices are generally on the good side and what seems to be unbelievably cheap in restaurants when you buy their pilgrim menu´s as Steffen and I did in picture above. A menu consist of 3 courses, a bottle of wine pr. person and bread. This was our first time, but shook our head constantly to how in the world this could go around for just 10 euros?!

In the evening, Ana from Brazil, Daniela, Ricardo, Steffen and I went out together. The gathering was real nice, we talked and got to know each other and to me it felt like, that a little group was about to develop.

That night I slept in two different places; in my top bunk and for about 3 hours in the bathroom. The bathroom??? – Yes, the guy underneath me snored so loud and was so drunk that his constant in and out of the room as well as furious intensity of snoring made me take the madras and sleep in the bathroom. “You gotta do what you gotta do!”

Puente la Reina - Estella (Right at the end of the Main Green Color)

Puente la Reina – Estella (Right at the end of the Main Green Color)

The Stage in Profile – Day 5

Puente la Reina – Estelle = 22,5km

I got enough sleep for another day of walking and Steffen, Ana and me were waiting on the others from the night before as we had agreed on starting together. But they did not show up and when I saw Justin from Seattle come around the corner towards us, I decided to begin walking with him. We crossed a beautiful bridge and walked on towards the first and only ascent on the day – short and steep it was.

Leaving Puente la Reina

Leaving Puente la Reina

Nice Sight!

Nice Sight!

 

A great view is always the satisfaction of reaching any peak. After the peak I walked alone the entire day and for some reason, my tempo was furious. I felt like my legs were on wheels and I literally rolled onwards and felt quite strong today  – the shin splints were not a hindrance at all.

The Picture Obviously Does This View Justice!

The Picture Obviously Does NOT do This View Justice!

You could get an additional stamp about midway and after that I literally took off in speed and in addition I just wanted to be by myself.

Two Hours I got to Cirauqui and Another Stamp

I got to Cirauqui and Another Stamp

A Little Before Cirauqui, a Marker of What was Left Today

A Little Before Cirauqui, a Marker of What was Left Today

The Ever Beautiful Landscape

The Ever Beautiful Landscape

Many Vineyards Were Beginning to Show up Along the Path!

Many Vineyards Were Beginning to Show up Along the Path

The landscape was a mix of many hills and vineyards. I was getting closer to Estelle fast and while I saw the two pilgrims in front of me, it seemed I was ahead of the “known” pack of people and here I entered the last village before Estelle; Villatuerta.

Catching up to Fellow Unknown Pilgrims

Catching up to Fellow Unknown Pilgrims

The Friendly and Good Looking Indicator

The Friendly and Good Looking Indicator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weclome to Villatuerta!

Weclome to Villatuerta!

 

 

Only 3,2km...? Yea, Right!

Only 3,2km…? Yea, Right!

Not too long after I passed the indicator of 3,2km, there was another one saying 2,4km but when you have walked for 3 days, you begin to know and/or feel how long it takes to walk one kilometer. It seemed like it kept going for so long!

I am sure it was way longer than what was marked – which also was one of the times where my mind began to play with me again and also where you learned that you CAN´T or should not put your trust in the distances indicated on signs or in the guidebook, that attachment is not worth the aggravation.

Finally I got to Estelle and a real nice valley-like village with a river and nice buildings – the villages in Spain are always really pretty, has a style and beauty that seems old yet quite welcoming and beautiful. I found the municipal albergue and checked-in.

Many Pilgrim Symbols of all Kinds

Many Pilgrim Symbols of all Kinds

FINALLY Estelle!

FINALLY Estelle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides washing some clothing in the shower (yep, it happens), doing some writing with a beer in the courtyard outside with Steffen and other familiar faces, it was today a group and community type of atmosphere began.

The Writer at Work

The Writer at Work & a Drink to Cool Down (Credit to Steffen for the Picture)

Ian from England, wanted to cook up a lot of food for people and so it went that Steffen, Ester from Holland, Ana and me helped him to make this happen. It was such a nice way to get to know people and be together in both making and sharing food. All initiated by Ian – a really great guy! He had been on The Camino 4 times now, so quite experienced.

Let the Dining Commence (Ian is in Black at the far end)

Let the Dining Commence (Ian is in Black at the far end)

After a nice and cheap meal,  social gathering, talking to people you knew and didn’t know, enjoyed wine and what I see as a really nice pilgrim experience when so many pilgrims were together was a special day for us all. The Camino had really begun now…! (Stamp from Estelle)

Another one in the Books

Another one in the Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another beautiful day was worth some shut-eye, so another one could be started…

Estella - Torres del Río

Estella – Torres del Río

The Stage in Profile – Day 6

Estelle – Torris del Rio = 29,5km

It was morning again and I had the pleasure to say “good morning” to the usual South Korean, that I for some reason met every morning for some days. The day began with Steffen, Ana and me walking out of Estelle and towards Torres del Rio and what would be the longest walk so far on The Camino.

Winery tap at the Edge of Estelle. (Not Recommended to Drink)

Winery tap at the Edge of Estelle. (Not Recommended to Drink)

The Urban Landscape Began

The Urban Landscape Began

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very long urban and deserted piece of land was passed throughout the day. It was quite a pleasure even it was hot as hell when it came to the sun!

Concession Stand in the Middle of Absolutely NO WHERE!

Concession Stand in the Middle of Absolutely NO WHERE!

After a Break it was Time to Walk on

After a Break it was Time to Walk

The Lovely Yellow Arrow - Showing The Way

The Lovely Yellow Arrow – Showing The Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The friendship being developed between Steffen, Ana, Ian and me was growing and as fate would have it, a fantastic beginning of the day eventually became one of the best evenings of the entire journey towards Santiago.

One of the Absolute BEST Pictures From The Camino (BIG Credit to Steffen)

One of the Absolute BEST Pictures From The Camino (BIG Credit to Steffen)

Beautiful and fantastic landscape shaped great conversation between Ana and me, as Steffen had walked ahead. It was great to be alive – great to be a pilgrim on The Camino!

Step by Step in the Burning sun

Step by Step in the Burning sun

Gotta Cover up!

Gotta Cover up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last main village before Torres del Rio was Los Arcos. It was after a long stretch we got there and toured the church as a little break. It was also where it easily could have been where you stopped, because another 8km was left before Torres del Rio. I was in front of Steffen and Ana as we passed the last albergue-option and a “lets go – we can do this” – made them change their mind and walk on “with me” as I walked ahead of them.

 

IMG_0517

I Almost Bowed in aww When Finally Arriving, PHEW......!

I Almost Bowed in aww When Finally Arriving, PHEW……!

 

 

 

 

 

Sansol, was the village just some hundred meters from Torres del Rio, which was in a valley and I can tell you, that I was VERY happy to stand in front of the sign going into Torres del Rio. My feet, left shin and everything in my body was absolutely smashed and I also had the visit of my first smaller blisters!

I went up the little hill and up to the albergue where I stopped. I did not know if Ian who had reached Los Arcos before us was already here, but I checked-in and then awaited many of the people I would grow quite close with over the next days and weeks. Steffen and Ana came after me, so did Ian and then we all went down to have a beer and kick back!

What joy it was!

What joy it was! (Credit to Steffen)

 

Spanish Beer!

Spanish Beer!

A Beautiful Afternoon - in the Shade...

A Beautiful Afternoon – in the Shade…

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fantastic place to sit because we would see all the pilgrims that came up that last hill and clap away as they had accomplished a long stage today! It was so much fun and mutually satisfying! The great atmosphere increased to a fantastic one and we took that to the restaurant nearby where we were about 30+ pilgrims.

Most of Became "The Family": (From Left) Ian, Daniela, Esther, Steffen, Chin, French Guy, Gemma, Patricia, Ana & Gideon

Most of What Became “The Family”: (From Left) Ian, Blond German, Daniela, Esther, Steffen, Chin, French Guy, Gemma, Patricia, Ana & Gideon

What a fantastic evening, with so much conversation, laughter and dining. It was a wonderful night to be alive and to be around so many happy and great people all on our way, on our own way, but together during it.

 

DSC01458

DSC01456

DSC01457

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spanish Herb Liquor Orujo was Shared by an Excited Spaniard

The Spanish Herb Liquor Orujo was Shared by an Excited Spaniard

Orujo!!! A VERY Nice Drink! :-)

Orujo!!! A VERY Nice Drink! 🙂

 

 

Torres del Rio Will not be Forgotten!

Torres del Rio Will not be Forgotten!

 

 

 

 

 

Many did not feel like going to sleep, but stayed outside the alberuge and talk… but eventually the long day today and another one to wake up to tomorrow was enough to make our way to the rooms, crawl inside your backpack and close your eyes once again in another place, in another bed.

Reflections & Insight of The Day 

“If you keep taking the steps towards where you want to go, you will get to the desired destination.”

I know that the above phrase can seem very obvious, but what kind of goals and dreams do you have for your life? How far are you willing to go, how much pain and hard work are you willing to put in, in every little step to reach the destination you are working towards?

Any dream or anything that is worth something extraordinary to yourself or the people in your life will have to be accomplished through hard work, pain and some suffering and walking The Camino is a beautiful and clear metaphor of this truth!

————————-

Next blog is coming up within a week to 10 days!

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In Hemingway´s Food Steps – (April 9th – Day 2 – Zubiri = 22km) & April 10th – Day 3 – Pamplona = 25,5km)

The Stage in Profile (day 2)

Roncesvalles - Zubiri

Roncesvalles – Zubiri (2nd to Last Black dot)

At 7.15am, I set out from Roncesvalles with Justin who I sat next to at dinner the night before. Justin had travelled a lot the previous months, had spend time in Asia and had a liking to Japan, where he had walked a 1400+ km pilgrimage called “The Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage”. We found some breakfast before heading on the road for a while. We caught up with Kristina who was walking with Daniela from Germany.

Not THAT far to go... :-)

Not THAT far to go… 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roncesvalles is in the Books!

Roncesvalles is in the Books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The terrain was flat, but descending consistently due to starting in 962m altitude, so it was a pleasure compared to yesterday – from now it was all going to be easier. Daniela and I began talking and we also seemed to have a slightly faster pace than Kristina and Justin. We also talked as steady as we walked. Daniela is an architect in Munich, she was easy to talk to and we got around an array of subjects. Daniela did not seem to have a clear reason to be here, when we got to the obligatory “why are you walking The Camino-question”, other than getting away from it all for a while.

Hemingway was famous in and around Pamplona and on the way there, his name among other things were encountered, like the billboard below.

Mr. Hemingway

Mr. Hemingway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was still early in the morning and the mix with altitude created thick fog, but the sun came and the views gradually became better and better as the fog was taken away. The landscape that we flowed through was small rivers and beautiful forest paths, where you at times could look out over valleys and see mountains in the horizon.

I love this quote from Christopher McCandless; “happiness is only real when shared”. I believe that ANYTHING is pretty much only real when shared and when walking with Daniela today, it was nice to share the beauty we saw – the joy simply grows because of it.

One of the Many Forests

One of the Many Forests

I Filled up my Water Bottle Here

I Filled up my Water Bottle Here

 

 

One Example of the Beautiful Landscape

One Example of the Beautiful Landscape

During today the joy in me increased, I was so grateful and happy that I was here, walking this historic path where millions had been before me. There was so many reminders, that all pilgrims were together in this from the pilgrims from 100s of years ago and the ones that had just passed you or were behind you. Things that had been written, rocks stacked by passing pilgrims on the indicator-posts and the consistent encounter with lonely graveyards from pilgrims who had passed away on their journey – it was special and the vibe was consistently there.

A Lovely Sign With Great Humor & Truth!

A Lovely Sign With Great Humor & Truth!

One of the Many Memorials on the Path

One of the Many Memorials on the Path

A little uphill climb through a forest began and I created some distance to Daniela. It was soon desired to have a break and a beautiful sight it was when a couple of tables and a concession stand on wheels was seen on the left across the road coming out of the forest. I put down my pack and on my right a tall guy with a purple cap said that if you bought something you could get a stamp that not many would get. We had “ The Camino-conversation starter” and Gary, from Minnesota answered, that he was here to simply prove that even though he was 67 he could do this!

He left fairly quickly – Buen Camino! – and just then,  Daniela came out of the woods. I did not want to sit for too long, but she wanted to relax, so I continued. In the back of my mind, I wanted to catch up to Gary and did. We began talking and it was easy and comfortable – he told me about his life as a veteran, his 10 years studying to receive two diplomas equivalent to two PhD’s and his 20+ years in the computer industry. He then came to a point, which became a key insight that would develop during my own Camino. He said: “The two most important things in life is the ability to change and adapt.” That stuck with me.

We kept the same pace, I liked the conversation and Gary´s kind and outgoing personality, and we helped each other get to Zubiri and stopped at the first and best albergue. After the usual and a shower, some writing and relaxation, I later joined dinner at another albergue, that had some familiar faces: Nick from Canada, Justin and Irene from the first day. A 5-course meal and an inspiring conversation with Irene, made it a great finish of the 2nd day. Irene was from Belgium and was very skilled in languages, had several degrees and had a very organic way at looking at life – impressing to say the least!

Stamp From Zubiri

Stamp From Zubiri

A great day on The Camino with sun and enjoyable conversations bonding with other pilgrims and familiar faces came to a close. Tomorrow awaited Pamplona, the aura of Hemingway and the San Fermin bull-run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections and Insight of The Day

I more than once expressed my happiness of being on The Road today. I at the same time thought about the rock I had with me, the one I carried on the left side of my strap on the backpack. The burden it resembled was like this rock, sitting in my stomach as a dense and heavy emotion of pain and suppression of myself. This stomach-stuff had been there for almost three years and another hope was that I could finally let it go on this ourney.

Insight of the Day: “Awareness of change and the ability to adapt to that change can lead to a natural mental flexibility and allow life to live you.”

– Thanks to Gary for the insight that I developed into the sentence above.

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The Stage in Profile (Day 3) – Zubiri – Pamplona = 25,5km (April 10th)

Zubiri - Pamplona

Zubiri – Pamplona

I left Zubiri 6.30 in the darkness with the goal in mind to arrive in Pamplona early to experience the place. I wanted to check out where they do the bull-run and get a feel for this guy Hemingway. There is nothing like walking in the darkness and gradually see the landscape as the sun rises – that is worth waking up to!

Today I had a little over 25km and I walked it alone. I had a steady pace and I did not have much more in mind than to get to Pamplona. I also had Casa Paderborn in the back of my mind – the albergue Claus had told me about. The day was enjoyed by listening to some tunes early on, enjoying the ever beautiful scenery while the sun came up, but today some unpleasant came along also. My left shin began to hurt and be quite uncomfortable – shin splints had developed. Due to my slight crooked pelvis, I believed it had to be the reason why. Because of this my right leg is just a tiny bit shorter than my left, which means that the left carries more weight. I had thought about that it could be a possible problem prior to starting The Camino and now it was here. All I could do was massage it on my more frequent breaks and that helped a bit.

Iruna is Basque for Pamplona

Iruna is Basque for Pamplona

I was getting closer to Pamplona or Iruña as the name is in Basque… and through the shin-splint aggravation I learned something, that was of value later on the pilgrimage. I found out: 1. You can´t be sure that the village you see in the horizon is the one you will end up in. 2nd when you walk into a bigger city the walk for a pilgrim can be VERY long, due to the distance all the way to the middle of the city as well as the hard pavement. A mix of it all and getting close to 20 km of walking plays with your mind a bit.

I saw a larger village out on the right of the plateau I was on and assumed it was Pamplona. It wasn’t and first I got to a bridge and the village that was Puente de la Magdalena, but thought I must be close now. The picture below is the bridge I crossed into this village, a beautiful place for another break.

Looking Back at the Bridge Entering Puenta de la Magdalena

Looking Back at the Bridge Entering Puenta de la Magdalena

The Beautiful Avenue in Puenta de la Magdalena

The Beautiful Avenue in Puenta de la Magdalena

After my first Spanish pastry I got to a real nice avenue with pink leaved trees as far as the eye could see. The yellow arrows and sea shells that indicate if you were walking the right way is all over the route and many of the cities you enter have made their own unique symbol for pilgrims to follow. All the way down the avenue and the streets towards Pamplona were metal plates with engraved symbols bolted into the side walk for 2-3 km.

The Foot Path Towards Pamplona

The Foot Path Towards Pamplona

When you see This Kind of Symbol you are on Track

When you see This Kind of Symbol you are on Track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally Pamplona was near, the city sign welcomed me and I was happy to be close now and it was time for me not to have a back pack on anymore and take the pressure of my left shin. It was now about finding the albergue Casa Paderborn Claus had told me about. He had written in my note book, that I had to cross the river Rio Arga over Magdalena Bridge and the go left.  I did and saw that there was an albergue just a few hundred meters left, right in front of Pamplona´s walls.

Finally, I was in Pamplona - woohooo!!!

Finally, I was in Pamplona – woohooo!!!

I was not sure about if this was the one, but was done walking for the day and wanted rest. I got to the albergue and right when I got there, I saw Claus walking towards me – what a nice surprise that was and obviously it was here!
The albergue first opened at 1pm and I had arrived just around 12.30. It was nice to sit down and when I got a top bunk, it was a quick shower, put my feet up to relax and write.

Stamp of the day - Pamplona in the Books!

Stamp of the day – Pamplona in the Books!

Here, I met the first fellow Danish viking Steffen, who would become an important person on my trip. He had started a day later than me, but had walked 50km today, tough dude! – he even did it with a 60+ year old man, what does that tell you!? :-O

After a couple of hours of rest, I was ready to discover Pamplona and walked around the castle like exterior, as that was what it was back in the day. Pamplona was inside the walls here and quite a nice place with small streets joining each other in a spaghetti like fashion.

Pamplona´s Town Hall

Pamplona´s Town Hall

When entering I wanted to find where they run with the bulls and walk the distance, the courage’s runners and angry bulls run after.

This is Where the Bull-run Begins

This is Where the Bull-run Begins

 

Encierro is the Actual Name for the Bull-run

Encierro is the Actual Name for the Bull-run

“Moments before the start, the runners sing to San Fermin three times to ask for his blessing and protection.”

San Fermin is a week long festival and the bull-run is happening one time every day for that week. The runners prepares all year by running, getting in shape and so on for this. Can you imagine running in front of at least 10 bulls???

I get seriously scared just by imagining that it is me… phew!!

 

 

 

I walked and took in this beautiful town, which it was, with its big square in the middle and further on seeing one of the more spectacular sculptures I have ever seen! – and in addtion, there was a special occasion happening, that made me step up to the plate and take my first and only ever bull-run – YIKES!!!!!!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

Fortunately, it was just to have some fun and Irene who I met at the square was my great photographer! But check out the sculpture below – marvelous work!

Encierro

Encierro

Encierro

 

I met Irene earlier as I was walking the streets, she had a bite to eat with Kristina, who were both having some problems with their long extremities. I joined them and agreed to meet up with them tonight at the square with some of the other pilgrims.

This was also here, that I saw Gary again and befriended a lot of new pilgrim-faces and we had some pincho´s and wine at customary Spanish tapas bar. It was a fun evening, a lot of great conversation, laughs and enjoyment of being where we all were.

Delicious it was!

Delicious it was!

 

After our pinchos, Gary and me was going to hunt down some ice cream and we were successful and enjoyed it at the square with Kristina and Irene.

Irene, Gary, Kristina & the Bull Runner

Irene, Gary, Kristina & the Bull Runner

 

The only thing, that I had yet to experience in Pamplona was to be in the “Hemingway-cafe” where there is a statue of him. It was only open on the weekends, so Pamplona will be on the radar again sometime.

 

 

Another fantastic day was about to end, and I had to be a little quick because the albergue would close at 10.30. I made it just in time and I was back when all were a sleep and quietly got ready for bed and rest up for tomorrow…

Ahhh… the life of a pilgrim…

Quote of the day: “The Spartans got their shield, the Samurais their sword and pilgrims, they got their backpack.”  

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So it begins… and up up up it goes – Buen Camino! (April 8th – Day 1 – Roncesvalles = 24,9km)

The Stage in Profile:

SJPdP - Roncesvalles

SJPdP – Roncesvalles

(The black dots are albergues for pilgrims)

I could not sleep any longer, a few choking motors from South Korea around the room of 16 occupied bunk beds made for a loud night. Especially the big guy who had the bunk on top of mine; sometimes it was like the entire bunk was about to tip over by the heavy turns he made throughout the night, as well as the intense snoring that made me shake the bunk up once in a while, to see if the explosions that came through his nose could stop for just a few minutes – man…!

I packed my backpack and went outside to find the last and perhaps most significant item for the voyage – a rock. A rock, you ask?? Yes, one of those small hard ones that hurt if someone hits you with it, and can be quite heavy if it is big enough. I found one and put it in one of the small stash pockets on the left strap of my backpack – the rock is to resemble a burden. My experience with it will be revealed later during the pilgrimage, so be patient and accept that it takes its time to walk some hundred kilometers before some answers arrive, alright? 😉

The weather was a little brisk, it was drizzling and still dark a little before 7 am. Kristina from California, asked me if I wanted to start walking? She had just been a volunteer in Madagascar for a year – one of those people who also had traveled the world thin. Yesterday, when I had made my departure with the German man Claus from the bus, I saw him go out the door and left from the pilgrim office. I was going to head the same way, as I did not see him after that. Fortunately, Kristina knew the correct way and it was to the right.

Ready and set to go!

Ready and set to go!

Nevertheless…  it all finally began. The first steps were being taken on The Camino and we walked across the bridge, where yesterday’s pictures of the river was taken and continued out the darkness of Saint Jean Pied de Port and onwards towards the mountain Col de Lepoeder (1437m) and Roncesvalles.
The drizzling was pretty much rain and I had to take out my poncho with only having walked 2 km and cover myself and my backpack up – grateful for that last purchase back home at that moment – phew!!

I had a faster pace than Kristina and got ahead of her. The darkness gave way for the light gradually as the walking had taken us on to the smaller country roads and so did the ascent to Col de Lepoeder. The weather did not improve, it was consistently wet, but was in a great mood and I liked going upwards and felt I was in pretty good shape.

A Camino Indicator

A Camino Indicator

I passed a group of South Koreans, and sarcastically asked them if they had regretted starting this, due to being in the midst of the cool, windy and wet weather? – They just smiled with a declination to the question and I continued. The first albergue was passed after just 6km, but obviously it was not in the cards to stop here.

A little later I met a girl with a huge red backpack. I never got her name, but she was from Germany and standing in doubt about where to go as there was a path going right and one straight on. I believed it was the one straight on, that was correct and she followed me as I passed her.

A Good Visual of the Weather Conditions

A Good Visual of the Blurry Weather Conditions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bar showed up on the right, and here I met David from Michigan, who was walking The Camino to spend time with God and to prepare for the transition from medical school to becoming a doctor. He was graduating when he would return. We were joined by Leo from France, and we continued and got familiar with each other.

Leo had been on The Camino before with a group of friends, but they had walked way too long every day and he damaged his feet and legs so much that he did many of the last kilometers on that trip on crutches! He did have to give up… so this time he was here to finish The Way and do it right, but he only had 26 days to do it! Divide that by 800 and you have his daily cup of kilometers – wow, tough fella indeed!

It was around this time it began to get colder. The wind seemed to pick up and be a little more frisky with still nothing to see because of the fog and… it still rained. It was not the most fun of places to be, but felt my legs were strong and my green pilgrim´s mentality was being tested.

We continued from the asphalt road on to a dirt road to the right, passing a grave of a pilgrim, which there were a few of today. A longer muddy passage, that also had some forest in it lead us to our first break in a little concrete shed. Leo and me were walking together and we shared some of our provisions, before we walked on towards the peak.

We crossed it and began descending into forest terrain and here we encountered what Carroll from Bayonne had mentioned about snow. We began to walk around in about one feet of snow for a little while -I could easily see how you could either get lost or die up here if the wind picked up, and why it also had happened. The further down we got, the path dried up gradually and not too long after the sun came through and what a delight that was. The poncho dried and having crossed a mountain made for great satisfaction!

And down we go...

And down we go…

Leo had walked faster than me downwards, and he was out of sight, but I caught up with a German guy who´s name I don’t remember. He lived in Mallorca, where he had a construction company. We had a nice chat and walked together until reaching Roncesvalles.

This was the main stop the first day for the majority, but the German wanted to continue. We had our first 3-course pilgrim menu together at the restaurant near the albergue shortly after arrival at 1 pm, before he walked on. I checked in at the albergue after, and found a top bunk in a small section of 2´s, on a hall way that had about 10 sections all the way down plus the other side and this place had 4 or 5 additional levels – a big place for pilgrims.

The First two Stamps - on the Left SJPdP & Right Roncesvalles

The First two Stamps – on the Left SJPdP & Right Roncesvalles

Checking the backpack if anything was wet, hanging the wet stuff I had on and after taking a shower, some rest was needed. I spend that on some reading in the guide book as well as some writing and a nap. Next up was dinner, where I joined a round table and sat next to Kristina from earlier in the day and befriended Irene from Belgium and  Justin from Seattle. Great conversation all across the table, that included people from the US, Ireland, Australia and others, all sharing how the day had gone and much more.

Do you Remember This From the Movie The Way?

Do you Remember This From the Movie The Way?

Besides the journey of walking itself, what increases the magic and “specialness” of it is the bonding with fellow pilgrims. There is nothing like it – everyone here is equal and it is known in some untold way. There is natural desire to share one self with the others and listen to why everyone was here and so on… you get to know other people well very fast, because of the equilibrium that we all share and therefore don’t have any personal barriers up.

A nice time we all had this first evening – and satisfying to eat and look back at the accomplishment today, because it was indeed a tough nut to crack first this first day! Not long after we went back. It was only around 8.30-9, but it is late for a pilgrim and after 25km of walking it was time to get some needed sleep before another day of walking began.

It took some time to fall a sleep due to my nap earlier, but no matter if I slept or not, I was happy about where I was and looked forward to what had yet to show up.

Reflections & Insight of the day

Throughout the time before and during the first hours of being a pilgrim on The Camino, I felt I was exactly where I was supposed to be! For the first time in almost 3 years, I was  content with what I was doing and why. So why was I walking The Way?

When people asked me that question, I answered that I saw this journey as a bridge between all the negative, depressing and destructive things that I wanted to leave behind and literally walk towards a new and better life.

Insight of the day: “If we don’t follow our own pace and path, we will end up where everyone else are going.”

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Next blog is coming up within a week to 10 days!

Please SIGN UP up to my newsletter Here! – To follow the blogging of The Camino experience and get the blogs immediately after I post it!

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