June 15, 2015
I arrived back in Canada on June 8th and I wish to thank everyone for their encouragement and support of my adventure and your generous donations to the Dorset Health Hub! Thanks everyone.
Hi everyone, I arrived yesterday at Santiago de Compostela and have officially been recorded as a pilgrim walker along the St James Way. Tonight is the mass/ceremony at the Cathedral at which hundreds of walkers/bikers will attend at 7:30 pm. There's feelings of pride and accomplishment which I'm sure everyone feels along with a certain sadness that we now go our separate ways from a month of common goals and friendship. I expect to hear from some of my friends who may chose to visit Canada next year and I'll gladly provide a some good Canadian hospitality.
I still have 8 days before leaving for France and home so I plan to continue walking to Fisterra (ancient belief as the end of the earth) at the Atlantic ocean. That walk is 90-100 km and will probably end with a bus ride back to Santiago where I fly to Paris on June 7th.
The last few days continued to be fantastic with both the sights and walking conditions through many more ancient villages plus beautiful Galecian countryside. The last 100 km from Sarria to Santiago was much busier with pilgrims because many start from there to still receive official status. New folks to meet and chat along the way added to the enjoyment however made the albergue accommodations somewhat more interesting.
Now this chapter closes with an ancient ceremony of swinging the 'Thurible' (a huge incense filled container) high within the Cathedral which historically was used to defuse the odour of pilgrims. This magnificent building was created between 1166 and 1188 and believed to be where the apostle St James is buried.
So the next chapter for me begins Sunday with another trek but meanwhile I'm enjoying this beautiful city called Santiago filled with art, history and culinary culture. I hope the folks back home are providing good support to the Health Hub and thanks for letting me participate! I truly appreciate all the donations in support of the Health Hub.
I'm staying here in beautiful Leon Spain for a full day before resuming my walk toward Santiago. There's 200 miles ahead and each day brings new people, adventure and stunning scenery along the way. It feels good to take this break today and visit some of the history and architecture of Leon built originally as a Roman military garrison city. Part of the walk leading to here was along an original Roman road built 20 centuries ago. It's impossible not to be in awe of the human history found throughout this part of the world. A few days ago I walked through a town named Atapuerca (pop 200). The caves of that area were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000 after finding the earliest human remains ever discovered in Europe dating back over 900,000 years. Other cities and towns like Burgos have revealed some of the most beautiful cathederals in Spain dating back to the 13th century.
The spring flowers growing along this walking route have been another source of pleasure. Red poppy's mixed with other wild flowers of yellow, purple, white etc. contrast against miles of green fields growing wheat, barley and other grains. Most days have been blue skies while walking into a fairly strong and cooling west wind. One of the key items while walking is hydration so I've continually refilled my two water bottles in each town which generously have fountains within their central plaza areas for this purpose.
Despite my lack of local language skills I've managed discover that 'cafe con leche' gets me the coffee I like but more importantly, red wine 'vino tinto' is served anytime of the day (even breakfast), and it tastes delicious and is cheaper by the glass than the cup of coffee! Although my pace has been ahead of schedule so far largely due to the amazing weather, the remaining days ahead may become more shaded in red from the glass at my table! Just kidding but it's fun to imagine .....
I'm impressed with how many other hikers have multilingual skills of varying degrees. It certainly allows for interesting chats such as the girl I spoke to yesterday from Hungary. She also spoke english, spanish and some german and was basically an unemployed (career paused) intelligent person discovering this new experience while deciding what to do next. Her current passion is to start a bakery business back home or somewhere else. It's exciting to hear some of the ideas along the way.
Tomorrow I head toward Mazarife which is approx 23 km and this 'hotel' layover day will be a fond memory ...... buenos diaz and adios!
I'm relaxing for the evening in Fromista, Spain. I'm in an Auberge named Estrella del Camino which costs 9 euros plus 10 euros for dinner. Average prices for bed and dinner so far have been 15-20 euros which is very reasonable considering that dinner is typically 3 courses and quite satisfying. The walk today started in Hornellos around 6:15 am ending here 31+ km later. Two days ago I took my first hotel which was in Burgos, a city with a beautiful, ancient cathedral from 800-900 years ago. I'll try to send a photo to show the magnificence.
So far I've seen lot's of running water in streams, rivers, viaducts and canals but nothing like to launch like boats/canoes etc. so I'm somewhat concerned how I'll be launching my canoe here so we'll see!
Probably one of the most impressive things so far with this journey across Spain is meeting different people on the same mission from everywhere in the world. Last night at dinner was England/Brazil and me (Canada) but Germany, Lithowania, Australia, USA, France, Korea, Hungary etc. were also in the room. I'm very impressed with the countryside, culture and uniqueness of this place so far and am especially proud to be Canadian because it seems to hold a unique status in other people's minds as a premier Country.
My next hotel stop will probably be in Leon in a few days and I'll close this update by again saying what I hear daily; "Buen Camino", "buenos diaz", and "ola" ....
Well it was a week ago today when I started this walk and today I've landed in Viloria de la Roija, (pop 70) and about 200 km into my walk. The Alberge Parada Viloria costs 5 euros and offers everything else including dinner for only a donation (including the beer) ....... I'm in heaven! The walk has been almost indescribable with the beauty of the countryside but it is also a variable terrain much like Haliburton where your either going uphill or down but seldom level. Agriculture is everywhere with wheat fields and huge Roija wine fields and olive and almond trees plus canola and other plantings. Each day so far I've averaged 20-30 km in mostly sunny weather. The folks along the walk have become familiar now that we've walked so many days together and dinners are mostly with friends as a result. My plans each day have been open to deciding where and when to stop so today I chose this spot because only one other pilgrim, from France was here when I arrived around 2:30. I start my days between 6-7 am so it feels time to stop in the 'siesta' time of the day when it's hot. Tomorrow I hope to reach St. Juan de Ortega which is about 30k further and another 300 metres of elevation.
Hope the folks at home are having some good prebug weather in Dorset and construction at the Health Hub is progressing.
Have arrived at Logrono - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logro%C3%B1o around 1:30 pm today and am staying at the municipal Auberge which has approx 60 beds. Some other familiar faces have also arrived and the walk was good but getting hotter as the sun broke through clouds around 11:00 am so am glad to be stopped. The feet are doing well but feeling tender so sandals are appreciated. The walk today passed along vineyards, olive and almond groves and fields of beautiful flowers.
Last night was in an Auberge (Augerge Maralotx) in Zariquiegui - I had a good Pilgrim dinner at a nearby restaurant with some nice wine! Today was a long day - walked about 35 KM to Los Arcos http://www.fernandezdearcaya.com/LosArcos/index_en.html I'm staying at Auberge Austria - small place . Tomorrow I plan to go to Logroño which is about 27.9 KM. -
Have now completed 138 KM of the 800 KM.
Have now arrived in Larasoanna Spain, a small town in Basque country with lots of other walkers from many countries. This is about 50-60 km into the walk and so far finding level ground has been a challenge. Day one was crossing the Pyrennes from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Roncessvale Spain. Lucky to avoid rain but the wind was unbelievably strong. One gal was blown off her feet as she tried to walk. We hiked high enough to find snow drifts along the route and finally decended into Roncessvale after seven hours climbing. Many people (hundreds) from around the world are hiking with me and the conversations are interesting. Everyone feels a common sense challenge and friendship. Many of the trails are muddy as result of recent rains but the beauty of the towns and countryside is fantastic. Tomorrow should see me in Pamplona (famous for the running of the bulls) and then into the flatter lands known as the Mesa. Accomodations in Alberges has been impressive and my first pilgrim dinner is on for tonight!
St Jean Pied de Port is a lovely town on the French boarder at the start of my Camino walk. I arrived here at about 4 pm after leaving Toronto at 6 pm the day before so I'm laying over for a day to catch up on some rest and ready myself for the walk. There are lots of hikers around and I've already met a few who were travelling here from France, Germany, Canada and the US. Already you can feel a sense of togetherness as we all prepare for the challenging days ahead.
The weather is warm with showers today but calling for mostly good weather for the next few days. Tomorrow starts the climb over the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles in Spain. Need a good nights sleep tonight!
As you may know one of my objectives is to raise money for the Dorset Community Health Hub - if you wish to support me in this you can pledge in support of the new Dorset Health Hub facility which is currently under construction on the main street in Dorset.
Please send your donation to: The Dorset Community Partnership Fund, PO Box 41, Dorset, P0A 1E0 (tax receipts are available for $20 or more). Remember to mark “Camino Walk” and they’ll credit my efforts in Spain. Alternately you can go to their website and donate at dorsetcanada.com. Go to their “ Events” option and “ donate”. Follow the drop down menu to select Camino.