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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Zibiri to Pamploma!

We were psyched to get going on this 26.5 km stretch,  which would take us to one of the most historic cities in Spain,  and also one of the oldest and prettiest! It is also known for the running of the bulls!

My feet were a little sore this morning and I had to wrap a blister that had formed,  but other than that we were good to go after a good night's sleep in our private Albergie!  We had enjoyed a wonderful evening, and met some interesting French, Dutch and American folk.  I had learned some new words in Spanish and used some of my rusty French!  We teamed up with a friend from Arizona called Jean who was walking on his own, and started our day in sunshine and cool, crisp,  mountain air.  On the way we encountered fragrant Lilac trees, cows and horses in pastures, and on the last stretch some road walking which was not too great for the blisters!  I was envious that my buddy Nic had no foot problems,  although her hips had given her a little problem the day before on the descent.

On entering Arre we stopped for a cafe con leche and rested our weary feet before making the last 7 kms into Pamplona.  We had plans to stay at a German Albergie,  but to our dismay it was fully booked,  and after a detour we made our way up to the fortress where the old section of Pamplona beckoned the weary travelers.  Finally at 4 pm we found the municipal Albergie where we could rest amidst what seemed to be hundreds of other pilgrims!  Note to self "Do not stay in such large municipal Albergies!"  Twenty six kilometers of walking had us extremely hungry.  We settled for a walk around the beautiful town resplendent with neo-classical architecture, and then a Cerveza and pilgrim menu to restore some sanity!

Lovely paved roads winding down into the city!

Only 13 more Kms to the outskirts of Pamplona or Arre!

Beautiful homes along the way!

Still chilly but sunny!  A most perfect day to walk!

Pit stop for Pizza or Tapanade!

Pilgrim Jean from Arizona.

Rolling green hills everywhere!

Outskirts of Pamplona entering Arre.

Praying for a cafe con leche!

The Palacio Uranga in Burlada, possibly with some design influence by the Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudí.

Town hall and plaza!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Camino in 2 weeks!

After a glorious two weeks in northern Spain walking parts of the Camino De Santiago,  I am home resting my weary feet,  and appreciating my comfortable bed and family.  It was hard leaving beautiful Spain and the memories created with my friend Nic, but I hope these images will tell their own story, one shared by many other pilgrims who complete the 850 km pilgrimage, from the Pyrenees in France to the coastline of Spain.  This trip was something I had wanted to do ever since turning 50, and although I did not have enough time to complete all 850 km's, the blessings and spiritual journey along the way were profound!  Please note I used my iPhone 5 camera,  so the pictures were not perfect, but it sure came in handy for internet, and easy access along the way. 

The immense beauty of mountains, rivers, villages, churches and community along the way, builds to an intensity at the end point of Compostela de Santiago, where all pilgrims complete their journey and receive their certificate if they have walked the official last 100 kms.  Pilgrims from all over the world then attend mass in the stunning cathedral/basilica in Compostela, and if they are lucky will experience the spiritual blessing of the Botaparfumerie

Our journey began in Vancouver via London, Barcelona, and then on to Roncesvalles in the foothills of the Pyrenees.    Neither my buddy Nic nor myself had done any hard training for this walk, but we did meet once a week for a longer walk to get our legs and backs stronger whilst carrying a backpack.  We had no idea that we had packed too much for our journey,  and discovered all too quickly that walking with over 20 pounds was way too much!  As you can see in the beginning we had huge backpacks! 

Arriving in Barcelona we were overwhelmed at the beautiful architecture,  and radial symmetry in the city which seemed to ensconce old and new in a wonderful sublime reality.  Community thrives at the heart of each city, town and village,  as cars are rejected for pedestrian walkways and plazas,  and families meet to drink cafe con leche, and catch up on the day's events.

After a day's sightseeing we caught the train to Pamplona, and met our first pilgrims en route to Roncesvalles by taxi.  We were so excited to get started,  but there was a lot to take in in the small town and monastery of Roncesvallez.  We were to experience our first Alberghie, our first mass in the cathedral,  and enjoy hospitality in the first pilgrim restaurant along the way.  Our first night I was transported back to my youth with hostels, sharing bunk beds, and friendship with strangers, all unified by a common cause- a pilgrimage across Spain started by the apostle Mark from the Bible.

 I would become immune to sleep deprivation, weary limbs, and outdoor temperatures as the way beckoned me to explore deep within.  At that first mass I experienced God saying being still and take in all that you observe, including the blessings,  and you will start to understand your Camino.  The next morning I learned my first lesson about being observant, when I fell straight from the patio onto the ground before I even started my walk.  Nic and I both had a good laugh at my splattered body on the ground and then it was onwards to start our trail.  We were to look for the yellow Jacobian
signs that would become our beacons to lead us along the way. 

Pilgrim signs.
Arriving in Zubiri that first day our bodies were exhausted,  and our backs sore as we contemplated how to lose that extra weight.  Out went any incidentals like makeup, ablutions, spare clothing,

and finally we could walk without strain.  Vanity and extra clothes were not required on the way.  I would live in two sets of clothing and enjoy the simplicity.  The Leki poles really came in handy for stabilizing our weight.

The natural and man made beauty of old Roman bridges, churches, cobbled roads and pilgrim sights including the comedic Stop sign kept us motivated as we examined the reasons we were doing this trip.  I was hoping to hear stories and see some of the blessings I had read about in Paul Coelho's book  The Pilgrimage,  and in the movie The Way.  I knew this was a lot to ask when only doing a small section of the trail.  Yet we were already hearing encouraging and moving stories from other pilgrims, as we sat around the communal tables at dinner, and enjoyed our pilgrim menu.  I was meeting people from all over the world, and loving the camaraderie so quickly established.  It did not matter which denomination you represented.   Everyone was identified by their pilgrim shell and common goal; to reach Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St James were buried in the Basilica

Zubiri to Pamplona will be shared next week.  Thanks for reading my journey.  God bless you!