Joined July 2021 Message
  • Day5

    Time for Guadi!

    May 11 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Today was our Gaudi Tour day. We got off to a late start though because there were no taxis to be had. Apparently the local Catalan Parliament was meeting today and government business mint that all the taxis were used for the parliament members. We finally ended up taking a city bus to Park Guell and the ride was actually quite nice. Just outside the park we met Lupe who was our guide for the day.

    The park was actually a real estate venture that really never went anywhere except for a couple of buildings that Gaudi designed and the overall Park layout. And now it makes for a wonderful place to escape the city but definitely you don't escape the crowds. Gaudi loved nature and all of his design is to create a place for nature to surround us in our built environment.

    From the park within took taxis to go to the Sagrada Familia. This church was the highlight of my trip to Barcelona. I went there in 1980 and so much has changed . There was not even a roof back then. The big push to complete the church really started in the late 80s and it was also when the architects in charge of the work changed over to using concrete instead of individual Stones which is how the church was being constructed up until that time. There's a lot of stone work inside the church now but is now only Stone facing over a poured concrete structure. The overall architecture and color and light is Gaudi's. But much of the sculpture especially the newer sculpture departs from Gaudi's original intent but then again because churches like this take so long to build I expect that he thought that that would happen.

    One of the interesting things that Lupe pointed out was that when Gaudi built or rather started building the Sagrada Familia he actually built the walls of one of the transepts to their full height. And this is what I remember seeing plus some of the apse. A transept is part of the church if you think of it as a cross that is the horizontal part. And the apse is the part around the altar at the top. Most big churches are built from the ground up all around and if that was done at the Sagrada Familia the church easily could have changed from Gaud's original design intent, much like Saint Peter's did in Rome. What Gaudi really did is he forced everybody's hand by building the transept walls because the main nave had to be higher so he got his church, and thankfully the Architects of the work kept very close to his design intent for the rest of the church but they were almost forced to do so.
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  • Day4

    On to Barcelona!

    May 10 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We had a little time before our train to Barcelona. We decided first to go back to Cafe San Gines and get breakfast.

    Then we went to see the Center of Spain. Its in a plaza and there is a marker for it. But unfortunately the plaza was under renovation and the marker was removed. But we did get to see the bear statue which was a little fun. Then it was on to the train station, Puerta de Atocha, by cab. The train was one of the new high speed trains in Spain. After we arrived in Barcelona we walked around a little bit on the Ramblas and explored some of the gothic quarter near our hotel.Read more

  • Day3

    Palace Prado Tapas

    May 9 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Today was our guided tour of the Palace and the Prado Museum. We has a great guide named Amanda who was an Art History Major. No photos allowed for most of this tour.

    The Palace had been rebuilt after a major fire in the 18th century. It was big and impressive. The Prado is impressive and Amanda highlighted the most important paintings in the collection for us.

    After lunch atthe museum we took a bus ride and got off near the Plaza Major and had some refreshments and then some Tapas. From there it was a short walk to get some ice cream on the way back to the apartmentment.
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  • Day2

    Day 2: Toledo!

    May 8 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Toledo day today.

    First off, I walked Katie to get her cab to take her to the airport. Our apartment is on a pedestrian street so the nearest place to get an Uber is about 2 blocks away.

    Then we took a tour to Toledo. It was a 45 minute bus ride. We had a lovely guide but could barley hear her so we took off on our own. Had a great meal first and explored the city. We saw a lovely old synagogue with moorish architecture and the cathedral and just wandered the streets.Read more

  • Day1

    Madrid Day 1

    May 7 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Katie and I arrived at the Puerta de Atocha on time and took a taxu to the apartment to meet up with Sharon.

    A busy day in Madrid we had got chocolate and churros! So good: the chocolate was nice and thick for dipping

    And the n a flamenco show with dinner with tapas.
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  • Day6

    Waterfalls and pintxos

    May 6 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Well our walk is done for now. We finally made it back to Pamplona. If I ever do this stretch of the Camino again I will think strongly on making Pamplona a rest day. Our stay in Zubiri was wonderful at Casa Rural Txantxorena. We went left town crossing over the"magic" bridge. And followed the trail mostly down hill to Pamplona.

    We stopped at a midieval chapel being renovated at La Abadia and talked with the head of the project. Then, we made our way thru the final towns and past a waterfall to Pamplona. The last 10k we walked was along the Arga River. Through a nice and quiet river park. Then a stranger stopped us and gave us a blessing before we crossed the river and walked up through the city walls where we got our final selo (stamp) at the cathedral. If I want to get a compostella I will need to I will need to start back up in Pamplona and get another selo there.

    We ran into our walking friends Mary, Terra, and Sharon, and taxi share friends Mandy and Maria at the main square and had dinner (pintxos not tapas) and said our goodbyes.
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  • Day5

    Cows, Coffee, and a Magic Bridge

    May 5 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Today's walk started with a pleasant walk from Rocesvalles through the neighboring towns. We passed lots of farms. And caught up with a couple (Mary and Declan) that we have been walking with off and on so we decided to stop for a cup of coffee for me and Katie and their breakfast in Burgette. Burgette's claim to fame is it's where Hemingway stayed and part of The Sun Also Rises is set there.

    We also met Silvio, a retiree from Milan. He had quite the tale to tell about his encounter with the Bomberos, the Spanish mountain rescue squad.

    People walking the whole 800 k are predominantly retirees, like Mary, Declan and Silvio. The next biggest group is college aged people.

    We caught up with a few friends for lunch, Mary, Sharon and Terra and we were searching for a restaurant that served a camelized onion omlette (tortilla). We found the restaurant, but they were out of that tortilla, but the others that we had were great!

    After lunch the trail went up some steep sections and then down a steep washed out decent into Zubiri, where we crossed the Magic Bridge. Legend has it that in medieval times people believed that if their cow had rabies then if they took the cow cross the bridge three times it would magically get cured.
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    I believe it’s a cardoon, a close relative to the artichoke. [Terra]


    So fun! [Terra]


    You are so welcome. [Terra]

  • Day4

    Lots of up and the down

    May 4 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Today's walk was from Orisson to Roncesvalles. We were the last ones out of Orisson. And headed up the road and up the mountain to the pass.

    Speaking of the mountain pass we saw both the French and Spanish rescue services doing training runs over the pass with off road vehicles.

    Lots of pilgrims and we were passed by many people coming out of SJPDP. I expected that since I do walk slow! But I get there!

    Poor Katie had to slow down for me on the up hills but I could keep up with her on the down hills. We met a few new people walking including a mother and daughter from Zimbabwe. It was so foggy people actually told us they missed the marker for where the Camino leave the road and it's just a few feet from the road. Check my pictures, you'll see how close it is.

    The up today was long and steady and the down was short and steep. It'll be down hill most of the way for the next two days.

    The Hotel Roncesvalles has a great restaurant and for a price fixed menu you get a whole bottle of wine EACH! We texted our Camino friends and finished the bottles in the bar. Earlier I was trying to teach Declan how to use walking poles because of his bad knees and it did not take, but we had a few laughs after dinner about that.
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  • Day3

    Uphills and new peoples

    May 3 in France ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    We were walking only 5 miles today ( 8 kilometers). The man at the Pilgrims office told us it was a 3 hour walk to Orisson, so we decided for a late start. After finding breakfast at a cafe in town we were on way at 10. Katie was real nice she stopped and waited for me many times. She had to, because much of the way was really steep with lots of switch backs. After an hour we had made it 3k with over 6000 steps. The hill was steep! For me and around town or in local parks 6000 steps is just under three miles. It took me a while with my sleep deprived brain (did I mention I barely slept last night?) to figure out that with all the steep hills I was taking shorter steps.

    We met a lot of nice people from (in no particular order) Ireland, Germany, Italy, Iowa, California, North Carolina, and even Connecticut.

    Anyway after a bit of struggle for me, we made it to Orisson in the 3 hours. We had no internet. I think the owners believe in the old adage about pretending it's the 1960's and put your phones down and talk to people. After a lovely afternoon on the terrace we had a tasty communal dinner. And I ordered lunch for tomorrow, because there's nothing between here and Roncesvalles (17k) our next stop, if the food truck doesn't show up.
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  • Day2

    Peacocks,Taxis, Wine and Sausages

    May 2 in France ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Today was another travel day from Pamplona to St Jean pied de Port (SJPDP). Mandy and Maria's ( the Australians) train arrived at 1:30, so we spent the morning exploring Pamplona. The highlight of the morning was visiting the animal garden. They have quite the assortment of birds including peacocks, as well as deer and a whole bunch of teenagers racing around doing some sort of scavenger hunt. As a matter of fact the deer were very interested in the scavenger hunt.

    We met Mandy and Maria on time and our taxi came on time as well, but it was a tiny Toyota Prius for the four of us with our big backpacks and Mandy and Maria also had suitcases because they were meeting their husbands after they walked the Camino and they were planning on 45 to 60 days to do it. Somehow we all managed to fit into it.

    I thought Italians were crazy drivers, but they don't even hold the candle to the Basques. The whole 45 mile journey was switchbacks up and down mountain sides. And as far as our driver was concerned the speed limit was a suggestion, especially when he was passing somebody on a blind corner.

    We got to SJPDP in one piece though. We had to wait for for our room to be finished cleaning before we could check in, which was basically the housekeeping staff giving us the key while using Google Translate to make the transaction. The next step was getting our credentials and getting them stamped and dinner, that's where the sausages come in and then exploring the town in the evening.
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    Have a wonderful trip! I’m looking forward to following your adventures!


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