El Camino de Santiago

March - April 2024
Pilgramage of 128 kilometers. Sister bonding on a bucket list trip of a lifetime. Mindfulness and spiritual renewal. Transitions in life. The Portuguese Way, Baiona to Santiago de Compostela. Read more
  • 61footprints
  • 3countries
  • 18days
  • 529photos
  • 64videos
  • 9.8kmiles
  • 9.1kmiles
  • Day 1


    March 22 in the United States ⋅ 🌬 68 °F

    It's been a very busy few days... 3 days of clinic, 2 days on call, 2 months of billing backlog, delivered 4 babies in 22 hours, and little sleep. Now I'm sore from wrangling an 11 pound 14 ounce baby out... and I haven't even started the Camino yet.

    Thankfully, I've already done a lot of preparation, writing out my packing list, and gathering everything together into a pile over the last two weeks.

    Here's my packing list:
    Backpack with camel bladder
    Fanny pack for easy to reach in the front
    Water bottle
    Wool socks, light socks
    Hiking Boots
    Hat for sun
    Warm hat
    Rain poncho
    Walking sticks
    Mole tape
    Energy water enhancer
    Keto powder
    Keto bars
    Wet wipes
    Paper towels
    First aid kit
    Euro outlet converter
    Heating pad
    Solar powered battery backup
    Phone and chargers
    Leggings insulated
    Water-resistant pants and jacket
    Knee support wraps
    Ear pods
    Laptop.... Have to do payroll...
    Meds and supplements
    Passport / Global Entry
    Dresses, jeans, casual clothes for touring
    Small white tennies
    Makeup and toiletries
    Dyson Airwrap
    Dry Shampoo
    Some leftover Euros from last trip
    ... and my American Express Card!

    We'll see what else hops in there.

    At this point, I'm soaking in an Epsom salt bath with the realization that this could be my last bath for 2.5 weeks. The laundry has been started and the empty suitcase is waiting for me to fill it.

    The airport ride is scheduled for 10:30 am. I think I can get it all done and sleep a little, too. I'm so excited about this journey.
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  • Day 2

    Tampa International Airport

    March 23 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 75 °F

    Almost 5 hours prior to my flight, Southwest Airlines started issuing significant flight delays.

    My scheduled agenda was four flights: Tampa to Atlanta, where I was to meet my sister. Then Newark, Lisbon, and finally Porto, arriving tomorrow morning.

    With the delay, I wasn't going to make it to Atlanta in time to get my baggage and get to the United Airlines flight to Newark.

    So, while riding in my pre-scheduled ride to the airport, I scrambled to book a flight directly to Newark. $288 later and $40 more to check my 49.5 pound suitcase, I'm here at the airport 4 hours before my flight.

    P.F. Changs's bloody Mary is not too shabby. Here's to no more delays and smooth travels.

    See ya in Newark, Donna!
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  • Day 2

    Newark Airport

    March 23 in the United States ⋅ 🌬 41 °F

    Got to Newark. Had to exit security to go get my bag and recheck it... MY TICKET WAS CANCELED by mistake when I didn't board the Atlanta flight.

    I made it barely. Had to purchase a new ticket from Lisbon to Porto. But on the plane!! Not sitting together now, but we're going to try to sleep.Read more

  • Day 3

    Lisbon Airport

    March 24 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 66 °F

    Arrived to Lisbon. Standing in line behind thousands of people to go through customs, despite having global entry. Have to get my luggage from baggage claim, get a new boarding pass, recheck baggage, and get on a plane that is supposed to leave in 1hr 15 min. Again, Donna and I are separated. I really don't think I'm going to make this flight.

    ... I did not make it. $300 later I'm on the next flight in 2 hrs. I arrive 30 min before we meet our group and the van transport leaves Porto for Baiona.

    I'm exhausted. Back aches. Ankles are swollen. Running through airports while translating signs... not much sleep, just doze until nodding wake me up or I realize I'm leaning a bit too much towards the man sitting next to me.

    Thank you to all the kind souls who helped me find my way and get me through this fiasco.

    But I'm feeling confident that I will make it in time to meet the group... and I got a Starbucks.

    Now they double booked my seat, so don't have a seat... could something just go right?? Please
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  • Day 3

    Parador de Baiona - The Retreat Begins

    March 24 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    Seven women from across the globe meet together in Porto to walk their individual pilgrimages in a shared experience. We come from Australia, Scotland, and the US (Iowa, Georgia and Florida). We range in age from 51 to 59.

    This retreat is led by Lisa Staab, a mindfulness coach, Reiki Master, Chef and foodie. We are focusing on mindfulness. Nine attributes of mindfulness... let's see how many I can remember. Surrender, acceptance, letting go, childlike spirit, gratitude, generosity. Becoming childlike and being able to see every moment for a beginner's point of view stands out to me the most.

    We traveled from Porto to Baiona, Spain, where we are staying at Parador de Baiona, this beautiful castle surrounded by water.

    I was able to get a one hour nap, charge my phone and connect to wifi, shower, and make it to our group meeting and dinner. It was a great evening getting to know each other.

    Lisa gave each of us bags with our Camino passport, shell to hang on our backpacks, a foot bath container, a bracelet, journal, tea, bath balms, nuts, and chocolate.

    I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep!
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  • Day 4


    March 25 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 54 °F

    After breakfast, Donna and I took a walk, hoping to beat the rain. We got about 30 min in before a heavy mist began, and we made a beeline back to the hotel.

    Did get a few pictures, and I think that is the Camino trail along the coast.

    The weather is not looking good all week. In fact, there is a storm warning in effect for the next couple of days... wind, rain, ice, and snow.

    I'm not sure I packed warm enough.

    So, back in the room, I'm going to start getting my backpack ready and repack the suitcase. Then I'll try to figure out what I'm wearing to lunch. We have to walk 1 km to le restaurante. Yes, I'm trying to figure out what to wear for a 1 km walk in the rain when I'm about to start a 126 km walk. Makes no sense. Obviously, that's the whole reason I'm here. It just feels different now, and I feel slightly unprepared for the weather.

    Picture of the forecast here and we're headed north. I don't have a picture of the long list of severe weather warnings that Kelly showed us at breakfast. Tomorrow, rain and 40's all day, winds at 12-18 mph... 26 km planned to walk. That equals 16 miles. Lord, help us.
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  • Day 4

    Restaurante Naveira

    March 25 in Spain ⋅ 🌬 54 °F

    We were treated to paella for lunch at this lovely restaurant. Then we strolled the city and stopped for cappuccinos. Making new friends.

  • Day 4

    Baiona, Galicia Spain

    March 25 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 45 °F

    Baiona Spain was the very first place in Europe to learn than Columbus and his crews had discovered the new world when Caravel La Pinta was the first ship to return on March 1, 1493.

    Today, we meandered this beautiful town, getting in plentiful steps. After meandering the shops, we tried to take the short route back to the hotel, but ended up taking the coastal route around the castle...the one that I thought might be the Camino, but not. Such a gorgeous walk and so glad we got lost. The best moments are made in spontaneity.

    We returned to the hotel and had a nice session together. Lisa gave us each a tiger's eye stone to signify protection for our journey. We talked about non judgement as part of mindfulness. A method of practicing non judgement is calling something outloud by its name to bring attention to that thing. We had a meditation session. We could hear the elevator outside repeatedly dinging. Instead of judging it as good or bad, we just said, "elevator". It just is, and we accept it and move forward. I think this will be a great tool for grounding, to keep my mind and emotions from going wild and starting down negative paths. My muscles are beginning to relax. It always takes me two full days into a vacation to let down. I count today as day 1.

    After our session, a few of us met in the cafe for wine and tapas. We had the most interesting conversation, as Kelly suggested that we start with one question as a talking point, and each person answer the question. She obtained this idea from the book, The Art of Gathering. The question of the night was, "What one thing did your Dad teach you that had the most impact on you?" There were just 4 of us there that answered the question, yet it turned into hours of deep conversation and understanding of each other. It was productive dialogue that translated into our present lives and circumstances in a meaningful way. My lessons... 1) ask someone to help me do tasks that I'd really like to do but feel overwhelmed by and 2) talk to strangers.

    We begin our pilgramage tomorrow. The bags are packed. We'll get up and meet for breakfast at 7:30, get our Camino passports stamped, and head out on The Way.
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  • Day 5

    Kaffa Cafe in Ramallosa

    March 26 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 46 °F

    Cold and rainy, but off to a good start. Stopped for cappuccino, hot chocolate and a "wee". Iowans are so thrilled that the Hawkeyes won. We're trying to decide if we're going to stick with the coastal route or go central, due to the weather...Read more