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    • Day 4

      Gratitude for Leadership Roundtable

      June 26 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 59 °F

      I start my day today with gratitude for the organization I’ve spent the last 15 years of service - Leadership Roundtable. I feel as strongly today as I do for its mission to serve the leadership and management needs of our Church. I’ve had the privilege of seeing so many facets of the Church and hopefully strengthen it for its all important mission - the transformation of our world into a peaceful and just society where everyone lives in sacred communion with all creation. I lit two (electric 😆) candles for the staff, whom without I would not be able to have this experience. Thank you for all you are doing to cover for me while I’m away.

      When I lit the candles in the chapel of Santiago two Dutch volunteers came into the chapel. I snuck a quick video of them singing, so beautiful. They quickly snatched me up and brought me inside to sing briefly. Apparently there is an agreement with some outfit in Holland to send volunteers here on a rotating basis. One of them welcomed me yesterday as Jon and I entered. She was superb at her job!

      17 miles to a quaint little hotel in AKERRETA. The location in movie, The Way where the alburgue owner dreamed of being a bull fighter. I read that Martin Sheen stayed at this location throughout the shooting of the movie. If it’s good enough for Martin Sheen…
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    • Day 3

      Roncesvalles: Debrief of Day 1

      June 25 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 75 °F

      Jon said at one point, “Were we in St. John Pied de Port today?“ It felt like we were walking for a week. With zero food in our bellies minus a shared packet of Gu and a handful of almonds and Craisins from a compassionate pelegrino my body was pretty exhausted. That’s said, the very hilly training regiment of the last month really paid off. While walking over the Pyrenees was hard, it was doable.

      I stumbled through a shower, made it downstairs for a delightful dinner and then packed it in for the night. What is in store for walking day number two?!
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    • Day 4

      Day 1 of the Camino

      June 23 in Spain ⋅ 🌫 13 °C

      Hi... what a 1st day. A total of 15.5 miles in 8 hrs. We both did very well. At times, the coldness made our hands so numb that it hurt to hold our hiking poles, but we pushed through. I mentioned in our video that the photos and videos would be in black and white, but I was able to fix it, so now u can see its beauty. Also, don't mind the mistake on today's date, lol. We met a lot of wonderful people of all ages. Youngest was 15 hiking with his dad and Mr. Hans from Holland is doing the Camino on his bike, and he is 73. He is the big cheese of all the volunteers at the hostel and tried to recruit us for next year. Dinner was soso. But Han's private tour of the Albergue was amazing. The blue shell is how the trail is marked and how we know where to go. The photo with a rock memorial is where people offer the trail a rock or personal items so that we or loved one may be remembered. We left the hot pink rock right on the top left corner. Buen CaminoRead more

    • Day 2

      Hardest part done

      July 24, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

      Most Camino guides suggest a first 'stage' going from St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles. That's a 25k walk, the first 70% uphill, crossing the Pyrenees, then going down on the Spanish side. It's said to be the hardest part of the whole Camino, with a 1,200m climb which is quite steep in some sections. I thought it was quite brutal for a first day.

      First I was disappointed that the only daily bus from Pamplona to St Jean arrived in the early afternoon, because I would have to wait until the morning to start such a walk.

      However, I got a very good idea from the Camino forum: I could break up that tough stage, walking the first 8k (all uphill) in the afternoon of arrival, staying at Orisson, then completing the stage the next day.

      That's what I did, and worked out very well. I added a variation though: I didn't want to stay at Roncesvalles because that's what most people do. I wanted to walk to the next town, in this case only 3k further: Burguete.

      I read good reviews about an albergue there, and I called the day before to book a bed.

      The day before is the day I was walking to Orisson. They offered a communal dinner, and I met the other pilgrims. We were 32 guests, and there were more Aussies than any other nationally.

      At my table there was Monika from Germany, Emanuelle & Sebastien from France, Peter from Melbourne and Natalie & Daniel, also from Melbourne. We were all above 40, and we had nice chats.

      This morning we all started walking around the same time, but each couple or individual going at our own pace, and we met at random points during the walk. The walk was hard on the legs but easy on the eyes. The scenery was beautiful, and it was a gorgeous day. Very windy near the highest point, but otherwise just fantastic.

      I found out that the people from my table were staying at Roncesvalles tonight. I met Monika and Peter there, at the monastery (pictured), and I sat with them for a rest in the shade before walking on.

      On my way to Burguete I met a little girl called Aixea, who was walking with her grandpa and we had great conversation! She was about 6 and kept asking me questions. I asked some too when she let me 😄

      When I got to Burguete I caught up with another group of younger people I met at Orisson. They were going to the same albergue I was, but didn't have a booking. The albergue opened at 3, and it was 2:30, so we all went to the bar across the road to rest and refuel.

      At 3 we went back to the albergue and the caretaker said it was booked out! So, I could stay but the others couldn't. They were going to the next town 4k ahead.

      The albergue is called Lorentx Aterpea and it is very modern and clean, as described in the review I read. I'm doing the same for tomorrow: staying 5k past the most popular stop, at a place with great reviews, and I just called to book 👍
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    • Day 17

      16. Etappe: Espinal (30,7 km)

      November 12, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      So viele Kilometer sollten es heut eigentlich gar nicht werden! 🙈 Aber nachdem ich Klaus und Pierre in Roncesvalles eingeholt hatte, beschlossen wir beim gemeinsamen Bierchen noch ein Stück weiterzugehen - es war erst 14:30 und die beiden hatten mit ihrem Bett direkt an der Schlafraumtür leider nicht so viel Glück gehabt, so dass sie gern einigen Mitreisenden entfliehen wollten.
      Meine Nacht war ganz gut, von den Frühaufstehern bekam ich zwar etwas mit, zog mir aber den Hüttenschlafsack einfach übers Gesicht und schlief weiter 😅 Morgens war dann ordentlich Trubel beim Frühstück - und spätestens jetzt sehnte ich mich nach familiärem Frühstück mit frischem Baguette und selbstgemachter (Zucchini-)Marmelade zurück. Heute gabs nur Toast und noch nicht einmal genug Marmelade für alle Pilger - und das obwohl wir nur so wenige waren 🙁
      Ich verließ als Letzte die Herberge und stellte mich heute auf viel Laufen an der Straße und somit auch viel Verkehr, sowie eine ordentliche Steigung ein - denn: ab November schließt leider die Route de Napoleon, so dass wir die alternative Route nehmen mussten. Dank des Samstags war aber zum Glück nicht viel los auf der Straße und das letzte Drittel bergauf führte sehr schön entlang eines Bachs und durch den Wald, so dass ich positiv überrascht war und die Steigung kaum spürte - auch wenn ich ab und zu etwas wehmütig in Richtung Berge blickte. Aber spätestens am Ipaneta-Pass war ich froh nicht auf eigene Faust über den schöneren Weg gelaufen zu sein. Dort wehte ein ordentlicher Wind, der mir beinah das Kopftuch vom Kopf fegte.
      So kam ich also noch voller Energie in Roncesvalles an und schloss mich meinen beiden Mitpilgern an. Die nächsten 7 km bewältigten wir ruckzuck, da es kaum noch Steigerungen gab. In der heutigen Unterkunft Haizea sind wir ganz allein. Praktisch, dass direkt ein Restaurant im Haus ist und wir abends ein Pilgermenü zum kleinen Preis dazu buchen konnten 😋🥳
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    • Day 3–4


      May 10 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

      Wow! Today was the toughest day! We left Vacarlos on route to Roncesvalles It was a mountainous walk all the way 23degrees no breakfast as everything was still closed. We run out of water ( not funny) A whole string of emotions today but I made it! Suzy was brilliant supporting me all the way.Read more

    • Day 5

      Day 5 - Espinal

      September 12, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

      Today has been our first day of “proper cycling”. Woke up this morning after big thunderstorms last night and official warnings of weather (see photos). It’s been fine and sunny most of the day - much better than forecast!

      1200m of climbing. The most we have done this year but in the end was no problem. Climbing on well surfaced mountain roads is nowhere near as hard as off road on the Surrey Hills!
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    • Day 5

      Roncesvalles to Zubiri - part one

      March 27 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

      A 22km stage today, optimistically framed by the gang as short and downhill, between Roncesvalles at 960m and industrial Zubiri at 520m. Got up at 5.45am once I heard the first toilet flush (I didn't have to try hard to hear it) as I figured that was the band-aid ripped off the peace.

      By 6.45am they were piping monastic chants through the PA to wriggle us on, they're very serious here. In the pod we had a laugh imagining the words of the unintelligible chant were "gettttttt outttttttt". With the ummmmming booming, I rounded a corner and nearly fell over a woman engaged in what with hindsight I recognise as yoga but at the time I truly suspected might be a possession in progress. She was bent at the elbows and knees to create like a table, with her torso and thighs as the top, and had her eyes closed. OUT (of my way) demon!

      On the road by 7am, which started with a truly lovely yet CRISP wander through dense woodland described in the literature as the home of "secret covens" in the 1500s, and when translated, named Oakwood of Witches. Excellent, all my love to the girls. While we're on the literature, I wasn't joking about the Charlemagne stuff, cop the attached page from the Camino bible.

      At one point the guy in jeans passed me, which was a good proof of life check for him as I did worry about his chafe and general health yesterday when I saw him leave SJPP. Every now and then someone with really swishy pants will come up behind me and I'm enraged by it by the time they stick the overtake, I can't imagine the cognitive dissonance it takes to put up with that all day.
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    • Day 9

      Day 3 - Burguete to Zubiri

      August 23, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 72 °F

      It’s so freaking hot!! And we all knew it was going to be hot. I woke up this morning at 5, but needed to repack after completely messing up my gear last night. I had planned to leave by 6, got all my stuff packed up, backpack on, etc. and trudged downstairs to leave. There was nobody at reception, so I decided to forgo getting my stamp and hid my key away at the desk. I headed for the front door and found it locked, and it looked as though it needed a key to be unlocked. Defeated, I trudged back upstairs and settled back into my bed to write a blog post. A while later I heard rumbling downstairs and decided it was time to try again. This time, a man appeared at reception, took my key, and gave me my stamp. I asked about the locked door and proceeded to show me that it was easily unlocked… Ugh! I started out on my trek, alone for the first hour or more, until I ran into my Danish friend Betina. We walked together for a while until she absolutely crushed me on some hills. We eventually met back up and finished the walk together. It was an absolutely treacherous walk - 385m up and 750m down on trails made of jagged rocks and shale. In Zubiri, sitting my the river in the shade, I ran into Kate, Simon, and Grace. We enjoyed the cool river and then trudged to our albergue. It was so hot! And it’s still hot. But a lovely evening with old friends Luke and Zé who I met in SJPP, and new friends as well. Beautiful dinner at Albergue Suseia, with Sara rye most amazing host. Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter, and another 20k to Pamplona. Early start again.Read more

    • Day 4


      September 22, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

      After yesterday’s face off with mountain passes and homicidal-force winds, today’s walk to Zubiri seemed absolutely pastoral. It was cool, foggy early, and had only relatively mild ups and downs until a final steep, rocky descent into town. The only glitch at all was the looming question of whether or not there would be room at the inn. The albergues that could be booked in advance were all full, so the sole option, other than walking to the next town and hoping for the best, was the municipal albergue. These take no reservations and are first come first serve. Leading to some stress and the need to fight a certain competitive urge as one walks. I’ll cut to the chance: we got in! Easily too, if I must be honest. A great relief and it’s unlikely after today that we will need to really worry about finding a place again until close to the end.

      Photos include a lovely view and a young donkey to back up the pastoral qualities of the day, and a slug, this one red and very color coordinated with me. Will slugs become a persistent theme of this travel blog? Hmmm.
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