Walk from Gonzar to Melide


April 17th – 33.2 KM – an initial climb for 5 KM, followed by mostly flat / down terrain…

I started this day’s walk with Maryanne, a sweet italian girl in her 20’s… Part of the group, she has become a nice friend… It was DARK when we left… and quite foggy…

Foggy Morning!

We were stopped for lunch in Palas de Rei, where we took this photo with Ricardo and Pancho, both from Spain… Also at lunch were, Antonio, Lina, Rodri (Rodrigo), David, and Javier…

With Ricardo & Pancho

Antonio is 75 this year, and doing only the last 100 KM from Sarria with his grand-daughter, Lina… I have spent some time walking with him and quite enjoying his wisdom…

Lina with her grandfather, Antonio!

I didn’t know this day would be mostly about friends! but, it was… at the end of the day, I made friends with these two teacher/travellers from Texas… they were not walking the entire camino, but just a portion of one day… The day ended with a large group of people, Dominic, Simone, Danielle, Kristoff, Carol, and others going to a Pulperia to enjoy Pulpo (Octopus)!

Crossing the bridge into Melide with a teacher from Texas!

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Walk from Sarria to Gonzar


April 16th, 2011 – 31.1 KM… mostly up… followed by 400 meter drop in elevation… followed by a 250 meter climb…

Remember that Sarria is just over 100 KM from Santiago… This group of American Field Service interns was walking the 100 KM… Not all the kids were Americans, though… This group stayed in the same Auberge as I the night before…

A large group of American Field Service interns...

Today, I started the walk with a Canadian, Ron, with whom I’ve met several times along the way! We walked together until the crowds of people starting in Sarria got to him and he bolted off to create some distance…

Ron & I at the cruce in Sarria...

This tree lined path was on the way today! I appreciated the shade!

The beauty of tree lined paths!

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Walk from Triacastela to Sarria


April 15th, 2011 – 25 KM… fine weather… mostly a down hill or flat day… Sarria is the last town where people walking only 100 KM of the camino frances can join the camino… This is significant because in order to receive the “Compostela” at the officina de peregrinos in Santiago, a pilgrim must walk or bicycle a minimum of 100 KM…

Each day has started in a different way!

Fog in the valleys

Here, the gang is taking a well deserved break along the path…

The gang - taking a break...

As I passed by this woman caring for her plants, I couldn’t help but wonder… Did she paint the house to match the hat? Did she buy the hat to match the house color? or is she just facinated with the color? I offer this, not as a comment about her, though… but as a comment about the thoughts that enter my mind as I’m walking the camino… I’m walking KM after KM… not with music or other distractions of daily life, but with only what stream of conscious thoughts are in my head… it’s funny…

The hat or the house - which color came first!

I was entering Sarria with Maryanne and Armin… Armin intended to go further that day, and Maryanne was going to meet a friend that lives in Sarria… So, we decided to have lunch on the Rio Sarria… These swans were swimming about… and this was the first river where I actually saw fish swimming in the water… We also fed the fish some small compressed bits of our lunch bread… Sometimes kids eat the middle of the bread and toss the crust… I like the crust best, and tossed the middle (compressed) to the fish! LOL

Lunch on the Rio Sarria!

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Walk from La Faba to Triacastela


April 14, 2011 – 25.8 km today… I’m really loving the great weather!

From La Faba, there was a brief climb! Well, more than a few KM, but followed by a nice decline! On the way to the top, we crossed the regional border into Galicia! This photo is with Dominic!

On the way to O'Cebreiro

Spain is really beautiful, as you can see from the panorama… I have a great appreciation for these paths that are smooth and not so hard to walk!

On the long road again!

We took this Photo in O’Cebreiro… In O’Cebreiro is the oldest church on the entire camino frances… where a covetted stamp for the pilgrim credential can be obtained! The contents of the church are a must see!

Friends: Armin, Dominic, & Maryanne

We were walking along the way when two bus loads of kids started getting off the bus… apparently, their teacher had this idea that they should walk part of the camino… We hurried along to get well ahead… though, with their energy, they caught up… at the top of a steep incline, they were very excited to catch up… I called out to my friends and the excited kids: “PHOTO!… PHOTO!” all joined in, including the teacher… and the kids were thrilled!

Kids group! They were excited to have a photo with "real" peregrinos!

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Walk from Villafranca to La Faba


April 13, 2011 – 26.1 km today… great weather continues… afternoon was quite warm…

This day started with a 12 km walk on wilderness trails… much preferred over asphalt roads… Once into this string of towns separated by just a couple of kilometers, I spotted this elder man! He was quite friendly, and glad to have his photo taken!

Spanish Elder

These pilgrim statues are all along the camino, and they are all different!

Pilgrim monument on the way!

The walk from Ruitelan up to La Faba is quite steep… and along rocky paths… It’s pleasant to see beautiful wildflowers along the way!

Spring wildflowers

Once in La Faba, I arrived at the Auberge! This particular Auberge is funded by a german non-profit and staffed only with volunteers. Here, some of my friends and I decided to have a group dinner! I cooked with limited supplies – only pasta, onions, wine, & tomato sauce! We had yogurt for dessert! The hospitalerio said that we were the first that he had ever seen do this, so it was quite special! This statue was in the Auberge courtyard. After dinner, the hospitalerio played guitar in the courtyard as others relaxed!

Pilgrim sculpture at the La Faba Auberge.

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Walk from Molinaseca to Villafranca


April 12, 2011 – 30.7 km today… great weather!

I got up especially early today, and walked the first hour or so in the dark to dawn… Once in Ponferrada, I walked past the Castle… This is a beautiful town, one I’d have interest in revisiting…

Castle of Ponferrada

Next to the Castle was this building and it’s marvelous wisteria…

Wisteria - in Ponferrada

On the far side of Ponferrada, I finally found a place to get coffee! cafe con leche, specifically… As I was there, I saw Lina walking by… I called out to her, and we had a coffee together… Lina is 19, but comes across as much more mature and is a quite enjoyable friend! We spent the next 15 or so kilometers walking together…

Lina & Wisteria - near Pieros

It’s reassuring to get these signs occasionally that Santiago is getting closer!

Getting closer to Santiago

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Walk from Foncebadon to Molenaseca


April 11th, 2011 – 19.5 km today… appreciating the sun…

This was mostly a downhill day… down hill is much more challenging for the knees and ankles, so it is very important to go slow…

This small church, next to the cruce, is a place where spiritual awareness is heightened… and a place for quiet, contemplative, meditative moments…

Quite moment at the Cruce

This is the highest point on the Camino… a place where many pilgrims bring a stone from home and leave it with a wish for the the future… This place is highly spiritual and raises many thoughts and feelings as we are here… Pocoloco Paul and I have a special bond for this place…

This is the highest point on the Camino... & Cruce

I was particularly noticing the snow capped mountains in the distance… and thought of those pilgrims that have died in making their pirgrimage at a more challenging time during the year.

Gravesite near the highest point...

The directions for the way!

A stop on the way...

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Walk from Astorga to Foncebadon


April 10th, 2011 – Walked 27.2 km today… sunny…

Leaving Foncebadon, we walked by the Cathedral and several other buildings of architectural interest.

Foncebadon

Often, the roads on the camino are long and devoid of much interest… sometimes they go on… and on… and on… leaving the mind to comtemplate moving and changing thoughts… Some pilgrims break out in to song during these times…

Long road of the Camino

Two of the people that I have met, Simone and Dominic, are from Germany… Simone is studying economics, and we have shared some conversation of the noise in markets… I really like this couple because, often, they walk the camino holding hands…

Simone & Dominic

This waymark caught my eye because of the rainbow… more often, when waymarks of this variety are not possible, we see arrows (fetchas) painted on the ground or on poles…

A typical Waymark.

I thought to take a group photo of this group of school kids from the south of spain doing a week long portion of the Camino… They insisted that I be in the photo too…

High School kids from Los Barrios, Spain

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Walk from Mazarife to Astorga


April 9th, 2011 – This day was 30km of rolling hill terrain… crossing two rivers to end in Astorga!  The sun still shines!

One of the Crops in Spain - Hops

Looking at a truckbed filled with dried corn husks

Four miracles have occurred today… they are small, but important… initially, today was the first time we heard cookoo birds calling out… next, we heard large groups of frogs croaking… then, we met this man, who, for the past two years, has dedicated his life to providing drinks, snacks, food, cookies to passing pilgrims for FREE (well, actually, for donativo)… He lives at this building, but outside and sleeps on a sofa, also outside, kept under a tarp leanto… Lina and I talked with him for 45 minutes…

Donativo drinks, fruit, snacks for all

The last of the miracles was this sheep herder, who has a herd of 650 sheep… He talked with us for 15 minutes or so… What impressed me is that he is so happy with his life and the herd… He was warm and friendly, always smiling… and said goodbye with a warm handshake and a patt on the back… awesome!

Sheep Herder

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Walk from Leon to Mazarife


April 8th, 2011 – a flat 23km day… the sun continues to bless us…

Palace as leaving Leon

Below, I’m sitting with a pilgrim having foot problems! I’m sure that my blazing feet are worse! LOL

Pilgrim sculpture in Leon

In the picture below:
Front: Nada (South Korea), & Maurice (Toulousse, France)
Back: Seon (South Korea), Inga & Vladka (Czech Republic), Lina (Portugal/Germany), Armin (Germany), Philipo (Italy)

Whenever the groups of people collide, we end up having coffee… Here we are in the morning, in La Virgen Del Camino!!!

Having a group coffee in La Virgen del Camino

Paul, from Germany, owns a restaurant outside of Koln called PocoLoco (which at one time was an Outback Steakhouse). Paul and I cross paths frequently and have had numerous conversations. He’s a great guy, and one the will develop into a longterm friend!

Mr. Paul "PocoLoco" on the way!

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