Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

La Familia Sagrada

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

If ever architecture was an act of worship, it’s Barcelona’s Basilica by Anton Gaudi.

Pillars that branch out like trees hold the vaulted ceiling and stained glass mimics the colors of sunrise on one side and sunset on the other. And the outside of the edifice is as enthralling as the inside with all the bible stories that are depicted beneath the 18 bell towers. Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus is scripted above the passion of Christ sculptures revealing the alpha and omega of our faith.

Tickets have to be purchased in advanced online because everyday they are sold out before they open. Though still under construction, a completion date of 2026 will honor the 100th anniversary of the architect’s death.

To experience the Sagrada is to be swept up and drawn a little closer to heaven!

Selfie Stick Improving

Selfie Stick Improving


Now What?

Monday, September 26th, 2016

We are ahead of schedule from our Camino and ready to do some exploring! Tomorrow we leave Santiago by train to Madrid for three days then on to Barcelona for four. At that point we board a re-positioning cruise that will make stops in Spain, Portugal, and Bermuda as it crosses the Atlantic to New York!! It’s the Sirena from Oceania cruise line. These cruises are dirt cheap–relatively — and pop up twice a year. Our Alaska cruise back 25 years ago was also a cruise like this

In Barcelona we will buy some presentable clothes and maybe a suit case!! This is kinda a “pinch me” I’m dreaming kinda thing. 14 day cruise gets us to NYC on the 18th. Wifi available we think. Then we’ll figure what comes next.

Homesick but loving the exploring!


Angels In Life’s Journey

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

There is an intensity on the Camino I hadn’t expected. It’s you against each day’s terrain as well as the knowledge that food, water, and a bed are not a guarantee. So coming upon people who speak your language, are closer in age, and profess a Christian Faith (have kids, and grandkids, husbands, normal) makes you halfway to being fast friends. Then, because they’re more experienced and also kind-hearted, they look after you and celebrate each day’s accomplishments and cheer you on! This was Karen and Deborah from Queensland, Australia ❤️

For the majority of the Camino Ingles they took us under wing and welcomed us at the end of each grueling day (they were much faster walkers). When we finally arrived they had scoped out the town, and prayed that our day’s journey would get us there in time to grab the last two beds, and were ready to enjoy dinner and wine and share stories of the path.

We got our compestelas together and sweetly enjoyed our final time together. Thank you both for being our angels and may our life’s journey cross again.


Why the Camino?

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

It seems like the passage of time has determined a lot of what I can and can’t do. I think my tennis days are over and probably pickle ball too. Roller skating, surfing, jogging; all a thing of the past. Never took up camping and I’m too cautious by nature to try the really risky things like hang gliding. I do want to do more kayaking and I can walk thanks to new knees so why stretch my limits with the Camino?

I’m not ready to be old yet.


How Do You Eat An Elephant?

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Heathrow to Cantebury, a two day stroll to Dover followed by a ferry to Calais and a train to Lourdes and more travel to Bayonne then St Jean pied port. Over the Pyrenees with several hundred eager pilgrims, sporting headlamps at dawn and forgoing all rest stops to race to find a bed and moving on if they were full.

This had become stresssssssful and not the sacred pilgrimage we had planned on so we saw that there were many accredited ways to arrive at Santiago; via Madrid, Portugal, Barcelona, and from the north-the Camino Ingles. Our research showed us this was the true way the British, Irish, or Scots would have made their way to Santiago several hundred years ago,so we jumped ship and headed to the city of Ferrol on waters edge and dipped our poles in the water and went the way less traveled.

It is fewer days than the busy Camino Frances and lovely and with fewer travelers thus more friendships were made. It was the meditative peace we had envisioned. The terrain was for mountain goats and the long 9-17 mile daily hikes were usually rewarded with a shower, a bottle of wine, and a bunk.

So we have arrived at our destination a wee bit early but we paid our dues with the 300+ miles and we got it done.

One Bite at a Time!

more than 400 kms later

more than 400 kms later

Call me Crazy

Monday, September 5th, 2016

The idea of the Camino crossed my consciousness about three years ago. I read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. I know, that’s about the Appalachian Trail but it gave me the idea that an extended walk would be cool to try, just not where I have to use leaves and a shovel for my potty time.

The Camino was featured on the cover of a National Geographic I never read, but a lecture at our local library came up and on a rainy night I dragged Steve out to hear a gal tell of her and her father’s memorial trip on the Camino de Santiago de Compestela. I was hooked.

Everywhere we traveled we added walking to our plans but my old knees were protesting louder and louder. The orthopedist confirmed I didn’t have 500 miles in the current models and to say ‘when’ and we’d get a new pair. I did tough it out for a few more months but every other day found me sitting and icing. September 29, 2015 I got me two titanium knees.

My doctor, my therapist, and my family and friends all pushed and encouraged and the Personally Fit gym saw me 6 days a week until we could launch out and begin our Camino.

Talking to others as we walk, it’s a little seed of a thought that just won’t go away until it grows and consumes your thoughts. So you go.


The Reality

Monday, September 5th, 2016

I sweat in places I never knew I had! Carrying 15 pounds on your back is uncomfortable and then you add a couple bottles of water. Washing yourself and clothes in the shower and hoping they dry by morning as they are strung all around the room is a test of faith. Chopping all your hair off and forgoing make up eliminates all vanity almost as much as wearing form-fitting wicking clothes and then binding yourself with all the straps giving you a Michellin Man appearance.

Dawn doesn’t come until 7:45 but you’ve been walking for almost two hours with 100 people who want to pass you. You climb a mountain only to turn and see 2 more ahead. You see other pilgrims stop for a break but you push on because you’re slower and there won’t be enough beds at the hostel if you lag. And at first you try to avoid the sheep poop but after doing a jig all over the countryside you just give up. That’s why you leave your boots at the door!

But having conversations with others about faith and their country of origin (Finland and South Africa the farthest so far) gets deep. Talking with Rolph, with terminal cancer, who is trying to get right with God and sharing your faith and cancer travels . Getting your first bedbug bites and considering them your badge of courage. Praying all the time, mostly for those back home and taking time to listen to answers, but also for that cramp or stiff back and waking new every morning.

It’s a trip of gratitude, testing, and like a praying friend said “with perseverance, even the snail made it to the ark!”

And it’s only been a week.


Taking It On The Chin

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

The Habsburgs were a crazy, out of control dynasty that ruled for over 600 years (a.k.a. Austro-Hungarian Empire) and were the most powerful European entity since Rome! They started out mostly a peaceful group and found that marrying their royals with other countries’ royals enlarged  their holdings without firing a shot. But this eventually resulted in a lot of in-marrying, and a slew of reasons that this was not a good idea for their gene pool (more in a minute on that).

The 19th Century was their time to shine with Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, and Strauss, Freud, Doppler and a host of others. At the turn of the century, Vienna was the world’s 5th largest city in the world and had managed to avoid all revolutions and revolts. Then came World War I, (which I could make a case for the greedy Habsburgs starting and losing) and their holdings were split asunder. Then Hitler took over in 1938 and that’s enough of a history lesson for now. I read tons about everyplace I visit.

After a few generations of sisters marrying brothers, uncles with nieces, you get the idea, a few quirky things started showing up in the family Christmas photo. We see hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and skeletal deformities such as smaller stature and the easiest to spot; ‘Habsburg chin’. This is a very pronounced chin (think Jay Leno x 10). Phillip II of Spain was so deformed he could not swallow or speak.. In this portion of a prominent statue in the city center, you see Leopold I (and Holy Roman Emperor) kneel in thanksgiving for the plague being over. He was married to his niece who was also a first cousin so they weren’t fast learners either.

Habsburg Chin

Habsburg Chin

El Diada

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

It’s a national holiday in Barcelona today. Actually all of the state of Catalonia. Back in 1714, this area of Spain lost the right to govern themselves (War of Spanish Succession). And they are fiercely independent folk.catalunya protest

Next year, in fact, they are voting to secede from Spain and be their own country. The Basque area is also hot for independence. Spain is a country that has 7 different dialects and lots of deep traditions and flags and customs. They just aren’t unified. Sometimes our differences can make us stronger but not here. It just makes them critical.

So nothing is open on our last day in Barcelona and there is to be demonstrations and a large human chain throughout all of Catalonia. It’s suppose to be peaceful, but we’ll see.   (it was, and very impressive/ a human chain of millions stretching across the entire state.)

On My Own

Monday, September 9th, 2013

DSC01097_smWe are in Barcelona and Steve has to work 8-5. That’s ok because that’s what got us here and is what’s paying for it, but I am now the solo tourist.

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain. If they’d have their druthers, they would be an independent country. They speak castillian, a version of spanish, and all signs must be printed in castillano,then espanol, and sometimes english. Example : exit=salida in spanish and  saltida in castillian.  

This is the land of Antoni Gaudi; famous architect and artist (more later), a shipping hub on the mediterranean, tourist mecca, and gastronomic heaven. People come here just for the restaurants.

So I organize my maps and hide all my valuables on my person — multi -pocket pants, credit card in the bra etc — think thru my game plan and off I go!