New Camino Coming Up!

On October 2, 2017 I will be leaving for a third Camino — this time the Portuguese.  My old Camino buddy Greg and I will be starting in Porto on October 5 and heading for Santiago where we hope to arrive on October 16.  From there, we will walk to Finesterre and return by bus to Santiago before flying home to Sacramento on October 23.

The first two days of our trip will be along the Senda Litoral, which is otherwise known as the “Coastal Route” by some.  We will be walking along the ocean for most of the time, stopping at Povoa de Varzim the first night and then walking to Esposende for the second day.  From Esposende, we will take a bus to Barcelos and pick up the main route from there, through Tui, Pontevedra, Padron, etc.

We have been having exceedingly hot weather for all of July and August in the Sacramento region with the majority of days being well over 100 degrees.  This makes training difficult, but we are trying to do the best we can under the circumstances.

A few months ago, I signed up for notifications from Scott’s Cheap Flights and through this great website, was able to secure airfare via Google Flight Search from Oakland, CA to London for about $500 RT.  This is a direct flight with no stopovers both ways.  From London we are flying directly to Porto for only $64, so this makes the total cost appreciably less than we had planned.  We just have to get back and forth to Oakland, which is not a big problem.  Greg’s wife will drive us down there and we will take a train back.  Easy enough.

Well, those are the basic logistics.  I am really looking forward to this trip, since my longing to be out on the Way never ceases.  Can’t wait to see the beautiful hills and forests of Northern Portugal and Galicia, eat the great food and drink the wine of course, but most of all to meeting new fellow pilgrims from all over as we share all this together.

On another subject, the sales of my books, Senior Camino and Walking Notes Camino Frances, have been quite encouraging and the royalties will provide a little spending money for the food and drink I mentioned above.  I am humbled and thankful for those who have purchased these items.  It is quite gratifying, to say the least.

I will keep you posted on the progress of the new trip and things develop.

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Walking Notes now available

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NOTE:  Now available on Kindle as well as Kindle Unlimited!

Just released on Amazon and available soon on Kindle.  These are the notes that I had originally planned to include in Senior Camino as an Appendix.  Cooler heads prevailed, however, and I was convinced to separate the Notes out into their own book.  Glad I followed that advice, because now the pilgrim can carry this smaller book comfortably in the backpack for reference, when needed.

These Notes are for everybody — not just seniors.  I think that they should prove useful for anyone walking the Camino Frances.  I have attempted to keep them short, concise, and easy to read in a bullet point format.  In my mind, the Notes are particularly helpful when navigating through some of the more confusing sections of the walk, such as heading into Burgos (where you have several options available,) or perhaps going from Molinaseca to Ponferrada to Villafranca, etc.

Mostly, they deal with directions from town to town so that the reader won’t go astray; however, I have also included some suggestions of places to eat or rest during the day that seem to make sense for the weary traveler.  Whenever I remember having a pleasant or surprising experience, I point that out as a recommendation.

If you are planning a future Camino, this little book will be a helpful tool.  It would also make a great present for someone you know who is planning a trip.  Enjoy, and Buen Camino!

 

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New Book Available

My new book, Senior Camino, has just been published and is now available on Amazon.com and Kindle.  This was over 18 months in the making and is a concise summary of both of my treks on the Camino Frances that are chronicled in http://www.myseniorcamino.com.

I have also added a section on advice for seniors who may have concerns about whether or not they can handle the rigors of such a journey, and then I give suggestions for how to plan for the trip and how to train for the physical, mental and spiritual aspects as well.

For the thousands who have visited this site from all over the world, you may want to get a copy of the book that has all of the daily adventures in one easy-to-read format.

Also, COMING SOON!  A new book that is a companion piece for Senior Camino:   “Walking Notes for the Camino Frances.”  This is a detailed stage-by-stage directional guide that takes you from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.

If you are planning a trip to do the Camino Frances any time soon,  you may find the “Walking Notes” extremely helpful to have with you along the way.  The new book should be available before the end of May.  Happy reading!

It is my great joy to help others in the senior citizen category realize their potential to do something they might not have thought possible, to overcome their fears or doubts and to get out and walk.  I am hoping these publications will serve that end.

Buen Camino, amigos!

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Last Day in Spain

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September 22, 2015:  The taxi was waiting outside the front door of Hospederia San Martin Pinerio at 6:30.  We hopped in with our gear and directed the driver to take us to the airport.  It was interesting to drive through the city in darkness, and we both noticed how beautifully it was lit up.  By the time we reached the airport, it was light.  We were both feeling sad that we would be leaving in a couple of hours, but still anxious to get home.  We checked in at Iberia Air and spent a little time watching the shrink wrap operation before going through security and heading towards our gate.  Heather saved a table for us and I went through the cafeteria line and got some breakfast items for us. When we had finished eating, we got a seat near our gate and waited for the flight to be called up.

After an hour or so, we got in line to board and began a conversation with a Danish woman in front of us who was intrigued by Heather’s scarf.  She wound up sitting next to us on the plane and we continued the conversation all the way to Madrid.  When we got off the plane, it seemed as if we had to walk the entire length of T4 to get to the airport shuttle that took us to the other terminal where our US Airways plane was docked.  To get to the boarding area we had to go through another passport control and questioning protocol. Then it was about an hour before we could board the plane.

The trip to Charlotte was relatively uneventful.  I was able to watch 3 movies on my seat-back video screen, while Heather watched some TV shows and a couple of other movies. The airline served us two meals that were not too bad actually.

We arrived on time in Charlotte, NC and proceeded to the customs control and waited in line to get our passport stamped.  Then we picked up our bags and transferred them to the connecting flights desk.  Upstairs, I exchanged the last of my Euros at the kiosk, and then we wound our way to the gate to catch our flight to Sacramento.  Not too long after, we were ready to board, and this is when the trouble began.  After sitting on the plane for half an hour, the pilot announced that there was trouble with a couple of the warning lights that was preventing them from taking off until that problem was sorted out.  A large groan emitted from all the passengers.  After sitting on the plane for more than an hour, they finally announced that they could not fix the issue, and that we would all have to de-board the plane, and they would have another flight for us.

Two hours later, at the other end of the airport, we finally got on a new plane and settled in for the flight home.  Needless to say, everyone was tired and irritable by this time.  Before getting on the plane, I called my friend Norm who was going to pick us up at Sacramento airport and updated him on the status of the flight.  I  told him that we could get a taxi home, if it was getting too late for him, but he insisted that he would be there, no matter what the time.  Great to have friends like this!  My memory is hazy about this last leg of the trip, but I think they served us more food and drink.

At Sacramento airport, we arrived during a late-night security drill which had the place locked down tightly except for our flight.  Heather found Norm outside at arrivals and I waited for our bags to come in on the conveyor belt.  An hour later we were home safely.  I calculated that from the time we got on the taxi in Santiago until walking into our house, it was 27 hours!  Whew!

Our dog, Stogie, was overjoyed to see us, so we spent some time playing with him, then had a bowl of cereal before crawling into bed.  Tomorrow we would begin the re-entry process.  As anyone who has made a trip of this sort knows, we were drained, emotionally and physically — filled with gratitude that we were home safely, but also feeling melancholy that we would not be walking the next day to a new exciting location.

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Thank You

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I wanted to stop in the middle of all these posts to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have visited this site over the last two years.  The Camino de Santiago Forum has named this site one of the “Top 17 for 2015”, and it is a great honor to be included in that group!

There have been over 2,500 visitors and nearly 9,000 views from 80 countries around the world.  These range from the United States to China, and include such diverse places as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Botswana, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Qatar. After the USA, the most visitors have come from Australia, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom.

I am sure that there are many, many more sites about the Camino de Santiago that have garnered far more interest than this one, but nonetheless, I am extremely gratified that this humble travelogue (and that is what it is) has provided some small amount of pleasure and information about walking the Camino, especially for those of you who are, shall we say, “up in years”  Hahaha!  Get out and walk, seniors!  It is the best thing you can do for your body and mind!

Finally:

In June 1862, Henry David Thoreau published an essay in the Atlantic Monthly.  It was simply titled, “Walking“.  He considered this his best essay.  Here are a couple of my favorite snippets:

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that- sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements

And this:

So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in autumn

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Lingering in Santiago de Compostela

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September 21, 2015:  Today was literally a walk in the park.  At breakfast we were surprised by the German couple that we had met while eating lunch at Casa Domingo. They were so happy to see us and treated us like long, lost friends.  This was so typical of the many Camino “friendships” we experienced over the days we were walking.  We said our goodbyes with big hugs and kisses, realizing that we would most likely never see them again, ever.

Heather had not been feeling particularly well, with a small Lupus onset, so we decided yesterday not to take the bus to Finisterre and just to remain in town and relax before the taxing trip home to the States.  Heather had made an appointment at a local tattoo parlor to get a special, permanent souvenir of her trip.  At 10:30, we walked over to the parlor and she got inked up.

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This was the Logrono shell symbol which she had embellished with a cross.  The entire process took less than an hour and it was altogether a very pleasant experience.  We then wrapped up some remaining shopping errands, ate a snack at the hotel, and took off through the busy streets and into Santa Susana park where we sat for awhile and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

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Later, back at the hotel, we both took long naps, and then packed up our gear to be ready at the crack of dawn to head for the airport.  I went down to the desk to have them order a taxi pickup for us at 6:30 am.  This is always a time of conflicting emotions, of course. Glad to be going home and sad to leave the wonderful experience behind.  Heather said she was most looking forward to hearing English again and to see our dog, Stogie.

At dinner that evening, we saw the Germans we had met on the way down from Cruz de Ferro, the ones who had given Heather the salve made from Calendula flowers.  Again, more hugs and kisses from relative strangers, and a little bit of nostalgia on our part, realizing that we had made many friends along the way and were feeling the regrets that, if we could, we would have enjoyed extending those encounters into long, lasting relationships.

After dinner, Heather went back to the room and I went outside to get some night-time photos of the Cathedral, the surroundings and the great hallways of our hotel.

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Winding Down

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September 20, 2015:  Even though we did not have to be anywhere early today, we were still up by 7:30 and headed downstairs to experience our first breakfast at Hospederia San Martin Pinerio.  This was by far the best breakfast buffet we experienced on the Camino! The large room was bustling with excitement as pilgrims were clearly enjoying the sumptuous offerings of fresh fruit and a wide array of breakfast goodies.  We shared a table with an Irish chap who was quite entertaining telling us of his travails over the Northern Route (Camino del Norte).  When we finished eating, we returned to the room and readied ourselves for the day’s activities.

Just before 10 am, we walked over to the Pilgrim’s Office on Rua Vilar and lined up to received our Compostelas (Official Certificates of Completion).  Directly behind us were two bicyclists who had biked the Camino del Norte.  They were from Utah.  One of the guys had previously lived in Northern Spain while he was completing his Mormon mission several years ago.  It was interesting to get their perspective of what it was like biking the Camino.  As it turned out, they were able to answer a lot of questions Heather and I had asked ourselves while we were walking regarding where they stayed, how many miles they covered per day, and things of that nature. Talking with them and sharing our experiences made the line move more quickly it seemed, and we were soon at the front. Leaving the Pilgrim’s Office we ran into Vic and Heather from Australia!  Great to see them.  They were staying at a hotel at the other side of town.  We said goodbye and gave them a big hug. Also standing in line was the German couple whom we had met at Casa Domingo for lunch a few days back.

While shopping the day before, Heather had spotted a colorful purse/bag that she wanted to buy, so we found that shop and obtained the bag.  Then she put the “tubo” that contained our compostelas in the newly acquired purse and we headed to the Cathedral early so we could get a good seat for the Pilgrim’s Mass that was scheduled for 12 noon.  Realizing we had plenty of time, we toured some of the more interesting parts of the Cathedral including the statue of St James and the “crypt” underneath.  After spending some time looking at several of the small “chapels” that line the sides of the Cathedral, we proceeded over to the main seating area and quietly tried to position ourselves near the side by the massive columns so we could obtain a seat as soon as the current mass was completed.

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To my surprise, I noticed that the tirobolieros (six monks) were getting in place to swing the Botafumiero (the massive incense holder).  I nudged Heather and made her aware of this then pulled out my smart phone to get a video of the entire event.

Not long after, we were leaving the Cathedral and spending an hour or so shopping for gifts for our friends and loved ones along the busy Rua Vilar and all the shops near the Plaza Quintana and Rua Azabacheria.

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We went back to the hotel and Heather took a long nap.  I went outside and sat on the wall facing the north doors of the cathedral and just watched pilgrims come into the area for the first time.

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A concert was just starting up in the plaza right next to the hotel, so I stayed and watched that for awhile.

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When I got back to the room, Heather was still sleeping, so I crawled into my bed and caught some shut-eye.  When we woke up, we walked over to a restaurant I had eaten at last trip to get an early dinner, but it was unfortunately closed for the day.  So we did some more shopping and then went back and ate dinner at the hotel.

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