The journey only requires you to put one foot in front of the other …again and again and again. If you can find beauty every step of the way, you are truly blessed.
An early start to a thirty kilometer walk today with random conversations and historic villages along the way. I arrive at the steps reaching the bridge into Logrono catching the tourist information office gentleman at the top just as he is about ready to close. The excellent map he gives me makes my journey to tonight’s lodging a piece of cake allowing me time to pay it forward and help another young pilgrim find the municipal albergue in time for her to get a bed.
Seems like I’m just getting my trail legs and this Camino has ended. The departure process now begins with a bus, three planes, my very first Uber ride until my little red car takes me all the way back to the border of Minnesota/South Dakota.
It may be time to go home, but it’s never too early to start planning the next adventure… I am truly blessed.
Cold, rain and fog accompany us as we walk through the Pyrennees from Refuge Orrison to Roncesvalles. The thumping sound of large, raindrops pelt against my rain gear… a constant drumming throughout the day. Soaked gloves offer no protection from the cold resulting in numb fingers and toes. Large flocks of sheep hunker down together, staring at the passing Pilgrims as if to say, …and they say sheep are dumb. We later discover that the mountain was closed to those leaving St. Jean that day.
Maybe I do feel like a hiking beast…
The following stretch from Roncesvalles to Larrasoana provides a much better day for hiking with plenty of photo opportunities due to the pleasant weather. I am much more appreciative of this wonderful weather today due to the rough weather yesterday. Minnesotans learn this lesson early in life.
September 26, 2016: Down we go… Joan was missing this section of the Camino from El Acebo to Ponferrada, so descending down this mountain path was necessary to finalize the journey.
After a taxi ride speeding up the dark, winding mountain road, the driver drops us off at El Acebo and at first we are amazed at the changes in this charming village. A huge, new albergue greets us complete with swimming pool, restaurant and a deck overlooking the valley below. Where is the quaint little village we remember so well?
We wait for daylight, slowly making our way down the mountain and I now remember why I love this stage of the camino. The scenery is becoming greener and the mountains provide layers of beauty which makes it difficult to believe this is our last day of hiking. Seems like we should keep going. We arrive back in Ponferrada later that day and go in search of an establishment willing to provide us with a celebratory meal even though it’s much earlier than the usual Spanish meal time.Thankfully, family owned El Portiel Meson adjusted their schedule just for us and cleaned out their refrigerator to provide a hearty meal complete with wine and a complimentary after dinner liquor. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
I will confess that I am a camino addict and a large part of me doesn’t want the journey to end. I love the simple life… get up, put the backpack on and start walking (To my first cup of coffee). But that isn’t real life, is it?
I’ve been choosing my top three picks for photos from each day of this camino and to wrap things up I’m also choosing three words I hope will provide meaning and impact in my daily life.
Top three photos and top three words to bring it home:
1) Acceptance ~ It is what it is.2) Endurance ~ Personal growth from experiences no matter how difficult.3) Appreciation ~ Live in the moment and enjoy the journey…no matter how long it takes.
Third time’s a charm…Thank you to my sister, Joan, for all of the planning along with her meticulously designed spreadsheets, and especially for including me in these adventures.
September 23, 2016: Two options today ~ follow the highway path or take the longer alternate path. We naturally opt for the longer route since we rarely seem to do anything the easy way.
Short video of the day featuring the inspiration for our morning mantra ~ …Coffee Town:
As usual, we follow an arrow to proceed straight ahead. What’s this? A set of large railroad tracks loom ahead and we are hesitant to cross since neither of us like to break rules. Hmmm…? Turn around and back we go to find this little arrow pointing to a road that winds us through town, up and over a pedestrian railroad crossing. Safety first and it’s a good thing we like to walk.
The 13th century bridge taking us into Hospital Orbigo is the longest one on the Camino at 204 metres long (approximately 670 feet) and has 20 arches. The river that it crosses doesn’t seem to appear to warrant such a lengthy bridge, but prior to a dam being built at Barrios de Luna the river was a lot wider. ~Galicia Guide
This bridge has facilitated trade since Roman times including the passage of livestock as part of the cattle trail Camino de la Canada, as well as sweaty pilgrims. ~John Brierly
I see our albergue! A sign can be spotted from the bridge so we have finally arrived. The albergue tonight is connected to a bar/restaurant which means we have a zero kilometer walk tonight. Yes!
Why does it seem to take so long to get to the historic part of Leon? A population of 130,000 may have something to do with it as well as getting off the Camino path. Where are those yellow arrows?
We fumble our way to the cathedral and are happy to find beds for tonight close to the cathedral.
Leon was a Roman military garrison and base for its VIIth Legion, hence the name derived from Legion. Later it became the capital of the old kingdoms of Asturias and Leon conquered and re-conquered by Visigoth, Moor and finally Christian forces. ~John Brierly Guide
The Latin name (Legio) converged with the word for lion (leo) over the centuries as Latin grew up and became Spanish, ending with the city name of Leon. ~A Texan in SpainThanks to Blair from Australia/Ireland we are made aware of a significant building in the historic city center. Above you see a Neo-Gothic style building designed at the turn of the century by famous Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi .
Looking closer, we see a stone sculpture of Saint George as he is slaying a dragon above the principal entrance. During the restoration of the building in 1950, workers discovered a tube of lead under the sculpture containing the original plans signed by Gaudí and press clippings from the era. ~Wikipedia