Honeymoon with My Soul*

I’ve completed “The Way” and had a few days to reflect on the journey.   This final blog is more photo essay than words.

Each represents a piece of the pilgrim experience along the journey some are personal while others not so much:

“Stranger in a Strange Land” at times it felt like that.  

Thanks to the scores of wonderful people from places like Ireland, England, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada, the USA, Korea, Russia, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Poland, Spain, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and those are the countries I can recall — who gave texture to my journey.

Buen Camino 

* Special Thanks to Nena from Denmark from whom I “borrowed” this quotation.

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I Fibbed — So Shoot Me

I’m lying on my bed celebrating the end of my Camino by eating a chocolate bar — love a first bite for me:

As I finished it–yup ate the whole thing:

I knew I had to tell you about attending the Catedral of Santiago today.

Of course, this breaks an implied promise that I’d made awhile ago, not to show anymore religious art or churches.  Well, guess what — I fibbed.  

One day after entering Santiago I attended a daily Santiago ritual — the pilgrim mass.  The Catedral is undergoing restoration work at present–still it’s a handsome sight:

Not as “glamourous as the Catedrals of Burgos and León it was airier than that of darker Pamplona Catedral:

Inside are some interesting sights:

The porcelain-like statues of angels and saints–this photo shows angels attached to the pipes of the organ:

The altar enjoys the same treatment:

I felt compelled to join all of my fellow peregrinos and a multitude of tourists for this daily event.  It was quite the spectacle for Catholics, non-catholics and unbelievers.

The rituals have existed for a long time.  Nuns singing, a multitude of priests speaking a variety of languages.  The building can hold a thousand or so–most stand for the service.  I must say the pageantry did not disappoint:

The march of clergy entering the sacristy:

Then mass:

Then the piece de resistance:

The swinging giant incense burner–around since the Middle Ages — at one time the incense likely dispelled the smell of pilgrims and perhaps was a means to control disease too.  Today it’s a ritual that generates a throng of cameras–it took 6 men to swing the burner:

The burner is on a think rope that was pulled into a very high arc causing it to sail well above the attendees — a most impressive sight:

The incense burner is stationary by the of the service.  

As a “fallen or wayward” catholic I felt a certain impulse to join in with the rituals.  This feeling was short-lived–but damn those folks sure know how to put on a good show!

The Catedral does contain some interesting works:

For example–a twin bust of Popes John and Benedict:

The confessionals are rather unique as well — nice side view with the lamb –this was closed for business:

You can tell by the unlit red light:

This one was open and busy–see the light is on;

I found this sealed door interesting.  It is opened only during Holy Years as announced by the pope.  Tour guides were heard to say people line up for hours to walk through–2021 is your next opportunity:

Once mass ended a long line developed rapidly to “hug” a statue of St James (Santiago). This stands behind the altar.  Again, pilgrims are typically expected to complete this act and then pay respects to the crypt holding St James remains in a silver coffin:

No photos are allowed of the statue or the act of touching it–suffice it to say I did hug him.  Again, getting caught up in ritual.

I did take a photo of the entrance to the crypt:

Shortly thereafter I headed to the official “pilgrim office” to obtain a certificado of my journey.  To obtain this one must have a pilgrim passport stamped along the way–twice a day for the final 100km walked:

This is my stamped passport:

This is my certificado is in Latin — even my name–to get one free one must have done “The Way” for religious or spiritual reasons:

Surprisingly, the journey did become spiritual.  

Go figure!

Buen Camino

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Camino Bits & Pieces (Final)

Late today I arrived in Santiago thus ending my journey.  Even so, I have a few more photos to share.

This is a foggy morning — fairly typical in the mountains:

I knew it possible, but finally witnessed some folks riding horses on the Camino — the guides have “Camino de Santiago” printed on their coats:

The nightlife can get unique here:

Fairly common path in the past week or so often a stream or creek runs alongside:

This pond was in a backyard–quite lovely:

The entire journey often ventured near gardens and/or swathes of wild flower:

The marker that designates official Santiago:

More flowers–this beautiful garden lit up the Camino:

This sculpture was different–and stark all at once:”

Buen Camino

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More Camino Bits & Pieces

There is too much to see at times on the journey. Still, I love sharing photos especially random examples of what it’s like to travel in Spain.  

Please indulge me in this “study” of life:
Love the horns–dissimilar to the Texas Longhorn, yet there is an eerie similarity:

Livestock in town–common sight be they cows, chickens, horses or in this case sheep:

Cheaper and easier than cutting the grass:

Children’s clothing store–first communion or junior royalty:

On a pilgrimage in a catholic nation religious art depicting saints, Christ and pilgrims is ever present — of Celtic origin located on a wall below the town church:

Conversely, more mainstream art can also be seen in public spaces:

Vineyards grow with cherry trees in many locales:

Storks are ever present.  Large birds who build large nests on church steeples, towers or any high spots:

Often houses are built over water–if you can’t beat ’em join them, I guess:

By the way, this has nothing to do with harnessing water for electric power.

Towns here also have suburbs:

Futbal (soccer to Americans)  is popular throughout Spain:

Weather can impact travelers anytime:

The beautiful St. Marta is the Catedral of Astorga:

Surrounding the front entrance:

This building stands next door to the Catedral is more famous.  It’s the Palacio Episcopal or Bishop’s House designed by the famous Spanish architect Gaudi. Not as “interesting” as some of Gaudi’s other designs, it still stands out with its unusually high turrets–perhaps he influenced Walt Disney’s castles:

Public plazas are the norm throughout the country and people  stoll there, kick soccer balls, eat at adjacent cafes and generally enjoy them:

When one travels to Europe there is always an expectation of romance. After all, this country and for that matter Europe was borne of knights, chivalry, “The Song Of Roland” (look it up on line if you care), etc.  This photo is of a bridge that one knight had to battle 300 other knights from throughout Europe over the period of a month– jousting with each and defeating them in order to win the hand of his lord’s daughter — now isn’t that romantic:

Oh, so thought I was kidding.  Well, for your information its commemorated each year in that same town–participate if you dare:

Until we meet again!

Buen Camino

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Chasing the Clouds

The past few days have involved climbing, rain and lots of mud. But today was different–got up quite early and made good use of a flashlight.  Occasionally some other light also came into play:

From a motorway tunnel:

the moon too:

Nearly an hour into the day a chef from Britain fell in with me — as it turned out Ray and I walked and talked for almost 7 hours.

Fortunately, for us the weather cooperated and the views were outstanding as we eventually climbed over 4,300 feet;

The landscape has the look of Italy or the California wine country –Mediterranean:

The path was more crowded the closer we got — at the top were bus loads of tourists getting an all together different look at “our” newly conquered mountain.  

All the structures in the mountain village of O’Cebreiro were made of stone:

After hours of climbing I felt energized and compelled to continue.  Shortly thereafter I passed a large statue of a pilgrim heading west into a strong wind:

Soon down the mountain I continued coming across a number of critters — it sure seemed like the dogs outnumbers these cows:

and some of my favorites–roosters who crowed as I walked by:

loved this pony–mud and all:

Crossing the mountain meant the move from the province of León to Galacia:

The final stretch leading to Santiago was within my grasp.

I soon landed on a spot for the night.  As I entered two Russians were quibbling with the proprietor over shampoo. They needed some and the price was too steep.  Since I had several small containers in-hand I gave them one.  In return they asked me to join them for dinner.  

On the Camino one meets the world so I agreed to sit with Olga and Eleni.  Well, their mastery of English was vastly superior to my ability to speak Russian — that is to say we spoke rubbish.  So there was embarrassed laughter, several quiet pauses and lots of “charades” in play.  After some time passed I excused myself, wished them well and went back to my bed.

As I lay in bed I was beginning to fully realize that the journey would soon end.  There was 100 miles left to go to Santiago.

So it goes on the Camino!

Buen Camino

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Wet Not Wild

Since coming to Spain nary a drop of rain had fallen on me. Well, these past three days ended that streak.  Oh boy, did it ever!

As I slogged through mud, grit and oodles of puddles some things still stood out.  Each of the last three days we’ve been climbing higher into the mountains. At times rain and fog are at eye level–pretty cool to see:

When it clears a bit the mountains are beautiful:

The plants here seem exotic likely due to the climate — lots of cooling rain:

These trees look like characters from Disneys film “Frozen”:

While these look like succulents that are out of place:

The yellow flowers look especially bright on a dark and rainy day:

Even up here one will see the weird and unusual:

An encampment of medieval gypsies:

The Cruz de Ferro which is 4,934 ft. above sea level–a place for recalling why we are making this journey.  I set rock on it for a recently departed friend:

We are all in rain gear as we cruise down to Ponferrada–hoping to find warm and dry places to spend the night:

The sun will occasionally show itself and we all we all speed up to reach our next destination before the rains come again:

Buen Camino 

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Camino de Santiago–more bits ‘n pieces

Traveling opens the door to many new horizons.  Going on a multi-week walk slows life down so one sees more than if the travel was by car or even bicycle.

These photos are in no specific order, however they’ve struck my fancy:

This symbol must be international–yes:

Widlife is a relative idea:

Food trucks are everywhere:

Small towns and villages are still alive and kicking–thanks to the Camino:

The big cities ain’t doing too bad either:

My goodness can one just can’t escape the “Big Bang Theory”:

I stayed in this village which turned out to be the home of the oldest European humans discovered so far.  in caved.  You can visit the dig sites:

Later I visited the Museo of Human Ecology that tells the story of man including what’s been found in Atapuerca in the city of Burgos–creepy in a cool sort of way:

Our family tree–so far:

Loved the museum– verbiage was in English and Spanish.

This is kind of forward thinking we like to see in a religion–so those who want to donate more to renovate a church:

A different way to play this sport:

No civil war is ever truly forgotten–this is a memorial to executed Republican martyrs:

One thing about the Camino–friends are made quickly:

And home can literally be any place–and no hobbits don’t live here.  These hillside “rooms” were used by the locals to store wine, winemaking equipment, as well as foodstuffs:

Buen Camino

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