Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 9: We made it!

Today, in the pouring rain, our group of pilgrims who started as strangers and have ended as friends, made our way to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It's hard to believe that we did it but we have officially joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who have walked the Way of St. James.

Upon arriving, there were hugs and tears in the rain as we stood in front of the magnificent cathedral. From there we headed to the Pilgrims Office to receive our final stamp in our passport and the Compostela signifying we have met the requirements. Tomorrow we tour the cathedral and then we get to roam the city.

In retrospect I can't really say what I thought I would feel at the end of this journey. Certainly pride and a sense of accomplishment, but there is something else as well which I can't express in words. Something spiritual about walking the same steps as so many have done for thousands of years. All I know is that it has been an experience like no other in my life and I know it will remain with me forever.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 8: Only 15 km to go!

Today was both grueling and gorgeous. The weather was spectacular, the trails scenic, and the picnic lunch gourmet all combined with a never-ending 22 km walk. Tonight we are staying at the magnificent Casa de Grande, a converted Pilgrim's hostel that has been in the same family for 200 years.

I honestly didn't think I would make it today but the spirit of St. James seems to be pulling me along. I almost cried when I made it to the meeting point at the end of the day and the other Pilgrim's in my group, who had already been there for a while waiting, cheered and clapped that I had made it. I look at the map each night and wonder how it is possible I am able to make it each day, but somehow I keep getting through it, praise God.

Tomorrow we enter Santiago. Only 15 km to go and 145 km behind us. They are calling for more rain but we are hoping it will hold out until we get to the cathedral around 3 or 4. Wish us our last buen Camino for tomorrow! Ciao amigos.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 7: What I imagined, finally!

The walk today was truly magnificent. Precisely what I thought it would be. Blue skies, rolling hills, lush woodlands, through several 10-house villages filled with sheep, cows and chickens. Stone houses dating back to the 15th century. Tomorrow is supposed to be a tough one. 22 km which will take us to the 15 km mark and then Sunday we walk the last 15 into Santiago. Almost there!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 6: Sunshine and blue sky

Not sure if it was the sun or if we are just getting stronger but today seemed much easier. We arrived at Melide in a record 5.5 hours after walking 19.5 km. We now have 109 behind us and 51 to go. We arrive in Santiago on Monday. For the next 2 nights we are staying in a former Galician palace on land once owned by the Knights-Templar dating back to the 15th century. I wish I could upload photos, but my posts never go through when photos are attached so they will have to wait until I return.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crossed the halfway point today!

Day 5: Another cold rainy day, but we persevered. Other than the steep climb first thing this morning, the rest of the day's hills were long vs. steep. We walked through many little villages and saw more pilgrims today than other days. As I struggle to complete this pilgrimage, I have to constantly remind myself that I am doing it on behalf of those who cannot and that helps me to press on. Today was only 19 km. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 4: Up and down, up and down, up and down...

I have finally accepted that there are not going to be many flat paths on the Camino. All day it is up and down. I could never have done this without my walking poles and boots. Of course the rain gear has come in handy too. Today we "walked" 7 hours in the rain. It was miserable. As of this post we have completed 71 km of the 160 and I'm feeling every inch. We passed the 100 km marker to Santiago as well and ONLY have 89 to go. They are calling for rain all week until Saturday. Oh well, it just adds to the challenge right? Buenos noches muchachos!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 3: YAY!!! Downhill today!

Miraculously I felt refreshed this morning. One of my fellow pilgrims is a Reflexologist and she targeted my hips and back. Other than some tight calf muscles this morning, which were relieved by stretching, I decided to forego the bus and go for it. A good decision as the weather was improved, still rainy but bits of sunshine, and the scenery was glorious. Tonight we are headed to another monastery in Samos for Vespers and a pilgrim's mass. Today we walked 19 km, yesterday 21 km and 5 Sunday. Tomorrow...22 km...YIKES!!

Day 2: More climbing...when does the walking start?

Falsely confident after yesterday's climb, we started the day climbing in the rain which eventually turned to sleet and very high winds. After a few hours of this I was asking what I had gotten myself into? By lunch, which wasn't until after we had "walked" 15 km and not until 2 pm, I was having serious doubts and the bus was looking more appealing. Add to that getting lost and the fact my body hated me, the jury is still out about tomorrow.

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Day 1: Climbing to the monestary

The train arrived in Leon with just enough time to see the cathedral before our meeting and departure. We drove to O Cebriero where we had our first opportunity to walk...just under 3 miles, all up hill. The view was spectacular but the cold rain made the climb challenging. At the top we reached our accommodations in a former monastery for the night. There was a Pilgrim's mass and incredible meal. Rain again tomorrow but hopefully I will get some photos to share. We begin at 9:15 with a slight climb up the mountain and then we begin our decent.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

We've arrived in Spain!

After bidding adios to Rome, we headed to the airport for our flight to Spain. After finding our hotel and getting settled we headed out for tapas and wine. Tomorrow we take the train to Leon and begin our camino. It's been a long day and morning will come early. Ciao!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Leaving for Spain tomorrow!

Tomorrow Lucy and I will fly into Madrid after a full week in Rome. We both agree that all the walking in Rome has been good preparation for our Camino. The first day of our pilgrimage will be Sunday. Join us as we embark on the journey of a lifetime. Ciao!