The “X” Memories – Walking down the Camino memory lane

xanthic arrow

xanthic arrow

Ah – those xanthic arrows! I had to look hard for “X” words, and as you will see, I could only come up with two, but they are good ones!

So xanthic means “of or relating to yellow”. The yellow arrow is a very common symbol of the Camino. We love the yellow arrows as they confirm the “way” to go. They can be found on just about anything permanent – a wall, a tree, a building, a post – – name it, it can have a yellow arrow.

Elías Valiña, pastor of O Cebreiro, was the first pioneer who began on his pilgrimage to sign the route with this symbol, then spread it on all the way. He was originally from Sarria, although he settled in O Cebreiro as a priest. He studied the history of the Camino, which was the subject of his doctoral thesis. Between the end of the 1970s, and the early 1980s, the marking  of the French Way (Camino Frances) was undertaken. Today, pilgrims can be secure in knowing the arrows will guide his way.

xyloglyphy

xyloglyphy

My other “X” word is xyloglyphy. You won’t find its definition in the abridged dictionary, but it can be found in the extended version. It means an artistic wood carving.

There are many artists on the Camino that work with wood. I found many wood statues of St. James, often placed at the entrance of albergues or churches.

I found this particular one in a small town in Basque Country. There was an abundance of art of  just about every form, from the works in stained glass, marble statues, wooden art pieces, and paintings done hundreds of years before my country was discovered! The Camino experience can be not only spiritual but artistic as well.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The “W” Memories – Walking down the Camino Memory Lane

Walk in my shoes

Walk in my shoes

Every pilgrim’s Camino is personal and different. We might walk the same roads, sleep in the same albergues, attend the same masses but every single pilgrim comes with its own personal experiences, thoughts and dreams.

When I saw these boots, I was reminded of the statement “Walk a mile in my shoes” meaning live my life as I am living it before thinking you might know of me.

This stands true for every experience we have in life. We shouldn’t assume or believe we know what the other person is feeling, thinking or experiencing – our journeys are very unique and personal.

Watermelon Carrier

Watermelon Carrier

I often found myself laughing out loud when seeing something funny or unique. I was reminded of times I heard “have laptop, will travel” or “have suitcase, will travel”.

In this case, thanks to this handy grocery store watermelon carrier, I could actually say “Have watermelon, will travel”! What an interesting carrier!

Weary

Weary

Oh, how many times did I feel like this weary pilgrim depicted in this statue… More than I care to admit, but almost all times, it was a good weary.

Especially during the first week of walking, regardless of the training I had done (and for my second camino, I had trained extensively) the end of day would find me in complete state of tired, sore and exhausted.

Fortunately, a few weeks into the walking and the body adjusts so amazingly that most evenings would finished with me being tired but not sore nor exhausted.

Welcome

Welcome

We often would walk so many kilometers waiting to see a village or town in the far distance. Some of the towns announced their presence ahead of their town limits with signs or in this case, monuments. What a welcomed sight!

It was much like a little fanfare showing us the way into the town or village, and for many of us, it meant a chance for a short rest, a cafe con leche, a bite to eat, a location to buy a few items.

worker

worker

I barely noticed this field worker as I walked by as I was so fixated on the road ahead of me.

I noticed just how small he seemed in this vast field, and I realized what a huge job he had, tending to this field by hand. I couldn’t quite make out what he was doing, but every so often he would bend down and totally disappear from view, only to resurface a minute later.

It made me feel very humbled and blessed that I was taking so many weeks to walk the Camino and wondered if he ever walked it on his own.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

the “V” Memories – Walking down the Camino memory lane

Vaca que rie

Vaca que rie

La Vaca que rie – The Laughing cow cheese – one of my go-to snacks on the Camino.

Surprisingly enough, it could be kept without having to be refrigerated, making this a great snack. And as mentioned before, in Spain, cheese is very inexpensive – a quarter of the cost back home.

It was a quick snack with few calories but great taste. I was told by my friend Bruno that in Italy, this is called “Kid’s cheese” because parents spread this on bread for breakfast for the kids. Well, I am  KID… at HEART!

View

View

Isn’t this view spectacular! Where as the view in the Meseta (the equivalent of our prairies in Canada) was flat, Galicia is all mountains – This was talen at the top pf O’Cebreiro. This had been a rough climbing day, but well worth it!

village

village

I always got excited when I could see a village or town on the horizon. It often meant time for a coffee, lunch or an albergue for the night.

Notice the terracotta coloured roofs – a uniform look to most houses in small villages. Even the smallest village had a plaza mayor, typical the center of the town, and most had a church, and an evening short mass and blessing held for the pilgrims.

Vast

Vast

The only word that comes to my mind when I see this picture, is VAST!

Enormous fortress gates surrounded this city and their size certainly amazed me.

I look like a little peanut but I like that having me in the picture really shows scale.

Not all cities have these gates as many old structures have succumbed to time, city growth and damage. There’s really nothing comparable size wise in our very new country of Canada!

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The “U” Memories – Walking the Camino Memory Lane

unique

unique

This unique window treatment caught my eye. First off, there is the year 1967. Not sure if this is when the house was built, the owners moved it, or a commemoration of another celebration.

The small figures at the top represent a bullfighter, a picador  and a damsel. Let’s not forget the two bulls. And to complete the scene, two letters “M”.

I’m sure there is an entire short story surrounding this unique window, one which I will likely not ever know.

Union

Union

This is a flag of France, with a little flag of Canada. While on my first Camino I met a group of 5 French pilgrims who became my good friends.

We grew closer as the days went by, and by our arrival in Santiago, much like in the movie The Way, we did not really want to part.

In honour of our newly formed friendship, I felt appropriate to sew one of my flag patches on their flag.

A symbol of our union.

 

Unusual

Unusual

Isn’t this a most unusual fountain.

I think what makes it most unusual is the facial features, and most specifically the eyebrows.

It seems, to me, this conveys emotion of surprise, concern or maybe just weariness.

I don’t recall where I found this fountain but I do remember heading towards it thinking this was one of the strangest one I had ever seen.

 

upwards

upward

This photo was taken in Vitoria and yes, I have lots of pictures from that city, because there was a bounty of unusual and different things to see.

I like the idea that this upward set of multiple staircases is flanked by smooth stoned paths, no doubt offering another option for climbing or descending this rather steep terrain. In the 30 minutes or so I spent taking pictures of this location, I only saw 3 people take the stairs – most everyone preferred the smooth path.

Vitoria is the city where I found outdoor escalators; it’s a very hilly city and it reminded me of Quebec City in my country, Canada.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The “T” Memories – walking down the Camino memory lane

Tin container

Tin container

If I wasn’t trying to keep my pack as light as possible, I would have bought this cookie tin in Burgos. What a beautiful tin box!

It features the majestic Burgos cathedral – a profile I will forever recognize as I actually started in that city on my first Camino in 2011.

This is also where my third Camino abruptly came to an end due to a health challenge – and where I will restart my Camino in 2016.

trees galore

trees galore

What an amazing sight – trees as far as the eye could see.

This picture was taken in Leon, atop an archway structure (hence, the bird’s eye view). These trees are very unique as they are gnarly and twisted.

I don’t know the name of this type of tree, but they can be often found flanked side by side.

Tomas

Tomas

May I introduce you to a well known Camino legend called Tomas. He can be found in his little shrine-like structure a few kilometer walk past the Cruz de Ferro, in Manjarin. Tomas was a businessman who walked the Camino and experienced a calling to become a Knight Templar. Tomas does daily sword rituals and prayers for pilgrims, hosts lunches and dinners in his rustic albergue and is quite a colourful pilgrim.

A visit is a must as you make your way from the Cruz de Ferro into Foncebadon. You will not be disappointed!

tomb

tomb

San Juan de Ortega, also know as Saint John the Hermit, became a priest at a young age.

Juan established at Urteca a hospice for lodging pilgrims and other travelers. He devoted his manual labors to the construction and repair of bridges and roads for the pilgrim route to Compostela. It is quite a feeling to be standing in front of this revered saint’s tomb.  It was only during the process of selecting pictures for this blog that I noticed my reflection on the information panel.

time-s

Imagine my surprise when I walked into this little restaurant/store to see all these clocks telling the time of each city listed.

Wouldn’t you know – the one for Canada was titled OTTAWA, my home town!

What a thrill not only to see the Canadian flag,  but to read my home town’s name – on the Camino!

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The “S” Memories – walking down the Camino memory lane

Stork bra

Stork nest bra

Storks are in abundance in Spain. We see stork nests everywhere during the spring months.

The pair of parents take turns watching the nest as one of the two flies away to get food for  their little ones.

This particular nest caught my eye as I tried to make out what was that black item on the left side of the nest. As I used my zoom on my camera I finally figured out what is what – a little black lace bra – a Stork nest bra!

I made a mental note NOT to hang my clothes out during stork season!

statue-s

There are so many statues in Spain, especially concentrated in some of the churches and cathedrals. I don’t recall exactly where I took this picture (I’m thinking it’s in O’Cebreiro) and what I like about this particular statue was the stance of the person it portrayed.

The artist even added a real sword. I liked that this was a unique pose rather than the traditional standing pose we often see.

stairway to heaven-s

I call this picture “stairway to heaven”. From my vantage point this is what it looked to be – a staircase leading to the skies.

There are many old abandoned buildings in Spain. I recall walking through seemingly ghost town-like hamlets and small villages where no one could be found. I imagine at some point in time, all these hamlets were filled with laughter, joy and lots of residents.

simple pleasures

simple pleasures

Simple pleasures were easy to find on the Camino. Things that usually wouldn’t really mean much to me became treasures of the day while on the Camino.

Good local delicious cheese, uniquely flavoured chocolate (this one was flavoured with olive oil!) and good reading material made for a wonderful treat.

Oh, how simple life became on the Camino – perhaps simple items, but always an enriching experience.

signs

signs

What an absolute joy I would have when seeing any such signs indicating I was approaching a village, hamlet or town.

At times I would walk 8, 10,12 kilometers with no indication of nearby civilization; then, my eyes would rest on a while sign in the distance, and I knew I was getting close to a cafe or an albergue.

Stained Glass Shells

Stained Glass Shells

My husband Steve and I created stained glass works for many years. I’ve always been intrigued by this art, and I chanced upon this particular piece as part of a frontage of a house.

These shells are actually painted on the glass, alike most of the faces of church and cathedral stained glass windows. This is such a nice Camino-themed piece!

 

Symbols of the Camino

Symbols of the Camino

When one thinks of the Camino, many symbols come to mind that represent it. The shell is likely one of the most common one (along with the yellow arrows).

This little shop displayed various Camino related items. I’ve seen this particular shop photographed many times by pilgrims and tourists alike.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The “R” Memories – Walking the Camino Memory Lane

Resilience

Resilience

Resilience – this is all I could think about when I saw this lone poppy growing on the side of a stone wall. How amazing is this!

Of course, poppies hold a special place in my heart as it was my dear sister Denise’s favorite flower. Resilience is something we all have deep inside us when we face difficult situations – Like this flower, we must fight and work and grow even in the barest of conditions…

Reflection

Reflection

 

Reflection – something we do all the time as we walk on the Camino… Self reflection on our past, on choices in life, the paths we chose and the direction we select…

What a beautiful location to take a picture – I am reflected but momentarily in the water, a moment in time which will never occur again… at least, no in the same way of this particular moment. How still was this moment for me – and I can assure you, the Camino journey is one of endless reflections…

Remembering

Remembering

Pilgrims die on the Camino. Often, crosses, tombstones and grave markers are placed in their memory and honour, ans as we walked by those markers, we remember them, even though we likely do not know of them. It’s a action of respect.

The Camino is NOT a walk in the park, but it also is something most can actually do, as long as one listens to one’s body and mind, and take one’s time.

 

resting-s

Resting is just as important to a pilgrim as walking. One needs to rest when the body tells us to rest. This particular location is a special place to rest – special to me. My friends Rebekah and Patrick of Moratinos maintain this location. I knew nothing of them the first time I sat on this bench but got to know them during my stay in Moratinos.

It is people like them who care about the Camino, the pilgrims and the value of the journey who make our experience that much better… Thank you Rebekah and Patrick – from Canada, I send you my best!

Reflection of light

Reflection of light

There are moments on the Camino that take one’s breath away. I walked into this small church, tired, weary and somewhat a bit lost.

I sat down and started to think about my journeys on the Camino, and the sun was setting in such a way that it cast its rays through the windows. I looked up and saw this display of colours changing with each passing minute – and at a precise moment, I felt an urge to try to capture the sun peeking through the stained glass window. A perfect moment displaying the reflection of light.

Somehow, this just made my heart feel warm and I gained the energy and strength to walk an additional 8 kilometers. At times, inspiration and encouragement manifest themselves in peculiar ways.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The “Q” Memories – walking down the Camino memory lane

You might have thought that finding pictures with the letter “Q” would be difficult.
Yes, it was – – however, I did find a few…

Queso

Queso

Queso – or cheese in Spanish – Spain has some award winning cheeses.

Goat’s or cow’s cheese, both are very common in Spain and in abundance. I was so surprised at the low cost of cheese compared to back home in Canada.

Bruno, the owner of the albergue San Bruno in Moratinos is Italian, and he often makes tiramisu for dessert for the pilgrims. I went with him to the market to get mascarpone cheese and figured it would cost a small fortune, but it turns out even processed or imported cheeses cost about 1/3 of the cost in Canada. Go figure!

The next two (yes, I only have three today…) stand for the word quaint…

Quaint

Quaint

These are quaint bodegas – no, not little hobbit houses or elf dens. These little caves in the mountain actually housed (some still do) wine.

In Moratinos, there are over 25 of these still in existence. I visited the one owned by friends and I was quite surprised how big each one can be. One restaurant actually combined a few – quite interesting of a decor.

The next quaint location is in front of a flower shop in Santiago. I found this to be such an inviting storefront. and the person who runs this shop is really very nice and friendly.

 

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The “P” Memories – Walking down the Camino memory lane

Pulpo

Pulpo

Delicious Pulpo (octopus).

In Galicia, this is a delicacy and one can find pulpo in specialized restaurants called pulperia. You can also buy in on the street at the outdoor market.

The pulpo is boiled in copper caldrons, cut with scissors and typically served on a wooden round plate drizzled with olive oil and hot paprika.

Praying statue

Praying statue

During a visit in the city of Palencia I entered a church about mid day. The sun was shining through a clear window and I stood in awe in front of this beautiful praying statue.

The details of the face was so delicate, it almost seemed real. It is my favorite statue picture and when I look at it, it fills me with serenity.

Peaceful

Peaceful

Many people asked me if I found it difficult to walk on my own. I actually often preferred walking solo because it allowed me the time to re-evaluate my life, think of the past and the present, and plan for the future.

I never felt truly alone even  though not a single pilgrim could be seen for kilometers; I felt peaceful and tranquil.

 

precariously perched-sWhen I walked in May and June, the storks could be found just about everywhere in their huge nests. Both parents would take turn going to get food for their little baby birds. I was always amazed at the size of their nests, and where they chose to make their nests. Often they could be seen on top of churches and buildings but in this case, the nest was precariously perched on a pole! A straight pole! Although we pilgrims found those birds interesting, the locals see storks the way we often see pigeons; dirty, loud and messy. It’s all about perspective!

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

The “O” Memories – Walking down the Camino Memory Lane

Ornate

Ornate

I walked into a small boutique hotel to ask for directions, and I chanced upon one of the most original entrance way.

This ornate ironwork gate caught my eye.

The sun was shining through the open wall sections and I stood there, mesmerized by these black swirls that made up this gate.

 

old and new-sDuring my walks in the various cities and towns, I noticed that often there were glaring sights of the juxtaposition of the old and the new.

Old, very old cathedrals were surrounded by very modern buildings. New city areas kept old lamp posts and street signs, and none were more strongly depicted as this scene – a very modern metro rapidly passing by the old church. What a dichotomy!

Opulance

Opulence

The churches and cathedrals on the Camino are filled with opulence.

These works of art, be they paintings, statues, columns, stained glass windows all blend together to offer a smorgasbord of historical fingerprints of their creators.

I could spend hours simply admiring the various pieces of art, however most times I only had an hour in the evenings to glance, see and capture them in photograph.

orderly-sOften the early risers arrived at the albergues before they were opened. The etiquette of waiting is such that pilgrims place their packs in the next available position. When the doors opened, the pilgrims rejoined their backpacks and filled in order.

I always thought this was such a sight – and reminded me of my grade school days when we used to stand in fill waiting to come inside the school, or leave for the day. Quite civilized, don’t you think?

 

Original chiminey

Original chimney

My last picture is of this most original chimney. Built to match the roof of its attached house, I found this to be very unique and interesting.

The builder must have been very meticulous and somewhat of an artist to take the time to create this quirky but enchanting chimney.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/