the “N” Memories – Walking down the Camino Memory Lane

Nave

Nave

This is a view of one of the nave in the Cathedral of Santiago. I took the picture during a rooftop walk that turned out to be an amazing experience.

Up from where I was, is where many of the medieval pilgrims stayed. The Cathedral is a beautiful sight to see, and during my two weeks of volunteering in Santiago, I visited the cathedral every single day. I think I covered all the locations available to us as pilgrims.

My next series of pictures I title “No Canvas, no problem” – and it features some of the many painted walls and structures in the city of Vitoria in the Basque area of Spain. I just am in awe of the talent of those who did these art murals.

No canvas no problem

No canvas no problem

No canvas, no problem 2

No canvas no problem 2

No canvas no problem 3

No canvas no problem 3

No canvas no problem 4

No canvas no problem 4

No canvas no problem 5

No canvas no problem 5

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

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

The “M” memories – walking down the Camino Memory Lane

Today’s post has many “M” photos… so let’s get going!

Majestic tree

Majestic trees

First off… the Majestic trees- These trees caught my eye as soon as I saw them on the horizon.

Standing on their own – they seemed to have an imposing presence, and for sure, they hadvery interesting shapes…

They really stood out among all others.

 

Marking

Marking

There are all types of markings on the Camino, from the very prominent yellow arrows to the more subdue city signs. I was told that many cities did not want the bright yellow arrows so they devised many original ways to show “the way” while blending in with the surroundings. This is a marker in the town of Carrion de los Condes.

I’m wearing my Crocs which means this was after my daily walk – I often walked about the town once I had settled in the albergue for the day.

Mishap

Mishap

Every now and then, mishaps happen. Although this looks very tragic, the outcome was fine although the person in the bottom bunk opted to stay where he was since the worse had happened already. The strange thing is that the pilgrim who was in the top bunk was a wee tiny Japanese woman who couldn’t have weighed more than 105 pounds. I suspect the bed was simply damaged and her movement was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”… All were fine.

Morning treat

Morning treat

Ah – a wonderful morning treat, albeit not available everywhere… I had this beautiful churros and chocolate (yes, that’s a cup of almost pure melted chocolate) at a wonderful cafe in Burgos called Cafe Ibanez in Burgos, very close to the cathedral. What a treat!

There is no need to worry about calories when one walks 6-8 hours per day!

mist-sMisty mornings have their charm – and some mornings the mist was so thick you could barely see ahead.

Within the first hour after sunrise, the mist disappeared. Oh those mornings were nothing short of enchanting!

 

Mystery

Mystery

What mystery lies behind that unique door? What went on in that house and who lived there? How many children were running around or what quiet couple spent their last years together? My mind would often make up these possible stories as I walked by such mysterious settings.

Ah yes, the wild imagination of a mind in motion – it’s amazing how much creativity I felt on those long days of walking…

My last picture is simply one of a mustache… a very unique one at that!

mustache

mustache

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

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

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

Long and Winding Road

Long and Winding Road

There is something so peaceful about a long and winding road (Cue the Beatles song). I never saw these roads as huge undertaking but as a quiet opportunity to think. Of course this would be a different story if this was after walking 6 hours already!

I admit I preferred the paths that were further away from the paved road. Being in deep thought and suddenly hearing cars go by doesn’t render itself to peaceful thinking. Nonetheless, when we are walking 300-500-800 km, we take all types of roads.

It’s all part of the journey.

Labyrinth?

Labyrinth?

I call this one Labyrinth but I’m not sure it truly is one, or one of those meditation circles.There are quite a few on the Camino, and this one seemed so perfectly placed in a wonderful location, mid point between two small villages.

And if you wonder whether I walked it all, I can tell you I certainly did. It’s made of stones perfectly placed and well maintained.

Lovely!

Lovely!

I thought this art was so lovely. This is found in the city of Vitoria, where painted walls can be found everywhere.

I was so impressed with the beautiful paintings often covering entire buildings.

I could actually create a slide show consisting entirely of Vitoria wall art and it would be amazing! This city was one of my favorite finds of my 2013 Camino.

Laves of pink

Laves of pink

At first sight, I thought these were beautiful pink flowers, and it wasn’t until I looked closer that I realized they weren’t flowers, but leaves! Pink leaves! 

I have no idea what type of tree this was, and I was taken by the beauty of it.

Thanks for joining me on my virtual Camino tour!

 

 
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The “K” Memories – walking down the memory Camino Lane

Kaleidoscope window

Kaleidoscope window

The beautiful kaleidoscope coulours of this stained glass window are simply spectacular. So many of the churches and cathedrals have some of the most elaborately painted glass storyboards, and having had the opportunity to make stained glass pieces with my husband Steve, my eye is always looking to see light shining through  the churches’ masterpieces.

Knight in shining armor?

Knight in shining armor?

During my first Camino in 2011, I chanced upon this knight and his horse as they stood near a small village’s plaza mayor. The first time I saw him I assumed he was part of a renaissance fair. I didn’t think of asking him for a picture, and I went in the nearby cafe to get some water. When I came back out, he was still there, seemingly just standing. He waved me over and asked how my journey was coming along. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked him if I could take his picture. He said “claro mi senorita” (of course, my lady) 1 Euro. I smiled and thought he has was a smart person to at least pose for a Euro. I mentioned that I wanted to get the picture just “right” and had him slightly turn his sword little by little until the sun just hit it enough to create a burst of light. And, this is what I ended up with – a perfect ray of sun shining on his sword! Well worth the one Euro!

keepsake-sThe credential is an important document as it serves to identify us as pilgrims. We get this document stamped at various locations during our journey. I always preferred to get my credential stamped at special places when possible. Churches often has someone available for us to stamp our paperwork, and in this case, the priest not only stamped my “pilgrim keepsake” but asked me about my journey, and ended our conversation with a blessing.

From previous posts you likely know about my fascination about doors. The next two pictures are related to doors – a special door knocker and a very unique keyhole.

knock knock-s

keyhole-s

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

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

The “J” Memories – walking down the memory Camino Lane

Jarring

Jarring

This sight was simply jarring to me. There was a visceral reaction that went through me when my eyes set on this part of a wall. I can’t even recall where I was when I saw this, but I can remember my exact mild shock and breath holding and complete perplexity as I tried to figure out why this was there and what was the meaning behind it.

If any of the readers know, I’d really appreciate knowing more.

 

Jeweled St. James

Jeweled St. James

In the Cathedral in Santiago are many statues of St. James. When looking at the altar one can see the very large ornate gold statue of St. James.

It’s a pilgrim tradition to climb up the stairs into the camarín or tiny room behind the altar that houses a medieval statue of St. James…and then give that statue a hug. I named it the jeweled St. James, a beautiful piece of Baroque art and offers a unique perspective of the cathedral. 

Here you see it from the back, and to show you the intricate works of this piece, I include a picture that is the only one in my blogs that I did not take myself. I wanted you to see it in all its splendor.

St James

St James

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My last photo of this entry is titled “joy” and let me tell you, this is how I felt most of the time during my Camino journeys. This photo was taken on my first walk day, in Burgos, during my first Camino in 2011.

joy

joy

I remember waking up that morning, and being so excited to start my walking journey. I met two women as I walked out of of my little hotel room (I arrived too late to stay in any albergues) and we all recognized ourselves as pilgrims with our backpacks, our boots and our smiles!

I offered to take a picture of them together, and they returned the favor. They laughed as they saw my reaction when I ran away from them, turned around and headed back towards them, hands in the air and saying “I can’t believe I’m actually here!”. That joy still remains in my heart, and likely, always will.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

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

The “I” Memories – walking down the memory Camino Lane

Ironwork

Ironwork

While I walked through all the villages and towns, I found it particularly interesting to really look at the differences from my home country. Needless to say, coming from Canada, our country is very young compared to the countries in Europe.

I do find there is a “look and feel” about Spain. In particular, I really like the unique signage like the one in the picture. It adds such character to the location, and there is no shortage of unique ironwork.

I chose to make this photo in black and white so the colours wouldn’t distract from the signage.

Interesting art

Interesting art

As well as ironwork, there was so much interesting art everywhere and this wall was a good example of painted ceramic tiles. The center one reminded me of Don Quijote de la Mancha, but I forgot to take any notation that might have been on the wall itself, therefore this is all speculation on my part.

Inviting entrance

Inviting entrance

 

What an inviting entrance with its blue door and beautiful flowers. So many times I found myself taking endless pictures of doorways, entrance ways and window sills.

Seeing so many flowers as part of the house was refreshing and so colourful. I really enjoyed discovering what was in store in the villages we traversed each day.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

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

The “H” Memories – walking down the memory Camino Lane

Happy Encounter

Happy Encounter

Nestor, our trusty donkey lead (we called ourselves Team Nestor) brought joy to so many around him. He was by far, the most photographed of us all. He had a friendly disposition and seemed comfortable around people at all times. This particular picture always makes me smile – I call it “Happy Encounter” because Nestor had a way to put a smile on everyone’s face. This was taken on our way up up up to O’Cebreiro, and the woman in the window was making some sort of soup that smelled heavenly! Nestor approached the window and she burst out laughing and reached on the counter to grab a carrot to give to Nestor. It was really a joyous encounter!

Hands

Hands

One of the things I admired the most about the hundreds of statues in the churches and cathedrals, was the care with which details were kept during the creation of these statues. In particular, the hands. I seemed to have been drawn to the hands, most very delicately reproduced to look very real.

I was quite amazed that many of the statues, albeit of at least 500 years since their inception, were well kept. Considering the art work is in the open (not behind glass panels as we often see in museums) I actually could get very close and even admire the brush strokes of the artist. What an amazing experience.

Horizon

Horizon

The path of the Camino was often close to the roads, but far enough to provide for some unique views of the horizon.

At times we were several feet lower than the main roadway as in this particular picture, offering us an interesting sight. Of course, any time I would find poppies, was an opportunity for a photograph.

Horse Tales

Horse Tales

Many pilgrims I met were unaware that the Camino could be done on horseback. Many who met Nestor the donkey wanted to know if any of us rode Nestor – Nestor was a walking companion, not a ways to aleviate the  weight of our backpacks. In fact, Nestor carried the tenting equipment, his food and care package and sometimes, the lunch bag. We all carried out own packs. We did encounter several pilgrims doing their Camino on horseback which poses the same challenges as having a donkey – finding adequate grassy areas for the animals.

Humble Abode

Humble Abode

I spied on a dove (or pigeon, not sure) settling in its humble abode for the night.  Birds were in abundance during the spring and along with the traditional ones I see often at home, I discovered the beauty of storks!

I have photos of storks in future entries, but suffice to say I never got tired of seeing nature be it flowers, plants, trees and critters along the way.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

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

The “G” Memories – walking down the memory Camino Lane

Guilty pleasures

Guilty pleasures

When one walks 6-8 hours per day, keeping up one’s energy can be challenging. One of the important daily preparation is to ensure one has enough snacks and water. Fortunately on the Camino Frances (the most populated Camino) there are so many cafes, stores and restaurants to provide us with food and drinks.

I always had with me the following snack items – chocolate, olives (for salt and minerals), fruit, some form of nuts and protein. In Astorga I visited the chocolate museum but it was closed for renovations, but I did manage to find some authentic Astorga chocolate; one of my guilty pleasures!

Gym-albergue

Gym-albergue

There are times where the number of pilgrims in one small village outnumber the available beds. Many smaller villages or towns open school gyms and provide small cots as a spill over shelter. I was fortunate that I never had to experience the “gym albergue”.

I wonder just what how loud the night time must be with dozens and dozens of snoring pilgrims in an acoustically challenged building!

grandiose

grandiose

 

The cathedrals and churches in Spain are amazing architectural treasures. No other word came to mind but “grandiose” when I first walked into this particular cathedral.

The shere size of these cathedrals is something I had never seen beforehand. I would try to spend as much time as possible, mostly after my daily walk, and visit these majestic buildings.

 

Grapes

Grapes

Grapes! These are the biggest grapes I have ever seen! These were the at center of a roundabout in one of the Basque cities.

All my Camino journeys were done during the months of May-July, therefore the vines only had wee grapes (if any) when I walked through the vineyards. I traded cherries and poppies for grapes – – perhaps one day I will be able to experience the harvesting of grapes in Spain.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

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

The “F” Memories – walking down the memory Camino Lane

favorite author-s

Antonio Machado is my favorite Spanish author followed by Miguel De Cervantes who wrote Don Quijote.

When I arrived in Burgos during my second Camino, I spent a few days in the city touring the museums. I chanced upon the opening celebrations of an exhibit of Antonio’s works. Journals with his poems were featured as well as many of his letters and notes.

When I studied in Spain in the late 70s, his poems had been made into songs featuring the singer Juan Manuel Serrat.  One of Antonio’s most known poem is so appropriate for pilgrims.

caminante

 

 

What a perfect poem for the Camino journey!

fountain-s

Fountains are very common on the Camino, and the water is mostly potable, very cold and refreshing.

I always filled up my water bottle whenever possible, as we didn’t always know where the next fountain or cafe might be.

When every once of weight counts, water can be one of the heaviest component of the pack. Having access to safe cold water was a welcomed option and certainly alleviated the need to carry large amount of water with us at all times

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

 

the “E” Memories – walking down the memory Camino Lane

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted forest is what I called this section of the Camino. We walked early in the morning and the mist was just slowly rising and burning off by the rays of the sun.

The trees covered in moss and ivy were plenty along the path. standing tall and looking like woodland protectors. Simply beautiful!

Ermita

Ermita

An ermita is a small church or chapel. Some of those structures could only hold a dozen or so people and even though they are small, some have works of art painted directly on their ceilings or walls. I had never seen anything quite like those before.

escalator-s

 

This escalator of sorts is one of the many found is the Basque Autonomous Community Capital city of Vitoria. I had not seen this type of rolling walkway (guess escalator implies stairs). Regardless of what you call it, it certainly helped those who are mobility challenged, ike us pilgrims after a very long day of walking.

Vitoria does have some good sized hills in it’s core and these apparatus are frequently used.

Eucalyptus and Lavender

Eucalyptus and Lavender

One of our early morning walks (after the Cruz de Ferro) lead us through large bushes of Eucalyptus and Lavender plants. On that day, the day was hot and humid, and  as our packs brushed the bushes their soothing fragrance made me feel as if I was at a spa. It was such a sensory experience, and I slowed down my pace to truly take in the mystical surroundings.

I didn’t encounter anything quite the same after that one experience – Must have been a one-of-a-kind gift from nature!

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

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