Spain · 126 Days · 540 Moments · March 2016

Alyssa Bormes

Alyssa's adventure in Spain

30 July 2016

I hope you have your ticket for Barcelona already - because I told them to hold a table for you - this is one of the meals of your life! Unbelievably good! The only bad thing is that they are not open tomorrow because we were going to go there again!

28 July 2016

The market in Barcelona
Chimneys and the skylight at Guell palace
I dig the ceilings throughout the house
The little chapel and then a look at the doors to the chapel - I don't know what happened to the Altar and tabernacle
Looking up in the main hall to the skylight - Guell palace
More cool features inside and out of the Guell palace
The dining room and other things from Guell palace
A trip to the Guell palace - designed by Gaudi - I especially loved these "bricks" where horse and carriage would arrive - they are made of wood to absorb sound. Next is the ceiling in that area.
We are feeling very spoiled at Hotel 1898 in Barcelona - what a treat!

27 July 2016

The kids table - with grandpa - ❤️❤️❤️ Then take a look at the pizza - it was great! Afterward we went to lounge at our hotel - enjoying a drink in the lobby turned living room.

26 July 2016

Our next stop was The Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Boat - this church is right on the ocean - it was beautiful! Be sure you page through these pictures to see a great one of grandpa and his granddaughters!
And then we made it to Finisterra- the end of the earth - it is the western most point in Spain - we are right at the Atlantic - some pilgrims choose to end their Camino here.
Our second stop - a bigger waterfall
Abby and Hannah - love these photos
Jim and Brenda - this is just a dream to have Jim here!
Just plain cool stuff from our first stop
We went on a tour to Finisterra - the end of the earth - but on the way, we made a few stops at waterfalls.

25 July 2016

Happy birthday James! We had the best dinner of tapas at A Taberna do Bispo - our waiter the first night was Roy - we went back to take his picture because he was so great!
Scenes from recessional at Mass on the Feast of St. James
For this one, you might want to rent the movie "The Way" to get the full effect - but these were the best pictures from my angle - the first is the men who work the rope that swing the censor - the other is the censor flying by - look to the left of the picture
We loved the carpet runner for the Feast day - it had shells - the "veins" of the shell represent all the different paths to Santiago - we followed many shells to get here - and based on the direction if the shells, they lead to the tomb of St. James - whose tomb is under the main Altar - and at the Altar is the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the dome above is a reminder of heaven where one day, God willing, we will share in the Eternal Wedding Feast of the Lamb!
Waiting for Mass to begin - for the Feast of St. James - on the birthday of our James!
I love flowers coming out of stone!
After a late night - we had an early morning - Hannah and Abby were right on time!

24 July 2016

What about a fire show after the fireworks!?!?
We weren't even at the premiere spot & we have to say that this was the best fireworks show we had ever seen! They never slowed or took a short pause - it just kept increasing until midnight - the Feast of St. James and our own James Parson - Happy 84th Jim!!!
We listened to a fantastic Irish band - and then there were quite a few Irish dancers that danced here and there in the crowd - fantastic!
A selfie with my stepdad Jim!
You just have to page through these -Jim and three of his grandchildren - Hannah, Abby, & Jake!

23 July 2016

Their here! Jim, Hannah, Abby, & Jake!
Brenda and I - all cleaned up - in front of the Cathedral of Santiago!
A night of food that was NOT off of the pilgrim menu! We had red and white wine, plates and plates of tapas - and we finished off with the best piece of fish - with a honey and olive oil sauce - unbelievable!
Here we are! We had both shed a few tears - Brenda had a few left in her eyes - she might look somber - but it was really joy!
Here it is - the Compostela - you will see my name on it in Latin - it reads "Alyssa Bormes" - so cool to see it in Latin! Also - there is the certificate that shows the kilometers walked - can't believe Tortuga made it!
"Your night that lacked light has now become a torch of living faith." Amen! This is on the wall at the Compostela office
The Compostela office! We were there with hardly a line - it was longer by the time we left & we've that it gets very long as the day goes on - so good to be there early! After getting our Compostela - we went to breakfast & Anna was there - we have had coffee with her for 4 or 5 days in a row!
Ah - the sun hitting the Cathedral- so beautiful!
This is the door to go into pray with the relics of St. James - overwhelming!
Our first glimpse inside - we went to 7:30am Mass at a side altar
They are very serious about their street cleaning - I'm sure it is all in preparation for the Feast Day
Walking to another side of the cathedral
I love this picture - it is Brenda looking at the Cathedral
Our first look at The Cathedral of Santiago! It was amazing to be there nearly alone - there were only a few other pilgrims about.
In the sidewalk, "Europe was made on pilgrim road to Compostela."
We were within about 1 kilometer of the Cathedral- Brenda was walking ahead ) (La Tortuga always trails a bit) - and a voice said, "Brenda?" It was Camille - one of our great Camino friends! She had arrived on the 16th and left today - she was just going to get a bit of cash before her bus came! It was a great reunion! The Camino has provided in so many ways!
We just entered Santiago at 6:05am! We left at 5:26am

22 July 2016

Wow - look at this laundry technique - we clipped the socks to the shirt! We should have thought of this at the beginning of the Camino!
A quick stop toward the end our day at a little chapel - it will be closed tomorrow when we go to it - prayer for all the intentions
That's a lot of baby steps! I was on the road for 8.5 hours - there were 4 rests - and we went 15 kilometers!
Lucky is that you? Have you joined the armed forces? I was told that a horse named Lucky would be taking me to Santiago!
A peacock, a peahen, and a duck - sounds like the beginning of a joke!
We are seven kilometers from Santiago - oddly there are very few markers after the 12.5 kilometer marker (which is really more like 13.5) - this was on the side of a business - seems to be their own sign.
Lucky? You can't be Lucky - you have another rider & you are going the wrong direction!
Love the plant life!
These old guys were fantastic - they watch the pilgrims go by - I waved at them, but they didn't seem interested in waving back.
We see these all over - they seem to be raised storage bins - one day I saw one with dried ears of corn.
This is one of our Camino friends Anna - she is French and speaks no English, and very little Spanish. We often don't understand each other - but in the last several days we have had coffee together many times - she is delightful!
We stopped 4 times to eat and socialize - we just know we won't be able to have these days again - so we savored them today!
Dig the green door
Whoa - what kind of coo-koi-ness is this?
Love the moss on the iron
We are seeing more families in the past days - love these with the dads and kids
Cool spider webs
One of my favorite little churches - we stopped in today & -- well -- it just was one of my favorites.
Can you tell which poles are mine - and which are Brenda's?
Just so you understand "Brenda spotting" is not as easy as it once was - there are tons of orange (& faded orange) shirts on the Camino now - she used to be the only one!
Here it is - best picture of the day - Brenda has caught up with me at the cafe!
The 2nd breakfast of champions! The first breakfast was yogurt and coffee about 4.5 kilometers back. I carry water in my small backpack - but I am a big fan of the cold water - so I buy it at nearly every stop - a little luxury!
Beautiful things along the Way - I began at 5:10am and am at my 2nd breakfast 7 kilometers at 8am - Tortuga is making it! Of course - everyone has passed me - and I quickly lose sight of them - but step by step - I am getting there!

21 July 2016

A few looks at Arco - even their rock piles are cool (see the 2nd photo)
Lucky? Is that you? Or is it you? You seem smaller than I pictured! Wait - don't tell me I am supposed to some kind of trick riding & stand with one foot on the backs of each of you as we make our way to Santiago! Although - it would look rather dramatic as we entered...let's chat about it in the morning.
We are at our last albergue tonight - there are 10 people in our room - but it is. Clean, new, and has very comfortable beds. A typical scene at the albergues is the shoes all lined up - they don't want the dirt from the trail all over - so we line them up on shelves. This is the last time we will see this!
Come on! That's a lot of steps! Baby steps or not - that is a lot of picking up one foot after another!
Wait a minute! Is this a clue for me to find my horse named Lucky? Don't worry Lucky - I'm on my way!
A few more beautiful flowers
I just love how the paint on this door has aged!
I can't remember what type of trees these were - I'll have to check the guide - but these were majestic - breathtaking! It would be wonderful if everyone could have the moment of happening upon them while walking.
It's Raya! We met her in Leon! So great to see her - she will get to Santiago tomorrow!
Best photo of the day! Brenda caught up with me - it was at 15 kilometers for the day! Hey - is that a new shirt?
Memorials to pilgrims who have died on the way.
Paella heaven! But I had recently eaten - it was 9am & I was only half way - but I might regret not having a great meal of it!
Palm tree & corn - just like home!
I'm nuts for the hydrangeas!
Beer-bottles-o-rama! Somehow it worked!
This was such a beautiful pathway
Love the wheat - looks like home.
Amiga del vacas!

20 July 2016

After a long walk - after Mass - it's Sangria time!
We are watching a concert while having sangria
Mass tonight at the Church of St. James - the pilgrims went to the front at the end to get a blessing - this was a beautiful Mass & Father said that he leaves tomorrow to go to World Youth Day in Poland.
After all these steps my phone thinks I went 13 miles - it doesn't account for the baby step stride - but we did go 15 kilometers!
There were so many cool trees - but you only get a taste of them.
Loved the pine cones!
My first job was selling eggs from my 20+ chickens - and I undersold the big grocery store in town by a penny - the good news is that I didn't put the store out of business. At any rate - I dig chickens!
I think you can make your own caption here.
Cool sites on the way
Another Camino friend - Frank from Australia - we all had a lot in common.
Cool cacti!
This was a great surprise - Eucalyptus trees! It looked like they were shedding - they were really tall - and at the very tops were the leaves - plus, it smelled great - but it wasn't intense like in an enclosed space - it was just clean smelling & beautiful.
Loved the leaves!
I loved this - at a house in the middle of the countryside - they have a bench so you can sit, get a stamp for your credential, had some little plums to refresh you, and I think that is dill - which is great on a sandwich - or possibly for any canning you might do on the Way.
This was such a beautiful stop - I loved the canopy of grape vines - and then, look at the close up of grapes
A little church we stopped in to pray for the intentions we carry with us
"Lucky? Is it you? I've been looking for a horse named Lucky who is to take me to Santiago." Sigh - he seemed uninterested.
Best picture of the day - the first time I ran into Brenda for the day - we had a big breakfast here - we had gone 6 kilometers at this point.
More flowers and landscapes

19 July 2016

It's kiwi! They will be ready in December & I know a great place for you to stay when you get here! These are growing as a canopy over an eating area right at restaurant near our hotel.
I don't want to brag - but we are now having lunch/supper in a place that has a disco dancer mirrored trophy sort of thing on top of the beer cooler! Melide, Spain - I ❤️ U!
We went 13.5 kilometers - my baby steps confuse my walking app - it says we went a lot further - I did it in 6 hours and 6 minutes - and about an hour of rest is included in that.
Hey - or rather - Hay - which one of you is named Lucky? And where is the saddle? My dogs are barking and you have to get me to Santiago!
Beauty on the Camino!
Here I am on a little bridge - I was taking a picture for someone else - so they took one of me!
At some point Brenda met me & we sat and had our 1st breakfast - some fruit and cookies that we each had in our packs - then she passed me - but was at the next open cafe - she had been helping someone tape their foot - so we had a second real breakfast with eggs, bacon, and coffee. I left before Brenda & she caught up with me just in time - I had passed this church which was right on the path! I was 20 feet past when I heard Brenda's voice say something like "that's my stepsister' as she was chatting with someone & then she said something about going into the church. I only waved for the stepsister comment because I was concentrating - but the church comment really got my attention & I turned to go - it was beautiful! Brenda gave me a great treat!
I just liked this wicker basket house thing
This would have been a great picture of a woman walking her goat - but it turns out she was a bit camera shy - and she scolded me once I got close enough
This was so beautiful - the moon over a little church on the Way - the moon was bright orange.
I started a 5:04am today to try to beat the heat - Brenda was started about 15 minutes later.

18 July 2016

Pilgrims' Mass at 7pm - this is the first place we have seen a really big crowd of pilgrims - which is entirely appropriate!
We had a great pilgrims' dinner - with a yummy sangria!
Who says we don't have fun on the Camino?? This is Brenda's used to be orange shirt - after a month of daily washings - it still bleeds pink!
The breakfast of champions! We have 1.2 kilometers more to go.
I love stopping to smell the roses!
Aha! Another thing slower than me on the Camino!
Doggy guarding the hydrangeas
Cool church on the Way - I didn't see a name for it - & it was closed when I got there.
Spain wins in the hydrangea competition!
This caught my eye - it was pitch black out - but my headlamp caught it from the other side of the street - I felt pulled to it - I was at the cemetery for pilgrims. I couldn't see the graves - and there was a big dog sleeping in front of the gate - but I was compelled to pray for their souls - may all these souls witness the Beatific Vision in this moment!
I left at 5:10am & was rewarded with the most incredible moon - it was huge & bright orange & had a rad glow around it - but my camera didn't exactly capture its grandeur. I shut off my headlamp for a few minutes & prayed in gratitude for the beauty of God's creation - and followed with that breathless "Wiw!" of awe.

17 July 2016

A chapel we will never forget! Brenda went in before I arrived - she quietly entered - smiled at the man there - and began looking at the chapel. Just a few minutes later - he left, locking the door behind him! She banged on the door - found one small window to yell out of - and then resorted to a few kicks on the door. Someone heard her & went to get help. When she told me about it - I was fuming right along with her. Later, she could see the man walking - he was behind a fence - so she could only see his shoulders and head. She was about to go up to him when she saw it - the white stick - he was blind! He hadn't seen her - nor had he heard her because she was so quiet going in. We did talk to him & we all had a great laugh! He then gave Brenda a big hug - and stole a kiss to boot!
Whoa! That's a lot of steps - but remember - they are baby steps - no kidding!
I'm in Hospital - no, not the hospital - it's Hospital, Spain! You know you are in the right place when there is ceramic lawn art - including a gnome! When I walked in - John Denver was singing Country Road! Yes! Love being on this road - but will be so happy when I get nearer to West Virginia! Plus - when I walked in - Brenda was just leaving - just 1.5 kilometers to go. It is a great day! Buen Camino!
A cool church - in a town of just a few houses - it was closed when I got to it.
Brenda! I had just stopped in the middle of nowhere for a water from the guy in the food truck - and Brenda was a minute behind me! She began at 6:45.
Look - something slower on the Camino than me!
Early morning Camino - in the fog - I got going at 6:12am

16 July 2016

Mass at San Nicolao - it's just a half block or so from our albergue.
We were just out grocery shopping - and though this was a cool house.
Wow! We asked for advice from our albergue owners as to where we could get a good meal - the only thing was they sent us to a place with a GREAT meal. These are my grilled vegetables & my veal steak. If you are ever in Portomarin - don't miss eating at O Mirador!
We are having a big lunch today - look at the view from our table! Also - don't miss Elvis on the ceiling!
You might be in Portomarin - but you still have some climbing! Look at those stairs - it was hot & every single pilgrim looked exhausted at the top.
The bus stop at Portomarin - but I'm walking!
First look at Portomarin - plus I took the easy path as I entered the city - it's called Complimentario - it was 500 meters more - but I ended up passing others! The last picture is the crazy path they had at the end.
I love this man - what a beautiful sight to see him herding his cows - and he spoke to them in a gentle voice.
Brenda is having empenada de carne de Yummy!
And then Brenda walks in not 10 minutes later!
Sometimes you stop for breakfast-and you see someone's pack-& you recognize the hat sitting on it-but can't remember whose it is-you go into the cafe & see Isabelle Salette-& her feet are in cold water-she has had problems for 2 months-now her toes are infected-she says she is going to go to Santiago by taxi & have them give her a Compostela-& then she tells you a story of having been hit by a truck when she was 6, having died, & come back-her dad entrusted her to Mary when she was in a coma after the accident-While on this trip she was so frustrated-she stopped into a little church -was all alone-went to find Mary, because this whole trip has been in gratitude to Her and Her Son-& she finds the statue of Our Lady of Salette-who she has a devotion to-in part because it is her name - & as we spoke-I was able to say-It is finished-your Camino is done and it is time to go home-& we both cried-& she just left in a taxi to go home-the Compostela will wait for another Camino- & God is Good!
It wasn't the running of the bulls- it was just more of a quiet moment among friends - love being on the Way!
This was a victory - only 100 kilometers left
The Way this morning

15 July 2016

Cool little restaurant that is with our albergue - we are enjoying a great cool breeze as well!
Well - from Sarria there are just over 100 kilometers to Santiago- and if I want to get my Compostela I need to walk the 100 - so today I set out at 6:50am and arrived in Ferreiros at 1:30. The step count is really baby steps because of my knee - and it is really only 7 miles - but I made it!
Princess room!!!! We are going for as many princess rooms as we can get from here on out - we had two major "pilgrim" experiences in just the past few days - not to mention a bunch more before that - we might have a few dorm rooms left - but no giant ones.
Look at this - Brenda was waiting for me! She left at 8:15 and got here and was checked in by 12:30 - my bag was sent ahead by transport - and it was great to walk - there were a few reminders from my knee- but I am planning to walk tomorrow as well!
A photo of Brenda passing me at 11:55am - she is on the right
💕💕💕💕💕 these!
This was a cool bridge - and one that I was glad to have my walking sticks for - I dig how people stop to take pictures of it before crossing
Cool trees today
A little church on the Way - it is the church of Santiago- I prayed there for all the intentions you have entrusted to us -
The walk from Sarria to Ferreiros

14 July 2016

It's been a while - time to show you new stamps - Brenda and I are each on our second book!
Mass at the church of Santa Marina
A sign for our albergue
1. Yum 2. Yum 3. Yum!
Preparing for a festival - or it's that they knew Brenda and I would be here
San Alasandro and the view of the mountains in the background
Totally satisfied - a great day and it is only 1:25!
Brenda and I are the happiest gals on the Camino! I mean - look at that sangria & the extra cup of ice!
Someday a you just need to be at the restaurant and Albergue Matias - and have Omar wait on you - and make sangria and even bring an extra glass of ice! I love this part of the pilgrimage!
Now and again - after the all-in pilgrim experience -- you just need a better room - today we went 15€ as opposed to last night's 5€ - instead of 70 people in one room - there will just be the two of us - and did I mention we have our own terrace? Ah- sometimes a princess room is a necessity!

13 July 2016

These are the main doors to the church at the monastery- we went to evening prayer and Mass. The chanting was beautiful!
Albergue at the monastery - it's another pilgrim experience!
A white asparagus salad to start - on the pilgrim menu - what a gift!
I think this means you can fish from the bridge - or else it means you can't - either way, we didn't have our poles
Look - it's a selfie of Brenda and me!
The monastery from the opposite side
Brenda and Father
The other cloister
The pharmacy
The Benedictine Monastery of Samos -this was one of two cloisters
As always - my favorite picture of the day - Brenda is here!
I'm learning something about panoramic photos - they don't always give the best picture. This is the monastery in Samos, Spain - it is really one long building from my vantage point - I'm sitting at a little cafe across the street - waiting for the arrival I of Brenda and Brygida.
I'm loving the coverage! I think this guy won something - but for certain they had him hooked up to some manner of monitor - you can see his heart rate on the bottom of the screen & he burned 43 calories - I think that is low - but I'll bow to the science here. Next - the ambulance that is taking away that the guy who got the business end of the horns. And - in the booth for recap, play by play, and expert opinion by a bull fighter!
You know how some mornings you are in a cafe in Samos, Spain and the running of the bulls is going on in Pamplona- and there is "pre-game" coverage, live coverage and wrap up coverage & you are just enjoying being in a crowd of Spaniards with their own play by play that you can't understand? Yeah - me too.

12 July 2016

We went back to the same restaurant - the peppers were fantastic! We were celebrating Brygida's birthday a few days early - and a big toast to Margie Parsons who would have been 82 today!
Pictures of our albergue - it is fabulous - a two hundred year old home that has been redone - with having saved all the character- and - we got a princess room - sure there are bunk beds - but there are only three of us in the room & Brygida - one of our great Camino friends- is younger than Brenda or me - so she has a bunk & we get the bottom beds - we needed this great room after last night's full on pilgrim experience - and tomorrow we are staying in a monastery- we love the days we are pampered!
The inside of the Church of Santiago - we went to Mass there at 6pm
This was my lunch - I'm entitling the picture "Paella in Shade" - don't miss the glass of Tinto de Verano - which is some manner of a wine spritzer - yummy!
Wow - this restaurant was beautiful - and it had great food and great prices!
A cool pilgrim mosaic in the sidewalk - it represents the three castles of Triacastela
In Triacastela, Spain - this is the church of Santiago - and the beautiful cemetery to the front and side of the church

11 July 2016

The wonderful restaurant where we had dinner
Tonight we celebrated Mass at Santa Maria de O'Cebreiro - a Franciscan church
It is the Feast of St. Benedict -and here he is!
The cemetery behind the church - prayers for their souls and for all of the faithfully departed - that they may see the Beatific Vision!
We love the thatched roofs throughout the village - here they are - up close!
You have to love a grocery store with a thatched roof! Plus - look at the stairway!
I've taken all sorts of pictures - but not one comes close to capturing the beauty of the place! Oh yes to O'Cebreiro!
One of the coolest things - bibles in all different languages - including one in Braille!
Some sites of O'Cebreiro
Love it - no parking for horses, dogs, and bicycles - and in four languages to boot - how emphatic!
I'm on the road again - we make lots of stops because I'm with the transport guy Juan that picks up and drops off backpacks - he is on a smoke/coffee break at one albergue - so I am taking pictures. It is such a beautiful cool day! In addition - he gave me tips on good albergues going forward - what a gift!
The breakfast of champions! And look at the cool sugar packets in the 2nd picture - we need these at home!
Look at the castle right up the mountain from us - there is a description on the next picture - but my Spanish needs a little more work before I can translate for you. Although - oddly enough - I have been the go to for translations many times - my long suffering high school and college Spanish teachers got about 10 to 20 words to stick in my language-challenged brain - I now piece those words together and coupled with my gift for speaking with my hands - I am often understood!
Here is the little stream that goes by our albergue
We highly recommend Albergue El Paso! Super clean, really comfortable beds, great service, and beautiful surroundings. We had a room with room for 6, but just four of us where there - It was another great stop on the Camino.

10 July 2016

The little waterfall right near our albergue
A calla lily seed pod!
Still praying for the many intentions!
We love the stacked stone wverywhere
Some days you meet 4 new friends, and you all get a chair to put your feet in the mountain stream of beautifully icy water - this is a buen Camino!
The farmer is cutting hay - it smells fantastic!
Clothes pins are so much a part of the Camino! Today is a perfect day for laundry - it is warm, sunny, and breezy- mine is basking in the warmth of the summer day right now.
Usually I see Brenda in the distance before she sees me - but today I was reading at a little cafe & Brenda arrived unnoticed until she asked, "Is this seat taken?" Always the best to see her!
I love the arrows! This one happens to point to our albergue for the evening - El Paso. We happened to pass Brenda on the road & I again forgot to get her picture - she estimated one more hour - she had just re-fixed her feet. We will be staying in Vega de Valcarce. The next pictures show the beauty we will be enjoying for the evening - it is amazing here! Plus - I have my ride secured for tomorrow with the same van!
Well you just never know from day to day who you will see - the man facing the camera is a priest who I met a few days ago in San Blas - he has blisters and cannot make the big climb that his group is doing today - Brenda will be doing it tomorrow. He is speaking to my transport driver - and then Father road along with us.
This is Mercedes - the Mama - we have been chatting here while I have a cup of coffee - she is making empanadas for lunch - there is a chance I am going to move in - except that Brenda is expecting me at our next stop. One treat that we missed is that her husband plays guitar - she met him in this house while playing guitar - hopefully there will one day be a return trip to hear him!
This is the BEST place - because you feel like you are HOME!

9 July 2016

The gladiolas at Albergue Leo - from the same man who brought the chicken!
Just like this place
I dig this picture of Brenda taking a picture of Santiago!
Cool views of the river and town
I love the ceilings! And - another view of the exterior
I Really loved this crucifixion scene depicting the Trinity!
Brenda in the choir stalls - for the 2nd picture I need one of my Latin scholars to help me with what the sign says
The church was all stacked rock - even the dome - it was hard to get a good picture of it
I love this statue! Jesus as a young shepherd boy & Mary!
Wow! We found the right church at the right time for Saturday evening Mass! Love the Altar to the Holy Family!
Why not take a selfie with Greg & Maria?!?!
This is Greg from Ireland & Maria - the granddaughter of Leo. Let me see if I can tell their story quickly - Greg was walking the Camino backwards - Maria had to do his laundry when he was staying at another family member's albergue - Greg didn't leave for three days - and now they are in love!
You mention to Mama Mercedes that her cooking smells as good as Mom's cooking - and maybe she mentions that if Brenda and I wanted a bite we could have some! This was really a treat because they don't serve meals to their guests - and - it was the best meal on the Camino because it tasted like home! Everything in the salad was from their garden - the chicken was from a widower who eats with them a few times a week - he raises the chickens - the lemons must have been from heaven because the whole dish was amazing! Thank you Mama Mercedes for making us feel at home!
I just have a thing for old cash registers - here is one in the albergue
This is Leo and his wife Mercedes -they bought this house in1935 - he made wine here - the house is over 300 years old (there have been a few updates since then) - the house went to Mercedes, their daughter - whose cooking I mentioned earlier - Maria is her daughter who now runs the albergue. Albergue Leo is THE spot where it feels like home! Thanks Leo!
There are two options - washing by machine or by hand- Brenda has acquired an amazing technique with the hand washing!
How do you know if you are staying in the right place? If Our Lady of the Pillar greets you - if their antique sacred art pieces are exactly what you would put in your own house - and if Mama's cooking smells like your own Mom's cooking! We are at Albergue Leo - with a little bar as well - it is beautiful, cool, and for 10€ each - we have our own room - it has a bunk bed - but we 💕our own room however we can get it! It IS a Buen Camino!
Plus - she's got a beer!
Best sight of the day - Brenda arrives in Villafranca del Bierzo!
Sometimes you just can't get a bus & you have to take a taxi - this morning the man who ran the albergue talked the taxi driver down from 55€ to 30€ to get to Villafrnco del Bierzo - but told me it was just a two kilometer walk to the bus station one town back - of course I didn't believe his estimate based on Brenda's description of the town from the day before - however, on our quest to find a restaurant last night - which was unsuccessful - we stumbled across a city bus line. This morning, it was at least worth asking the next bus driver if they went to the big bus station in Ponferrado. Score! For 1.15€ I was taken at least 5+ kilometers to the station. Plus - about five people on the bus helped me in one way or another - love the team effort. I've just now purchased the bus ticket for 1.65€ - my bus leaves in less than an hour - and I am spiritually doing a back flip! (An actual backflip would be less than prudent.) Oh - I just did another one - spiritually, of course.

8 July 2016

We have met Maria! She is from Hungary and speaks no Spanish and no English - she will be 67 years old on the Feast of St. James in Santiago - she is on her first Camino - and is alone. She is the only other person at our albergue tonight - her husband died 5 years ago - he spoke English - she is walking for him and for her 4 grandchildren & we are enjoying supper together - it is a great exercise in sign language and successive guesses - but we are having a great conversation!
Brenda providentially decided to walk one town further today. What did it result in? Another princess room! Jesus knows I'm not a big fan of roughing it - so He gave us this little "wink" to keep us going. And look - right outside our room is a throne! Brenda and I will take turns sitting there!
Hydrangea at the little cafe in Ermita San Blas
Cool moth - our last moments in Acebo!
The view from our balcony!
It's been a while since I've seen a cigarette machine!

7 July 2016

Well, while I was chatting with new Camino friends from Ireland - Brenda found the super Taj Mahal of albergues! The whole thing is new - GREAT beds - super clean - there is a restaurant & bar - oh - and the last picture is the area of the pool - plus there are laundry machines - all for 10 Euro! Brenda - you rock! Did I mention the great pilgrim meal - 3 courses plus water and wine for 10 Euro. And one last thing - our room sleeps 8 - but there are just three of us here!
Can you see her? That's Brenda on the trail today - captured by our Camino friend Camille! Plus - you can enjoy some of the sites she saw.
This is Dominic from Poland - he was resting here with a few of us in Acebo - he began to walk away - but had forgotten his walking stick - then he came back and told us the story of his walking stick - how another pilgrim had given it to him - he was so animated about the details - that I had to take his picture - I may never see Dominic again - but I will always recall his joy!
My taxi driver was so good to me - we stopped at The Cruce de Ferro - the Cross of Iron. This is the traditional place that people leave a rock - I didn't leave one because I gave Brenda my rock - as I didn't know if I would stop there. So when I got there - I had this tremendous freedom of NOT leaving a stone. My intentions were safe with Brenda - she will place the stone there - my stone was one that I brought from the Sea of Galilee - it has been a part of another pilgrimage to another holy place - and today it will rest here - perhaps there will be another day when it will travel again. How? If man calls the stone to service again - otherwise the rock will remain as a reminder of my prayers. Buen Camino!
A fantastic taxi ride from Rabanal to Acebo - it was at times very rough - I was with the man who delivers backpacks from one albergue to the next - so went off road for few times - but what a beautiful drive! It must be a great hike for Brenda!
I love this picture - they are the cloaks of the Benedictine monks - I went to Mass this morning - and then interviewed Abbot Jeremias Schroder for my radio show - we were in the sitting room of the monastery - great interview - what a joy to have been here - and be received with Benedictine hospitality- including evening and night prayer last night - and Mass this morning!

6 July 2016

The sky changing with coming rain
Scenes from our albergue - such a beautiful place - the albergue of Our lady of the Pillar! It was 5 Euro to stay - there were 20+people in our room - but oddly, very little snoring - a great night! Plus - you could get coffee at the bar early in the morning!
More flowers!
The street sign with all sorts of information
I love the plants that grow out of the stacked stone!
Some of my favorite pictures - the men and the women of the town gathering to chat - I stopped to chat with the ladies - they were so sweet!
I love the bright colors with the stone
Everything here is made of stacked stone - it is so beautiful!
The yellow arrow!
A cool stairway on the church - and the monastery
The main church - run by the Benedictines
Flowers in Rabanal
I love that the tiny grocery store sells walking sticks! And - I love this green window.
We have arrived in Rabanal del Camino - these beautiful flowers greeted us first.
We took a taxi from Astorga to Rabanal - two great things - Camille was headed that way too - and, we had to call the number on the side of the taxi to have him come to take us - love the differences from home!
In Astorga - the store where all your dreams come true!
Sometimes you just have to have the million course lunch with tomatoes, 10 different meats, garbanzo beans and cabbage, noodle soup, some great pudding for dessert, coffee, another sort of flaming coffee, and then don't forget the vino! Brenda and I hadn't yet eaten - this meal was our breakfast, lunch and dinner - which I am going to call "blinner." Camille knew the place on a tip - it was a great one!
The flaming coffee! Not only was it on fire - but it had a little kick!
I dig this picture - it is two bottle tops that happened to be sitting together.
More views of the Cathedral - Mary Magdalene is first
Holy water fonts
This is a papal from the main Altar - of the Ascension- I was praying at the chapel with the Eucharist - but could see this - it reminded me of being with Msgr. Charles Mangan in Rome on Ascension Thursday in 2005 - we are both from the same town - having grown up blocks from each other - but in Rome he was every bit my Father in the Sacrament of confession - we were on a tucked away bench in St. Peter's - and it was extraordinary - so today I prayed in thanksgiving for him and for that confession, and for his intentions.
love the ceilings!
St Teresa of Avila
I love this first altar - I think the painting on the front is a reference to Mary, Star of the Sea
The main Altar
Looking at the back of the choir - and then the choir itself - amazing
More views of the Cathedral
Our Lady of the Pillar - she is a new favorite!
I love this picture of Brenda!
The inside of the main doors - I love the locks.
The baptismal font - the first chapel I stopped in - I am so grateful for my baptism - so grateful for the generations of family who have been baptized - today, give thanks for your baptism!
The main doors and details - they were magnificent - I could have spent a day or a month studying them!
The Cathedral in Astorga, Spain - so beautiful!

5 July 2016

A feature of the princess room that I just discovered - air conditioning! And it really works!
Just a street in Leon as we wonder back to our hotel.
Look - a selfie! (You've got to tap on the photo to see it full sized to get see the whole selfie) And - other pilgrim reminders right near the Catherdral
A look at the church from the cloister
Our new Camino friend Raya!
The cloister
The choir stalls - amazing!
The stained glass is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen - everything here leads the soul to heaven!
The Cathedral in Leon - it's magnificent - and there isn't any possible to give you all of it - except to say we took your intentions with us to Mass.
Brenda - you kill me - the "Mouth of Truth" is in Rome!
Now - look at what that crazy travel app did for us - another princess room - and, as opposed to our 6" ceilings last night, these seem to be 8" ceilings. But wait - that's not all - the next picture shows the beautiful towels! If we take the last 4 nights into consideration - we have averaged 16 Euro a piece - and three of the nights have been our own room! It seems like Brenda's birthday run is still going strong! Buen Camino! Now we are off to the Cathedral in Leon!
PART 2 - the driver is two chairs down in the bar - the four of us split the ride which ended up being just a few Euro more than the bus ticket - off Brenda and I went with Mike and Janisa from Australia- we got taken right to the door of our hotel. Janisa has named busses, cabs, and trains "time machines" because they shoot you forward on the Camino so you can be right on schedule again. This was great because Brenda's pace would have taken us 8 more days to get to Santiago - and my pace would have probably taken a year or more considering a surgery or two and the recovery time - but we are nearly back on pace to meet Jim, Jake, Abby, and Hannah in Santiago- maybe just one more short time machine!
Some days you go into the cafe to get a cup of coffee - and things get interesting. We decided yesterday to take the bus today to Leon - the cafe that is also a bus station is right next door to where we are having coffee. Brenda is busy recalculating- so I went to interview Sister Elizabeth for my radio show - of course when I showed up at her door was the first she heard of it - she was reluctant at first - but agreed - and I must say it is fantastic - tune in Sunday. Then I return to Brenda - we decided to look on my trip advisor app for an albergue in Leon - we have had some success with this. We wanted it close to the Cathedral and inexpensive - we booked it - stay tuned for the rest of the story. Then we went to the bus station bar to buy tickets - "completo - sold out" is what we heard - just then the couple from Australia came in whom I had met in the laundromat in Burgos. I asked the barista if she knew of a driver - TO BE CONTINUED
In outlast hours in Carrion - this is morning coffee while Brenda plans out the rest of her walks. Brenda has realized the best thing - she has 19 to 21 kilometer feet - which is where she needs to stop each day. This means the last 2+ weeks need to be recalculated. Let me just say again how amazing Brenda is - this is in every sense a pilgrimage - and she is a pilgrim! All for Christ! The other picture is the courtyard at our albergue Santa Clara.

4 July 2016

This was the little gift the Sisters gave to us - they made them themselves out of index cards - colored and cut - while they were making them they prayed for the pilgrims who would receive them. It was such a simple gift - which is the only type of gift we can carry with us - a weightless gift that is a reminder of their prayers and the Light of Christ!
After Mass - we went to the sacristy to get our stamp on the pilgrim's credential. You know I spotted the cool key - loved it!
The best night! We went to Mass at 8pm - it began just when there were a few drops of rain - then during this most beautiful Mass it began to downpour. After Mass there was a blessing for the pilgrims - first a blessing to all of us - then an individual blessing. They gave us each this little star - to represent God's light as we go on our journey. Then we went to the statue of Our Lady of the Camino and sang the Salve Regina - glorious!
I love this pilgrim fountain - Mary is at the top - and the sign says that the whole town is consecrated to the Immaculate Conception!
Augustine sisters from the Monastery of the Conversion (the conversion of St. Augustine) - we went to vespers with them - then had a sing along in the albergue they run - we could sing one of our favorite songs and if anyone knew it, they could sing along. Well there is only one song that I know all of the words to - and it seems timely and appropriate - so we all sang Happy Birthday to Brenda!
Although these pictures may not show this as well as being here in person, I love that the arches are not perfectly rounded - there is a "bump" on the left side.