This list rang home more than any other we have seen recently.
This list rang home more than any other we have seen recently.
Camaraderie has progressed as we get deeper into the Highlands on the West Highland Way. There is a sense of impending accomplishment as those of us in Kinlochleven tonight anticipate our 16-mile walk to Fort William and the end of the trail.
The 97-mile West Highland Way is the most popular of Britain’s 19 national walks. It begins in Milngavie and ends in Fort William, which sits in the shadow of the United Kingdom’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis.
Much like a well-worn trail, life provides a beautiful journey of highs and lows. We smile easily from the mountaintop where possibilities seem endless. It is when we gaze up from below, unsure where our path will lead, that our optimisim is challenged.
We met James and Gitta while hiking the Camino de Santiago in April of 2013. Both far more experienced walkers than we were, they taught us how to embrace the Camino Spirit…and not to walk over 12 miles each day!
We learned that Gitta had completed her first Camino several years earlier, walking from her home in Copenhagen, Denmark, through to Santiago, in celebration of her 60th birthday. The trek took her six months. We were in awe! Now she was back, accompanying James as he completed the missing segment of his first Camino.
As it has done for hundreds of years, the Camino continues to provide modern day Pilgrims with a sense of purpose; to ask questions, to seek answers, to reflect, express gratitude…to take a chance.
One evening, James shared with us the story of what led him to originally walk the Camino, and how that chance decision changed the path of his life.
It was at his late wife's burial that James' good friend suggested they walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago together. Standing at one of life's many crossroads, James immediately agreed and their plan was set in motion.
Six months after their return, James and his friend made plans to attend a meeting of fellow Camino Pilgrims. However, at the last minute, his trekking partner was unable to attend, leaving James with a decision to make: Enjoy an unexpected quiet evening alone or step into a room filled with unfamiliar faces. After some thought, James took a chance and made the decision to attend the meeting solo. As luck would have it (perhaps it was destiny or the magic of the Camino) Gitta too, chose to attend that same meeting where, at some point in the evening, she crossed paths with James.
The rest, as they say, is history!
Reg had been tracking the whereabouts of Lydia Smith's documentary Walking the Camino – Six Ways to Santiago for months, hoping to locate a showing close to home. It has been nearly a year since we set out on our own life-changing adventure along the Camino Frances, so we were anxious to revisit our memories.
The film documents the journey of six very different individuals who have unique reasons for making the 500 mile trek along the Camino Frances.
Would we recognize ourselves in any of these pilgrims? Would they experience the same joys, the same doubts? Would they overcome obstacles, both real and imagined, and conquer their fears? We were eager to find out!
Mid February found us seated at the Pageant Theater in Chico, California, awaiting show time. As the lights lowered, we found ourselves transported back to the Spain we remembered, spellbound as the individual stories unfolded. The scenery was breathtaking.
Based on our experience, the documentary presented an accurate picture of life along the Camino. Through a series of honest and often emotionally raw interviews, we watched the pilgrims push forward through their good and bad times, all determined to complete their journey to Santiago.
Because no two journeys are alike, the film won't be a spoiler for anyone planning their own Camino. It will, however, serve as an inspiration to those who seek personal fulfillment along this centuries old path. Buen Camino!
We returned to the cathedral at 6pm for the final rooftop segment of our cathedral tour. After climbing 105 steps, we expected to be led out onto a courtyard type area atop the cathedral; a place where we could safely take in the view of the various towers and the surrounding Santiago cityscape.
The views were truly amazing, but imagine our surprise when we found ourselves walking across what seemed to be five inch thick granite shingles! We all quickly took a seat as our guide explained the history and different architectural styles that comprise this beautiful cathedral.
What could be better than chocolate to soothe the leftover aches and pains of the Camino? Prior to leaving, my friend Annie recommended we try the hot chocolate while in Spain. ” It's like drinking a melted Hershey bar,” she wrote.
When a light rain began to fall this morning, we ducked inside a Santiago bar for a double order of Chocolate con Churros.
With a renewed source of energy, Reg and I sped off for a tour of the cathedral and adjoining museum.
We continue to bump into Pilgrim friends from weeks ago. This morning we greeted the brother/sister duo from Texas and then an Australian woman we shared dinner and lodging with way back in Carrion.
We're on the lookout for the arrival of two more Pilgrims here in Santiago, and then I think we will have reconnected with most everyone we've spent time with along the way.
This morning was different. As we tied our shoes and struggled into our backpacks, we knew this would be our last day of walking. Reaching Santiago was always the goal…until we started the Camino. I think we realized, after our first night in the Albergue outside of Pamplona, that this journey would be about so much more than simply reaching Santiago.
We've each had our struggles; everything from blisters to coed bathrooms (it's true!). The Camino tests everyone, and spares no one. But at the end of each day there is a bed (usually warm!), a meal, friendly conversation and laughter…and an eagerness to get up and do all again the next morning.
We walked into Santiago this afternoon with a mixture of joy and sadness. We had done it! But now what? That is the question we Pilgrims are asking each other as we prepare to go our separate ways.
Congratulations to Jamey who guessed drying shed!
These “unofficial symbols” of the Galicia region of Spain are known as horreos. We were told they were used to dry corn and sure enough, when we peeked inside we saw corn.
Traditionally, farmers stored and dried grain within the horreos. Sadly, they no longer offer practical storage for modern day farmers, but horreos remain popular with landowners who feel they are a valuable historical feature.