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Archive for the ‘Camino 2014’ Category

If there’s one thing that Americans know about Spain it’s that “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain”, which comes from the musical (and movie) My Fair Lady.  But when I walked the Camino de Santiago’s English Route from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela in June 2014 one of the first things I learned was that the rain in Spain doesn’t fall mainly on the plain, it falls in Galicia!  Galicia, through which the last 100 kilometers of any route of the Camino passes, is known for lush green hillsides, thanks to copious amounts of rain.  It’s absolutely beautiful, but can be very (very) wet.

Which only makes it even more of a miracle that we had 10 (ten!)  sunny days as we made our way slowly to Santiago.  It did rain in Coruña and Ferrol as I visited those charming cities before the walk.

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Some people call A Coruña “la ciudad gris”, the grey city. I think I see why…

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Rainy pedestrian street in A Coruña.

To be honest, I have no photo of the rainy afternoon in Ferrol because I took a nap and slept right through it.

But then, TEN sunny of days of walking!

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Just look at that sun shining on the town square in Betanzos!

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Sunny overpass outside of Betanzos.

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A sunny day makes you appreciate a shady forest path.

And so our arrival into Santiago was also bright and sunny.

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Sunshine! Rays of sunshine!

Well, our rain-free streak ended that evening in Santiago when it absolutely DOWNPOURED!  Everyone took shelter in cafes and stores, except those who were entranced by the ferocity of the deluge (like me) and perhaps took photos (also like me).

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Just look at that downpour!

But the funny thing is that the rain could not dampen our spirits (pun intended), at all.  We had such a fun night enjoying our last evening together, having a lot of laughs, getting silly with maybe a bit too much wine (or was that just me?), and reminiscing over the week’s walk.

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Having a good laugh despite the rain.

And so, as I prepare to return to Galicia to walk the Camino again, I’m now working on putting together my rain gear (which includes trying to figure out how to strap an open umbrella to my backpack …. yeah, that’s a work in progress!).  While I’m doing that, and when I get to Galicia, I’ll be sure to keep in mind the famous phrase that they have there: “E si chove, que chova!” And if it rains, let it rain!

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In June 2014, I made my way to Ferrol (Galicia), Spain in order to embark on my very first Camino – on the English Route (Ruta Inglés) of the Camino de Santiago. There are two ‘official’ starting points of the Camino Ingles, one in A Coruña and the other in Ferrol. Most opt to begin in Ferrol, as the distance to Santiago de Compostela (118 kilometers) is enough to qualify to receive a Compostela certificate upon arrival (on foot) to Santiago.

My first afternoon was spent exploring Ferrol on the Modernist Route of gorgeous buildings using a very handy map found in the lobby of my hotel:

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This one is for rent!

After all of that touring around, my next search was for Churros con Chocolate. Luckily, I found them just a few steps away from my hotel.
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The following day, I finally made it down to the port to look for the official starting point of the Ruta Inglés, where people for hundreds of years may have come by boat from England to walk the Camino. It was a picture perfect day with beautiful views of a working port.
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And mere steps away was the highlight of the day: lunch at O Camiño Do Inglés (Rúa San Francisco 17).
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The staff was so friendly, and so patiently explained the whole menu to me.

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Starting with olives and albariño.

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tapa: mini bocata de raxo (little roasted pork sandwich)

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I had seen this online and knew I had to have it: Verduras a la parrilla, huevo, salmorejo, y aceite de chorizo (grilled veg, egg, tomato/bread puree, chorizo oil). Just as incredible as it looks! That egg!

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They said this was their signature dish – alitas de pollo, crema de patata, y cebolla carmelizada (boneless chicken wings, potato purée and carmalized onion). Wow, incredibly rich and delicious.

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Obligatory Camino decór

After the fabulous lunch, I was then officially on the Camino route …. where you just follow the shells all the way to Santiago!
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It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love to travel. At work I have quite a reputation for somehow being able to squeeze more vacations into our allotted time off than practically anyone else I know. And it’s not just that I enjoy getting out of the office to see the world, but it’s that these trips truly do shape our lives. They change us. We have the opportunity to get our of our ordinary routine and to experience something else, something new and often completely different. To meet different people. To eat different food. To experience different cultures. And, ultimately, to bring that all home and apply the lessons that we have learned to improve our lives at home.

While I have been traveling internationally for many years now, it’s the trip that I took last year to Spain, my 5th visit to that beautiful country, that truly became the journey of a lifetime. On that trip in June 2014, I walked the Camino de Santiago. The English Route is one path to Santiago de Compostela that begins in Ferrol. We walked a short 118 km (73 miles) over 11 days. The group I walked with was called the “Caracoles” (snails), since most people walk the same route in just 5 days. We had 11 days of beautiful sunny weather in Galicia, in the northwestern corner of Spain, that is notorious for rainy days (which result in some beautifully verdant green hills). Along the way, I fell in love with Galicia and with walking meditatively, learned a lot about myself, and set myself on a new course. I’ve thought of Spain each and every day since my return from the Camino Ingles and during the past 10 months have spent a lot of time planning and training for my return trip in May 2015. This time I’ll be walking the Portuguese Route to Santiago de Compostela from Tui, which is located right on the Spain / Portugal border.

Off we go!  Starting the Camino de Santiago - Ruta Ingles - in Ferrol.  Hotel lobby.

Off we go! Starting the Camino de Santiago – Ruta Ingles. Ferrol, Spain. Hotel lobby. June 11, 2014.

11 days later we arrive in Santiago de Compostela!  Aside from Bob and me, the rest of the group is from South Africa, hence the flag.

11 days later we arrive in Santiago de Compostela! Aside from Bob and me, the rest of the group is from South Africa, hence the flag. June 21, 2014.

And in the Cathedral, we were presented with our Compostelas.  Our hearts swelled!  The front row seat to the botafumeiro swinging was absolutely magical.

And in the Cathedral, we were presented with our Compostelas. Our hearts swelled! The front row seat to the botafumeiro swinging was absolutely magical. June 21, 2014.

As I prepare for my return trip to Spain and the Camino de Santiago, I can’t help but frequently reflect on the change that has taken place over the past 10 months. This photo comparison illustrates one aspect of that change:

Left is June 2014, the first day (first mile!) of the Camino de Santiago English Route.  Right is 10 months later, April 2015, as I prepare to return to Spain for another Camino!

Left is June 2014, the first day (first mile!) of the Camino de Santiago English Route. Right is 10 months later, April 2015, as I prepare to return to Spain for another Camino!

I’ll be posting about the trip here, as well as on my Instagam (mylifeonvacation) and Twitter (@mylifeonvacatio). I would love for you to follow along! If you have any specific questions, please leave a comment!

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