Bilbao

After Puente la Reina I walked back a few kilometers to join Marty in Obanos. We spent a lazy day drinking coffee con leche (milk) and walking a few more kilometers back and forth to Eunate, a very special hermitage that I like to visit whenever I am in the area.

The next day we walked all of 12 or so kilometers (7.2 miles) to Cirauque to an enjoyable albergue where Marty did little while I walked back to Puente la Reina to make an internet connection.

Then we walked another 10 kilometers (6 miles) the next day to Villatuerta–short distance to avoid going to Estella, a larger city a few kilometers beyond. The private Albergue is new and a delight to stay in.

But yesterday we got ambitious and walked around 25 kilometers (15 miles) to Los Arcos and a bed on the attic floor of the Austrian albergue there.

All days were beautiful in the lower 80s (27-29C.) with mostly light winds–a far cry from the cold, rainy, windy days of April.

This morning I said “Good By!” to Marty and got on a bus for Bilbao. And here I am ready to visit the Gugenheim Museum tomorrow and fly to Germany to visit with Petra and her mother the next day.

Puenta la Riena

I arrived here this morning after an all-night ride from Santiago. For you who don´t know about the place this is four days into the camino from the beginning. It is the place where two major camino routes from northern Europe come together and it is the place where Petra´s and my caminos of live came together short nine years ago on this very date, May 10. So I have a bit of a celebration here alone tonight though I did Skype earlier with Petra.

Marty is still two days away from here he says so I´ll walk back to Obanos tomorrow to visit with him. Weather has been beautiful–a bit warm in fact, around 84 (29C). I even got to do an entire wash machine full of clothes this afternoon–I needed to.

Back in Santiago

After three days with little and no rain, the rain returned with vengeance to Finisterra this morning. It is good I had decided to return to Santiago today because a three-hour bus ride was about the best use of the day I could have made.

I have left Finisterra for the fifth or sixth time. I always enjoy it.

Finisterra was really our first home together. Petra and I stayed there a month in 2003 as we decided to get married. That was almost 9 years ago now. So many paths we have walked together since then and now we are settling into Santa Fe. Life is good.

After a few more days here, I will look for brother Marty somewhere on the beginning of the Camino Francais and have a cup of coffee with him before heading to Germany to say hello to Petra and her mother and attend a wedding. Then it’s back to Santa Fe to watch the flowers and tumble weeds. (Maybe I´ll even walk a day with Marty if it’s not raining too hard–this is the year of the rain. I have officially ended this habit of walking long–maybe 20 km is not so long once in a while.)

A shower

This morning I walked a few miles to the lighthouse at the end of the land at the end of the world (Finisterra) here. It was a beautiful walk in the cool wind and sun and clouds. But the rain comes in batches here. I wrote the following as I waited in a glassed-in bar at the lighthouse for one of those rains to pass.

Rain beats against the windows. Fog builds up on the inside. I can almost not see the ocean below. To the east only a wall of grey white, to the west some clearing but the rain continues to run heavily down the windows. I can barely see the big rock in the water below. Two walkers come in water flowing off their raincoats and backpacks. We will be all together for a while, the ten or so that wandered in before the rain and the two who just arrived…. But maybe not so long; the sky is already getting lighter in the direction where the rain is coming from…. A german couple ventures out. The rain is less. Only a few drops on the ground now. Two more, no three, venture out. It’s over. I can head bck to Finisterra. Looks cold. Not so as I walk out. The sun is already shining brightly and the yellow flowers on the mountainside are brilliant. A 15-minute shower is history.

 

Finisterra

This afternoon I arrived by bus in Finisterra, the farthest west point in Europe (aside from Ireland or Iceland, I suppose). This is the end of the Camino de Santiago. It is the end of my Camino from Valencia. It is the end of my walking of the last nine years. I´ll still walk short walks now and then, but the long walks are done. I have to walk a couple beaches and collect shells and I have to do a ceremony to make an end to the walking. Beside that, I´ll walk around and sit and rest and avoid the rain and have some coffee con leche. Ah! I do not have to avoid the rain tonight, the sun is out for a change–well, it was a minute ago. It is under a cloud again.

And Brother Marty arrived in France an hour or so. He is going to walk the Camino from St. Jean Pied de Port starting Friday. I’ll have coffee with him in ten days or so. Check out his progress at camino.doerofthings.com.

Santiago

Petra tells me this blog is not much of a living blog. I must agree that I have not done well with it. That is mostly because I have no computer of my own and it gets the last attention of the day when I get to a computer. Well, three days ago I arrived in Santiago by train after a fine 5.5-hour ride across the country from Avila, a ride that included sun, rain and an ice storm. It was interesting to ride the trail along the same path we walked along the Via de la Plata in 2005. Now they have a high-speed track between Orence and Santiago. It only took 35 minutes on the train while it took us five days for the same distance seven years ago.

It was good to be in Santiago again after two years plus away.

Avila

Hi Evertone.

I arrived two days ago here in Avila, the home of the mystic St Theresa of Avila who among other things had estacies with Jesus, established the Shoeless Carmelite order of Nuns, and then from her middle 50s until she died at 67 established 16 convents around Spain. She was a busy woman.

My walk across Spain, not at all as ambitious, from Valentia to Santiago has ended here in Avila, after 600 or so kilometers.. Nothing bad. Its ´just time to stop the walking life while I am on the top. Enough is enough. I think Forest Gump is a bit of an inspriation for the stop. I have done a lot of walking in 9 years. It´s time to do something else (though Í’ll not establish a fishing company). So I´ll sit here in Avila a to digest and whatever else and then move forward to the Atlantic for a few days before visiting brother Marty on the Camino Francais and moving on to Germany to link up with Petra.

I am nursing a cold but will head for Santiago and Finisterra by bus or train in the next day or so. It is raining and cold here.

Toledo

I´m still moving west–40 kilometers (25 miles) yesterday. But today I had a mandatry stop in Toledo so took a bus the equivalent of three days walking. I had a letter coming from Petra so had to set a specific day and time to receive it. Then I didn´t walk fast enough.

It didn’t help when it rained cats and dogs Saturday holding me in Tobosco where I sat reading, drinking coffee con leche, and talking with another pilgrim who is from Germany.

I’m staying here in Toledo for two days. It is a beautiful city with buildings from all of it´s Arabic, Spanish, and Christian history. So when I get off this it is time to go out and walk 20 kilometers (12 miles) or so around the town.

San Clemente

If you check the timetable on the PilgrimageCreations.com page for this walk you will see I’m 9 days late getting here! Most of those days were because of the pick-pocketing and recovery. But one was because of the wind yesterday. The wind (not cold) was blowing in my face at 60 to 75 miles an hour (100 to 125 kph) and I refused to walk any farther after walking 15 miles (25 km). It was worse than any wind Petra and I put up with walking in the west in the spring of 2009. Today’s walk from Minaya to San Clemente was a comfortable 12+ miles (19.3 km) with a LOT less wind. I am now a day behind my recently updated schedule–so much for schedules. But I will be in Toledo on 16 April, two days before Petra’s birthday.

Trivia: 46 years ago tomorrow I began my four years and five months in the US Army. That must mean I’m OLD. I don’t feel like I am.