Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rest Day in Madrid

Dear Blog Readers
October 28, 2010
Rest Day in Madrid
Sleep in and have a lovely breakfast before heading out to explore Madrid.
Like a pilgrim, we decide to walk to the Madrid Prado Museum, about 15 blocks away.  The Museum is huge, no other word to describe it.  To better get a feel for it we hire a guide for an hour´s tour.  He covers several of the Spanish artists housed in the Museum.  We learn more than we would, had we been on our own, about Vasquez, Goya, Murillo, El Greco and others. 
While we are observing a room filled with Goya´s work, we run into one of the Korean ladies.  Lots of hugs later we inquire about the others and learn they are somewhere in the Museum.  Our guide does not find the interruption funny, and promptly inform us to focus on him and Goya and not the Korean lady.  Sadly, we do and don´t see the rest of the ladies during the remainder of our visit.
After our tour, we wander around on our own for hours - so much to see, learn and appreciate it is mind boggling.  They have a visiting Renoir room so we visit it, with much disappointment - no great pieces, plus the works appear to be prints framed behind glass, guess the originals are housed under lock and key in another European Museum.
After a quick snack at the Prado café I return to a room with some ´dark´ Goya works from later in his life.  Our guide had said he was in a deep depression when he did these works and it shows, very disturbing.
We walk back to the hotel and as if we didn´t have enough walking an hour later go in the other direction about 5 blocks to find a large mall to look around the shops. 
I think I´ll take the day off tomorrow and write - I´ve had an idea for a YA novel which came to me as I was walking through the forests of Galicia to Santiago.  Will get some of it down on paper tomorrow.
Blessings from Madrid,
p.s. Homeward bound Saturday so signing off for now - thanks for the comments - will be back to post photos and updates, plus answer any questions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Off to Madrid

Dear Blog Readers
October 27, 2010
Leaving Santiago for Madrid
Woke up and had a leisurely breakfast, check emails and packed to leave Santiago.  A little nostalgic that the journey is about to be over.
Met two interesting American priests at the hotel´s computer room, one served in the armed forces. Both is street clothes.  Some interesting insights about the Camino and the mass for pilgrims at the Cathedral.  They were both off to serve during the noon mass on the altar at the Cathedral - pays to be a priest in Santiago.
Took a cab to the train station at noon - train to Madrid is at 1:55 p.m.  We get off okay and could not see any of the Camino as the train took a southern route, not towards the east.  A few pilgrims on the train - some of the Spaniards are going home.  One Washington State woman is going to Madrid to meet her husband and have a mini vacation after her trek.
Train trip took 7 hours to get to Madrid.  Two hours out at a stop, the train went into reverse and we travelled the next two hours going backwards at high speed - by now it was pitch dark and we could not see anything outside.  Stopped the purser to ask if this was normal - ´yes´he said and we went all the way to Madrid, backwards - in the dark - not a very nice feeling as we were all tired.
Got to Madrid besides the fact we got there back first.  At the hotel now and off to see two museums tomorrow - one is about 45 mins away so we´ll put our feet to work - should be there in no time after the kms on the Camino.
Blessings from Madrid,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Santiago Day 4

Dear Blog Readers

October 26, 2010

Santiago - Spain

Had a really quiet day today in Santiago.  Rick finally got to visit the statue of St. James, this we did before breakfast this moring, by 9: 15 a.m. as by 9:30 a.m. the line up is around the corner.  Rick also got to sneak his rock from home into the church and left it at the top of the stairs near the back of St. James´statue.  Rick also got a more leisurely walk through the Cathedral without the throngs of people.

All the rocks I hid, near the entrance doorway, which is now closed until it is repaired for the Pope´s visit, have disappeared - oh, well - they were placed and a pray was said for each person.

Took a long walk around the city today, visited a lovely park and stopped for hot chocolate at a café.  Got back to the hotel and had a ´siesta´sleep, just like the Spaniards - got up and went for late lunch.

After lunch I sat out in the square and people watched!  Lots of pilgrims still coming into the city each hour of each day - it is now my turn to watch their reactions.  Heart warming to see the range of emotions.

Took a walk to the other side of the hotel and back up to the square again.  A really lovely down day.

Tomorrow we leave for Madrid by train - we will be there for two day before heading home to Canada.  Don´t know if I will get to post another blog - but will be in touch when I get home to answer any questions you may have about the whole experience.

Blessing from Santiago,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 3 - Santiago

Dear Blog Readers

October 25, 2010

Day 3 in Santiago

Woke up early to blue sky and sunshine - yeah Galicia, another a blessed day in the rainest part of Spain.  Have breakfast and head out to do some shopping.

We don´t get very far in the square outside our hotel which is the front of the Cathedral - and many of you blog readers will be happy to learn we run into the 4 Korean ladies (remember, they would stop and eat soup every hour or so on the Camino!) - well it is like home week, there is screaming and hugging and everyone chatting at the same time - wow, Henning and Barbara join in (this is a couple who we met several times in hotels along the way) they now live in France, he is German and she is French - most elegant woman on the Camino - anyway they had also walked with the Korean ladies, so more hugging and lots of photos.

Finally say good byes and away we go to find a store to ´spend money´!  Run into more people we´d met on the Camino - but continue to find the store - yeah success, I get new pants, blouse, scarf and shoes - I´ll need these as we are off to dinner with Henning and Barbara, didn´t want to wear the same outfit I´ve been wearing for the last 40 plus days.

On the way back we run into Matilda, the young girl who looks like Julia Roberts, she is not going home to Germany - Camino showed her she should stay in Spain and work on a farm - OKAY! - oh, to be young again and have the world by the tail.  Also run into Duras (Doris) I´d walked with her for part of the Camino and it is lovely to see she made it to Santiago.  More hugs and chatter.

Did some souvenir shopping again today - don´t know where I will put stuff as we only travelled with our knapsacks - one more day in Santiago and then the fast train to Madrid.  I´ll continue to send blogs until I leave to travel home on Saturday October 30th.

It is early evening and will now go and get dressed for late, late dinner - 8:30 p.m. with Henning and Barbara.  Enjoying seeing all those from the Camino - the square is filled with pilgrims coming in everyday - plus hundreds of tourists - it is the Holy Year after all.

Thanks for being a part of my Camino,
Blessings from Santiago -

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Santiago - Day 2

Dear Blog Readers
October 24, 2010
Santiago - day 2

Up early for breakfast - 7 a.m. to get the bus to Finnsterra by 9 a.m.
Roberta joins us and we set off to tour several small towns along the Alantic coast of Galicia.  Rain finally comes to Galicia and we get to use the rain ponchos we bought.
We visit several churches and local markets - with the rain still blessing us. We arrive in Finnsterra for lunch - a fishing town noted for being the most westerly point in Europe.  Have fish for lunch.
Later travel to the Cape Finnsterra for a final ritual of the pilgrims - a cross hanging over the Atlantic where most burn some item - I just take photos in the rain and thick mist.
We return by 5:30 p.m. and do a bit of souvenir shopping for the family.  Will try to shop for clothes one last time tomorrow and them maybe have a quite visit in a church, with the hope the crowds have all returned home.
Still have not as yet realized I´ve walked the Camino for 36 days and 780 kms.  It seems like someone else did that.
Blessings from Santiago,

Post trek update

Dear Blog Readers
October 23, 2010
Santiago - Pilgrims Mass Day at the Cathedral
Wow, must be tired - slept in until 9:15 a.m. - have a quick breakfast and off to find a seat at the Cathedral - get there at 10:15 but earlier mass is still on - church is filled - as soon as mass is over get a seat and put my bag down to save a spot for Rick - Roberta joins me but we soon lose the struggle and the pew is filled - it is about 1 1/2 hours until our noon mass and there is already no room in the church.
People begin to jossel each other for standing room - young novice priests continuously beg for silence in the cathedral - more pushing, shoving and down right nasty behaviour from those trying to get a spot to stand.  One man prompty refuses when asked by a church volunteer to move - he plants his Camino stick into the stone floor and begins to give the man a piece of his mind - all this while a priest takes the congregation through a song we will repeat during mass.
When the mass begins the whole situation gets worst - now people are rushing into areas where they were asked not to stand - those in the back like us, are now looking at the back of people standing in front of us - to see the altar you must peek between the heads of those in front.
I concentrate on the altar or what I could see of it.  There is a large statue of St. James´upper body - all the while the mass goes on, people are going around the back of the alter to hug St. James, they pat his face which faces the front of the church where we can all see what those behind are doing - this is no longer a solumn service, for me this has turned into a circus act - and I cannot even say a prayer!
Poor Rick who has lost his seat, decides he would much prefer to be on the Camino and leaves the mass - Roberta and I stick it out, but find ourselves talking about all the mini disagreements happening around us.  I am most disappointed when I don´t hear Canada during the mass for the Canadian pilgrims - several of us are in the church - we get lumped in with ´Norte Americanos´.  The priests does remember to name every village, town and city in Spain where pilgrims had come from - for me this is nonsense, since most of these people had only walked the final 100 kms.  See I´m no longer charitable in church, I´m not petty!
Anyway, left the church after the mass - have two of the young people, Vanessa from Quebec and Eugene from Florida join us for lunch back at the hotel.  After, we three, Rick, Roberta and me go to a large mall looking for some new clothes - no luck, we could not give our money away.
Return to have tea and do some local souvenir shopping. 
Off to Finnsterra - ´the end of the world´ tomorrow by bus.
Blessings from Santiago,

Some more photos courtesy of Roberta!

There are crosses in her eyes.  Look closely.

Final Pilgrim's Cross.  Look at the boots.