Rest day in Pamplona

A wonderful statue

It was fun to just hang out in a beautiful town. I got my Spanish SIM card sorted for my phone, bought a new poncho since I tore my old one struggling through the bushes and went to the cathedral. I was resting my knee too. I checked in to the same hostel- the converted church. It is run by a charity that supports people withCerebral Palsy. I like the air, the spirit in here. Of course I lost my first Camino companions with whom I started but I will have dinner tonight with a nice lady from Florida who managed to get a spectacular blister that held her back a bit too. Here are some pics of the interior of the spectacular cathedral. At the tomb of the king and queen I note her faithful hounds at her feet and …. A lion at his!

Alabaster king and queen

Zubiri to Pamplona

It was better, much better than the day before. Not having anything to eat or drink until 11 am did not help but, boy did that spinach tortilla taste good when I finally got it. I was lucky go get a bed at one of the biggest albergues in Plampona and have decided to stay an extra day. I feel there is a lot to see here plus I want to get my telephone situation worked out. Had dinner with my Irish friends

In Basque Country
Many pretty sights in the villages

Today was the hardest

Crossing the River
On the bridge that cures rabies

Today it poured rain and I walked 22km over hill and dale and over a slippery bed of rocks. Horror! But I had 2 Irish angels who helped me by going fast and making jokes. We are in Zubiri now and off to Pamplona tomorrow. The lady who keeps the hotel put on her mask and kissed and hugged me. I have a double bed in a private room. Bliss!

Granny went over the mountain

Ah, the Camino Frances doesn’t let you in that easily. To set off in pouring rain is challenging. Oh well, only 8 km you think but that’s a lot of rain! The pass over the Mountains from France to Spain is split into two days for some modern pilgrims. Others do the whole 27 km in one day! Too much for me so I was happy to sleep at the fabled Orisson lodging. The bonus was that the second day of the trek was brilliantly sunny and the views were magnificent. Now just waking at Roncesvalles with no idea where I will sleep tonight. The Camino provides they say. We will see.

French rain
Spanish sim

Up the mountain we go

From the citadel

Got poles and snacks for the assault on the mountain today. Rain is forecast but the day after should be very good. Walking with others so we encourage each other. Met a nice Yorkshireman walking for a sick child. Conversation at the dinner table was eclectic..,French,English,Spanish, Yorkshire and bewildered sign language for 2 unilingual Chinese pilgrims. Time to get up. and walk!

A town of hopes and dreams

St Jean Pied de Port has seen so many souls set off on the old old pilgrimage route known as the Camino. I arrived by train, passing through tiny mountain villages with the train track hugging a narrow rushing river. The train was full of backpacks and speculation about the weather. Next to me a charming Danish couple, veterans of three caminos told me they were going the alternative route around the mountain rather than risk the climb in the bad weather forecast for the next day . I am starting off a day later so, I have not yet had to decide what to do. First example of the humility the Camino demands, for months I have dreamed of going over the famous Napoleon route but perhaps it will not be possible, At supper in.the gîte where I am staying for two nights I met other pilgrims, It was interesting to see how well or ill prepared they were. I sat at the “ American” table. How this damned Covid has coloured our attitudes. When one gentleman told us he was from Florida I was uneasy until he expressed his very pro vaccination views. On réflexion I wonder if a right-wing anti-Vaxxer would embark on the Camino. It seems unlikely The town is very hilly and the streets too narrow for cars to pass. My first visit today will be to the church and to the pilgrim’s office where I will get maps, advice and the first stamp in my long fold-out passport. I hope to fill it and that the last stamp will be that of the cathedral of Santiago, a hope to accomplish a dream. This is a common dream in this little ancient town. There are other dreams and hopes -of liberation from sorrow, of thanks for health restored, of wonder at the beauty of the world. The little town is steeped in dreams and hopes. Today is my day to discover them.

A town of hopes and dreams

     St Jean Pied de Port has seen so many souls set off on the old old pilgrimage route known as the Camino. I arrived by train, passing through tiny mountain villages with the train track hugging a narrow rushing river. The train was full of backpacks and speculation about the weather. Next to me a charming Danish couple, veterans of three caminos told me they were going the alternative route around the mountain rather than risk the climb in the bad weather forecast for the next day . I am starting off a day later so, I have not yet had to decide what to do. First example of the humility the Camino demands, for months I have dreamed of going over the famous Napoleon route but perhaps it will not be possible, At supper in.the gîte where I am staying for two nights I met other pilgrims, It was interesting to see how well or ill prepared they were. I sat at the “ American” table. How this damned Covid has coloured our attitudes. When one gentleman told us he was from Florida I was uneasy until he expressed his very pro vaccination views. On réflexion I wonder if a right-wing anti-Vaxxer would embark on the Camino. It seems unlikely The town is very hilly and the streets too narrow for cars to pass. My first visit today will be to the church and to the pilgrim’s office where I will get maps, advice and the first stamp in my long fold-out passport. I hope to fill it and that the last stamp will be that of the cathedral of Santiago, a hope to accomplish a dream. This is a common dream in this little ancient town. There are other dreams and hopes -of liberation from sorrow, of thanks for health restored, of wonder at the beauty of the world. The little town is steeped in dreams and hopes. Today is my day to discover them.

First Day

At Montreal airport
Classic Paris street scene

My flight was uneventful although the scene in Montreal was pretty chaotic. Many people seemed to be leaving town with all their worldly possessions . I should have thought more carefully about those zip off shirts/ pants though. As if my artificial hip wasn’t enough for the scanner to catch. My entry into France was pretty surprising in that I was subject to no Covid checks at all. My carefully amassed documents and phone scan and two forms filled out on the plane never left my bag. I had applied for a French equivalent of our Quebec vaccination pass. In spite of submitting many documents I never got it but now I wonder how much it is being used? It was a beautiful sunny day here and I went out for a walk in the neighborhood. However after several restless nights a nap was more important. Many thanks to kind Yasmina for her hospitality. tomorrow I’ll take the train down to St Jean Pied de Port. Two sleeps there and then …..up the mountain we go!

After the Fall

The innocent clump of thistle was the cause of my fall. The toboggan hill in the park has become my favorite training zone. I developed the habit of walking up and down as many times as I could. I go down backwards to stretch the backs of my knees. It’s good for my balance too – well, most of the time. I get in a sort of “zone” or trance when I’m doing the hills. Last Wednesday evening my trance was a little too deep. The hill is mostly rough grass or clover patches but there is this one clump of thistle right on the edge of the hill. I had been experimenting with going up and down the rough stone path at the side and for some reason was going down at the extreme edge of the hill. As I walked down backwards I stepped right into the thistle patch. I must have been a funny sight as I awoke from my trance and twisted around to try to get my footing. People look funny when they are trying to keep their balance on a hill and if the kids below who were playing soccer had only looked up they would have had a chuckle. I ended up on my rear with a bit of a bump and laughing at my predicament.

Later that evening I felt a little blue. What was I thinking? was I really going to go on this adventure, and come home unscathed? But the next day chance sent me a pick-me-up. I have a few plants on my city balcony, among them this cheerful nasturtium. I heard a faint buzz and glanced out to see a little bird. But he wasn’t sitting on a branch. No, he didn’t need a branch because he was a friendly little hummingbird who looked right at me and then flitted away. My plant only has two blooms but he had found them out and come to investigate. Something about his cheerful resourcefulness made me feel better. He wasn’t giving up. He was managing and taking care of his business.

Then today I had another lovely surprise. My flat is quite close to the big city park, Angrignon where I get out of the metro to walk home. I decided to take a path through the shady trees rather than my usual walk along a city block. No one else was on the path and suddenly a pale hawk or falcon flew up onto a branch in front of me. His solemn eyes above his hooked beak gazed down at me for quite a long time. Then I fumbled with my phone trying to take a picture and he flew off.

So, I didn’t get a shot of either bird. I won’t easily forget my encounters with them, though. I felt as if they were telling me to pick myself up and get on with things. So, I will