As compared to the last blog, This topic is not so metaphorically rich, except for the idea that if pilgrims are historically supposed to suffer along the way, this might be happening via the menu along with extensive uncertainty of actually not knowing about the next meal. I say in jest mostly but not completely.  

It goes like this pretty much every day. You may have paid 3 euros for breakfast the night before, and that usually goes from 6:30 to 7:30 am, and mostly consists of bread, butter, jam, and coffee.  Maybe some sort of packaged cake sort of thing.  If you miss it, too bad. If they don’t serve breakfast, too bad.  

Down the road there may or may not be a place where you can get coffee and a pastry.  Sometimes you can think you are just trying to get eggs, and wind up with this huge heart attack on a plate. 

Lunch is pretty dicey altogether. Keep in mind that by lunch time you have easily burned off any breakfast (due to the 10 mile walk you just did) that you either did or didn’t get, even the heart attack plate. It usually consists of potato tortilla, or ham and cheese sandwiches made differently, but are really all the same. Basically you can get white bread, smoked meat, cheese, or potato any way you want them. Obviously the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Diet has not made its way here.

Tapas basically
Ham and cheese, cheese and ham

In the afternoon you can get plenty of beer and bar food.

 

Typical Bar
Another bar
Note the lack of green anything

At night many albergues serve a pilgrims dinner for about 10 euros. It’s sometimes salad (whoo hoo!), a lot of pasta and bread, meat unidentified, and yogurt for dessert. Everyone eats together in a family style manner.

What is interesting is that sometimes there are lots of beautiful veggies around, but they aren’t on the menu! The nice owner of this shop actually took my picture with them because of my sheer admiration of the bounty. Isn’t it beautiful?

But really, it’s fine. You just have to plan ahead, try to have some things in reserve, and be flexible!  Kind of like life, right?

Leslie 

Well, there are signs, many types, sizes, and quality of signs.  And you have to be on your toes to see them all, or you might go The Wrong Way.

The Camino is a metaphor rich for life and the signs are no exception. Please enjoy. 

Some signs along The Way are clearly obvious, 

While others are not. 

Some Way signs are cute little hand made signs, 

While others are quite commercial.

Some tell you two different Ways to get to the exact same place.

Some Way signs are with other signs, 

While others are alone and in odd places.

Some signs are even written in the sky. Oops, probably not. Cool, but no. 

At points along The Way somebody has messed with some of the Way signs, which is maddening. Dear Way Sign Tampering Jackass, I forgive you already because I don’t know what you’ve been through on Your Way, but I am tired and I don’t want to go The Wrong Way. I will go left because that feels like it is The Right Way, but if that turns out to be The Wrong Way, I will simply turn around and go The Other Way. You will not, in the end, keep me from finding My Way. I hope someday that you find Your Way without interfering with Other People’s Ways.

So as you see the signs are endless, but here is the best sign I have seen so far. 

Donate here for the new Breast Cancer Sign!

P.S. Tonight I am in Los Arcos, and am now over 1/7 of The Way done. I went 20 miles today, and feel tired but am okay. I think that’s a good…sign, get it? 

Leslie 

 

 So I Stopped that and Started Walking my Own, and Boy am I Glad I Did

After the first day of walking, I met up with four lovely people from Ireland, and we walked together and bunked together the second day. One fellow named Barry is hell bent on getting to Santiago in 32 days, so the whole group began to walk fast and see very little because he was in such a hurry. The breaks were short and time spent picture taking had to be ‘made up for’.  

At the beginning of the 3rd day walking into Pamplona, I realized I had been sucked into walking Barry’s Camino, as opposed to walking my own. Additionally, he had plans to walk around Pamplona as quickly as possible because ‘it’s just like any other big city and not worth the time’.  At this particular moment, I decided that the benefits of hanging with this group did not outweigh the cost, and I slowed down and let them go. They are far ahead of me now, and I am not likely to see them again.  They were all wonderful and I am better for having met them. Their Irish humor and good company will be missed. I wish them Godspeed and I hope Barry makes his time table if that is the Camino that he wants. 

As for me, I spent today in Pamplona, and I am so glad I did. I went to the Pilgrims Mass this morning at the Cathedral and walked up to the top of the bell tower afterwards. To be honest, I didn’t understand much of what was said, but it still had a comforting familiarity.

After that I walked around the city, took a nap, read, and enjoyed the company of my fellow albergue dwellers. I feel my leg and back muscles restored. Tomorrow I will head out early.

Please enjoy below what I got to see today, walking my own Camino:

 

The oldest operating bell in Spain. It is rung 40 times per year on special occasions.
View from the bell tower
Another view from the bell tower
Cathedral in Pamplona

So I ask you, whose Camino are you walking?  Yours, or someone else’s?

Leslie 

 

Gratitudes:

Fruit and vegetables which are in short supply on the Camino.  

The Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program who helped me train for this walk. Thanks Karin, Thom, and Heather!!!

Warmth and sunshine – have had nothing but that since I’ve been here.

 

 

 

 

One of the hardest days of the Camino-COMPLETE!!!

I had a great day in St Jean-de-pied-de-Port with John, buying a few last minute things and working off some jet lag. The next day I took off early in the morning to take the 15 mile trek across the Pyrenees.  

“You don’t walk the Camino, the Camino walks you.  You talk to who you are supposed to talk to, you room with who you are supposed to room with, and you feel the pain you are supposed to feel.”  -my new friend from Ireland, John. He is walking the Camino for the second time!

After the first day, and possibly the hardest day of the Camino, I think John is right about this.  I’d be a liar liar pants on fire if I didn’t say it was hard. It was. The climb was strenuous through the mountains under the punishing sun. People were dragging and walking at a snail’s pace uphill. 

 

It’s a long way up, and then back down.

However, the scenery was beautiful and new friends were made that make it worth it.  Just like in life itself, things don’t always go according to plan.  The hostel where we were supposed to stay was full,  but it took them two hours to tell us that, so it was a late night after an exhausting day trying to find a place to stay.  But all is well that ends well.  We ultimately found another hostel that suited our needs just fine.  

I took in the Mountain Views and the sounds of the bells on the herds of sheep  and horses.  It was really magical up there.  I hope I get to see it again someday. But until then, we will head through flatter land and head to Pamplona over the next couple of days.

Sheep Everywhere!
The horses are beautiful!

Next blog will be from Pamplona where the conduct running of the bulls every July, and where I plan to take my first rest day.

Until then, Adios.

Leslie 

 

Gratitudes:

Trekking poles – they are a life saver

Friends with really dry humor from Ireland

Private rooms – because honestly most people snore.  There was a real chorus going on last night in our little room for eight.  More on that later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The short answer,

as little as possible!

By the time you’ve read this… my journey will have begun!!

Since I will be carrying everything with me in a backpack the whole 500 miles, I will want it to weigh as little as possible. Many people have been curious about what I will take, and how I will carry it.

So here is the packing list: 

  • The backpack and backpack rain cover
  • The Camino Shell – read about the history of the camino shell  here.
  • Sleep sack
  • My medicine! Plus Tylenol
  • Small guide book
  • 1 small quick dry towel
  • Passport, driver’s license, Euros, and 2 credit cards
  • Headlamp (just in case)
  • 1 short sleeved shirt – quick dry
  • 1 long sleeved shirt – quick dry
  • 1 jacket – lightweight but warm
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 2 long exercise plants
  • 1 shorter exercise pant
  • 1 shirt to wear that I won’t hike in
  • Hat
  • Hiking shoes, walking trainers, shower shoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Buff
  • 4 pair socks
  • 1 liter Nalgene
  • Water purifying pills
  • 1 spork/can opener/bottle opener all in 1 tool
  • Highly concentrated soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent
  • Body glide for chaffing and a few various other toiletries
  • Spare glasses
  • Walk The Way With Her cards to pass out
  • 2 carabiners
  • 3 energy bars
  • Journal
  • Cell phone and charger, portable cell charger, power converter.

 

On top of that, a few dear friends have given me a few small things to carry with me:  an angel, an intention bracelet, and a courage medallion. I will also take a pink strand of pearls to use to pay tribute to several sorority sisters who have died from breast cancer.  Plus a few rocks!  – Read about that tradition here. More on that later!

Thank you everyone for your donations, support, and words of encouragement so far!  The next blog will be written from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port where the The Frances Way of the Camino de Santiago begins. Read more about Saint-Jean here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Leslie 

 

Gratitudes:

The Foglia Family Foundation who will graciously match all donations up to $50,000.

Bob Lee who has been a wonderful mentor and good friend.

The Daily Herald for sharing my story. You can read the article here.

 

 

 

 

 

24 Mile Walk Around Lake Geneva

A 24 mile walk around Lake Geneva carrying a loaded backpack convinced me that I am ready to walk the 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago.

After months of long walks around my neighborhood, plus cardio and weight training, a couple of friends and I decided we should walk all the way around Lake Geneva to ‘get some distance’. That’s 24 miles. We all three took it as a challenge, with a little peer pressure mixed in.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. The temperature was perfect, the sun was shining, and the Lake Geneva flowers were in full bloom. We started out at about 9am, stopped half way for lunch, and made it back to the car just before dark! Those last few miles were the toughest, but some bad singing and a little laughter helped us cope.

Each of us felt like we accomplished something, and I am truly grateful to my friends for committing a whole day of their lives to make that journey with me. I do feel more confident about those long walking days I will have on the Camino. I am now sure I can do it!

Thank you Ann and Adele – you two are champs! I am grateful for your love, friendship, and encouragement. Shall we find a bigger lake to walk around next time?

Leslie

 

What am I doing for Training?

Many people have asked me what I am doing to prepare for my 500 mile walk across Spain.  They have asked questions like: How far do you have to walk every day?  How much? Where are you walking here before you go?  And, what else are you doing to prepare?

 

Well, the answer is: a lot of things.  First, I am doing weight training and focusing on my core to ensure that carrying a full backpack every day won’t be too much of a strain on my back.  Next, it’s cardio fitness, with interval and tempo workouts alternating.  And lastly of course, lots and lots of walking in the exact shoes that I will be wearing on the trail for 15 miles, or about 6 hours a day on average.  This helps with working out any issues that I may have with the shoes before I go, and builds up callouses in the right places. The right shoes, and foot care, are crucial for a successful walk of the Camino.

 

For the most part I just take very long walks around my neighborhood (8 miles or so), and sometimes with friends at the Cuba Marsh, in Barrington IL.  So if you are at Citizens Park in Barrington, or you find yourself in Hawthorn Woods, and you see a middle aged lady oddly wearing a backpack and hiking shoes with pink laces – yep that’s me, just putting one foot in front of the other.  Over and over and over and…

 

A 22 mile walk around Lake Geneva, WI is scheduled for next week.  Stay tuned for an update on that!

 

Leslie