Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Monday, June 25, 2012

Giving Up on the Pelgrimspad

On the stretch from Amsterdamse Bos if you see this building you have gone off the route. You need to backtrack to the double arrowhead way marker. Then go left, not right.

I hope my posts will not discourage people from trying this route. It is spectacular. It just takes some extra planning and cash and we were not prepared. I would encourage anyone to do it. Just don't expect the kind of support you find on the Camino.

A person would be smart to know some Dutch, also, as booking lodging turned out to be a bit of a problem.

Jan's guide in English is very good. The maps are very helpful and the walking instructions are pretty good. I tend to take things literally and this led to some wrong turns. We also found a couple of mistakes but the purpose was to test it. If you would like to test the guide for him and are planning to walk soon, let me know.

Hidden waymarks

We came to a place where the trail split 3 ways. We couldn't find a waymark. We finally found it behind these branches hidden. Joe is pointing at the mark under the branches

You really have to pay attention on this route!

Waymark on tree

I thought I'd add a few more way mark photos for those walking the Pelgrimspad. Here is a tiny one on a tree.

One confusing thing is there are posts on the trails with slots in the top. These are painted red in one side (the slots) and white on the other so they look very much like waymarks but they are NOT. Following them got us further lost the first day.

Back in Amsterdamse Bos

So here I am back in a cabin at Amterdamse Bos.

I've got tickets to Wales for tomorrow. I'll arrive in time for Jodye's wedding party on Saturday. I'll get to visit with my good friend Sian and her family and many other friends I have there. I'm looking forward to a hot soak, fun friends, and a warm cozy bed.

I've been walking for almost 6 weeks. I'm tired - I'll have a two month rest before next Camino. Hooray!

Bridget, sorry I missed you. Maybe later this summer.

Good night world.


When I do it again it will be on a bike!

Beautiful, huh?

Waymark on gate

Joe pointing to waymark

Cute yard

Windmill on Pelgrimspad


The sides are thatched


To Joe's right are acres and acres of greenhouses growing yummy veggies for the table

Duck Blind?

I loved this duck blind.

Through the marsh

Beautiful walking through the polder.

Which way?

Which way would you go? Right or left??? The first time we went right. About 7 k out of our way. The correct answer is LEFT! (I'm not sure why)

An ethereal walk but...

The walk today from Amsterdamse Bos to Alsmeer was beautiful. We walked through fields, forests, along canals and through pretty neighborhoods with gnomes in the yards. We saw two working windmills and passed the famous flower market.

The scenery on this route is nothing short of ethereal, and I know whoever walks it will be happy.

I just don't think it will be me this trip.

It took us over two hours to get out of Amsterdamse Bos, due to a typo in the walking directions. Though a beautiful walk, it was stressful not seeing waymarks for so long and backtracking took energy I'm not feeling this trip.

Speaking of waymarks, this trail is not marked as clearly as the Camino. You really REALLY have to watch for the marks. Some are on trees, some on signposts, some are large, some are tiny, and some are just confusing.

They also can be quite a distance apart. On a bike they would feel closer together.

Once we reached our destination we were exhausted, very cold, cranky, and bleary-eyed. On top of that we were unable to find lodging or even a taxi.

Lodging is a problem on the Pelgrimspad if you do not speak Dutch. We found it quite limited. Camping spots are not as common as we thought and lodging runs on average 60 to 85 euros and up for double rooms. There are no pilgrim albergues. This makes it much more expensive.

The camping spots are few and far between. They are inexpensive but with rain every day, I'm not willing to get drenched in my little 2 man tent and not have a way to dry out

We just did not come prepared and it's our own fault. For some reason I thought it would be sunny in June. Joe reminded me in Portland it rains until July 4th! Duhhhh!

Food was not easy to find either. There were no restaurants or bars on the trail. We did manage to find a market, but a hot coffee sure would have been nice after that merry chase. Where are the coffee shops??? Bars???

I admit it, we are spoiled by the Camino Frances. We were totally unprepared for this trek and I'm not sure when we will finish it. But I'm sure it won't be this trip.

Between our unpreparedness and the weather, I'm tossing in the towel after one day. I have shin splints and my bones ache from the cold. I need a hot bath and a massage. I need a heated house.

Sad, I know. But I'm learning a LOT about myself on this trip and the second lesson has been "There's no place like home!"

Now where'd I put those ruby slippers!? ::: digging through her backpack ::::

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Well, we are off!

After coffee and applecake, we packed up and are off onto the Pelgrimspad. Hopefully we will see more sunshine and less rain the next few days. I'll blog when I can find wi-fi.

This has been a sweet place to stay, although expensive for a pilgrim. I'll miss my little cabin.

I'm hoping to find some 'real food' today. I'm weary of sweets and trail food. A good steak and baked potato would set me straight or maybe a grilled pork chop?

Next stop depends on the weather.


Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The rain persists. We've rented a cabin for another night. Supposedly there will be sun tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Amsterdamse Bos

So we are at a camping place called Amsterdamse Bos. Sweet little cabins for 28 euro, hot showers for 1 euro, laundry for 4,50 euro. Hopefully no bedbugs. We will see what the weather brings next few days and either continue walking the Pelgrimspad, or if it's too cold and wet we will find an early flight to Wales. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Joe and I just finished meeting with walker and author Jan Gerritsen (aka Shorty) and his lovely wife at our canal boat in Amsterdam. Jan brought me an updated copy of both of his guidebooks, now in English, for Pelgrimspad 1 and Pelgrimspad 2.

We plan on testing his Pelgrimspad 1 guide beginning on Sunday.

Now that I've taken a day of rest, walking is beginning to look good again. The weather has cleared a bit and the wind is warm. Good walking weather!

Now if I can just find a small box to ship some items to Wales...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Night on a Boat in Amsterdam

We left Santiago at 5:30 this morning and just arrived in Amsterdam at 10 pm! We flew out if SCQ at 7:30 am to Madrid and had an 8 hour layover! Talk about a bad connection! I did this because the price was only about 30 euros. We had breakfast at the airport, then I bought a copy of George Martin's Game of Thrones. I spent most of the day reading.

It was a scary flight to Amsterdam! First, the plane was making these 'barking' noises and it sounded like it was falling apart. Then, the Easy Jet pilot took us through some acrobatic moments like you see in the movies, you know the ones, where people are all bouncing a foot up and down in unison, squealing?
I sat with my eyes closed wondering if I had tempted fate once too many times. My father and brother died in a plane crash. I was supposed to be on that plane and I've been a little uncomfortable flying ever since.

After circling for what seemed forever, we landed amid a lightning storm. The train from the airport was cancelled due to weather so we had to run to another spoor to catch a train to Central Amsterdam.

It had been 9 hours since we ate, so the first thing we did after hitting Amsterdam was find food, then hire a taxi to bring us to where I now lie on a futon typing on my iPhone. And that is 'David Boat,' a floating barge hostel on an Amsterdam canal!

There is thunder and lightning and rain, and my Pelgrimspad plans are feeling 'iffy' but I'm safe on a boat, like Noah.

This is the barge we're staying on. It is called David Boat.
My bed.
Add caption
What the boat room lacks in privacy it makes up in charm.
The toilet wall is a simple curtain!
 I love this boat!

Yup, it's all good for the night!

Photos tomorrow.
Goodnight world.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Our group arrived this morning and met on the steps of the Cathedral for a group photo. Some were lucky enough to catch the noon Pilgrim mass and see the famous censor swing!
I don't usually stay for that unless I can get a seat in the back by the door.
Luckily, pilgrims don't often wear perfume!

We booked beds for our walkers in the famous Hospederia San Martin Pinario, a simple but beautifully and historically preserved Hospederia attached to the Monastery of San Martin Pinario. Dating from the 10th century, the monastery grew into one of the most powerful monasteries in Galicia. The hospital dates back to the 16th century.

This is where we had breakfast.

The bedrooms were small but clean and perfect for weary pilgrims.

An all you can eat breakfast buffet is included with your room.

Most appreciated the opportunity to sleep where so many pilgrims have slept throughout the centuries. You can almost hear their whispers through the walls; see their ghostly forms floating through the halls in the Santiago moonlight.

Such a connection can have deep meaning to those who have tread the same Camino, who have suffered similar pain, sorrow, joy, beauty, rain, cold, and heat; to those who have rubbed shoulders with like-minded pilgrims from all over the world; to those who have made lifelong friendships and connections, who have stripped away the dross of Self and who have reached Santiago on battered but strengthened Will and feet, victoriously.

Some, however, referred to it as a "jail cell."

Meaning, like beauty, is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Alien Window?

Stained glass window in San Franciscan Monastery. 
Is that an alien up in the left hand corner?

Arzua to Arca - Chanterelles?

On our way to Arca today we walked through miles of eucalyptus forest.
Mycology is an interest of ours and we were looking at the various types of mushrooms growing on the forest floor, many familiar as also growing in Oregon.

Suddenly we gasped as we recognized a bright orange friend that we don't usually see until October...could it be...??!??

It was a chanterelle! Not one, but a bank full! They were small and would have been perfect for eating in a couple of weeks but we are here now. So...we picked enough for our morning omelette.

I wonder why the chanterelles are out so early? Maybe Mother Nature is tricking the shroomies as well as the pilgrim with this Autumn-like weather?

We picked quite a few for tomorrow's breakfast... yum!

Soon we arrived at Pension Maribel. This little albergue sits next door to another one called Pension Arco Pino.

Both are lovely. Both have a nice common area where you can cook. They have free wi-fi and Arco Pino has a beautiful garden where you can relax. Highly recommended.

Arco Pino uses an air freshener that gives me a migraine, however, so I usually settle into Maribel. We were offered the downstairs apartment at Pension Maribel. It was a luxurious rest with our own living room and terrace. We were able to get all of our laundry done for our trek on the Pelgrimspad beginning in two days.

Thank you, Maribel, for your generosity!
Bedroom at Maribel. See Fall trip for more photos.
We went into the kitchen to have a late afternoon coffee and found this note waiting for us along with some yummy treats!  Small things like the sharing of food makes the Camino experience a sweet one.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

To Arzua

Today looks like a beautiful day for walking. Good thing because its a long stage - over 29 kilometers according to Brierley. But our walkers should be in shape for it by now.  

Here is the view out my window at Pension Palas:

Two more days to Santiago! 

The walk to Arzua began sunny and warm. We stopped in St. Xulian for breakfast at this beautiful Albergue set in an old casa rural. I'd love to stay here sometime!

The owner had walked the Camino 4 times and really understands what the pilgrim needs. The rooms have 6 beds. Beds are 10 euros They do have 2 privates and they do take reservations.

 Just a short walk out of St Xulian is this interesting house with a cat window where you can get Massage and Reiki.

Just a short walk out of St Xulian is this interesting house with a cat window where you can get Massage and Reiki.

Much of today's walk was on easy dirt track through woodlands.

We had heard of an interesting phallus carving on one of the small churches along the way, so we kept our eyes peeled. We found it a corbel of the church at Leboreiro (Field of Hares) on the way to Melide. I'm amazed it has survived. I wonder what it signifies... Fertility?

We stopped for pulpo and bacalau in Meride. The lady cooking was moving more than the octopus! Lunch was great! I recommend you share a SMALL plate of pulpo and have your own bowl of the best Caldo Gallego I have tasted in Spain!

My kids will know this kale potato soup as Querves.

There were other pulpo bars but this one is right on the Camino as you come into town and they actually have a hawker pulling people in.

 I think you might get better prices up the road but we were very happy with our lunch.

Soon, the rain began and got worse as the day went by.

Bob and Evette crossing one of the small streams on the trail. This was a really pretty section to walk today, even in the rain! The smell of eucalyptus was strong in the air and the frogs were singing up a storm!

The last 2 hours of our walk today, the skies broke open and it poured.

I shared a cab with two other walkers after going about 22 k but Joe wanted to finish the 30 kilometers.

Joe said it was raining so hard he had to hold the hood down on his Altus to keep the rain from blowing into his eyes so he could see the waymarkers.

He, Brenda, Mauve, Bob and Evette arrived looking like drowned pilgrims. But they were smiling. They DID it!


This lovely Pension Arcano has a beautiful terrace where we are drying out our clothes.

I'm not sure why...tomorrow's forecast is RAIN!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Bus Day For Me to Palas de Rei

This morning the cold in my chest continues to hang on,
so I decided today would be a bus day for me.

As I said goodbye to the other walkers,
prepared in various stages of rain and walking gear,
I felt a little sad because today is some of my favorite walking.
However, I need to stay warm and shake this cold.

I guess this nasty bug is making its way around in peregrino land because about 5 other pilgrims, all grasping Kleenex or hankies, joined me in the bus to Lugo, where we will catch an Empresa Freire to Palas.

Several pilgrims were treated to Fred's now-famous French toast for breakfast this morning. Now THAT is a good way to make pilgrims happy!

Teresa and Miranda made an early start, as did Brenda.
 Joe took off next with Maeve close behind, followed by Bob and Evette

The Hong Kong hikers are starting later these days but are still smoking us on the trail. Those ladies are in excellent condition!

Fred and Judi and I left last. They have a wonderfully relaxed pace that I admire. Taking time to enjoy each moment on the trail is a special skill.

Each person in this group seems to have really found their own way of walking. It's been encouraging watching their strength. Some have grown in leaps and bounds. Some in more subtle ways.

I've learned a lot about myself on this trip. Seems there is always a lesson waiting round the next bend.

Just another reason I love the Camino.

The bus stop

I had to catch a small bus to the big bus station.
The fare here from Portomarin was 2,50 euros.
Much less than a taxi.
The bus left Portomarin at 9:15 am.

Here is the big bus to Palas.
The fare was 2,80 euros. It leaves at 11 am.

Below is a photo of our lodging.
Pension Palas at Palas de Rei is a great Pension.
 Up above the town, we have views of the surrounding hills 
and the local lavadero used by women to wash clothes 
until fairly recent times.

The path to this pension is clearly marked from the Camino 
Just turn right at the Cabanas (there is a sign saying Pension Palas). 
Walk down the hill to the main road. 
Turn left onto the highway. 
You can now see the pension in the distance 
Turn left at the next street (another sign). 
Follow the street up to the door.

The rooms are spacious, clean and modern. They are also ensuite.

If you continue walking down the hill 
you will find a small but sufficient market to your left 
and a panaderia to your right.

Tomorrow will take us past Melida, 
where Brierley says you can find very good pulpo.

Pension Palas
When I book my lodging, I always am sure to leave a note
requesting "no parfume, por favor - tengo allergias!"
So far, I've been very lucky.
Almost none of the places were scented.
If it does happen that they are using something toxic for me,
I always have my trust tent!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Leaving Portomarin and It's raining, it's pouring!

Today the group walks to Palas do Rei and it's raining. 
Joe isn't worried. He has his Altus raincoat on. 
I imagine the rain will clear up by noon.

Judi catches a quick foot massage before we begin walking.

Soon Brenda is in her Altus, out the door, and on her way!