Here I go...

Walking and Talking Across Spain - long distance walking chelates the chemicals that trigger my Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

China Teacups

"You have hidden Your face from us… Yet, O Lord, 
You are our Father; we are the clay, 
and You our Potter, and we all are the work of your hand."
 (Isaiah 64:7-8)

* * *

A couple went into an antique shop one day
 and found a beautiful teacup sitting on a shelf.  

They took it off the shelf
 so they could look at it more closely, and said, 
"We really want to buy this beautiful cup!"

Suddenly, the teacup began to talk, saying
 "You know, I wasn't always like this.  

"There was a time when I was just a cold, hard,
 colorless lump of clay.  
One day my master picked me up and said,
 'I could do something with this!'  
Then he started to pat me, roll me, and change my shape.

"I said, 'What are you doing?!  
That hurts!  
I don't know if I want to look like this! 
Stop!"

"But he said, 'Not yet…'


"Then he put me on a wheel and began to spin me 
around and around and around,
 until I screamed, 'Get me OFF! 
I'm getting dizzy and sick!'

'Not yet.' he said.

"Then, he shaped me into a cup 
and put me in a hot oven. 


I cried, 'Let me OUT! It's hot in here! 
I am suffocating!'  


But he just looked at me through the glass and smiled 
and said, 'Not yet.'


"When he took me out, 
I thought his work on me was over, 
but then he started to paint me.  
The brush was cold and wet and the colors were dull.
It was not a pleasant experience at all!



"I couldn't believe what he did next!  
He put me back into the oven! 
I cried, 'You have to believe me! I can't stand this!

 Please let me out!' 
But he sighed, and said, 'Not yet.'

"Finally, he took me out of the oven 
and set me up on a shelf 
where I thought he had forgotten me.  

"Then one day he took me off the shelf 
and held me before a mirror.  

"I couldn't believe my eyes!  
I had become the most beautiful teacup 
that everyone wants to buy!"

* * *

I love this story I read in Joyce Meyer's book, "Beauty for Ashes."

The message?

Sometimes that is all we have left to do
is submit to the Potter's hands.

Just relax, 
stop fighting, 
and let the Universal Power take over.

If we can do this, 
we may wake up one day and realize
 after all the pain we've endured, 
we are no longer cold lumps of clay,
but are like a rainbow of beautiful teacups.




Sunday, December 29, 2013

Another Death

I'll tell you, it's been a heck of a year.
This will be remembered as
"The Year People Died."

I just got word that my cousin died.

To add insult to injury,
his 96 year old mother is in a nursing home,
and my cousin's wife has decided not to tell her until
AFTER he's cremated.

This is cruel to me.
I have three sons.
I can't imagine people not telling me
if one of them died.
In our family,
a mother has the RIGHT
to say goodbye to her dead son.

My Aunt Vena lost her youngest son
a few years ago.
It was very hard on her.
Now her eldest has died.
Her last son.
And even if it kills her,
she has the RIGHT to know
and to see him.

Bad enough, they're cremating him
and not having a funeral.
Funerals are, after all,
for the living, not the dead.

But to keep his mother from saying goodbye.

When I say she's 96,
don't get the wrong idea.
My last aunt lived until she was 105.
Aunt Vena could have another 10 years.
People in my family live long lives.
My last grandmother just died in the past two years.

My aunt Vena is sharp as a tack.
She's not in the nursing home because of mental disability.
She's in there because she can't walk.
There's nothing wrong with her mind
that you wouldn't expect from a 96 year old.

Yes, she sometimes repeats the same stories,
and on occasion she dreams she's talking to her dead sister.
But she knows me each time I visit,
and she's very "with it."
She remembers names and dates and events
that I've long forgotten.

I think this is the most horrendous decision
I can imagine.
I'm just sick about it.

I may be out of email reach for a week or so
while I go to California
to pay my respects.

I ask those of you who pray
to pray for my aunt,
and to pray for the daughter-in-law
to make the right decision
before it's too late.

Thanks,
Annie


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Farewell to Amanda




Four months ago, our friend Amanda was driving with her mother in the passenger seat. She came to a red light and suddenly, her mother knew something was wrong. Amanda was having a full body seizure. Amanda's mom was able to pull the car over and get her daughter to the emergency room. By the time they arrived at the hospital, Amanda was alright, except she didn't remember anything past the fact that she had been driving.

The doctors did many, many tests and concluded that although Amanda was overweight and smoked, she was in excellent health and they could find absolutely no reason for the seizure. They decided to watch her closely and thought she perhaps might be developing some type of epilepsy.

She was ordered not to drive until February (6 months) and one of her last posts on Facebook was about how much she missed her car.

She had no more problems. No seizures. No other symptoms.

Saturday, Amanda attended the Solstice Rite with all of her closest friends. She was her usual self, laughing and joking and making people feel good.

Christmas Eve, she made plans to go to her mother's house for Christmas morning. When she did not arrive, they called and called.

No answer.

Her father drove to her house and knocked and knocked.

No answer.

They called the Fire Department, who broke into the house.

Amanda was still in bed.

She looked like she was asleep.

She had gone to bed the night before and she never woke up.


Amanda was 34 years old.


What a sad shock this has been. In fact, the entire year has been a difficult one for me, losing my sister-in-law and Methodist Pilgrim while on the Camino, and my Uncle Ralph in November.

And now, Amanda.

My friend Heidi said it best:


"Her smile, laugh and everything about her was contagious. She saw the greatness in others that we may not see. She would stand up for those who couldn't. She would give her coat to someone in need. She spoke her mind and had the fastest come-back quick wit I have ever seen in anyone. She was the type of person that TRULY meant "love me or hate me, I am not changing for anyone." She was 110% her all of the time, there was no holding back. She was the type of friend that EVERYONE should have and respect in their life. She was beautiful and an amazing soul, and I miss her so greatly already."



Rest in Peace, Amanda.

We sure will miss you!


Love,

Annie

Monday, December 23, 2013

MCS and My Camino


I haven't posted much about MCS lately.

Although part of my healing process is NOT focusing on the MCS,
I don't want to lose track of the reason I do these trips on the Camino.

Life for many people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) can be nothing short of Hell until they find a safe place to live and become very aware of which substances trigger their reactions.

Once they know that their "brain fog," "emotional distress," "fibromyalgia," "rheumatism," or "mysterious migraines" are all symptoms of MCS, there is little that can be done to make life normal apart of staying away from the trigger substances (which you learn to identify over time), and chemical chelation or long-distance walking to chelate those substances.

After being diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, I was given two choices.
I could undergo chemical chelation, where they give you an intravenous chemical 
which causes your muscles, bones, and tissues to dump the toxins all at once.
Or I could do it more naturally, by long distance walking.

I chose long distance walking 
because research showed that chemical chelation 
led to damaged liver and kidneys 
more often than it helped.

* * * * *

What is MCS and how does it affect a person?

Well, pretend you're walking along a wooded hiking trail.
It's a beautiful day and you're looking at the trees and enjoying the sunshine.
You come around a sharp bend and suddenly, 
right in the middle of the trail,
is 
a HUGE RATTLESNAKE!


YOU ALMOST STEP ON IT!!!

This is what happens next:

1. Sequences of nerve cell firing occur and chemicals like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol are released into the bloodstream.

2. These patterns of nerve cell firing and chemical release cause your body to undergo a series of very dramatic changes:  

3. Respiratory rate increases

4. Your blood is shunted away from the digestive tract and directed into muscles and limbs

5. Your pupils dilate

6. Your awareness intensifies.  Sight sharpens. Smells are much more discernible. Light becomes almost unbearable, as do loud noises.

7. Your impulses quicken.

8.  Your immune system mobilizes with increased activation.

9.  You become prepared - physically and psychologically - to either fight or escape.

10.  You begin to nervously scan and search the environment, looking for "the enemy."  

11. You  tend to perceive everything in your environment as a possible threat to our survival.  This fight or flight system bypasses our rational mind and moves us into "attack" mode. 

12.  Your fear is exaggerated.  Your thinking is distorted as you see everything through the filter of possible danger.

AND THEN YOU REALIZE 
THE 'SNAKE' 
WAS ONLY A STICK 
LAYING ACROSS THE TRAIL.


IT DOES NOT MATTER.

THE CHEMICALS AND HORMONES HAVE FLOODED YOUR BODY.

YOU ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIGHT/FLIGHT REACTION.


There is a cumulative buildup of stress hormones in your body. 
If not properly metabolized, 
this stress leads to disorders of your autonomic nervous system 
(causing headache, irritable bowel, high blood pressure) 
and immune system
 (creating susceptibility to infection, chronic fatigue, depression, 
and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and allergies.)

* * * * 

What Comes Next...

For my body, the next four days are miserable. 
It's like a bomb went off next to me. 
My muscles ache, my head aches,
 I'm super sensitive to sound, smell, and light. 
Depending on the severity and cause of the exposure, 
I may be in bed for several days with these flu-like symptoms.

Long term affects include a life of total reclusiveness,
 out of fear of a reaction. 
You are afraid to go to the market. 
You cannot go to the movie theater. 
No more dinner dates. 
No family parties. 
Church is no longer possible, 
nor are dances.  

Why? 
Because the 'snakes' which cause the reaction 
(which we all agree is an amygdala response) 
are common everyday substances such as perfumes, 
colognes, scented detergents and fabric softeners, 
FEBREZE, scented lotions, scented candles, 
scented make-up, 
and the horror of horror, 
scented house sprays and plug-in fresheners.

And frankly,
it's impossible to avoid those
in public buildings.


When my specialist suggest long-distance walking 
to chelate the chemicals that are so bothersome to me, 
I looked far and wide for an appropriate trail. 
There was nothing in the United States 
that was safe enough for a woman walking alone. 
There was nothing in the United States
 that was well-enough supported for a sick woman walking alone.  

So, I continued to search, 
and eventually found the Camino Santiago.


After my first Camino, 
I felt better than I had felt in years.

This was great, 
but I couldn't afford to go back each year.
So I began trying to figure out how I could do it.

I was offered the opportunity to walk with a group of pilgrims, 
helping them along their way.
In exchange, 
the cost of my trip was covered.
This worked great, 
and I've continued to do it since.

I make it clear, 
this is not a tour.
I simply facilitate.
For the most part, 
you're on your own.
You are free to walk alone,
or with our group.

You have a clean bed booked in a private shared double room 
each night when you finish walking
so there's no need to rush for a bed.
You can walk some of the best sections of the route.

And I get to do my prescriptive walking.

So how about it?
Want to come along?
You'll feel so much better if you walk those toxins
out of your system!

This year's trips are full.
But you could join us in 2015
for a mixed group 
or a Crone's Camino.
More information on my website 
at www.anniecarvalho.weebly.com

Until then . . . 


Buen Camino!

Annie


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Internet Along the Camino

When I first began walking the Camino, 
the whole world didn't carry a cell phone. 

 If you wanted to get in touch with family back home, 
you had few options.

Some of the albergues had computers that were available to the pilgrims. 
You would pay a Euro and get 15 minutes on the computer. 

If the computer was lined up, or did not work,
 it was a matter of finding a locatorio if you wanted to send an email. 
Most larger cities had locatorios. 
You just had to keep an eye out for the sign.


Locotorios are places where you can sit down to a computer 
and pay by the minute. 
They often also had telephone services 
where you could make international calls home at a very good price. 
Whether or not the computers are secure is a good question,
 and doing online banking in a place like this
 is probably not a good idea.

The booths are for telephone calls.

You can still find locotorios in large cities, 
but many have been put out of business by the cell-phone mania.

Today, everybody and his brother carries a cell phone or tablet 
and free wi-fi (pronounced wee-fee in Spain)
 is pretty much everywhere!

Almost every village will have someplace 
where you can sit and use your device. 
Sometimes there are signs posted. 
Sometimes you simply have to ask. 
But the Camino is definitely wired.

Is this a good thing?
I don't know.
I'm not convinced. 

I remember the freedom in NOT having to carry a phone.  
In NOT having to find a place to plug it in each night. 
In NOT having to worry about someone stealing it. 

These days I must carry a phone
 because I accompany groups of pilgrims 
and they need to be able to get in touch with me. 
But do I like it? 
Not really...

The phone is like a tether preventing full freedom. 
And really, if there is an emergency, 
there are 50 other pilgrims that will pass you in the next hour 
and most will be connected.

So yes, 
there is internet along The Way.

But do you REALLY need it?

Think about it. 
It can be refreshing not being available by telephone 24/7 
and it wasn't so many years ago when people waited 
until we checked our message machine at home 
before returning their call.

There's much to be said for being unconnected.

Especially on a spiritual journey…

How can you hear the voice of God if your phone is ringing?



* * * * * * * * * *

If you MUST carry and use a cell phone, please be considerate of your fellow pilgrims. 

Turn the ringer OFF in the albergue.
Turn the ringer OFF in churches.
Turn the ringer OFF in restaurants.
Do NOT talk on your cellphone inside the albergue or right outside windows


Do NOT talk on your cellphone in churches.
Do NOT talk on your cellphone in restaurants.
Do NOT hog the electric plug when charging your unit. 
Do NOT walk away from a charging phone - you may return to find it gone.
Do NOT put electronics in bag transported packs

If you use the internet in a bar, BUY SOMETHING.
If you can't connect, ask them to write down the contrasigna (password)

Consider getting a Spanish SIM card for your unlocked phone. 
Remember, roaming charges can add up, so using your phone on the trail is not advised.

* * * * * * * * * *

My advice?
Unless you have considerable health issues 
or a burning desire to contact home every night, 
consider just not taking the danged thing…

Please?

Love, 
Annie


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Doing Laundry on the Camino


I've had a few folks ask about doing laundry 
while on the Camino.
I think I've blogged this before.
But I can't find it so here goes…

If you are walking on your own 
and staying in albergues, 
there will almost always be a place 
for you to do HAND laundry 
and hang it out to dry.

If you are walking with us on our Best of Both, 
here is a list of what I know to be true:

SJPP:  Hand laundry in bathroom and racks to dry
Roncesvalles:  Hand laundry in laundry room and racks to dry. Also washing machines (lavadoras) and dryers (secadoras)
Zubiri:  Hand laundry and dry on line in back yard
Pamplona:  May be possible to wash small loads in sink and hang on balcony
Puente de la Reina:  Lavadoras and secadoras. Also a line to dry.
Estella: Hand laundry and dry on rack
Los Arcos:  Our hospitaleros will do your laundry for very little cost
Viana:  Wash in sink and dry on lines on balcony
Logrono:  Not sure. Hotel may offer service.
Burgos:  Not sure.  Hotel may offer service.
Astorga:  I washed clothes in the sink here and hung out on balcony BUT this is an expensive hotel so they may complain.
Rabanal:  Wash in sink and dry on lines on patio
Acebo:  Not sure but I assume they have hand washing facilities
Ponferrada:   Hotel will do laundry for a fee
Villafranca:  Hospitaleros will do laundry for a small fee
Sarria:  Not sure but assume they have facilities
Portomarin:  Albergue has lavadora/secadora and hand washing options. Lines to dry outside.
Palas:  I washed in sink and dried in window
Castaneda: I assume they will have a sink and lines to dry outdoors
Pedrouzo: Sink and lines to dry outside
Santiago:  Hotel may have facilities - otherwise wash in sink and hang in window or bathroom

Washing By Hand


Oh my! This is a lost art, isn't it?

Well, you're about to learn to do it just like grandma did!

First, buy yourself some hand washing soap. 
I use Fels Naptha but there are others, like Lirio.  
Go to the market and look in the laundry aisle. 
You are looking for a BAR of soap, not a liquid. 
 If in doubt, ask some nice lady,
 "Este es para mi ropa?"



It looks like this inside the wrapper.

Or, another brand might look like this.



Sometimes they have really nice gentle soap for baby clothes.
Once you get the bar, cut it into 4 or 5 pieces.
Share with friends! 
You don't want to carry all that weight, 
and soap is very inexpensive 
and easy to find on the Camino. 
Remember to bring a baggy to keep the soap in.



So now you have your soap.

Next, locate the laundry sink.

It is most likely outside and looks like this:



Grab one of those plastic bins 

that are usually stored under the sink 
and put your clothes in it.
Those are also good to soak your feet in,
by the way!



Fill it with some COLD water. 
You won't have a choice.
 It's always cold! 




Now, rub the soap into your wet clothes.
Then rub them together, squeeze, etc.


Keep working until you make some nice suds!


Rinse.
Empty the water.
Put fresh clean water in the pan.
Rinse again until all suds are gone.

Wring out as much water as possible.

One thing you will find useful are laundry spin dryers. 
They're like an electronic salad spinner 
and they spin your clothes nearly dry! 

You must BE CAREFUL to balance the load.
 If they start jumping around 
and knocking against the sides loudly, 
STOP and re-balance the load.  
When you use these, 
your clothes dry in as little as an hour.

Your clothes are clean!

Now hang them to dry.
You might find a regular clothesline outside.
You might find a line right outside your balcony window.
More often, you will find a rack that looks like this one:


I always take safety pins instead of clothes pins 
to hang up my clothes.
They are less likely to blow off the line
or to walk away.
They also weigh nothing.

So there you go.
Don't be offended.
I know most of you probably already know 
how to do this.
But you'd be surprised how many people
have never hand washed their own clothes.

Be aware that if you have the hotel do the laundry,
it could shrink into something unrecognizable.
They use HOT HOT HOT water to wash 
and HOT HOT HOTTER air to dry.

I prefer to do my own laundry.

Good thing my Macabi skirt only requires washing 
every few weeks!

Buen Camino!
Annie

Joe does laundry in SJPP
PS:  I just found my old blog. 
Here is the link if you are interested.
There are some fun photos there:

Buen Camino!
Annie


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Blessed Yule and Merry Christmas to ALL!


The Tree is UP!
The fireplace is LIT!
The Christmas Village is HAPPY!

Time to relax for a few days before tying up the Spring Walk.

Merry Christmas, Pilgrims!

Feliz Navidad, Peregrinos!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Getting from Madrid to Pamplona and more on Pickpockets






Getting to Pamplona From Madrid

FROM MADRID, you can fly, take the train, or take a bus.

Arriving in Madrid is a treat! 

The airport is very modern and beautiful! 

Madrid Airport


Flying is nice, but Spain really is a bus country. Many bus companies offer good, clean and safe service across the country, and most of the buses are beautiful Mercedes Benz buses! Nothing like the old broken down Greyhounds you find in the USA!

An ALSA Bus

There are both regional bus companies and a few national ones. Alsa is one of the national companies, and one way to get from the airport to Pamplona when you first arrive.

A CONDA Bus.
 Conda is another bus company that takes people from the Madrid airport to Pamplona.

If you fly into Madrid, there are buses that leave directly from Terminal 4 at Barajas. There is a machine where you can buy a ticket 
at the exit near the taxi parking  The machine takes credit cards or cash (euros). 


On ALSA, you have change buses, usually in Burgos or Zaragoza, which makes the trip a bit longer. However, it is not a difficult change, especially if you speak a bit of Spanish. 

The Conda buses go direction from Madrid to Pamplona with no change. This option is the also cheapest, coming in around 23-35€.

Arrivals from North America, Asia, South America or Australia are better served from Madrid. Catch a bus directly from the airport to Pamplona or take the metro (or Circanius train) from Madrid airport to Atocha metro station where you can connect with the high-speed train (AVE) to Pamplona in 3 hours.

Arrivals from Europe, fly directly to Bilbao, Biarritz or Zaragoza then travel by bus or rental car to Pamplona in less than 2 hour drive.

CATCHING THE BUS

There are ALSA buses to Pamplona several times a day.
You must change buses once.Check schedules at www.alsa.es 

There are CONDA buses going directly to Pamplona. 
No stops, no changes.
Check schedules at www.movelia.es

The prices between ALSA and CONDA buses differ by 10-30 euros. You can purchase your ticket online or at the airport. 

GETTING TO T4 in MADRID

Your ticket should tell you which terminal you are flying into.
If you are purchasing online, be sure to give yourself enough time to get off the plane, go through customs, pick up your baggage (not suggested to check bags), and get to the T4 terminal.
It will say T1, T2, etc.

There is a bus going from terminal to terminal in Madrid. It costs less than 2 euros and can be caught downstairs and out front of your arrival terminal. Last time I took it, it was a blue/green bus and to the RIGHT after you walked out of the terminal.

ASK FOR HELP.

Find someone wearing a GREEN jacket and ask if they can help you. Or find the Information desk. They will speak English there. You will recognize it because there is a large yellow "i" above it.
Information Desk
Tell them you are looking for the ticket office for the CONDA or ALSA bus to Pamplona. (whichever you decide on) They will direct you. 

Most of the signs in the Madrid airport are in English as well as Spanish. So it's really easy to find your way around - it's just LARGE!  They also give you the time it will take you to walk to the gate which is helpful.


Getting to Other Terminals

I find the bus the easiest and safest. To get a shuttle bus, the boarding platform is just outside the exit. They often allow you to purchase tickets right there next to the bus – so watch for that. This bus also goes into downtown Madrid. ASK. Sometimes the line is long, but it goes fast. 

The bus from T1 to T4 takes about 20 minutes. 

Going in direction T1 to T4, you want to be on the 1st Floor at the departures level.

(Going direction T4 to T1, you have to be on the Arrivals level, which is the Planta Baja, Lower level)

The terminal to terminal bus runs every 5 minutes between 6:30 a.m. and 23:30. From 23:30 - 1:50 a.m. it runs every 20 minutes; from 1:50 -6:30, every 40 minutes

Getting to your gate at T4 could be a long haul. But it's very well marked, with lots of indication about how much time it will take (though the times posted are very generous and you usually arrive in much less time than they indicate).

A tip -- The elevators in T4 are usually much quicker than the escalators because of the distances between upper and lower levels. 

There is an excellent blog on taking the shuttle into the city at this link:

Madridman's Blog

Taking the Train from Madrid to Pamplona 



FINDING THE RENFRE CIRCANIUS

When I was there last year, the Circanius RENFRE office was downstairs right next to where you go through the stiles to catch the train. It was very tiny and could have been a temporary office. Honestly, I'm not sure. But you can ask at the info desk in the airport and they will direct you.

In the airport, at the RENFRE Circanius station you can purchase a Tarjeta Dorada card for 5 euros. Then you can just show it to bus or train agents and possibly get nice discounts. Here is a link to more information about that card: 

http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/tarifas/tarjeta_dorada.html

This card is mainly for train travel, but I even got a discount at the museum in Merida with my card. It never hurts to ask! 

When you arrive in Madrid, you will arrive at either terminal T2 or T4.  You can take the METRO to Atocha Metro Station and walk to the Renfre Station. Or you can take the Circanius to Atocha Station. It takes you right into the train station.

Atocha is the main train station in Madrid. There, you will find trains to destinations all over Europe. It's a big place and is beautiful inside. 

Atocha Station
The Circanius is a train that goes from the airport to Atocha and back all day long. You catch it on the lower floor of T4. Get your ticket from the tiny Renfre office right at the entrance to the train, or from the kiosks. 




There are signs in the airport that will lead you to both the Metro and the Circanius. 


If you are traveling by train, BE AWARE OF WHERE YOU ARE. They do not announce the stops. This is not such a problem during the daytime. You can watch for signs out your window.  But at night, the signs are difficult to see. Don't be afraid to ASK people sitting near you. They are used to tourists and are generally very helpful.

If you do decide to take the train, here are a few videos that will help you become familiar with the territory. Sorry, they're in Spanish, but you can stop them and study the screens on the ticket machine. 

(Often if there is a local, they will help you. Look for young people who may speak English.)






You want to choose ADULTO IDA  (Adult one way) and then your destination.

IF YOU TAKE THE METRO ... WATCH YOUR BELONGINGS!
It is like being in a sardine can and the pickpockets are working!
Be sure your money, cards, cameras are really secure.
If you have zippers, I close them with a safety pin or even wire until I get to my destination. Hold your hand over your purse or pocket.  Be AWARE. 

I know I harp on this, but it can save you some grief. 
Last year in Barcelona, Joe and I got slimed with the "bird poop" scam. We knew what was going on and as soon as the guy approached, we yelled at him. He ran. If we had not know about it, we would have thought he was just a nice man in a business suit wanting to help us.  And we could have lost a lot.

Read my blog on pickpockets.  Know their schemes.
I'm going to post photos at the bottom of this blog to remind you.

Getting to Pamplona From Other Cities:

From Bilbao (169km)

Train No trains available to Pamplona.
Car (1.5 hours) Direction Bilbao-San Sebastian-Pamplona. Take tha A15 from San Sebastian direct to Pamplona. You can also go via Bilbao-Vitoria-Pamplona, 2.2 hrs. We don t́ recommend this route as it has lots of curves and it’s not free either!
Bus (1.5 hours) Arrive to Bilbao ś Central Bus Station and take La Burundesa autobuseslaunion.com Tel: +34 944 271111.

From Biarritz (128km)

Train No train available to Pamplona.
Car (1.5 hours) Take the A63/E70 & cross the border into Spain. Stay on the E70/A8 direction Biarritz- Irún-San Sebastian-Pamplona.
Bus (1 hours) Bus from Biarritz to San Sebastian 12 noon and 6 pm pesa.net then change for a 2nd bus to Pamplona with La Conda condasa.com there are 7 daily buses starting at 7:15am and last bus at 8:30 pm. Telephone +34 943 461064

From San Sebastian (85km)

Train (1 hour 45) Train services from San Sebastian take about 1
hour 45 min to the Pamplona station, which is about 2km north of the old town. Tickets can be booked online in advance (strongly recommended) at Renfe.com.
Car (1 hour) Take the A15 direct to Pamplona and enjoy the scenery. Bus (1 hour) La Conda condasa.com there are 7 daily buses starting at 7:15am & last bus at 8:30 pm. Telephone +34 943 461064.

From Zaragoza (181km)

Train (2 hours) When you arrive at Zaragoza Train Station to connect to the High Speed Train (AVE). Tickets can be booked online in advance (strongly recommended) at Renfe.com.
Car (2 hours) Take the A2/E90 AP68 (toll roads) A68 direction Zaragoza-Tudela-Pamplona.

Bus (2 hours) La Conda condasa.com there are 7 daily buses starting at 7.15am & last bus at 8.30 pm. Tel: (0034) 976 333 372


AVENIDA DE AMERICA STATION.
Sometimes buses to Pamplona will leave from the Avenida de America bus station in Madrid.  Here is their address:

Intercambiador de Avda. de América
Dirección: Avda de America, 9. Planta -1 C.P: 28028 Andén: 27 (Salidas y Llegadas) Planta -1
Horario: 5:30 h. a 01:30 h. (Largo recorrido) 

There are buses going regularly all day long from Madrid T4 to this station. You catch the bus outside the T4 terminal and it costs between 2-3 euros. The bus station is usually the last stop, but ASK the bus driver to please tell you when you arrive. 



How to Read an Horario (schedule)
If you are over 60, look for a box that says “Edad Dorada” which means “Golden Age.” This will get you a nice discount from 30 euros down to about 23 euros, depending on the day of the week.

IDA means "One-Way." 
IDA y VUELTA means “there and return.” 
SALIDA = Departure Time 
LLEGADA = Arrival Time 
ORIGEN = Origen 
DESTINO = Destination 
DURACION = Duration of Trip 
PRECIO = Price 
PRECIO PROMO – Promotional Price* 
Sometimes there is a special price war going on

PLAZAS – LIBRE = This means places are not assigned. You can sit anywhere. Some have assigned seats, so check your ticket when you get it.

LMXJVSD – These are the days of the week this bus/train runs: Lunes (Monday), Martes (Tuesday), Miercoles (Wednesay), etc.
Learn the days of the weeks in Spanish. It will make your trip much simpler. 

Be aware that unlike USA calendars, calendars in Spain begin on MONDAY and end on SUNDAY, so it can be confusing.

If you have updated information or questions, please post them in the comment section.

Buen Camino, Peregrinos!

******************
A few photos to enlighten you!


The above photo shows a common scam along the Camino as well as in the large cities of Europe. Bright eyed, beautiful teenagers will approach you with a folder, or a clipboard, wanting to tell you about deaf people or some political issue. As soon as you see them approaching, WAVE THEM OFF AND SHOUT "NO!"  And be very aware of your pockets. See the girl picking the pocket of the man listening to the other pretty lady?

A girl watching for your pin number. She has the pad positions memorized.
If someone is standing too closely when you are at the ATM, wave them back and even yell at them if they don't move!  It's best to do banking in the larger cities with a partner who can stand back to back with you and watch your surroundings. Be aware of quick handed money grabbers. Keep your hand over the slot that distributes the cash and the card.  Don't be paranoid, but don't let your guard down. They watch for distracted tourists.  If someone wants to talk to you while you're at the ATM, shout them away!  No need to be polite. They count on that!


Haha! 


I have seen this scam in action on stairs and escalators.
Someone in front of you will drop a bunch of change, 
or a package, and items will scatter.
They count on your help picking things up.
While you are helping, their partner is helping themselves to your goods.
I know it's tough, but walk on by.

Yes, they DO!

I"m just reading the paper… and making some money!

This is not the Madrid Metro, but this is how crowded it can be.

Don't trust anyone. Even nice old grandpa types, and ESPECIALLY if they're holding a sweater or jacket over their arm!  Move away from them! Put your back against the wall if you can.

Distracted by a Street Performer while the pickpocket's partner gets the goods.

How they work with a jacket over their arm.

It's not just men. It's women like your sister, mom, or child.
So sorry to have to post these photos, but you need to be aware.
Please read my blog on pickpockets.
These folks don't think like you do.
They are proud of what they do and have no shame in getting caught.

Know what to expect.
Stay alert.
Then relax and have a Buen Camino.