Last Wednesday, Beau and I began walking from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. This is the most commonly walked part of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage known in English as the way of St James. It is the most commonly walked part because it is the last 100 (actually 111) km of the Camino Francais (the French Way). To qualify as a proper pilgrim you must have walked the last 100km (or cycle the last 200km). Most of the people we met had started at further away (some had started in France and were over 20 days into the Camino when we were still on our day one).
Camino time is different to the time in regular life, particularly in Spain where places seem to open at 9am, close at 2pm and re-open and 5pm to properly close at 8pm! We were normally up around 6.30am and were packed, breakfasted and walking around 7.30am. It's autumn here and sunrise is not until about 8.30am so our first hour or so of walking was in the predawn light.
We were aiming for about 20km each day and our first couple of hours walking were normally our fastest. We would generally have a water break at about 5km and then have a "second breakfast" shortly after walking 10km. We'd have another short food break when we were 5km from our destination and once we got to the place we were staying the night, normally around 3pm, we would shower, change, do our washing and then have our main meal of the day before having a siesta.
We did our Camino in 6 days. We could have done it in five, but on the fifth day I was feeling pretty rubbish (my ankles had been giving me grief since our 3rd and longest day of walking when we did 28km) and Beau was still getting over a stomach bug, so we stopped after walking only 13km with just 5km to go. We later agreed that this was the best choice we could have made.
On our last day we made our way to Santiago through a drizzle of rain. As soon as we left the grounds of the Albergue (hostel) we were walking alongside busy and ugly roads, almost all uphill. Thinking of the peace of the Albergue and the rest of the Camino, I knew that I would not have been in the right frame of mind the day before. Following the signs of the Camino, yellow arrows and scallop shells, Beau and I made our way to the Cathedral and then to the Pilgrims office. Our pilgrimage didn't really finish until we attended the Pilgrim's Mass at noon. Sitting in the 11th century Cathedral with friends we'd met and made while walking was very moving.
The pilgrimage is basically an extended time of walking meditation. For much of the time there is nothing to do but walk and think. You have aches and pains, almost everyone does, but people don't dwell on it. There's no point in that, you know you will keep walking anyway. There is an enormous generousity of spirit in the people on the Camino. I was constantly touched by how while people were tired or sore, they had room in their hearts to care about these other strangers that they met. One pilgrim theorised to me that it is because on the Camino you have so much time with and for yourself that when you do meet someone else in need, it is easy and natural to be there for them. Less so than in regular life where there are so many more demands on you and your time.
I was given so much in doing this walk. I feel especially blessed to have been able to share this with my beloved. Especially, especially as he carried the bigger pack most of the time ;) Our journey together continues!
Point of Fashion: Non-camino clothes!!!!
Current Obsession: Much more to write and I wish I was better at expressing it.
Early tomorrow morning, aka later today, Beau and I shall be wending our way to Sarria, Spain. Our first stop on the Way of St James. We don't have any accommodation booked, but we don't think that should be an issue.
Today we have Hello'd and Good-bye'd several people. X+ took us out for dinner at a lovely restaurant and we ate muchly. Beau and I also managed to get haircuts. As I was saying to the hair-dresser, we are off to travel, there shall be many photos and if I have to wear the same outfit in most of them, at least my hair can look good!
We've stayed the last couple of nights at delichan and mytholder's new place. There was a bit of a mix-up with GNZ and DrA's flatties, but I think it worked out better in the end. We have 2 suitcases of stuff stored there and shall have one smallish box stored here. I write it here to help me remember.
I had a bit of sadness walking down the main street today, thinking I won't get to do that many more times. I am excited about all the new stuff I will get to do though!
Anyhoo, we shall be internetless for the next week or so at least. After that I am unsure. We are bringing laptop with us so I am hopeful.
If you desperately need to contact us (can only imagine horror) I shall have my irish sim in my phone. Text me in case of emergency.
Point of Fashion: my pants zip into shorts!
Current Obsession: all the travelling
Whee! I am talking (skyping) to Jenni right now! I'm also waiting for my hair to dry to see if it has actually gone purple or not. It better have, otherwise it was a serious waste of time and energy.
Being on holiday is quite good. It's nice to have a rest and *not* be missioning out to see castles and museums etc. We've been doing things like sorting out tax, booking flights and organising and backing up our photos. Mundane, no?
We've also been to a party and had lunch with various peeps.
I'm not looking forward to December when I say good bye.
Point of Fashion:Pajamas - a must for skype
Current Obsession: I'm sure I had something meaningful to write about, but then we all say that :P
It's weird to have no permanent address. We can't even say we are going back to live in Wellington as it depends where Beau gets work (possibly not even in NZ). We are currently staying on the lounge floor of GNZ and DrA. Home is starting to mean the place where I open my luggage.
Anyhoo, back to travel summary, We did get to the Roman Baths. They were very cool, but their audio guide was a bit repetitive and slow. We even drank the water, which was kinda gross, but there you go. Beau and I then shared a caramel apple from a nearby fudge shop. There is a picture, I must get it online.
Bristol was our next stop. Staying with exte-ended family (Beau's BiL's ex-stepmother and half-siblings), we were again given someone elses bed. This is the third time! Of course, they have all been single people with a double bed, but still. Rather than touristing around Bristol, we took the chance to collect the UK set and had a short day trip to Cardiff, Wales.
We didn't want to stay too long there, but walked around a bit, taking photos outside the Millenium Stadium and the Castle. If we had more time we would've been keen to go into the castle, but such is life. We did manage to eat Welsh cakes from their covered market though :) They are crumbly.
We had curry and then cocktails with and ex-workmate of mine. So much talking. She and I met when she was on her OE in NZ. She's been back "home" for 4 months now and isn't completely settled yet. I imagine we'll be like that for a while ;)
The day we left we hit the Bristol museum and looked at Sea Dragon bones. It's a nice wee museum and much more manageable than the British one.
We managed to return the hire-car (after some confusion as to where exactly to return it to) and checked in with plenty of time.
We had a great time on our UK road trip and are both really pleased to have been so many places and even visited more places than most UK residents. Now to rest and recharge before hitting Europe!
Point of Fashion: Same old, same old
Current Obsession: Laundry
No time for the watery relaxing kind ;) Places and things so far.
We stayed here with Beau's BiL's Mum! Kirby Lonsdale is a market town in Cumbria. Mummy Dearest and her hubby showed us around their home town and apologised for the weather. We had a good meal and pint at their local, the Orange Tree. We walked by the river and had bacon butties. Was wonderful. Looking forward to seeing them back in NZ this summer.
Stayed at a BnB and we were shown around by Anna, who is kinda a local guide after living there for almost a year. We went punting twice (once with a tour guide, once on our own). Had dinner cooked for us. Visited the town that almost has my name and went into King's College and it's famous Chapel. Visiting places like that causes me to learn history.
The first "London" day was actually spent in Reading at Gen Con UK. Which is not at all like the US Gen Con. Much more low key. We met up with mytholder, delichan, drowninghail, ants and G. Played in one game and resisted buying things. Was cool to hang out with our buddies! Also met up with PCa, who we had previously met in Edinburgh (in March)! Then we drove to Jj and G's house which involved 2 hours in a tunnel due to terrible traffic. After 11pm at night?!
Sunday Jj went to brunch at Brick Lane market with us and then Beau and I hit the British Museum. For over 4 hours! The audio "highlights" tour was definitely worth it. There was no other way that we would have seen all the rooms in such a short time. We grabbed takeout for dinner and moseyed with Jj and G to the flat of Ants, Sproke, drowninghail et al. Special *hugs* for Sproke who got herself a pretty fancy job!
Next day blobbed and were cooked breakfast by Jj before hitting the road once more.
Not officially family friends, but that's the best description, we stayed with Lalli's (aka PikaMum) brother and his family. On their recommendation we spent a day in Portsmouth and saw many ships! Mary Rose, half a tudor warship currently in the process of being preserved; HMS Victory, Nelson's Flagship; HMS Warrior 1860, restored victorian warship.
We also drove out and saw Stonehenge (and nearby archaeological dig) and we also went to Winchester and saw the Round Table.
They also cooked us dinner twice! Awesome.
Hung out with TP and was shown around by DrS, a buddy of Beau's who did her PhD (she is a Dr Dr) there! We had dinner and drinks with a different combination of people each night (3 nights) and saw the inside of St John's and Magdalene College including Magdalene's Deer Park! We went to St Mary's chapel and climbed the spire, the highest place in Oxford. There was someone there practicing organ, very atmospheric. St Mary's is extra cool as it has black and white stained glass! We also managed to meet up and have brunch and punting (again!) with delichan and mytholder.
We are currently staying with debitha. We've had lunch at Sally Lunn's (where I lost and then later retrieved my phone) dinner at the Raven (TP said we had to go). Also visited the Bath Fashion Museum and took many photos. After dinner we went to an organ recital at the Bath Abbey. This afternoon was a road trip to Avebury. Stone circles for all! Bath has many fine dining places :) We had sushi train for lunch and Thai for dinner. Nom.
Tomorrow we plan to visit the Roman baths, eat a candy apple (I shall be taking a photo) and on to Bristol!
Point of Fashion: Travel pants
Current Obsession: I caught up!!!! Who actually read this? Any questions?
Oh yeah, I forgot, while driving we also visited Hadrien's Wall and Sherwood Forest. Guess who chose which?