Sunday, 10 February 2013

Relaxing in St Maarten .. Our cruise ship in the background..

Fishing with Brian in Florida

One more statue, in Las Palmas, Spain. Heading home on the Trans Atlantic cruise.

Our ship and the Queen Mary 11, about to start the Trans Atlantic hop from Las Palmas, Spain.

Lori doing the sky walk on the Trans Atlantic Cruise .. Carnival, Breeze. 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Picture Memories from the Big Adventure after el Camino.

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Capers in Athens

Lori climbing the Moorish Castle wall in Sintra, Portugal

Port wine cellar in Oporto, Portugal

Beautiful carriage in Belem, Portugal

Fish spa in Santorini, Greece
Gondola ride in Venice

Pomegranate juice stand in Israel

Friday, 18 January 2013

Thank You!

Due to the fact that our adventure was such a major endeavor for Lori and me; this is a very long list of thanks to all our friends and family who helped to make this trip the success and joy that it was. I hope that I have not forgotten anyone.

Thank you to the Sydney Academy Class of 71 , 40th Reunion Committee who managed to track us down, and thus,  allowing Lori and I to renew our friendship and have this incredible journey.

Many thanks to my daughter Genevieve for building this blog and keeping it updated as we traveled. I also thank my talented designer daughter for creating the tie dyed tank top that was featured in so many photos. ( dyed on request to go with my tiny pilgrim wardrobe). I also thank Genevieve for having me as her guest for two weeks in Montreal.

Thank you to my friend and co worker Karin for walking with me every day during lunch hour in preparation for this hike. Thanks also for the shell for my back pack which she  presented to me on my last day of work; it was truly thoughtful .

Thank you to my co workers who gave me a very lovely retirement send off which I truly appreciated! 

Thank you to Kim and Darren my good neighbors and in laws for a lovely Bon voyage dinner, special gift and watchful eyes on my home while away. 

Thank you to my son Chris and his family for the thoughtful Camino birthday gifts and for loaning me his perfect pack tent which I ended up mailing home. ( absolutely of no use on the Camino, my mistake) The fantastic first aid kit was used right down to the last band aid.

Thank you to Lori's family and friends in the Vancouver area for the great hospitality during my visit there;  Lorne taking us crab fishing, Garcy and Jonathan hosting a wonderful send off party and 
Charmaine for driving us to catch our ferry to the Island.

Thank you to Barb and  Erich ( Lori's sister and brother in law) for Chauffeuring us around Vancouver Island, giving us beds and taking care of Lori's little dog Pepita for the duration of her trip. 

Thank you to my sister Maggie and her husband Brian for collecting us from our cruise ship in Miami showing us a great time in Venice, and taking us to our airport departures.

Very special thank you to my good neighbors and Mother and Father in Law ( legally ex but still the best) Marcelle and Wilfrid for taking care of my house while I was away for 4 months! 

We both said it many times on our Face Book pages but it is worth repeating again here: " Thank you to everyone for giving us encouragement and feedback during our journey!" We really enjoyed keeping in touch with our family and friends. 

I promise to add some extra photos to this blog where only text was provided. 

Bye for now


Wednesday, 26 December 2012


Montreal grand voyage est fini! The big adventure has finally come to a close with a final flight from Montreal to Edmonton on Dec. 19th. I travelled with my daughter Genevieve and her two cats as carry ons. All went smoothly, thankfully. The cars were absolute angels! I arrived at Genevieve's close to midnight on Dec. 2nd. I decided to continue my frugal ways and took the shuttle bus from the airport with two metro lines to her apartment. Think of me pulling a suitcase, back pack and large hand bag all alone with several homeless people sleeping in the subway. Lori and I would often say after walking the Camino that we could manage anything. I guess I had better tweak that sentiment a little. I might be capable of doing something; but maybe I really shouldn't just the same. My visit with Genevieve was a little lazy but enjoyable. I was reluctant to go out in the cold at first and limited myself to short walks to her local stores. I caught up on some of my favourite missed Canadian television shows and enjoyed going to Genevieve's Christmas sales events. I also had the pleasure of diner out with my two nieces and their children, who live in Montreal. Since I was visiting for 16 days, I decided to do a mini train trip to Deseronto, ( east of Toronto) to visit my sister Joanne and her husband Lloyd.  That was great fun as well. They are very artistic people and I always feel mentally rejuvenated after a visit.  My last outing with Genevieve in Montreal was to see "The Hobbit" at the IMAX theatre. Fantastic. Oh, why can't we all live in peace in beautiful little houses in the Shire?! So now I return home with four days to prepare for Christmas. Wish me luck!  It will be wonderful to be with my Alberta family and friends again.  Next Posting.. More pictures and thank you to all the good folks who helped make this trip the great success that it was.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! Sincerely  Arlene

Monday, 3 December 2012

Visiting the Snowbirds in Florida

Visiting the Snowbirds in Florida Lori and I arrived in Florida on Nov. 21 st. It was wonderful after our three months of travel to have someone waiting to greet us and whisk us away.  We enjoyed a relaxing dinner and evening with my sister Maggie and her husband Brian.  Nov. 22 was American Thanksgiving and we were happy to have a home cooked turkey dinner since we missed our Canadian one in October.  We had a double treat as we all went to the beach while the turkey roasted; sweet!  On Black Friday we did a little shopping, rode bikes, swam in their club house pool and for a finale went to see the birds landing at sunset at an Audubon built rookery. Lovely! On Saturday we drove Lori to the airport so she could return to her BC home. It was strange saying good bye to my co pilgrim and adventure bud of 3 months.  What a trip we had!!! My next week in Florida was a joy.  I bought a three day visitors fishing license so we packed that in between beach combing, dinning out, and shopping. On my last night we saw a Christmas boat parade on the Intercoastal Waterway. Time to get into the Christmas spirit. Thank you Maggie and Brian for your great hospitality and for collecting two traveling gypsies off our ship in Miami. It was great fun, as my visits always are with you. You have made terrific retirement choices. Florida is wonderful! Now up to the Great White North. As I write this I am sitting in an Italian restaurant in the Chicago Airport awaiting my connecting flight to Montreal.  I will visit with my daughter Genevieve for two weeks. I know that I will enjoy this very much as well. Yes, it will be difficult to finally face the winter season but Christmas festivities are here and that will help me adjust. Genevieve is coming home for Christmas and we are traveling together on the same flight with her two cats on Dec 19th. This should be an interesting adventure onto itself. Next chapter will be all about Montreal with Genevieve.  Happy Holidays!

Crossing the Pond on Carnival, Breeze

Crossing the  pond on Carnival, Breeze. Lori and I have been traveling with a guardian angel for 3 months. We have had such incredibly good fortune with the weather.  We crossed the Atlantic with mostly sunny skies , little wind and shallow waves.  Our first port of call was Palma de Majorca in Spain. Lori went on a ship's excursion to see the Caves of Drach. This is very beautiful and since I had already visited it in 2010, spent the day walking the port area myself and visiting the cathedral, which had some interesting relics. The second port was Malaga, Spain. It was raining hard when we arrived  and I decided to go on the cave tour as an option to get off the ship and still be out of the rain. Lori did a walk, shop, and a  Picasso museum. In the evening we passed through the Straight of Gibralter. It was dark so we did not see much; just lights and the black silhouette of the rocks. Our third port was Las Palmas, Canary Islands. This port had a very nice tourist area and easy access to the shore so we toured on our own and went beach walking and swimming.  Our five days straight of cruising across the Atlantic was relaxing and   I would definetely do this again. We attended line dance  classes, swam, watched afternoon movies by the pool, did craft sessions, soaked in hot tubs  and I even played bingo a few times.  Oh yes, we also ate  in abundance and drank a little wine. Actually, that seemed to be the main pass time.( eating that is) Our first port on the Caribbean side was Antigua. We again had a beautiful sunny day and I did a catamaran trip with snorkel and beach stops; great fun. Lori did an  island land tour with a visit to a beach. We also had time to walk around the port and do a little shopping. Our fifth and last port was St. Maarten, the Dutch side of the Island. We had a very nice day of relaxing on the beach with rented chairs,  umbrella and a bucket of cold drinks. One of the main things to do there is shop and there seemed to be a hundred jewelry stores.  ( of no interest to us after such a long shoe string trip) Our last two days of cruising to Florida were pretty relaxed; just enjoying the last opportunity to do nothing. My sister Maggie and her husband, Brian were waiting for us at the Miami  cruise terminal which was wonderful.  They had the previous day to visit Miami and Lori and I were happy to go straight to their house in Venice to relax in a family home after three months on the road. Next post will be about Florida. I promise to get some pictures added to these last few posts once I am in Montreal at my daughter Genevieve's.  By the way; life is sure wonderful for these retired snowbirds in Florida!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Italia Part 2 and Back to Spain

"Italia Part 2 and  back to Spain" We arrived back to the port of Civitavecchia on Oct 31st in the pouring rain. Two hump backs in rain ponchos trying to book our next movement north in Italy so we could hike Cinque Terra. ( five villages). All advice to us pointed to a train to Genoa to start. This turned out to be a mistake because we over shot the villages by 1/2,hour on the fast train and ended up having to go back the next day with the many stops, metro train for two hours! We did get a room for two nights in Genoa and enjoyed sightseeing there so it was not all bad.  Our full day trip to  Cinque Terra was not what we planned but enjoyed it just the same.There is a lot of trail damage due to a huge mud slide last year so we could not walk from village to village. We hopped on the metro train to get to each village but still had lots of  exercise just climbing through these towns. The day was cool and windy while we were there (Nov. 1 ), but it is easy to see what a charming place this would be to visit and hike in the summer. Our pictures show crashing waves with all boats up in the streets.  We had an evening train from Genoa to Milan on Nov. 2nd and another overnight train from Genoa to Barcelona.  On this last half day in Genoa  we saw more beautiful churches and the childhood home of Christopher Columbus. This time on our red eye train trip we had comfortable reclining seats on our overnight train ride but our sleep was interrupted with a police bust on two stow-aways plus interrogation of a few others. When they collect your tickets they take your passports too; so have time to have a good look.   Never a dull moment for the traveling Capers; good thing we had nothing to hide. :-) We arrived in Barcelona in the morning and walked the streets with our now very heavy packs ( remember the extra clothes for cruising) searching for beds . It was Saturday and many hotels were full. We ended up taking a hostel for three nights. This was a cheap option again and served to sharpen our anticipation of returning to the comfort of a cruise ship. We had a very nice 3 days in Barcelona. You could easily spend a full week there.  On our first full day Lori did the Gaudi sites that I had done in 2010 and I went to Montserrat. On the second day we did more Gaudi sites and a lot of city walking. On our last half day Lori did the Picasso Museum and I went to ParJuiic; collected our bags back at the hostel and treated ourselves to a rare taxi ride to the ship.  Well worth it now that we are lugging heavy packs plus hand bags. We are off to our transatlantic crossing now with 5 ports of call on Carnival, Breeze. This is the ship's inaugural crossing. We are hoping for calm weather. As I post this on Nov. 11th we are in  Las Palmas, Canary Islands. So far so good with the cruise. We are adjusting better to the cruise lifestyle. This ship is loaded with options for entertainment, exercise and relaxation so we will have a very nice grand finale to the big adventure.  Next post will be about the cruise and it's 5 ports of call.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Cruise to Africa

"Cruise to Africa" The 11 day cruise to Africa on the NCL Jade went by in a flash for me. Lori found the two sea days to get there and come back a little boring. I might have to sedate her on the 15 day Atlantic crossing.  We decided together to only do two ship excursions for the big events like Jerusalem in Israel and the Pyramids in Egypt and explore on our own on the other 4 ports of call. This was a wise balance of our time, shekels,Egyptian pounds, Euros, and the good old American greenback. (always carry the Euro and USA $ for back up) Our first port of call was Alanya, Turkey. We hiked to the Alanya Castle on the hilltop over looking the city and Harbour in the morning.  We had rain in the afternoon which hampered our walk about but Lori scored a haircut. Our second port was Limassol, Cyprus. I had an anxiety attack about missing out on something and jumped on an excursion at the last minute to see a castle, monastery and wine museum with tasting. Lori walked on her own and we both had a good day. I brought some bottled treats back for sharing the better tastes of the day. Our third port was Haifa, Israel and we made an excellent full  day of self tour together. We jumped on a local bus to Nazareth. We were planning on jumping onto a second bus so we could make it to the Sea of Galilee for a swim but decided we would not have enough time. We saw the church of Enunciation and a historic old  village of Nazareth that was very interesting. Once back in Haifa we walked to the Bahai Gardens and then to the Church built on top of Elijah's Cave. It was a long hike back to our ship and we sprinted the whole way so we could make happy hour.  Our fourth port was Ashdod, Israel. On this day we took a ship's excursion to Jerusalem which included a look out stop from  the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane and a walking tour inside the original walled city of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall.  Our tour guide was a young Jewish woman who did a remarkable job of Israeli  and biblical  history. The tour took a lot of patience as everywhere we went there were traffic jams and the sites were very crowded with tourists. We both were happy that at least the weather was comfortable; to be in such crowded conditions on a hot summer day would be unbearable. Our fifth port was Port Said, in Egypt. We again did a ship's excursion  to see the Pyramids and Sphinx  at Giza. This was a long day as we needed to travel 2 1/2 hours by bus each way to get there. We also went to the oldest pyramid at Saqqara  and saw the tomb. We had an opportunity to go down inside a pyramid to the tomb. Lori and I gave it a go but I came running back after three paces into the dark , low tunnel. Lori made it all the way with a handful of other brave souls. She has guts for garters. We  also visited the buried city of Memphis with some remarkable statues of Ramses 11. On the trip to and from Giza our buses went in a convoy with military escort front and back. We again had a very nice and knowledgable Muslim lady as our guide.  On our sixth and last port of Alexandria we walked on our own again. We reluctantly accepted an offer of horse and buggy ride which did not turn out well at all. Lesson learned. We did have a nice walk along the East Harbor and a visit to their magnificent library/ museum. The walk back to the ship was done with some nervousness at a fast pace. The people were polite to us but we caused a bit of a scene which made you feel a little vulnerable. There are not many tourists in the streets yet and because the Muslims were enjoying a major religious holiday the streets were very busy with people. There was a feeling of wild west lawless at times with cars and people going in all directions in the streets and horses pulling carts and buggies, sometimes with kids driving them, neck and neck with taxi cabs. We were happy to make it back to the ship before dark.  Our two days of sailing back to Civitevecia, was more of the usual, lots of exercise activities to off set the over eating. We figure by the time we make it across the Atlantic we will be line dancing pros. We arrived back to the port of Civitavecchia in the rain and as I write this we are on the train heading to Genoa. It looks like we might get a few sunny days to walk Cinque Terra. Next chapter to come; "Italia Part 2".

Cruising to Africa

Italia, Part 1

"Italia Part 1"
We started our Italian adventure with a two night and one day ferry ride to Venice from Patras, Greece. The ship was a strange cross between a freight ferry and cruise ship.  As usual we chose the most economical yet comfortable travel option which this time was a shared 4 bed cabin; thinking it was similar to staying in a hostel. As we were waiting to board the ship we watched in disbelief as perhaps 40 giant shipping semi trailers disembarked. It was like a magicians hat with rabbits coming out. The ship had two levels for these mammoths. It suddenly occurred to us that this ship would be primarily sleeping truckers and that we might be sharing our tiny cabin with two burly snore masters. As it turned out we had the cabin to ourselves the first night and the next day a lady from Belguim joined us. This turned out to be a bit of a pain since she had just driven from Istanbul and was so tired she slept all day. This meant that we were tip toeing into the room when we needed something and could not relax in there for reading and manicures as planned. The ship had all the usual amenities but on a smaller scale than a cruise ship. The food was very good and we both enjoyed their Moussaka . 
When we arrived in Venice at 11:00
am it was overcast and cool. Our photos are not the best. It was nice arriving by boat down the Grand Canal and they make it very easy for tourists to transfer to the city centre.  As soon as we arrived we walked to the train station to book an overnight train to Rome for the following night. That complete we enjoyed our first Italian cappuccino; yeah, prices are back down to Spain level. Food and liquor prices were about double in Greece.
We then walked the streets till we found a reasonably priced hotel, still a short walk to the train station.The rest of the day was spent memories of Camino walking.  ( two round trips to San Marco square and back). We tried to see a musical show but could not find the venue . While back in the square at evening, instead  we watched a film crew shooting a scene for a movie. ( me hoping it would be George Clooney since he lives in Italy). We have no idea what the name of the movie is but a chubby comedian man seemed to be getting the dear John boot from his very beautiful girlfriend. She then struts off across the square past a gaggle of touristy looking extras strolling through.  It was not raining today but they kept hosing down the square so I guess in the movie it will be. I hope we will be able to track this film down on it's release. 
Our second day in Venice was again much walking about and shopping. I finally found a new pair of my favourite Mephisto sandals so I can " jettez " the very worn out old ones. That is a favourite new French word that I learned while on Camino. It means to throw away. Say it fast, don't think twice; just get rid of what you do not need. I left my front pack behind in Venice in exchange for a new tote bag with two matching purses; good bye Camino; hello cruising. 
We managed to have a gondola ride on our second day which was a treat.
Our red eye train trip from Venice to Rome was an unhappy situation of six travelers squashed into one cabin with no reclining seats. Oh well, can't win every time.
   On arriving early  in Rome we decided to take a real hotel room within walking distance of the train station with the assistance of a booking agent in the train station. We dropped off our bags and headed out to see Rome on the hop on bus.  Once we were able to get into our room and shower, we then split up for the day. Lori had not been inside the Coliseum on her previous trip to Rome and I wanted to do the Art Museum and Castle D'Angelo. My day did not work so well as most of the art was Religious in subject which I have already been saturated in and I ran out of time to see the castle. Lori thoroughly enjoyed her afternoon and  we actually bumped into each other in a restaurant near our hotel in the evening.
On the morning of Oct. 20th we left our packs at the hotel and did some last minute desperate shopping for a few extra cruise wear items. We then  caught our train for the one hour ride to our ship in the port of Civitavecchia. 
Next chapter to come; cruising to Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt  ( 11 days)
Italia Part 2 will cover another five days after the cruise as we head up the west coast of Italy and finally to Barcelona.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Laughing all the Way

I mentioned earlier that there was a good chance of crying on el Camino. The chances for laughter are much higher and lucky for us, that is how we reacted when faced with adversity. We also met so many wonderful people to laugh with each evening as we shared our Pilgrim's table. Laughter comes in varying degrees, from a slight chuckle to a full bodied belly laugh. Sometimes you get into a laughing fit where you can't stop and you are crying at the same time. This happened to me more times on this adventure than previously in my lifetime. Like a scenic picture on a grey day, it is hard to recapture the moments in words but I will try with one story.

When Lori and I realized our packs were way too heavy and we had expensive gear we could not throw away we went to the post office in Pamplona  to ship parcels to Santiago. Imagine two women with very little Spanish trying to buy two pack boxes, build them, sort our gear on the floor, pack the boxes as tight as we could, tape them with duct tape, figure out how to fill out the shipping documents and extra arrival time instructions with the help of an iPhone Spanish app., some kind locals and some very inpatient postal workers. We are also trying to beat the clock because the office was closing in one hour and every time you approached the counter you needed to pull a queue ticket.  Think Lucy and Ethel  but me cracking up in laughing fits on top of it all.  Happily the parcels were in Santiago on our arrival and were easy to retrieve, even though I managed to lose my receipt which meant iPhone translation work at that end.

It sounds like we are having a fantastic adventure and we really are but there is a lot of hard work and minimalism going on to swing this kind of a mega trip and it really helps when we can laugh our butts off when things don't work out as well as hoped.

Pilgrim A

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


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It seems like el Camino was a dream. Did we really walk across Spain? Do you remember that I found my life calling while on el Camino, to keep free range hens on an acreage and feed the hikers on the Canadian trail? That would be good for the summer; but for the winter I would like to live in Greece, ride a moped, and eat eggplant every day.
Our trip to Greece started with a red eye flight to Athens on Oct 8th. ;  cheapest flight and saves the cost of a nights accommodation. Lori googled for a good hostel during our early morning coffee in the Athens airport and found a very nice one. Happily this one does your laundry; always a treat.
We had two enjoyable days in Athens. We walked a lot as usual, including the Acropolis and surrounding area plus a hike to the top of a look out hill on the north side of Athens. We see a challenging hike and are drawn to it like a magnet. 
Our hostels on the Camino were pretty basic which was fine as they were so cheap and it was only a bed and a place to wash your few clothes each night.  We are amazed at how nice our hostels were in Lisbon and Athens. The only down side is that on the Camino, everyone went to bed at 9:30 and were up at about 7:00 to start walking; now the younger people are coming into the shared rooms at all hours. We got them back when we were exiting at 6:00 am to catch our ferry to Santorini.  :-)
The ferry ride was long, ( 7 hours); stopping at several picturesque islands. We were surprised to find that having a comfortable seat to nap in was 5E extra, luckily the ferry was half empty so we could pay this upgrade on board.
As I sit writing this on our hotel balcony ( on first morning in Santorini) I can see the strings of donkeys heading up for their days work. Our ferry arrived at the new port so we did not walk up the hill and hire one donkey to carry our packs as planned. 
We have a very economical hotel room just 3 minutes walk from the tourist core of  Fira  facing the backside of the island.  We were planning on looking for a hostel but a man on a moped enticed us to his Villa for the same price. A lovely little complex of the typical Santorini style with multiple steps up and down and a tiny pool. 
During our first night of roaming around and shopping we happened upon a Fish Spa, where the tiny fish suck the dead skin flakes off your feet. This was something we had on our list to do so were thrilled. It was delightful; we giggled like kids. My recovering feet were way too much of a challenge for the little guys but they tried their hardest. 
On our second day we went to Perissa beach by bus. We got very lucky while walking to the bus stop and finally found new bathing suits. We are still in Camino mindset of only packing what you can comfortably carry and don't buy anything until it becomes essential.  Bathing suits now fall into that category and we did not want to scare people on the nudist beach here.
Our little room has a small fridge so we are doing a little picnic eating again. 
On our third day we decided to walk down to the old port on the zig zag trail and perhaps ride the donkeys up. The Greek men are very persuasive here when it comes to releasing you from your Euros and one insisted that we ride down with his string. We thought that was the kinder alternative for the donkey as we now know the difference between lugging a heavy pack up hill or down. The donkeys we rode did not win however as they just got a double dose, as they normally go down hill empty. Sigh
We then walked up the hill for the exercise. Very interesting, dogging donkey dung, tourists riding up on donkeys, and returning donkeys heading back down in groups. Donkeys own the path, walkers take care!  I  ever tired of watching them going to work each morning and heading home every night with their bells tinkling. ( over 100 of them) past our Villa.
It is a key component of this Island's attraction. The donkeys trail through the town and all the shop keepers step out to sweep the dung ASAP. A community effort.
On our third night we decided we should dine on the caldera side and enjoy the Fira city lights. Lovely but expensive. 
On our last day we packed our bags and stored them at our Villa while we headed out to another beach. We went by bus, then took a small boat ride which we enjoyed and swam at a small beach. 
As I write this we are waiting for our midnight ferry to Venice, from
The port city of Patras on the west coast of Greece. We had a red eye ferry from Santorini to Athens last night and a 4 hour bus ride from Athens to Patras this morning. We have had a long day of walking around with our packs and killing time. The ferry to Venice will take two sleeps and one day. 
Stay tuned for the next chapter ; Capers in Italy!


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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Obrigada Portugal

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View from our hostel.

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We have had a wonderful three days in Porto ( where Port wine is produced) and three days in Lisbon. These are both beautiful cities with grand historic buildings and monuments and picturesque rivers. We were happily surprised to find that most people in the service industries spoke very fluent English. All we needed was Obrigado for thank you and did not realize till today that we did not have that right. Apparently you say Obrigada to a woman and Obrigado to a man.  In any case people seemed genuinely helpful towards us throughout our visit.

We continue to travel lean with our packs; staying in hostels ( extremely nice hostel in Lisbon) and pensions and riding the metro.  It is nice to unpack for three days after 38 days of constant walking on the Camino but we just start to feel at home and we leave again.
As I write this we have happily landed in another very nice  new hostel in Athens. We are staying here two nights and have our ferry tickets purchased for Santorini Island on Oct 11th.  It is very easy here as well for us , as many people speak English.
You may have seen the news that Merkel was in Athens, Greece. We were amazed  when walking around today to see so many policemen in flack outfits on every corner . During our very late lunch we could see the news of the protesters on tv while hearing the shouts and gas canisters going off a few blocks away. Later when we were walking around we could taste the gas fumes of pepper in the air.
Tonight we had a bit of the old Camino experience sitting on the roof terrace talking to visitors from Switzerland and Holland with the fully lite Acropolis on the hill.

Here are some pics of Portugal.



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Wine cellar at Porto
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Murals at the train station

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Lori climbing the walls of a Moorish castle in Sintra, near Lisbon.
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Thanksgiving treat in historic Belem, outside Lisbon. Famous pastry with secret recipe. 
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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Wrapping up the Camino

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One more Pilgrim statue!

The Camino is now completed for us. We arrived in Santiago on Tuesday - Sept 25th. This is well ahead of our original expectation. Our last three days were in drizzle or pouring rain. We ended up taking a hotel with a bathtub! Fantastic! Our first order of business was eating, as we only had hot drinks all day to get in out of the rain. We then collected our big boxes that we had mailed from Pamplona and went to collect our Compostella and had a quick walk through the Cathedral.  In the evening we celebrated joyfully with about 40  pilgrim friends in a seafood restaurant.  
The next day we attended Mass in the Cathedral which was wonderful. I was so happy at the end I wanted to clap but thought it not appropriate. When the entire congregation started clapping I was happy to join in and clapped like seal. ( this is me very happy) . Before the mass began a singing Nun came to the dias and did a short singing lesson to prepare the congregation to sing the chorus of an anthem.  ( which was then very beautiful during the service with her singing and a choir and full congregation joining in) At the beginning of the mass, the priest did a Pilgrim's blessing which listed the Nationalities and number of Pilgrims from each country. This tally is from the previous 24 hours of  Pilgrims registering to receive their Compostellas. (certificate)
The swinging of the giant silver incense fumar over the congregation was very special.
We could not understand much of the service as it was in Spanish, but it was still a  beautiful experience.
On this second day we also moved to the Monastery for a room there. Wonderful beds with great linens, big treat. We will stay there for our last few days as well.
Many pilgrims go on to Finesterre  ( end of the earth), just like in the movie; and so must we.
I went by bus to a little town called Cee, 12km before Finesterre with a new friend Magdalen from Slovenia. We had the evening and our alburgue there and walked to Finisterre the next day. Beautiful coastal walk with a long stretch of beach in bare feet of course.
Lori  decided to walk the 120 km with the Australian family from Santiago. She was up for the extra walk but my feet were not, so we each went our separate chosen paths.  Funny enough we both thought we would be going to Moxia ( pronounced moo-she-yah) and we both did not make it. They finally decided it was too many long walks and for me the bus was not running to there on the week end.
We did however get to connect all together again for another slap up seafood feast in Finisterre. A surprise and happy reunion. Having iPhones and many WiFi spots has been a huge support for us. I would never travel without one. 
I did the walk to Faro for the sunset and ritual clothing burning with Magdalen and closed the local bar drinking hot milk and brandy. I am so happy I met her, and just in the bus station as I was leaving Santiago. This is the magic of " The Way". You make new friends every day. I would have otherwise found the Faro celebration lonely.
Lori did her Faro celebration with the Australians the next day while I was busing back to Santiago.

As I write this ( Oct 2nd) Lori and I are on a five hour bus ride to Porto, Portugal. It is raining, so a good day to spend traveling. Everyone gushes about how wonderful this city is, so I think we will stay at least two days.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of our European Adventure.
We had a late night out again with our  Pilgrim friends, including our dear Australians ( Julie, Collin, and their daughter Kelly). It is hard to say good bye. El Camino is bitter sweet for this reason only. Many email
addresses have been exchanged however, so hopefully we can stay in

Here are a few pics from both of our Finisterre  experiences .


photo (57) On the way to Finasterra

photo (59) Walking the beach to Finisterre with Magdalen.

photo (61)

photo (56)

photo (60)
I waved to all my friends and relatives in North America while sitting on the edge of Europe.

Thursday, 27 September 2012