Around the world. ( Part 3)

I love going to Europe.  It feels so different than North America.  It is rich in history. Everywhere I  stop to  take photos. They help to  keep the memories alive.

The first countries I visited in Europe are France, UK and Wales. Then Denmark, Switzerland , Italy and Spain. There is not a country I like best . They are all interesting to me. I wish I could see them all.

What is your favorite country  in Europe ? Is  the language a problem when you visit a country where you cannot speak the language ? Do you try to learn a few words before you go ?

I will share a few pictures taken during my trips in Europe.

Every time I have been to Switzerland , I enjoyed the green landscapes. So many nice places to see .  Spending time in Gruyeres was fantastic. Another time we went in the Canton of Valais and we did some hiking. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces very scenic .

In Italy, the first city I visited was Rome ( I showed some pics from my 2003 trip in the previous post). In 2012, we went to Venice. It was a dream for me. I remember being so excited. We spent 4 days in the city walking everywhere and going to the islands of  Burano and Murano.  If you knew how  many pictures I took during that trip, you would not believe me.

In Italy, on other trips, we have been visiting the  Gran Paradiso National Park and  Turin. We discovered Piedmonte area and Cinque  Terre  ( on a walking trip). We really enjoyed Cinque Terre and went on hikes between the villages. We stayed in Vernazza one of the 5 villages of CT.  We also went to Genova,  Pisa, Lucca and Florence.

In 2015, at last, I went back to Paris after 23 years and this time my husband was with me. As French is my first language, there was no worry for me to get by.  On my bucket list was to go up to the very top of the Eiffel tower. The view was great.

On that trip we also visited the Bay of Arcachon, the Dune du Pilat, the lighthouse of Cordouan.  We even flew over the whole bay in a small airplane for 4.  So many great memories.

Bordeaux and  St-Emilion  were also part of that 2015 trip.

We were also lucky to visit Toulouse and  wonderful villages of the Haute-Garonne. Albi, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Carcassonne, Foix .  Here another collage for you.

Many  green vistas to see while we traveled in France.

Spain is another great country. We know quite well Barcelona as we have been more than once. We  walked on the  Camino for 11 days with a group and guides ( On Foot in Spain). You can find some posts on our walks here on my blog.

So many good memories . I can’t wait to discover more of Europe .

Thank you for reading my post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camino de Santiago ( Spain)- part 11

And now it is the final day on the Camino. We were going soon to arrive in Santiago de Compostella. We did not have much to walk on that day . Only 5 km  through eucalyptus forest . The plan was to arrive in Santiago  to be on time for the 12:00 mass.

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When we arrived in Santiago, we walked along  Rua San Pedroto to  reach the Plaza de Obradoiro.  It is where we could say:  “We are arrived. This is it .”  We got a bit emotional   and hugged  each other. We saw many pilgrims arriving and trying to get a sense of their experience.

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I  was a bit disappointed to see main facade of  the Cathedral  as it was in the middle of some restoration work.

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Still , we took photos and quickly we got inside the Cathedral for the mass. We were hoping to see the swinging of the butafumeiro. It is not happening every day.  Butafumeiro means “smoke expeller”in Galacian. This incensory is one of the largest censers in the world, weighing 80 kg and measuring  1.6o m in height. Eight red-robed “tiraboleiros” pull the ropes, producing increasingly large oscillations of the censer. During the mass, it is forbidden to take photos but at the moment the butafumeiro is in action, everyone take pics.

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After the mass, we had our last picnic on Monte Pedroso. From the  mountain, we had a view on the city.

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We had time to walk  in the historic quarter.  In 1985 the city’s Old Town was designated a   UNESCO  World  Heritage Site. With a local guide, we toured the Romanesque and Baroque Cathedral and its museum. The city was busy with pilgrims and tourists. But it is mainly a walking city. We got some rain but we were wearing our raincoat. We had time to walk inside  the Parador that has sumptuous architecture and great decoration. We met our group for the last supper  at 20:30.  It was another  amazing dinner  with  great food and wine . We enjoyed it to the max. We said good bye to each other. We were not quite sure if we would see each other the next morning at breakfast.

On this last photo , to the right is the Cathedral. In  front is the Parador (the hotel where we slept- it was founded as a pilgrim hospital  at the end of the 15th C) and to the left  is a government  building.

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After breakfast, we had time to walk some more in  the city. We saw many shops and restaurants.  We sat down for a while in front of the Cathedral to watch the action with the pilgrims arriving.  We  took a cab to the airport for a flight to Barcelona where we were going to spend 4 days.

What a great experience. I would recommend it to anyone. The company  we chose for this adventure is  called ON FOOT IN SPAIN.  It was great  for us because  we didn’t want to do the whole route  and everything was organized for us.

Thanks again for reading.  Shall we visit Barcelona together ? I hope so. I will soon publish  posts  about our visit  in this city.

Hasta luego!

 

 

Camino de Santiago (Spain)- part 3

Our adventure on the CAMINO  continues…(June 2015 )

Day 3. After a good night of sleep and a good breakfast, we walked in the city of Estella. Estella is twin sister of St-Jean-pied-de-Port since 1964. The city was very quiet in that early morning. At 8:20 it was already 23C. Nancy, our guide,  has asked us to start the day a little earlier in order to beat the heat of the afternoon.  We stopped at the San Miguel church known for its spectacular Romanesque carvings.

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We walked on the “Calle Rua”,  that is the street  on the  Camino in Estella.

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After a short stop in a café, we took the bus to get to the famous wine and water fountain at the Irache Bodega winery.  We tasted the wine and then got on with our morning walk (7 km) through vineyards, rolling forested hills and village garden plots.

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Here I am with my Traveling Bee and Sam  (son of our guides).

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Walking, chatting or just enjoying the view. Taking photos of course, all the time.

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We arrived in Logrono and from there we did a wine tasting at the Rioja Winery.

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For the evening, we were free to explore the town and taste as many “pinchos” as possible.  A pincho ( literally “thorn” or “spike”) is a small snack, typically eaten in bars, traditional in northern  Spain  and especially popular in the  Basque country  and Navarre. They are usually eaten in bars or taverns as a small snack while hanging out with friends or relatives; thus, they have a strong socializing component, and in the Basque country and Navarre they are usually regarded as a cornerstone of local culture and society. They are related to  tapas , the main difference being that pinchos are usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread. They are served in individual portions and always ordered and paid for independently from the drinks. It is not impossible, however, to have the same item called “pincho” in one place and “tapa” in other. Each little restaurant serves something different.

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Then , we needed to sleep fast and be ready for another day. Thanks again for reading.  I hope you enjoy my story on the CAMINO. Let me know what you think !!

Camino de Santiago (Spain)-part 2

June 2015.

When you hear the word CAMINO, you know that I am talking about this trail from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port ( France) to Santiago de Compostela (Spain).  This is the Spanish section.  You can start walking wherver you are in Europe ( Paris, Rome, Porto,etc…) Many people cover the distance ( The Spanish section)  in about 4 weeks. Many walk from albergue to albergue. Those are non expensive place to sleep.  There are many reasons why people  want to do it. Some have a religious or spiritual reason, some want to know  and see this part of Spain.  They like to walk .They like  physical challenge. But it doesn’t matter why people do it. Every day, many people walk in the direction of Santiago.

Who is Santiago ? What is so special about Santiago de Compostela? This is where you will find  the shrine of the  apostle  St. James the Great  in the  Cathedral .  The  tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried and for this reason many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth.

On Day 2 of our adventure in Northern Spain, we did a walking tour in  the city of Pamplona before our daily walk on the Camino .  Here is the city hall of Pamplona.

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That day we walked about  14 km. We passed by the Sierra del Pardon.  The Alto del pardon is a  “Monument to the Pilgrim,” a set of 14 iron figures of natural size, which seem to walk on foot, horse and donkey.

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Later,  we had our first picnic prepared by Jose. We enjoyed local food every day. You don’t see bread on the photo, but there was always fresh bread that we ate with some olive oil.

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In the afternoon, we walked in the town of Puente La Reina  and saw the famous bridge  built in the 11th century.

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We enjoyed the landscape of  the area. And often we walked through little sleepy villages. Most of the time,  there was  only one store/cafe where we could buy a drink and/or go to the restroom.

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At the end of that day we rested in Estella. We enjoyed good food with our walking friends. Little by little we were getting to know each other. We slept in an old 19th century flour mill that had been restored.

More on my walking days on the Camino in the next post. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camino de Santiago (Spain)- Part 1

June 2015

I didn’t share this experience yet and I feel like doing it although it has been more than a year we  were over there …

There are many ways to experience THE CAMINO. There are no right or bad ways. There is only the choice you make. And I know that my choice was right for me.

We didn’t want to walk the whole 800 km (500 miles)  but we were eager to walk some sections and get a feel of what it is to be a pilgrim. A pilgrim doesn’t have to be in pain or have problem to sleep because too many people are snoring.  We were a different kind of pilgrim who wanted to eat well,  learn, sleep and have a good time with other people who had the same idea.

So, we found a company offering Hiking education tours. ON FOOT IN SPAIN is a company  based in Spain. They organized  our accommodations , transportation ( when we were not walking) and meal through out the 11 days of our adventure.

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On June 3rd, we met Nancy and Jose , our guides, in Pamplona. Nancy provided great information and advice. All her knowledge added to the quality of our experience. Jose was in charge of our daily picnic and a few more responsibilities that goes with being in charge of a group. We were always delighted by the choices of the local food. So so delicious.

I won’t tell you the whole story but some parts of it. We  followed the trail and   the yellow arrow  showing  the way…

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On Day 1, we walked from Ibaneta Pass ( near the France-Spain border)  through a forest. Visited Roncesvalles and then more walk. We ate dinner and slept in Pamplona. This is the town that is famous for the RUN OF THE BULL.  “The fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated in Irunea/Pamplona, in the region of Navarre , every year from the 6th to the 14th of July. They have become internationally known because of the running of the bulls, where the bulls are lead through the streets of the old quarter as far as the bull ring by runners.

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More on this journey in my next post. Thanks for  reading.