The Camino Family Expands

Instant bonding – a quick introduction, your name, where you’re from, “Oh, I’ve been to Vermont (or Maine or Boston); is that near you?”

“Did you start at St. Jean Pied de Port? The climb over the Pyrenees was really tough, wasn’t it?”

And on it goes, to children, spouses, occupations, the condition of your feet and knees, how long you’ll be on the Camino, and why you’re here.

A mother and son from Washington state

You depart, one person stopping for a sip of water, the other moving ahead. But then you meet again, at an albergue, or a restaurant, or just at a shady spot along the way.

A father and daughter from Sydney, Australia

The Camino family grows. And we take care of each other. One needs some of your water, you share your chocolate bar, someone helps you fix your blister. And on we go, toward Santiago.




Estella, Irache, Sansol

The days and towns are blurring into one sunny, sensory-packed whole as we trek our way across northern Spain. We have already traveled over one hundred miles (48.7 miles in just the past three days), and our blog posts are not keeping up with our feet. The albergues have wifi, but the downloading and uploading of posts take a great deal of time and are sometimes not possible.

Judi and I have been feeling great with only one small blister each, hiking far, and having so many experiences. We wish we could share every one, but we’ll just give you a taste of our highlights.

In Estella, an elderly man walked about a quarter of a mile out of his way to bring us to an albergue with a vacancy. Kindness abounds here.

A modern albergue in Estella which has been built onto a Medieval structure

This September has seen a larger than usual influx of pilgrims on the Camino. We have met people from such exotic places as the Canary Islands and Panama. Rumors have circulated that “there are no rooms anywhere” as we approach some cities, but we have found by experience that “the Camino provides.” We get up early and walk in the cool of the morning, arrive early, and find a bed.

We are traveling through the Rioja, the wine-producing district of Spain. We walk through vineyards with rows after rows of grapevines heavily laden with bountiful grapes, so dark purple that they are nearly black. Interspersed are trees with slender leaves and green olives, and above our heads are cloudless, azure skies.

The celebrated wine fountain outside of Estella – This fountain dispenses more than a hundred liters of wine a day to thirsty pilgrims.

After Estella, we felt we deserved a short day of walking so we checked into a camping village in Irache where we rented half of a tiny cottage and felt decadent and pampered as we sat outside on the porch and watched the twilight descend into night and the stars appear.

Leaving early in the morning has such advantages: watching the sun rise and capturing the sight of Medieval buildings bathed in the morning light.

In the dawn’s early light

Our next day of hiking brought us past Los Arcos to an albergue in Sansol with all the comforts of home: washer, dryer, and hot food. Life is good, and I even had a chance to write in my journal.


If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Part Two

Streets of Pamplona, quiet at last
Bowed heads of the penitents
“Cafe solo” for two
With the makers of a Camino documentary: website at
Alto de Perdon
“Where the way of the wind crosses the way of the stars.”
Toward Santiago
Sunrise in Puenta la Reina
Puenta la Reina
Pilgrim shadow on the ancient Roman road
In the footsteps of a Roman soldier

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Part One

Then let these pictures tell our story…

Judi’s pictures told the stories of our trip over the Pyrenees, and here are the stories from Roncevalles and beyond.

But first, a recap of our mileage:

St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncevalles, 15.6 miles

Roncevalles to Zubiri, 13.6 miles

Zubiri to Pamplona, 13.o miles

Pamplona to Puenta la Reina, 14.8 miles

Puenta la Reina to Estella, 13.6  (Total, 70.6 miles)

“Older Man of the Mountain”
Walking the Byways of Pamplona
Toro Fuerto!
Pensioners Protesting for Higher Wages in Front of Pamplona City Hall
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Real, 15th century
Alabaster Mausoleum of Carlos El Noble and his Wife Leonor

No News is Good News!

Due to technical difficulties, we haven’t been able to add new posts with pictures, but rest assured that we are safe, exhausted, pain- and blister-free, and resting for the night in Pamplona.

The hike over the Pyrenees was incredible in every way: strenuous, long, but most of all breathtakingly beautiful. When we can make our computers work well again, we will share Judi’s pictures….just wait, they will knock your socks off.

After Roncevalles, we walked to Zubiri and on to Pamplona for a grand total of about forty-two miles so far. We hit the trail tomorrow morning on the way to Puenta la Reina fourteen miles away and are hoping for more reliable wifi service when we arrive.  Until then, please know that we are thinking about all of our friends, both old and brand-new. We already have been welcomed into our own Camino family that includes folks from South Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Ireland, France, Holland,  Germany, Canada, and the U.S.

Thank you for all of your comments. We have treasured every one.

Buen Camino

A Day in St. Jean Pied de Port

“Take it easy. You’ll have no problem,” Jacques reassured us when we talked with him this morning at the Pilgrims’ office. This climb over the Pyrenees makes the first day on the Camino the toughest. Jacques has counseled many pilgrims over the years and certainly made us feel confident.

We spent the day exploring the town, making new friends, and having adventures.

Crossing a bridge through the oldest section of St. Jean Pied de Port
Andrea and Darren (AKA Theron the Archer) from London demonstrate how to aim arrows through the window openings of the Citadelle.
Judi bravely guards the entrance to the ancient ramparts.

Paris to SJPP: Running for the Train, Making New Friends

Being early meant that we caught our 11:19 a.m. train out of Paris with no trouble. Our connection in  Bordeau-St. Jean was another story. Our Paris train pulled into the station five minutes late, and we only had five more minutes to find platform two. Picture two American women racing through a slow-moving crowd to a blocked stairway to and desperately finding another route as the doors to the train were sliding closed. The conductor’s warm smile and chuckle assured us that they wouldn’t have left without us.

In Bayonne, there was no missing our colorful single-coach train because the women sitting inside at the windows exuberantly waved us in.