Hola!

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Crossed the pass at Monte Irago, Spain (about 5,000'), the highest point on the Camino. Naturally, I had company. These calves said hola! as I came through the clouds.

The Romans mined gold from these rugged mountains. Some of their mines are still visible today.

I'm just trying to beat a storm and keep from getting soaked.


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

The Roman walls of Astorga

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The town of Astorga, Spain, has quite a history. Early remains go back to the time of Augustus Caesar. The Romans constructed a post here to guard the nearby pass through the mountains of Galicia. The post also protected their interest in the gold mines still found in the region.

I slept last night in the yellow-colored hostel just above the city walls. The walls have been built and rebuilt numerous times. At the lowest levels, thought, it is pure Roman. Coinage, solder armor, baths, etc., goes back to the first century. They have a wonderful museum of Roman remains in the city center.

Locals claim that the Apostle Paul once visited this city. Paul's visit to Spain, however, remains debated.


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

No wolves today

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My experience of Hontanas was a little different and yet I can identify with this description*:

It is "small, wretched and poor. There are ten or a dozen huts, roofed with straw, that look like winter refuges from the snow though they are occupied by shepherds. They have a strong palisade round the huts to guard against wolves which come at night to attack them . . . There are so many of them that you see them in packs, like flocks of sheep, both in the daytime and at night. So wherever you want to cross this desert you must do it in the middle of the day when the shepherds are out with their huge dogs."

It has been a few years since that was written. I've not seen any wolves, but the sheep dogs are as huge as ever.

Bien camino!

*See Gitlitz and Davidson, The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago (2000: xx).


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Pardon me!

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The Puerta del Perdón or "Door of Forgiveness" is the entrance to the southern transept of the Church of San Isidoro in León, Spain. The church rests at the half-way mark of the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims too footsore or ill to complete their 500 mile journey could receive a full pardon (or "indulgences" or "get-a-break-from-purgatory-points") by passing through this stone portal. 

It was locked when I visited. I guess I'll have to keep walking. Dang.

Bien camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.


Soaring

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It is difficult to capture the vertical element inside the Catedral de Santa Maria of León, Spain. It is perhaps the most splendid Gothic structure preserved to this day. Because it was built in a hurry (unlike other cathedrals which took centuries to come together), this structure is true to the spirit of the 13th century.

What separates the gothic style from earlier forms comes down to mass. The discovery of rib vaulting and other engineering features allowed the builders of this new style to use lighter materials and reach ever higher into the sky. The worshiper cannot help but lift his or her head upwards.

Another feature of the  León cathedral is the use of glass. Darker (and cooler) panes on one side depict Old Testament figures and scenes while lighter (and warmer) panes illuminate New Testament figures and scenes. Whereas most churches and cathedrals I have seen in Spain seek to keep out the light, this one welcomes it.

Bien camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

An archaeologist's rig (part 7)

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Found this little beauty in the town square of Carrión de los Condes, Spain. It is a world-famous SINPAR, an abbreviation for the French sans pareil or "without equal." It was in immaculate shape. I was ogling.

The SINPAR is now built by Renault.

This classic 4-wheel drive model is painted in the design of the car used in the 1980 road rally between Paris and Dakar, Senegal. The rally is an off-road endurance event, run through mud, rocks, grass, and sand. Of course, it's not really a suitable vehicle for a respectable archaeologist.

I guess I'm not that respectable.

Bien camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Fetid flesh

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Continued the Camino de Santiago today across the northern end of Spain's great central plain. Known as the Meseta Central, this region is full of cereal fields and big skies. South of our position is a part of the plain known as La Mancha (I once heard of a man from there).

The village on the horizon is where I'll overnight. It is called Carrión de los Condes. My Spanish is bad but I think it means something like "the vultures await your fetid flesh." The next water hole is a full day's march.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Bien Camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

A jingle

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“From Tardajos to Rabe

may God deliver us.

And from Rabe to Tardajos,

you will not lack for troubles.”

(An old Spanish jingle from Gitlitz and Davidson 2000:198).

We passed from Tardajos to Rabe without trouble, but got caught in a hailstorm on the other side. Yikes! Zap! Crunch! Splash! Run!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Gothic gone crazy

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In our walk across Spain we have been impressed by the scale and beauty of many of the churches and cathedrals we have experienced. Even the smallest village sitting on an isolated hill has a structure of significance at its center.

Thus far, however, nothing has come close to the cathedral in Burgos. This structure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was started in the 13th century and completed in the 16th. It is gothic gone crazy, exhibiting every known subcategory of gothic architecture.

My take-away is subdued. Each room of this sprawling place is a graveyard. It is mortuary of the rich and powerful; each left a mark as their final act of piety.


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Meseta ahead

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Today we crossed our last ridge (for a while) and descended to the Spanish Meseta. The Meseta is the central plain or tableland of the country. It should be hot and flat ahead.

A friend of mine described the journey of the Camino de Santiago as having three pieces. The first piece is the mountains. It is the physical push. The second is the plateau. It is the mental push. The third is the the broken hills of western Spain. It is the spiritual push.

Ahead is the "mental" piece. Especially in July.

Bien Camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Miles and miles of cereal

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It was a wet start as we hiked out of Grañón, but the day turned lovely by midmorning. We are nearly finished with the rolling hills of the province of La Rioja and should descend to Burgos and Spain's central plateau (and heat!) tomorrow.

This shot was taken near the village of Tosantos.


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

"The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain"

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Not really, Professor Higgins.

It falls mostly in the mountains in the north.

We had a cloudburst shortly after arriving in Los Arcos.

Lightning played above the steeple of the  Church of Santa María. The thunder boomed. The wind picked up and the rain came down. In a nearby village hail the size of golf balls pelted the buildings.

We have had clouds and rain off and on for the last few days. It has been a welcome relief from the sun.

Bien Camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

An archaeologist's rig (part 6)

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I happened across this Santana 2500 sitting on a street in Nájera, Spain. The Santana is a Spanish-made Rover (Defender) with its own particular line of evolutionary development. 

She is a little dented up, but has much potential. Sweet!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

A long line of pilgrims

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Crossing this ridge of the El Perdón mountain range one encounters iron cutouts. Artist Vincente Galbete designed each figure to represent travelers from different periods of time making the Pilgrim's Way across northern Spain. Like them we are traveling on foot with our possessions on our backs. From here it is a long 437 miles to Santiago de Compestela.

Bein caminó


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Run with the bulls?

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Bob is thinking of running with the bulls. I want to find Hemingway sites. Just another day in Pamplona.


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

First look into Spain

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The route through the mountain chain of les Pyrénées is known as the way of Napoleón because the great general favored this arduous climb in and out of Spain during the Peninsular War (1807-1814). Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago favored it as a way to avoid bandits.

It is reported that many pilgrims fell to their knees when they saw Spain (and the land of Saint James) for the very first time. I guessing they were also thankful because after 3,200 feet of steep climbing the road goes downhill from here. 

Bien Camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Up and over

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I must confess: I underestimated both the ruggedness and the beauty of the Pyrénées. Much of our climb was through fog and clouds, but once we busted through it was unbelievable.

Today we continue our descent into Spain. The plan is to arrive in Pamplona by early afternoon.

Bien Camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

At the foot of the Pyrénées

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Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a village that rests at the base of a mountain chain known as Les Pyrénées. This range forms a challenging barrier between France and Spain. 

On the French side the slopes are steep and wet. On the Spanish side they are more gentle and dry. 

Our path takes us over this range by foot via the Camino francés.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is sorta like Tennessee's Gatlinburg. Only with a deeper history and way-better coffee.

Bien Camino!


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Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

Basque country

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The twin spires of the Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne or the "Cathedral of our Lady of Bayonne" towers above the buildings of this Basque village in Southern France. The structure is Gothic in style and was built over the course of nearly 500 years.

It is an important site along the Way of Saint James. We stopped in Bayonne for a visit. Keep an eye on our future stories. I'll be developing these soon. In the meantime, Enjoy some up to date photographs via our POTD venue.

Bien Camino!

Riding the Métro

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Bob and I traveled across Paris by Métro. It is the second busiest mass transit system in Europe, surpassed only by Moscow. On the day that Bob shot this picture we were heading toward our meeting with a bullet train that would take us to Bayonne in south France. That train moves a little faster than the Métro, reaching speeds over 300 kilometers per hour.


Join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean experience in October, 2018. We'll be cruising aboard the luxurious Celebrity Reflection. See the link here for details. Onboard lectures will provide focus as we visit the ports of Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.