Travel

Did you hear?

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The plaza in front of the Logroño co-cathedral (Santa María de la Redonda) is a great place to eat, drink, dream, rest, or catch up on the latest. I'm guessing these young ladies are not talking about when the church behind them was founded (11th century) or why it shares its bishop's seat with the neighboring community of Calahorra or how Logroño is emerging as a destination site for "foodies" everywhere on account of its vibrant pincho scene. Nope. None of that. There is some bigger scuttlebutt going down here and inquiring minds want to know.


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Calling all Bible Land Explorers. Want to start 2019 in a unique way? Walk across Galilee! Hike the Jesus Trail between Nazareth and Capernaum and do some additional sightseeing in Israel-Palestine. This trip is facilitated by the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies and is priced at $2,588 from New York. Dates are Jan 8-16, 2019. Space is limited. For more details click here or contact me at markziese@gmail.com.

The storm brews

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A thunderstorm brews over the town of Los Arcos in the region of Navarre. We were fortunate to have found cover before it let loose. Hail and rain were dumped from the sky and pounded the streets.

The Church of Santa María has weathered a few storms in its time. The original stone structure was raised in the 12th century. Efforts to expand and maintain it produced the form we see today. It is a hodge-podge of styles.

It is possible that the site of Los Arcos represents the legacy of Roman Curnonium, a city in the region mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography.*


*For a discussion of the remains and extent of the ancient town see the article by Javier Armendariz Martija posted here.


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Calling all Bible Land Explorers. Want to start 2019 in a unique way? Walk across Galilee! Hike the Jesus Trail between Nazareth and Capernaum and do some additional sightseeing in Israel-Palestine. This trip is facilitated by the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies and is priced at $2,588 from New York. Dates are Jan 8-16, 2019. Space is limited. For more details click here or contact me at markziese@gmail.com.

The bridge of meeting

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Yesterday I posted a photograph down the main street of Puente la Reina, Spain (see here). That path continues to the edge of town where it crosses the Arga River by means of this 11th century Romanesque bridge. The elegant span of stone is more than 100 meters long. It bequeathed a name to the village: Puente la Reina means quite literally "the bridge of the Queen." No one is sure of the identity of this queen, but many guesses have been made.

Puente la Reina is a significant waypoint in the Camino network. It marks the meeting place of two ancient pilgrim routes. The Camino Francés crosses the Pyrénées via St. Jean Pied-du-Port (the path I am on) before dropping into Puente la Reina. The voie d'Arles or "Arles route" drops into Spain from a point further east. Pilgrims from Italy would come this way. It is possible that St Francis of Assisi crossed this bridge when he walked the Camino in the year 1214!

These two roads merge in Puente la Reina, pass over the Arga River, and continue westward.


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Calling all Bible Land Explorers. Want to start 2019 in a unique way? Walk across Galilee! Hike the Jesus Trail between Nazareth and Capernaum and do some additional sightseeing in Israel-Palestine. This trip is facilitated by the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies and is priced at $2,588 from New York. Dates are Jan 8-16, 2019. Space is limited. For more details click here or contact me at markziese@gmail.com.

Practically modern

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I peer down the street in the village of Puente la Reina (Basque: Gares). It is lovely and rustic place, located near Pamplona in the Navarre region of Spain. To my right rises the large bell-tower of the Iglesia de Santiago el Mayor (Church of St James the Great). The church is a local beacon for those hiking the Camino de Santiago that runs through the center of town. Construction of the church began in the 12th century but the octagonal bell tower is late addition. Actually, at just two hundred years old the tower is practically modern.


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Calling all Bible Land Explorers. Want to start 2019 in a unique way? Walk across Galilee! Hike the Jesus Trail between Nazareth and Capernaum and do some additional sightseeing in Israel-Palestine. This trip is facilitated by the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies and is priced at $2,588 from New York. Dates are Jan 8-16, 2019. Space is limited. For more details click here or contact me at markziese@gmail.com.

Yummy tapas

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One of the wonderful things about walking the Camino Francés are the small bars/cafes that dot the path across Spain. I stopped at midmorning nearly every day for a café americano and tapas. 

The tapas, or spanish "snacks," come in many forms. Some are hot, some are cold. Some are vegetarian, some are meaty. I like the ones with ham or or chorizo (I just can't do the fish or the octopus in the morning). The tapas provide the salt and fat needed for an extra trail boost.

And the coffee is always gentle, like a roundhouse kick to the head. 

These stops provide other services for perigrinos as well, including a credencial stamp, a water-bottle fill, toilet, wifi access, and a chance to catch your breath.

This is country

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Bob and I came across this majestic beast in a field outside the village of Burguete, Spain. The day was just beginning. Ernest Hemingway enjoyed his time in this village back in 1924-1925. He walked its fields, fished its streams, and described them all in The Sun Also Rises (chapter 12).

We started up the road and then went across a meadow and found a path that crossed the fields and went toward the woods on the slope of the first hill . . . The fields were rolling and grassy and the grass was short from the sheep grazing. The cattle were up in the hills. We heard their bells in the woods.

Looking back we saw Burguete, white houses and red roofs, and the white road with a truck going along it and the dust rising.

”This is country,” Bill said.

It's like coin in the bank

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Just so you know: those who complete the pilgrimage of the Camino receive a certificate of accomplishment or compostela. Rights and privileges that pertain thereto include: (1) having a free souvenir to remember weeks of painful marching under Spain's brassy sky, (2) owning a way-cool Latin document to hang on the wall and (3) receiving a partial indulgence. 

As for (3), I could just kick myself. I was unaware that the indulgence was only partial. I now know that in order to receive a plenary indulgence one must hike the Camino on a Jubilee Year or somehow manage to die some horrible death on the trail. Chalk that one up to my bonehead Protestant roots.

Oh well.

I'm currently looking for some really good ways to spend my partial indulgence. Reasonable ideas (except those from Jason Wilcoxon) will be entertained. Please email me.

An archaeologist's rig (part 9)

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Spotted this Land Rover-Santana on the road to Pereje, Spain (another shot here). Don't you love the original "green machine"? Much nicer than the white one I saw a few miles back (see here). Classic color, classic lines. Woop! Woop!

Bien camino!


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Speaking of old classics: try Athens! 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, of course, Athens among others. An optional add-on visit to Rome is possible on either end of the trip.

A postcard pretty place

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There is some beautiful country on the road between Compostela de Santiago and Fisterra. I stopped on this medieval bridge over the River Tambre. The medieval bridge was built on earlier stumps from the Roman period.

Today, the bridge carries limited traffic into the primitive village of Ponte Maceira. The village consists of a handful of houses, a chapel, and an old mill. In this shot, you can see the mill on the left and the dam built to channel a portion of the river through it.

The view over my shoulder

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I turned around this morning on my way out of Santiago to check the sunrise. The rising light was just enough to silhouette the cathedral towers. 

There is one serious ridge between me and sleep tonight. Otherwise it should be an easy day.


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If you want to do some European exploring of your own, you should consider joining Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean cruise this October. See the link here for details. Naturally, we'll be visiting sensational sites (like Athens and Rome!) but we'll also do some fine dining. Did you know that cruisecritic.com calls our ship, the Celebrity Reflection, "a food-lovers fantasy"? That will get your attention!

 

Father Charles

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Father Charles offered the Pilgrims' Mass tonight (in English) at the Santa Eulalia Church in O Pedrouzo (Spain). He was a serious-minded fellow, but flashes of humor and personality shone through. I would like to walk a kilometer or two with this guy.

At one point in his message from Ephesians he raised his voice and with a said sharply: "Be the church!" Everyone jumped.

Our little group of travelers has marched through centuries and centuries of church buildings on the way to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It was a timely message.

Preach on, Father Charles!

A good way to tarta your day

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It won't get you very far down the trail, but a Tarta de Santiago and a cup of coffee with leche contributes to a good mental start. 

The cake is a traditional sweet often eaten for breakfast in the Galician region of Spain. It is dense and fruity, full of almonds, cinnamon, and citrus zest. It is baked in a circular pan and dusted with powdered sugar--except for a the symbol of Saint James that is stenciled on the top.

I eat mine sitting on a plastic chair at a plastic table. The umbrellas that protect the afternoon diners (and card players) are not yet open.  

Check out this video here if you want to make this sweet treat in the place where you are. 


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If you enjoy good food, you should consider joining Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean cruise this October. See the link here for details. Naturally, we'll be visiting sensational sites but we'll also do some fine dining. Did you know that cruisecritic.com calls our ship, the Celebrity Reflection, "a food-lovers fantasy"? That got my attention!

Trail into Portomarín

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The trail across Galicia still has its ups and downs, but has mellowed considerably. Yesterday I followed this trace and dropped into the valley of the Río Miño. On the bank is the village of Portomarín.

I checked into a pensión for two nightsI've not taken a full day off since I started this journey across Spain. With the final push just ahead, I'd thought take a breather (and be sure I'm bedbug free).

Ate two bowls of Galician broth at dinner last night. It is local dish of beans and potatoes mixed with lots of parsnip tops. Sometimes there's a little meat in it, but I didn't spot any. The texture was thick and chunky and the flavor was good. Still, I'd would trade a barrel of the stuff for a Taco Bell Big Box right now.


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As lovely as Galician broth may be, I doubt you'll be eating any if you join us for a Mediterranean cruise this October. See the link here for details. Naturally, we'll be visiting sensational sites but we'll also do some fine dining. Did you know that cruisecritic.com calls our ship, the Celebrity Reflection, "a food-lovers fantasy"? That got my attention!

Under 100

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Earlier this morning I passed the 100 km marker. That is counting down from our start in France at 780 km.  

Right now I'm hiking through Galicia in northwest Spain. The "streets" in many of the small mountain villages are not much more than cattle chutes. It is a sloppy mire of mud, manure, and flies. What's more, people seem live happily in the middle of it.

Even here there is an history/archaeology lesson. Years ago I remember reading Jared Diamond's brilliant Germs, Guns, and Steel. He argued that most power weapon of the conquistadores was not something they carried in their hands, but something they carried in their bodies. Centuries of living side by side (quite literally, I now see!) with big mammals meant that they had developed a stellar immune system, one that the native Americans lacked. The European colonization of the New World was unwittingly motored by an aspect of biological warfare.

So far I've stayed healthy. There must be some Old World DNA lingering about somewhere.

100 kilometers to go!

Bien Camino!


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You don't have to walk across Spain to have a Mediterranean experience. Why not join Mark and Vicki for in October, 2018, for a cruise! 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 8)

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This is the real archaeologist's rig. It is the original all-terrain vehicle. Easy on fuel, has horsepower (!) on the hills, and can even keep you warm at night.

I met these two guys on the Camino who have walked from Belgium to Spain with their donkeys.

Hey, wait a minute! What's that in the background?

Bien camino!


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You can do the Mediterranean this way, but I wouldn't recommend it. Instead, join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean cruise in October, 2018. We'll be 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.


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.

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.

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.

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.