Camino and Hiking Events in December 2016

The air is crisp and the sun is shining here in Northern California. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far. Here we go!

Below is a roundup of Camino related and hiking events in the SF Bay Area for the month of December.  For those who live elsewhere, there are Camino hotspots all over the USA and the American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) website has a listing of local chapters where you can find Camino events. There are also many active Facebook groups to learn about events in your region.

Monthly Lake Merritt Walk
Saturday, December 3, 10:30 AM

A walk around Lake Merritt in Oakland is held every first Saturday of the month, at 10:30 AM starting at the Pergola. Afterwards, there is an optional brunch in the area. RSVP on NorCal Facebook Group.

I will be there with DVDs from our CaminoFlix library available for NorCal APOC members to check out. I will also have Camino Provides patches and a few t-shirts in womens and unisex styles for sale. I love gifts with purchase, so I’m giving a free patch with $20 purchases, in-person or through my Etsy shop.

November 5, 2016 Lake Merritt Walk

November 5, 2016 Lake Merritt Walk

The next Lake Merritt walk will be on Saturday, January 7, 2017. If you are in the Bay Area, join the Northern California Facebook Group to get details on this and other events.

Mt. Diablo Hike with Scott Williams
Sunday, December 4, 8 AM

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Pilgrim Story Hour with Mony Dojeiji

Mony DojeijiFor today’s Friday Favorites, I’m happy to feature the Pilgrim Story Hour with Mony Dojeiji.  This is a series of video and audio podcasts dedicated to sharing stories about the Camino experience. Mony begins each episode with a story of her own based on a particular theme, then she invites online participants to join in and share theirs. She is a master storyteller and speaks authentically on a variety of Camino topics, such as rituals, animal encounters, trusting a stranger, walking alone, and courage.

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Coming out of the Camino Closet

The Camino has provided in more ways than I could ever imagine, and it keeps providing in the months after my return home. The executive director at my workplace was curious about my Camino as he and his wife have some friends who recently walked the Portuguese coastal route. They also lived in Greece and Germany so were somewhat familiar with the Camino. He surprised me by asking me to give a presentation about my Camino at an all-staff meeting. I was unsure at first because this was a personal journey and I have tried to keep my private life and work separate.

Arrival to work on day 1

Walking to work was great training!

My closest colleagues were familiar with the Camino from hearing me talk about it and seeing me train during lunchtime hikes. I was spotted with all my Camino gear when I walked to work three days in a row. But I was not sure if I could explain the Camino to people who have never heard of it, let alone share my personal experiences in front of a room full of people, many of whom I did not know. Was I ready to come out of the Camino closet?

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The Camino Podcast Facebook Page

CaminoPodcastHappy Friday! In January I wrote a post about The Camino Podcast, by Dave Whitson, which had just launched in December 2015. Back then these podcasts were only on SoundCloud and iTunes. There wasn’t a web presence so it was not easy to find or link to an archive of episodes.  I am so happy to see that Dave now has a Facebook page for the Camino Podcast that you follow to see past episodes and be notified when new episodes are available.

Dave does a great job introducing the guests, asking them good questions, and providing his own perspective. I was excited when I heard the voices of some of my friends and guest bloggers.

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Finding my Balance with Standup Paddleboard Yoga

As some of you know, I am in yoga teacher training.  I teach yoga to staff at my workplace and intend to lead yoga sessions on my future Caminos. When I am not immersing myself in yoga during training weekends at the studio, I like to try different yoga classes in the Bay Area. I especially love to do yoga outdoors and seize any opportunity to do so. Variety makes any activity a pleasure to do!

A few months ago I tried a yoga class unlike any other: Standup Paddleboard Yoga, or SUP Yoga. I surfed when I was a teenager and tried Standup paddleboarding recently on vacations in Kauai and St. Thomas.  I have practiced yoga for eighteen years, so figured I was up for the challenge of yoga on the water. One of my favorite yoga teachers, Nicolette Tura,  turned me on to SUP Yoga in Alameda, where she led a half-day retreat.

Nicolette Tura, an amazing Yogi that teaches at UC Berkeley and on the San Francisco Bay!

Nicolette Tura, an amazing Yogi that teaches at UC Berkeley and on the San Francisco Bay!

Below is a video of my experience doing SUP Yoga, along with an interview Mike Wang, owner of Mike’s Paddle in Alameda.

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Camino and Hiking Events in November 2016

Here’s a roundup of Camino related and hiking events in the SF Bay Area for the month of November.  For those who live elsewhere, there are Camino hotspots all over the USA and the APOC website has a listing of local chapters where you can find Camino events. There are also many active Facebook groups to learn about events in your region.

Camino Welcome Home Potluck & Party
Oakland, CA

Saturday, November 12, 2016, 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Help us celebrate this year’s returning pilgrims at our annual Welcome Home Potluck & Party on Saturday, November 12. Well be gathering at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Oakland, near the border with Berkeley. Were excited to have fellow pilgrim, Stephanie Dodaro, give a special presentation on her California El Camino Real Walk from Sonoma to San Diego in 2012. As always, returnees will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a little about their experience. And lets continue our winning record by bringing along a super-delicious dish to share (main, side, salad, dessert). Extra points for something inspired by the Camino. Wine counts, too! Doors open at 10:30 AM and we plan to finish up by 3:30 PM. RSVP required (see below for instructions).

Program: A general schedule of activities.

  • 10:30 Doors open, check in, El Rastro
  • 11:00-11:30 Welcome, chapter announcements
  • 11:30-12:30 California El Camino Real presentation and Q&A
  • 12:30-1:30 Lunch, El Rastro (cont’d)
  • 1:30-1:45 Group photos
  • 1:45-2:45 Returnee intros
  • 2:45-3:00 Camino “re-entry” tips, closing

Volunteer Help: If you can help us with setting up, feel free to arrive at 9:45 AM. We can also use help with cleaning up afterwards.

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Pilgrim Interview with Sebastian, Finn, Bandito, and Luigi

Sebastian and Finn are a gay couple who have lived in Spain for eight years. In October – November 2015 they decided to take their pug dog, Bandito, and cat, Luigi, on a long walk. Not just any walk: the Camino Francés. I shared their incredible story, The Pug and Cat on the Camino, and added it to my Favorite Camino Blogs page. I contacted them to see if they would like to have a pilgrim interview. Sebastian responded and compiled the answers from all the boys. Below is a modern family’s take on walking the Camino with their adorable four-legged compadres.

Sebastian and Finn, Pug and Cat

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Santiago Highlights: Plaza del Obradoiro

Continued from Santiago Highlights: Pilgrim Lunch at the Parador.

Plaza del Obradoiro is where pilgrims gather to celebrate the completion of their Camino journey. The cathedral looms large on one side of the plaza and serves as the backdrop for pilgrim celebrations, victory poses, and tourist group photos.


This sacred space marks the end of the pilgrimage that people have walked for more than 1,000 years. Pilgrims from all over the world have walked between 100 and 1,000 kilometers or more to get to this point. The entire place is steeped in history, and there is a feeling of celebration in the air. It is no wonder pilgrims enjoy hanging out in this vast plaza, laying on their backpacks and gazing up at the sky.

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Um Caminho para Todos

ucpt-logo-oficialThere is so much to love about Um Caminho para Todos, a Portuguese blog whose title means “One path for all.”

First of all, it has a good and noble cause:

“The plan is to walk along the Via de la Plata, from Seville to Santiago de Compostela (almost 1000 km in just over a month), for a cause. The cause is the Promotion of Health and Well-Being, particularly among the overweight. The aim is to share through this blog all that this walk implies: training, difficulties, challenges, and rewards! To show that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it!”

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Santiago Highlights: Pilgrim Lunch at the Parador

Continued from Santiago Highlights: Free Walking Tour and Secretos de Galicia.

I have a thing for Paradores, a network of luxury hotels in Spain, usually located in a converted historic building such as a monastery or castle. My husband and I first discovered Paradores in 2007 when we spent a month in Andalucia, in Southern Spain. It was winter, and we took advantage of their lower rates and a special Amigos offer of the fifth night free. This allowed us to stay in Paradores in Málaga, Ronda, Nerja, Cádiz, and Granada for surprisingly reasonable rates. In 2014 my mom and I stayed at a Parador in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on a tour of Northern Spain for our annual mother-daughter trip. Paradores are all unique and have different degrees of luxury, but every Parador I have visited, even if just for a coffee break, had an understated elegance and historical significance. Needless to say, when I heard that Paradores offer pilgrim rates for rooms and meals, I was excited!


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