Friday Faves: Ken and Mandy’s Camino Francés

Happy Friday! This morning I received an email from a couple who is walking the Camino Francés right now.

Mandy and Ken starting the Camino Frances

Mandy and Ken starting the Camino Francés

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4th Annual Lake Tahoe Pilgrim Rendezvous

I’m sharing an event hosted by Camino friends Dave Jennings and Monica Armanino.  An open invitation to pilgrims, both those who have walked the Caminos de Santiago and those who are planning to walk.
Incline Village/Mt. Rose, Nevada at N. Lake Tahoe
Friday, July 21 – Sunday, July 23

An unbelievable winter, can you imagine over 65 ft. of snow on Mt. Rose. The falls, streams and wildflowers should be spectacular.

An unbelievable winter, with over 65 ft. of snow on Mt. Rose. The falls, streams and wildflowers should be spectacular.

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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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Tastes of the Camino with Yosmar Martinez

Favorite 21I recently had the opportunity to attend a hands-on cooking class with guest chef Yosmar Martinez, author of the new cookbook, Tastes of the Camino. Yosmar planned a delicious four-course meal based on recipes from Spain and her new cookbook.

• Pan con Tomate y Jamón Serrano (Toasted bread with Tomato and Serrano ham)
• Espinacas con Garbanzos (Spinach with Chickpeas)
• Paella Mixta (Chicken and Shellfish Paella)
• Tarta de Santiago (St. James Almond Cake)

backtothetable

Below are more photos and a video of the experience.

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Santiago Highlights: Hospedería San Martín Pinario, a Pilgrim’s Paradise

Continued from Friday night in Santiago.

When I woke the next morning in my bunk at the crowded albergue, I could not wait to pack up and move to the room I reserved at the Hospedería San Martín Pinario.  You never know how a place will be when you book online without seeing the rooms in person, but this place is listed in the Camino guidebooks, and all the reviews on booking.com were glowing (ranking: Fabulous 8.6, Location 9.7). They had me at fabulous!

img_8157When I got there, I knew I made the right choice. It is adjacent to the cathedral’s side entrance, just around the corner from the stairwell that the opera singer performed in the day before. Location is everything! There is also something to be said for that feeling you get when you get to stay in a very special place—in this case a sixteenth-century monastery!

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Camino and Hiking Events in October

Here’s a roundup of Camino related and hiking events in the SF Bay Area for the month of October.  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.

FREE Hiking Tour in the Oakland Hills
Monday, October 10, 2016 (Columbus Day)

This beautiful and strenuous hike will go through Oakland’s Dimond Canyon Park and Joaquin Miller Park, up to the Bay Area Ridge Trail at Chabot Space & Science Center, then back down to Dimond (approx. 10 miles total).
When: Monday, October 10 at 8:30am (the group will leave promptly at 8:40am)
Where: Meet at La Farine Bakery, 3411 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94602
Details: Rigorous, 10-mile hike in Oakland’s largest wildland trail system, with some steep uphills and downhills. Bring water and sturdy shoes.
register on Eventbrite (required).

sausal-creek-watershed-map-2015-1024x857

This will be an excellent Camino training hike for those lucky enough to be retired or to have Monday off. These guided hikes fill up fast so reserve your spot today!

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Walking Day 6: Padrón to Santiago

IMG_8111Continued from Caldas de Reis to Padrón

Stage: Padrón to Santiago
27 km

For all the modern amenities the Albergue Corredoiras in Padrón has, it lacks in the coffee maker department. Groggy pilgrims were taking turns using a small Italian-style stove-top coffee maker.

Colorful decor and art

Cute kitchen, but they need more coffee makers

In the adorable-but-not-functional Ikea-like kitchen, I looked in every cupboard for a French press, hot water kettle, or even an American-style drip coffee maker, to no avail. I finally got my turn, made a stove-top pot of coffee, and shared it with the Aussies and they shared their milk with me. This coffee was enough to get me out the door. I knew I could get another caffeine fix later.

On my walk through Padrón there were detour signs. I did not think this would add much to the overall kilometers that day, but it ended up being the longest walk yet! Brierley’s guide showed 24.9 km for this stage, but my AllTrails app showed 27.4 km.

Detour Signs leaving Padron

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Walking Day 5: Caldas de Reis to Padrón

CCaldastoPadronontinued from Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

Stage: Caldas de Reis to Padrón
19 km

After my fifth night in a municipal albergue, I was getting used to the routine of putting my earplugs in to sleep through the “snorchestra.” Municipal albergues are the cheapest accommodations on the Camino: I paid just five euros for the first three nights in Portuguese albergues, and six euros the last two nights after crossing over to Spain. That is just thirty dollars at our current 1.12 Euro-Dollar exchange rate (the best exchange rate I have ever seen!). There is a range of comfort to match every budget on the Camino. I chose to stay in municipal albergues for two reasons: (1) to meet other pilgrims on my short Camino, and (2) because that is one of the requirements of being a hospitalero (volunteer) on the Camino.*

I couldn’t help but wonder what pilgrim life was like on the other side, like staying in a private room with ensuite bathroom and real sheets. Sure I could tolerate the sleeping above a different snoring man each night, but I was getting tired of the odd bathroom situations. The albergue in Caldas had an awkward setup and was lacking in good shower and sink facilities. Everything was shoddy and wobbly. I was thinking about how this would have driven my husband crazy. He grew up working in his Italian grandfather’s hardware store and learned many skills from the tradesmen. He even fixed a toilet in an old hotel room we stayed at in New Orleans!

Albergues are all different, and some are a little on the grungy side. For the low price, you get what you pay for. Nonetheless, Caldas de Reis was a beautiful small village that I would like to return to someday and stay in the hotel with the private thermal baths. Below is a 360° video I shot on the old Roman bridge by the albergue and fountain.

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Pontevedra: A Peregrina Paradise

Continued from Walking Day 3: Redondela to Pontevedra

A Parador, pulpo, sidra, tapas, and a Camino-themed chapel. What more could a peregrina want?

I was glad I had decided to walk all the way to Pontevedra that day. When I checked into the albergue, I was surprised to see two of the five Italians I met on the first night in Ponte de Lima. They were early risers and must have walked more than 35 km a day to get this far. Speeding through the Camino is not my thing; I feel that walking 18 to 22 km a day is a distance I am comfortable with. I had just finished walking 22.5 km when I arrived at the Virgen Peregrina albergue in Pontevedra so I was ready to rest my body.

This albergue has two large dorm rooms with fifty-six bunk beds. When the hospitalero asked if I preferred a top or bottom bed, I said bottom please. “As everyone does,” he replied and walked me to a bed that was super close to other beds. In fact, a guy was sitting on my assigned bed and looking through his backpack. I dreaded the thought of sleeping in those tight quarters. I know that I would feel claustrophobic. Continue reading

Five Fabulous Camino Blogs

Over the last year I’ve enjoyed learning about the Camino through blogs, conveniently delivered via my WordPress Reader.  With Camino season in full swing, there’s been a huge increase of fresh new voices. Some are retelling lessons learned, and others are first time bloggers reporting live from the Camino.  I love to curate and share an excellent Camino blog each week, but today it was a struggle to select just one! Here are my Top 5 Favorites from my latest blog binge, in no particular order:

1. Felicity’s Camino

#Camino Day 25 and 26: five reflections on arriving in Santiago Yesterday, I did it. I finally arrived in Santiago. And though the last 5kms felt like the longest I’d walked (and possibly were more than 5kms as I lost the Camino once or twice) the moment I spotted one of the cathedral’s spires I was flooded with relief and happiness. Exhausted and elated, I walked into the square in front of the Cathedral. My eyes were filled with tears and other pilgrims greeted me and hugged me. It was truly a wonderful moment.

Last night I checked into a hotel and today I feel slightly at a loss. I don’t have to get up early. I don’t have to pack up all of my things. I don’t even have to wear walking boots (I bought a new dress and some heels yesterday). Read more.


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