Here I am, Rocky Livingstone, at the beginning of my big adventure with Catherine and Sarah. So exciting!
Hey, look at all these famous Dutch tulips for sale in the Amsterdam airport.
Catherine and Sarah took me to an awesome French bakery near the train station in Bordeaux, France. Mmmmm, it smells so good in here!
Admiring a pretty French house in St. Jean Pied de Port, the town we started hiking in.
Isn't this house beautiful?! Click on it so you can see it better. We loved the stone, wood, and bright flowers peaking through the railing. So pretty. And the giant slug? Well, that's my new friend. There were thousands of these guys everywhere!
Here we are in Pamplona during the Festival of San Fermin. Take a look at the people behind us. Everyone was dressed in the white and red costumes that have been made famous during the "Running of the Bulls" that take place every morning during the Festival.
We stayed in a hotel while here because the hostels were closed for the Festival. Catherine has carried me about 75km ( a little over 46 miles) over the past 3 days. The first day we hiked over the Pyrenees Mountains starting at an elevation of 170m in France and reaching the summit of 1450m before descending down the Spanish side. We have met people from all over the world -- USA, Canada, Australia, England, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Serbia, France, and Spain -- and we see them every day. They walk about the same distance we do and stay in the same places.
These metal sculptures are so cool! They are of medieval pilgrims walking this very same route.
Take a look at this landscape. Isn't it beautiful?
There are so many rocks here! I'm having fun making more friends. Catherine and Sarah are so nice to make time for me to do this.
Wow, what a cool flower! We emailed Carol back home to ask what it was - I'd never seen one like it before. She told us it's a passion flower and believe it or not, they grow in the U.S., too, but in warmer regions than where we live.
So picturesque! It has been raining a lot and we were fortunate enough to see a rainbow along our path.
Navarra ~ Loads of scenic vineyards. This is wine country! This is a typical town for this region. Clustered on hilltops with a tall church and surrounded by vineyards and wheat and olive trees.
Man, oh, man! Take a look at this! Most villages have free water for pilgrims to use but this one has both water AND wine fountain -- FREE. The funny thing was a nearby vending machine selling wine glasses to drink the free wine. : )
We are having so much fun. Catherine and Sarah's feet and legs are good but Catherine had a bad asthma attack a few nights ago that was triggered by someone in the dorm using a lot of Bengay/Icy Hot. That was scary! She said she hadn't had one that bad in 20 years. Then to make matters worse, she got bronchitis. She visited a doctor and got some medicine. Today we only went about 9km and the rest of the day was siesta. I don't know much more than that because I didn't get to come of the pocket for a day two.
Wahoo! I'm out of the pocket again! This is my handsome self checking out the secret passage connecting our dorm to a church were we went for evening blessing.
Ahhhh, Rioja. Lovely grapes and wine!
This is one of the quaint courtyards we enjoyed along the way. Such a wonderful place to relax.
We are having a blast making new friends from all over the world and now we can add South Africa and South Korea to our new friend list. We haven't stayed in a dorm with English speakers for a few days but we bump into them on the trail now and then.
A lovely wood door and cross in one of the villages we passed through today.
A lone stork in a wheat field along our path. Poppies are something else we saw in the wheat fields and though considered a weed, their bright spot of color amidst the golden wheat was a very pretty sight.
A pretty panorama of our view today.
So, over the last few weeks by this time Catherine has abandoned a lot of things to make her pack lighter. Sarah warned her before the trip but Catherine just couldn't resist bringing them. In the end, she left several items in the dorms for others and hopefully they'll enjoy them, including her copy of The Iliad. She discovered there wasn't much time for reading and what free time she did have she used to write in her journal.
I thought this little gal was a beauty (doesn't she look like me?). I wanted to bring her along with us but alas, Catherine absolutely refused to carry a snail in her pocket.
Look at the smiles on Catherine and Sarah. They are so happy to be back into shady forested areas after the long, hot walk across the plain.
A view along the 500 Rocky miles across Spain. Seriously, there are so many of my ancestors here. Catherine swears her feet can describe each one!
People just make piles of them along side the trail in some places. We had fun walking for two weeks with a German family whose five year old daughter loved to do this.
Here I am admiring a statue dedicated to pilgrims like us with sore feet. Well, more like Catherine and Sarah. Did you look at the photo showing the road just before we arrived here? Yes, yes. Very sore feet.
We visited the Burgos Cathedral. Stunning! Absolutely gorgeous. Then we visited the Museum of Human Evolution. It was fascinating! There is a cave nearby at Atapuerca that has loads of ancient human remains, which is where they found Elvis the Pelvis. He must be close to 500,000 years old. I'd be astonished at that but afterall, I am a rock and 500,000 years is nothing to me. Take a close look - I've hardly aged compared to that grizzly old Elvis.
We are back into beautiful wheat fields. The rich, contrasting colors of the sky and landscape were stunning.
Here is a nice photo of Andrienne and me. Adrienne Tardajos. Catherine thought I might be getting lonely in her pocket all day with nothing but her Chapstick to keep me company. So when she saw Adrienne, she knew she had to introduce us. We hit it off from the start. We truly make a good looking couple, don't we? And I'm so thankful Catherine refused to bring along the snail. Andrienne is definitely the gal for me. She's always by my side and would never slither off like that snail would have.
Here I am snuggled up next to Catherine's coffee, so warm and rich. This was a typical breakfast of Spanish cafe con leche, banana and tortilla de patata.
This totally made my day! I love that sunflowers turn their faces to the sun as it travels across the sky throughout the day. Look how happy this one is!
We are now in Leon! The cathedral is amazing! Don't I look nice joining this awesome street mosaic? Check out this mud house. These were typical of the region.
Catherine and I thought the stork nests on the churches were so cool.
We averaged about 30 km per day walking and were so tired at night that we didn't do much except go to bed early. We stayed in a barn at a place run by some people from London who served afternoon tea. While there, some fellow Italian pilgrims decided to make Italian dinner for everyone. Fun time!
Catherine's feet were really hurting by this time of the trip and she was battling some nasty blisters. She quit wearing her nice hiking shoes and wore her Teva sandals for the rest of the journey including walking up over Montes de Leon to the highest elevation on the whole Camino. At this point we had traveled well over 600 km.
Oh my. We stopped at the chocolate factory in Astorga and it was all I could do to behave myself. Sarah graciously allowed me to sit close to the chocolate. It smelled and tasted delicious!
Sarah and Catherine left their rocks from Idaho behind along with their burdens at the Crus De Ferro.
Adrienne and I hung out with a few of the rocks that were there from all over the world. We discussed our burdens with them but thankfully, Catherine didn't leave us there! In fact, she says I'll need a trip to the day spa when we get home because of the battle scars I have received on this trip. I've fallen a few times and have a few chips and scratches. I don't mind them though. Adrienne says they make me look distinguished.
Sarah and I in front of a ancient church here in Pedrafita do Cebreiro. Take a look at this cool stone sink in the bathroom!
This is what most of our dorm rooms looked like. On this night, we had the bunk at end with purple sleeping bags. Cozy, eh? And this was the view that greeted us the next morning. Breathtaking!
100 km left to Santiago!
We plan to go another 86km to the Atlantic. It seems so weird to be traveling west to the Atlantic Ocean...
Just look at these ruins of houses from 4th Century BC near Portomrin Castro Maior. Ahhh, the good old days.
We couldn't help but admire the church here in Portomarin. Two years ago, Catherine, Sarah, and family made a gingerbread house of this very church as part their Christmas gingerbread house building tradition. Pretty cool, huh?
Monuments such as this with the shell symbolizing the Camino marked the trail for the entire pilgrimage. It's how you new you were on the right path.
Hiking boots were a common thing to see left behind on the trail. Blisters from them made for painful walking - something Catherine can attest to!
Eureka! We made it to the end of the Camino! While here, we bumped into other pilgrims that we met along the way but had not seen for some time. It was a joyous reunion with our new friends from across the globe!
Fried Padron Peppers were among our favorite Tapas. To top off the trip our dessert will be continuing on to the Atlantic Ocean. Here is a shot of the cathedral in the sunrise as we leave Santiago behind.
Fiery sunrise near Negreira, Spain -- due to smoke from nearby forest fire we had passed very close to the day before.
A beautiful old Roman bridge near Ames, Spain.
And look at this awesome patio with ceiling of grape vines. These were common all along the camino. It provides shade in the summer while letting in more sun during the winter, which we thought was brilliant.
Here is Sarah, with the sun rising over the cathedral behind her as we head west toward the ocean.
This couple was carrying "El Oso Peligroso" (the dangerous bear) from Finisterra back to Santiago to spread good cheer to those heading the other way. It sure worked on us! The sight of that huge bear on his back brought much cheer to us along with big smiles.
Every evening Catherine and Sarah had to hand wash their clothes in sinks like this and hang them to dry so they would be fresh and clean for the next morning. Earlier on the trip, a Swedish guy asked Catherine what the English word was for clothespin. He was so excited to learn it. Then every time we saw him on the path he would shout 'clothespins!' It was so funny!
We made it to the Atlantic!
It took us three days to get here but it was so worth it. While Adrienne and I were on the beach celebrating we made another friend, Shelly. A Spanish boy came running up and wanted to know where Catherine had found the beautiful "shell". We all assumed he meant Shelly but soon discovered he was asking about ME, Rocky. I think he wanted to take me home with him and was disappointed when Catherine came to my rescue and tried to explain to him that I was going home to the U.S.
Yes, that's me posing with the quintessential boot sculpture marking the end of the trail at Finisterra, the western most point in Spain. Catherine thinks a sandal would be more fitting. Nonetheless, I was on top of it feeling like I was on top of the world! Wait --Is that the Rocky theme I hear playing in the distance???