La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Étape 51: Arzúa - Santiago, 40 kms, Fog and Sun, 12

Santiago, Simply A Way Point

Knowing there was a good day of walking ahead I took my host’s suggestion to eat at a place that specializes in Galician cuisine. It was excellent and I ate everything put in front of me. Enough to comfortably feed two people.

It was an amazing meal complete with a bottle of Albariño made with grapes from the family’s vineyards which are sent to the core Albariño area just north of the Portuguese border where we walked in 2016. 

 After a fitful much wine no doubt, I was up and away early this morning. It was dark with heavy fog, but once I had climbed above it it was a pretty nice start to the day.

I saw only one other peregrino today and he turned off to find breakfast just as I caught up to him.

It was really wonderful to see the sunrise this morning. I miss it when the weather gets in the way.

A magical start to a special day!

Then for a time it was the usual Galecian trail scenery.

It was somewhat difficult to figure out where I was distance wise from Santiago. At first I wouldn’t look at the mileage on the route markers because they are situated every half kilometre so I figured it would make the day longer than needbe if I watched the distance slowly tick off. At a certain point some really clear thinkers have stolen the distance labels off all the way markers. So you have to become a bit aware to catch the clues.

The meal last night had the desired result as I was full of energy and didn’t feel tired like I had the day before.

I climbed Monte do Gordon and I knew I was close. 

Last time Annemarie and I passed here it was pouring with lots of wind. We did stop to see the Pope’s acknowledgment, but we were unable to to find the place where the two famous peregrinos looking towards the Santiago cathedral in wonder were located. I was determined to find it this year and I was successful!

I was all alone today and also here. So I took a half hour to quietly reflect on all that has passed these past weeks. I think this was the place that suited my purpose. The plaza in front of the cathedral should be a place of celebration...and believe me, it was!

And about 5 kms later, I was in.

My friend Dennis suggested to me today that this is the time to remind folks reading the blog and our other social media that we would welcome further donations from those who haven’t yet made a donation. I know the Alzheimer Society would appreciate your support as would Annemarie and I. So there you go Dennis, I asked! 

All the scaffolding that has been on the church these past 5 years has finally been removed and the outcome is excellent!

Today I refer to Santiago as a way point. Yes the walking portion of our Camino For Alzheimer’s Awareness has completed, but we must move onwards from here to next things related to Alzheimer’s, just as those with the disease and their supporters will continue on their own difficult journey until it ends in the only way that it can.  Earlier in our walk I encouraged Annemarie several times to write something about this ending and she was reluctant to go there. However after meeting with her group this past Friday she sent me this piece to add. 

I’m not sure if you’ll want to use this one, and if so when you would include it. The discussion with my support group today was very powerful, emotional and deep. These people (caregivers) have a lot of very tough stuff to deal with, and their strongest need is to be able to talk about it with others who understand. After every meeting there’s a lot for me to process, but today was by far the most powerful discussion we’ve had to date. 

Approaching the End: I have had a raging debate in my head about writing about the end of the journey. The obvious parallel for people with Alzheimer’s is end of life, and that’s never a comfortable topic. Based on the discussion that took place in my support group today, however, I now feel the courage to raise this difficult topic. The discussion was along the lines that reaching the end is, in fact, better than an endless holding pattern, and that this is not something people feel comfortable talking about. The end stage of Alzheimer’s is very difficult. The person with Alzheimer’s no longer has capacity to recognize their loved ones, and caregivers experience incredibly loneliness. They remain dedicated to their loved one, receiving nothing in return. They anticipate the freedom that the end will bring, and while there will be grief, there will also be relief. This is a very bleak, but real picture. Avoiding this reality, and not discussing it, makes life even more difficult for those who provide loving care to the end. 

Now I will go out tonight and celebrate a little at my favourite tapas bar. I already stopped in briefly on my way to my hotel. I couldn’t just walk past:)

It’s been an emotional day and an emotional journey. No doubt I’ll write more tomorrow after I’ve processed for a time. I leave you today with my signature photo which I’ve taken at the end of each of my walks. 


  1. Well done Geoff. Mom and I toast your arrival in Santiago - some 1500 kms from the start of your journey in mid September. We are very impressed and extremely proud of what you have accomplished. Your trek today (40 kms) was a worthy distance in itself and included your magical start with an awe inspiring sunrise followed by the welcoming trails that wind through the Galacian countryside. And to cap it off you were able to find the location and the statues of the two famous peregrinos looking down on Santiago in the distance. What a setting and such an emotional way to walk onward into Santiago to the Cathedral and the end of your journey. Enjoy your extra day in Santiago and then safe travels over the next few days homeward bound to Victoria.

    Love Mom and Dad

  2. Hi Geoff, I'm just back after days away fulfilling different commitments. I had a sense you might be close and here you are! Well done, peregrino, it's been an amazing journey and good to follow along. I can imagine those legs are ready for a bit of a rest and that you will be looking forward to getting home to loved ones and a familiar room. And of course, in the returning you begin the next stage(s) of the journey. I start a new job tomorrow so a new journey beginning this end too. Enjoy wondering around a now familiar haunt in Santiago and safe travels home. Thank you to you and Annemarie for your reflections on Alzheimer's disease and its effect and implications for sufferers, carers and community. We honour your commitment and care for Kathy, and your willingness to be in solidarity with her as she walks this most difficult camino. We are cheering for all of you. With blessing, Neil and Sarah

    PS. They were removing some of the scaffolding when I was there in July but not all. Finally it's all clear - a nice background for the feet!!

  3. Excellent!
    I will miss your daily blog...until the next one!
    Safe travels back to YYJ.