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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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Santiago: Sunny, 13

Favourite Haunts and Traditions

There are certainly things that I’ve come to enjoy after walking into Santiago. Of course there is the initial entrance onto the plaza in front of the Cathedral, but after that, when all the excitement of arrival has passed somewhat and I’ve found my way to a hotel there are some favourite places I like to visit. Usually in the evening at some point I find my way back to the plaza where there are often musicians playing and people wandering around taking in the special atmosphere. Last night before I ate I did just that, though late in the season it wasn’t very busy. The cathedral’s exterior has been cleaned and I just wanted to see it under the lights.

After this it was time to go find some food and begin the traditional celebrations. So I headed back to...

The only thing was I hadn’t walked into Santiago with anyone so I went on my own comfortable that other pilgrims would show up. As I was ordering I heard a discussion about the Arles route and a question from a French woman concerning why no one walks the Chemin where she lives. I entered the conversation and suggested that I’d just walked it and she immediately invited me to join their table, which I happily did. It was really nice to sit with 5 other peregrinos and do what peregrinos Camino! They had all just walked in on the Via de la Plata, so I had questions about changes since 2014. Women from France, Canada and Finland (who gave me a lovely hug at the end of the evening) a fellow from Holland and another from Spain. There was interest about our Camino For Alzheimer’s as the disease had unfortunately touched the lives of several at the table. We managed to consume many tapas and somehow even more wine! I also met three American ladies from the Frances who wanted to know more about our walk, so it turned out to be a very social evening. We later said good night and found our ways home.

Last night was just another bed, about the 55th different bed, and as such I didn’t sleep as well as I thought I would, but I compensated by staying in bed until after 9. I felt a bit heavy and clumsy when I got up and realized it was just my body and mind relaxing after pushing itself for weeks. It felt like it was supposed to be doing something else. Walking maybe? They serve a great breakfast where I’m staying and after a second cup of tea, that was amazing, I headed outside for a look around and to get some chores done. Most of those completed it was time to wander the unique old town and I bumped into my old friend Shinji who it turns out also walked in yesterday, as did David who was the fast walker I shared much of a day with last week. He saw me arrive in the plaza yesterday and took the photos of me that I posted.

He was still carrying his pack because he stayed in an albergue last night and thought he had to take it with him. So I assume he lugged it around all day, poor guy. We parted ways at the Cathedral where you are not allowed to enter with a pack any longer. I assume he found somewhere to spend the rest of the day. He’s chosen a 7 am train to Madrid tomorrow and I’ll be on one at the more civilized time of 9:50 am.

In the cathedral I met a few of the folks from last night and then wandered for a few minutes, but not being catholic and having sat through mass twice before, said in Spanish, I left. But not before taking a few photos. 

With the outside clean, the inside is now being restored. I guess it provides me with another reason to return here in a few years:)

The apparent final resting place of St. James who is specially celebrated each July 25th on my birthday.  Clearly I was destined to walk to Santiago:)

Apparently my body was still craving food after having had breakfast just 3 hours earlier so I visited my next favourite place to munch. 

The key to getting a seat is to arrive just before mass at the cathedral ends at 13:00 so that you have a chance of getting a table. I need not have hurried.

Of course it’s off season with very few walkers coming in each day compared to the height of the season when thousands arrive daily. The menu is still brilliant with huge portions and a great selection all for a minimal €10 including water, bread, dessert and wine! 

Just after I ordered the soup and cod, my friends from the previous evening walked in and I was invited to again join their table. A very Camino thing to do, and appreciated. I was going to write this post over lunch, but the opportunity to sit with others was much more enjoyable. 

The cod was amazing! 

And I had the moistest Santiago cake I’ve ever enjoyed. I know all my Camino friends would want to be here to enjoy this feast...and probably a few others too!

After lunch we went to the Pilgrim’s museum which is quite good and wandered reading and viewing all the historical stuff. This is a china drinking flask shaped as a scallop shell. I’d like one of these.

Now I’m back in my room where there is great wifi and it’s now 17:30. Shortly I’ll repack my gear, this time for travel and then head back to the tapas bar to hopefully meet my friends or find others and hear about their experiences.

Annemarie and I would both like to thank those family members and friends who supported us on our journey, particularly my parents Ken & Glenn who have been on side from the start. Right from the beginning we said that this project was very much about trying to raise Alzheimer’s awareness within our sphere of influence. It would seem that we’ve gone well beyond our preliminary intentions having also touched others online who we’ve never met, and likely never will. We have also met so many people on our journey this past year both at home and while on Camino who have unreservedly shared their own painful experiences with this disease. Early on at home these painful stories helped confirm that we were on the right track, and later while on Camino these stories and the stories we heard here also deeply touched us and helped encourage us to continue onwards. Their personal sharing often provided us with the catalyst needed when trying to identify the parallels we found during the walking portion of our awareness journey. I think Annemarie did a wonderful job of capturing those parallels, even when I was alone and shared with her what I was experiencing as I physically and emotionally pushed my own limits. 

I’m very sorry that many had trouble posting on the blog as I thought I’d worked out all the bugs before we left. We felt that it would be a useful method for people to share their related experiences anonymously if required. Ah the plans on the drawing board sometimes don’t work out in reality! That said, many people (and you know you you are) found ways to communicate with us, from very personal emails and texts to comments and simple likes on our regular Facebook pages and Instagram posts. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. There were days when your notes encouraged me to keep going when the weather was at it’s worst and I was in need of a boost. Thank you for those. 

We’d also like to acknowledge the support from the BC Alzheimer Society, particularly Gabi, Meriel, Staci, Caroline and Emily of the Victoria office and Teresa and Dalia of the Vancouver office who answered our many questions and provided encouragement. Also many thanks to Susan who is Kathy’s person at the Society. Also many thanks to Mary, Wendy and Neville from the Canadian Company of Pilgrims who helped to promote our project nationally on their website and at the March symposium in Victoria. We also appreciate the support of John, Ariel and Paul whose companies provided financial donations to the Alzheimer Society, and their logos with links to their websites are on this blog page. Special thanks to Ariel and Stressmarq who continually promoted our project on their social media pages. I hope I haven’t missed anyone!?

As they say, last but not least, our thanks to our three children Erin, Caitlin and Bryan who probably hear more than is fair to hear about everything Camino, and particularly this most recent project. That said, they each stepped up when it came to Alzheimer’s Awareness, offering ideas and social media training to their parental units as the project developed and gained momentum. You see, they have a particularly special bond with their Auntie Kathy. 

On a personal note, Annemarie and I have also been on a special journey together this past year and it’s just been getting better and better. I should explain that the longer you walk, the more open you become:) 

Oh, and before I forget. Thanks to the generosity of many, some we will likely never meet, or perhaps even see again. Your support and wallets have helped raise well over $11,000 for the Alzheimer Society. Thank you!!! We will leave the link to the webpage open on our blog and on their website for a time in the event others still wish to contribute. 

Ok, time to pack my gear for the trip home then it will be time for one last evening of taps and wine. I’ll be tucked into my own bed on Thursday night! Looking forward to reconnecting with everyone! 

Buen Camino!!



1 comment:

  1. Hi Geoff: Just finished reading your blog and glad that you have had such a pleasant time in Santiago re-exploring the many places you have visited in past years and also enjoying the company of other like minded perigrinos over good food and drinks. A very pleasant way to wind down your journey. And now as you head out tomorrow you will be able to tell your faithful boots that it won't be long until they will be rewarded with a good cleaning and buffing-up followed by some quality weather proofing and you, in turn, can reward your self by enjoying the comfort of a warm clean bed and soft pillow! Sleep well. See you in due course in Victoria. Safe journey.

    Dad and Mom