Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Today is cool but dry and by afternoon we actually saw blue skies and sunshine that soon disappeared. We traveled by Metro to the underground entrance at the Palais Royal Musee du Louvre station. This tunnel took us to the Carousel shopping mall under the glass pyramid and directly into the Louvre musee. There was a line to purchase tickets but it moved very fast and by ten o'clock we were inside.
Interestingly, Jim had just read an article on the Web about how Paris is now auditioning performers who want to play inside the metro tunnels. If selected they are assigned a permanent spot. We saw our first one today; a violin player in the tunnel entrance to the louvre. I put a short video on Facebook. Their goal is to improve the quality of the performances.
Upon entering the Musee we wanted to explore new areas and visit old friends. We found ourselves in the Richelieu wing and eventually toured the apartment of Napoleon III. Then off to find the newly restored Winged Victory of Samothrace. Always stunning but she sparkles now and looks so new it's scarey.
Down the long hall towards the tiny Mona Lisa ... now behind triple layers of glass...we also enjoyed other works by da Vinci and other artists. Especially two Caravaggio paintings, Jim's favorite.
It took some doing but we finally found Venus de Milo after walking all the way through the Egyptian section. Jim helped a group of Japanese girls who were lost and several more at the metro station on our return trip. Must be the "docent" training from his years at Bowers.
Looking out the windows of the Louvre I noticed the fountains are dry. I knew that they turn off all the fountains and drain them for the winter. I wasn't sure just when that happens but it's definitely begun. Yes, they have snow here in the winter months. There was still water in the Luxembourg Garden fountains yesterday.
Back to the apartment where we saw blue sky for the first time in days. We ate an early dinner before going back to the Metro for our evening adventure.
Took the Metro to Les Halle Station and it was a short walk through the tunnels to the exit that brought us out right in front of the very old and second largest church in Paris Saint Eustache Church. It has a massive pipe organ with eight thousand pipes. It is the largest pipe organ in France. They used it for the mass. But, prior to the mass there was an extremely well attended half hour organ concert on a new electronic organ by a guest organist.
He played for half an hour performing a selection of pieces by Gyorgy Ligeti and Bach, alternating between the two with no stops , only slight pauses. He read his music from an iPad and the page turner only had to tap the screen.
It was a delightful experience and a beautiful Mass. Unfortunately half of the music audience left before the mass began. Home by Metro and snacks on food still in the refrigerator.
Tomorrow we pack and clean up the apartment by eleven o'clock and then head out to the Ibis Hotel for the night. We can walk to the terminal from the hotel. Jim leaves on Tuesday morning for California and I'm leaving in the afternoon for one last week in Florida to visit family and friends before heading home to California on the 27th, just in time for Halloween. This will be my last post until my recap after I arrive in California. Thank you all for joining me on my journey these past three months.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Today was drizzly off and on but we left the apartment and took the Metro to St. Michels and walked to Luxembourg park. Full of Saturday morning joggers, Tai Chi exercisers, beautiful flower beds and small boys sailing their sailboats in the fountains.
We walked over to the chess tables but no games in progress. Too early in the day or just too cold. But a great day for a visit to this beautiful oasis in Paris.
Back to the apartment for lunch and then by 2 pm we were at the Fondation Louie Vuitton musee that we'd visited earlier in the week. This time we went inside. Very modern art but the building was why we were there and we really enjoyed it. An added plus was a great view of the eiffel tower. This is the first time during my many visits to Paris that I have not gone up the tower. Sorry to break my tradition but just wasn't on the list this trip.
By 3:30 pm we were on the train heading out of the city to the suburbs to visit our friends Nicolas and Maeliss and their children. A wonderful time except we missed seeing Lionel who is away for the weekend. This was the first time we met the youngest Lisenn; and Nine is fast becoming a young lady. Today Jim went with Nicolas to pick her up from her pony lessons. It's always an adventure to visit them.
Home before eight o'clock and tucked in early as we've a busy day tomorrow, our last full day in Paris on this trip.
Friday, October 16, 2015
We went out exploring some new places in the city of Paris today even though it was a dismal rainy day. Our last stop was near the Hotel de Ville (city hall) where they were passing out bags of fresh fruits and vegetables to anyone willing to stand in line. Not sure what it was all about as we didn't stop.
We'd taken the Metro to that stop because it was a block from the small park surrounding the Tour Saint Jacques. The tower is all that remains of the church that was on the original Camino route through Paris. Yes, people do walk through the city of Paris on their camino.
Jim was sure there was no office at the tower but humored my quest and we visited. Soon I discovered the tiny kiosk tucked up against the fence and sure enough the clerk smiled and said yes when he inquired about a stamp for his Camino credential book after stating that he was a pilgrim and had just completed his camino. Not sure who was more excited, Jim or the clerk! He spent about ten minutes with us explaining everything and gave Jim the last brochure he had in English before walking us over to the gate that has a shell mark and then carefully explaining to Jim about the statue of Saint Jacques on the top of the tower and the animals on the other corners that represent the apostles that wrote the gospels. These statues were installed in the 19th century when they erected a new tower to replace the old tower that was falling apart. This truly was the end of our Camino. Jim's book is now full.
Our other two adventures today took us to the 19th and the 12th arrondisements. Today we walked nearly four miles and most of it was inside of the metro tunnels as we traveled from one to another site.
Our first site in the Buttes section of the city's 19th arrondisement was the very new 280 million euro concert hall designed by Jean Nouvel in the Parc la Villette, the Philharmonie De Paris. It is currently hosting an exhibit by Marc Chagall. Nearby was the National Conservatorie of Dance and Music , an older concert hall and an even older theater. Surprisingly, in the center of all of this was a very new and large building called La Grande Halle. Appeared to be a shopping mall or distribution point. We couldn't get in so have no idea what is was.
Back to the Metro and with several metro changes arrived at the 12th arrondisements. At Bercy we found another building by Frank Gehry in a park. It is the Bercy La Cinematheque Francaise . Older but you could see his design. They are currently exhibiting old films by Martin Scorsese. Nearby is a very new Bercy Arena that had outside walls with grass on them...they were slanted but one still wonders how they trim the grass. The Parc has some unusual designs and water features and was full of golden colored trees.
From here to went back to the Metro to find Saint Jacques Tower before returning home for a late lunch when we discovered that Jim has lost one of his hearing aids. It's the ear that doesn't work so he never realized it was gone.
But he did enjoy his doggy bag from last night's dinner before taking a well earned nap.
Not sure how but we keep finding new things to visit each time we visit Paris. Keeps us young! Still wet out so we're in for the night. Bonne nuit
Yes, it's cold outside and we've had some over overcast days. But the crispness is causing the leaves to change colors and become crunchy under your feet as you walk with your hands deep in your pockets for warmth. Ocassionally you see a tourist in shorts with goosebumps from the cold, but for the most part the winter coats are out of the closets. I'm loving my purple hood on my fleese jacket under my windbreaker and my gloves that Jim brought with him from home for me.
On Thursday, yesterday, we enjoyed a day off, the first for Jim since he arrived in Spain. He's not used to my go, go, go pace.
He napped off and on all day. I took the laundry across the street to the laundromat and we now have all clean clothes for the rest of our trip.
Soon I was bored again and walked the three blocks to the grocery store and purchased what we'll need for the final four days. On Monday we will be leaving our little nest and return to the CDG Airport for the final night. Jim has an early morning flight and I leave just after noon on Tuesday.
We talked about going to the Lido to see the new American movie "Everest" that is in English with French subtitles. We learned several years ago to look for "VO" movies (version original) on long trips when we wanted to have a touch of home. But stayed in the apartment all day to rest Mr. Jim's weary bones.
About six o'clock we dressed as well as we could...I only have camino clothes with me...Jim had a pair of regular pants and shirt with him but only his tennis shoes. It was no longer sprinkling so with several layers of clothes and gloves we ventured to the Metro at seven o'clock to meet Debbie and her french friend for an eight o'clock dinner at a little hole in the wall restaurant in Montmartre. It was called Le Potager du Pere Thierry at 16 rue des Trois Freres. Fabulous dinner and reasonably priced. Jim had his favorite duck and I enjoyed my dinner also. And we enjoyed getting to know Debbie' friend. The restaurant only has about thirty seats or less so go right at eight o'clock when they open if you are in Paris.
It was nearly ten o'clock when we all headed back to the Metro for our short trip home. Jim doesn't eat late very well and asked for a "doggy bag" .... very shocking to the French. .it just isn't done. But the waitress spoke English and understood it was a problem with the stomach and lateness of the hour for the "old" man and wrapped his food in foil. So he came home with a comfortable stomach and delicious food to reheat in the microwave today.
And so ended another wonderful day in Paris. Also...I have finally connected on Facebook with one of my most faithful readers who has missed all the photos that are normally included in my blogs. So good to find you Leslie from Oregon.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
My morning started early as I left at 9 am to meet my new Camimo friend Debbie from Maine at Notre Dame Cathedrale for a day of touring Paris. She has not seen too much and asked if I'd join her for a day of exploring. Jim planned to do some of his own by going to visit the Gobelins Tapestry Musee and other places. He's also looking for places to get stamps for his Camino book.
Arrived early and walked straight into the cathedrale as there were no lines. Found that they had a stamp at the audio guide desk and they were happy to add it to my camino book. Jim arrived soon after and got his book stamped also. Then we toured the cathedrale to see the new improvements since we were last inside. There is a beautiful holy water font inside the front doors and on each side there is an engraving in different languages about welcoming travelers.
Debbie got caught in traffic caused by a broken water main and didn't arrive until 11 o'clock. At 10 am the bells started to toll and continued steady for half an hour. It was commerating something but I never discovered what.
When Debbie arrived we walked from the Cite Metro station towards the Louvre museum as I pointed out the famous sites along the way.
Inspected the walking bridge that has been damaged by the love locks..
Once they complete the repairs no one will be able to add new locks on the bridge railing.
From there we entered into the Louvre buildings. Stopped for photos at the large glass pyramid and then walked through to rue de Rivoli to enter into the Louvre Carousel shopping mall which is also an underground entrance to the Museum.
From there we walked down the center of the Tuilleries Gardens to the Concorde and the egyptian obelisk where we caught the metro for our visit to Montmartre. There we visited all of the sites after riding the funiculaire up the hill. Started to rain while we were there but it didn't last long. Ate a delicious lunch while we watched the artists.
Walked all the way down to Place Clichy to see the old windmills and the Moulin Rouge. From there we took the Metro to the Opera House and walked to the Galleries Lafayette to visit the stained glass dome and then the roof for fabulous views of Paris.
Soon it was after four and we said goodbye. I headed home and Debbie stayed to shop. Plans were made for dinner tomorrow night. A great day showing a new friend my favorite city.
Jim and I shared the bottle of champagne tonight that was a gift from our landlord. Nice addition to our simple dinner that we cooked in our apartment. It's raining outside right now.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Today we walked six miles in Paris visiting several sites. First we caught the metro to the west...almost to La Defense ..and walked into the Bois de Boulogne Park to see the Fondation Louis Vuitton musee designed by Frank Gehry. It's been called many things but it truly looks like a chrysalis; what is left after a caterpliers becomes a butterfly. Anxious to go back and see the inside later this week. It was closed today...mardi...which we were thinking was Monday. No, Monday is Lundi.
Back on the Metro to the Arc de Tromiphe stop and then walked down the Avenue Champs Elysees to Roosevelt where we got back on and rode to the St. Paul stop in the Marais to visit the Musee Carnavalet recently renovated. Beautifully restored it is the history of Paris and had always been free.
Walked through the Marais enjoying the ancient buildings, crossed the Seine River and strolled down the Ile St Louis pass the very first hotels that we stayed in for the first several times we visited Paris. Then across the bridge onto the Ile Cite and ate our late lunch in the park behind the Norte Dame Cathedrale.
Inspected the massive amounts of padlocks on a bridge as we passed a freezing bride and groom posing for wedding photos and then inspected the items for sale in the green boxes; primarily books, old posters and trinkets.
Back across the river at the front of the cathedrale and finally back to the Metro and home to the 18th arrondisement. It's so good to be exploring Paris again .
Monday, October 12, 2015
Up at the crack of dawn we headed for the Santiago Airport, first by taxi from the hotel to the bus station and then by bus to the airport. Once there we checked in and settled in to wait for boarding. We saw two french women who were waiting to check in and had their walking poles strapped to their backpacks. We used sign language as neither spoke the others language to tell them they needed to put them inside to check in. Jim ended up taking their poles apart for them so they would fit inside. Not sure who was happier, the French women or the spanish clerk who spoke English but no French. Jim was the hero of the day.
Then as we were about to board we met another pilgrim who had the exact same backpack as I did. She was surprised because she said you seldom see it outside of Maine. She is from Portland Maine. I explained that a neighbor purchased one while on the Aplachian Trail last year and that's how I discovered it. It's waterproof and extremely light. Like a large sack! We got together in Paris and rode the train from the airport into Paris together. We're getting together one day this week before we both leave Paris hopefully.
Our apartment is very tiny...I call it a postage stamp....but through Airbnb it is $48 per night. On the fifth floor with an elevator. Tiny balcony with a table and chairs to enjoy the view over the rooftops. We are in the 18th arrondisement. The owners live in the building, and although the area is definitely edgy, we feel very safe in the building. A large grocery store is around the corner and we stocked up for a few days, ate some dinner and then walked up to Sacre cour basicilia for a view over the city before calling it a day. We're enjoying our view this evening. And so ends another day in Paris as we enjoy a bottle of inexpensive French wine and chocolate that we brought from Spain.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Our last day in Santiago de Compostela was a wet one with intermittent rain showers. We managed to stay fairly dry. Slept in and had breakfast in the hotel about 9 am and by 11:15 we were on our way to the cathedral to see if we could find seats for the pilgrims Mass at noon. It was already packed and as we squeezed into the crowds Jim soon decided this was not for him so he was back out the door and exploring the city.
I decided to stay and after going to confession in Spanish. .. does that count ...I think so ... I could find Dutch, French and Spanish but no English priests. Then I looked around and found a spot along the wall where I could see the television and also have a backrest. Used my poncho for a seat cushion and sat back and did some people watching while I waited for Mass to begin. There had to be a dozen plus priests in the sanctury. The floor between me and the television was packed with standing people. But, the television was mounted high enough so that those of us lucky enough to have floor space near the wall could see. When it was time for communion I picked up my poncho and after communion found a better spot to film the swinging of the Botafumeiro as by this time I knew it was going to happen again.
Sure enough I was able to take another video but had people in front of me and I was much further away...so I have not posted it anywhere. Yesterday's film was definitely the best.
After Mass I found Jim and we walked over to the Parador Hotel to get their stamp in our book. Then continued to visit the city until it started to sprinkle again. Picked up some snacks and went back to the hotel to tackle the repacking of the big suitcase with our walking sticks that Jim had taken apart, my sleeping bag, Jim's extra shoes and most of his clothing for tomorrow's trip to Paris on Vueling Airlines.
About six o'clock we walked to a nearby restaurant for pizza and then another walk out to the edge of the old part of the city before returning for Vesper services at 7:30 pm at the Iglesia del Monasterio Benedictino de San Pelayo that is next to the cathedral. This was my third Vesper Service on the Camino.
What is Vesper Service? It is a series of night prayers that are sung many times in Gregorian Chant by monks and nuns. Tonight there were twenty nuns with the average age of probably forty-five to fifty. A beautiful way to end the camino. Buen camino. .. more after we get to Paris...we will be there until the 20th.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
We're back in Santiago de Compostela. We caught the 9:45 am bus right after breakfast and arrived at 11:15 am. It was the express bus. There were a dozen people who showed up but couldn't get on the bus as it was full. The rain began just as we were loading and continued off and on all day, never heavy and easy to get around between the showers.
We dropped our bags at the hotel and hurried over to the cathedral for the noon pilgrims mass. I immediately notice two things: 1) the Botafumeiro was on the rope and 2) there was a reserved section which was more than likely for the tour group who was paying the 300 or 400 euro expense for it to swing. (Not sure...have heard both figures.)
No seats so we found a stone step and then moved to a wood bench that was suddenly empty. Then I asked a guard if there were any empty seats anywhere... showing our pilgrim credentials. He took us through the ropes and indicated we could sit on the base of a large pillar that was about ten feet from the altar!
Wow...hard and cold seats but perfect for filming the swinging incense burner known as the Botafumeiro. We used our folded up ponchos to sit on and enjoyed the high mass with ten priests.
After communion...I was first in line and actually received a large pie shaped host that was part of the consecration . Soon the robed men came to release the ropes that were tied right next to Jim and we finally knew for sure that it was going to swing. The video I posted on Facebook and on YouTube are mine...one clip with no telescopic lens used...I was right there with tears streaming as the emotional impact hit all at once.
We have a lovely 3 star hotel about two minutes walk from the cathedral. Wifi is not too good because of the three foot thick walls but the Carris Casa da Troya Is a wonderful hotel for two nights.
Just after communion. I spotted a pilgrim from Chili that we met in O'Pedrouzo last Monday and he came over for a hug after mass and took a photo of us together.
We spent the rest of the day around the cathedral and visited the tomb of St James and also walked behind the altar to touch the statute of St. James and say a prayer of thanks for the safe journey we enjoyed for the past several months.
Dinner was around the corner and we enjoyed sangria and piayia and their much stronger wifi to put the video on youtube.
The Web address for the video on youtube if you didn't see it on facebook is here for you:
Copy and paste...and enjoy....
Friday, October 9, 2015
This was the day that we walked to the end of the earth as it was known when they thought the earth was flat. Now it's the official end of the Camino as a mile marker showing 0.00 km stands at the lighthouse.
The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for our walk to the lighthouse at Cabo Fisterra as it is sometimes spelled. It was 2.2 km from the village each way...about three miles round trip. Uphill going and downhill home. Sharp drop on one side and busy road with a barrier on the other side. Along the way we found our young German friend who I'd introduced Jim to on our first day. He had lots of time and has also gone slowly. He walked from Santiago to Finisterre in three days. We walked both ways to the lighthouse together.
When we reached the lighthouse we both used our poles and climbed down the steep rocks for photos. Coming home Jim purchased a small mile marker for the curio cabinet. We also got stamps for Finisterre in our books. Found a bagpipe player and did a short video.
Walked back into town and found a grocery store for snacks and lunch. Once back at the hotel...FYI...we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast before leaving this morning....we ate lunch saving half for tomorrow.
Jim decided to rest and I decided to see if I could find the road to the beach. It was easy...less than half a block and I found a nice path leading down so I tried it. In half a mile I was on a beautiful and nearly empty beach.
Waded in the Atlantic Ocean for a while and then headed back up the hill. When I arrived back at the hotel we decided to take the rest of our food to the beach at 6 pm and watch the sunset.
We were at the beach until the sun went down. Enjoyed the water and eating our dinner of bananas, french bread, sausage, potato chips and red wine. Dessert was a large bar of chocolate that we shared. A fun evening: "a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou"....Omar Khyyam...per Jim
Due to a storm coming in at midnight, the spectacular sunset of last night didn't happen but it was colorful and made a nice ending for our stay in Finisterre before we walked back up the hill to our hotel. Tomorrow we take the bus back to Santiago.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
We walked 4.4 miles today into Santiago which put me at 500.83 miles by my calculations using Map My Walk. It took us about two and a half hours with photo stops and a short breakfast break.
Link to Picasa Web Album: https://picasaweb.google.com/117895434014273629374/DayFiftySixOnTheCamino108?authuser=0&feat=directlink
We walked around the cathedral; I think the most emotional point was when I first saw the spires from a distance after entering the city...the reality grabbed me for a moment and then the excitement stepped forward and carried me about two inches above the ground the rest of the way to the cathedral.
We went straight to the official pilgrim office and stood in line for about an hour to receive our official Compostela; a beautiful document on parchment paper to frame with our stamp books commerating our journey.
Then the quest to find our hotel for Saturday and Sunday began. This is when we will go to mass and visit the city sites. Finally opened Navigator on the phone and found it that way. There we talked to the clerk at the desk to confirm that Jim's suitcase would be held there for two days until we returned. A quick visit to the ATM and then a taxi ride to the bus terminal where we purchased round trip tickets to go to Finisterre. This is a fishing village located at the most westerly tip of Spain on the Atlantic Ocean and for many years was considered "the end of the earth"... as they thought the earth was flat.
Three hours later we arrived and found our hotel a kilometer up the hill with wonderful views of the water. Tomorrow we plan to walk to the very tip where there is a lighthouse. We hear it is only a few miles. We'll let you know tomorrow. Buen camino
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Link to Picasa Web Album: https://picasaweb.google.com/117895434014273629374/DayFiftyFiveOnTheCamino107?authuser=0&feat=directlink
Before coming to the hotel we walked to Monte dei Gozo to visit the small chapel of Capilla San Marcos that sits on the bluff overlooking the city. And the huge moumument that celebrates the visits of Pope John Paul II and St. Francis, as well as the thousands of pilgrims that walk from all corners of Europe. It can be seen for miles. There is also a seminary that is now a 400 bed albergue to help accommodate the huge number of pilgrims that descend on Santiago each year at this location..
Thanks again to the many people who read these journals and walked in spirit with me over this very special journey for me. I've so enjoyed the comments that many of you have taken the time to write. They've given me both spiritual and physical strength to get up each morning and walk. Buen camino
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Link to Picasa Web Album: https://picasaweb.google.com/117895434014273629374/DayFiftyFourOnTheCamino106?authuser=0&feat=directlink
Our day had some very steep climbs as we went up and down the hills. But the trail for the most part was a country road partially dirt and very old crumbling asphalt that kept the huge puddles to a minumum. A shade over seven miles in just under four hours.
Along the way we stopped once for a stamp in our book and a shorter one for Jim to construct a cross from twigs to add to the fence that surrounds the Santiago Airport. Adding crosses to fences along the Camino is a very common way of praying. I had not realize that Jim had not seen this before.
I played tag with my Shadow all day as the sun peeked out for not quite long enough to get a photo. I finally got tired of trying to catch her so finally gave up the chase. Jim kept taking his rain poncho off and on but other than the hat I kept mine on.
While I was waiting for facebook to upload today's photo....very slow wifi here...I met a lovely young lady from California. She had to go further as the Casa is full, and she had a bad knee. I was able to give her my knee brace and a card. I told her if she'd contact me before the 12th, maybe we could arrange to share a taxi to the airport depending on our flights. She flies home that day and we go to Paris. Never know...may work out.
Our "apartment" here at the Casa De Amancio has a mini kitchen but we've no food to cook. We could hike two km back to town to the store...but me thinks we'll wait for dinner at eight o'clock. Sounds good to me. Buen camino