Monday, August 22, 2016

Links to photos for London

Hopefully this will take you to the photos that I've downloaded from our six days in London.

They are divided by days:

August 17th our first day:

August 18th, Hampton Court Palace:

August 19th, Buckingham Palace:

August 20th, Portobello Road & V&A Museum:

August 21st, Ben Franklin Home, The Shard:

This is a whole new system from Picasa and Google so I hope it works for you....


Three Days of adventures in London

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Rain and sunshine today. We left the house early today after sharing breakfast with a young couple who arrived last night from Australia and our Japanese lady who has stayed here for five years during her visits to London. We ventured to the famous Saturday Markets at Portobello Road. Walked out of the Underground to pouring rain!  We had fun finding all of film locations for the movie "Notting Hill".. some were easier than others but after the rain stopped we managed to find all three that were listed in the Rick Steves Tour Book.  There were two different shops, one used for the outside shots of the bookstore and the other for the interiors.  The "blue door" was used to indicate the home of Hugh Grant but the interiors were filmed in a studio.   We  passed on the sales up and down the road, but did enjoy walking inside several of the shops.  There was a good one on old maps but we have enough of those!  After getting instructions from the phone; we soon found ourselves on the bus to V&A Museum.  

We spent three hours wandering the massive exhibits.  One of my favorites hangs from the ceiling over the information desk as you walk into the main door; the Dale Chihuly chandelier.   There were rooms so full of china that it was in cabinets reaching to the ceiling of the tall rooms.  I looked and looked for a five fingered vase but couldn't find one.  Our friend Shari collects them and we always search the museums for one.  Generally, we find at least one.   One room was under restoration but we were able to look down into it from the higher floor and had a wonderful view of the Trajan's Column (split in half because of the height) and the "door of Glory" from the interior of St. James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.   Both recreations of the actual but wonderfully created.   

We rode the tube back to Victoria Station and then searched all over for Westminster Cathedral to check Mass times for tomorrow...we knew it was in the area as we'd seen it yesterday.  Finally rounded the right corner using our google maps and found it.  The area is under massive construction as they enlarge Victoria Station and very confusing.  After a short visit and a walk through the Holy Door for the Year of Mercy; we ended in the Willow Walk Pub for beer and then decided to also stay for dinner.   It never rained hard enough to open the umbrellas for the rest of the day.

Sunday, September 21st, 2016

Sunday morning breakfast then off to the bus in our Sunday best for the 10:30 am high mass at Westminster Cathedral (Catholic) not the abbey. Four priest, a beautiful organ and a cantor that sang the Latin like an angel.  Bus #24 took us from our front door to the door of the church!

Outside, after mass, we checked our planned route and went towards the bus....oops....suddenly we lost each other....I was waiting at the crosswalk and Jim was on the wrong bus. Thank goodness for texting! Afterwards we caught the bus 24 again and continued to Trafalgar Square. There we jumped off and walked the short block to the only remaining building in the world where Benjamin Franklin lived. He was there in late life for sixteen years, trying to negotiate an agreement regarding taxes between the colonies and Britain.  He worked on many of his discoveries while he lived there. This was our first use of our National Trust annual pass that we purchased before leaving home. It was a 40 minute tour that was informative and well executed.   Jim remembers that one of the first major exhibits when he became a docent for Bowers was a Benjamin Franklin exhibit.  He said the photo was for the girls at Bowers.

Back over to Trafalgar square and into the National Gallery for an hour and a half of museum time for Jim. I had fun shopping in the gift shop. Soon he was back, we shared our banana from breakfast and he went to find a trashcan. Suddenly a guard was bringing him back...he missed a small step and had fallen.  His knee hurt a bit but otherwise he seemed fine.  Embarrassed but not hurt, soon we were on our way to the Tube.   As we got on .... Jim tangled with a stroller and got caught in the closing doors....I was able to pull them apart and he got in.  As we got off several people stopped to ask if he was okay...that was nice!   That was the last mishap of the day. 

Soon we were at The Shard...located at Tower Bridge...95 stories high.  When we had dinner at Shakespeare's Pub on Friday evening, we met a nice young man named Damian,  who had been raised in Denver Colorado and returned home to England to attend Cambridge University.  He has stayed in England and he highly recommended we go to The Shard for a drink and enjoy the views.  Better than riding the London Eye, he said.  And, Jim doesn't like the slow pace of the Eye which does one loop stopping regularly for you to enjoy the views.   We went to the bar on floor 52 and enjoyed drinks, some food and a fantastic view. Pricey, but we'll worth it. No causal clothing allowed (we were in our Sunday best....I was a bit worried about the small backpack but they ignored it); and a minimum of 30 GBP per person in food and/or drink.  We probably should have asked for tea on the 32nd floor but were not sure of how to do that so followed the staff lead and went to the 52nd.   But we were very happy with our decision and Jim enjoyed a glass of beer with fois gras on toast and I had wine with a three cheese selection.  This was our dinner plus the cheeseburgers that we picked up at McDonalds on the way home!  We had a small table in the corner which gave us fantastic views in each direction.  Of course, my phone died as soon as we arrived!  It is also my camera.  Fortunately we each carry a small power pac to recharge when this happens.  So, I had to wait a bit but did take many great views of the Thames River, London Tower, City Hall, and the Tower Bridge which were below us along with the Lipstick building and many others.

And so we ended another great day and the rain began a block from home. And we passed Big Ben, Ten Downing Street and Westminster Abbey twice on our trips by bus today.  Took some nice photos from the moving bus for our memories.

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Today is a rest day.  Jim woke during the night and found that he could not put weight on his knee; yes the one that he'd fallen on at the Museum.  He put the knee brace on (we always travel with one and also a folding cane for these occasions), elevated it, took some Motrin and went back to sleep.

This morning Mario fixed him a tray for breakfast and carried it up the two flights of stairs for me.  I enjoyed breakfast with a young couple from Shanghai, China.   Their English was relatively good and they spoke beautiful French having lived in France for eight years.  He is in the design business and we talked about my hometown of Columbus, Indiana when he started talking about the architects of the various buildings they were visiting in London.  He seemed impressed?   They have yet to visit the United States.  Columbus is well known for having a number of buildings designed by many different famous architects.  

Today we'd planned to visit St. Paul's Cathedral, walk the Tower Bridge, visit the new city hall with the glass spiral walls, the British Museum, Parliament and Westminster Abbey.   They will have to wait for another trip.  Other than Parliament, I have toured all of the others before, a few would have been new for Jim.

Tomorrow we head back to Gatwick Airport to pickup our automobile and then drive to Oxford for our next home.  We will be there for nine nights as we explore the areas north of London that we want to see; many of them for the second time.   This will also include our day at Highclere Castle where they filmed Downton Abbey; the reason for this adventure!

Only a day of rest will tell how well Jim will walk.  We plan to attempt to walk to the Pub next door for dinner this evening.  So glad we have the wonderful window to look out at the trees and the sky from our bed today.  The prediction was for a day of rain...but the sun is shining brightly!  At our ages, a day off is not all that bad of an ideal!    I will attempt to download some of the photos to the computer and if successful, I will add a link for you on the blog. 

And so until next time.....

Friday, August 19, 2016


We're starting our third day here in London.  I've been posting daily on Facebook and if you have access you'll find lots of photos and news of our adventure every day.  It's easy to post on Facebook and the photos are already in my phone.  But for those who only have the computer for access to our trip; I promise to post every few days.

Today we're taking a late start as our tickets for Buckingham Palace begin at 1 pm; and Mr. Jim needs a rest up morning.  Expecting rain today but so far only a few light sprinkles.

This adventure began early last spring as we watched the final program of Downton may remember we tried to visit Highclere Castle where it was filmed in 2015 during our visit but only got as far as the locked gate.   After the show ended, Jim asked "if I'd like him to try to get some tickets?"  I said "sure" knowing that it was not a likely possibility.  Within fifteen minutes he was back to proudly announce that he had secured "TWO TICKETS FOR AUGUST 31ST" !  And so, our planning began for a summertime adventure in England.  Never realizing that we would be putting our home of twenty plus years on the market at the beginning of the summer!

We decided to stay within England, spend a week in London and then the balance of the stay in four additional locations:  Oxford, Salisbury, Brighton Beach and Leeds Castle; all within the southern part of England.  Using AirBnB we contracted with private parties to rent two different rooms with private baths and three private cottages.   We rented a car for the time after London.

Once the basics were taken care of, life continued in Yorba Linda.  Before leaving on a month long drive across the USA to Florida; we decided to put our home on the market when we returned.  If it didn't sell prior to our trip; we'd lock the door and go, deciding what to do when we returned from England.  We also started exploring places to move to as Jim wanted to keep a home in the general area.  We considered the mountains but didn't like the drive up the hill to Lake Arrowhead.  We fell in love with a new complex in Brea; only five miles from East Lake.  It is called La Floresta and is a complete development similar to East Lake.   When finished it will have attached and detached single family homes, condominiums, apartments and three areas for senior citizens along with a long term care facilities for the elderly.  Plus, a fabulous shopping center that is a level two block walk from our unit.  We are in escrow for completion in late February of a 1200 sq ft, single level on the third floor with a common elevator.  No Stairs!  They are called Stacked Flats.  Our first brand new home in 56 years of marriage.   Our house on the lake sold in July and closed escrow on August 10th.  We left for England on August 16th.   Our home away from home will be with Jim's sister Barbara in Newport Beach. 

We scheduled our travel with a new airlines called WOW Airlines; an Iceland company that just began flights out of LAX in June.  A basic, no frills airlines, but the price was fantastic.  Seating is all one class, no entertainment and you purchase any food or drinks you want.  It was eight hours to Iceland, all flights stop there; and another three hours to Gatwick Airport south of London.   We rather enjoyed the experience but will pack more food for the trip is very expensive on the airplane.

Arrived in England at 10 am ;and after a meal, where we shared a table with a gentleman from South Africia; we purchased our Oyster Pass (used for buses and trains) and took the train rather than the bus which would have required us to wait another two hours before leaving the airport.  Arrived in Victoria Station and caught the #24 Bus to our first rental.  Oops....the stop we needed was closed and we got out at the previous stop....had to walk for about a mile pulling our luggage.  The bus stop we wanted was directly in front of our unit!  Oh laid plans.  It was a very hot day and we were very happy when we located our lodgings with the assistance of the google maps on the cell phone.

Our cell phones are T-Mobile and the plan gives us unlimited data and texting plus twenty cents a minute for phone if on wifi.   This plan is no longer available we hear; but so far has worked in Europe for us beautifully for two years.  So nice not to deal with sim card changes.  I did notice that the screen on my phone has a major crack but it is under the glass cover and I can't feel it and it doesn't seem to affect the phone performance so have decided to wait until after the trip to get it replaced.  I found it the night before we were scheduled to leave.  So far so good.

Our first six nights in London are in a small private B&B in a private home.  Three in-suite rooms including a full English Breakfast each morning.  We are located on Grosvenor Road between the Vauxhall and Chelsea Bridges on the River Thames.  The back of the house overlooks the river and that is where our beautiful room is located on the third floor...two flights of stairs...a bit noisy from the traffic but delightful for the view.  

We relaxed a bit on that first day and then after an early dinner at the King William IV Pub just two lots down; we walked down to the Chelsea Bridge and back before calling it a day.  We both had a bit of jet lag.  I'd slept well on the airplane but Jim had little sleep except for the final three hours.

August 18th:   Our first full day in London; after a filling English Breakfast...juice, coffee & chocolate for Jim, cereal, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, toast and if we wanted fruit or yogurt.   I took a banana with me and we were out the door to walk to the Tate Museum, about half a mile down the river.  Enjoyed the large collection of Turner paintings and many others.  Then off to the Vauxhall Train Station, a two block walk from the museum; where we caught the train for a half hour ride to the Hampton Court Palace on the Thames River.  

Jim was thrilled with the unexpected gallery of the Queens paintings within the palace.  She owns the largest private collection of paintings in the world and they are distributed in thirteen private and public residences for personal enjoyment and for the public enjoyment also.  We saw Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Dyke and other paintings by famous artists.  The rooms were restored and appeared very authentic.   This palace was originally built by Cardinal Woolsey and given to King Henry VIII when he showed envy of his castle.  Elizabeth I grew up in this palace.  The palace sits in a spacious park with fabulous gardens and trees that were trimmed to perfection shaped as cones.  There were fountains, waterways for boating, a fun park for children, a rose garden and a Maze which I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost inside of while Jim enjoyed a break sitting in the rose garden.   We also saw the inside tennis courts which are still enjoyed by royalty today.  

It was nearly five o'clock when we started our journey back to London.  We'd planned to take a boat back to town but had missed the only one that went directly to where we wanted to go.  So we got back on the train.  We discovered that we'd overstepped our limits on the Oyster card that we'd purchased as a zone one and two only, one week pass.  Oops...had to put a bit more money on the cards to cover the fact that we'd traveled to zone six!

Walking home we stopped at the Grosvenor Pub about four blocks from home for another delicious dinner.  Jim had a Sheppard's Pie and I had Beer Battered Fish & Chips also with a tall glass of lager beer.  We shared a brownie and ice cream for dessert before walking the rest of the way home.

In through the garden gate to be greeted by our hostess Carole who wanted to hear the details of our days adventure before we climbed the stairs to our beautiful room.

August 19th:   This morning it is raining lightly and we're preparing for our trip to Buckingham Palace for the Royal Tour scheduled to start at one o'clock.  We purchased our tickets before leaving home for this event that is only possible in August and September when the Queen is on vacation.  We're taking our umbrellas and catching the #24 bus to Victoria Station and will walk from there to the palace.  Hope you're enjoying our trip up to now. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 Christmas Boat Parade in East Lake Shores

Below is a slideshow of the boat parade on December 12th here on our little 15 acre lake.   An annual event that gets better each year!


Saturday, October 31, 2015


Hello my friends and family that have checked in to see if I've made it home.  Yes, after a week in Paris and another week in Florida (visiting family and friends) I'm home and slowly putting life back into gear.   I you read my blog on Trail Journals, you will find this a duplicate.  It's a busy time and I wanted to touch basis with everyone so have used the same on both.  Thanks again for following my journey and until next time...Buen Camino

Am I glad that I walked the Camino?  YES, and would I do it again, YES.  It was a unique experience and brought me so much more that I ever expected.  At the ripe age of seventy-seven in December, many thought I was too old to take this journey by myself.  But, there were many more older than myself who were slowly making their way across Northern Spain in quest of a variety of solutions to problems and or just learning new things about themselves and others.

I had many Camino angels that helped me along the way.  Some just stopped on the trail to inquire if I was okay and others took time to spend a day or several days walking at my slower pace.  I was fortunate to be a Camino angel to others occasionally but was generally on the receiving end most of the time.

My longest day was 17 miles and one other at 16 miles but for the most part I walked from five to ten miles a day.  Time was my friend and I took fifty six days to walk from St. Jean PdP to Santiago.  Took the bus to Finisterre at the end of the journey.   I stayed in albergues for the most part and that is where I met the most people and enjoyed their company.  There were a few that I was fortunate to meet over and over at various times during my journey.

I had my backpack transported for nineteen days during the journey and these days allowed me to gain in strength and finally to carry it on my back for the last thirty-seven days with no problems.  I had carried it for the first eight days prior to starting the transport.  And, I didn't get rid of anything...yes I did have things I didn't need but didn't want to leave them behind.

Cost was probably about thirty Euros a day; I haven't sat down yet to produce a good figure but the bed was five to ten euros a night, dinner was ten euros and I usually ate one other meal a day.  The transport ranged from 5 to 7 euros each day.

Again....if you're considering will meet many new friends on the Camino, feel better about yourself; and have a better understand of your life and future when you finish. 

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.
Buen Camimo

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.
Au revoir

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 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 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.