Spain Series: Cityscapes and Countrysides

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One of the great peaks we climbed in two weeks. The Alto de Perdon can be seen in the movie about the Camino. The view and cool breeze from the top was fantastic.

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Many of the large cities took pride in creating their own spin on the shell way marker. These in Estella were quite fun to walk beside, if a little overkill in frequency.
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When we began hiking we would look ahead and pick a hill we thought we would be climbing soon. Of course, there were a few hills I let out a sigh as we passed because I enjoyed the scenes and didn’t have to climb each one.

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There was a large recreational park we hiked through at the edge of Logroño and it was a breath of fresh air after so much city slogging. We passed many families fishing off the bridge, hiking, biking together, and having a good ole barbeque.
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I almost forgot to take a picture of these super freaky trees. Near as I can tell, they are sycamores, but they have been cut and trained so many ways they look a little sad and sparse. In some cities, they trained them to grow across the sidewalk into an arbor. Eerie considering how towering and majestic these big water loving trees can grow.
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This town square was packed the night before with children and adults. Only hikers and those who had to work were up before 9AM. Strangely quiet in the city, but it made breakfast at the cafe quite nice.
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There were several areas with a big shade tree and wide open, super green field. Every once in a while my friend and I would stop at a place of beauty like this and say “Holy cow! We’re in Spain!”
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Looking down at the little French border town of St Jean Pied de Port. From this perspective it looked like someone’s dollhouse collection.

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When we hiked through wine country we saw grapes as often as you’d see tobacco, corn and beans here in Kentucky.
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France had funny little streets. Old, old towns that were used more bt horses and walkers than the cars that zoom down them today. You had to jump on someone’s front stoop if two cars tried to pass each other.

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Wine country was fun. I was thankful for the wide open fields and the promise of good local wine at dinner each night.
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I must say we didn’t didn’t pass nearly so many of these olive trees nor almond trees (not pictured) but when we did they were always interesting. Olive trees are fairly squat and wide–likely trained that way as well. Almond trees looked similar to peach trees.

Independence Day

Did everyone have a safe and fun Fourth of July?

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It poured rain all day in south central Kentucky, but that didn’t stop many folks from celebrating our nation’s birthday.

Cutting up with friends from work over a couple of beers/or/glasses of wine was a perfect way for me to ring in the holiday. The cheddar dogs and pineapple angel food cake didn’t hurt either.

You remember that recipe?
Pineapple angel food cake is easy!
One box of angel food cake
One large can of pineapple

Bake 350° for 30 minutes 
And devour!

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Been crafting lately too. I made coasters using the bottle caps I have been collecting. Now I just need a cute lil coffee table to stack them on.

Have a fantastic 5th of July!

Spain Series: Locals

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I hope you realize I did not wander around taking tons of photos of the locals. I would be severely creeped out if people took photos of me at cafes or chilling in my hometown.

Honestly, we didn’t have too much interaction with the locals. While on trail we ran into mostly international visitors, just like us, and even some of the hospiteleros (hostel hosts) were international.

While at the Hostel Mariella we made fast friends with the hospiteleros. We walked in to get our beds for the night and they got a phone call before we finished checking in 
A pilgrim was trying to make reservations for the following night, but only spoke English.
The host knew I spoke English and asked me for help.

It turned out to be an interesting challenge because the person I was talking to did not speak English as their first language. With my choppy Spanish and the help of Yan (who translated my fumbling) the man made his complicated reservation.

From that point on, Fernando kept teasing me that I was a hospitelera and he rewarded me with an ice cold coke. Having just gotten off trail this was a major treat.

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I was a little bit exciteut my cola, if you can’t tell.
Getting back to the topic at hand…

Because I didn’t have tons of interaction or fluent Spanish, I am still in the dark about how the Spaniards and Basques perceived us pilgrims.
Those that ran shops, restaurants and hostels were welcoming and forgiving of poor language skills. That does make sense because their livelihood comes from the frequent pilgrims.

The villages with older communities were interesting to me. The older generations were kind and completely unfazed by the fact that all towns were built on hills and that their town’s population fluctuated with each passing pilgrim.

The one day that Jess and I took a nap then got off course of our pilgrimage we talked to a couple of locals that weren’t used to hikers. One man had us all turned around so we kept going until we ran into a woman who was most helpful, but spoke no English.

I did my best to follow directions and she must have been a saint we happened to catch sweeping her front stoop. She gave directions over and over until I got it and even showed me stairs when she used the word unfamiliar to me.

To speak very generally, the people there were kind and forgiving to those poor souls wearing a Pilgrim’s shell on their backpack.