El Camino

Fr. Blau walks the Camino

The El Camino de Santiago
Photo from Ideas Peregrinas

Fr. Thomas Blau, O.P. is walking the Camino de Santiago this fall.  Translated, it means "The Way of St. James". It is a pilgrimage leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where the remains of St. James are buried.

The Path is 500 miles long and travels through Spain's 15 regions. Over 300,000 pilgims make the journey each year and Father Thomas is among them this fall. It should take between 5 - 6 weeks to complete.

Below are Father's updates for everyone as he makes his way across the countryside.

Update August 7, 2019

Hey all! I finished the first stage today, 28km hike. I am in Roncevalles, Spain. Not much talking on the trail.

Food: Sub Sandwiches! They love them.

Nugget: I packed too much. This showed me that we all could use a purge of things once in a while.

790 km to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
790 km to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Update August 8, 2019

This is a really old bridge before Pamplona
This is a really old bridge before Pamplona

Update August 9, 2019

In Pamplona. Easier walk today. It helps to see the difference between mountains, hills and mere bumps in the road of life.

Food wise - cold water is Really Good

Getting ready to tackle the road today
Getting ready to tackle the road today
Here I am

Update August 10, 2019

Got to Puente al Reina. Met a traveling French family. Their uncle was very political - to the point of anger (at the U.S.).

Food: Had refreshing drink (half wine/half lemonade over ice), fried mashed potato blobs (call "pom freet").

A lot of chances to help folks on the path.

Don't get bent in anger on what is out of your control.

A high point on the trail
A high point on the trail
Preparing to Concelebrate Mass
Getting ready to concelebrate mass. Each night is a pilgrims mass that I try to attend (feet permitting).

Update August 11, 2019

These are the shoes of all the pilgrims at a hostel/albergue
These are the shoes of all the pilgrims at a hostel/albergue

Update (around) August 12, 2019

Made it to Estella!

Estella Spain
Estella Spain

Update August 14, 2019

Made it to Navarrete. Long day - the equivalent of 3 10k races run from 5:00am to 3:00pm.

Had a quick dinner - sandwich, water, and a beer.

The long walk seemed shorter because a few of us talked. - "Solved the worlds' problems" along the way.

Nugget: It's a good idea if life to handle life's problems together. God probably made us that way.

Amazingly the "two 10k races" I have tomorrow seems like an easy day!

One man was carrying over 100lbs. His dog was really a wolf

A Funny Story

I left my dial soap at the last albergue. So with some of the travelers I went to a store/super Mercado. I asked one guy, Juo, from Portugal, which soap is which - one for body, the other for clothes. He said that the light one is for body/the darker one for clothes.

We had a few hours more walk so we were separated - his rate is very fast. Just as I got ready to go into the shower, he found me and said, "Padre Tomas! Padre Tomas! - I'm so glad I found you! Reverse It. My mother always got it wrong and washed us with laundry soap all the time! I just figured it out! The lighter one is for the body!!" He had been thinking it over for the last couple of hours. We laughed out loud.

Update August 15, 2019

This is a rest station on the Camino. They sell water, juice, fruit, etc. They are placed after some long climbs and are a lifesaver.

Update (around) August 16, 2019

Some pictures today.  

An albergue in Najera. Fits about 100 people.
An albergue in Najera. Fits about 100 people.
Another oasis on the Camino
Another oasis on the Camino
This is a water fount on the Camino. They are found all over. A real lifesaver. In hot weather we can lose a half-liter an hour.
I made it to Ligrono!

Update August 17, 2019

I'm approaching Burgos. All is well and I'm hitting 30k per day. I'll take a day off soon.

Morning Sunrise
Morning Sunrise this morning.
15 mins later
15 minutes later.
Walking by an old Church
Walking by an old Church
At Belorado! I love our Faith! St. Felicious holding his own head!
St. Lorenzo
St. Lorenzo with a modified grill.
My dinner. Pork on a stick and goat cheese on a cracker.
The Street I took to the Chocolatiers
The street I took to the chocolatiers
My Dessert, That is a cup of melted Chocolate!
My Dessert, That is a cup of melted Chocolate!

Update August 18, 2019

In Burgos, Spain now, a busy bustling city. The Cathedral is fantastic.

Walked with Boy Scouts from France. After getting settled a few of us went to explore the city.

We will enter an area tomorrow that is flat, mostly earth paths, and hot. We'll see how the feet do.

This was my breakfast today.
Each day after hiking I get cleaned up. Then I do laundry. This is my laundry drying in the sun.
The Hostel/alberque where I stayed today.
The Hostel/alberque where I stayed today.

The Churches

The churches over here are fantastic. Many of the baroque style. Someone asked me why we/they made churches like this - why not sell it all and give the money to the poor? I told him that this was a great idea--and we should start with the Louvre and the Prada and the NY Metropolitan museums!  Let's sell all that and give it to the poor! Then the Eiffel Tower can be sold for scrap and the money given to th poor. 

Unless someone tells me why we don't see these things first, I don't want to hear about selling the commonly enjoyed beauty of these open churches.

We quickly came up with reasons to keep things that inspire both rich and poor and raise our hearts to God. I've been to all these places--the churches are free, the Vatican costs 10 Euros and the Prada, 40 Euros.

Pictures: A baroque style church in Navarette. It's the local parish for the church!

Update August 19, 2019

Long day today. 30km, that is three 10k races!

Had paella tonight and it was very tasty.

My short nap turned into a long sleep of 3 hours.

My 6am breakfast. The "White" shirt is SPF 70 and keeps me from getting fried. 2 pairs of socks--one inner and one wool outer.
My Lunch today.
My Lunch today.
My bear fuzz is increasing
My bear fuzz is increasing
Coming up on a town in the distance.

Update August 20, 2019

Pictures and updates from Father today.

This is the path going into a harsh/dry area called la Maceta after Burgos. It was wonderfully cloudy all day!

Path Path
From the distance you can't see anything, but an entire town was hidden between two hills.

Path Path Path
The paths in the towns and country. these were walked by Roman Soldiers--They are that old.

Me: After climbing a "mule-killer" mountain, and the rewarding sites from there.

You can do this by Horse?! NO ONE told me!

A 14th century church. The reredos and Ceilings are works of art.

Viewing the road yet to travel into a valley. Don't look too far ahead--the next step is the only next option!

Update August 21, 2019

Two Old Hikers right here

Breakfast after walking 10k. An open face ham/cheese/tomato sandwich. With Cafe w/Milk

Sunflowers to the horizon

Arrived at Carrion in time for exposition. Stayed with the Poor Clares that evening.

A 400 Year old Crucifix

Dinner was Catalonese Soup, Eggs with Prosciutto

Nicest place to stay yet. Only 3 beds in a room! A the Poor Clares in Carrion. (Not the same as in English - "dead meat town")

Coming up on Halfway!

Update August 22, 2019

Long walk today on Roman Roads. Got to Terradillos de los Templarios. Small town of about 200 totally dependent on the business of the Camino (hostels, restaurants, pubs). The last line in the guidebook in the pic says I am at the halfway point!! Whoo hoo!

Halfway point!

Update August 24, 2019

Fork in the Road

I had a fork in the road today. One, go straight to the next city (Bercionis) or two, follow the path of Augustus Caesar and Gen. Trajan of the Romans in 19BC. Hot, no shade, no breaks and very dusty. The Romans were tough folk.

My feet are tired as dogs.

Update #2 August 24, 2019

A park in the little village on the "Via Romana" - an old roman road - showing how the roads, aqueducts, and mile marker pillars were used by the romans.

This village had its parish festival. Hundreds of people of all generations showed up and danced from about 8pm to 12. At 12 midnight a rock band took their place. They were still going strong when I began a long day at 5am. Those foam earplugs are great!!


Update August 25, 2019

I got to Leon! The great cathedral at 8:00am. It's in a huge plaza. On Sundays at about 1pm this will be crowded with people!

Breakfast, about 9:00am after a few kilometers done.

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