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 26, 2019

I've been making good time on the trail. My traveling companions are multi-national: Korea, Taiwan, Portugal, and Ireland. With Spanish, English, and pointing we can always carry on a good conversation. Often it is about our Faith and/or solving the world's problems.

A Nugget: Time goes so much faster in walking when we do it with someone and keep each other from thinking only about the pains of the Camino. Often we look up and are surprised at how far we've come. Same in life, I think.

Saw this today around 7:00am.

 A 15th Century bridge that I crossed over in what would become a 30k day. Now it is a jousting and knight fighting area! Where is Father Hayes!

I went into this store, picked out the bread, type of cheese and meat and the owner made a sub sandwich right there.

 Looking from the trail towards Austorga, Spain. It was a relief to see.

Picture out the window from my room and the next one  from the Laundry room.

Update #2 August 26, 2019

My Dinner, a "Kebab" - lamb meat, no stick.

My hiking crew at dinner. Five nations represented.

Update August 27, 2019

The hostel I stayed in and the general floor plan. I left the place at about 6:00am.

My goal for the day was to make it to the white line on the mountain ahead. I got there in a few hours. This is a pretty typical path.

The inside of a nondescript church we walked into today. It is really amazing to see such beauty in what is basically just a parish church.

How is the Church doing here? Good question. But a good sign is this poster in a pub. "John Paul the Great" it says. That's not too bad! Say a prayer for the Church in Spain today!

Update August 28, 2019

In my guidebook there are these 3 pages of planned walks. I have completed them. 27 steps of this Camino. 9 more to go until Santiago!

Sunrise at Cruz de Ferro

Here is an important place on the Camino - La Cruz De Ferro. People on the Camino put a stone there - to signify some meaningful thing. Look at that pile after centuries!

Inside the albergue where I am staying for one night. Very clean and orderly.

Small Parish Church

Check out this small parish church. Click on the images to see them zoomed in.

Update August 29, 2019

You can tap or click images to see a larger version.

My mug after 3 weeks.

Two mountain scenes that I saw this morning. This is a common vista.

As I left Molinaseca I had to walk out of the city. Here is one winding road that I followed. It hasn't changed much in 300 years.

Another nondescript church with an absolute treasure of art in it. Look at that "silver" altar piece.

 At lunch I found a little hole in the wall church. The carving is all natural wood with no gilt painting. Great craftsmanship.

Met Fr Mario from Tx. Doing a 10k pilgrimage to a few churches.

Lunch. Korean Raman noodles, kimchi, lots of water.

My bowl after lunch. I didn't like it one bit!

Something strange happened last night to today. Yesterday afternoon my ankle seized up. The pain was really bad. So I dropped out of the group I was traveling with and took care of it (ibuprofen, stretches, an ice bath). The others went on to another hostel. Today it was fine and I caught up with them. This afternoon we came to a new hostel. One of that group had evidence of bedbugs and was excluded from the hostel! Two people from France had the same problem - they also stayed at that same hostel the night before. I dodged the bugs and subsequent hassles because my foot freezing up. In hindsight I think my guardian angel knew about the bedbugs and stomped on my foot to keep me from going there! That momentary pain was actually allowed and kept me from getting chowed! How often people get angry with God for every pain - (how could you let this happen?! We yell). When in reality if we give it time to work it out we'd see something awesome!

Update August 30, 2019

KoThis is Ko. We can't pronounce his South Korean name so we just used "Ko". He is an engineer, multiple belts in martial arts, and has been hiking from Oslo to Santiago. His morning breakfast here (and often) is beer and pastries. He is quite a guy. He stopped his Camino because a fellow Korean tore a muscle in his calf and needs to go home to Korea. He needs help. So Ko is going with him. It's a great example of being a "foul weather" friend: the kind we can call on when things go bad, not only when things are good. Pray that he deepen in his faith in the True Friend in tough times, Jesus Christ.

Entrance to a 14th century small church. (Click/Tap images for larger view)

Another Church Altar.

I made it to O Cebreiro - the last high point on the Camino. I'm within 170kms from Santiago. Tough day on the trail. Heat, blazing sun, 3miles of steady incline up (and up and up) and I ran out of water for about an hour. But I got there wooohooo

Update August 31, 2019

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Huge monument to peregrines/pilgrims . These are in every town.

 Two shots at an oasis after a particularly hard climb. We are above the clouds!! They call the mountain tops "islands that come and go daily".

This cracked me up. We've seen sheep, cow, and goat herders. Today I saw a dog herder. She had 6 dogs - I got 2 in the shot.

Update September 1, 2019 - 2 days rest

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Started out a great day. My ankle was sore but started to register real pain after a few miles. I "read the signs" and decided to cut the day short. Only 10k/6miles and I'm done for the day. This is the garden of the hostel I'll stay at for 2days.

Nice Flowers in the Garden.

The offending ankle. I'll stay off it for about 48 hours. They have ice bags also. Ice/heat for a day.

Current location. By Sarria. I'll spent a day or two here to get ready for the last 100 kms

Here is the whole map showing what I have covered so far. Sarria marks the 100k mark- the last push.

Update September 2, 2019

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My heel is bugging me so I took two days off. A funny thing: in the evening you can spot a "peregrino" by their wearing sandals and having a suntan line on their ankles. I got mine!

This morning as I was sitting around letting my foot rest.

The yard of the hostel where I'm staying. Cats and chickens all over the place. I was not amused.

Our Banquet table at the hostel. Great dinner of potato quiche, zucchini quiche, lentil soup, and wine or beer.

Update September 3, 2019 - 100km to go!

Getting bored.. Father sets off on the final push. Tap/click on images to see larger versions.

Hilarious.. We ARE surrounded by cows!

Can you see the horns on these cows? Texas Longhorns?

Look at that number. Wooo hoo! Only 100k to go!

Made the 100kms Marker & a reminder of my starting picture.

The route just got crowded... constant people.

Update September 6, 2019

A pub on the way. Every surface is covered with bottles. You put a nail and hang a bottle on it. There are thousands.

Three pictures showing the kinds of paths I was recently on. Some are right out of Tolkien!

Update September 7, 2019

The hostel I stayed at had a lawn roomba. Pretty good job at the lawn cutting.


I made it to Santiago!! It's done! This is the room where 1st we get a number and 2nd we stand in line to meet with an official to, 3rd, verify our travel passport in order to get the "Compostela".

That's my number meaning that an official will see me now.

The Official "You did it"!

Some More Pictures

Some final pictures of Fr. Blau in front of Santiago de Compostela. Tap/click images to see a larger version.

Lee from North Korea

An authentic replica of the thurible used at the pilgrim's mass.

I carried this chocolate from Astorgas- maybe 100kms/62 miles. It was a small incentive to get to Santiago. It was delicious!

Making it Official

Just to make it official. Wore the habit on the 10k stretch today--it's absolutely filthy! It would be dark brown after one month!

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