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Do subscribe to my other blogsite “retirement suits me” for my latest blogs on our reunion and other adventures around Spain, Lourdes in France and Portugal. (https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com)

MADRID

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/homebased-in-madrid/

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/death-in-the-afternoon/

BURGOS

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/el-cids-burgos

SAN SEBASTIAN

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/eating-around-san-sebastian-spain/

BILBAO 

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/the-euskotren-to-bilbao/

GETARIA 

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/balenciaga-de-getaria-viva-vasco/

LOURDES 

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/be-still-back-in-lourdes-france/

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA 

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/menos-emocional-en-santiago-de-compostela/

FINISTERRE & MUXIA 

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/game-over-in-finisterre-y-muxia/

FATIMA 

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/one-morning-in-fatima/

SINTRA 

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/sintra-a-royal-favorite/

LISBON 

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/san-antonio-festival-in-lisbon/

Our VIDEO: http://youtu.be/lfv7iBfh0f4


Do subscribe to my other blogsite “retirement suits me” for my latest blogs on our Scandinavian adventure. (https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com)

AN AMUSING SHOCKER IN BERLIN: https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/berlin-a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss/


POTSDAM, a day trip from Berlin: https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/poofed-in-potsdam/


Prepping for the Cruise in COPENHAGEN: https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/copenhagens-treats/


CRUISING ABOARD ROYAL CARRIBEAN Serenade of the Seas: https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/were-cruising-day-1-2/


A DAY IN STOCKHOLM: https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/stockholm-land-of-ocs/


A DAY IN LOVELY TALLINN, ESTONIA: https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/stunning-estonia/


PETERHOF PALACE IN ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA: https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/peterhofs-great-summer-playground/


COLD & WET HELSINKI: https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/a-glimpse-of-helsinki/

DO THE SWITCH!


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https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/

retirementsuitsme | Make RETIREMENT work for you!

  


  • “You must remember this….. a kiss is just a kiss…..” — remember the song (As Tears Go By) made famous by Louis Armstrong? 



I Do. More so now after a visit to Berlin’s East Side Gallery. It’s really street art. Graffiti, if you like. But if your art is inspired by the world-famous mouth-to-mouth kiss between Soviet leader Brezhnev and then Eastern Germany President Honecker, then it’s bound to stir controversy.

Frankly, it shouldn’t. There is a typical form of greeting between and among communist leaders, meant to convey that “special connection” among Communist brothers. There’s the so-called socialist fraternal kiss and socialist fraternal embrace. How so? Preceded by an embrace, statesmen from Comm countries do a series of 3 kisses on alternate cheeks. But when such leaders are exceptionally close, they kiss each other on the mouth instead. Yes, mouth-to-mouth as in lips-to-lips. 


The iconic bro-kiss-inspired mural done by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel in 1990 is now the star attraction in the East Side Gallery on a yet another iconic remnant of a wall that divided Berlin — and the entire country — for over 28 years. Now that the Wall’s non-existent, will the world see less of this fraternal love? 😘


MY DEAR READERS:

This site is having photo uploading issues at the moment. Thus, I’m switching to my other site for more recent blog postings. I would really appreciate it if you likewise subscribe/follow my other site: retirementsuitsme. Below is the link:

https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com


https://retirementsuitsme.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/berlin-a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss/


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The BUTAFUMEIRO  (incensory) and the TIRABOLEIROS (incense carriers robed in red). The magnificent scene of the smoking, swinging incensory during the Pilgrim’s Mass in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is forever etched in my memory.


Many come to Santiago de Compostela and consider this the highlight of their trip. I admit it’s quite a spectacle. And a fitting end to a 113km camino desde Sarria in Lugo.  Many others walked longer distances — a few limping along with blistered feet, wind- and sun-burned, some a few kilos lighter. Me? Not a kilo lighter. But I may have developed leg muscles and swollen feet from all the walking. As well as sunspots across my face. I now realize they’re not big issues with me. 

What are the big issues then? The distance — how can I forget the day we walked 32.6 kms? And the weather. I don’t mind if it’s cold or sunny. But it’s a pain to get in and out of poncho raincoats! Many times too I’d put on the poncho before my backpack — which meant I had to redo everything so the backpack stays covered by the poncho. The mud? I don’t mind, except when it’s slippery. The uphill climbs…. Oh Lord. Thirty years of smoking took its toll. I felt like a really really old lady — hunchbacked and all with a backpack and poncho — with every step I took on steep inclines. Yet still, no big issues. Amused myself enough on those climbs. Happy thoughts! 

Go slow. Listen to the birds. Feel the sweet, moist smell of the forests. Mind the yellow arrows. Let Maryanne entertain you with her lovely singing voice. Be impressed with 70+ y.o. Herta’s camino pace — slow, deliberate and sure. Catch the funny exchange between buddies Carole and Helen. These 2 kept me amused often enough. May and Beth will keep you distracted from the muscle pains as they regale you with many interesting and funny stories. Such good walking companions! When Ann W and Sue wait up at the bend for you, and ask how you’re doing, you feel touched by the kindness. And how inspiring to find a mother-daughter team walking with you. Ann C and Missy make me consider another camino with my grandchildren. That is, if I can keep myself in good shape like Herta! And Chus. What would we do without young, lovely Chus? Thank you all, witches. I mean, ladies. Missing you all already! 

So, my camino ends for now. But the memories linger. We made it! 

DAY 1: https://marilil.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/my-camino-switching-off-for-a-week/
DAY 2: https://marilil.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/day-2-a-very-wet-camino/

DAY 3: https://marilil.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/day-3-camino-back-into-the-woods/

DAY 4: https://marilil.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/my-camino-day-4-the-best/

DAY 5: https://marilil.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/camino-day-5-can-you-believe-it/

DAY 6: https://marilil.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/my-camino-its-over-but-not-really/

Witches away!


http://youtu.be/ByPqqO8Qwus
   

 


The peregrinos are coming to town. It’s a Friday and the noontime and evening masses for pilgrims at the lovely Romanesque cathedral in Santiago de Compostela will have 8 robed men swinging the butafumeiro across the isles. As I soldiered on on this wet and windy day, many younger pilgrims zoomed past me, unmindful of the cold and rain. They could reach Santiago in time for the mass at noon. 


 
Believe me, getting in and out of your rain poncho can be a mood spoiler. Much more so for those wearing rain pants. But it’s the last day. Our last 15 kms. As the Irish, German and locals zipped past on foot or on bikes, each had an expectant look.  “Buen Camino” which means “Have a good camino or walk” has also substituted for “hello” and “excuse me” or “move aside” as when they overtake you along the trail. 

  

Most peregrinos stop at Monte do Gozo to have their first glimpse of the spires of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It’s the last hill before reaching Santiago, about 4 kilometers away. Windy, overcast sky, cold and wet, we made a collective sigh of relief that the “end” is near. Our hearts felt the church spires beckoning us to march on. 
  

   
 

As soon as we stood before the Church, the dam broke. I cried. Such joy to be here. Such an honor to make this pilgrimage. All worth the wet, cold, windy camino days. The swollen feet from all the walking and the swollen hand from holding the shaft or walking stick.  This “jubilada” (retiree — which is what they registered at the Pilgrims’ Office when asked my profession) made it! And I’m happy that we made this hike in 6 days, feeling every step of the pilgrimage. Gracias, Señor.

  

 
  
The Pilgrim’s Mass at 7:30pm had the entire cathedral filled up as early as half hour before the service. Came a good hour early and claimed front seat. Soon after the service, the tiraboleiros prepared to swing the metal thurible. Botafumeiro is that giant thurible or incensory that they swing across the isles, up and down, pulled by 8 men in deep red robes. Botafumeiro in Galician means smoke-expeller. And the robed men in charge of the swinging thurible are called tiraboleiros which mean incense carrier in Galician. 

 
  

Such a fitting end to this pilgrimage. Feeling blessed. Unlike those who made the 300-800km journey (or even longer), I can’t claim any lifechanging miracle. But I have a newfound discovery. Life, as with uphill climbs, need NOT be rushed. It’s hard. But taking breaks –a breather– every so often makes a seemingly impossible task doable. Often enough, I had to remind myself to slow dow and walk in a relaxed manner. As with life, we sometimes do things just to get it over with. In this Camino, I discovered SLOW works. 

Gracias, Señor. Gracias, San Tiago de Compostela. Gracias to my nueva amigas : Maria Chus, Herta, Beth, Maryanne, May, Anne W, Helen, Carole, Ann, Misty, Sue. God bless you all😘

http://youtu.be/ByPqqO8Qwus

  

CAMINO DAY 5: Can you believe it?


I CAN. HARDLY. BELIEVE IT. Five days of walking from Sarria in Lugo to Amenal, just 15 kms away from Santiago de Compostela. When we went past the 20 km marker, I felt like screaming for joy. Never mind that the next 5kms towards our hotel seemed like an eternity. We were tired, after all. 

   

 


Been blessed with enough stamina and willpower to hurdle this camino which our guide Maria says isn’t exactly 113 total, but much more. In fact, she said we’ve actually done the minimum 100 kms yesterday to earn a Compostela. She measures our mileage each day but only tells us when day’s over. A little white lie, Maria would say. 

  


But naaaahhh. Having gone this far, we’re not about to hop on a cab to Santiago. Well, there’s only tomorrow’s 15 kms towards Santiago de Compostela, so I feel more confident. Tired? Very! And blessed. No blisters. My little toes gave me problems since Day 2, but me and my toes will survive this. 

  


Today’s walk was like yesterday’s —- into the woodlands in many portions, some meters of walking along the roads, pleasant weather. But more excitement today as we chanced upon Terry Porter, ex NBA player, now coach. Spanish media trailed him from the pitstop beer garden to the last 6 kilometers to Amenal. Took photos even if I didn’t even know the guy. Tried catching up with him but at over 6 feet, those long strides would make us eat dust. Well, the chance encounter was a good distraction for me and my sore legs. 😞 

  

By this time, I have grown accustomed to more oxygen breaks to pace myself (thanks for the breathing/pacing lessons, Herta!) , zumo (juice) de naranja replenishments every 5-8 kms, and vino o cerveza only at day’s end. I’ve even grown excited over these camino breaks for coffee, snacks, cerveza and chats with fellow pilgrims. Some cafe bars are ok, but got to say the food menu hardly changed. It’s the same cerveza, tea, jamon y quezo sandwich, naranja juice, ensalada, tortilla. The defining mark rests in how they do their coffee and the state of their washrooms 😉

   

 



My right knee started feeling funny after 12kms but my new friend Herta gave me something to spray on it to ease the pain. I am excited for tomorrow’s final leg and happy it’s the last day. My endurance would be severely tested beyond tomorrow, for sure.

   

 


Day 5. It’s more crowded now as we neared Santiago de Compostela. A bunch of cyclists, a group of German and Irish students, a gang of friendly and hilarious Irish women, many having reached this point after weeks on the camino. And many with their entire pack on their backs! This last 100 kms is nothing compared to what these men and women have been through. It’s embarrassing to even talk about how my right knee started feeling funny in today’s walk. Or how my pinky toes are giving me a problem. In fact, I feel guilty just looking tired 😢

Funny how one starts thinking it will be another “short hike”. You see, the camino trail should have covered 28 kilometers but a great decision was made to “break” this legbreaker into 2 days. Entonces, it’s 28 kms in 2 days. Enough reason to start a tad perky yesterday and today. But it rained yesterday. Not so today. 


  

  

We left our hotel in Melide around 9:30am and walked a bit off the trail to visit this pulperia, a church and a zapateria. Another reason to feel perky after a “late start”. For the first time, there was a mass service on this Wednesday during this camino journey. Great start! 


  

  

 

By the time we were ready to resume our camino, 2 in our group had new leather boots in their backpacks. If we weren’t full from breakfast, we could have spent more time in that pulperia. 


  

  
  

Enjoyed the best weather today. Cold when we started, but sun’s out and trail’s lovely as we weaved through Galicia’s countryside. This part — from Melide to Arzua — is very interesting.  We shared the camino path with cows, had lunch in a small cafe bar (Santiago) whose pet dog attempted to follow us as we were leaving. Friendly dog, friendly cafe bar owner. He gave us so many “freebies” like more cheese, jamon, cake etc. Lovely man! 


  

  
This part of the Camino is the best so far. “Only” 14 kilometers today through one of the picturesque parts of Galicia. Both the farmlands and villages are charming. 

 

  

Though I struggled with the uphill climbs — 30 years of heavy smoking do that to you! — I enjoyed the hike. It helps too that we didn’t get rained out today. 


Birds chirping, feeling the “crunch” upon stepping on fallen leaves, crossing a bubbly stream, a slight drizzle, muddy paths, and cow manure here and there.   

  

    
   

It’s hard to deprive one’s self with a copa of vino or cerveza. I should stop. Dehydration issues and all. Even the vino during dinners, much that I enjoy them, should be given up. One of the 4 ladies I’m walking with told me that she’s giving up smoking in this Camino. “That’s great” I said. To which she replied “…. but I don’t smoke”. Touché.  Let me have my vino! 

  

  

  

There’s a lot of my musings and ramblings as my knees struggled through the uphill climbs, downhill walks and flooded/muddied paths.  Many oxygen breaks happened here. I’m good walking some distances on flat, dry surfaces. And without a backpack! But I’m compelled to use a backpack to carry my change of socks, vaseline, and fleece vest. Oh ok, the chocolate and energy bars are in there too. Galician weather is hard to predict. Funny how I don’t miss sunny spells (I break out in sweat!) and how thankful I am whenever it rains just when we’ve stopped for some coffee or caldo! But today, it rained again on the last leg of the camino. Too lazy to put on my poncho. Just trudged along hoping the hotel is at the next bend. 

  
  

Being close to Nature makes for good contemplative monents. Whenever a gust of wind ruffles your hair, you cant help but smile. The aroma of cow manure brings you back to your senses, but in a positive way. For the life of me, I welcomed the scent of farm life. The simplicity of Galician life renders you grateful that you’re doing this walk, able to count your many blessings. A pilgrimage or an adventure? It is both for me. I wanted to challenge myself as much as I wanted to do my “spiritual retreat”. I’m having my moment. Can’t even bring myself to complain when it rains, gets really cold or when I couldn’t figure out where to step on a muddied path. Really. 

  

  
“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen”.  — Linda Hogan 

Buen Camino!

Day 2: A VERY WET CAMINO


It would be another 23 kilometers today and the weather forecast says more rain. Oh dear. Left our hotel at 8:30am, careful not to drink much coffee nor fill up  much on breakfast lest I go looking for a bush in the next 5-7 kilometers leaving the town of Portomarin towards Palas de Rei. Wearing only my windbreaker over my Merino shirt and shorts, I welcomed the slight drizzle
and hoped it would be like yesterday’s weather. It was not. 

   

  
 And just as I dreaded, it was a long uphill climb. Darn! It’s a struggle to stop, get my backpack off, take off my windbreaker, dry up a bit (you can break out in sweat walking!) then deciding whether to put the jacket back on or wrap it around your waist. Unlike Day 1 when we crossed many fields, a forest and a bubbling stream, today’s walk didn’t present much by way of “communion with Nature”. For a good 5 kms or so, we walked along a major road which we had to cross 3x I think. Oh Lord. 

  

 
 
We were only too happy to stop at Casa Garcia for mid-day refreshments. This guesthouse looked better than most. Cozy. Our next stop was LUNCH where croquetas de quezo y patatas, hamburguesa, tortilla and empanada were enjoyed while it started to really pour. Thankfully, I brought my fleece vest and raincoat/poncho. So, 4 layers of clothing — shirt, fleece vest, windbreaker and poncho — and my gloves and beanie completed my ensemble to battle this Galician weather. And I calculated there’s 10 more kilometers at this point before reaching Palas de Rei!

   
  

The Camino is truly a test of willpower. I decided on just doing the last 100 as I don’t have the energy to walk 800, or even 500 kilometers. Now I ask myself if I have the energy for even 100-113 kms. I’m bushed! If only I could break the camino to walk only 10-13 kms daily, I’d be fine. IF I had the luxury of time, I would have gone for 10 days. But as it happened, I’m stuck to do this in 6 days. Thus, the first 2 days’ walk bring you near the halfway mark at 23 kms/day or a total of 46 kms. out of the required 100 to earn the compostela. 

     
  

 
Before long, we were approaching Palas de Rei. But I fell behind the pack to change my wet socks. Can’t risk having blisters. A slather of Vaseline which i carried in my backpack and I’m good to go for the day’s final 3 kms. Somewhere along the path, the road was all mud and water. No space for a single step without risking a slip. I wondered why this man was standing along the elevated edge seemingly waiting for pilgrims. He stretched out his hand and said “I’d help you”. Reaching for his hand, he pulled me towards the elevated bank where I trudged on to finish my day’s camino. What a gallant peregrino!

   
   

By the time  we reached Complejo de Cabana in Palas do Rei,  we got quite a surprise. Not 23 kms we’re told, but 32.6 kilometers. Duh? No wonder I felt wasted. My feet need some serious TLC. Gosh, I can’t believe I paid for this! Lol. Buen Camino!

  

  

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