Camino de Santiago: Journey of dreams

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We lost a colleague. Once among the everyday office routine, among people who are not very attentive to each other a wave. No one fighter is already three weeks. Healthy? Alive? Vacation?! Unheard of daring the long vacation in a month! After 35 days she came back a different person, with glowing eyes and a million even more audacious thoughts in my head. These outputs beyond extremely rare in the sequence routine of the holidays blue collar workers that made me closer to her to look closer and listen to her story.

Spain. The Way Of Saint James. The Camino de Santiago. The French way from the Pyrenees to the Western tip of the country. Pilgrimage route with a millennial history. 200 thousand pilgrims from around the world every year and millions have passed during the existence of the path. The completion of the third stronghold of the Orthodox faith, the city of Santiago de Compostela. But what's in it for me, a deeply religious person? What can I find there? And whether you want me there, even despite the fact that I'm inspired by unconventional, sometimes crazy ideas?

Call. 800 km on a Bicycle over rough terrain in a limited time. Daily overcoming, challenge yourself and reality. Kind of a feat harder to accomplish in the routine of the 21st century. The growth of self-awareness and respect. And again the challenge.

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Historical and cultural heritage. The path is one of the most important places of worship in the history of the country, in contact with one of the oldest and most valuable cultural monuments. Passing trodden roads, give yourself familiarity with an original Spain, with such different and at the same time, similar people, traditions. Making their way in the Outback, which will never be in a familiar home away from home, get an amazing opportunity to see the real life of the country. Look behind the polished facades of people, communicate with real local, to see life unvarnished, so amazing for the four provinces.

Unity with nature. Most of the way is a delight in the natural beauty of this world, with a few interspersed towns and attractions. Saturated air of the coniferous forest. Ringing brightness of the fields, bathed in the midday sun. The geometric rigor of eucalyptus groves. The fabulous curves of the forests of Galicia.

Unity with him. Such a rare chance to stop. Look around or inside yourself. The ability to hear yourself, to be alone without being distracted by the usual hustle and bustle, objectives, timing, strategy, and other trappings. And perhaps not to do this, simply enjoying a walk with headphones in my ears.

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Meeting, Dating, friends. Amazing story. Energy of the place. Energy people, who left here part of himself. Energy those who casually drink coffee, share a glass of wine over dinner or sample local unpronounceable drink. Energy those who see it for the second time in my life, but greeted as an old and valued friends. Energy of those who, not knowing you, is willing you to open, help, is willing sincerely to share with you your success, no matter how tiny and insignificant he was. Energy those who meet you with applause just for the fact that you have previously met each other with smiles on the way; those who sing to thee a song in broken Russian just because you slept together in the same orphanage; those to whom you can quietly sit down in the middle of nowhere, pulling the tired feet and to give each other the attentive look and a genuine interest.

Even for the agnostic and skeptic like me enough so that in may for the first time in my life to sit on the bike. And in August, to go on a dream journey... to fully enjoy this route, you need to become a true pilgrim. To receive the treasured Compostela (certificate path) is possible only after the path in one of three ways: on foot, by bike, on a donkey. The donkey, of course, beckons strongly. But with limited time choose a more standard option.

Absolute beginners not only in Cycling, but in Cycling in General, we overcome 550 km on the bike in the Central part of Spain. Pamplona – Logrono – Burgos – Leon — Santiago de Compostela. Elevation changes of up to 700 meters. Overcoming the peaks of the Alto del Perdon, the Cruz de Ferro and O Cebreiro.

For the first time in my life refuse to respectable hotels, in order to taste all the pleasures of the road. Overnight in Albergo (shelters for pilgrims hostels on the way) for 10, sometimes even 5 per person. First experience sleeping in the common room, in bunk beds, just like in my childhood. The first earplugs with you on vacation, useful only once. The first experience of loneliness in a big crowd of people. When tired to the extreme, you're in the middle of a seething human stream, in fact, being separated from it. For weakness of spirit to refuse the temptation to sleep in the Parador, is depicted in the movie "the Way" in Leon, we can't. However, the very first halt we make the decision that even the Parador is not able to block all the charm of albergi, so remove the second booking at a Parador in the main point of our finish in Santiago de Compostela.

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For the first time in my life refuse from the restaurant menu during the holidays. Tasting all the charm of the pilgrimage of life, eat only the Menu del dia. Salad, main course, dessert and a bottle of wine for 10 euros to be a nice bonus to our budget.

Pamplona. Small energetic town. The city runs with the bulls, San Fermin festival, the tomato battle. The starting point for many travellers who passed the Pyrenees between France and Spain. Beginning a two-week pantomime theatre. We do not speak Spanish, the locals do not speak English. The adventure begins!

My husband has to sweat for the first time explaining to the bartender that he had been lusting after yaichnitsu Breakfast is available in the range of pintxos. Entertaining dialogue of the deaf mute, when everyone speaks your language and also gestures, not the other way each other can not understand. Clucking, flapping of wings and the demolition of the chicken eggs performed by the husband for several minutes with great interest watched the bartender first, and then all the staff who she called. I still can't help thinking maybe they are so inspired with the game her husband that I was just enjoying the process without rushing to stop him?

Unexpected conductor. Local grandpa looks about 60. Distinguishing features: the irrepressible zeal on a crazy bike and an overwhelming desire to get us off route... 1.5 hours of wandering with him along the country roads. There is a growing understanding that we of the wilderness can't get out. Smacking of lips and licking of the lips, which his grandfather accompanies every eye on us, lead us to believe that he doesn't want us out... Maybe it's local cannibal? And a bag full of tomatoes that he always pulls out and strokes it a garnish for fresh human flesh?

Pokrikivaniya that we are constantly lagging behind. Dirty looks and angry tirades on

Spanish, on my feet. What legs? Think I on your mega cool bike food slower uphill than it is on the bike at all without switching speeds. Maybe he has a lunch schedule, and it adjusts?
For a half hour and have almost become friends... Sort of love between the victim and the Stalker. Finally we let go, goodbye we sprinkled grandfather's spirits, and, according to a new batch of pricmokivanie and winks, obviously they are with pheromones, and we promised something unique in the evening.

And the next morning in our Albenga meet a woman with a broken leg that ended his Camino on the bike and went to the hospital. After a few days another local, told us that his grandfather literally saved us. Leaving at 15.30 from Pamplona with our level of training and the elevation at the Peak of Pardon, we would have stayed the night in the mountains. So you need to tell the guide thank you...

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Irache Fuente del. The most famous place in the vineyards of Bodegas Irache del. The fountain in kotorom you can quench your thirst with water or wine completely free. Moving away from him, carrying an extra two litres of cargo, despite the fact that we have a strict weight limit. But against nature not trample, the water had all poured and the next few hours to maintain inventory of fluid in the body only through the endowment of the blame.

Villamayor de Monjardín. Place test their limits, the ability to make sudden decisions. 17 hours away from the next village with the thought of the last 3 km and 30 minutes that separates us from the rest and overnight stay. Suddenly aware that the 3 km we have to overcome... exactly up to the peak, about which the op was joking the entire day... Sarcasm of destiny.

Superhuman efforts, gnawing at every inch, to the village arrive at 18.30. Hellish fatigue, hunger before shaking hands. General nervous tension. The desire to kill, first his companion, then each counter. There is no food. There is no space. How not?! Just. Beautiful. A little village lost in the mountains. 2 albergi – busy travelers, reasonably came before. 1 cafe – closed, because albergi give a private dinner. Almost a fight with vacationers bartender for a sandwich. The thirst for bloodshed and rage at helplessness is strong.

Trills of birds. The first sunset the rays of the sun. The idyll of this place. And the gathering black clouds in my head. Overnight on the pavement without mattress lightweight sleeping bag? But the rubberized coating on the pavement. Cold night +12? But a good ventilation of the head when we don't even have warm clothes with you, not to mention hats. The sun will Wake earlier for lack of shelter? But meeting dawn when there will be...

It husband insisted on a half hour's rest, forced/persuaded/convinced to drive ANOTHER 13 km fortunately the road is downhill. 30 minutes of flight and we come in last free the Arlberg, the last spare room in the next town...

TUEV grove at the entrance to Logrono. Divinely intoxicating aroma, your, special, very distinct and at the same time delicate and unobtrusive.

Navarette. Big fight with the satellite. The division of property. And husband took off into the blue distance. First night alone and the most interesting dialogue in the Arlberg with a German:
— You're brave! One, bike. So well versed in it?

— No. I first time in my life it food. Nothing at all about it do not know, do not understand anything. — What are you going to do if it breaks in transit?
— ... Sit and cry...
On and fell asleep.

Red mountain Najera, hanging right above the small houses. Unexpected Russian speech, at the time when you're not ready for it:

— You Kate? Your husband is looking for the entrance to the city.

Pride in himself for his first ever 20 km independently and the joy of meeting her husband, what then will not have to nag alone. Enough is enough.

Azofra. Wine with sparkling water, a short rest in the Siesta and the decision to leave the route, take a look at point of interest, noted in the guide. My phone does not boot. To check excess mileage can't decide to go at random, well, I do a few extra miles, we'll do it... Understanding of their mistakes comes quickly. The road all the way up. Flat, boring, exhausting climb. The wind increases and changes direction. The wind blows in your face. The resistance of the road increases. The wind grows stronger. The speed of motion 6 km/h. 5 km/h... Going 1.5 hours -- an Unexpected pointer to the desired monastery 11 km away. And how many back to the highway is unknown. At the speed of 4 km/h get off the bike and go on foot. Finally turn on the head, and we decide to get back on the road. Frontal wind almost knocks you off your feet. The forces at the end. Hellishly hungry. Everything is closed, Siesta. What is happening makes it impossible and the desire to move on. The speed drops to 3 km/h. At some point you realize that ready to fall. Husband both wheels of the Bicycle. I can barely move my legs, gnawing at every inch. We are out of town, outside the village, outside space. We are somewhere in the middle of endless fields and intricate interweaving of roads. Under the scorching sun. The types?! The monotonous shuffling of feet, not raising his eyes from the road. Unexpected woods. Halt. Fell. 30 minutes to stop shivering limbs. Found in a bag of three-day fuet (Spanish/sausage, originally having a peculiar odor of dirty socks). Feet rode with us in the heat, in the sun... Fight with my husband over the last piece of the missing sausages. Fatty meat is soft and falls in an empty stomach. A no restoring forces. Orientation of us on the ground never comes. But there is no escape, in the woods to spend the night we can't.

And then... we again saves Providence, not once rescued on the Camino... after 200 meters, after our halt, the road turns sharply and begins a long gentle descent. A glimpse of towns and villages. After 40 minutes, the long-awaited reward. Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

Villafranca Montes Oca. Scared of scary stories about the steep pass, which in no event it is impossible to storm in the evening but only in the morning. And treated myself to a beautiful dinner and overnight stay in a historic 13th-century building, former hospital (hostel), converted into a hotel and the Arlberg in our time. The morning to fully appreciate the correctness of its decision. Let pass not so terrible, we would have easily got him yesterday. Let was long before simple. All this pales in light of the fact that for the first time we have seen the sunrise in the mountains. The first trills of waking birds. The first rays of sunlight begin to penetrate the darkness. The sky is gradually painted in all tints of red-pink tones. The last pockets of darkness away, revealing the lavender lawns, covered with dew. The trees, shrouded in dawn mist. The vast expanses and the sun, literally in the palm, is close to the top of the mountains. Unless it can obtain the citizen? Or blue collar, went to standard vacation? Never in my life did not have any leave the desire to get up at 6 am for the sake of calculation. And the Camino makes you do this every morning, and every time it gives for all the new wealth, emotions, experiences.

Per day three times intersect with Hiking Bulgarians, with whom we spent the night in Albenga the day before. Humor in this way that Hiking travellers overtake cyclists in the mountain bike riders downhill fly faster. And if you get lost, overcome unnecessary mountain, an unplanned route, it can and does lag behind the travelers. Aching heart unity with strangers, when meeting, girls perform us in broken Russian "black Eyes", as expected, with outlet, waving his arms in the best traditions of Gypsy songs.

Burgos. The city of countless tiny monuments to ordinary citizens, warmly inscribed among the walking citizens. Stunning in its beauty and grandeur of the Cathedral. The main attraction of the city. Pure genius, the madness of the interior, the breathtaking charm of the carved ceiling.

Time-limited, we drive part of the way between Burgos and Leon by bus. And again on the Camino.

Leon. Parador, the world-famous after the movie "the Way". Assumption your self-esteem and stop for the night in it. Evening walk around the former hospital, now used as a five star hotel. The ancient Church attached to the hostel. Late in the evening. Twilight. A small number of guests are lost within the huge building. The lights are almost everywhere. The way we light the last rays of the setting sun, barely making their way to the far corners. The hollow echoes of footsteps. The creak of old doors. Dark hidden corners. The feeling that the ghosts of this place are still here and watching you. Oppressive bulk of a darkened Church, where we accidentally find ourselves in the choir. And... the infamous escape in a room where you can catch your breath from the frightening experience of this building.

Ringing from the heat of the midday air. Making their way under the scorching sun without the ability to hide in the shadows. Unexpected lost somewhere in the mountains colorful oasis for pilgrims. Tent with a generously laid table. The owner, a young Spaniard, 25 years old, he will prepare the meal: bread with tomato, simple tapas, fruits and vegetables. He washes travelers the dishes. Canopy, bench, guitar and tent with water. Donativo (pay on your own or don't pay at all, depends on education). The owner lives out of fellowship with the pilgrims, heartily welcomes each traveler, that is the goal of his life. And his joy.

Astorga gave us the opportunity to become acquainted with Gaudi. Surprisingly, managed to enter the city to Siesta, giving yourself the opportunity to get inside the Episcopal Palace, built and decorated by the great architect. Shocking in its beauty the creation of the immortal genius.

Finally Sam Cruz de Ferro is an important place, a place of power. Iron cross, towering on the hill of small stones. The most famous symbol of the French way. Its history is shrouded in legends. The main thing has remained unchanged for centuries. According to ancient tradition, put his foot two stones, brought from the Motherland. They drove us all the way, warmed by the warmth of our bodies soaked with our thoughts and aspirations. Believers in this place I read a special prayer. We abstained from this part of the ritual.

O Cebreiro. During the assault on this peak, ubiraci on a mountain bike in his teeth, to overtake foot travelers, we meet the most interesting character on the way. The young pole, for 20 years, with a huge suitcase with him almost the size. And it is almost steep up! For some time rolling his cargo on the trunk, talking. It turns out his suitcase... the Bible, without which he cannot travel. The only disappointment attending it with all the difficulties that the suitcase has no wheels, he had it almost to bear. As he did the 500 miles with such a support for us remains a mystery.

At the entrance to the Celtic village Museum on top of the mountain we were met with thunderous applause by a group of French pilgrims with whom shortly before it was resting in the shade on the rise. From the elevation lays the spirit. From the cordiality of the meeting these strangers, my heart aches.

Gastronomic ecstasy in Melide from Pulpa (octopus). The simplest dish that gives untold pleasure and long remaining with me in memory. Boiled and sprinkled with salt and red pepper marine reptile. Almost the only time, when abandoning the menu of the day for the local delicacies. Octopus in Galicia take almost every day.

Galicia. The last area on our way. And perhaps the most beautiful. The hilly terrain, alternately changing itself, the slides for which rush down, and rises, when forced to roll the bike next to him. So for 15 times per day. Sat – tears. Sat – tears.

Area ranchers. The familiar landscape – the bike rests on the side of the road passing cow. Curious eyes of her companions. Cozy and soothing chimes.

Intricately curved trunks of trees covered with a thick layer of moss, winding trail, twilight of the forests of Galicia, create a sense of immersion in the tale.

Pedrouzo. After about 20 kilometers from the target. Tiny cafe in the woods. A place of rest for many travelers. The enchanting song of the Spaniard, skillfully pulling a complex melody. The performance for an encore accompanied by the applause and the sounds of writing cameras. His song will be distributed throughout many countries, and will remind you of the way done and the joy of unexpected encounters.

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Santiago de Compostela. The end of our trip. The third largest Christian town. Solemn mass for the pilgrims on the old traditions in the main Cathedral. "Two pilgrims from Russia, started in Pamplona", says the monk. It's about us... inexplicable squeezes the chest. To cry to the eyes. Involuntarily. the monks during the service. Applied to the relics of St. James and wonder to myself. Cry. I'm not a believer. What happens to me? The sadness from the end of the most memorable holiday in my life? The anticipation of something new that will happen soon? Thirst again to jump on a bike and be in the way?

— What is the purpose of pilgrimage, — ask me before issuing the Compostela (certificate of Hajj). Religious, cultural, spiritual?

— Spiritiual, I reply, realizing how much in fact is hidden in the word, in all that has happened to me over the past two weeks.

550 kilometers net path. First ever bike tour. My journey is completed. Thoughts. Impressions. Emotions. Memories. Awareness that come much later.

Experiences. The experience that I was not able to fully understand. Check yourself. Checkout our husband. Mystery, conduct. When all rational in you screaming: "it's a dead end!" Irrational and boldly raises his head and throws the challenge: "Keep going, man, keep moving!" And around the next bend comes the tipping point. The revelation of how we live, surrounded by and that plays an important role in our lives. Played.

My journey finished? No. It is just beginning. And I have yet to understand how much I have found. published

Author: Ekaterina Merkusheva

 

Source: Ekaterina Merkusheva

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