Walking across France on the pilgrim path


Way of St. James in France

Mosaic in the big church in Lyon, France, of St. James and the pilgrims going to Santiago, Spain.
I picked up my credential for the pilgrimage at the cathedral in Lyon. Then took the train to Le Grand Lemps, a small town, to start walking to Spain.

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Had to use the restroom at the train station. It was clean.

Way of St. James in Spain. 2017 Calendar of watercolors from my trip.

 In 2008 I walked the pilgrim path from St. Jean Pied Pont, France, through Santiago, Spain to Fisterre, on the coast. As I traveled I kept a sketchbook diary and collected them into a calendar.
It makes a wonderful gift for all.  Only $9.99. Size is 8 x 8 inches and has 13 months.
Click here to purchase the Way of St. James 2017 calendar.

Walking over the Pyrenees, crossing from France into Spain.


Day 31, Olveiroa to Fisterre, Spain Oct. 10

My last day of a 550 mile walk across northern Spain on the Way of St. James Pilgrimage.


21 miles, hilly along the coast. 8 am to 2:30 pm.

Going to the Coast of Death, as it is known for the many shipwrecks off this coast. 1987 was the last shipwreck.

Dip in the sea at the first chance I get. Take off boots and socks and jump in in all my clothes. It is warm and feels good. Everything dries after walking another half an hour.
The villages are charming. There are fishermen repairing their nets in their yards.

Check into the last hostel, 3 Euros and receive my certificate for reaching the coast. It is colorful. Wash my clothes, have a beer and a siesta. Pick up cheese and bread and jam at the market.
Stop by the local castle San Carlos, which is now a fishing museum.
Then walk 3 more miles to the cape where the lighthouse is.
Watch the sunset.
Now the walk feels really over.
A Dane passes out wine in little cups.
There is a fire and we burn something. The Dane walked from Denmark and burns his socks. I write something on a piece of paper and it goes in the fire.
My legs turn to lead. It is really over.

My emotions are mixed. I loved it all and am glad to be going home. But I will miss all the friends I made.

The we walk 3 miles back to town, Fisterre, in the dark. I have a very nice dinner of seafood chowder and bread.

I am finished!

Tomorrow I will stay another day in Fisterre to enjoy the sea, and  another sunset on the cape. Then on Oct. 13 I take the bus back to Santiago. On October 14 I fly from Santiago to London. October 15 I fly from London to Seattle, where I stay with my children for a few days before returning to Eugene, Oregon. It was a fabulous adventure.

Day 30, Negreira to Olveiroa, Spain Oct 9

21 miles, hilly, breezy, beautiful walking through villages and countryside

Walk out of cloud covered valley at 8:15 am.
Dairy farms with huge stone barns and houses. Old women herding big blonde dairy cows.
Lemon trees with ripe lemons
Traditional dresses, shoes on women. with a cotton dress that sraps around to the front, like an over-all apron. Very few women in the country wear pants and NONE of the older woman wear pants.

Old stone grainery supports are used for tables at a roadside cafe. Pilgrims stop for beer and coffee.
There is a youth group from Portugal walking the pilgrim route with their priest and several other adults, probably parents.

Hostel is 3 euros. Again, this town does not have enough beds for the many pilgrims and some are in tents.

I got my hair cut and colored for 24 Euros with a gift of bright pink lipstick. I put it on and feel a little more feminine. My wardrobe has been the same outfit, one hiking outfit for day, the other black t-shirt and capris for evening, since August 22, when I left for England. Plus I have a rain jacket and pants and black silk pants and tops for layering and sleeping in. It is nice and light to carry.


Day 27, Arzua to Monte de Gozo, Spain, 2008

22 miles, 656 ft. ascent, on rolling terrain, with 1,000 ft. descent

Walked fast with Patrick from Sweden all day. We walked and talked and entertained each other. Had lunch then dinner together and it was pleasant.
Although I did think it strange, as he promised I would, that he brought his medium along, one went in front and one behind him. 
Passed a village with an outside stone oven.
Silver tanker trucks collect milk from the many dairy farms. One is labeled Nestle.
Footpaths through small villages
Through eucalyptus woods.
Excited to reach Santiago in the morning. Sad that the adventure is nearly come to an end.
Stayed in the Monte de Gozo hostel for 3 Euros. It is new and nice.
Dinner for 7 Euros of salad, pork chops, french fries and the almond cake with the Santiago cross or emblem on top, made from sprinkled powdered sugar. Patrick highly recommended it.

Day 26, Palas dei Rei to Arzua, Spain Oct 5, 2008

17 miles. 1,350 ft. ascent, 1,300 ft. descent. 8:30 am to 2 pm

Clear blue skies, crisp and breezy. Perfect for walking in my long-sleeve shirt.
Now in the Galacia region, where James the Apostle of Jesus, preached the Gospel for 30 years. This is documented evidence. After 30 years he went back to visit Rome, where they remembered him and beheaded him. Tale is his bones washed on the Spanish coast at Muxia, and are now at the cathedral in Santiago. It’s a longer story than this, of course.
Acorns fall about me in the breeze.
Yellow leaves herald the beginning of fall.
Blossoms of purple heather with yellow gorse blooms amongst them, much like England and Ireland.
Etched in concrete or an outdoor, common laundry structure for the village hand washing is the date 1987. A small stream is directed through it.
Yellow arrows guide pilgrims to Santiago.  They are every 20 to 50 feet, perhaps on a fence, the road, a rock, a telephone pole. It is great entertainment looking for them, hoping I did not miss one.  But I do occasionally and a local person shouts to me and waves me in the other direction. I am sure I provide great entertainment for them.

Day 25, Portomarina to Palas Dei Rei, Spain Oct. 4

14 miles, 1,350 ascent, 400 ft. descent.

Beautiful day of walking. I feel so good and love my new boots.
Traditional woven and thatched corn crib for maize
Working windmills creak.
Invited into a caravan camper for tea by Englishman John Frances, a trail angel offering aid, water, tea or temporary or permanent travel companion!!!! Later when visiting with another pilgrim, we compared notes and she was offered the same. He has been trolling the El Camino for eight years and people have written about the aid he offered to them on the trail and photographed him. He is almost a fixture, but one with a mission.  He was still looking for his travel companion when I left him, in case you are wondering.
Stayed in a new albergue, built by the local municipality, for 3 Euros. The pilgrim menu of salad, boiled potatoes and fried fish and flan was delicious as always. 9 Euros.

Day 25, Barbadelo to Portomarna, Spain, Oct. 3, 2008

12 miles, 1,700 ascent and 2,000 descent. 8 am to 12:30 pm

Cool, lovely walking day.
Crowing roosters
Hamlets of old stone farms
Wicker corn crib with thatched roof
Stone corn cribs, raised on stone pillars
Tiny chapels
Clucking hens
Vegetable gardens
Traditional dress of locals, all women wear skits, with smocks over them.
Ripe, green acorns fall on me occasionally.
Ripe blackberries, just like I pick in Oregon.
The French pilgrim hands me a nectarine gift as I sketch on the trail and he passes me by. We have been leap-frogging down the trail for days now.
Stayed in Pension Manuel for 20 Euros. A friendly older couple welcomed me, showed me the cooking stove in the cement patio. The sheets are threadbare and I share a bathroom. But no one else comes, so it is all mine.  I buy chicken, spaghetti and salad makings at the market and fix my own dinner. Had later afternoon wine at a bar, a glass for 80 cents.

Day 24, Triacastle to Barbadelo, Spain, Oct. 2, 2008

15 miles, not much ascent, mostly easy descent on ancient paths lined with chestnut trees.

7:50 am to 4 pm
Fabulous day of walking.
Beautiful, green country looks like England.  
Met Wilson again, good visit with Wilson about life.
The stone pathway, called a corredoira, is lined with ancient, huge chestnuts and oaks.
In Paiscais, a tiny village, I stopped to relax, eat, and stroll through the graveyard surrounding the church.  It was here that the unbidden and somehow fascinating thought came to me, “When I die, I will be tired of my body. I won’t miss it.” I had just never thought about my death like that.