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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flight of the... Hornet?

Since coming home from Europe, I've gotten back to work, consolidated a few of my grades, gotten my roots touched up, been to my grandparent's cottage, and have successfully worn shoes!

Ridiculous moment of the week happened on Friday while on the way to my hair appointment with the Algonquin Hair Styling School. My aunt lent me her Vue to get to the appointment, so I turned on the radio, windows down, and started the 7 minute journey to Confederation High School. Woodroffe Avenue is under construction, so the speed limit has been reduced to 50 km/h... I'm minding the speed limit, singing along with the Rolling Stones... and I hear a loud *FLICK*
Was that a rock? Nope, a HUGE HORNET is now on the passenger side of the car!!!!!!!
I am now 2 minutes away from Confed, do I pull over? Nope, I put one hand up prepared to defend my face and scream a little... If I had stopped I would have been late for my 3:30 p.m. time slot! After I parked the car, I was able to dispose of the angry hornet... using a used Timmies cup I found outside, and an old grocery list from my purse. No hornets were harmed, and I will be more apprehensive about having the windows down on Woodroffe Ave!

Being home is weird. Back to reality. Back to the job search.

Coming home early from my trip made sense: I was there to hike for a month, and I could no longer do that. I missed my family while I was away; however, I loved being overseas. I honestly believe that it is unacceptable to be homesick while travelling... anyhow, that's what I kept telling myself while I was gone!

The Camino is constantly on my mind. As I was unpacking my bag I unearthed my seashell... I cannot wait to plan my next attempt. I'm already working on better preparing myself for the next attempt... it's 3.7 km, one way, on foot to my workplace which takes me 40 minutes to walk. This is my summer challenge; walk or bike to work girl!

Although my stint on the Camino was brief, I've come home motivated to find a real job. Not that lifeguarding isn't a real job, I'm just not banking on it being my lifelong career. Been cruising the Parks Canada job site as well as City of Ottawa. I'm eager to see what's going to happen!! Wish me luck...

Monday, May 16, 2011


So much to say... very little internet access this week, so I apologize for the tardiness of this post!

Alas, the rumours are true, I am back in Canada. Arrived yesterday afternoon via Air Transat from Paris to Montreal.

Decided to pull the plug on
my Camino when I got to Burgos, Spain. Why? Got my feet looked at by another medic, who told me once again that I needed at least a few days of rest for my feet to improve. Tatyana pressed on (sent her with my iPod as to help her stay connected with her family), and I made my way back to Bordeaux, France.

My train pass still had a few trips left on it, thank goodness, so my mission from Burgos was to get to the French border as economically as possible, then hop a TER (regional train) to Bordeaux. This little adventure brought me to San Sebastian, Spain for an afternoon/night, and I wish I could have stayed longer! If I could compare San Sebastian to anywhere I went in the past month, it would be like a larger, more affordable version of Monaco... and it has some of the most beautiful in-city beaches in Europe! Spent a good portion of my aftern
oon, with my feet wrapped up, laying on the beach. *Sigh*

Tuesday morning I left San Sebastian on a PESA (similar to Greyhound) bus to Bayonne, France. On the bus, PILGRIMS! Tons of them. Everyone was making their way to St. Jean Pied de Port to start their Camino. It was really neat to be around all of them... Most of them were German, and the girl next to me was from Hungary. Her name is Laura, and she is an automotive engineer who decided to unplug herself from her cell phone, internet, and a decent shower for a month and a half to do the Way. Go girl!

Bordeaux is amazing; the whole town has been deemed a UNESCO world heritage site. I was happy to be back at Laurene's, but pretty bummed that I couldn't finish the Camino this trip... but not to worry! This has motivated me to plan out my next attempt. I say this now, I will not be doing the Pyrenees again (although it was absolutely STUNNING, but killer). My family has been ultra supportive of me during my Euro-trip, and my dad is convinced (as am I) that I will be back on the Camino in the not-so-distant future; perhaps in a few
years :) The thing about the Camino is, you do it once and you are hooked for life. Many of the pilgrims I met along the Way had done the Camino previously... like 3-7 times! One man, met in Los Arcos, always starts from a different route. This year he began from St. Jean PP to do the French route, but he's done it from Madrid, Lisbon, and the Camino Norte. AND he always does a return trip... on foot! Wow.

Anyhow, Saturday morning I took a train to Paris, settled in and then met up with Laurene for our last day together in Europe. We strolled by the Palais Royal, into the gardens to see the Colones de Buraines, went to the Galleries Vivienne and found an amazing second hand store on Montmarte street. That night we met up with Noémie, we know each other from Laurentian University when she was an exchange student at the same time as Laurene. Good ol' Sudbury! We attempted to do museum night in Paris, but so did everyone else! The
line-up for the Louvre was easily 2 hours long at 9 p.m. ... and the museum was only open until 11:30 p.m. Bummer! They don't call it the City of Lights for nothing! We strolled around La Place Concorde, by the banks of the Seine, and by the Musée D'Orsay. Even saw the Eiffel tower all light up!

Anyhow, now I am home. Bentley, my wild bichon frise, doesn't really know what to do with himself... since I arrived he just looks at me as if to say "wait, I think I know you from somewhere..."

Oh, and I haven't worn shoes for a few weeks! It's rainy and cold here... is it poor form to wear wool socks and crocs?

The adventure continues!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Way

(the crew in the cathedral's plaza)

We have made it to Burgos, Spain! A city with a population of approx. 170,000 and no free wifi. Well, there are a few spots, but they are well hidden...

(specialty in Burgos... Sausage made with rice, onion, salt, and pig's blood... Sounds lovely.........)

(the Burgos cathedral is HUGE! Breathtaking!!!)

(pilgrim insignia on the wall inside the cathedral... No pictures allowed in there but I couldn't resist)

(our hostel is situated above a small chapel. 16 beds, and a host who sings and plays guitar!)

After over a week of being told "wait 2 more days then you will be better", I have decided to end my Camino. Was assessed by a medic in Santo Domingo de la Calzada and I have an infection on both my heels; he told me to use lots of Betadine (iodine based disinfectant) and be cautious... What does that even mean?!

And the documentary? Not to worry, there is definitely a story here... And as I have learned throughout my year in Algonquin's documentary production; life happens, and stories change. There was a little more drama than I could have ever anticipated!

I came to do the Camino with high expectations of myself... Unrealistic even. The first few days I tried to keep up with my friends, and not complain about my feet. Lesson learned: stop and check your feet immediately at the slightest sign of pain or discomfort.

I have definitely learned about myself, for example; it's possible to walk 30km in a day, conditioner isn't necessary, 5 euros can go a long way, and that I need to continue pursuing Spanish! More importantly, how to better prepare for my next Camino attempt.

I'm so proud of Tatyana for continuing the hike! She is an incredible woman, and a skilled athlete! She leads the pack on the trail, and always reports back with a smile. Go get em' girl, keep up your positive attitude... To The End Of The World!!!

(why so serious Tatyana? Ha, that's better!)

Tomorrow is Sunday, making traveling by bus/train/plane more complicated in Spain; therefore, I will stay in Burgos until Monday, then off to San Sebastian for one night on my way to Bordeaux. Laurene gets back to her place on Tuesday morning, and if all goes well I will see her that evening.

Oh and a shout out to all the moms out there... Happy mother's day!

(street performer playing the violin via his puppet. A hairy dog sleeping at his feet)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Burgos, Spain

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wifi Wizard

I have developed an interesting reputation on the Camino... I am the one to ask about where to find free wifi! I was asked 3 times today by different pilgrims where they could go... My trick: the municipal library.

After arriving in Santo Domingo, I found the tourist office and got a map, and then proceeded to locate wifi. Staying connected has been a priority during my time in Europe... Lately, it's been especially interesting keeping up with exciting American news, as well as with Canadian politics.

Met up with Tatyana, she and I settled into the hostel, and then she went to use Skype at the library.

Funny thing about siesta in Spain is that everything closes down for 2 to 4 hours in the afternoon; even libraries. Tatyana got locked in the Library!!!!!!!!!!! It closed at 2p.m. And the attendant didn't do a round before leaving.

I was outside filming beauty shots around the cathedral for a while, checked the time, walked over to the library doors... Locked... Immediately I thought "weird, did she walk right by me? Wouldn't it be funny if she was still in there..." AND SHE WAS!

When we found each other later and she told me what had happened, I laughed so hard that I cried!

(doors to the Sto. Domingo de la Calzada municipal library... And the balcony where Tatyana stood trying to recruit help!)

(this way pilgrims!)

(the Torre, across the street from the cathedral. Costs 5 euros for a ticket to visit the inside of both the cathedral and the tower... We admired from outside)

(the cathedral, doors open early tomorrow for mass)

(the amazing albergue for pilgrims! It's so beautiful inside... Large kitchen, plenty of showers and toilets; this is the life!)

(typical street in Sto. Domingo)

The town crest has chickens on it. The chickens in the picture live in a coop in the albergue's backyard. It has to do with a legend that involves soneone saying "when this cooked chicken sings, i will believe you!", and so his dinner sang. Hmm... There is even a coop in the cathedral; supposedly, I didn't see it though!

(the volunteer medic treating everyone's aches and pains)

Off to Belorado tomorrow. Need to make a point to use more sunscreen and drink more water...


Location:Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2 Outta 3 Ain't Bad

After two days in Los Arcos, I'm not sure if my heels are better. They look like hell. They hurt like hell.

New developments in the life of To The End Of The World crew. We are down a crew member; Tasha has decided that although the Camino is beautiful and a challenge, she needs to be home and sort out her professional future. Tatyana and I will press on, she on foot, and for now me on the bus.

In the past 4 days, Tatyana and Tasha hiked over 120km! Tasha calculated it all out, and turns out our excursion on day 1 was actually 32km because of the elevation. Proud of us!

Tatyana and I are sad that Tasha has left us, and we miss her already... The Camino is a challenge that, when accepted, needs to be accomplished at your own pace.

(and then there were two...)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Calle de Miguel Villanueva,Logroño,Spain

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Agua Plus Sal

Took the regional bus yesterday from Pamplona to Los Arcos. Apparently trains and busses have a sedative effect on me. I start the journey with plenty of energy, so I think, and 10 minutes later cannot keep my head up. Regardless, Pamplona is a really pretty city. Population of approximately 190,000! Isn't that like Ottawa? Well, you cant help but appreciate a place that will sell you a decent helping of gelato for only 1.70 euro. In addition, the taxi driver who brought me to the bus station told me that most of the participants for the annual running of the bulls are drunk tourists! Go figure.

(beautiful facade in Pamplona, Spain)

(square that I passed while looking for a map, this is where I found the cheap gelato!)

Staying in hostels is awesome. I mean it! I completely love the life style of meeting new, interesting people everyday. Every night is the same routine; stretch, pack a bit, eat something with carbs, brush teeth and wash face, find your bunk... Earplugs... And sleep. Thankfully you fall into the deepest slumber, because when you are sharing a room with 40-120 other exhausted pilgrims the snoring and farting can be detrimental to a good rest.

Last night I shared a dormitorio with 40 other pilgrims; what a snore-symphony. In addition to the human noise, the Los Arcos cathedral bells chime the hour, and in 15 minute increments. Not only earplugs, but I also burrito my head with the super long pillow on my bed. Hey, it works!

Los Arcos is small; however the cathedral is exquisite. It's awe inspiring, truly. The inside is done all in gold and the Marie and Jesus decorations are disturbingly life-like. There was s mass going on when I entered, but I quickly realized there was no priest present; it was a recording! What an unexpected surprise... Ha!

(the inside of the Los Arcos cathedral, behind the altar. The red window houses life-like Marie!)

(ornate glass coffin with a carved wooden Jesus resting inside, Marie behind)

(could it be a Banksy?????)

As I write this post my feet are soaking in a bucket of water with salt, as recommended by the pharmacist, a nurse, Denis the homeless guy, and an Australian woman... If anything, it feels heavenly!


I dropped by the market earlier and bought a zucchini, an onion, a red pepper, and some green beans. Tonight I'm making stir fried veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper, noodles and chorizo. I've already booked the beds for Tash, Tatyana and I, and when they arrive they can relax as I prepare dinner.

Tonight we will be discussing the action plan for the remainder of the walk... Basically taking a look at what's best for each of us individually.

Updates as they arise!

(vending machine at the hostel; candy, chocolate, seashell, toothbrush, chips, metal logo pins... Perfecto!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Calle del Sol,Los Arcos,Spain

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Damage

Right foot, the worst one, renamed 'Brain':

Left foot, the smaller one, now named 'Pinkie':

Currently in Pamplona, considering new shoes...

Tasha and Tatyana will meet me tomorrow night in Los Arcos where we will plan the rest of the hike.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Gazteluko Plaza,Pamplona,Spain

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Feet Sh-meat

2 days of hiking have gone by... and so have approximately 54km. Something else that´s gone? My poor feet. They were sore the whole first day; obviously, we were walking in the Pyrenees mountains. The view is absolutely gorgeous, and you walk right by horses and cows taking pasture up on the mountains; making it look easy. When we left St Jean Pied de Port we were in misty fog. After the first 45 minutes of walking we were well above the fog, and looking back down at where should have been St Jean! The air is so clean, you can feel it in your lungs... The entire first day was an uphill battle with a mountain; however, looking back out all around was a scenic landscape that looked like crushed emerald green velvet.

Tasha, Tatyana and I finally reached the village of Ronceveau, France (after laying down in the grass on the hill side for 5 minutes; well deserved!), I took my boots off... bloody socks. Both my heels are raw. As a lovely Austrian man said ¨It´s the meat!¨. Yeah, great.

The man was cool, he treated my meaty feet, and in the morning he wrapped them up using some kind of healing cream, a compete bandage, and some tape. Walked all day today... got to our stopping point... no room in the hostels. Our options then become quite thin. Either walk 7km back to the last town or continue to Pamploma via taxi. There were others waiting for the taxi, and I think the girls will agree, there was NO WAY we were going to be walking back the 7km we just finished!

Taxi arrived, we got to Pamploma, aaaaaaaAAAaaand no hostels there either. Good Lord.

The driver was so great, he was calm, pulled out his cell phone and began calling all the hostels in town as well as some from a few towns over. We finally found a place 2 towns over in the village of Zariquiegui, Spain.

We arrived, settled, I removed my socks... no blood... I removed my bandages... more carnage. I feel completely deflated.

Here´s the plan for the next few days. Tash and Tatyana are healthy (feet and all... sore all over as is expected!) and will continue to walk the Camino. I will take a regional bus to the town of Estella and wait for them there. It will take them 2 days to reach Estella on foot, so this gives me 2 days are 2 nights of recovery. During that time I will be using all the spanish healling creams the pharmacist recommended (One that speeds the scarring and scabbing process) so that I will be ready to go the day after the girls arrive (they need to rest too!).

We were pretty disappointed to have to take a taxi today... and double disappointed when all this business with my feet happened. Oy. I will be sure to take a picture with my ipod so that I can post it at the earliest wifi spot... brace yourselves!

Goodnight, bed time...