Sunday, 7 September 2008

Walk from Galilee to Jerusalem,2009

The Charity (ACN)I channel money thru sent a donation to Mar Elias Schools last year.
ME tries to foster greater understanding between the 3 Abrahamic Faiths.Places in ME Educational Institute in Galilee are open to students of all backgrounds.

The founder Elias Chacour was the local Priest,he is now an Archbishop in a large part of the northern Holy Land.I was very grateful to receive a letter recently.He thanked donors and said "Your idea of walking from Galilee to Jerusalem is a great one...We heartily support your initiative and would very much like to keep in touch".

My intention is to try and 'visit with the people' not so much to see Churches & other buildings.I have seen the massive economic benefits walking pilgrims bring to Northern Spain on the Way of St James.More & more hotels & restaurants are being built all the time.The Walks' popularity has only occurred in the 1980's.
Many,probably most 'pilgrims' on the Way of St James in Spain didn't have a religious bone in their bodies.It's just a great walk.
There is no reason this cannot be replicated in Israel & Palestinian Territories.

Maoz Inon an Israeli friend runs the fantastic Fauzi Azar Inn,Old City Nazareth - an all Arab Town.He has Jewish,Christian & Muslim volunteers helping him.Maoz takes visitors on a JESUS TRAIL around the Sea of Galilee.He like me believes not in Peace THEN tourism but Peace THROUGH Tourism.

Why not a JESUS WAY on the route I mentioned?It benefits everyone & harms no one.The Pilgrim dollars would be a trickle at first but could become a flood.There are now cheap flights from UK to Tel Aviv.A couple of hours bus ride and you're at the Sea of Galilee.It's around 200km from there to Jerusalem.Ten days walk at a fairly leisurly pace.

I for one will try my best to 'visit with' people of all backgrounds on the JESUS WAY in 2009.


Thursday, 4 September 2008

El Patio - best Pension in Santiago

any Pilgrim looking for a place to stay in Santiago de Compostela need look no further than 5 minutes walk from the Cathedral at Patio de Madres, 981 592 712.The place has character rather than an anti-septic feel.It's real Espana,not tourist Spain.

If you like food you will enjoy the meals that comes out of Luz's cocina.I would never have dreamed of ordering cod at a restaurant at home.Having had 3 of Luz's meals by then it wasn't a risk.Absolutly fabulous - the humble cod!

When looking for presents & great service in Santiago the shop to visit is Iberico Bazar,Rua Nova,48.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

We Who Are About To Celebrate Salute You!

An hour to sunset at the end of the world. We met some ladsabout to go & face the heat of 1000km on the 'silver road'.

I'm with three 20 something lads and a prodigous amount of wine has been purchased and carried the last 4km, to be mixed with coca cola! I've kept pace with these lads for a long time now, but at sunset I retire gracefully. All morning thunder, lightening and rain, then HEAT in the afternoon.

There is a kind of special fire lit where socks are being burnt. My shoes go in at sunset!

Prayers to be re-focussed from joints to 'head' - oh, and no rain please.

Buen Camino from the 'end of the world' - at sunset, 910km. Thanksfor your support.

Paul x

Updated on behalf of Paul by Fiona.

And as someone used to say..... 'now this is me' (Fiona). It's been a real pleasure updating this for Paul and Karen. I am a very proud little sister. xx

Monday, 25 August 2008

Santiago de Compostela

Our 50 km 'completo'day ended after 14 hours with a collapse onto a bed in a massive Albergue at Monte do Gozo just 4km outside Santiago.
We walked into Town around 9am,Sat 23rd decided we would forgo walking onto the Square by the Cathedral until we got accommodation.The signs were not good but we did get an hotel of 'character' down a back street only 5 mins from Cathedral.Turns out to have a bar and v good restaurant.
After dumping bags had coffee then we went to Pilgrim Mass at Noon.
Got my Compostela/certificate shortly afterwards.Basically,now had couple of days recuperating and meeting people from the various Camino's.
Conor my latest walking partner managed a 16 hour bender.As we had only one set of keys I couldn't sleep until he staggered back to the hotel - so me giving up after 'only' 11 hours (plenty of coffee's-lightweight really)was not that good an idea.
Tomorrow go out West towards 'the end of the world'.My guide book says 75km but locals & people who've walked it say 95km.That's thick end of 5 miles extra per day.I'm told it's beautiful so I'm looking forward to it.
As much as I needed rest & have enjoyed Santiago a day not walking feels like a day wasted...
My nearest & dearest will be glad to know I'm now 'sleeker'-tragically only by about 2 ounces.

Friday, 22 August 2008


First day on 'French Way' parts of it were like a motorway. I noticed lots of locals with 'day bags'. Apparently they can get 'Compostela' certificate for walking 62.5 miles. All albergues, hostals 'completo' in all towns. The words 'crops' and 'locusts' spring to mind. Its 19.20 hr and we've done over 40k. Stopped for coffee. Looking down the barrels of 50k before hope of bed? We've done it all on chocolate biscuits and kit kats. There's dozens on the roads. We could be under the stars. If we get anywhere I will be too knackered to wash clothes. Tomorrow will be 'eau de Pablo el camino'. Wer of agen??

Updated by Fiona on behalf of Paul.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Out of the Mountains

Shortly after the start of our Camino I lamented choosing the Norte Way.Well I was wrong.Altho the hills were grim at the beginning & there was too much 'asphalt'there was much to enjoy in the countryside.The real reward was the Camino Primitivo.Beautiful scenery.
Left my Philosopher friend Niq yesterday.Too bad he missed 'the spaghetti Bolognese made by the Englishman'- Pierre the Italian's words.His verdict?He had one helping,Connor & I 3 each...
Had the last Alto -about 2,000'today.Left San Romana Retorta just behind Pierre then Connor kept seeing them on & off all day.You must go at your own pace.
Found Connor reading on his sleeping matt a couple of k's before Melide.Walked in together & got a taste of 'the horror that is the French way'.The hordes of Pilgrims- there was a queue for the Albergue so we gave it a miss and booked into a Pension.Shower & siesta and into Town...

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Thank Yous

Thanks to all who have prayed for us. It's not often we hear good news stories about insurance companies. Karen, aka 'pegleg', would like to thank Phillip Williams and Co who got her home pronto by plane and taxi after she damaged her knee. I would like to thank Kaz for her 'valiente' support and Fi for blog updates. Thanks for morale boosting texts to Fi, Matthew, Red Dave, Sophia, Maureen, Helen and Christine. Thanks for IT 'sponsorship in kind' Tony/Major Systems Ltd and Tim, John for Rucksac and sleeping bag, Hazel for 'hotel services', Howard for taxiing, Frank and Ros for being 'Pilgrims for a day', 'Amawalker' for advice and encouragement. Last but not least the Angels who have just appeared when needed.

Updated by Fiona for Paul.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Wild Horses

Walked from Pola de Allende to la mesa up mountains through what seems like apline meadows. 'Much bueno'. Long descents, so much pressure off knees on to poles that my arms ached (usual) then pain went up over shoulder and down my back. I am looking at a herd of wild horses in heather and in the foreground, cows with bells on. Alberg is mouldy and smelly.
Tomorrow first thing, I will ascend some more, then I have a half mile plunge in only 4 miles distance. This is followed immediately by 2000' climb! This is the crunch day for the knees. Much bueno prayers please.

Updated by Fiona for Paul.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Best food in Spain

Got a txt from Karen last night(13th)- she is safely home.A load off my mind.

Walked from Tineo to Polla de Allende today-about 17 miles.Mostly thru beautiful countryside.
Niq (the Phiolsopher)had to hitch a lift as his heel is playing up.The Albergues are usually full & he found an hotel -Nueva Allendesa.I didn´t actually want to eat a five course meal.I have been given advice on the Camino 'eat for the hunger that will come'.Also the hotelier informed me today is the Vigil of the Assumption so tomorrow is a Fiesta.Bringing all my 'cultural awareness'to bear & being 'culturally sensitive'I made the supreme sacrifice & ate all 5 courses - only as a nod to the Festivities u understand.Unfortunately,I did not do justice the the glass container(about half a bucket in size)of red wine - but I tried.
First course was small pieces of toast & a v light pate followed,allegedly by a soup.It had lashings of gravy,cabbage,spicy black pudding,chorizo & a lump of pork.When I had demolished the meat Le Patron whisked it away to be replaced by a round object containing mixed vegetables bound together with a kind of omlette.
Wanting to give in but remembering all my 'diversity training'I heroically tackled course 4-sort of mashed calf meat(ahh)again in a kind of ball of veg in a sauce.I had made slight inroads to the wine but gave up when dessert arrived.3 kinds of cream with 3 types of sweet cakey tart items.
Le Patron was all the while talking to me in French (yes I am a linguist now).Eventually,I said "Senor Chef -Bravo".This seemed to cause no end of pleasure to my host.I slithered upstairs like one of those pythons you see on wild life programmes that has just eaten a whole deer & slept... The Church Bells eventually woke me.
Feet don´t look pretty but are in good order.Joints not brilliant but nursing them.Finished with a v long v steep descent into Pola - I took about a 'fortnight' to make sure I didn't do any damage to joints.We've got some beauties to come.
Keep the prayers up please!

Monday, 11 August 2008

A Glowing Pilgrim!

The late opening of 'camara santa' where the Lord's face cloth is kept means that I am over 5 hours behind the other pilgrims. I also took Kaz to the hospital for her knee and bought food and a fleece. It's now 13:00 and I've 11 miles to go and an 800' mountain in 7k! The route is a bit complicated and I'm alone and my right calf is beginning to cramp. Squitters beginning too! I stopped to apply some 'deep heat' type gel for my calf then went to loo before washing it off my hands. Big MISTAKE! I now glow on my calf and another place!

Where I'm headed they had 70 sleeping outside two nights ago. I'm hoping the 'english rain' will put off the crowds as I'll easily be the last to arrive there.

On the upside my feet are good and spirits high except for loss of valiente 'pegleg'. More prayers please to find the route and a DRY bed.
Updated by Fiona for Paul and Karen.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The 'Primitive Way'

Out with Nic,Hugh & Havier & a French guy for beers last night.Good meal across from hotel.Decent nights sleep.had a good breakfast at our hotel this Saturday morning (9th).Nic & I set off shortly after 8am.Karen waving us off from the hotel balcony.
The weather was the best I have had on the Camino.Completely blue sky.Altho it got warmer as the day wore on it only got to the top end of comfortable.feet in (relatively) good order.First half of day a climb of 1,300'.Was reasonably gentle - great views.Hugh rang us from further down the Way (travelled by bus-injured)big problem with accommodation...
Eventually got to Pola de Siero -about 18/19 ml from 'Vicious Town'.Had abit of a struggle with rooms.A french couple put us onto a 3 star hotel (80euros).
Been to Mass in a beautiful Church -fairly full.At 50 yrs I was in bottom 10% in age -worse than home!
About to go for dinner in hotel.
Oviedo Sunday - only 15km.
Thanks for updates Fi.
John W if u read this ur bag back 31st Aug.
Nicole:"Hi Granny-I'm a toyboy too!"

'Pilgrim of Old'

I could not sleep well in Poo so I left in the night. It was eerie walking through the woods alone. As I got to the beach the rain was coming from the Atlantic. At first light of 7th low cloud was simmering off the mountains. I really did feel like a 'pilgrim of old'. It was a very hard 20 mile day.

Much better 24 mile day on the 8th with Nic the Belgium philosopher (an aetheist who agrees Da Vinci Code rubbish on all levels). I managed to put in the extra miles to get to Kaz's hotel. Thanks to Hugh from Bournmouth for help and friendly staff at El Manquin, Villaviciosa.

Today (9th) I begin to enter the mountains of the 'primitive way'. I'm told its the hardest of all the Caminos (ways). So the coming week is the crunch. Sunday I aim to be at 'Camara Santa' in Oviedo Cathedral.

The doctor has diagnosed 3 days rest for Kaz. The knee is slowly improving.

Updated by Fiona for Paul and Kaz.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Not Stilletto´s.

15:35 hrs 6th Aug.waiting to get into Poo Albergue (on veranda at back).
Had 2 days with Frank & Roz.Taken turns to Walk & be Pelleginos.They brought my boots from England.Against my better judgement I tried them.My 'fell runner' shoes have a half inch heel.the boots a 2" heel.I had 4 hours of purgatory -absolutely crippled.I totterd along paths.they might have well as been 6" stilleto's.I had left my shoes in F&R's van as their 'next to skin technology'renders them soooo pungent.(if I could focus the pungency I'd make millions patenting it as a diamond cutter).
FR had a Pellegrinos Paella at last Albergue I saw the two rabbits heads go into it.
Next morning 5th I had my 4th blisters operation.worked great not withstanding my 'stilletos'.Good to get rid of squelch & searing pain of blisters(but preferable to stilletos).
K walked about 6 of 8 miles we have done today.v slow.she has decided for the moment she will be Pellegrinos de autobus.I need to clw back some of the lost miles.I'm pencilled in for a couple of 20 mile days.It's the 'asphalt' that causes blisters & has a battering affect on joints.Prayers please!speaking of which during my 'pugatory in boots' yesterday I got a bit lost.another angel appeared from nowhere & directed me.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Ampolla (blisters)

At last I can update the blog directly.Thanks for the help so far Fiona & Terry.(don't go away way we may not see a computer for a while).
11:25 hrs Monday 4th August we are guests of Sofía & Luis José at the Auberge in the basement of 'Escuela Maritimea Pesquera' on the hill top of San Vincente de la Barquera.Sofia seems to have a vocation to Pellegrinos Ampolla - to cure them.
The last entry should have read 'Paul not the Valiente'.
I have a day of enforced rest -Sofia's instructions.I have exacerbated the blisters by getting sand inside them!Also by using compeed which is akin to a swear word to Sofia.
LJ & S speak Spanish & French -my 20 words of French have been flogged to death this trip!LJ seems to have fun with the stupid mono glot English -everyone laughed when I heard the word Inglis.
Not only do they provide a hearty 3 course Pellegrinos evening meal & breakfast they have gone 'the extra mile' (kilomtetre?) to allow us to stay the whole day on premises - most places kick out by 0800.LJ provided me with a comfy deckchair in the sun a cushion on a rock to put my feet up (per S's orders)& a pile of English language books.
It is clear they are wonderful people.
(2 Dutch pilgrims just arrived 11:30 hrs -having set off at 05:30.They have walked from Holland!)
It would be great to do somthing similar in the Holy Land on a Jesus Way from Galilee to Jerusalem...
We would like to record our thanks to Dr Vincente Garcia Ruix for giving 'pegleg' (K's nomme de guerre)a lift from Santander to Santillana del Mar.
It has been a great journey so far met all sorts of people.Some more arrived 11:55 hrs Max & Sophie.
Later I will try upload our photos but don't hold your breath.

Paul the Valiente

We were in San Vincente last night, Sunday 3rd August. Karen is on the mend but I had to have my blisters seen to which attracted a little crowd in the hostel.
'Paul be valiente' was the cry. I thought I was being valiente until the iodine was injected into 'live' skin. I nearly hit the roof, while valiente went right out the window. I'd like to be able to say that, hours later, my feet were just tingling, but they were burning! I have an appointment after breakfast for them to be bandaged up for today's 20 miles.

Joints doing okay - prayers to be aimed at blisters please.

Scenery has been great throughout, the churches are beautiful and we have met some great people.

'Paul (not) the Valiente'.

Updated on behalf of Paul and Karen by Fiona.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Off to Hospital

Thanks to 'amawalker'. All options are open at the moment.

All the prayers have produced 'guardian angels' absolutely out of the blue when we were really down. First, the English lad,'Fish' in Toulouse, then a lady stopping the bus for us, getting us to hospital today, insisted on paying even though I had 80euros in my hand.
Kaz named ger rucksac 'illegitimi bag'! The 1,300' Alto de Vivero proved Kaz's undoing. Her knee ligament has gone. In a nutshell. she's battled but the doctor gave her an injection and said 'no walking'. My joints are very dodgy too.

Had a very restful day in Castro-urdiales.

Keep prayers up. We very much need them. Will bus/walk (Kaz/Paul) to Laredo on 31st.

Updated on behalf of Karen and paul by Paul's sister, Fiona.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

The 'flat' Coastal Route!

The 24th July was a short day from Getaria, only 10 miles but then hills to Deba.
This was the first day the pack 'felt' heavy when I put it on.

On 25th we had to do our first long day, 19 miles. Maybe we are not fit but the hills are just desperate. We have been told the coastal route is far more hilly than the 'French Way' - my strategic error! After 10 hours on the road we stayed at Centaruzza Monastery - great views and the pilgrm soup given by the monks was very good.

On the 26th we set a 20 mile target. It was the easiest day except we got lost twice and it turned into a 10 hour epic! All the prayers must be working as when we were totally knackered, a car stopped and the driver told us, in perfect English, that we were only 1km away from the hostel in Morga. Cue choirs of angels! Somehow we resisted a lift!

Updated on behalf of Karen and Paul by Paul's sister, Fiona.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

On Spanish soil

Well, we've made it to Spain, and two days into the walking, we're absolutely knackered!
Karen and I flew out on Saturday and made our way to Lourdes - a suitable starting point for our pilgrimage - by hitch-hiking and train. We got a lift with a young ex-pat Englishman from Carcassonne to Toulouse train station.
Time just for a brief prayer in Lourdes, then onwards by train to Irun, the last town in France before crossing the border. We tried to find a church so we could get a priest to stamp our pilgrim passports, but in the end settled for the local police station, where we collected the first stamp of hopefully many!
So on Monday, we took our first steps into Spain. We were led to a pilgrim hostel by a very helpful bloke on a bicycle, who spoke no English. No matter - with his daughter translating on the other end of the phone, he got us to the hostel and a free night's bed and board.
The next morning the walking started in earnest. Where on earth I got the idea that the coast route would be less hillly I don't know - the hills are immense! At least there is a bit of a breeze on the coast, and the scenery is absolutely beautiful.
I'm not sure how much my knees and ankles can take, though. We've got the poles out whenever the hills have got steep - the last thing we need is for one of us to do a knee!
We managed 13 or 14 miles on Tuesday - not bad in temperatures of 31 degrees - having left the hostel at 7am and got in a good 8 hours walking.
Whoever wrote the guidebook really must have been a mountain goat, because there was no mention of the two massive hills we had to overcome!
Today, Wednesday, we've managed another 16 miles through some incredible hills, from San Sebastien to Getaria. But after two nights in pilgrim hostels (last night's was a school commandeered for the Summer - the snoring was unbelievable!) we're in a demi-pension tonight. We felt we needed a good night's sleep to rest some aching joints.
So 30 miles down, some 470-odd to go! We're off for some rest and 'refreshments', but I'll keep you posted on our progress through this page - on that, internet cafes have been fairly non-existent so far, so I'm writing this with the help of the mobile and my very own ghost-writer!
Say a prayer for us!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


10 days until Karen & I set off on our 'Way'.Maps have been checked (& cut down to size to save weight).Tonight we make plans in a local hostelry with friends who intend to join us for part of the Way.So an even more thorough check of the maps to make sure we actually meet.
Weather not been good to do enough practise walks...excuses...
I have to try out my old rucksack out as I'm not convinced by the new one - must do a longish walk.
Got a surprise gift in the post from Fi (sister).2 lightweight knife/fork/spoon combos - only 9grams each.v thoughtful - thanks.
there should be a photo of me poring over maps to go with this my first ever blog entry.But have not been unable to upload it from camera (thanks for trying to help -Red Dave & Terry.)
Spent ages on phone with Terry from ACN (the excellent charity who channel the sponsor money where it's needed).Already planning another Goodwill Walk but to an even 'more interesting' place.Trying to engage with some 'high profile' people to make the sponsorship side grow from family,friends & parishioners -won't say who yet.
That's it for now.Cheers,Paul

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Counting down the days

Right now we're less than two weeks from departure. I'll be letting you know how all the plans are going in the next day or two - once we've mastered all these technical gadgets!

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