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Friday, 03 January 2014 20:50

2013 On Foot in Spain “Year in Review”

 

June 2013 Walking Death Coast Near Cabo VilanIt’s been another great year thanks to all of you who make On Foot in Spain possible! Putting together our own 2013 On Foot “Year in Review” has brought back wonderful memories of amazing luck with rain seeming to be all around us except on top of us in both April and October, unbelievable wildflowers in June along the Camino, the richness of harvest time in Portugal and the stunning views in the Basque Country and Galicia that fill the heart and soul. One of the things I love about leading On Foot in Spain tours is that I am constantly taken back and reminded of what is most important in life: friendship and caring about one another, beauty found in nature, the thrill of knowing and challenging one’s body, the appreciation of the simple pleasures in life.

Memories flood into my mind of these simple pleasures from this last season – swimming in the cold, refreshing mountain waters of the Lor River in Galicia; eating one of Jose’s picnics after a long walk; leading people over a hill where I know a glorious view awaits them; getting to take my shoes off to walk down pristine Traba beach and watching the others ahead of me doing the same; foraging on blue berries, blackberries, grapes, apples and all the other gifts of the Camino; sharing some of these moments with Sam and watching him absorb it all like a sponge; hearing the storks from their weighty nests high upon the church towers; gorging on cherries in June in the Bierzo valley; milking sheep and tasting the fresh milk; listening to people’s stories and sharing my own…

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so here is a collection of images from 2013 that we hope you will enjoy.

Nancy & Jose

View 2013 Year in Review Album

Published in Latest
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 21:18

Happy New Year 2010

People wait in line to enter the Holy Door gate that leads to the Holy Door. January 1, 2010.First blog. First day of the new year 2010. A good day for firsts. Today the Holy Door of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain was reopened ritually  marking the beginning of the 2010 Holy Year (An/~o Santo). Holy Years occur in a cyclical pattern of every 11, 6, 5, 6 years when the feast day of Santiago/St James the Greater, July 25th, falls on a Sunday. The last Holy Year was in 2004 and the next one will not occur until 2021. Pilgrims from all over the world will walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage this year and end their journey by passing through the Holy Door.

The first time I walked through the Holy Door was in 1993 after I finished my first pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago/Road of St James. Little did I know how much would transpire between walking through that door the first time and this latest passage 17 years later. In 1993 I entered with my pilgrim companions on a very hot July afternoon after waiting in line to enter for nearly an hour. The cathedral was packed and I felt overwhelmed with the emotion of the arrival. Today, I also, unexpectedly, found myself overwhelmed with emotion by the journey through that doorway. This time I was accompanied by my partner of 16 years and our three children. Gratitude was the prominent feeling. As we walked through the door and got on line to ‘dar un abrazo al santo’, ie, give a hug to the saint, all those years, and how much I have to be thankful for, came rushing through me. It was an ideal way to start this new year.

On this blog I hope to tell part of this story – what led to that first initial crossing and what transpired in between. Little by little.

Published in Blog

Nancy’s Book Review

Walking Your Blues Away. How to Heal the Mind and Create Emotional Well-Being by Thom Hartmann (Vermont: Park Street Press, 2006).

A pilgrim on the Camino has marked the way with an arrow pointing towards a heart. Things of the heart are ahead.I was gifted this book by a body worker[1] who walked with us along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2005. After sitting on the shelf unread for at least a year, the right moment finally arrived to crack open the pages. It’s a quick read and easy to access. The most compelling parts are when Hartmann discusses how walking is a potentially healing activity for emotional trauma. This concept immediately began to resonate with my own anthropological work on the contemporary reanimation of the medieval pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which culminated in my book Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago (UC Press, 1998). In the late 1980s people from many different backgrounds, countries, walking experience and belief systems (and frequently without a religious motivation) began to take up the traditional symbols of the Santiago pilgrim, the scallop shell and staff, and set out on demanding journeys walking westward across northern Spain (and even the far corners of Europe) to reach the tomb of the apostle James the Greater in Santiago de Compostela. Every year since then, more and more people undertake this walking journey and come home with positive stories of self-discovery, personal triumph, transformation and, even, change.

I found over and over again during my research that many people were led to walk the Camino (a personal journey that can range from one day to four months depending on the walker) to work through their own personal issues. Many were at a breaking point – graduate from college, mid-life crisis, retirement – or had experienced a loss – divorce, death, employment.  Whereas many pilgrimage sites, framed within a more religious context, are sought out by pilgrims to heal the suffering body, I found repeatedly that along the Camino, as they walked, people were healing the suffering soul.  In Pilgrim Stories, I write:

The journey of the Camino can reveal wounds – loss, failure, fear, shame, addiction – left festering from daily life. Experiences along the way often act as the catalyst that allows them to be exposed. It has been, and appears to continue to be, a road for hopes and miracles of fulfillment of a different order. Some pilgrims, acknowledging this themselves, refer to the Camino as la ruta de la terapia, the therapy route (Frey, p. 45).

Through the walking experience people opened themselves up, usually without any perceived intention on their part, to a whole series of unforced emotional experiences.  Time and again, people recounted thinking of people that had not been in their conscious thoughts for years, developing a more active dream life as well as feeling ‘more deeply’ while on the road.

In my book, I discuss this process of opening as part of the elimination of the distractions/stressors of daily life. When life is reduced to its basics and your mind is not absorbed with the minutiae of running a busy  life, full of obligations and demands, all of sudden there is space for feelings, emotions, memories to come to the surface. While walking (though also many times during sleep and dreamtime), pilgrims described to me how they came to new insight, resolution or clarity regarding issues from the past. The walking became a healing process for both known and unknown or conscious/unconscious (prior to beginning the Camino) issues from the past.

In Walking Your Blues Away, Hartmann has added a new dimension to my understanding of this healing process on the cognitive level with his discussion of ‘bilateral therapy’ – the alternating stimulation of the right and left lobes of the brain ‘while thinking of a problem or issue’ (p. 30). Stimulating both the thinking and feeling parts of the brain with the bi-lateral movement, the person is able to process the experience in such a way that it is moved from the forefront of memory to the past thereby reducing its negative hold on your psyche.  Apparently most of our memories are processed during our REM sleep – another form of bi-lateral stimulation. Sometimes, though, the memories are too big/painful to be worked through in REM. Bi-lateral therapy works to simulate the same type of memory processing so that painful experiences can be worked through and moved into the past. Hartmann explains, “With the walking therapy…in most cases this recognition that the experience is in the past happens during the walk itself.  That is the key indicator that the session has been successful” (p. 13). By  applying bilateral theory to walking (an activity that requires the constant stimulation of the brain’s left and right hemispheres with its side-to-side motion), Hartmann offers an excellent way for people to heal themselves without having to resort to traditional ‘talk therapies’,  or even any kind of verbalization of the trauma or painful memories.  He posits that perhaps we have been healing ourselves, since the dawn of time before we had experts – psychotherapists, psychologists, shamans, etc. – by engaging in our most fundamental human activities: walking and thinking.

His work is strongest when discussing the history of bilateral therapies and the application of them to walking based on his own experience and practice. Bilateral therapy has its origin in the development of healing techniques derived from hypnotism first recognized as therapeutic by Mesmer in the 1700s. He describes the fascinating story of Freud’s initial usage and success with bilateral therapy and hypnotism before he abandoned this path in favor of psychotherapy when hypnotism was discredited in Europe and America in the 1890s. His middle chapter on cultural bi-lateralism is over generalized and I found it to be an unnecessary distraction to the larger theme.

The last three chapters provide concrete advice on how to utilize his technique not only for resolving past trauma or negative feelings around a nagging issue but also as a means to increase creativity, motivation and physical health.  His technique is thoroughly described and is easily accessible to the lay person.  It consists of five steps very briefly summarized here (pp. 62-67):

1 – “Define the issue”. Figure out what’s bothering you and picture it in your head.

2 –“ Bring up the story”. Flesh out the issue and determine its level of strength inside of you.

3  – “Walk with the issue”. It usually takes less than 30 minutes to get resolution.

4 – “Notice how the issue changes”. While walking observe how your feelings around the issue shift.

5 –“Anchor the new state”. Review the transformation of the feelings to fix it in your mind.

He encourages a positive and optimistic viewpoint and helpfully reminds the reader: “Remember: There is no failure. There is only feedback. Learn from the feedback and continue on.” (p. 65)

His ideas resonate with my own observations of how people experienced the walking along the Camino. It was very common for those walking to come to some kind of resolution or decision. Many people wanted to do something more creative with their lives upon return home. Others spoke about returning to the Camino to ‘recharge their batteries’ – that the walking along the Camino gave them mental and physical energy that they felt lacking in their daily lives. Perhaps it was simply engaging in this process of bi-lateral movement while walking that allowed people to stumble along the path to their own healing process. In 2008 I interviewed a modern-day Camino legend, John the English gentleman who aids wayward pilgrims in his campervan, for a chapter I wrote for Lonely Planet’s 7th edition of Spain. He had a nice of way of describing the same process of healing. I asked him why he thought people were walking to Santiago today and he responded :

“My impression is that a very large proportion have suddenly been confronted with a grave problem with home, work, family, career, their physical health or love life…and they are so overwhelmed by their everyday preoccupations that they don’t know what to do about it. Walking the Camino is a unique kind of therapy. I call it ‘Self-administered Ambulatory Psychotherapy’. Troubled minds heal themselves – by walking the Camino de Santiago. (Spain, 7th edition, article: Camino de Santiago by Nancy Frey, p. 125, Lonely Planet, 2009).

John has also observed the healing quality that is experienced by those who walk this historical pilgrimage path. Intuitively people have sensed that walking to Santiago will be good for them and have heeded that call to go, once again, the ‘human speed’.

Hartmann’s book and technique will potentially be very helpful to people who walk (or those who don’t but who would like to) and who would like to more consciously make their walks productive for healing, creativity and focused thinking. While for many people the bi-lateral movement brings about the healing without realizing it, by having the technique available, it can potentially help people focus on problem solving as well as ‘anchor’ the new state so that the change is more lasting. In Pilgrim Stories, I write: “While it will not determine outcomes, making the pilgrimage can help the participant on a personal level to ‘rework the past’ and possibly ‘move toward a renewed future’ (Frey, p. 46). This sentiment is in essence the point of Walking Your Blues Away – it takes a very basic human activity and explores its great potential for healing and future well-being. Go take a walk!
[1] Thank you Erin Susan Parks for bringing this book to my attention.  Erin is the owner of LMT Massage for Optimal Living in the Atlanta area.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 20:41

Places

On Foot in Spain Walking & Hiking Educational Adventures specializes in small group (6 to 14 people) walking tours in northern Spain since 1999. We emphasize Spain's rich cultural heritage (art, history, folklore), its stunning and varied landscapes, flora and fauna as well as provide the finest in lodgings and regional cuisine.

Join owner-guides cultural anthropologist Nancy Frey (PhD, UC Berkeley) and writer, mountaineer Jose Placer (co-author Walking in Spain, Lonely Planet, 1999 & 2003 and Walking in Scotland, LP, 2001) on an unforgettable walking or hiking tour to one the following:

GALICIA - isolated coastal walks, abundant and varied seafood, ancient mountain villages, Celtic remains
PICOS DE EUROPA - emerald-green pastures, dense forests, soaring peaks, delicious cheeses and hearty stews
CAMINO DE SANTIAGO - medieval pilgrimage route, unparalleled artistic treasures, northern Spain's grand tour
COMPOSTELA - walk last section from León through green Galicia, earn the Cathedral's Compostela certificate
BASQUE COUNTRY & PYRENEES - Europe's oldest people, Guggenheim Museum, French and Spanish coastal and Pyrenees walks
PORTUGAL - Enchanting borderlands mixing coast and mountain landscapes, selected highlights of the Camino Portugués from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

On Foot in Spain - Rosalia de Castro, 29, 15886 Teo, A Coruña, Spain.

 

Published in Latest
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 20:39

About On Foot

OUR WALKS

All of our small-group (between 7 and 15 people) walks are personally led by the two of us. Traveling with us will be like traveling with a group of friends rather than with strangers. We have designed the walks (some are unique - created by us - and you won’t find them on any other tour) taking into account several factors: beauty, variety of scenery, quality of trails, avoidance of main roads, and proximity to points of historical and cultural interest. We use a support vehicle to carry the heavy luggage, a library, extra water and fruit, and the gourmet lunch, so all you carry is a small day-pack. Detailed maps of the day’s journey are provided before setting off. Walks of different lengths are offered most days depending on what you desire. The support vehicle is avaliable to ride with if you're feeling too tired to continue.

On Foot in Spain

WALK LEVELS
We rate our walks according to altitude gain and loss, walking surface and total mileage. There are three levels - Easy, Medium and Difficult. Easy: walks from 4-8 miles on mostly level terrain and gentle hills along a well-maintained trails. Medium: 6-12 miles on rolling hills and mixed trails with an occasional steep ascent or descent. Difficult: 8-15 milers with long ascents or descents on steep, rocky surfaces.

At the beginning of each itinerary you’ll find our ranking. It’s crucial that you select a walk that is within your physical limits for your own and for your fellow travelers’ benefit. Please contact us with any questions you might have about a walk’s suitability for you.

GETTING TO THE START
All On Foot in Spain tours cover ground transportation from the starting point to the finishing point. To reach the designated starting point we will provide more detailed information to facilitate your journey in the pre-departure packet we will send once your reservation is made and deposit received.

EQUIPMENT
An equipment list is included in the pre-departure information sent 3 months before departure. Your most important equipment will be what you wear on your feet.

ENTRY FEES
All your entry fees for museums, monuments, guided tours are paid for by On Foot in Spain.

CUSTOM WALKING TOURS
If you’d like to do one of our existing tours on a date not offered or would like to arrange a private, customized walking tour we are happy to try and accommodate your plans. Email us with the dates of desired travel, a budget of what you’d like to spend, how much you would like to walk each day (distance) and where you would like to go. We will then design your tour and give you a price.

CONTACT US
On Foot in Spain
Nancy Frey
Apdo 22
15960 Ribeira,
A Coruña
Spain

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Latest
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 20:35

On Foot in Spain

OUR WALKS
All of our small-group (between 6 and 14 people) walks are personally led by the two of us. Traveling with us will be like traveling with a group of friends rather than with strangers. We have designed the walks (some are unique - created by us - and you won’t find them on any other tour) taking into account several factors: beauty, variety of scenery, quality of trails, avoidance of main roads, and proximity to points of historical and cultural interest. We use a support vehicle to carry the heavy luggage, a library, extra water and fruit, and the gourmet lunch, so all you carry is a small day-pack.

Detailed maps of the day’s journey are provided before setting off. Walks of different lengths are offered most days depending on what you desire. The support vehicle is avaliable to ride with if you're feeling too tired to continue.

WALK LEVELS
We rate our walks according to altitude gain and loss, walking surface and total mileage. There are three levels - Easy, Medium and Difficult. Easy: walks from 4-8 miles on mostly level terrain and gentle hills along a well-maintained trails. Medium: 6-12 miles on rolling hills and mixed trails with an occasional steep ascent or descent. Difficult: 8-15 milers with long ascents or descents on steep, rocky surfaces.

At the beginning of each itinerary you’ll find our ranking. It’s crucial that you select a walk that is within your physical limits for your own and for your fellow travelers’ benefit. Please contact us with any questions you might have about a walk’s suitability for you.

GETTING TO THE START
All On Foot in Spain tours cover ground transportation from the starting point to the finishing point. To reach the designated starting point we will provide more detailed information to facilitate your journey in the pre-departure packet we will send once your reservation is made and deposit received.

EQUIPMENT
An equipment list is included in the pre-departure information sent 3 months before departure. Your most important equipment will be what you wear on your feet.

ENTRY FEES
All your entry fees for museums, monuments, guided tours are paid for by On Foot in Spain.

CUSTOM WALKING TOURS
If you’d like to do one of our existing tours on a date not offered or would like to arrange a private, customized walking tour we are happy to try and accommodate your plans. Email us with the dates of desired travel, a budget of what you’d like to spend, how much you would like to walk each day (distance) and where you would like to go. We will then design your tour and give you a price.

 

Published in Latest
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 20:31

Reading List

 

To make your journey more enjoyable you may wish to read about the areas we’ll be visiting and about Spain in general. If these are not available in your local library or bookstores most are available via the internet at www.amazon.com, Adventure Travel Bookstore (1800 282 3963 in US and Canada) or Mountaineers Books (1800 553 4453 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Also look for the website: www.wild-spain.com for information and interesting articles on outdoor Spain.

SPAIN

Walking in SpainWalking in SpainWalking in Spain (Lonely Planet, 1999, 2003). Miles Roddis, Nancy Frey, Jose Placer, Matt Fletcher and John Noble.



On Foot in Spain owners, Nancy Frey and Jose Placer, have chapters on Galicia, Cordillera Cantábrica (Picos de Europa), the Basque Country and the Camino de Santiago. The 2003 book covers all of Spain but not the Canary Islands.


Foster, Nelson and Linda S. Cordell, ed. 1996. Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World. University pf Arizona Press. Kerper, Barrie. 2003. Northern Spain. The Collected Traveller. NY: Three Rivers Press.



A good collection of articles covering parts of Spain hard to find information about in English including Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country and Cantabria

Measures, John. 1992. Wildlife Travelling Companion: Spain. Wiltshire: Crowood Press.

A general guide on flora and fauna of Spain good if your travelling across the country but not a specialist’s guide.

Hooper, John. The New Spaniards. Penguin. 1997.

Hooper manages to provide a well-balanced accounting of Spain as it is today and why.

Lalaguna, Juan. A Traveller’s History of Spain. 1996

Excellent, compact summary of Spain’s complex history.

Crow, John A. 1985. Spain. The Root and the Flower. Berkeley : UC Press.


GALICIA

Barlow, John. 2008. Everything But the Squeal: A Year of Pigging Out in Northern Spain.
Barlow, a native of England, has a great time exploring Galicia’s food traditions focusing on pork with his Galician vegetarian wife. A funny read. We won’t be eating nearly as much pork as he!

Borrow, George. 1842. The Bible in Spain.

19th century English Bible salesman George Borrow relates his experiences, in an often humorous fashion, in this excellent volume on mid-19th C Spain. There are accounts of areas we’ll pass through including Finisterre.

Casas, Penelope. 1997. Spain’s Green Corner. New York Times Travel. April 27, p. 12, 29.
Good general overview of Galicia’s coastal highlights.

Frey, Nancy. 2004. Galicia. Coastal Corner. Spanish Magazine. June (Issue 5), pp. 16-25.
Now find the article HERE!
An article describing Galicia and its highlights from Nancy’s perspective as someone who has lived in the region since 1997.

Frey, Nancy. 2003. Serra do Courel: Galicia’s Wild Frontier. Originally published on www.wild-spain.com.

Now find the article HERE!
Here I describe the beautiful range south of the O Cebreiro pass with an emphasis on the geology, flora and fauna.

Gemie, Sharif. 2006. Galicia. Histories of Europe Series.
A good general overview of the region with a strong focus on modern history.

Kerper, Barrie. 2003. Northern Spain. The Collected Traveler. An Inspired Anthology & Travel Resource.

The author presents a very comprehensive annotated bibliography of themes not just related to northern Spain but Spain in general in addition to good selected articles about each zone of the north including Galicia.

Michener, James. 1968. Iberia. Spanish Travels and Reflections.

While everything else in the book is terribly outdated, his chapter 13 – Santiago de Compostela offers a great read with solid historical information.

Jenny Chandler and Jean Cazals. 2005. The Food of Northern Spain: Recipes from the Gastronomic Heartland of Spain.

Beautiful photography and delightful prose in this lovely book on food in northern Spain.

Rivas, Manuel. 2003. Vermeer’s Milkmaid: And Other Stories

Rivas is a contemporary Galician author who writes about his region and this is just one suggestion to introduce you to his work.

Rosalía de Castro.
Considered to be Galicia’s finest 19th C poet, her work is full of nostalgia and strong sense of landscape and place. Follas Novas(New Leaves) is a good start.

Also check out the following website which has many resources about Galicia:
https://emol.org/zucker/genealogy/galiciaspain.html


PICOS DE EUROPA

Ena Alvarez, Vicente. 1996. In the Picos de Europa (Translation from Spanish). Leon: Edilesa.

General book on the Picos.

Browning, Frank. 1998. The Apple of Spain’s Eye. San Francisco Examiner. Travel Section. Sept 13, pp. T-1, T-4, T-5. Travel article on Asturian sidra

 

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

Clissold, Stephen. 1974. Saint James in Spanish History. History Today 24 (10): 684-92.
Excellent general overview of the development of the pilgrimage and cult of St James.

Coelho, Paolo. 1995. The Pilgrimage. A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom.

One of the most popular and controversial contemporary Camino books. Brasilian best-selling author, Coelho takes us on his mystical journey along the Camino in search of wisdom. He provides spiritual exercises.

Egan, Kerry. 2004. Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago. Doubleday.

Personal account written by a Harvard graduate student of theology. After her father died of diabetes she walked the Camino.

Follet, Ken. Pillars of the Earth
Masterpiece novel set in 12th C Britain during the period of transition between Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Follet develops a fascinating human and historical journey that even coincides w/ the Camino.

Pilgrim StoriesFrey, Nancy. 1998. Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago. Berkeley: UC Press.
Nancy’s anthropological study on the contemporary pilgrimage which brings to life the multitude of experiences of the modern traveler along the Camino based on her hundreds of interviews with pilgrims from 1992 to 1997.

Gitlitz, David and Linda Kay Davidson. 2000. The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago. The Complete Cultural Handbook. St. Martin's.

The title says it all. The guide covers art, architecture, history, folklore, flora and fauna.

Hitt, Jack. 1994. Off the Road. NY: Simon and Schuster.

Humorous and irreverent personal account of Hitt's 1993 walk to Santiago.

Hoinacki, Lee. 1996. El Camino. University Park: Penn State Press.
Deeply felt personal account with a strong spiritual emphasis by an older man who walked to Santiago.

Jacobs, Michael. 2003. The Road to Santiago. Pallas Guides.

Architectural guide for travelers along the Camino.

Lack, Katherine. 2003. The Cockleshell Pilgrim: A Medieval Journey to Compostela.

In the late 1990s, while an English cemetery was being moved, a 14th C pilgrim was discovered buried with his scallop shell. Lack, a historian, attempts to reconstruct his journey and 14th life on the road.

Laffi, Domenico. 1997 (1681). A Journey to the West. The Diary of a Seventeenth Century Pilgrim from Bologna to Santiago de Compostela. Trans. James Hall. Leiden (Netherlands): Primavera Pers and Santiago: Xunta de Galicia.
Delightful account and translation of Laffis 17th C journey. His eye for detail leaves us with a memorable legacy and Hall has added excellent illustrations to accompany the text.

Maclaine, Shirley. 2001. The Camino. Journey of the Spirit. Atria Press.
People either love or hate this book. Maclaine walked to Santiago in I994 and then wrote about her spiritual, physical, other-worldly and celebrity experiences along the way.

Melczer, William. 1993. The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela. NY: ltalica Press.

First English translation of the 12th C pilgrimage guide Codex Calixtinus that helped popularize th pilgrimage route. His translation and first-rate historical background and extensive notes, bring to life this fascinating and invaluable document.

Michener, James. 1968. Iberia. Spanish Travels and Reflections. NY: Random House.

While everything else in the book is terribly outdated, his chapter on the Camino (Chapter 13 - Santiago de Compostela) offers a great read with solid historical information.

A food lover's pilgrimage to Santiago de CompostelaMoore, Tim. 2005. Spanish Steps. Travels with My Donkey. London: Vintage Press.
Funny account of this Englishman’s trials and tribulations walking with his donkey to Compostela.

Mullen, Robert. 2010. Call of the Camino. Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela. Findhorn Press.
Mullen blends issues of mind, body and spirit in this engaging account of his walk along the Camino.

Newman, Sharon. 1997. Strong as Death (Catherine Levendeur Mysteries). Forge Books.

Murder stalks Catherine and her husband Edgar on their 12th C journey to Compostela. She must use her wit to figure out who among the assorted traveling companions did it!

Nolan, Dee. 2010. A Food Lover’s Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Penguin
A journalist and olive oil producer Dee fulfilled a dream walking the Camino with us and then wrote this exquisitely beautiful book in which she let her heart and palate be her guide.

Nootebaum, Cees. 1997. Roads to Santiago. Detours and Riddles in the Lands and History of Spain. NY: Harcourt.

This popular Dutch writer takes you with him on his long journey through Spain to Santiago covering many, many topics.

O’Marie, Sister Carol Anne. 1993. Murder Makes a Pilgrimage. NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Modern day murder mystery set on the contemporary Camino with a septuagenarian nun Sister Mary Helen as the protagonist and unlikely crime solver.

Rudolph, Conrad. 2004. Pilgrimage to the End of the World.
Very good and thoughtful, compact travel essay by an art historian who walked to Santiago.

Rupp, Joyce. 2005. Walk in a Relaxed Manner. Life Lessons from the Camino. USA: Orbis Books.
Rather than the typical diary account Joyce, a 60+ walker, focuses on the basic messages she took from the pilgrimage: Live in the Now, Listen to Your Body, Don't Give Up, Trust in a Higher Power, Humility.

 

CAMINO IN PORTUGAL

Camoes, Luis Vaz de.16th C. The Lusiads. Oxford University Press.
Considered to be the greatest epic writer of his time, Camoes writes nostalgically about the age of oceanic discovery just as Portugal’s golden age was dimming.

Gomes, Tania. 2006. Flavors of Portugal. Thunder Bay Press.

Provides interesting recipes including unusual family ones in this bilingual edition.

Hermano Saraiva, Jose. 1998. A Companion History of Portugal. Carcanet Press.
Good historical overview of Portugal’s fascinating history.

Kaplan, Marion. 1998. The Portuguese: The Land and its People. Viking Press
Kaplan is a photo journalist and her writing is strongest when discussing the art and architecture.

Russell, Peter. 2001. Prince Henry ‘the Navigator’ : A Life. Yale University Press.

Deals with this key figure of Portuguese history toppling many of the legends surrounding his personage and giving excellent contextual material surrounding his life and age.

Saramago, Jose

He is a Portuguese Nobel Laureate who has published many works including the non-fictional: Journey to Portugal: In Search of Portugal’s History and Culture, and the wonderful, haunting work of fiction, Blindness (Harvest Press).

 

BASQUE COUNTRY & PYRENEES

Barrenechea, Teresa and Mary Goodbody. 2005. The Basque Table: Passionate Home Cooking from One of Europe’s Great Regional Cuisines. Harvard Common Press. he Lusiads.
Wonderful introduction for foodies.

Gallop, Rodney. 1970. A Book of the Basques. University of Nevada Press.

Excellent collection and analysis of Basque folklore from song to dance to witchcraft.

Kerper, Barrie. 2003. Northern Spain. The Collected Traveler. An Inspired Anthology & Travel Resource. Three Rivers Press.
Great collection of articles by well-known writers on a variety of topics covering all of northern Spain.

Kurlansky, Mark. 1999. Basque History of the World.
A very readable but incredibly biased description of the Basque people from pre-history to the present day. It can’t be taken seriously as a historical account as many of his outrageous claims are not backed up. His take on the current situation with the Basque terrorist organization ETA is misinformed and one-sided and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Laxalt, Robert and Joyce. 1999. The Land of My Fathers: A son’s return to the Basque Country. University of Nevada Press.
Memoir written by the son of a Basque immigrant who returned to visit his father’s village in Spain. Laxalt is considered to be one of Nevada’s finest writers and has written several books set in the Basque country including the award winning A Cup of Tea in Pamplona.

Sevilla, María Jose. 1990. Life and Food in the Basque Country. New Amsterdam Books.
Discover the Basque Country and its people through its food culture. Good, leisurely read.

Woodworth, Paddy. 2007. The Basque Cultural History. Signal Books.

Irishman Paddy Woodworth has been writing about the Basques for thirty years and is most well known for his take on the Basque terrorists, ETA, in his Dirty War, Clean Hands. The book provides good background information on the Basque Country in general.

Published in Latest
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 20:30

Accommodations & Cuisine

CUISINE

Cuisine

The diversity of cultures that has formed part of Spain’s history, the great range of climates and the varied geography of the country have all contributed to make Spanish cuisine a splendid combination of its forbears. Spaniards passionately love their cuisine and take eating very seriously. At On Foot in Spain we also take food seriously and we delight in stimulating your palate with the best that Spain has to offer. We will introduce you to each region’s specialties and wines during both our roadside picnic lunches and in the evening in the finest local restaurants. Here is some of what you have to look forward to and its historical archaeology.
Olive oil, the fundamental essence forming the base of many dishes, came from the Romans as did several forms of cooking: roasting, grilling and the use of the brick oven.

CheeseVisigothic influence from northern Europe in the 4th century AD added an emphasis on livestock and shepherding and consequently the development of hundreds of types of cheese from pungent blues, to creamy cow’s milk rounds, and sharp, hard sheep’s milk varieties. The fame of Spain’s hams, the result of acorn feeding, come from this era as did the vegetables artichokes, spinach, and turnips.

Despite 700 years of Moorish residence of Andalucia, the imprint left on Spanish cuisine tends to be more savory and subtle than immediately apparent. You’ll find shades of flavor in the spices: saffron, cinnamon, cumin, anise, caraway, cilantro and mint; the plants: citrus, rice, eggplant, and sugar cane; and in types of dishes: vegetable and meat stews, vegetables stuffed with ground meat and the use of poultry, rice and frying.

The discovery of America wrought great change in the Spanish kitchen as the new and exotic products (tomatoes, peppers, cocoa, corn, and potatoes) were slowly incorporated. Rather than use peppers to create hot and spicy food (which you won’t find in Spain), ground sweet red pepper - pimentón - became an essential ingredient in sausages and as a frequent condiment for stews. We have to thank 16thC Spanish monks in Mexico for the invention of chocolate when they added sugar to cocoa. The Spanish queen Maria Teresa introduced it to Europe.

CuisineAs is customary in other parts of the Mediterranean the largest meal of the day is at midday (usually between 2-3) and consists of a first and second course (usually a vegetable then a meat dish) served with wine, dessert and then coffee. Dinners are late; not usually beginning before 10pm in most households. On our tours we make an effort to create a compromise between American and Spanish customs with rich, wholesome but not heavy lunches and dinners arranged well before the Spanish hour.

AccommodationACCOMMODATIONS
After the day’s walk and the evening meal slumber will happily come in the accommodations we’ve selected for each of our stops.

Depending on the tour, you’ll stay in either out of the way monasteries, charming rural guest houses (often restored stone farmhouses), luxurious paradors and/or hotels located in the heart of the city center.

All rooms have bathrooms.

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Nancy Frey with Martin Sheen

Emilio Estevez's film The Way set on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, and starring his father Martin Sheen premiered in Santiago de Compostela on 8 November 2010. Nancy was there and met them both.

By Nancy Frey:

The Premier of The WayWhen I heard that Emilio Estevez’s new film, The Way, set on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain would be premiered in Santiago de Compostela on November 8th, I was eager to go. Starring his father Martin Sheen, Estevez wrote and directed the film as well as appears in it as Sheen’s on-screen son. I knew that in 2009 they had been filming along the route and I wondered what kind of Camino film two Hollywood notables would make. I invited my friend María Santos and off we went to the elegant 19th century Teatro Principal in Santiago´s historical quarter to find out. I have to admit it was quite a thrill to see Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez walk the mini-red carpet surrounded by a sea of umbrellas as the rain accompanied their entrance.

As we sat down to wait for the movie to begin, I realized how interesting it was to have María at my side. The Camino is something that I’ve lived and breathed for the last 18 years. María, born in the US and a daughter of Galician immigrants, knows about the Camino de Santiago but has no personal experience with it herself. How different, perhaps, our perspectives would be. When the movie began to roll I was filled with emotion as I could I identify nearly every scene, landscape, historical monument and bit of Camino.

Martin SheenEstevez and Sheen’s angle was clear early on: It’s a movie of the heart from start to finish. 2010 has been my own personal year of the heart and so this tack resonated strongly with me.
Countless times over the course of this year I’ve been reminded to listen to my heart: Let the heart be your compass.
(I’ve accompanied the article with several photos from the film and post-premiere event as well as images of heart stones that Jose and I have collected over the years along the Camino de Santiago that we have in our house.)

In The Way Sheen plays Tom Avery an ophthalmologist from California who becomes an accidental pilgrim when he receives the tragic news of his son’s death on the Camino.
Estevez and Sheen take us on a gripping, epic journey in equal parts hilarious, deep, heart-wrenching and moving as we share the struggle of a father gripped with confusion and remorse to understand the tragic loss of his only son Daniel, a person he realizes he never really understood. Tom suddenly finds himself in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a small village in southwest France where many pilgrims start the Camino today. Impulsively, he decides to take his son’s pack and ashes and walk the 800km across Spain making the journey that his son could not.

The Premier of The Way

The opening scenes are very moving and set the stage for the profoundly human story of how we must each fumble along to find our own way. In the movie Tom says to Daniel before he heads to the Camino, ‘I live the life I chose. Why can’t you do the same?’ Daniel responds, ‘You don’t choose your life, Dad. You live it and that’s what I’m doing.’ The pilgrimage is a metaphor for life and the pilgrim the lost soul who finds his way back home by following his heart. Estevez (and Sheen through his inspired performance) makes you care about this lost soul and wonder how he will ever make it. Unlike other Catholic centers of worship where pilgrims often look for a cure of the body through faith, modern pilgrims to Santiago (most of whom would not define themselves as religiously motivated) frequently seek some kind of answer for life’s inner woes. The focus is on the power of the journey rather than simply reaching the destination. Many people find themselves doing the pilgrimage to Santiago and are not sure exactly why but somehow know that it is the right place to be. The contemporary pilgrimage to Santiago is very popular precisely because of its openness: there’s a place for everyone irrelevant of age, background, faith (or lack thereof) and motivation and it has a way of hitting each individual in just the right spot (even though what that spot might be can be quite a mystery).

One of the common sayings among pilgrims along the Camino is that ‘You can start alone but you never end alone.’ The power of community and friendship is a theme reinforced throughout the film. Tom starts very much alone but soon acquires three unlikely companions who share his journey.

Nancy and Emilio EstevezAs Estevez shared with me at the after-party, The Way is a modern-day Oz story as three flawed characters help Tom (Dorothy) find his way back home to his son, his heart and, ultimately, himself and his faith.
The movie brings vividly to life the sights, sounds (both pleasant and annoying – in addition to a great soundtrack including Coldplay, Alannis Morrisette and James Taylor), color and feel of the Camino as we see the group of pilgrim friends share meals, sleep together in the pilgrims’ refuges, walk through the varied landscapes as well as have both good and bad encounters with locals and, importantly, with each other.
Despite their conflicts, and also because of them, the pilgrims are able to have unexpected moments of liberation and insight.
The Way gives us a picture of the Camino, warts and all, to show how pilgrimage is a process of trial and error, forgiveness and insight, sorrow and laughter and how pilgrims’ motivations are as varied as a rainbow from the deeply religious to personal angst to physical challenge to the apparently trivial. The characters are credible and you care what happens to them keeping you riveted until the end.

Estevez and Sheen want to show how the Camino’s magic helps to work change in pilgrims – when people leave behind their normal lives and go to the pilgrimage stripped of most of their possessions, normal stress and obligations, they connect more easily with the world (ie, self, nature, God, others, body, history, etc). Unhindered by the labels, status and titles they may have back home, when the day’s obligations are reduced to the basics (walking, eating, and finding a bed), suddenly life seems much easier. As pilgrims lighten their loads mentally, they often describe how their inner worlds also free up giving way to the possibility of greater insight and self-awareness. On the Camino people describe connecting more intensely to everything around them and inside of themselves. Making the pilgrimage to Compostela helps many people discover their own way on the Way – it can be a type of mobile therapy.

Nancy and Martin SheenAfter the premiere I asked María her general impression of the film. Overall she was very positive but was surprised at how ‘religious’ it was. I hadn’t felt the same way. Reflecting on it more, the themes of re-finding one’s faith and connecting with something spiritual are definitely present but it seemed to me part of each person’s private story and not an imposition on the audience. Also, being a religious pilgrimage in its origin, it’s inevitable that elements of the Catholic church will be woven throughout. I think I also take for granted with my years along the Camino the incredible diversity of stories and how on the Camino it is possible to be steeped in religion yet not feel religious. Yes, religion is inevitably present throughout the film but its intention is not to prosthelytize.

The moving story behind the story also involves the heart. When Emilio Estevez introduced the film to the audience he started with a quote: ‘It’s a pleasure to return from whence I came.’ He said, ‘It is the same for Martin and me. Our film is a love letter to Spain. It’s a love letter to Galicia.’ Before Martin Sheen took his stage name he was Ramón Estevez son of a Galician immigrant from Salceda near the coastal town of Pontevedra. Spain remained close to Sheen’s heart and he continued to return to his father’s native land. Seven years ago Sheen invited his family to tour Spain with him. They ended up doing their own road trip of the Camino as they crossed the north of Spain to Galicia. This journey and Sheen’s own faith eventually led them to make their own film about the pilgrimage way and transform it into a tribute to the land of their ancestors. The film is dedicated to Martin Sheen’s father.

The WayAnyone who intimately knows the Camino will find a number of odd edits of landscapes. Emilio Estevez explained to me after the premiere that his original movie was 3.5 hours long and he was required to do some creative editing. This is inconsequential to the overall feeling of the film as the scenes selected are visually rich and conjure the depth of beauty of Spain in its many facets (and at its best). They did skip the sections where pilgrims must walk along roadways or wait in lines at refuges but one would expect that type of poetic license. Also, the pilgrims themselves remain remarkably immaculate during much of their pilgrimage, they don’t seem to have any physical problems and Tom tends to charge through the whole Camino with great determination and vitality. I would have softened his pace as his character softens and evolves over the course of the journey. The development and transformation of Sheen’s character is particularly good. We see how the others are deeply touched by the Camino but I did wonder how the experience would stay with them over time. Of course, this a major interest of my own (How does the journey impact people in the long-term, if at all?) as I explored in my book Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago.

These are minor complaints as The Way manages to touch on and give accurate and colorful insight into a wide ranging mix of Spanish (eg, regional differences and Gypsy stereotypes) and Camino culture. There are several scenes that poke fun at Americans and there is an especially funny moment when two characters debate about the proper word to use for Spanish finger foods – tapas or pinchos – in northern Spain that brought the house down in the predominantly Spanish-speaking audience in Santiago.

The film also wrestles with one of my favorite Camino topics: authenticity. One night around the fire the pilgrims debate about the nature of the ´true/authentic’ pilgrim. One side claims that real pilgrims only walk and must suffer as they did in the medieval past. Another pilgrim points out the hypocrisy in this idea of modern self-styled suffering pilgrims who travel with plenty of comforts (eg, cell phones, credit cards and waterproof shoes) unknown in the past. It’s not how you do the pilgrimage that’s important but how you carry it in your heart. Walking with your own pack is one way to do the Camino but it’s not the only way. Everyone must find their own Camino. That’s one of the central messages of the film: Nunca es demasiado tarde para encontrar el Camino. It’s never too late to find the Way/way. There’s no formula to be a ‘real/authentic’ pilgrim. It’s a real shame how many, many people today see the Camino as a competition of who is a better (ie,imagined ‘authentic’) pilgrim and get very snooty about where they started, where they stayed and didn’t stay, how far they’ve walked, how many times they’ve done it, etc as if that were the point of the Camino. What a sad outcome of a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. Authenticity comes from within and isn’t found by following some unwritten code of oughts and shoulds and trying to impose it on others. Live your own life. Live your own pilgrimage. Follow your own heart. Walk your own Camino (and stay clear of anybody who tries to tell you there is a right way)!

Nancy Frey


***I’d like to thank my dear friend María Santos for accompanying me to the premiere and the post-premiere cocktail where we met the remarkably gracious Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen.

***For more information on the film, see the official The Way-The Movie website: https://www.theway-themovie.com/

To find out when YOU can walk the Camino.....visit our 2015 Calendar!

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