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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Pelgrimspad in ENGLISH - Coming Soon!

Today I finished reading the English version of Pelgrimspad: Through the Eyes of Hans Brinker.

This guide is being written by Jan Gerritsen, who has graciously asked me to do the editing.

The Pelgrimspad begins in Amsterdam, Netherlands and continues to 's-Hertogenbosch, a distance of about 210 kilometers.

The Pelgrimspad 2 continues to Vise' in Belgium and from there a pilgrim can take various routes on their way to Santiago.

Although there are plenty of little places to rent a bed, there are also lots of camping spots along the way for the frugal pilgrim or the one who just enjoys sleeping under the stars.

Until now, all the guides have been in Dutch or German. This will be the first ENGLISH version and this route is sure to become a favorite, based on what I've read so far!

It was so exciting to read these notes!
My feet are itching to walk!

I plan on starting in May, if all things go my way.

So stay tuned, Pilgrims!

An English Guide to the Pelgrimspad is on the burner!

Buen Camino!

* * *
Note:  If you are interested in walking the Camino Santiago, 
or the Pelgrimspad, 
but are not quite ready to go it alone, 
consider joining Annie
on one of our small, affordable Camino walks. 
For more information see our website 
at this link: AnnieWalkers Camino

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gearing Up for the Camino Santiago - 2011

(Updated February 2014)

One of the few treatments that works for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
 is distance walking. 
Walking daily at a steady rate
 helps chelate the chemicals that build up 
in organs, bones, and tissues 
without causing the liver and kidney damage
 associated with chemical chelation processes.  

My favorite long distance walk is the Camino Santiago de Compostela, 
fondly referred to by many as The Way. 
Since 2006, I have tried to walk every year, 
and sometimes more than once a year.
 I also began walking with small groups in 2012.

When I talk to people who are walking for the first time, 
one of the first questions walkers ask is
 "What equipment will I need, and where do I get it?"

Walking the Camino can be as expensive or inexpensive as you make it. 
Some people will want to stay in 5 star hotels 
and have a transport company carry their luggage. 
Other pilgrims will carry a lightweight pack 
and sleep on benches and mats or in albergues along The Way.
Some will buy the latest expensive technical equipment.
Others will simply pack from the clothes in their closet.

Every Pilgrim, rich or poor, 
will need a certain amount of standard equipment. 
If you would like to purchase some equipment, 
here is a list of my Camino gear with explanation of why I chose each.

First Purchase is SOCKS:

I take with me 2 pair of wool socks and 2 pair of liners.
These liners separate toes - not necessary but cool
I love Smart Wool - they are cushioned
I suggest you purchase mid weight woolen socks, like SmartWool.  
Wool socks only have to be washed once each week. 
You will wash the liners nightly. 
The photo shows liners with separated toes. 
This is not necessary. 
In fact, I've heard these actually CAUSE blisters, so I'd avoid them. 
I just thought the photo was interesting :)

I do not always WEAR the wool socks. 
If it gets hot, I often only wear the liners. 
But my feet like the variety.

If you are walking in hot weather, June through August, 
you may decide to pick up some inexpensive cotton socks 
in one of the many China stores or open markets along The Way.  
But I always suggest people begin their Camino with wool, 
even in summer.
 Until your feet get used to walking 20-plus kilometers per day, 
they will appreciate the cushion.

Buy your socks before you go to try on shoes.

Second Purchase is SHOES.

On the Santiago Camino Forum there is a constant discussion 
about whether or not the Camino warrants wearing hiking boots.
 Each person has their own preference. 
I can only give you my opinion.

To me, the Camino is not a mountainous hike.. 
it is a "trek."  
It is nothing like the Pacific Coast or Appalachian Trails. 
There are not many places where you are scrambling 
up and down rocky slopes. 
Most of the time, 
you are ambling along at a comfortable pace on grassy or dirt pathways. 
There are some stony places, and some steep places. 
But not enough of those to warrant heavy hiking boots. 

70% of the pilgrims I've met who ended their Camino early 
ended it because of horrendous blisters.  
The blisters were caused by ill-fitting shoes.

I can not stress this enough.
You must have appropriate shoes.

This means shoes that FIT and shoes that are BIG ENOUGH -  
because your feet ARE going to swell. 
And then there are the little places that rub... and rub... and rub. 
You know what I'm talking about. 
Sometimes it is the heel. 
Sometimes it's where the shoe ties.

Often, with trekkers, 
it's the toe rubbing on the front of the shoe as you walk down a steep incline. 
If you'd like to see what can happen to feet when proper shoes aren't worn, 
do a Google search on "foot blisters!"  
Here's a good example:

You want a FLEXIBLE shoe that has good support, 
has a cushioned sole, 
and which has a large toe box. 
You also want a shoe that dries quickly. 
There's nothing worse than putting on 
a pair of cold, wet, stiff leather boots first thing in the morning.

For these reasons, I choose New Balance trail running shoes. 
New Balance makes a shoe on a shoe last with extra toe space - 
it is called SL-2.  
For an explanation of shoe lasts, see the following link. 
Please do not pass over it, it is important information: 

If you have narrow feet, this may not be important. 
But my feet are wide and short. 
The SL-2 show last has a narrow heel, 
so the shoes don't slip, 
and a wide, deep toe box
 so the toes don't rub against each other.

With the wonderful fit of New Balance, 
you can walk out of the store and directly onto the Camino 
with no time for breaking in the shoes. 
They fit from the first moment you put them on. 
I had only one blister on the Camino. 
It was after my first trek over the Pyrenees 
and it was because I did not wear my liner socks.

This year (2014) I bought the New Balance 1210.  
It comes on the #2 Shoe Last. 
It is extremely lightweight and comfortable. 
Not waterproof, but if these trail runners do get wet, 
they will dry by morning.

Whatever shoe you decide on, try the shoes on over both pair of socks. 
You want them to fit comfortably, with no tight places. 
You want a LARGE toe box so your toes can spread when you walk. 
 This is not like walking to the grocery store. 
Your feet are going to be hitting pavement 6 to 8 hours each day 
 and those toes will want to spread, 
something they're not used to doing in our regular, 
walk-to-the-refrigerator world. 
A large toe box giving your toes room to spread 
will prevent them from rubbing together and causing blisters.

I buy my shoes 1.5 sizes larger than I generally wear. 
The shoe salesperson will try to talk you out of this. 
Do not listen. 
Your feet ARE going to swell. 
You can always put on another pair of socks, 
but you can't make your shoes larger.   
I generally wear a size 6 and I buy a 7.5 for the Camino. 
They work great.

Third Purchase is GEL INSERTS.  
To me, gel inserts are a must!  
They protect the bottom of your feet from the constant pounding 
and from pebbles on the path. 
I buy Motion Control by New Balance. 
They are not inexpensive. 
I think I paid about $40 this year. 
They're worth every penny!

I like Motion Control inserts 
because they also keep your foot aligned in the shoe 
and this protects your ankles from turning in or out. 

To use, pull out the standard insert in each shoe 
and replace it with the gel insert.
If necessary, trim them, but beware… 
if you trim them too small, 
you'll create a place where your skin will get pinched so take care.

Doesn't matter which gel insert as long as it's made to cushion your feet against rocks

I pay between $65 and $125 for my shoes.
 I pay another $35-40 for the gel inserts.

because if your feet fail, 
your entire walk is over. 
Don't try to cut corners on shoes. 
Spend what it takes.

I belong to a club called The Clymb.
They offer 70-80% discounts throughout the year
on various types of gear.
If you join (joining is free) and send out invites to your friends,
and if your friends make a purchase,
you get credit toward your next purchase.
Here is an invite from me:
Invite to The Clymb

An example of the money you can save:
This year I paid $160 for a pair of shoes.
Then, I found the exact same pair on The Clymb for $45!
I bought a pair for next year's Camino!

Your next major purchase will be your backpack.
 I went to REI and other mountaineering shops
 and tried on many packs before I settled 
for my Arcteryx Khamsin Backpack. 

It is 30L and that is plenty big!
Good backpacks come in several lengths, 
which was important for my 5'3" frame. 
Mine has an internal frame and holds the weight close to the back comfortably. 
The shoulder straps are nicely padded, as is the waist belt. 
This is a top-loading pack 
with only one zippered compartment on the outside 
which I used for my Nysil pack cover. 
The attached adjustable straps were convenient places
 to carry my water bottles and trekking poles. 
There is no place for a hydration system on this pack.
 I choose to carry a bottle and fill it along the way.

Some people like lots of zippers and sections in their pack.
 I prefer one big top-loading bag. 
I then organize my items in easy-to-grab stuff sacks. 
There are less zippers to fiddle with and less weight to carry.

Joe, my walking partner, chose an Atmos 40L pack. 
It does have a place for his hydration system 
and he was very happy with the pack.

When you're shopping for your backpack,
 this will be a part of your body for the next 6 weeks, 
so it needs to be VERY comfortable.

Tell the sales person that WEIGHT and COMFORT 
are the two major considerations. 
You want a lightweight pack and you want one that FITS.

Try the packs on FULL. 
You should try each pack on with at least as much weight as you plan to carry.
 I suggest 10% of your total body weight.

A good gear shop will have weights for you to put into your pack 
so you can see what it feels like.
 Put the weights in the pack, put it on, 
and walk around the shop for at LEAST 10 minutes, 
noticing things like "Where does it rub?" 
There will be a blister there in a few hours!  
"Does it pinch me anywhere?" 
Another blister! 
 "Does it pull down on my shoulders?"  
Muscle cramps!

Most of the weight should fall on your hips, not your shoulders.
 Ladies, find a pack that has an adjustable strap in the front 
that is comfortable above your breasts. 
This is VERY important.

If you feel any problems at all, 
take the pack off and try another.
 I can't stress this enough. 
If you have to visit several stores to find just the right pack, do it.

You won't be sorry.

If the salesperson seems clueless or pushy, 
ask for another salesperson with more experience.

Don't be talked into a purchase that doesn't FEEL right.
 Listen to your body. 
A small problem now will become a huge issue on the Camino.

NEVER buy a pack online
unless you have tried it on in a store first. 
You must try it on with weight in it to know it will fit.

Is the pack waterproof? 
If not, you'll want to buy a nysil cover,
 especially if you're walking in the spring. 
There WILL be rain in Galicia. 
Covers run around $30. 
It should fold up very tiny and fit into the front pocket of your pack 
where you can quickly access it.

Once you have found a pack that feels comfortable,
 take it home, fill it up, 
and wear it around the house for a couple of hours. 
If you find any problems, take it back and start over!

Your next item of expense will be the sleeping bag. 
How heavy a bag you need depends on the season. 
My first Camino was from September to November. 
I get cold easy and I found my Marmot Pounder Plus to be perfect! 
Weighing in at 1.5 pounds, and costing $130, it was easy to carry.

I originally bought the Marmot Pounder which only weighs one pound. 
Although this would be a great bag for a summer walk, 
I felt it was too lightweight for September 
after testing it on my front porch in Oregon.
Marmot Pounder Plus weighs 1.5 pounds
 Joe simply took a $35 micro fleece liner and he was plenty warm.
Joe's fleece liner weighed about 1/2 pound

I've since found a down bag works great for me.  
It hurt my heart, but after a few years of carrying the bag, 
I cut off the hood and zipper (which I never used) and now I have a down blanket. 
I love it!

In the summer, I'd consider simply carrying a silk liner.
I've seen them on Ebay for as little as $19.
Silk liner weigh only a few ounces and pack up smaller than a cigarette pack
That said, last year in June on the Camino, 
I almost froze when the albergue in Obanos 
where the hospitalero wouldnt turn on heat or give us blankets
 and again in Santo Domingo when I stayed in an unheated convent. 
 If you do get cold, you can always wear your clothes to bed 
or stuff the foot box of your bag with clothing.  
I've also covered myself with my ALTUS poncho and stayed warm.
 Many albergues supply a blanket
 but you can't count on it.

If you are walking with AnnieWalkers, 
consider a lightweight fleece, 
as you will mostly be staying in places that provide linens and blankets.

Rain Gear
Many Pilgrims simply carry an inexpensive poncho.
 For me, this did not work. 
I tend to get cold, especially in the hips,
 and needed protection from the water so I didn't get chilled. 
The first time I walked, 
I found a featherweight set of rain pants and jacket made by Marmot.  
They kept me warm and were comfortable.

The second time I walked, I discovered the ALTUS PONCHO. 
I'll never look back!

Altus Ponchos come in 3 colors
Made of heavy plastic cloth, 
this poncho covers you and your pack from head to ankle. 
It has heavy snap closures and comes with its own stuff sack. 
Unfortunately, I've not found a place to order it in the United States, 
but you can order it from the sports shop in SJPP 
and pick it up when you arrive. It costs around €45 now.  
If you are walking with AnnieWalkers, check with me for the latest information. 
Whatever it takes to get, this is one of the best things you can buy for trekking. 
It keeps you and your pack DRY.

Trekking Poles
Your last big expense is optional. 
Many pilgrims, including myself, purchase walking sticks along the Camino. 
Made by the locals, they are absolutely indestructible and finely made sticks. 
You really need nothing else. 
You will find them all along the way anywhere from 4 Euros up, 
depending on their decor. 
They make a wonderful keepsake.
Fancy and Plain Sticks
The first time I walked the Camino Frances, 
I bought one of these sticks. It worked fine.

The second time, 
I was having issues with my wrists so I purchased Pacer Poles.
I'm sold on Pacer Poles!
There were positives and negatives to both.  
The sticks you purchase along the way are sturdy, inexpensive, and disposable.
 If you lose one, it's no problem, you just buy another. 
The pacer poles were great for my wrists. 
I liked having two sticks on the rough terrain. 
However, other times I felt they were overkill. 
That said, they were easy to fold up and strap to my pack for carrying. 
The biggest downside was the fact that some albergues will not allow poles inside, 
no matter how expensive, 
so you take the chance of having them stolen 
by leaving them outside or downstairs in a barrel.
 I didn't like that option and more than once, 
moved on to a different albergue so I could carry in my poles.

If I were short on cash, 
I'd bypass the trekking poles and just pick up a stick on the Way.

Other less expensive but necessary gear include the following:

Do not even consider walking without a money belt. 
I've watched in Italy as a thief sliced a woman's pack, 
grabbed her passport and wallet,
 and got away while she continued walking, not knowing she'd been robbed.  
Then there was the vomiting thief on the bus in Rome! (Ask me)

A money belt is the only safe place to keep your cash, 
your credit card, and your passport. 
Keep it on you AT ALL TIMES.  
Carry it to the shower with you, 
putting it in a ziplock bag to keep it dry.

 Never let it out of your sight, and never access it in public. 
Carry a small change purse for today's money. 
Keep the rest in your money belt. 
You can buy these online or at travel stores. 
Do not buy the ones that loop around your neck,
 as they are easy to cut, grab, and run. 
Buy the ones that go around your waist 
or the ones that fit over your belt loops and tuck inside
your skirt or pants.
Buy a money belt and USE IT!

This year (2014) I bought two different types of money belt; 
one by Tom Bihn that I love for extra cash.  
It looks just like a belt, fits into the belt loops of my Macabi skirt, and holds many folded bills.
 Here is one link to that belt: Money Belt Tom Binh
Now that I'm wearing my Macabi skirts,
 I have belt loops and I've changed over 
to also using this type of money belt with loops that fit over your belt.
 I love it because it doesn't bind my waist, and it is very easy to access.
Wearing two types of money belt gives me the option
of splitting up my cash
in case of theft.
Theft is not common on the Camino
but it does happen.
Wearing two types of money belt is a simple way to split up your cash.

 Depending on the season, you will need a hat.
 I have two hats. 
One is a Tilly Airflow Hat.
 I like it because it can be stuffed into my pack, i
t is good for sun, and it's also good for rain.
 I wear it UNDER the hood of my Altus Raincoat to make visability even better. 
Cost was about $35 on sale. 
You can often find them second-hand on Ebay.
My Tilly Hat - a ball cap is just as affective
My other hat 
is a featherweight Mountain Hardware Butter Beanie to keep my ears warm.   
The Mountain Hardwear Butter Beanie
 is great little headpiece to throw on or toss in your pocket for a ride or hike. 
It's super stretchy, and has the softness of well-worn flannel. 
The inner surface is lightly brushed and warms as soon as you slide it on. 
That same slight brushing on the inner surface 
serves to actively wick perspiration away from your skin.

The material that makes up the Butter Beanie is warming yet it has negligible bulk. 
The fabric is thin and the seams lay perfectly flat and don't bunch. 
The entire beanie is stretchy which helps it cling to your head. 
The almost unnecessary stretch band that goes around the bottom of the headpiece
 just seals the deal.
 In contrast to other beanies, this band is slight and doesn't bind around your forehead. 
Cost was about $20 on sale.

a ball cap is just as affective as the Tilly to keep sun off your eyes, 
but I love the Butter Beanie. 
It's amazingly warm and lightweight.

I also recently purchased a BUFF!

If you have never heard of this great piece of gear, 
go to this link and check out the video:  Ways to Wear a Buff

I used to take two pair of pants. I would wear one and carry one.

What's important is that these are lightweight, quickdrying, and comfortable. 
They must not be binding. 
Personally I like the travel pants with zip off legs. 
I find them for under $6 in the Activewear section of Goodwill here in Portland.

Macabi Skirt
Last year I wore two Macabi skirts instead of pants and I'll never look back. 
I'm in LOVE with these skirts. 
They are comfortable, cool, warm, have HUGE pockets 
that will carry guidebooks, water, and anything else you need for the day. 
They have a secret zippered pocket for cash and belt loops for my belt.  
Here is a link:

These skirts are incredible! 
I probably could have gone the entire 3 months with only one skirt! 
They NEVER get dirty.
They just don't hold dirt. 
When you DO need to wash them, they dry in 1.5 hours. 
They're tough, comfortable, and versatile. 

I love my Macabi! 
Here is a link to the community of women wearing Macabi skirts 
so you can read what they have to say 
and see the various colors and lengths they offer: 
If you buy one, please tell them "anniesantiago sent me!"

I take three shirts. I wear one and carry two.
 I take one long-sleeved shirt for sun or cold weather and two short-sleeved shirts. 
These come in all styles. 
What's important to me is that they are lightweight, quick drying cloth.
 I choose to have no buttons or zippers (weight). 
Lately I've been wearing merino wool teeshirts. 
They are warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. 
They also never seem to need washing. 
Hanging and airing each night seems to take away any smell 
and I wash my shirts maybe only once a week when on the Camino.

I carry one heavier micro-fleece shirt to layer if I get cold. 
These often have a zipper at the neckline.
I carry a featherweight hooded jacket to layer for wind and cold. 
If it is extremely cold, 
I put on my Altus Poncho over everything and stay toasty.

I carry one pair of cuddle duds or silk long johns.
 I get them at J. C. Penneys. 
You can find silk long johns online or at REI or other outdoor shops.

Keep these to a minimum, where possible.
 Remember, anything you need you can buy on the trail. 
Spain is a modern country with plenty of shopping malls in the larger cities. 
Here is what I take:

Deoderant crystal - 
I break a regular crystal and take one of the smaller pieces. 
Water will soften the sharp edges.

Liggett's Shampoo Bar - 
I use this for showering and washing my hair. 
Buy it online and keep it in a plastic soap case.

Fels Naptha - 
Used for the cold water hand laundry you'll be doing along the Camino. 
You can pick it up in any Spanish Tienda
 if you can't find it in your town or online.
In Spain, there are several varieties 
of cold water clothes washing bars.
 Cut it into about 4 or 5 pieces and share with other pilgrims.
 One piece will last the entire trip, usually. 
In a pinch I've used it for showering with no problems.

That's it for sundries, unless I've missed something.
I take no comb because I cut my hair very short.
I wear no make up
I certainly wear no perfume 
PLeASE do not wear perfume!
It's really difficult for people with allergies
to be stuck in a room with 
heavily perfumed people.

If I need lotion I use olive oil I find on the way
If you're a guy, 
carry a plastic razor and use your liggets to shave with… 
works great!

If you're a girl, consider giving shaving a break
and let those legs get hairy!

That's all I can think of for now except for the guidebook.
If I had to choose a single one, it would be this one.
Mine is dark blue - an older issue - and I still use it.

I have a system of packing that works great for me. 
I stuff my sleeping bag into the bottom of the pack, 
not bothering with a stuff sack. 
On top of that go separate nylon or net stuffsacks containing clothing.

Important Note:
 Please ignore any advice 
to carry your clothes in plastic grocery sacks and use cloth. 
The rattling of sacks in the dark morning
 is the bane of the pilgrim
 and you won't make a lot of friends in the albergues. 

For the same reason, please leave the headlamp at home.  
A bright headlamp in your eyes at 5 am doesn't put you in a good mood!

My cold/rain gear goes on the very top for easy access.
The underneath zipper compartment holds my toothbrush, soap, and towel.

My water bottle and guidebook go in the pocketa of my Macabi skirt!
My daily cash goes in a small change purse (maybe €20 for the day)
My big cash is split up between my two money belts.

That's it!
If you choose to take electronics, 
well, that's another post.
Consider leaving it all behind...
In the end, you want to look like this:

 NOT this!

Please feel free to ask questions or remind me if I've missed anything.
You're going to have a wonderful time!

Buen Camino!

NOTE! Please see the updated Gearing Up post at this link:
* * * 
If you'd like to walk the Camino
but aren't quite ready to do it alone,
see my website:
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cantores in Ecclesia

Last evening I had the great pleasure of attending a Mass celebrated by the beautiful singing group Cantores in Ecclesia. I'm still reeling from the beauty of it. From their website:

Cantores in Ecclesia was established in 1983 at St. Patrick's Church through an arrangement with its pastor, Fr. Frank Knusel, Bishop Paul Waldschmidt of the Archdiocese of Portland, and Dean Applegate, the choir's founding director. Its first weekly Latin Mass was on the Feast of Corpus Christi, for which it sang William Byrd's Mass for Five Voices and selections from his Gradualia (1605), foreshadowing a special relationship with the music of Byrd which has continued to this day.
In 2002, the choir became independent from the parish of St. Patrick and was incorporated as Cantores in Ecclesia, Ltd., a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission, however, remained unchanged: the restoration of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony to the church's liturgy. After several years at Immaculate Heart Church, Cantores in Ecclesia became the choir in residence at St. Stephen’s Church in December, 2007. In March 2010 the directorship of the choir was turned over to Blake Applegate, with his father continuing as managing director of the Byrd Festival and chairman of the choir's Board of Directors.

Cantores in Ecclesia’s “season” is year-long. The children's choir, rehearsing on Mondays, and the adult choir on Thursdays, provide music for St. Stephen's weekly sung Latin Mass, an extensive and energetic commitment of time and talent. With a choral repertoire from early music through the 20th century, they are dedicated to offering the very best in Catholic polyphony with an emphasis on unaccompanied Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony.

Cantores in Ecclesia has sung in concert and for liturgies at home and abroad, including tours to Mexico, Spain, France, England and Italy. In addition to its weekly schedule, the choir prepares sacred concerts and has recorded compact discs independently and for Oregon Catholic Press. Featured in print media and on the internet, with articles in BBC Music Magazine (August 1997), Brainstorm (February 2004), and The Early Music Review (2008), Cantores in Ecclesia has established itself as a leader in liturgical performance, winning loyal supporters at home and gold medals in international competition. One of the highlights of the choir’s commitment to liturgical and musical excellence is each August's William Byrd Festival, which since 1997 has brought guest conductors, lecturers and musicians to Portland for two full weeks of the Masses, organ music, madrigals and motets of the choir's old friend and inspiration, Renaissance composer, William Byrd.

The principal service of Cantores in Ecclesia, however, has been and will remain the integration of sacred music and liturgy. At its heart is the ancient sung prayer of Gregorian chant, supported by the sacred music of great masters such as Palestrina, Victoria, and Byrd. In this respect, Cantores in Ecclesia has changed very little since its inception: a choir fully dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony in liturgical context within the Latin Mass of the Catholic Church.

Last night's Gregorian Chant Proper, 
Viadana Missa Dominicalis,  
Dering Duo seraphim 
was Sung by the Children's Choir 
of Cantores in Ecclesia.  

The Mass is free and I highly recommend it, 
whether you are Catholic or not.   

Established in 1907, St. Stephen’s is a beautiful Italian Renaissance church tucked on the corner of a tree-lined street of old family homes and apartments, a quiet oasis just a few blocks from the bustling energy and activity of Hawthorne Avenue. With its impressive five story bell tower, rose window and terra cotta trim, St. Stephen’s two tone red brick façade is especially beautiful at sunset, when the dying light radiates warmth and welcome to the surrounding neighborhood. Inside, you find painted walls, ceilings and statuary. It reminds me of the church my grandparents attended when I was growing up. The combination of music, frankincense, and art is a feast for the senses!.

Next Saturday Cantores in Ecclesia will sing the polyphonic Propers from William Byrd's Gradualia of 1607. Why not set aside an hour to support the efforts of this world-renown local choir?

St. Stephen Catholic Church
1112 SE 41st Avenue
Portland, Oregon 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Walking the Pelgrimspad - Amsterdam to Santiago

I turn 60 in August of 2012 and to celebrate, I plan on taking a 3 month hike. There are two routes I'm considering. One is from Rome to Santiago with two of my friends who are ALSO turning 60. The other route I'd really love to walk is the Pelgrimspad, beginning in Amsterdam and going all the way to Santiago de la Compostella in Spain.

This is a lovely route, flat for much of the way. It passes rivers, windmills, historic towns and villages.

The Pelgrimspad is broken into two parts or "Deels."  Deel 1 goes from Amsterdam to Hertogenbosh, about 199 kilometers. That is about 124 miles.

This stage goes through some lovely countryside! (photos by Hans Schultz)

Direction Sign

Sometimes the way is marked by signs, and other times by small painted waymarks, so a pilgrim must keep their eyes open!

Deel TWO:  Deel 2 continues on to Vise' in Belgium, and is about 267 kilometers, about 165 miles for a total of 289 miles.
All along the way, campsites and other facilities are available.

The cost for camping; about 10 Euro per night.
Pensions;  25 – 35 Euros, including breakfast.
Hotels; 40 - 100 Euros per night

I plan on camping as much as possible, and staying in pensions only if it's raining.

According to Jan Gerritsen's guidebook, most of the Trail is on unpaved roads through forest and meadows. Large stretches are on paved roads and only short stretches are on tracks.

Once I reach Belgium, I'll continue to either Vezelay or Paris where I'll pick up the Camino. I haven't figured out how I will reach these cities yet. I'm talking to other people who have walked this route.
Click on Map to Make Larger

The trail runs southwest from Vézelay , famous for its pilgrimage to the shrine of Mary Magdalene, whose relics are reputedly kept in its magnificent Abbey.

Two distinct branches, of similar length comprise the Vezelay route - one passing through La Charité-sur-Loire, Bourges, Déols and Chateauroux, and the other through Nevers, Saint-Amand-Montrond and La Châtre - meet in the village of Gargilesse.  I'm not sure which I'll take yet. The route then continues across the foothills of the Limousin, the hills and valleys of the Périgord and the plains of Aquitaine and the Landes.  It joins the two other routes (from Tours and le Puy-en-Velay) near Ostabat.

The Paris route is the green line on the map above. 

It is approximately 1700 km from Vezelay to Santiago. That is 1056 miles for a grand total of over 1345 miles! KOWABUNGA!

I'm hoping to make this entire walk in about 3 months. If I run out of time, maybe I'll visit friends in Wales or find a housesitting job out of the Schengen countries for 3 months, then return.

According to the Confraternity of St. James website, the Vezelay route covers a wide variety of landscape and passes many historical sites & monuments.  After the foothills of the Morvan, the Niévre offers a great diversity of views, valleys, hills and forests, with only rare and very scattered dwellings. The large plains of the Berry are far from monotonous with their immense agricultural landscapes crisscrossed by hedges and copses. The valley of the river Creuse, and those of its tributaries (such as the Bouzanne or the Sédelle) are pretty at all times of year, with their gorges and the sites of their surprising dams. The Limousin is a land of forests and springs, of extensive cattle and sheep-raising, with its own distinctive architecture.  The Périgord, rich in livestock, agriculture and wine-growing, is crossed from one side to the other across the valleys of the Isle & Dordogne rivers.  The Gironde is the land of the vine (wines of Bergerac & Bordeaux), whereas the Landes, despite the vast plantations of pine-trees which may seem to isolate the pilgrim, present an ever more varied environment as one travels further south. As one approaches the Pyrenées Atlantiques one becomes aware with each passing day of the landscapes and the rushing mountain streams which announce the imminence of the mountain passes which are to be climbed.

I've also always wanted to see Lourdes, so a detour to Lourdes will be in the plans.

The Spectacular Pyranees
 However, I do love Paris and would enjoy spending a few days browsing The Louvre again.

Decisions, decisions!

And then, there's the trek from Rome to Santiago that Lillian has invited me to join...

Which shall I do?

* * * 
If you'd like to walk the Camino
but aren't quite ready to do it alone,
see my website:
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe