July 16: After that absolutely mind blowing experience at the church yesterday (it really moved me a lot more than I thought), I was in a fairly good place mentally, my body above my feet continues to impress the hell out of me, but my feet… they were becoming the real burden here.  My left foot was the worst due to a large key fob size blister on the ball of my foot, dead centre under my toes.  several small blisters were also evident on my toes, little one especially.  The heel spurs I permanently have on both feet had also been aggravated into blisters… You get the picture.

Yes, I have tried everything, I broke in the hiking boots, have proper wicking socks, was vaselining my feet like I do on marathons, taping the friction spots, cushioning around the blisters, I even cut away an intend in my shoe insert to relieve the pressure on my worst blister.  Alas, it was not good, and I knew it would be a long slow day today.  It’s the combination of: my weight plus the pack (30 lbs or so), the rough terrain, the heat, the sweat, the moisture, and the Kms day after day that finally take their toll.  Hence my decision to suffer alone, at my speed, for whatever I could do. 

Oh, and did I mention that the high today without cloud would be a humid 38 degrees walking a stretch of Spain called the desert.  haha, love it folks!  this stretch has only two stopping options; Logrono about 10 Kms out, or Naverrete about 12 Kms further or 22 in all.  My start after breakfast was also delayed a few minutes as I walked back to get my walking stick I had forgotten, lol.

As my first solo walking day of the whole trip, I finally cracked out the ipad and flipped on some tunes.  Yes, for fans of the movie “The Way”, these include a fair share of James Taylor!  I think the tunes really got me through it.  When I arrived at Logrono, I was really torn as I felt great otherwise, and was happy to get some more distance in, but my fee were singing a different tune. So I thought about it, but frankly this was no small town, it was a city, and it just didn’t “feel” right.  Too big, too far from the experience, so I decided to travel on. 

Well I made it to Naverrete, just, in the heat and pain, at around 1:45.  Another 22 Kms in the bag, but I was toast.  After inspecting my feet and realizing that I needed to do something about them it began to dawn on me that I needed some medical attention and a rest day.  My hostel was new and clean and bright with great beds and while I was having the in house meal (simple pasta and salad), I asked my host “Angel”, no really, that’s his name, if I would be able to stay a second day if needed.  Of course was his reply although it is well known that this is generally not allowed, and then he promptly arranged for his dad to transport me to the local hospital to doctor my feet.  Wow!!! 

The doctor’s jaw dropped about 5 feet when he looked at the big blister which had now lost the skin (yuck), and the promptly called his nurses in to see also.  We all had a good laugh about that until he started to clean and bandage it.  Can you say “OUCH”.  haha.  It’s all good though, although a one day of rest was ordered!

And so, here I sit in Naverrete, blogging with my spare time with my feet bandaged and elevated and trying not to think about my fellow Perigrinos passing me by as I write.  Very hard my friends, very hard.    

FYI: unless I get another rest day, I may not Blog for a while.  It’s hard to fit in and I find I am so mentally spent after a day on the trail, that I am not very entertaining in my posts (as in the last two on Day 14 & 15…

We’ll see!  In the meantime, I am also adding blog style commentary to my numerous pictures I post on Instagram that also automatically populate Twitter & Facebook.  Feel free to follow me there.  Facebook name is: Scott J Patterson

Cheers all: Beun Camino =D

PS I’m only 170 Kms into this hike, just 630 Kms to go, lol 

July 15th: Ok, so before I get started on today, I must complete yesterday. You may remember we were staying in Villamayor de Monjardin well, after dinner my Austrian companion managed to score a key to the mountain top castle and so we climbed the 600 metres in about 20 minutes (I know), but what a fantastic view, the castle was literally at the top of the mountain and we had a 360 degree panoramic view of Spain. Breathtaking and scary all at the same time we could see back to the Pyrenees in the west where we started and then you could see forward to the next set of mountains where we were heading – Yikes!

It was about 7:30 when we headed back down to our hostel and it was still well over 30 degrees with not many clouds in the sky, and humid as well. What a day.

Now, finally the July 15th. Today we decided to rise early and go as far as we could. It would be Arius, Berndt & I. We knew it would be even hotter today (37 degrees), with no clouds so we left at around 5:30. Everything was going pretty well, the morning was still a little cooler, the sun was rising ever so nicely over the Pyrenees, and me feet were holding on… for now.

By the time afternoon hit, and we had been walking through what the Spaniards call the “desert”, I was really wishing I had stopped one town sooner. But onward we went and I basically crawled into Viana Spain after 33 kms. Phew, what a day.

Looking for a hostel, we had a choice of 3, a private one (fancy – $15 Euros, a public one very nice $9 Euros, and our choice: The Church – Donations only! I really wanted to get the true authentic Perigrino experience.

The Perigrino has traditionally been humble (not necessarily poor), simple traveller on a religious pilgrimage following the traditional Frances Camino de Santiago (the most popular of several routes) from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago Spain. 1,000’s of Perigrinos travel this way every day of the year, with the most populous being in the summer of course. This is the trail that Saint James is said to have travelled originally.

The 800 kilometre route is fairly well marked with several traditional markers, some are the red & white stripe (I believe this signifies the church), but more recently, it has come to be designated with the sea shell, in yellow when drawn, but often in white or silver when embedded in the rocks, stones, and pavement. Yellow arrows (sometimes with a blue background) are also often seen to help navigate town intersections, paths through the woods, etc. Many water fountains are set up along the “Way” as it is also know, so that travellers can stay hydrated. One even has a wine option J I am told that the markers, and fountains and the Way in general is in part maintained by the local benefitting communities, but also the European Union pledges cash towards it as it is a Unesco world heritage site, and generates considerable travel to Europe.

Today, only about 30-50 percent of Perigrinos are actually on a religious pilgrimage as it has become a very popular spiritual experience while for others it’s the challenge of the gruelling kilometres. Almost every country has now been offered an inspirational book from a local writer that has inspired their countrymen to come and travel it. Whatever the reason, they are here, in droves from all countries. To date I have met Canadians, Americans, Norwegians, Swedish, Irish, Brits, Australians, New Zealanders, South Koreans, Japanese, Italians, French, Spanish, Austrians, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Russians, Slovenians, Germans, you name it :)

On the Way, though, we are family; we walk, live, sleep, eat, laugh, limp, suffer, and celebrate together. Men, women, children, teachers, students, labourers, managers, retired, unemployed, we are all the same, and we would do whatever we can to help each other.

OK, back to the church and the true Perigrino experience: The church is the Santa Maria and it is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. As such it is unusual as it is mostly adorned with statues, pictures, etc. of women. Quite refreshing J The accommodation is simple, a room with 11 others with a mat (gym style) for a bed, no sheets, pillow, just the mat. No worries, as a properly adorned Perigrino I have my own bed roll with a pad, sleeping bag (unique, sheet one side, bag on the other, made for hostel and warm weather camping, but very light – from MEC), and a blow up pillow. I also keep a pillowcase around it all that I can stuff with laundry etc. and this acts as a great pillow.

We have some time to kill so I make good use of it and head to the local Farmacia for some blister meds as Mass will be at eight, dinner included at 8:40 following mass, and there is a breakfast also at 6:30 am, also included. I decided to go to the Mass as although it was optional, I felt I should honour those who were honouring me with such a wonderful experience. The mass of course was in Spanish, and while I really did not understand a word, I naturally understood everything as it is all truly universal. Even got the singing pipes out and hummed along :)

After Mass, it was dinner time. Awesome is all I can say about that. Arriving after mass, I pitched in cutting up a few loaves of bread while others did other things, and then with our usual collection of countries in attendance (Germany, Hungary, Norway, Austria, Lithuania, France, and Canada, plus Spain & Italy – our hosts), the mood was excellent, the chatter (mostly English), and the laughter was abundant. As was the food!!!!   The ever present water & wine were on the table, with the bread, and then the first course arrived. The most delicious Spanish potato salad with spuds, tomatoes, olives, and I’m not sure what, but it was great! Then a hot pasta casserole for the second course, and there was more of each of these servings than we could even eat (though I tried on the salad, haha).

When we all thought we could eat no more, to simple flour cakes were brought out and we ate some more. The leftover cake (there was a lot0 was then portioned into Perigrino road packs for us to take on the road the next day. I know, really. The dinner conversation was great also. We asked our hosts if all this was usual and they told us they did not know for sure as this was their first day! It seems that alumni Perigrinos are encouraged to volunteer to return to the church and host for 2 weeks in a future summer if they wish. The two ladies we had (a young lady from Italy and a one from Barcelona) were just as excited to be there helping as we were. Brilliant idea :)

Sleep came quickly, even on the mat after the 33 Kms of the day, and while my travelling companions were making an early start before breakfast, I chose to stay and have the breakfast. Partly because I’m Scottish and it was included, but mostly because I knew my feet would not allow me to keep that pace and distance with them in the morning. As it turned out both Berndt & Arius left alone at different times as well. The breakfast was the usual on the trail, some bread, jam, yogurt, etc., so I had my oatmeal & tea as usual plus a yogurt. Great stuff!

Talk again tomorrow :)

July 14th:  After saying Adios to Kristen at 7:00 (it was very hard actually, it’s funny how attached you get to your travelling mates), John, Lan & I set out for a long haul.  We hooped to do about 30 Kms, but it was quickly obvious that Lann was very slow and not up to it.  John wanted to stay and see some churches alum the way so when Carmela from Ireland came up on us, we decided to go on ahead.  we had a great chat about Ireland and families and such and also ate a groceria bought lunch in a park and it was grand.  eventually, she was stopping and I was going on, and then john arrived as Lann had stopped and he wanted to motor on.  we latched on to the Russian duo who I had seen a few days ago (Paulina & Slava) so we motored on and put in about 35 Kms over 9 hours and landed in Villatuerta.  That’s were John & I turned in, but the Russians were going on further. 

My feet were toast.






July 13:  We planned our departure to miss the gridlock of the bull run in Pamplona and arrive just afterward at about 9:00. Everywhere you looked in the streets it was the same: white and red outfits, drunk or the  hangover revellers, broken glass/plastic cups, wine, san gria, and the smell of urine. Yuck.

Most streets were also in the process of being cleaned though with great sewer cleaner type trucks spraying water and soap down the cobblestones. Party clean up crew :). After our 40 km 20 km days back to back, we were rather exhausted so we only covered about 15 kms today stopping in Zariquiegue for the night. Well actually just Kristen & I as June decided to join a new friend she met there who was also from South Korea and wasn’t feeling well.

This is when we also learned that Kristen plans had changed as her meeting with her suitor had been moved up, two days and that she was heading to meet him by bus in the morning.

Sad day but that is the Camino, people keep weaving in and out of your journey, leapfrogging by you then ending up behind you, its funny really. 

After a really nice dinner of beef stew (very different meaning here, like beef and vegetables cooked separately then served together) that was said to be beef from the bull killed in Pamplona that morning (grain of salt applied here, lol), we met up, with some folks we hadn’t seen since the first night in Orisson. Plans were then hatched for me to join John from New Zealand and Lan from Japan in the am, brilliant.






July 12th: After a great night in Zambiri we faced a rainy day and set out for Pamplona. About 25 km. It would be Kristen, June & I. It’s hard to describe the beauty even in the rain, but also the rough terrain is hard to describe. Wet, slippery, uneven, rocky, really hard on the feet. 

Every town we came upon we could see all the locals getting ready for festival in Pamplona. Traditional white tops & pants are accentuated with red scarves and belts. Torro =D

As we continue we learn that the festival runs all week with a running of the bulls every morning at 8:00. Streets get closed at 6:30 am and we also learn that all rooms and beds have been booked long ago so we reset our sights on the town before at Ari. We are very fortunate to get the last few beds in the basement of a church hostel dating back to like 1100.

There is no door to the inner courtyard yet it is cozy enough. None of us are really sleeping that well between noises, fear of bugs (Kristen) and what not, haha. As always though we all wake up early and are ready to get on the road. 

All in all an interesting day of rain, 20 km hike, creepy church basements, and great sights.

Sorry, a little quick due to memory, and being behind on my blog issues.








July 9th: 44 hours of train nightmare to St Jean Pied de port from Slovenia, through Paris, France… nothing bloggable or fit to print.  haha, we’ll pick it up on arrival in St Jean Pied de Port.   

July 10th:  Arrived in St Jean Pied de Port at 12:50 or so.  I had met a young lady travelling alone from Norway named Kristen in Bayonne, France as we waited for the bus and we had decided we wanted to travel together for a bit and that we both wanted to head out as soon as we got to our destination.  OK, don’t go inventing stories now, haha, yes, she is a very fit 38 year old blond from Norway, and Ok, yes, cute, but seriously folks, you know my story and hers was pretty simple, she had a 10 day vacation and was spending a few days on the Camino while her ex has her two boys, and then after a week, she plans to meet her new man in Spain.  But thanks for giving me the benefit of your doubt, haha.  You guys kill me. 

We were both already exhausted from long crazy travel through Mordor, and we were facing the toughest elevation rise on the whole Camino, with a late start.  the trail was almost immediately straight up.  and for 7 Kms and chiming 100 metres per KM we landed at the first stopping point around dinner time and with the next spot over 10 Kms away and another 700 metres straight up we decided to stop at Orisson.  Only problem was it was a little pricy at 33 Euros as it was not a public hostel but a private one.  The good news… dinner and breakfast were both included :)

So, having seen the movie “the Way”, and what not when they brought out several pots of delicious pea soup for all 22 of us, I thought, OK, if there is any left for seconds you better get some, and Tim from Connecticut was thinking the same thing so we all loaded up on as much soup as we could, haha.  Kate & Linda from Colorado were doing the Camino as a first trip as a couple and they too were devouring the soup.  Imagine our surprise when the second course arrived: sliced pork & home made beans & vegetables.  =D  plus, cake for Desert!  Nice.

After that, we expected a pretty good breakfast, but that was not to be, bread, jam, and tea, that’s it, so of course I added my oatmeal!

We were on the road by 7:30 and we decided that we should try to make up for our late start and short run on day one.  The cold wet next 700 metre rise to 1400 metres was a challenge but we were feeling a little better and we had added a traveller to our family, June from South Korea, just 22 and off to see the world.  As we were about to summit the peak, out of nowhere a magical van appeared selling bananas, boiled eggs, you name it.  It sure was a welcome site!

Refreshed, we pushed off, passing by Lepoeder at the peak, and we motored right through Espinal, Lintzoain, and finally came to a stop in Zubiri, some 40 Kms or so from where we started in Orisson.  Maybe a little too much though as wen were very tired when we arrived about 10 hours after we left, and there was no question that blisters had started to grow.  By the end we were singing Beatles tunes and anything we could think of to survive the last Kms to the next hostel.  We had seen some great sights, but we did not have too many pictures to show as it was foggy & rainy all day.  

We went to the local restaurant for dinner and it was full of peligrinos from all over, Ireland, Canada, the US, etc.  price of a seat was a song from your country and more singing.  Had a blast singing More Beatles tunes, etc.  A very fun night.

The accommodations in Zubiri were typical public hostel, just 6 euros, but no meals, no frills.  over night we were roomed with about 20 others and this one older guy and his women were beyond strange & annoying, haha.  He talked out loud to himself  as he tried to fall asleep for hours, then he snored like a trooper.  Earplugs are OK, but not made for that abuse, lol.

… =D 

July 8th: Bled, Sweat, & Tears 

Naturally, even despite being up till around 2:00 downloading pictures and messaging a certain someone in Canada (Norma), I woke up long before my 6:30 alarm. I was pretty much all packed and ready to check out anyway, so time for oatmeal and hit the road as I was meeting the Dorrian’s at 7:30 at their hotel and then on to the bus station for a ride to Bled.

Bled? Bled is a town, a lake, a castle all rolled into one location about an hour outside of Ljubljana. We had several goals for the day (Patty is so organized and well researched). Even the intermittent, sometimes heavy rain would not deter this gaggle of Canadians, so we set out circumnavigating the lake, a 6 kilometre path of pure beauty. We did take a few offshoots, the first being the Bled Castle.
Once again it was going to be an uphill climb as these folks castle folks liked the high ground. The guide said there was a moderate path, or a “Desperate” path, not being able to read what was what, we naturally selected the latter (Pun intended). :P trust me it was a maze of stairs and switch backs that would make anyone’s knees a little shaky, but it did not slow us down, we were up to the top in a mere half hour or so!

The castle itself was not that large; however, the view of the lake, the island within the lake and the mountains was nothing short of spectacular. Lots of “Kodak” moments up there for sure. The way down was interesting only due to the grade and the slickness of the stones in the rain. Oh and while we were in the castle, it had just poured. Back to our lakeside path until we were half way around and then it was time to take a gondola out to the island.

The island was just large enough to hold a rather big church, but steeped in history. It is also by the way, the only island in the whole country as we were told by our gondolier. Now this man was impressive. He was tall, buff, I mean ripped, shocking grey hair, chiselled jaw line, tanned, and clearly could bench press anyone of us. We had time as it was just the four of us on the boat, so we chatted him up and discovered dome really cool things. He is 70 years young, was an Olympic rower in both the 68 & 72 Olympics, in the eight man rowing competition. At the time he was rowing for the former Yugoslavia, and was the youngest of the eight. All but one are still alive (the first just passed away a few years back), and he told us that they all get together annually to row. Amazing!

Hungry? Yes watching him row was exhausting, so the guide book had also clued us in on some other must do’s: You must eat cake! The book referred to the custard cake back at the gondola launch, but our gondolier had scoffed at that and suggested we have traditional Slovenian cake at the church! OK, fine, but 99 steps stood in our way. That’s right up again over the 99 steps that were said to be good luck if you carried your bride to the top. Yeah, good luck for the bride if you were well insured, haha.

Tried the traditional cake, and while tasty, it was a little dry for my liking. It was a rolled nutty style, made in Bundt pans, which we were told were introduced by the Austrians during their rule and had been adopted as the traditional cake for Christmas, Easter, etc.
After a rainy ride back to shore, we decided to split a piece of custard cake to compare, and we all agreed, this was the good stuff as the guide book had promised.
 Fully fuelled on cake, we were able to complete our lake path tour back to our starting point quickly as we had yet another few adventures to complete.
Back at the bus station we were able to hire a Taxi to sweep us off to the local mountains to walk the 3 or so Kms through the forest alongside a fantastic river gorge. Once again the rain came in waves but we timed it just right and got the trek in without too much water damage ;) Last thing on the list, Pizza of course, touted to be the best in Slovenian (well it was really good; however, I personally preferred the one from the night before in Ljubljana!

Perfect, and all in time to catch the 4:30 bus back to the city as I had another train to catch. Arriving back at 5:50 or so, I had just enough time to rescue my Backpack & carry bag from the locker, scoot down to the post office (open till 7:00 daily – wow), and Tony assisted as we packaged up most of the extra dead weight I had been lugging around with me (5 Kilos worth) and mailed it home. Awesome, no more lugging extra stuff between towns and then paying for railway storage.

To be honest my pack, which now has the 3 plus weeks food I need to do “the Way”, is still a little too heavy, but it will get lighter every day as I eat my way through my rations, something to look forward too. Still, just one pack is very nice!

OK, 22- 28 hour train gambit is a foot, boarded the train at 9:10 pm, lucked out hard course as it is a newer train (no WIFI, but comfy, cool, and clean), and I have a 6 bunk cabin – ALL to myself! Woot Woot. Heaven, I’m in heaven, well at least for the next 12 hours or so 
Not sure when I will be able to update my Blog next, as I will be starting the way after this full day of travel, but stay tuned, without Jay/Janet or Tony/Patty to guide me, as we all know, bloody anything can happen =D

Cheers, Scott.

(Note as I post this 37 hours into my trans Europe train nightmare… You don’t want to know, but France & French trains Suck! Thant is all. Next post will be on the “Way” =D

Love you all, cheers, Scott.


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