Do or dare

Farm life has it’s chores – stacking wood for winter use, weeding, planting and covering strawberries with hay has been on the schedule this week. Now covering strawberries with hay sound pretty easy, but when you have to get the hay from a manger in a pen full of bull calves, it turns into quite a dare.

IMG_3725
Bull calves in their pen – picture taken this morning before feeding

My new Swedish friend, wwoofer Kristina, did not feel like going into the pen, so the task went to me. Very intimidated I ventured in and desperately tried getting to the manger. Since cattle spend a lot of their time feeding, naturally the calves were hanging out in front of the manger. It turned out to be an exercise in assertiveness. Me using my deepest voice to shout “move move move” while trying to lean on them to make them understand.

IMG_3726
Thelma, her bull calf in the back and Penelope resting

I got in front of the manger, filled my arms with hay, and now had to get out behind the calves to pass the hay to Kristina. I was only scared half to death that one of the calves would kick me…so I nearly ran trying not to slip in cow dung.

IMG_3728
New calf arrived Sunday night – no name yet

Getting the hay took several visits to the pen and many trips to the manger and back behind the calves. Little by little my confidence grew and when one of the calves started nibbling at my pants, they all of a sudden seemed friendly enough. I like to believe I made some new friends that day…and Kristina told me I had done a great job collecting the hay in such conditions. I guess she was really happy, she didn’t have to go in there.

IMG_3716
The lounge area of my little cabin

Almost as a celebration the hot tub was set up for last night. I took care of stoking the fire in the afternoon, and once night time and the dark had set in, we all changed into our swimming gear and jumped in. This was my first outdoor hut tube and what an experience! In the dark, with stars shinning up above, all we could hear was the frogs calling, while we soaked in the hot water and enjoyed the beautiful night sky view.

IMG_3713
Chilling a few Guinness for Kristina and I to enjoy after the hot tub

After work today I returned to Dean’s Bluff. I think I called it Gentleman’s Bluff earlier, but the correct name is Dean’s Bluff. The trail is pretty steep – 18% according to my iphone, but the view is definitely worth the hike. Not only a view of the farm and lake, but also of snow covered mountains and the sea. I will venture up there again as soon as we get a day of sun.

IMG_3720
View from Dean’s Bluff. Farm is in the right side corner

Farming life

IMG_3680
Sun is coming up over Blue Jay

So I’m starting to get settled at the farm – learning more and more of the daily chores. This week I tried milking a cow for the first time. It is definitely a skill that takes time getting good at, but I didn’t get kicked or dropped the milk bottle. I was however competing with the newborn calf trying to get to the utter.

IMG_3682
We had some snow this week. This is the view from the main farm house

I also had my first dinner duty. The produce on the farm is top quality, but it is slightly different from what I normally cook with at home, so I decided to make falafel with pita bread and a cabbage chop salad. I think I have finally figured the wood stove out. I was very happy with the result and it seemed the other people on the farm agreed:

IMG_3675
Fresh baked pita bread
IMG_3677
Cabbage chop salad
IMG_3678
Dinner time at the farm
IMG_3685
Rye bread

Of course one of my first projects has been to bake rye bread. I have already gone three weeks without, so I could wait no longer. I made a sour dough and got baking. They turned out great and newcomer to the farm, Swedish Kristina has approved, so I’m happy. I wonder if it is worth while trying to make liquorice?

IMG_3700
The lake just behind the farm

I try to find time to do hikes, since the island is amazingly beautiful. Just look at that scene above…5 minutes from the farm. When it warms up a bit, there is a campsite right there and I can’t wait to sit around a fire and enjoy that view!

IMG_3690
Fine dinning experience at the CO-OP on Cortes

This week also provided a special dinning experience as one of the residents from Blue Jay did a French Fine Dinning event at her work place – the local CO-OP. It was Michelin worthy with the white table cloths and the food was really delicious. I already suggested that Carly should do a pop-up restaurant this summer.

IMG_3691
First course – Pork pate with garlic confit and freshmade butter
IMG_3692
Second course: Vol au vent with scallop
IMG_3693
Dessert: Rich chocolate mousse

It was a real treat and a fun experience to try. Of course our Blue Jay table made a bit of a scene when the napkin from the bread basket caught fire at the table, but we stopped the fire and pretended nothing happened 🙂 It is not all farm life out here.

This weekend I am in charge of feeding at the barn, so twice a day I climb to the hay loft and push hay through to the cows and goats. Who would have thought I would be doing that just half a year ago? It has shown me the level of commitment needed when dealing with livestock. I love the fresh dairy products, but it seems too big a commitment for one person, so I guess having livestock will have to go on the back burner as long as I’m single. I will just have to buy my dairy as most other people do.

I will end this blog with a picture of one of the farm dogs – Kassidy is 15 years old and deaf, but such a sweetheart. She guards the farm along with the other dog Sadie, who will always try to trick you into a game of Stick, even though she is not allowed to.

IMG_3706

Contemplating

Tomorrow will finish off my first week on Cortes Island at Blue Jay Lake Farm and it has gotten me thinking. As mentioned the farm is off-grid, which means electricity is to be used sparringly, the toilet facilities are made up by a compost toilet for number twos and a transformed bidet for number ones and cell phone connection is non-existing. But big, amazing views are however to be found everywhere, like the pictures below. The mountains in the background is the mainland – Vancouver Island.

IMG_3655
View at Whaletown beach
IMG_3657
Whaletown beach

The sun was out, I found edible seaweed and I enjoyed a small break right there in the sun. It is all bout enjoying the easy pleasures in life – my new motto.

Like I really enjoy the high quality of food we get at the farm. Fresh cows milk, homemade butter and yougurt, fresh and canned vegetables from the garden and meat and eggs from the farm animals. It makes you think about the effort put into making that food available – the manhours and the planning it took.

IMG_3662
Hanging out on a log

It is my day off, so I have hiked to Squirrel Cove. I was told it was 12km, but according to my phone it is only half that. A nice little walk before enjoying a café latté and second breakfast.

IMG_3673
Back at “the office” enjoying second breakfast

So back to my thoughts…the hike facilitated that. Having grown up in a small country like Denmark, I have sometimes forgotten to appreciate the basics that are provided – probably through taxes, bills and other form of payments, but nevertheless much needed. A simple thing like electricity at our fingertips at a decent rate. We do not struggle with powerouts, because most of our cables are below ground. This also ensures us internet and the ability to connect at all times.

After just one week up here, I have made one big discovery about myself…how important is it for me to be able to communicate with my friends and family. Just being able to chat means the world to me. So with that in mind, I think I can safely say that I will not be looking to live off-grid permanently.

 

IMG_3663
Tried to get a 180 view of the beach

Yesterday the farm had a new calf. A sweet little thing we all rushed to meet. Tomorrow morning I will have my second barn duty and within too long, I will be expected to do the barn chores myself, which includes milking the cows and the goats. This is definitely a new world to me, but I hope the animals will trust me to do the job and stay calm while I learn. I seem to remember having heard that when milking, the farm girls often sang or hummed to keep the animals calm. Maybe I will try that trick and see if it works.

I have embarked on this adventure to learn. Not just skills and new trades, but also to learn about myself and what I want my future to look like. So far that is going according to my plan…I sure am getting my priorities straight.

 

Going off-grid on Cortes Island

IMG_3620

Gail was kind enough to drive me to Campbell River last Tuesday. It was a lovely drive up the coast of Vancouver Island. I guess it doesn’t take more than a few mountains to amaze me, but they sure looked pretty.

IMG_3623
Ferry from Quadra Island to Cortes Island

I had booked fare with The Cortes Connection, which is a van service from Campbell River to Cortes Island via Quadra Island. Yes, it takes two ferry rides to get to Cortes! I felt at home being on the ferries and sent many warm thoughts to the crew on the Tunoe ferry. I sure do miss those guys and their amazing service.

Onboard the van I met the nicest people from Cortes. They were kind, informative and I enjoyed swapping island stories with them. Turns out that the van driver also drives the ambulance – good man to know in a pinch! Another passenger offered me a welcomming gift. The herbal kind that I’m sure was homegrown, since he told me he grows his own tobacco. What a nice man!

IMG_3625
View from the ferry to Cortes

After having dropped of a parcel at one of the neighbouring houses – going offroad in the van to make that delivery. Let me tell you…postal services around the globe should take note. The van almost got stuck in the mud, but the delivery was made. I helped carry the heavy packet in myself. I sense a high level of dedication and service! The Cortes Connection already comes with my warmest recommendations.

IMG_3631
View from Gentleman’s Bluff

I was met at the driveway by one from the farm and good thing, because the 3km could just as easily have been 20km with that terrain. If I had had to haul my big pack myself, I would have arrived sometime during the night. Luckily I was expertly driven right to the door and shown my new humle abode before being offered dinner.

IMG_3649
The main farm house

I have a little house of my own – bedroom and kitchen/lounge area all heated with a woodfired stove. There is a little mudroom/entry way to leave footwear and I’m sure it will come in handy as summer approaches. The water is currently not on in the house, but it will be put on shortly. Toilet and shower is at the farmhouse that also houses the common area and the owner.

IMG_3642
My little cabin – with a fire going

Right now, after I just unpacked and rearranged the furniture in the lounge area (it has to be ”hyggeligt”), I sit by the fire enjoying a snifter of the rum I brought from the airport in DK and listen to the rain outside. I can already tell this is a more simple and spartan place when thinking in materialistic terms, but I hope it will bring a richer and more giving life in areas that I value.

IMG_3644
My new diggs

I have been out exploring the surroundings on the property, and I can tell that as spring and summer approches, it will only become more and more beautiful. Already I have seen sights similar to the ones I was enjoying on Instagram before coming:

IMG_3636
From the lake next to the property
IMG_3645
Breakfast coming up made by fellow wwoofer Dylan and I

The road not taken…

IMG_3611
Celebrating turning 40 with these two amazing Camino friends

On my birthday two days ago, a good friend of mine sent me a greeting and wrote that it seemed very fitting that I was celebrating my day in Canada on the verge of a new adventure in my life. And I guess she is right…I have been one for taking the traditional route in life. I moved out of my parent’s house when I was 19 – and moved to London. I did course that required two internships abroad, so off I went to Sydney and London again. I pursued my dream of working in the car industry, I moved to a small island and learned how to smoke fish and now I sit in the home of my Camino friend’s house in Victoria, BC.

IMG_3576 Læs mere The road not taken…

Forberedelser – fysisk og mentalt

IMG_3430

Der er under en uge til, jeg flyver til Canada. Det føles helt vildt, men også helt rigtigt. Det er 20 år siden, jeg sidst boede i udlandet. Dengang var det Sydney, Australien, der stod på billetten. Det var en kæmpe oplevelse dengang…og lidt skræmmende, for der er langt hjem til DK, når man kun er 20 år og sidder på den anden side af jordkloden. Men dengang mødte jeg fantastiske mennesker, der gjorde min tid dernede magisk, og jeg er sikker på, at min tur til Canada også bliver fyldt med nye skønne oplevelser og mennesker. Jeg flyver til Victoria, hvor jeg skal besøge Gail, jeg mødte første gang, jeg stiftede bekendtskab med Camino Frances.

Faktisk mødtes Gail og jeg sidste år i Seattle i januar, og jeg ser frem til at se hendes by denne gang. Jeg får også mulighed for at mødes med Stuart – endnu en Camino buddy fra min tur sidste år. Der bliver helt sikkert delt Camino historier, når vi alle tre mødes. Faktisk har de lovet at hjælpe mig med at fejre min 40 års fødselsdag, når den rammer d. 27/2.

IMG_3441

De seneste tre uger, jeg har boet i Vestjylland. Det er altid rart at komme hjem og lade op ved den jyske vestkyst. At blive blæst igennem og nyde den smukke kystlinje vil altid betyde ro i sind og sjæl for mig.

IMG_3229IMG_3231

Der foregår også en del fysiske forberedelser. Jeg har kastet mig over at genoplive en gammel oilskins jakke til min tur. For hvor svært kan det være? Som billedet viser indkøber man voks, der så smeltes langsomt over vandbad til formålet. Den del af processen er temmelig overkommelig. Jeg havde godt læst, at det kan være en omstændelig opgave at vokse en jakke, men som altid tænkte jeg…hvor svært kan det være?

IMG_3230

Sådan en jakke kan vel lige ordnes på en formiddag eller? Det er faktisk ikke fordi selve det at vokse er svært, men det tager væsentlig længere tid, end jeg havde forventet. Jeg har taget et lille nap hver dag, og projektet skrider da også frem, som I kan se:

IMG_3232

Jeg skal nok blive færdig til afrejse på tirsdag, og hver gang jeg ifører mig jakken, vil jeg glæde mig over al det arbejde, jeg har lagt i den. Men når min Barbour oilskins jakke trænger til en opfriskning, er jeg næsten sikker på, at jeg vil benytte mig af Barbour’s serviceafdeling, og lade dem klare opgaven.

IMG_3396

Jeg har brugt aftenerne i Vejers på at genopfriske mine evner til at strikke. Mest fordi jeg forestiller mig, at jeg får en del aftener på min rejse, hvor jeg ikke har adgang til tv, andre mennesker til en snak eller en god bog, og at strikke skulle jo være sundt, så jeg har allerede fabrikeret en karklud. Naturligvis er der indkøbt strikkepinde af træ, så jeg ikke bliver stoppet i sikkerhedskontrollen på vej ombord! Det føles nemlig rart at producere noget, istedet for bare at sidde og se ud i luften.

IMG_3450

Jeg slutter dagens indlæg med et billede taget i går morges på terrassen her i Vejers. Billedet viser desværre ikke helt de mange “diamanter” frosten havde skabt i løbet af natten, der glimtede om kap i morgensolen. Men jeg fik fornøjelsen af dette smukke syn, og tager det med mig som et håb om, at min forestående rejse vil blive fyldt med strålende, smukke og givende oplevelser. Nyd dagen og nuet!

New adventures

A few of you have been asking about my plans for the future, and I am finally ready to share it with you. Since I got back from Spain and the Camino Frances, I have been very sure that my time in the big city is coming to an end. I miss the country side, the quiet and closeness to nature. I have been pouring over travel and nature pictures on Instagram and dreaming myself away almost every day.

Life waits for no one, so on the 21st of February I will be boarding a plane for Canada.

IMG_3179
I have borrowed some pictures online, since this is my first visit to Canada.

I will start by visiting my Camino friends Gail and Stuart in Victoria to catch up, get to know their beautiful city and if the weather allows it, maybe do a hike with them. They will be my base during my travels in this beautiful country, where I hope to see some of the places I been pining for for so long.IMG_3170

I bought new walking shoes and they are aching to take me new places and show me new views. I have never done camping or outdoor living. My mother hated it, so we always stayed at hotels or beach houses. Maybe because I have never tried it, it has an allure to me, and I hope to get the chance to get a taste of the great outdoors during my Canadian adventure.

IMG_3181
Oh Canada

Another theme I have been pouring over online, is Tiny House living. Canada and USA are currently really expanding on this lifestyle, and I will be looking for ideas and trying to get a feel for this way of living while I am there.

Organic food…Well, you know I love it, and luckily some parts of Canada is really embracing sustainable, organic produce. I will attempt to taste my way through it all and pick up as much knowledge as possible.

IMG_3180
Another borrowed photo of this amazing country

So, my friends, for the coming future you can find me in Canada. I will try to share the experience as I explore, enjoy and breathe in as much a possible while I’m there, but with such a vast country, there will be areas without mobile connection and internet. I actually look forward to just being in the moment and living life to the max.

See you on the flip side…

 

2016 retrospect

img_3116
What a year it has been for me. I can’t believe I managed all that in just a year!

img_0879.jpegIn January I had the most amazing holiday in the US. I reconnected with an old school friend I had not seen in 20 years, and Nina welcomed me into her home, her family and showed me the best of San Francisco, Petaluma and Napa Valley during my stay there. After having seen The Golden Gate Bridge in movies so many times, it seemed almost unreal being right there next to it. It was a fantastic way to commence my adventures of 2017. Thank you, Nina, for your ever open personality!

img_0641.jpegI met up with Camino family and friends in Seattle. The Camino is some of the most rewarding experiences of my life due to the friendships I have gained there. Seattle grew on me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Scandinavian feel the city and the surrounding areas has. Thank you Gail, Derry & Jim for showing me around and taking time to see me.img_0683.jpeg

Patrick showed me the best of Austin. From live music to BBQ and cowboy boots. It was such a treat to spend time with more Camino family and do a hike near Lady Bird lake. Austin is so very different from the other places I visited, but so very vibrant and alive. Thank you, Patrick, for that rewarding experience.img_0738.jpeg

I got back to my dad’s beach house at Henne Strand and the search for a job began. Luckily my childhood friend, Nette has the touch when it comes to helping others, and she found me a job in Horsens, so in March I began working at Landmad. I love the concept behind Landmad – Danish, local produce for sale at city center combined with a café offering rustic, clean food. It was such an adventure taking part of opening the shop in Horsens. Thank you, Heidi, for giving me the opportunity and for respecting my need to move on. I wish the absolute best for your shops!img_1175.jpg

That period also marked my farewell to my precious dog, Elly. I knew I was moving to Copenhagen, and since Elly is a country dog, I took the difficult decision to let her go. It was such a hard thing to do, and thinking about it, still brings tears to my eyes. Elly is an amazing dog, and she deserves the best life possible, so being back on Tunoe is an infinite better solution than going to the big city with me. Elly is forever in my heart.

image
Enter a caption

April returned me to Copenhagen. Mette and Thomas kindly opened their home to me, and I returned to Nansensgade, where I years earlier owned my own apartment. It felt good to be back on familiar grounds, and once again Nette found me a job. I can only advice you all to get a “Nette”. My friend, Nette, is the most unselfish, giving and loving person I know, and I feel incredibly thankful to have her in my life. I love you, Nette, and am proud to call you my friend. Being back in Copenhagen also provided me with the opportunity to reconnect with many of my friends. I have had a great time this summer hanging out with you all and experiencing the city and what it had to offer.image

I started working at DARE2 in June. What a difference from all the previous jobs I’ve had. Entering into this creative, energetic and vibrant atmosphere full of entrepreneurs, go-getters and inspiring people gave me a real kick. Meeting these driven souls made me think about what I really want out of life. Thank you, Laila & Kris for giving me a chance and supporting my dream chase. I will keep following your endeavours. You never know if our paths may cross again. A big thanks to all the lovely people, I got to meet while at DARE2. I’m sure I have made lasting friendships, and you all have my full support in achieving your dreams.img_2685

In October I said goodbye to DARE2 and went of to Spain to walk more of the Camino Frances. I took up where I left of in Burgos, but already in Madrid I met my first new Camino buddy – Maria Grazia. The Camino surely provides. It was physically hard, since I had not had time to train before going, but a new back pack with more focused content made for a much easier time. The Meseta was like being home in flat Denmark, but the views breathtaking and once again I was met by loving, positive and happy people. Maria Grazia and Gary became my new Camino family. Thank you to both of you. I look forward to meeting up with you again in future. But also big thanks to all the other amazing people, who crossed my way – I’m struggling if I should mention your names, since I’m scared of forgetting anyone. In case you feel left out, please put it down to my forgetful memory and not my appreciative heart. Thank you, Juan, Stuart, Martina, Paul, Bernice, Lukas, Pablo, Magdalena, Jenna, Kyra and Boromir. Even though I got of the Camino in León, I followed you online walking into Santiago, and I am proud to have walked with everyone of you.img_6228

I’ve spent the rest of the year figuring out a plan for 2017 and making the required changes. I hope to soon be able to share the plans with you, but in order not to jinx it, I will hold off until the details are settled. But be certain it will put me on the path towards my dream. I will no longer just react to what life throws at me. I will go out and attempt to make my dreams come true.img_3105

2016 has given me so much. My word for this year is without a doubt friendship – old and new. Thank you, Katja, Ole, Yana, Mette, Thomas, Lykke, Gitte, Keld, Iben, Nette, Kirstine, Susanne, Pernille, Henrik, Vivi, Kristian and everyone I may right now have forgotten, but am thankful for non the less. As the sun sets on 2016, allow me to leave you with this:

My friends mean everything to me, and no matter where in the world I end up, I hope you will all keep in touch.image

Overvejelser og planer

Efter at have bøvlet lidt med hvad der er kendt som “re-entry” fra Caminoen…altså returnering til det liv, man forlod, som denne gang både var fysisk i form af forkølelse og pandehulebetændelse og psykisk i form af alle de tanker, der myldrer frem, når man står ansigt til ansigt med hverdagen igen.img_2889

Jeg har gået på Caminoen og udnyttet, at der er højt til loftet, så tanker og drømme har fået frit spil, som I måske har læst i mine tidligere indlæg. Noget af det vigtiste for mig fremadrettet, er at komme ud af trædemøllen. Jeg vil have et job, der gør mig glad, giver mig energi og udfordrer mig til at blive den bedste version af mig hver dag. Det lyder højt og flot, men jeg har gjort klar til det i noget tid, da jeg har fået betalt al min gæld ud, så jeg ikke længere SKAL tage et specifikt job pga økonomi. Jeg har minimeret mine ejendele, så jeg ikke er så bundet af materielle pladskrav og er mere mobil i verden. Men hvad er det så jeg vil?

Der er mange negative tanker knyttet til Tunø, men der er også rigtig mange gode og dejlige tanker stadigvæk. Særligt naturen, højt til loftet og behovet for kreativitet, når man bor udenfor lands lov og ret er noget af det, jeg savner. Jo, og så naturligvis de fantastiske mennesker, jeg lærte at kende, da jeg boede på øen, men de kontakter har jeg fastholdt.

Jeg vil gerne prøve at finde nogle af de positive ting fra Tunø igen – blot et andet sted. Heldigvis er verden fyldt med dejlige steder med smuk natur. På sigt vil jeg gerne have mit eget sted, hvor jeg kan lave en form for egenproduktion, gårdbutik, gårdcafé eller lignende. Jeg kan røge fisk, lave cremer og mange andre ting, men jeg synes dog stadig, at jeg mangler den grundliggende viden til at kunne have et lille landsted. Jeg ved ikke noget om dyrehold, dyrkning af grøntsager og bæredygtig livsstil….ihvertfald ikke mere end de fleste andre, og det kan blive dyre lærepenge, hvis jeg bare kaster mig hovedkulds ud i det.

De af jer, der kender mig, ved at jeg godt kan være impulsiv, men at jeg som oftes har en plan. Min plan er derfor nu at finde et job ved et bæredygtigt, økologisk landbrug, så jeg kan lære de ting, jeg ikke ved. Jeg ønsker ikke stordrift. Jeg ønsker et sted med respekt for natur og dyr, jeg kan leve af. Ikke noget der skal blive en stor og opslugende forretning. Jo, det må da gerne gå godt, men det skal bare løbe rundt, og ikke løbe rundt med mig.

Jeg søger primært i udlandet, da det efterhånden snart er 20 år siden jeg boede udenlands, og det trækker i mig igen. Danmark er et skønt land, men sommetider er det godt at se hvad der er på den anden side af hækken, så man kan værdsætte, hvad man har. Måske det er Camino-eventyrene, der får mig til at hungre efter mere…hvem ved? Hvis I kender et sted, hvor mine evner kan bruges, og jeg samtidig kan lære nyt, så skriv til mig, så jeg kan undersøge det.

A sweet ending to this year’s Camino

Protein breakfast

One of my favorite benefits on The Camino is that you can eat and drink as you like, because you burn so many calories every day you walk. Not that I ever would count calories, but I thouroughly enjoy good food, and after leaving Bercianos del Real Camino, we stopped for a second breakfast of 100% protein – bacon and eggs. It tasted amazing and fueled our bodies for that day’s walk. For exactly the food and drink reason I consider doing the Via Francigena that runs from Canterbury to Rome. Imagine walking through Piemonte….oh boy what a feast!

img_2646

As we were getting closer and closer to León, I struggled with the decision about where to end this year’s walk. I had time to go beyond León, but would it make sense logistically? Walking and talking with my friend Gary made it clear – I would get off The Camino in León and limit this year’s walk to the Meseta, leaving the remaining roughly 310km to Santiago for next year. Everyone has their own way of doing the Camino. Many goes all the way in one stint, but I am really starting to appreciate my approach of cutting it in three, since I that way get to meet three times the people, that I maybe would have in one stint. For me, the amazing people I meet, are very much part of my personal journey, and I value the friendships I gain highly. img_6228

This picture was taken by the hospitalieri in Mansilla de las Mulas, where these fine pilgrims came together to make a fantastic meal of salad, lentil soup with rice, ice cream dessert and all served up with fresh made sangria. At this table sat most of the pilgrims that I was fortunate enough to meet this year. They all made a big impression on me, and I look forward to meeting them again in future as I have with some of the lovely people I met last time. Thank you all for making my Camino some of the best times ever!

And now for the fun story of the evening. The hospitalieri at the albergue was an assertive young woman, who not only was a great host, but also had taken courses in taking care of the foot injuries pilgrims suffer. That day had been very hot – 25-30 degrees, and since my thin socks were not dry from yesterday’s washing, I was wearing my thick wollen socks, which meant I had more or less boiled my feet during the walk, resulting in heat blisters. The hospitalieri offered to have a look, and then this happened:

Hospitalieri "taking care" of my suffering feet.
Hospitalieri “taking care” of my suffering feet.

We all loved her sense of humour! Once the laughter had died, she took me into her office and very professionally took care of my feet, making next day’s walk into León a breeze.

Many guidebooks and apps suggest that you bus into León because the way should be very industrial and along the highway. Actually I’m glad we decided to walk. It was almost a magic morning and I loved this last walk on my 2016 Camino.img_2666

I loved the image of the tunnel, we passed along the route, with the lovely view at the end.
I loved the image of the tunnel, we passed along the route, with the lovely view at the end
Walking the street of León
Walking the street of León

I entered León with my new Camino family – Maria Grazia and Gary, and along the route Pablo had joined our little band into town. It felt amazing walking these streets, knowing that 177km of Meseta was in my backpack. Of course we ran into fellow pilgrims right in center of city and sat down with them to enjoy a pilgrim lunch complete with wine and good company right by the cathedral.

The new camino family makes it to León
The new camino family makes it to León

We had decided to stay an extra night in León, so we settled in and prepared for a night out. I must admit it was my first time going out wearing fleece leggings, hiking shoes and no make-up. Not exactly a dazzling look, but who cared? We had our fun any way. Thank you, Patrick, for the insider tip on Four Lions Brewery. Great craft beer!

Ladies, Camino and craft beer
Ladies, Camino and craft beer
Living it up!
Living it up!
Argentinian Juan showing me the moves to "You can leave your hat on"
Argentinian Juan showing me the moves to “You can leave your hat on”

We had fun, beaches!

Next day I set out to get my bus ticket to Madrid, some civilian clothes and a sence of the city. Gary decided to walk on and we said our goodbyes at the cathedral. Later Maria Grazia and I went exploring and stumbled into The Parador – the five star hotel known from the movie The Way. It felt so perfect to sit on their patio with a cool drink. Thank you for the tip, Pablo!

The Parador in León
The Parador in León
Courtyard view at The Parador
Courtyard view at The Parador

That night we all went to an organ concert at the cathedral. It is a beautiful building and such a fantastic setting for the concert. León proved the perfect ending to my vacation.img_2715

Thank you León. See you next year
Thank you León. See you next year

Next morning Maria Grazia and I walked to the cathedral together. We met in Madrid and now our ways were parting – me back to Madrid to fly home and Maria Grazia was staying on the Camino. It was bittersweet, but I know I have made a friend for lifeimg_2723

Camino family forever
Camino family forever

We spotted a hot air ballon making it’s way over León in the sunrise. It seemed very fitting to part ways with that sight.

Hot air ballon cruising over the city in the sunrise
Hot air ballon cruising over the city in the sunrise

I had time before my bus, so I got a table at Valor, the chocolateria, and ordered churros. Again it seemed the perfect way to end my visit in this lovely city and to take stock of my camino. My credential is not completely full, but I need to get a new one for the final stretch to Santiago next year. I can’t wait to go back and hopefully meet up with old camino buddies, Helen and Paul from Australia. See you guys down there!

Spanish breakfast treat - churros at Valor
Spanish breakfast treat – churros at Valor
My credential is filling up nicely
My credential is filling up nicely

Thank you for following my way on the Camino. Now comes the hard part – re-entry and finding my way in life. I look forward to meeting life head on and with positivity in my heart.