St Foy La Grand medieval town
St Foy La Grand florist shop
La Cocquille Napoleon, St Jean Port du Pied
Albuerge Orisson Up from St Jean Port du Pied
You can view all the photos Here https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#BOf59UICqtP8WSJ
It all began when I got to France. I stayed in the centre of Paris at Hotel du Pont Neuf, in the centre of Paris near the Ile de la Cite, and had booked a Holiday Taxi to get there. This was all accomplished through Booking.com. The Hotel staff spoke English and they helped me tremendously to get settled, buy a SIM card for the phone and contact my daughter. The Hotel is in a very interesting area which the Holiday Taxi driver said is safe. He was a Latvian so English was his third language at least, but he told me it was 44 degrees in Paris 2 days ago, when I said it was hot. The area round the Hotel known as the Louvre Rivoli has restaurants and shops, a Bureau de Change opposite. I got lost looking for somewhere to eat, found a Creperie for dinner and found my way back using my French at a supermarket. I got scammed in my first walk around the block by a deaf and dumb girl with a petition, which I signed and then she wanted money I gave her 20 euros, but she wanted more, and was waving a 10 euro at me. I gave her another 20 euro, expecting her to give me the 10 euro note, but she wouldn’t and when I said I wanted change, she gave me a few Euros.
I had booked the train for 2 days later, but had forgotten and went straight to the station by taxi the next morning. The recent floods had risen the Seine River by over 30 metres so repairs were being undertaken all along the road near the Seine River. The main station for long distance travel is Montparnasse. I arrived early which was just as well because I discovered the booking problem and had to change the ticket. It cost 11 euros and was sorted in time. I bought a SIM card, not the one recommended, but Orange was the only one I could get. My ticket was non reserved but I was told there are unallocated tickets next to the baggage compartment, so I found a seat and had to move once, but the conductor altered my ticket and told me to get out at Liborne to catch the /Sariat train to Velines. The journey through the countryside was picturesque as the sunflowers were in full bloom and the pattern of trees interspersed with agriculture was pleasing to the eye and very green. Hay bales lay harvested in fields and church bells were ringing through the countryside.
When I got to Velines it was a tiny station in the middle of nowhere . Marion wasn’t there and there weren’t taxis or a phone. A very nice black man asked me in French where I was going. I unpacked my bag to get out the address. His son came to pick him up and spoke some English and they took me to the Marion’s. It wasn’t on GPS for some reason and took me to the outskirts of Velines where it was.
So Marian and I caught up and had dinner and I went to bed. It was still light at 10 pm. Marion wasn’t answering her phone when they tried to ring her, she was in bed asleep and I yelled out at the open door and she eventually heard and got up and came to the door and I thanked my good Samaritans and my guides for orchestrating my delivery
We went to the nearby market in St-Foy La Grande, supposed to be one of the biggest in France. Foy was a Roman girl born in 290 AD, who became a Christian and refused to relinquish her faith and became a martyrdom at age 13 with several miracles attributed to her after her death. Thus the town is very old with buildings from the 15th century. It’s on the Dordogne The town has walls and a watch tower. The River from time to time floods and there is a flood scale. A dam had been built which I visited later on my travels, which has prevented the spring floods which used to flood the streets. It also was a transport Port by means of barges for wine from the region could be taken to England and other produce to market.
It took some time to get organised in France. I had only a week During which time I had to familiarise myself with the local area, get my SIM cards working, hire a car, shop for food, learn to drive on the wrong side of the road. I was not without help, Elliott, Marion’s friend helped with the computer and translation, but it wasn’t easy. Some problems I didn’t manage to solve. In changing from local SIM to French SIM I could no longer use phone verification and this meant I couldn’t use WordPress and other software that used phone verification, something I didn’t foresee.I could have solved it if I had computer skills that I didn’t have, but as it was I had to live with it, hence no WordPress posts from France or Camino. I was able to post from Facebook which I did regularly.
So I had decided to follow the French Camino, since I started in France and it generally is considered to start from Saint Jean Pied de Port. I had concerns that Marion would not be ready to go and asked if she still wanted to go and she said yes, so I picked up the car on 1st August and packed and we left at 12.30. I had booked an albuerge in St Jean Pied de Port. Marion drove first and we got lost in a town with no signs to St Savine and Orlens. At that time we hadn’t worked out to take the sign to other directions which would lead us out of town and eventually in the right direction.
We finally got to St Jean Pied de Port and stayed at La Cocquille Napoleon right on the Camino. They had just finished a twin room and we were the first to use it. We could feel the energy of the Camino, as it was right on the leyline. There were a group of people there staying in the dormitory who were walking the Camino and expecting to do it in about 3 months. The town has a lovely atmosphere and the albuerge owners are English and Spanish. They made an omelette for us and one of the guests played the piano which was superb. The owner, a basque, sang a song about agricultural life and we went to sleep rocked gently by the energy of the Camino=The next day we drove up past La Cocquille Napoleon on the road the Camino walk takes from St Jean Pied de Port. We passed lots of walkers but strangely none of those who had left that morning.Marian had a chicken steal her bread at breakfast to much hilarity. Marian drove and despite early problems with the one way road with drop-offs of hundreds of feet, overcame her fear of heights. We had lunch at the Albuerge Orissa and decided to keep going to Mother Mary’s shrine which was on a plateau at the top of the Pyrenees. We did a toning as Aboriginal elder Guboo had shown us. Asking that the connection to Australia be made and visualizing Uluru. Others had left things at the Shrine. It’s in a most spectacular position. We ended by saying as Guboo did:
the best is yet to come'.For whom the Bell Tolls’ for he was in Spain not far from here during the Spanish Civil War. Some horses came right up to us and wouldn’t let us pass until Marian turned on the windscreen wipers and the spray moved them along. It was a magic day, toning and bringing in the energy on the high peaks of the Pyrenees.
We came down from the heights via a different road which went through the oak and birch forest with a mossy ground cover. It reminded me of Ernest Hemingway
In the evening we had moved to a new hotel, a mill on the river. We walked into town below the ramparts and went to a Basque concert in the church. The choir was very well balanced and energy came pouring in even though I was tired. Some trumpet players played medieval jousting music and you could see the knights in action.Then we walked back along the river bank where earlier people had been swimming on a lovely summer evening.
Next we drove to Roncevalles which is owned by the church and has ecclastical
dormitories for those walking the Camino. It’s a very narrow winding road but certainly much easier than those walking down from the Pyrenees. Marion drove next to Pamplona through a downhill run with little towns crossing the border into Spain almost unnoticed, with no checks, unlike when I went through in the 1980’s.
The building changed to a rougher style and industrial areas and high rise predominated as we got further into Spain. We got lost trying to find the Museum Navere, which has a Goya in its collection and ended up taking all afternoon to find our way out. At one point we found ourselves going back to France. I took over the driving and we stopped for fuel and backtracked to get onto A121 instead of A21 which took us off in the wrong direction again.
We had difficulty in the cities because I believe our intuition is blocked. At one point we ended up at Centro, a large manufacturing plant and had to be redirected to the Centre of Pamplona.
I can’t imagine how hard it would be on foot. We both lost our vision for a period while not driving. It was glorious white light which was difficult to see anything in 3D.
The Spanish seem more relaxed about payment, you pay after you buy unlike France where you put the credit card in before you buy petrol. We stayed at Tirapu outside Pamplona in a Casa Goni, a Casa Rurale, and had the most delicious dinner of Zucchini soup and enchiladas. Booking.com I thought charged the hotel and we had paid them. With the help of a translation software the owner explained they only took the booking and I paid her. I then wondered if we had been meant to pay at La Cocquille Napoleon, and emailed them to check, but no they charge booking .com monthly. So this is a different approach for different places which is confusing.
We stayed the next night at Mens after driving towards Lugano and found the hotel by accident having booked it earlier. We called at a church, the Monastery of Irache just outside Estrella and had lunch in the winery car park until they closed for siesta at 1pm. This was the church with the fountain of free wine which pilgrims talk about.
In the next day we saw the bridge at Puenta de Reina built in the 11th century to stop the fleecing of pilgrims by the ferryman. It is here the Aragonese and Napoleon Way meet. We didn’t book a room before leaving as Najera seemed too close. I wanted to see the Monastery Santa Maria de La Real where Claude Tranchant had a visionary experience. It is here the King Garcia saw an eagle and a dove living in peace and went into a grotto where he found the Virgin Mary with lilies In the cave. He later built a church to honor her. It is a moving experience to go into the grotto which has quartz running through the rock, increasing the energy of the grotto and our alignment with it. Outside the grotto are the remains of the King’s wife who died in childbirth and the tiny coffins of the children who did not survive to adulthood. There are lots of caves in the hillside which overlooks the town which might be interesting to explore.
From here we drove on to Burgos following the road towards Leon. This area was highly industrialized and I felt ill, I think it was pollution which was affecting me, so we stopped at a very old church in the forest changing drivers and drove on.
We stopped next at a Roman villa called La Olemeda which was an example of the Roman feudal system in this part of the country and how prolific the land was in the 4th century. It has been carefully restored and is under cover so the mosaics are in place and can be viewed from the surrounding Boardwalk. We went on into Salanda and in the main square went into a pastry shop and met a nice couple who guided us to a motel and translated for us. They were preparing for a wedding, so could only accommodate us for one night, the tariff was reasonable at 36 euros, so we stayed and drove into Leon the next morning ( about 50 Kms).
In Leon we had some difficulty finding the Cathedral, huge as it is because it’s difficult to see among the high rises. We found the Cathedral car park and parked there. It was a short walk to the Cathedral; but when we got there they closed the door in our faces for lunch.
We had lunch in the square in front of the Cathedral of Leon, Pulchra Leonina and saw the treasures of the Cathedral Museum. I was drawn to the room which had Muslim reliquaries and felt a strong energy surge in there. I feel it may relate to a past life which I was previously made aware of in Granada. (Insert past life)
There is also a contender for the Grail Cup housed here, said to have been commissioned by Urraca, a medieval goldsmith reusing Roman gems. Leon’s Cathedral is considered a Palace of the Virgin. It is dedicated to St Maria de Regla, and also the Virgin of Camino, Leon’s patron saint, but it is an image by an anonymous author, the Virgin Blanca, which dominates the main entrance and the central chapel of the apse, turning her into the true hostess and patron saint of the Pulchra Leonina.
This cathedral is known is known as the Cathedral of Light which is why I wanted to see it, It seems that as the new Mother’s energy comes in, it will come into its own as a centre of worship of the female Deity. The artworks contained within are simply breathtaking, as is the best collection of stained glass in the world. The 30 metres of height are filled with thirty one upper Windows, and twenty five lower Windows, as well as three rose Windows of eight metres in diameter each. Approximately half of the glass is original from the 13th and 14th century. Another one quarter was made in the 15th century and a handful from the 16th.
In the north, the top openings are reserved for characters from the Old Testament, Saints, martyrs and characters from the New Testament in the south. It was worth the wait to get into the Cathedral after the lunch break of several hours
Our next stop was in Astorga where we visited Gaudi’s Episcopal Palace. I missed Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Cathedral in Barcelona, when I was last visiting Spain and saw only the outside, so I wanted to see this piece of his work in Astorga. Interesting but not what I expected, Gaudi’s work reflects aspects of nature and that was certainly present but in much restrained form. Marian visited a tourist shop and opposite and found out about a convent which offers travellers accomodation in a back street behind the Cathedral. We had some difficulty finding it on foot, but eventually we knocked and were admitted to a spacious albeurge by the nuns, which was only 10euros a night for the twin room. From there on we decided to allow ourselves to be guided to find accomodation by our guides.
Left Astorga on a Sunday, we couldn’t find anywhere to do our washing and as everything is closed on Sunday’s in Spain and France, including service stations at times, we drove on to A Coruna which is on the coast. We crossed into Galacia and as each province organised its own tourist maps and information, we had no maps available and couldn’t get any on a Sunday.
This section is huge motorways and aqueducts over mountainous terrain. We did try to get off the motorway and follow secondary roads in places, including O Cebreiro, the doorway to Galacia with its traditional stone and slate roofed houses by turning off at Baralla at the top of the second mountain climb. At Sarria two divergent routes of the Camino meet again and it is here that pilgrim can catch a train and do the last 100 km to Santiago on foot and gain the Pilgrim Passport. I hear is not a nice place and also a tourist on the Camino disappeared near here and has not been seen since. It is in Galacia we see the first raised thatched roof houses on stilts, where corn was stored. They are still being built today.
After driving along the coast we stayed at Caion, a beach resort with an island peninsula. We found a place to stay with some difficulty right on the sea and I had a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. We did a toning as the energy was high and put in a pillar of light, connecting with Ireland at Cal del Mar and saw the sun go down into the Atlantic. As I went to bed a new moon was rising over the sea, new beginnings were taking place. I felt we were on an energy line and could feel it as we were gently rocked to sleep by the sound of the waves.
After asking my guides for somewhere to swim yesterday during the long 500 km drive, I was glad to rest on a rock and let the waves wash over me.
We drove on to Finisterre where the Camino ends and where the harbour welcomed those in small boats retreating from a sinking land in the Atlantic. We went out to the lighthouse and did another toning, the energy was not as high as it had been the night before and again connected with Ireland.
Then we drove into Santiago, having difficulty finding the Hotel Jacob without a GPS. We caught the bus in and people were friendly showing us where to get off and walk to the Cathedral. We stayed for mass and to see the big incense censor. There was energy as the many priests walked in and during the `Alleluia’ sung by the congregation led by the priest. The priest talked about the pilgrims in Spanish. I felt we were meant to be there, the cathedral was full of thousands of people, standing room only, unlike the churches in Australia. After two night in Santiago de Compostela. I ate scallops In one of the back streets, we finally got to do the washing and then it was time to move on.