The Alcazar from which Isabel reigned
The Alcazar from which Isabel reigned
Scott and the aquaduct
Saint Teresa and I
From the top
Today, after two days of grazing our way around Madrid, we had an official guided tour of Avila and Segovia. i had been to Avila but never toured it in detail so it was all new to me. Avila is the famous walled city in the center of Castilla famous for its amazing walls from the 10th century as well as two of the church’s most influential saints. San Juan de la Cruz and Santa Teresa de Avila who started the Carmelite order of nuns. They were both prolific writers of the early church (15th century) and had a major influence in the thinking of the church teachings today.
I have been to Segovia more times than I can count. I was last there with Amanda’s family in April. To walk the streets with a tour guide filled with facts and history was a new experience. I was pleased to be present while the Hutchisons were seeing these sites for the first time. It made it all new to me as well. The tour included a lunch in an old Segovia restaurant which included sopa castellana (a Castilian garlic soup made with bread and an egg) and a roast suckling pig, a specialty of Segovia. The tour was detailed and complete but the highlights are always the Alcazar of castle where Isabel and Fernando reigned equally, the magnificent romantic churches and the gothic cathedral, and the amazing 2000+ year old Aquadoc that looms over the modern city in a surreal fashion.
We completed our time in Madrid with a return to the incredible Mercado de San Miguel. This was a derelict open air neighborhood market that Spain poured lots of renovations into and today is the premiere tapas market in the world. Where it excels in variety and volume, it exceeds in quality. Absolutely any tapa you have ever heard of or tasted is here and many others you could never have imagined. If you don’t know about tapas, it comes from the verb tapar (to cover). It’s origins were small snacks served in a piece of bread used to cover your wine glass in the Middle Ages when the flies were not under control. Natural competition between restaurants made this humble beginning an art form of competitive delicious and creative small plates that you are served free with your glass of wine or beer. The result is a culture of grazing your way about Spanish towns with friends and family while you sample your favorite small plates. Tonight we had mini pizza, five different types of fish, an assortment of olives, and a plate of shrimp and calamari. We ended with cookies.
I will miss Madrid as I always do but I hope to be back. A highlight of this adventure has been spending quality time in the Camino and touring Spain with Merci and Scott. I feel that I truly got to know them and I am grateful that they have come into my life in such a profound way. It is amazing how deeply you can get to know someone when you walk five hours a day with them through rain up and down hills, share a bunk bed, and most meals and open your soul and pour it out. I am better for it.
Until my next Camino or some other adventure, I leave you gentle readers with my thoughts and my postings. Thanks to all who have read my musings and those who commented. You make me want to be a better man.
There are many lessons of the Camino that one packs in your backpack to go home. Some are glaringly apparent, others take time and reflection to be recognized and assimilated. As I ride in the first class seat of the train to Madrid, I am being assaulted by the thoughts of so many things in my life for which I am grateful. Many are simple, daily pleasures and conveniences, others are deeper and less frequently noticed, and still more are those fundamental gifts that life has bestowed upon me for which there can be no price nor expression of appreciation that could possibly satisfy the feelings of gratitude That I have.
I appreciate a great shower, a wide variety of clean clothes, fresh air, the warmth of the sun, shelter from weather, and a good nights rest. I love a good glass of wine with a simple flavorful meal. I crave the company of others. Especially those who share basic values I have and are willing to share their thoughts in an interesting way so that I may learn more about them, about myself, about culture, and about life. I appreciate the profound love I have had in my life which was deep and powerful enough to sustain me these four years since her passing and I suspect will be with me the rest of my life. It continues in the love I have for two wonderful children and they share it back to me in great amounts.
I would not have, indeed, could not have completed this last Camino were it not for the gift of Merci and Scott Hutchison. After recovering from Covid, I was weak and damaged for the Camino with my family. My pride and natural stubbornness would not allow me to pass on that opportunity. I had to walk with them since it was long planned and extremely important to me to demonstrate to my children and my brothers the magic of the Camino and why I love it so. By 11 September, we had completed our family Camino. I was bruised and broken. Tired and sore. I decided that I had to at least set the Hutchisons up for success and start out with them. Several times along the way, I nearly stopped and left them on their own. It was their energy, their caring, and their friendship that sustained me. Even in our last day, while suffering a raging down hill climb that was excruciating, I nearly gave in and called a taxi. But I did not thanks to them. Their understanding, their comradeship, and their kindness. For these things, and for them, I am grateful.
I have written, with some attempt at humor, about the Camino Diet. The fact is, I (dare I say we?), live a life where there should be less eating and more exercise. Yes, one doesn’t have to walk 90 miles a week to be healthy nor does one need to fast for 20 hours between meals. I think we can all admit, however, that if our life’s exercise program is walking back and forth to the refrigerator and we eat a full meal every four hours, that is simply not healthy. This is a lesson one needs to learn on their own. I am the last person to lecture others regarding eating habits. I have met the enemy and it is I.
The incense burner in the Cathedral.
The Pilgrims Mass at noon every day. Magnificent Cathedral.