Announcing a New Adventure

I am super excited to announce my next adventure …

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I will be heading back to do some more hiking (hill walking as they  like to call it) in Scotland this summer. A celebration of a milestone birthday. I cheered my 30th in Scotland so what a great way to bring in my 40th. Hmm maybe this trend will continue for my 50th in another decade!

The hike I will be celebrating with is the Arran Coastal Path, about a 108+km path that goes all the way around the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. An area I have never explored and an island that boasts it is a mini-Scotland.

I will be joined in my merriment with a trio of three amazing women…

My sister Shar, who I have done many hikes with including the Great Glen Way in Scotland back in 2013. Which we both loved and have been trying to get back on the long distance path together since! Shar brings the planning, go-get-em-ra-ra cheerleading, and excited clapping to our band.

My sister-in-scrapbooking Cheryl, who I have not hiked with before but have had the awesome pleasure of spending loads of deep thinking and laugh till you cry time with so it should be awesome. Cheryl brings the deep conversations, conventional and unconventional wisdom and get-it-done-in-colour to the troupe.

My sister-in-as-good-as-law Rosa, who I have not hiked with per se but we have put on a tonne of miles together walking and stair climbing during far off family vacations. Rosa brings the perseverance, logic, competition and hilariously heckling sense of humour to the team.

We are just 19weeks out and already having a wonderful time just in the planning. Over the coming weeks I will share our training plans, details of our itinerary and all the other preparation bits and bobs. Then of course a day by day, play by play here on the blog while we are on our adventure.

Brande

Finished (Again) In Finisterre

Yahoo, yesterday we completed another Camino here in Spain.

The Camino Finisterre – 86kms from Santiago de Compestela to Finisterre, the kilometer 0 marker of all the Caminos! A sort of epic moment for us for sure and for the many other pilgrims taking selfies with the 0 marker!

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We started our day in a very casual fashion. With just 20km or so to cover to our destination we had loads of time. We only had one roomie in our hostel room and laid about until she exited – then we had the place to ourselves to get ready for the day! I laid in bed longer than usual to be honest enjoying the view from my comfy pillow – aka the fog. The place we stayed had clean, wonderful duvets on the bed and we have not experienced a real blanket in weeks!

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At the late hour of 1030 with a cafe con leche in our systems and some toast and jam, we left the beautiful coastal city of Cee to make our way not Finisterre. We got a bit distracted by the next city of Corcubion however …

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Ok for real on our way, we hit a darn hill first thing and by hill I mean hill like crazy hill. Like never ending, hamstring torture hill. I was racing a snail basically and we were sweaty as all heck in the 97% humidity by the top!

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Ok hill of hell out of the way, we were really-really ready to make our way to Finisterre. While it was foggy and humid and a bit misty we never did have to put on our waterproofs. Here are some highlights of the 20km:

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Wow we made it to Finisterre – we checked into outer new home and then made our way another 2+km to the end of all Camino’s at the Finisterre or Faro lighthouse! Here are some highlights of that highway path and lighthouse:

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We headed back down the hill to Finisterre and found the muncipal Albergue to get our next Pilgrim’s certificate:

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The day wrapped up with a celebration with pimientos de pardon (deep fried jalapeño peppers with delicious rock salt) as our local treat, potatoes cause we burnt enough calories and why wouldn’t eat some, and shrimp as we are now on the coast. Chased with a local bottle of white to top things off!

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This morning, we are about to leave our Finisterre humble home, Albergue Finistellae, to head out on a big walk today. 28km to the Muxia coast which many people consider the other ‘finish line’ of the Camino.

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We will check back in 28km! Buen Camino!
Brande

Leon Lives Up to Burgos!

Well Leon had what it takes to compete with the beautifulness (is that a word?) of Burgos! While not quite as movie set / Disneyland Main Street in its perfection, the sights of central Leon are definitely something to see.

We started our day of Leon with another one of those amazing 7euros breakfast deals and then a quick taxi down to the centre.

Right from the taxi ride it was fun. Our driver was going down little side streets and alleys that we were sure no car was meant to be on or anyone but the locals knew about. Then ‘bam’ there we were right in from of the cathedral. I felt like we were on a special making of the next Italian Job movie.

The cathedral of Leon is awe inspiring. It has the most stain glass of any cathedral in Spain and I feel like I read maybe even in Europe. There is in fact more glass ‘wall’ than stone wall in the place – might explain a few collapses 100s of years ago. Just saying. But I am no architect.

Here is the outside of this amazing cathedral:

Amazing right!? And that’s only some of my way too many photos which I will clearly need to pare down before scrap booking when I get home. Well now check out the inside:

For 5euros you have almost the run of the place. You can sit in the pews, take photos, get the audio little things and listen to the cathedral’s history, and really take your time absorbing the place. And wow are your first steps inside impressive – the initial first view may or may not have resulted in one of us uttering holy ‘poop’ in a church! Oops and yikes!

After our tour of the cathedral, we set out to walk about and take in the rest of the old central part of Leon – the palace, other churches, Gaudi’s works and more. Here are just some of the highlights:

Shortly after asking this rather unhelpful guy for directions …

We decided to check out the eat and drink highlights of Leon. A pint at El Topo first, a quaint restaurant outside the cathedral that we just loved the look and feel of. We later returned to this very place for a coffee. They had wifi and every time you ordered a drink (alcoholic or coffee or whatever) you got some tapas. That was our lunch! Deal!

Around 6pm, we finally toasted to a great time in Leon with a final Amstel Radler pint (cervaza con limon) at a place called Ginger. Because well we also loved the look of this pub and the tables and chairs were siting right in the sun which we love too.

By 7pm we were back at the hotel packing up and getting ready for our 5am train this morning which will take us over to Sarria in 4hours where we begin to walk again, a 22km jaunt today.

But first we had dinner … a red from the Rioja region (thanks Lana for the intro to this amazing Spanish wine region) opened with a cheap plastic hotel corkscrew, salad out of a bag, meat we opened with our first-aid kit scissors, all served on a city map of Leon as our placemat / cutting board / plate.

All in all, Leon was a total hit!

Brande

Documenting my Camino

While hiking and travel are for sure the hobbies I am most passionate about, scrapbooking is a very close second for me. Scrapbooking is this amazing way of creating photo albums that use various paper and embellishments (think small craft items) and lots of journaling to document the photo and its story. Check out Scrapstorian, a scrapbooking blog I have with my sister and our sister-in-scrapbooking!

Any who, a little fun digression there but let’s get back to it …

When hiking and travel and scrapbooking collide, wow! The heavens open and I can hear the angels of hobbies singing! And those angels will be singing for me when I get home and scrapbook my entire Camino trip. But now I get to satisfy this passion even while abroad. thanks to my new love for Traveler’s Notebooks (TN), a sort of on the go, in the moment journal and scrapbook. I am grooving to the beautiful singing of the hobby angels every step of the way AND during every page I make in my album when back home! Nothing like milking a single experience for every drop of greatness.

Let me tell you a little bit more about my approach with a TN and some ideas on what you might include in your travel notebook or journal or blog whatever way you document your travels in future.

To start, here is my Notebook (I am sort of squealing with excitement because I have been dying to get a notebook from MAKER THIRTY FIVE and bam, here it is – thank you for such a timely sale ladies!):

Camino Traveler's Notebook Cover

Now one of the MANY benefits of a TN is that it comes with no guts (insides). Just a number of elastics which you can use to hold any type of insert (think soft covered notebook) you want. If you like grids vs lines or dots and a calendar or blank – they have got it. You can buy up whatever type you like, or any combo that you like and just put it in your journal – find the middle of the notebook and slide it under one of the elastics until it sits in the middle. Like this:

Camino Traveler's Notebook Insert Elastic

I have thought long and hard about what to include in my TN to best serve what I want and how I want to document my Camino. I dont want to carry about something I will not use or force myself to use a solution that is not quite right for me. Here is what I have come up with and I am confident it will be magic:

JOURNALING – I prefer writing on grid paper, and the smaller the grid the better. So when I found the Chelsea Paper Co on Etsy.ca and their 3mm grid notebook I ordered up that goodness double time. So I have 5 of these, 3 currently in my Notebook to get me started (I write a lot when travelling and secretly dream of writing a book about my travels so I need to take notes like it will change my life!)

SKETCHING – I prefer sketching on blank paper, like most folks I am sure. So I have also included a notebook of blank, beautifully smooth, and super white paper from another of my favourite planner company’s The 4107 Planners.

ORGANIZING – I prefer keeping a to-do or “remember this” sort of list in a calendar type format, so I also included some weekly organization pages (includes a spot for each day of the week and a to-do list spot) that I printed for FREE from my peeps at The 1407 Planners team – thank you! On these pages I will make note of when we have to call an albergue (hostel) the day before to confirm, or when there is no grocery store for a couple days so we need to stock up on apples and chocolate.

EXTRA BITS – In the little side pockets of the Notebook I have tucked some washi tape (very thin decorated tape) that I will use to secure in bus tickets, coasters, etc. as memorabilia directly into my journal – much thinner and lighter than the usual glue stick I travel with. I have also created myself language recipe cards (albergue = hostel, cervaza = beer) in Spanish and Portuguese so I will tuck this in there as well.

I added a little flair to each of the notebooks with stickers and papers from my scrapbooking collection, some amazing bits my sister-in-scrapbooking (Cheryl) gave me and voila. I think it looks so awesome and am first day of school excited to start writing in it!

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Ok so blank canvas is ready, now what to actually write and sketch?

I am not sure exactly how it will all pan out in reality but below is a list of ideas I have about what I can include in my Camino Traveller’s Notebook – a big thanks to all the various blogs and Instagram folks and magazines I read that inspired this list:

  • Sketch cool logos, street art, streets, bridges, churches or buildings that I see (I used to love to draw houses around my neighbourhood, I am going to try and find that 10yr old me again!)
  • Sketch what is my carry on, backpack, daily outfits, funny
  • Use bullet lists to document top 10 favourite foods in Spain or Portugal, fav pilgrims, fav hostel
  • Write out all pretty and fancy quotes I find that I love or mean something
  • Quotes from fellow pilgrims or people we meet on the way that are funny, profound
  • A day by day account of my travels, the good – the bad – the ugly and in between
  • Where we eat and what, what we saw, places we visited, kms we walked in a day, etc.

I love to journal and I find I write the most when I am travelling and even more when I am hiking – funny how our happy places inspire us to do all the other stuff that makes us happy too. So while I know this might be a bit much to carry as far as weight in my backpack is concerned – I am ok with that and have managed my other pack items (their weight and how many) accordingly.

Stay tuned for updates as me and my TN take on Spain, Portugal and France

Brande

PS Just 5 sleeps now!