09/02/17 – United States
My journey begin at the most American of places, a hole in the wall breakfast joint and it was great. My friend discussed my impending journey and I shared with her all of the excitement and apprehension of it.
09/03 evening, Paris
Second leg of my trip. My plane ride was uneventful besides meeting a rather loud, talkative, man on my way to Chicago. I’m currently on a train to central Paris from there I’ll switch to another to Nantes. Two more stops. The weather was beautiful in Denmark. In Paris it’s cool and overcast. I’m glad I took the train. It has allowed me to people-watch and see the more poverty-stricken areas of the city. I think there may have been women talking about me. Well, my stop. Denfert-Rochereau is almost here.
09/04 afternoon, Nantes
I’m in the cab of the travel van. It’s weird you know. Her friend Lola is nice and we have all been getting along well. I think I have been too quiet or boring though. I met them tired and it all seemed surreal to begin with. We parked near a beautiful river and ate breakfast, or rather brunch on the pier. We discussed politics and photography. I’m now on the highway, don’t know where I’m going, just know we are going South. We are going to meet up with a friend of Fanny’s. A place where we can shower which will be great. I haven’t had one in two days; of course I am self-conscious. I’m so happy and excited. Once again, Fanny teaches me how to live life in the present.
09/04 evening, Fouras
Just saw an amazing bay, complete with a castle (a fortress to be more exact, Vauban fortress) on the bay and a 19th Century prison: Fort Boyard.
09/05 really early morning, St. Pee Sur Nivelle
A trying end to a beautiful day. It began with Fanny’s long-time friend Alex giving us a tour of Bayonne. The memorable part, being us sitting by the bay having a drink and watching the people go by, with Alex’s little one at play. I also enjoyed a brief walk through the local cathedral. Again trying, in that there was a language barrier between Alex and me, and I had a difficult time connecting with her. I was probably just being self-conscious, but it was important to me and I wish I was more prepared to contribute to planning our journey into Spain.
Lest I forget, on the night of the fifth, we spent the evening at Lola’s aunt and uncle’s residence in Bordeaux. A lovely family that fell into all of the good stereotypes of a French family. I never had a family in the traditional sense, so it was very kind of them to allow me to feel like a part of theirs. Lola’s uncle was kind enough to take us on a tour of Bordeaux late in the evening despite him having work the next day. I never felt at peace in a city before, but there was something special about that city, almost spiritual.
09/08 afternoon, Bilbao
Things are much better. Let this be a lesson to me. My anxiety in the present moment does not mean it will be the same in the next. I had an amazing time during the past two days. On the sixth we arrived in Pasai Donibane and explored the area. We took a small hike to the coast and I snapped a beautiful picture of the waves crashing upon a small lighthouse. Later that day, we arrived at Zumaia and walked a sheer cliff that ran perpendicular to the beach; it was amazing. When I got down I had to take my shoes and socks off and run in the sand.
On the seventh we arrived at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe; another very spiritual moment for me. We walked the narrow stone bridge, going up the 231 steps to the small hermitage. I felt the presence of all those who walked before me and rang the bell in honor of the Trinity and for my companions.
09/09 afternoon, Bilbao
Yesterday was another exciting day. We explored the old part of town and stopped at a bistro where we tried three different dishes over a glass of wine. We continued to explore the city, arriving at a cathedral that we wanted to visit and I wanted to pray as well. However, they were charging five Euros! This upset me as it only added to my friend’s opinions of a bloated and greedy Church. I was quickly brought to anger, the kind that is just, in one’s desire to rid anyone and anything from standing in the way of connecting with Christ. Who knows, maybe the money went to the poor and upkeep of the cathedral.
I’m jumping ahead though. Before all of this, we also visited the Guggenheim Museum. We saw works from French artists during the last 19th Century and Bill Viola. Both very interesting, the latter rather disturbing. My favorite, the young women lighting the candles.
So I am behind. We had been traveling along the Northern coast, going West, along a road (highway?) Bl 2238…
09/09 evening, Bardenas Reales of Navarre
Just arrived a few hours ago, at the “desert”. A long ride and everyone’s patience tested at times. Beautiful countryside as we made our way down South Plains, fields, under a beautiful blue sky with fluffy white clouds. Seeing the many windmills (the electric kind that generate power) brought a smile to my face. Don Quixote of course.
Now our objective, a park where lies a large desert divided by rock and dirt of either black, red, and white. Just outside of this national park is a small town, with far fewer residents. To the North-West, running the length of the town is a sheer-cliff. Built into the side runs a system of homes hewn into the mountain. From what I gathered, these homes were built by their occupants in the 19th and 20th Century. As to who, why, how, I know not.
As a side note, I think we all got along well; I was less obtrusive and more engaged, bringing a few smiles here and there.
09/10 evening, Nuevalos (outside of the monastery)
A long day, with it’s ups and downs. We had a long travel from Bardenas Reales, the Spanish equivalent to the Grand Canyon. It was beautiful. We could not hike much, but what we did was gratifying. I took many pictures and climbed a few mountains, none of which were very steep. I even went through a few caves. The event I think was exhausting on my companions as they spoke little if at all during our trek. I was beginning to worry about it too much and then finally let it go; remembering that I’m not important enough for it to be all about me. We then returned to the “i-sight” to have a very lovely lunch and began our trip to the monastery. We passed through several Spanish towns along the way, even taking a short walk through one. It seems we keep missing the running of the bulls. Beautiful landscape along our way and many mountain dwellings passed, especially as we neared our destination. We had to fuel up once and the price for diesel was only one euro per liter!
We walked a bit of the monastery at night and I really wanted to treat us to an evening at their hotel, but we decided to wait until we arrived at Segovia.
09/15 morning, somewhere in Spain
On my way back, driving with Fanny. I’m thankful for our friendship and honored that she introduced me to her close friend Lola. We spent three days, maybe two, in Segovia. My break in entries are evidence of how adventours our time was. To sum it up, I saw a castle, a palace, went to daily Mass, saw a cathedral, and rented an apartment. Had good meals and wine, and a little independance seeking out a laundromat.
A roller-coaster of emotions. I pray I never forget these memories and will forever be thankful.