Monday, December 29, 2008

Palolem Beach, Goa

I decided to take a plane to Goa after the long bus ride from Nepal.
When we landed the pilot announced that it was 40ºC and the wall of
heat sure hit me when I got off the plane. My destination was Palolem
Beach, about 40km south of the airport. The cheapest way was by taxi,
and there was a tourist info stand in the baggage claim where you
could get a taxi. The tourist agent called someone outside and they
wrote my name on a sign. Lots easier to deal with than the hundreds,
literally, of people waiting outside to grab you for their cab, hotel,
or whatever. The taxi was about 1000 Indian Rupees($20US), so I
decided to wait and see if someone else was going that direction to
split the cab. As I chatted with the tourist agent, he had his doubts,
but within 2 minutes someone came by, Janet, a nice women from Holland.

The ride was about an hour and fifteen minutes through winding roads
in the hills and you don't even see the sea. Until, at the very end
you hit a beautiful beach lined with beach huts, restaurants, and
bars. The first place I stayed at was Dylan's, compliments to Janet
who had been to Palolem before. The huts vary throughout the beach,
from very simple with no bathroom to luxurious. Dylan's was charging
200 Rps/day for the simple huts and 400Rps/day for attached bathrooms.
After the first day, I found a great place down the beach and
negotiated a nice deal for 300 Rps/day for a nice hut with a bathroom
and discounted internet.:) Usually from the 20th of December to the
1st of January the prices double or triple. However, due to the recent
terrorist activities tourism has dropped dramatically and I was able
to side step the price hike.

So far I've been filling my days with reading books, swimming,
tanning, and updating my blog while watching the sunset from the
beachfront restaurant of my place. It's a rough life, but I figure
someone has to do it, why not me?:P

Oh yeah, there's lots of dogs and cows roaming the beach, mostly
sleeping. It's really cool, in a weird sort of way.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Delhi, India

Delhi has changed little since I was here three years ago. It's still
the busy, crowded, traffic ridden, polluted city with deliciously
wonderful food as it's always been. Oh yeah, the cows still roam free
as ever throughout the city while people and cars go around them like
they are invisible. The only significant change has been the new
airport and construction of a subway/inter-city train system.

I heard about the recent terrorist attacks on Mumbai as well as the
huge protest in Bangkok shutting down the airports there when I was in
Nepal. In Delhi, I also heard that a couple of bombs have been found
in financial buildings and there was a random shooting at the airport.
None of these events really bothered me or affected my travel
decisions and plans. For one thing the terrorists attacks were usually
focused on high profiled buildings and areas, where I never could
afford to go anyway. One of the lucky things about traveling on the
cheap.:P But seriously, I have never felt more safe and I do pay
attention to global news on traveling in different countries. So I do
appreciate you all for your concern and thank you for thinking of me.

For Christmas and the New Year, I decided to celebrate the time down
in Palolem Beach, Goa.

Arriving to India

From Pohkara to Delhi I decided to take the bus. It was a 40 hour bus
ride so I thought it would be smart and take the back seats to sleep.
Unfortunately, this particular bus (most likely all of them) had no
shocks. So as we drove along Nepals broken down pot filled roads we
were soon bouncing so high that my head almost bumped against the
ceiling. I was just in shock of disbelieve and eventually moved to the
middle of the bus where it was less hairy.

The lady across the isle from me prayed with her beads (just before
she had to open the window to be sick), as I slid down my seat and
dozed off to the wildly crazy non-rhythmic jerkings of the bus.

On one of our eating stops I met a nice man from our bus, who worked
as a military consultant in Kabul, and told me of a nice cheap place
he was staying at in Delhi. When we finally arrived at 5am in the
middle of nowhere, he grabbed an auto-rickshaw and took us to the
hotel. He even worked out a discount for me, how luck was that.

Living costs - My room came to 300 Rupees ($6US)/night for a room,
TV, and balcony. Food and drink around a 100 Rps ($2US)/ meal
was readily available at most places.

Annapurna Trek Slideshow!

Pohkara II

After the wedding, I headed back to Pohkara for some extended trekking
near the Annapurna Mountain range. I debated about having a guide, and
if nothing else he would be my translator. He only charged 500 Nepali
Rupees ($6.25US)/ day plus meals, 250 Nepali Rps ($3US). He was very
good at asking what I wanted, which was to have a relaxing time, and
told me about the different areas. So we ended up walking 2-4 hours/
day meeting people here and there. For women traveling alone you can
also hire women guides to feel more comfortable.

The trek was great in that I only had to bring a small day pack. There
were tiny villages everywhere with food and shelter so you never have
to worry about anything. My attire was of course, tank tops and
shorts.:P The weather was nice and sunny everyday, although Kripa told
me that it use to be much colder in Nepal this time of year (Global
Warming). My timing was also good, because November is a lull in the
tourist season and I wouldn't have to worry about the guest houses/
hotels being filled up along the way.

The villages are simple along with the shelter. Expect minimal
accommodations, but it's cheap, clean, and they provide blankets.
Everything is brought up by donkeys up to a certain point and then
everything is brought up by people. So you will see costs double, but
it's still cheap considering you don't have to bring anything up. I
also heard that the higher villiages provide free accommodations,
because of the higher food prices.

If you wanted to cut down on costs I would suggest bringing up those
cheap ramen noodles and then you can order hot water. Also, if you buy
Dahl Baht, it's all you can eat. The garlic soup is really nice too
and said to help with altitude sickness.

Costs - 150-200 Nepali Rps ($2-2.50US)/ night for a room. Food
averaged 150 Nepali Rps.

Pohkara Slideshow!


The ride to Pohkara is about 6-7 hours through the windy narrow
mountain roads. Unfortunately, there was a bus that broke down (very
common as they run them to the ground) causing hours of traffic jams
in both directions. Our morning rafting trip had to be canceled and
our 6-7 hour ride became 12 hours of fun.

The next day we hiked up Sarangkot, a nearby hill, to view the
Himalayas during sunset and sunrise. Our climb was straight up and I
decided to wear my flip flops, of course. They said the hike normally
takes tourists 3-4 hours, but about an hour for locals. On the way up
the views were beautiful and you could see all of Pohkara and the
lake. We all were huffing and puffing, taking breaks, sweating,
drinking water, but finally manage to get to almost the top where a
local man had a shack serving cold drinks. As I spoke with him he
congratulated me for making it half way and pointed to a tiny dot
further up to our hotel. I was a bit crushed by this information, but
pulled myself together just in time to see a group of young teenagers
trotting down the steep rock steps laughing and giggling all dressed
up for a night out. The humiliating thing was that I knew they would
have to climb back up and it would be nothing to them, even in their
nice clothes and fancy shoes.

To top it all off, almost at the very top as I was struggling up the
rock steps a small boy, maybe 3 years old, was walking down with his
little school uniform. He stopped when he saw me, put his hands
together, and said, "Namaste." (The standard greeting). I was all
shocked and worried that he was walking all alone on this difficult
path and then after he past me he bolted down the steep hill. He
literally sprinted down the side of the steps where it was all grassy.
It's pretty interesting to have your ego crushed and be amazed at the
same time.

Needless to say the view at the top was spectacular, both the sunset
and sunrise. We even had a cultural show at the small hotel we stayed
at, where the children of the local school danced, sang, and played

Nepali Wedding Slideshow!

Nepal's Current Communist Government

The Maoists have recently gained power in Nepal and with that
implemented an 11pm curfew for the country. Things have been unstable
here and there, but nothing to stop tourism. The residents definitely
take care to lock up during the night and there is almost no evidence
of life after curfew. The only things I found out about were two
hidden bars and casinos that dared to stay open after curfew. Other
than that, as a tourist, there's no concern for worry. For residents,
however, that's a whole other story.

Katmandu seemed like a mini version of Delhi, with lots of pollution,
traffic, and people. I'm told that even within the past six years
there has been an incredible amount of changes as an influx of people
migrating to Katmandu from the countryside, and the people from
Katmandu leaving to other countries (the ones who can afford it). The
people here are all super nice and even the touts or sales people are
polite and respectful as they try to sell you things. You haggle just
as you would in India, and things are just as cheap.

The cuisine at all the tourist restaurants are multicultural covering
chinese, italian, mexican, indian, thai, and of course nepali. As you
would expect the food of other nations are mediocre and not the same,
with very few exceptions at certain restaurants. I tend to stay with
local or indian cuisine, which is vegetarian heaven.

Living costs - 400 Nepali Rupees ($5US)/ night for a room, balcony,
and hot water. Average meal was about 200 Nepali Rps ($2.50US).

Kathmandu Slideshow!


I was really excited to finally get to Nepal, for many reasons. For
one thing, my friend Kripa was going to be there and her sister,
Prapti, was getting married. It was also my first time in Nepal and I
heard many great things about the treks from other travelers. Of
course I was also eager to try the delicious Nepali food.

From the time I got there I was completely taken care of and didn't
have to worry about anything. I stayed with Kripa's family and had the
best nepali home cooked meals everyday and then Kripa would take us,
Prapti's friends and I, around to be our personal tour guide. It was
way more than I expected considering the massive wedding preparations
Kripa and her family still had to finish. A traditional Nepali wedding
takes about five days with all the ceremonies, but they managed to
consolidate everything into three days.

Everything was so elaborate, from the beautiful different sari's for
each ceremony to the gorgeous places they had the events. The family
was up by 6am or earlier till late at night every single day till
after the wedding to organize everything making sure all was perfect,
and it was amazing. The groom, Gotham, is Indian so the second half of
the wedding was down in Delhi for a grand reception. Unfortunately, I
couldn't make it down there in time. Especially since Indians really
know how to party and enjoy themselves.

Heathrow, London... In Transit.

On my way to Nepal, the cheapest way was to fly through London, with a
24 hour layover. So to save money I decided to hang out in the airport
cafes and make a little bed in a small corner for the night at the new
terminal. It took a while before my brain kicked in and realized I had
friends living in London that I could have stayed with, or at the very
least, meet up for lunch. So to all my friends in London, I'm sorry
for not thinking ahead. I'm such a fool!

Camel Trek Slideshow!

Camel Trek....NOT!

When I returned to Marrakech I had planned to go on a three day camel
trek and booked it the night I got back, at the last minute.
Unfortunately, I had no itinerary or any information about the tour
except that there were camels and I had to wake up at 6am the first day.

So, the next morning started with about 15 of us tourists plopped in a
van and driven off. Most of it was driving for an hour or two with
stops here and there. The driver only spoke Arabic and French, so when
we stopped it was never clear how long we had. I mean I even asked in
French and the driver told me one time and then another person who
asked would get another time. We had no tour guide and it was only
after the 3rd or 4th stop when we all realized there were things to
see at the seemingly random stops we thought were bathroom breaks.
Some people started to complain, while I just sat back laughing to the
ridiculousness of the whole thing. I mean how great a business is
that, to take people on a tour and just hire a driver not speaking any
of the languages of the tourists and just drive and stop at places
giving no information.

On the second night and hundreds of kilometers away we finally reached
the camel trek part of the tour. From the other tourists I found out
that the camel rides were suppose to take about two hours each way, to
and from the Berber camp in the desert. Everyone was excited and
sunset was quickly approaching. Once we got on the camels everyone was
talking and joking around. After a half an hour the group were not so
talkative or joyous anymore due to the uncomfortable seating on the
camels. For some reason they only placed a single blanket for padding
on the hump of the camel and felt that was enough for tourists.

When we finally reached the Berber camp site it was pitch black and
everyone was aching, tired, and starving. As we all crawled into a
huge communal tent we were served some nice tea to fend of the dessert
cold. After a while we all started to wonder if we were going to have
dinner, but only could get a less than definitive answer from the
camel guides. Half of the group was fading fast, falling asleep. Only
after three hours did food finally appear and we all devoured our
meals. Then we all decided to sleep, while the Berber guides were all
perplexed on why we didn't want to hear live music or dance.

Everyone was dreading the camel ride back the next morning and by the
time we reached our destination all but one little boy was on the
camel. Everyone else slowly decided to get off and walk through the
desert. The tour turned out to be more of a driving tour than anything
else, where it felt like 10% of it was activity. It was an interesting
tour, one that I would never do again, but I did meet some nice people
and we all met up for drinks after the whole ordeal to have a laugh.

Moroccan Law

Apparently under Moroccan Law, if there's a dispute between a tourist
and a local, the tourist will always win. This decree by the King was
implemented to encourage tourism and discourage the touts and shady
practices played on tourists, which are numerous. You hear stories
such as locals promising the best Moroccan cuisine ever at their home,
charging an exorbitant amount of money for less than mediocre food. Or
someone offering to lead you through the Medina only to get you lost
and asks for money if you would like to find your way out. Or telling
you that your hotel has been burned down/full/being renovated, but
they have a nice cheap hotel available. This is not to discourage you
from coming, and it's only in the main tourist cities, Fez and
Marrakech, where you have many dishonest locals preying on tourist.
I've met some great locals, and believe that there are lots of honest
and good Moroccans outside of the tourist industry. Just be prepared
for the aggressive nature of the tourist industry.

Agadir Slideshow!

Essaouria Slideshow!

Essaouria and Agadir

Essaouria was one of the best places to relax and chill. One of the
main things you hear about Essaouria is that it's very laid back and
the people don't hassle you as much to buy things. It's also a great
place for surfers, kite surfing, and windsurfing. The Medina was very
small, so even if you get lost you can easily find your way out.

After a couple of days I decided to go further down to Agadir. I heard
from some other travelers that it was suppose to be even better down
there along the coast. Just before Agadir, about 15 km, there were a
few small surf towns beginning with Tagazout. Unfortunately, mass
construction of resorts have taken place that will change the
structure of the whole coast and ruin the coziness of the small surf

When I arrived in Agadir it was a nice change of pace where it was
more metropolitan with no touts or anyone trying to get your attention
to sell something. I soon made a new local friend, Hammid, who spoke
four languages and was living in Austria for a number of years. He
ended up showing me around the fishing wharf and we at at his
restaurant, where I had one of the best fish meals on the trip so far.
Later we met up at a Karaoke restaurant with his English girlfriend,
along with a bunch of other international and local friends for a fun
night out.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mmmmm... Mint tea!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Marrakech Slideshow!

Fez to Marrakech

The Medina in Fez is the first Imperial city of Morocco and filled
with hundreds of thousands of people living in a labyrinth of shops.
To get a feel for the maze of the Medina I hired a guide to show me
around a bit. Of course I was shown the leather and carpet shops for
his commission, but they were all very friendly and not pushy. After a
couple of days I was ready to leave. Shopping has never been my thing
and the constant clamoring for your attention to buy stuff was getting
old. I had some delicious meals and tried some new foods with mint
tea(their specialty), that was enough for me.

From Fez, Marrakech is an eight hour train ride. I spoke with a few
locals and travelers who told me that Marrakech is even more money
driven, expensive, and the people are not as spiritual as Fez. I
forgot to mention that in each major town there's the Medina (old
town) and Ville Nouvelle (new town). The Ville Nouvelle's are
basically what you would expect, all the new buildings, big hotels,
expensive shops, things you could see anywhere.

When I arrived in Marrakech, it was more or less what I was told. The
Medina was smaller than Fez, but one of the nicer features is the main
strip of shops leading to the huge square just before the maze of
shops. I liked it better than Fez, but I guess it's all about
perspectives. Marrakech is definitely faster pace and main strip
connecting to the big square was a nice change to the claustrophobic
feeling of Fez's Medina. Each night the Marrakeche's huge square
(Djemaa el-Fna) transforms into a gigantic open food court serving
snail soup, sheep's head, or the less exotic couscous and other
moroccan fair.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fez Slideshow!

Fez, Morocco.

Arriving in Fez at night was a little overwhelming at first with all the touts and not knowing the prices for things like a cab ride from the airport to town. Luckily I had the Lonely Planet (My favorite is the Rough Guide by the way.:) ) to help with what to expect. Getting a cab to the Medina (Old Town) was a bit confusing, I kept getting past along a stream of cab drivers. Later I found out why. The old town is farther away than the new town and the rates to and from the airport is a flat 120dm.

So when I got out to pay giving the driver 200dm expecting 80dm back I was short changed. Ah, my first attempt at ripping me off, how sweet. The driver supposedly didn't speak any english and there was a tout who was translating. Basically, the driver said the town was far so it was more and wasn't going to give me any money back, all with a pleasant smile. After a few minutes of talk, I said lets talk to the police then, with a smile of course. Wouldn't you know it, the driver miraculously understood perfectly and gave me my correct change. Unfortunately, he wasn't smiling anymore. Ahhh, sad.

Then the tout took me to my hotel, giving me a full tour of the place. The touts are exactly the same as other countries like Thailand, India, etc. where they get commission for bringing you to a place. Just remember, if they offer to do anything for you, it usually comes with a price. It's how they make their living. Bargaining is also a way of living, even the price of my new haircut, and make sure you always ask for the price of everything. Otherwise you may get the "Special" price.

Fez really reminded me of India, but less polluted and definitely less populated. With that in mind, it's also more expensive with tons of French tourists. French is the second language here with flights from Paris at 20 Euros and again I had to struggle to stretch my 10 words of French, mixing it up with my Spanish at times. English is slowly becoming the next language learned here. 

With just over two weeks to play in Morocco, it just wasn't enough time to adequately see Morocco. I had to decide which places would be the best to visit after Fez by talking with the locals and some of the other travelers. I decided to visit Essourira, maybe Agadir, and Marrakech. 

Entrance to Fez's Medina

Here's a pig that thinks it's the sheep dog. Just got the photo from another pilgrim on the Camino del Norte.

At the Guggenheim, can you see me?

Camino Portugese Slideshow!

Santiago II

As I reached Santiago for the second time I was hoping for a better
view of the city than the first time and I got my wish (see below). It
was nice being back in the city since I knew a bit about where to go
and what to do. While walking to get my second certification I
randomly bumped into one of the Italians, nice surprise, and then
later in the day who yells my name? Inga, the retired teacher who
traveled from Munich! She invited me to sit with her to drink some
wine and dessert in the open square when we saw a few other people we
both knew walk by from the Camino del Norte. It was so nice to end my
trip with seeing everyone again that I met on the first Camino before
heading for Morocco.

Santiago de Compostel via Portugal.

Sometimes life is just too good.

Coast line just North of Viana do Castelo, Portugal.

So much fun on the Camino Portuguese!

The Worst Day and the Best Day.

Today I had one of the worst days of weather along the coast of
Portugal. The day started well, as I spoke with the local priest to
try and get directions for the Camino Portuguese. We chatted for a bit
as he told me the best route was to take National 13, of course, when
he noticed my Olukai flipflops. Then in his best english he told me
that I walk the Camino like the Apostles. True, however, my journey
was a lot easier with all the nice little cafes along the way.:)

From Viana do Castelo I started to walk along the National 13 and saw
the rough coastal line just 1km away. So again I decided to cut across
and walk by the ocean as the sky became darker by the minute. Then the
light rain came and I put on my poncho that I just bought the other
day. Hoping the rain would stay light or go away, it just got worse.
After a couple of hours I ducked in for a quick hot vegetable soup and
continued my journey on the National 13 in the rain. By this time the
rain was becoming a bit of a windy storm and the rushing of the trucks
whipping by didn't help. As most of you know, cold doesn't usually
bother me that much, but after an hour I decided to take a bus to the
next major town. Unfortunately, there were no more bus stops and I had
to walk another hour to a small town to catch one.

When I finally reached Valenca, just before the Spanish border, it was
late and I was tired, hungry, and wet. I managed to find the Albergue
just before they were about to close the doors, which made me happy.
Then a group of Italians invited me to dinner that they were making in
the Albergue. It was such a wonderful welcome after a rough day of
walking. We had a first and second course with wine, naturally, plus
dessert. On top of that there were three vegetarians in their group so
it was even better. I ended up talking with a few of them and other
pilgrims/travelers till late into the night. I really do love Italians
and everything about Italy...

Camino Portuguese...

I started the Camino Portuguese in O Porto, just 232km from Santiago
de Compostela. I've been to Portugal before and more people speak
english here than in Spain. Also, they seem friendlier and don't have
that, "what do you want in my shop" attitude, generally speaking.

When I talked with the tourist office to gather information about the
Camino they told me there were five different paths I could take.
Naturally, I chose the Coastal route. The only problem was that they
couldn't give me detailed directions for the Coastal path, but
informed me that once I got to the next town on the coast they would
have all the information. Famous last words.

So when I spoke with the tourist office at the next town I was
informed that they had no information on the Camino Portuguese, but
that the NEXT region just north of them would. In the meantime I could
follow National 13, their two lane road, up the coast to the next
town. There were two problems I had with this plan. The first was that
I would be walking along the shoulder of the road. The second was that
it was anywhere from 1-2km away from the actual ocean. So after about
an hour of walking on the boring road I decided to gamble and see if I
could walk along the beach all the way up the coast line.

It was a good bet and there were little sand dunes with paths to walk
along. There were also excellent camping spots all along the way in
which I took advantage of once. The only downfalls is that it's
slower, if you want food you have to walk inland, and eventually you
come to a river so you have to cut back across to take the bridge. For
me, the beauty of the ocean and beach outweighed all of the negatives.

As you can guess, I never found a single place or person who had
directions for the Coastal Camino Portuguese. The Camino was basically
the National 13 road, but I made my own Camino.:P I later found out
that only one of the inland paths was well traveled and had signs
every 50 meters.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Camino Del Norte Slideshow!

Friday, October 31, 2008

People dancing in Santiago.

Crosses as you get to Santiago.

Reaching Santiago de Compostela...

When I finally reached Santiago it was almost anti-climactic in that
you never get a good view of the Cathedral from afar, but it was more
of a gradual merge into the outer city to the inner part. Although
Santiago itself is a fun place to be, the real pleasure was the
journey and not the end goal. Through good luck I found a great cheap
pension just across the street from the Pilgrim office and right next
to the Cathedral through a fellow pilgrim. Santiago is known for it's
wonderful seafood, especially the calamari. Still a vegetarian and
wanting to do another Camino I decided to move on after a few days.

Even my bad days are good.

I caught myself the other day complaining about little things like the
weather, how much further the next town was, and other stuff. Usually,
when I feel sorry for myself I just put things in perspective with all
the suffering I've seen around the world to realize how lucky I am to
have so much... so on and so on. Today I had to laugh at myself
because I realized that the biggest worries of my days are how far is
the next beautiful town, or when's the next cafe where I can get a
cafe con leche, and other petty stupid things. I'm such a fool
sometimes, because I forgot that I don't have to work right now or get
up early every morning.:P

I'm traveling in different countries, meeting wonderful people,
learning about different cultures, eating delicious food, and having
an awesome life. I have no complaints.

As I met more pilgrams along the way I discovered a few interesting
things. One was that pilgrams could continue past Santiago
to Finisterra. Once known as then end of the earth, Finisterra is a
popular destination for pilgrams to finish and some even burn their
clothes and/or shoes. I also heard about other Caminos people had done
that sounded facinating, such as the Camino Portugese.

I then decided to take the bus one last time to make sure I had enough
time for the last 100km to qualify for the certificate you get
from the Camino. I then ran into a group of 30 pilgrims who were
headed to Santiago for a 50 year Catholic Anniversary of some sort.
Plus I got to enjoy a concert of snoring throughout the night. How
lucky was I.

Eventually, I reached Arzua, the crossroads of the Camino del Norte
and Camino Francaise where both paths merge to Santiago de Compostela.
It was such a change from seeing no other pilgrams on the walk to
seeing a lot of the same faces. I also heard stories of rampent
bedbugs and bad weather for the Camino Francaise, which made me so
glad I chose the north route.:-)

So finally finishing the Camino del Norte almost two weeks ahead of
schedule I decided to do another one, the Camino Portugese.


Hola bonita!

So I have this new idea of saying, "Hola bonita!" as my first greeting
to the gloomy customer service people. Guy or girl, I'll just say, "
Hola bonita!" and go from there. For the girls I know they will smile,
but for the guys I'm not sure. Maybe I'll get a confused look, better
than a sour one right? I'm sure to get a more positive response. I'll
let you know....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm sure you have all been wondering how my feet and Olukai's are doing. There Great! I can walk through anything and not worry about wet socks or stinky shoes.:) However some people on the Camino have some serious foot odor that almost knocked me out.



Saturday, October 18, 2008

Being a vegetarian on the Camino.

It really depends on how you look at it. If you go out to cafes and
restaurants, ya it will be a challenge. However you can buy all the
vegies you need at the supermarkets so there's really nothing to worry
about. You will NOT starve to death.

As for me, I'm still going strong with no meat cravings, to my
surprise. My energy level has been good considering I've been walking,
have a new vegetarian diet, and eating less.

I have seen some wonderful seafood dishes, which is to be expected on
coastal towns. Seafood is also considered something vegetarians would
eat here. So when you order food you have to be clear that there's no
beef, pork, or seafood.

I also found a great website that has a listing of vegetarian
restaurants and grocery stores around the world. Of course Nepal and
India will be vegetarian heaven.



Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wine at the Monostary's gift shop, now that a good shop!

Relaxing after a long day at Monasterio de Sobado de los Monjes.

Attack of the cows and their little leader!

The local tapas in Baamonde.

One of the tiniest bars I've ever seen. Super friendly people and one of them bought me a glass of wine.

Father Ernesto!

Can you see the little birdies?

Chill'in by the fire making chestnuts... Mmmm.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dinner at the albergue in Guemes.

First day of rain.:-(

I was hoping to avoid it, but the rain eventually caught up with me.
However, by chance I stumbled across an awesome albergue in Guemes run
by a priest named Ernesto. It's a huge place on a hill and they only
take donations. I was given a clean place to stay with wonderful meals
and plenty of wine.

Ernesto has traveled to 75 countries around the world and and has a
huge library of information and photos.

In the Basque region I had a great map from the tourist office, but
once I got to the next region, Cantabria, nobody had a good map to
follow and the signs became sparce or non-existant. Fortunately I was
able to dazzle the locals with my ten word vocabulary of Spanish
(English is not common at all) to get around and find the right path.

I decided to take the train from Deba to Bilbao and then the bus from
Bilbao to Castro Urdiales because the path was either not interesting
and/or went through cities.

When I finally reached Ernesto's albergue I was so exhausted I crashed
for a few hours. Then I woke up, stepped out of my room to the
veranda, and saw the French couple I met in San Sebastian. It was a
great surprise and we caught up on stories, but I had to tell them I
cheated a bit to get there. Then later that evening, while we were
having dinner, in came Inga all dazzed and tired. I yelled out,
"Inga!" and we caught up over dinner.

Ernesto said that the Camino in this region is confusing because there
are numerous paths and each book tells of a different one. Once you
loose a path, then you could easily stay lost.

The next two regions are Asturias and Galizia, hopefully I'll
findbetter maps there. Otherwise, I'll just keep meeting more people
to ask:-)


Look it's Inga again!

These figs were very interesting to me, besides being green both on the inside and out the taste was not too strong and had a melon flavor.

iPhone and the Internet on the Camino.

During the Camino del Norte I've been using my iPhone (my laptop would
be too much to carry) to post on the blog. I have yet to pay for the

If you go to the local library they will have free Internet for
anyone, and about half the time they have wifi. I've also been lucky a
couple of times in getting random open Internet walking around. Of
course people usually have their Internet password protected...
Where's the trust...


Me and my Olukai's.

It's been about two weeks since I have been walking in my Olukai's and
it's been great. I finally made some impressions with my toes, the
arche support is still good, and there's no signs of wear on the soles.

Of course I still get the funny looks and reactions of others when
they realize I'm doing the Camino in flipflops. I love it. Some
travelers have even taken pictures. Probably to show their friends the
crazy American, but as my friend says crazy is interesting.

In packing for the Camino with my day pack it's already too much. I
brought my tennis shoes as a back up and three pairs of tank tops and
shorts. I would throw them all away if I didn't need them for after
the Camino.

I would suggest any backpack with a hip belt and when you think you
have the bare essentials packed, then take half away(everyone says
this because it's true). Over days and then weeks even the smallest
amount of weight will wear you down. Also I've notice that even the
way you pack things can make a difference on your back.


Look only if you dare...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm a giant!

Pygmie goats with cool yellow eyes!

Monday, September 29, 2008

What's everyone else doing at 2:30 in the afternoon?:-)

Now, where do I put this extra piece? Nice view huh? There were a herd of sheep and goats surrounding the tent in the middle of the night.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's nice to see that dogs are allowed everywhere, including this busy bar.

Gotta love Europe for it's great wine even at these amazing prices.

Traveling Tips for the Camino del Norte

In all of Spain siesta is from 2-4pm, sometimes till 5pm in smaller
towns. That means pretty much everything shuts down, like restaurants,
tourist information, shops, etc. Usually you can still find a tapas
bar open or any tourist attractions and shops too. The time is mostly
important to be aware of when you roll into a new town and need a map,
information, place too sleep, and food.

Albergues are cheap places to stay for the pilgrams. Prices can range
from donations to around 16 Euros a night. The accomodations itself
could be a monostary, private place converted with beds, youth hostel,
or pension. Some travelerls have told me that bed bugs are not uncommon,
especially on the main French trail during the high season of August
because of all the pilgrams going through.

The northern or coastal route I'm taking is more scenic, but the most
difficult trail. The albergues tend to be more sparce and pricier than
the other routes. Camping in random places saves lots of money. So far
all the albergues I've stayed at have been super clean and camping has
not been a problem, the weather has been awesome.

I've already met a bunch of fun travelers who have been traveling for
a while. Inga, a retired teacher from Germany, started her journey in
Munich back in July. She's been traveling alone, taking the toughest
route (The Alpine, denoted by red and white marks on the trail), and
speaks several languages, including Chinese. Man, talk about putting
me to shame.

So, for any females wanting to travel alone, the Camino is perfectly
safe and managable. There's one German girl who's traveling for a year
and just taking her time, stopping here and there, reading a nice book
at spots with incredible views. I mean if you've never been to Spain
or the particular towns on the Camino, then you should also factor in
some time to enjoy those special places you come across that take your


Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Feet!

Ya, my feet are pretty roughed up now. I haven't taken care of my
babies like I wanted. I'll send some choice photos later. But be
warned, they are not for the faint of heart.

Toes alert!

First week on the Camino

From the start I was a bit sick, but decided to push on anyway. My
feet started to crack from the dry weather and I got a blister the day before the walk, but I still persisted in
walking with my flip flops. I was picking apples and blackberries
along the way, but eventually I ate once a day. My vegetarian diet
hasn't been too bad, but going through San Sabastien (The best tapas
in Spain) was a bit rough.

I'd get a sudden wiff of some nice meat being cooked or fish being
grilled and think what an idiot I am! Next time I'll do a food trek!
All meat... Just kidding.

I usually don't feel the craving for meat up to two weeks, so we'll
see how it goes. My energy level has been up and down, but I think
it's leveling off.


Chill'in out in Bilbao in the old town.

Here I am still trying to be a vegetarian having a cafe con leche and Spanish tortilla. Look how happy I am...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

European Cultures

I love how most people in the service industry here act like they are
doing you a favor when you want to purchase something, from ordering
food to buying a train ticket. It´s as if their daily painful
existance of a life is your fault. I forgot how I use to fantisize
about smacking them with a two-by-four.

Of course on the other end of the spectrum you meet some incredible
people. From the tabacco store clerk pulling out boxes of postcards to
help me find the best one of Irun (The start of the Camino del Norte)
because I mentioned I was starting the trek while a huge line was
forming to an elderly couple walking me all the way to my campsite
when they were tourists themselves and spoke only spanish. These are
just a couple of wonderful stories all travellers get too experience
and part of the reason we like to travel.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Irun, the beginning of the Camino del Norte

For those of you who are interested in the Camino for the future, I
thought some detailed info would help.

August is the busiest time because all of Europe is on vacation and
finding places to sleep, albergues, will be impossible. September is
great with the weather and less travelers, however, the tourist
information office in Irun is open only during the summer. The only
other place you can get info on the Camino and a special passport (Get
stamped in each town you pass) is an the only albergue in town which
opens at 4pm.

Getting to town at 8am I decided to walk to the next town's tourist
office, walk back to the albergue, and return to the second town where
my camp site was. Yes, I love difficulty.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Look, your own personal tap at the table! How great is that!

My view from Colico, (Lake Como), Italy

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oh yeah...

I'm traveling for a while... How long? Till my money runs out. I was
in Switzerland and Italy, but will be in Spain, Morocco, Nepal, India,
and then further into South East Asia. My goal is to find volunteer
work in the Asian countries and meet as many people as possible.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Traveling Again!

Hi All,

So I finally created my own travel blog. Where should I begin… Since
living in Paris, I have traveled to Costa Rica, Russia, India, Mexico,
Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. Also, in between traveling I
finished law school.:P Some of you may have the ridiculous notion that
I may have finally settled down, hahaha, you foolish people. The rest
of you know better.

Currently I'm in Zurich visiting some friends and will make my way
down to Lake Como in Italy and chill out for a few days. I must
apologize to everyone in Europe who I can't visit, I really wish I
could, please don't hate me.

The interesting part of my journey will begin in Northern Spain in the
small town of Irun. I will be hiking the Camino de Santiago for about
five weeks camping in various people's lawns if I'm lucky, and I will
try to be a vegetarian.

For those of you who are not familiar, the Camino de Santiago de
Compostela, also known in English as The Way of St James, is a
collection of old pilgrimage routes which cover all Europe. They all
have Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain as their final
destination. For more than 1000 years pilgrims have been walking along
the Camino de Santiago. I'm not doing this for religious reasons, it
just sound like a great hike.

This particular route I'm taking, Camino del Norte, is about 825Km and
the most difficult of them all. It's also the most picturesque, wish
me luck!