Quilts in July

It’s been a beastly hot few days. Perfect timing for a nice air conditioned quilt show! I have been down in Lewes, Delaware to give my presentation and teach a workshop at the show. 

Gosh there has been lots of commercial development in this area but the ocean view hasen’t changed. 

I have fond memories of coming to Rehoboth with my husband and four children. After a day in the surf and sand, we would stroll the boardwalk and always go home with salt water taffy.

Of course I had Grotto pizza for dinner! I sat on the boardwalk bench after a walk on the beach and enjoyed the sea breeze and people watching. 

I thought I’d show just a few of my favorite quilts.  I loved the way Harriette Tuttle explored her original design for the Heron Shadow 1and 2.

Debbie Coverdale celebrated Friendship with her machine appliqué quilt. 

She chose and cut her fabrics so wonderfully. This cowboy boot block drew my attention right in for a closer look.

Perfect title– Happy Little Churn Dash, by Elaine Conroy, quilted by Irene Chandler, made me smile. I really like the modern quilting look.  

This quilt by Susan Dammeyer, also quilted by Irene Chandler looks modern, too. I bet she had fun selecting fabrics.

Unusual colors in Bernadette Ernakovich’s quilt used to evoke memories of her son and daughter-in-law’s time spent in Adelaide, Australia.

I like to encourage my students to create depth by repeating colors used in the image, in the background. So effectively accomplished by Sandra Friant in her quilt Night Stalker.

I even found some “Quilting in Layers” Tulips blooming among the peach blossoms, this lovely quilt by Patricia Kost. 

Congratulations to Rhonda Adams for her quilt, asking, How do you take your tea? “With Milk and Sugar?” And a close group of friends. 

Rhonda brought home a well deserved Best of Show ribbon.

Bravo! A standing ovation and a huge round of applause to all the Ocean Waves Guild members, volunteers, spouses, children, friends and everyone who worked so hard to put together such an inspiring and pleasurable Quilt Show. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of your quilting fellowship. 

Ca Ra Zy

Unpack the car. Repack the car. Repeat. That has been my July but it has all been good. I have been crazy busy with Guild engagements, Mid-Appalachian Quilt Conference and today I’m heading to the beach.

I’ll be giving my “Inspired by Adventure” Lecture and teaching a Workshop at Ocean Waves Guild Quilt Show in Lewes, Delaware. Laurie Simpson of Minick and Simpson will teach a class and do a trunk show of quilts. I’ll be in the audience for that!

I haven’t had much time to walk at Longwood but I did check on the water lilies. Amazing, of course. I have so many ideas for quilts in my head. I come back from teaching classes so inspired by the students. All I want to do is sew and quilt. Crank up the air conditioning, I’m quilting in August.

Tidying Up

Massdrop is a dangerous thing. I had to discontinue receiving notices because the quilty offerings were too tempting. A few years ago I just had to have the full line of fat quarters from Lotta Jansdotter fabrics. When the bundle arrived, I had no idea what to do with it so I made up a log cabin block surrounded by squares. I didn’t like the blocks and didn’t like the fabrics either. So not my colors. 

In keeping with my plan of action — finish something old before starting something new — I pulled out the blocks and sewed them together. I’m surprised to find I actually like the quilt! 

I sewed the few remaining squares together and will combine the strip with the backing fabric. I cut the scraps into strips and added them to the Bonnie Hunter scrap basket. Another UFO out of the closet, I do feel very righteous! I neatly folded the top and placed it on my towering stack of Tops To Be Quilted pile. Not feeling so righteous about that….

The three step stool is proving it’s worth. 

A cold glass of iced tea and relaxing on the couch on the screened-in porch is a nice reward  and motivates me through my reading list. The Enchanted Islands is a book about two American navel spys during WW II stationed in the Galapogos, keeping an eye on two German spys, also assigned to the island. Not enough about Galagos and kinda boring story but I loved the book’s cover. Season of the Dragonflies was more interesting with a bit of fantasy woven into a tale of generations of women owning a perfume business in the Blue Ridge mountains. Not enough about the mountains. Clearly, setting is important to me. I haven’t started Wonder yet but I loved Room by Emma Donohughe. Didn’t care for Frog Music much, so we will see. 

I am trying to listen to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up but it seems like a lot of falderall involved in getting the job done.  

I don’t have time to hold on to crap to decide if it continues to give me joy. I just dump everythig out, keep the good stuff, toss the rest in the trash. 

I do agree that decluttering and organizing can give you a new lease on life. 

Tidying up is cathartic and I’m hoping for some magic with a new project. Now these are my colors. 

Full On Summer

We have had several absolutely perfect summer days. The sky has been deep blue with no humidity and the sun felt warm but a lovely breeze was cool. Black-eyed Susans are surely the official summer flower and the meadow at Longwood Gardens is all abloom.

Red Wing Blackbirds must be protecting nests because they kamikaze dive right for me. I love hearing their conk la ree call.

Longwood’s grand reopening of the refurbished fountains happened while I was in Spain and I’m finely getting a look at the changes that have been years in the making.

The passageway into the Grotto is dark and mysterious, promising a surprise.

I wasn’t dissapointed! A fine curtain of water flows in thin ribbons from the circular opening in the ceiling, shimmering like diamonds in the sunlight.

The ferns and mosses are tiny now but I’m looking forward to watching them grow and fill in among the rocks.

To celebrate the renovation, there is a 12 minute fountain display, treating visitors to a taste of the nighttime show. It’s just magical to see flowers bloom in jets of water to the music of Vivaldi.

We haven’t seen fireworks in over three years because the fountains were shut down. There will be a fireworks show on Sunday for the Fourth of July. Yea! I’ll be waving a flag!

It’s Never Easy

If I had to choose a favorite “tool” that really contributes to quilting and sewing, I’d pick my design wall. I used this design wall for years and really loved it. It was made from two panels of Homosote and covered with thick gray felt. When my longarm machine moved right in front, it was hard to get around to put anything up. 

So I made another pin board on the opposite wall. I used Homosote again because it was the perfect pinning surface, not hard and not wimpy. Well, who knew there are different grades of Homosote? These panels are so dense you practically have to drill a pilot hole to stick a pin in. It’s taken me 5 or 6 years to bend or throw away thousands of pins.

So I’ve been working on a commissioned quilt and I promised myself a reward. When the top was finished and came down, I was treating myself to a new design wall. I had a great plan, no need to remove the old Homosote, just put two new panels on top. Easy and quick, right! The old wall had a microfleece covering. Great for holding fabric, awful for drawing paper patterns.  I ripped that off first.

 I want to note here that the ladder was surely constructed in the 1800’s and weighs about 500 pounds. I keep threatening to pour gasoline on it and flick a match but Gary has some kind of attachment…  broken… rickety and scary…  and heavy. 

So I took some pins with me to Home Depot and decided on styrofoam insulation. Getting these flimsy sheets home taped to the top of my car was not fun. Then, the darn blue logos showed through my thin white felt so I had to paint over everything. 

You know that thing about how it’s a 2 hour job if you do it yourself and 3 days if you ask your husband for help?

Whoo hoo! Check out that beautiful new design wall. Oh my gosh, sticking a pin in is deeply satisfying. The studio has 9 foot ceilings and I like to make big quilts so I struggled for 5 or 6 years with that 2 step stool, couldn’t get a quilt block up towards the top without stacking something wobbly. So I treated myself to a new 3 step stool. Life is good.

I considered dragging that horrible old wood ladder out to the yard and making good my threat. But Gary insisted on hauling it to the garage. What do you want to bet that the only ladder he will ever use is my new step stool? Maybe he won’t notice a small fire…

Kaffe Challenge

The Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee met at the Four Dogs pub for our end of the year lunch. Since our children are grown and not underfoot all summer, we don’t actually end our meetings in June anymore. But lunch is always good and it’s time to reveal our challenge quilts. Karen set the only challenge rule. Make something using Kaffe Fasset Fabrics.

Oh my gosh is Karen’s quilt beautiful! She had to construct the fabric by piecing together different colored sections of Kaffe striped fabric. Can you believe she is going to give this quilt away? Not to me unfortunately.

Andra had fun choosing fabrics from all the color ways but brought it all together with the burgundy solid. Simple quilting on my longarm was all that was needed.

Susie was the overachiever this time. She actually made three quilts!  Our next challenge is to use solids and stripes. This quilt could make a repeat appearance.  Against the rules, tho. No double dipping allowed. 

Susie also made this soft colored quilt for a new baby gift. These are all Kaffe fabrics too, but what a different look.

We all lusted after Peggy’s beach bag. Love the shading light to dark. I could use a bag, Peg. When are you teaching us how to do it? We promise to behave ourselves. (Not!)

Michele did a great job with the contrast between light and dark. Not so easy with Kaffe fabrics which always seem so similar.

Joan’s quilt just blew me away! She used my Quilting in Layers technique to quilt all the black and white background squares. 

She fussy cut circles from the Kaffe fabrics and hand appliquéd them onto the blocks. Her appliqué is incredibly perfect and each circle is so beautiful and interesting. I could look at and admire this quilt for a long time. 

I think Ginger’s quilt used the Kaffe fabrics beautifully. My favorite colors, too.

Nope. Not Kaffe fabrics. Patty didn’t have time to participate in the challenge this time but she brought Show and Tell. 

I quilted this gift for her niece. Lucky niece! Patty pieced those zig-zags with impressive precision.

So this is my Kaffe challenge quilt. Purple is not usually a color I would select, but I do like the way the quilt turned out. 

I was short on time and clearly copied the pattern from SpringLeaf Studios pretty exactly. This was one of those instant download patterns I found on Etsy that you print out at home. It was a fantastic pattern! Super simple, clear instructions. Yardage for 4 different sizes. Optional versions of the quilt. Different design variations using value and color variations. And a black and white layout of the quilt to color in for exploring choices. Wow. All this for a measly $8. 

And the pattern seller graciously refunded my money when I accidentally hit the ADD TO CART button multiple (like maybe 7 or 8… whoops) times. 

U. S. A.!

It’s great to be back home! I almost burst into tears when I saw my container garden lettuce. Salad and more salad, I’m so excited! I thought the little seedlings would be dead from lack of water or bolted 3 feet tall. Apparently there has been a lot of rain while I was gone. 

I jumped on doing laundry right away but other than that, I’ve been lolling about, ignoring the gathering plume of “Stuff I Have To Do After Vacation.”  I was way behind before I left and now I’m hopelessly way behind.

The Piper must always be paid. Sigh.


We are taking the long way home– by way of Germany. Gary has a chemical conference to attend. After a really long train ride from the airport, that involved getting off the train to board a bus due to some “track incident” — do you see a pattern here? We checked into the hotel and headed for the nearest beer garden.

I considered various options for touristing around Munich the next day while Gary was working. Walking in this beautiful park in old town was relaxing. I found a park bench, a frozen chocolate coffee drink and read my book. So grateful I didn’t have to train into town! Or anywhere else. 

When Gary got back, we walked the few blocks into the old section of Munich, looking for a dinner restaurant. We just missed seeing the figures dance around during the chiming of the hour on this glockenspiel. 

A whole lotta years ago, Gary and I were in Munich on our honeymoon trip.  He says we had a beer at this iconic Hofbrauhaus. I don’t remember! Maybe because we had a lotta beers in a lotta hofbrauhaus’es.

This is a busy place with a great Oom-Pa band and dirndle costumed Fräuleins serving steins of beer. 

You would think this gorgeous ceiling would trigger a memory. I’m checking my old photo albums at home– was I really here as a newlywed or has Gary made it up?

Spätzle for dinner, the German equivalent of mac-and-cheese comfort food. And a salad. And a pretzel. Ahhhh….no meat! Now if I can just find a gelato for desert. 

Bye Bye Bocadillos

Our last day in Spain, we both want a final taste of our favorite foods. Check out those sandwiches, or “bocodillos” in Spanish. In the U.S. you would buy a paper cone of French fries to accompany your sandwich. In Spain you get a cone of different kinds of sausage slices! They are crazy for meat and seafood here, haven’t seen a green vegetable or salad in weeks. And whole grain bread? Forget about it.

In this shop you choose the ham, “jamon iberico” for your sandwich. The longer the meat is cured the greater the depth of flavor and the price. I have trouble looking at those hooves…. Since Gary is asking so many questions, and the server doesn’t understand a word he is saying, we both get a tiny sliver of each to taste. Delicious! Gary ordered the expensive one– hey, it’s our last day. Just wishing for some lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mustard and mayo on mine tho.

Gary is looking longingly at these hams for sale. Don’t even think about it unless you want to gift the Customs Agent at the airport. Even if it was possible, that hoof is not going in my suitcase. 

While The Carnivor is in ham heaven, I’m heading for desert. Oh my gosh! The gelato! I need another week to work my way through all the flavors. 

I always go for the straciatella, vanilla with shaved chocolate bits. 

The way they display the ice cream is so pretty. I intended to get a picture of my dish, gelato scooped into a flower shape, but I started devouring it before I remembered. 

We walked down La Rambla, looking into the expensive shops, people watching, listening to music from street buskers, playing cello and flute, enjoying our last tastes of Barcelona.

To cap the evening, we went to a flamingo concert. The stage and audience was small and intimate, the performers intended to represent members of a gypsy camp, singing, clapping and stamping feet, playing drums and guitar. The guitar music was just amazing.

The dancers!  It was impossible to capture a photo, their feet moved so fast but mostly because I was completely mesmerized. I kept thinking, the next dancer, I’ll take a picture, then I was enthralled and too caught up in the passion and music. I even tried to take a video but I kept watching instead of filming. 

A perfect end to our trip to Spain. I have had a wonderful time in this fascinating country and I hope I can return someday. 

Adiós España. Muchas gracias. Ha sido fantástico.


Gary is “Gaudi-ed” out. He has a limited number of hours for touring art, architecture and museums, and his meter has clicked off.  So we are going to the top of Montjuic today. I’m a little weary (make that a lot weary) of public transportation. First, walk several blocks to the Metro Station, ride four stops, get off and walk through confusing tunnels, go up and down several flights of stairs, make too many frustrating mistakes that involve re-tracing confusing tunnels and several flights of stairs and finely— transfer to correct Metro line. Ride a whole more bunch of stops. Walk up several flights of stairs to the surface– I’m starting to feel like a mole.

Ok– where is this dang funicular? The map says it’s right here. Walk several blocks this direction, walk several blocks in another direction. How can you miss seeing a funicular going up the side of a big mountain, when the sign says it’s right here? If we were on the Amazing Race, we would have lost the million dollar prize. Gary is great at figuring out the maze of transportation and I’m pretty good at spotting signs and where to go. But we are totally stumped. 

Thank goodness we aren’t on reality TV because the solution is to grab a seat at a cafe, order a beer and a bocodillo. And ask where the bloody funicular is. WHAT! The funicular is underground? Retrace steps back to the funicular sign, at the Metro station, go down several flights of steps, through the tunnel to the funicular

Might they have mentioned that the funicular is connected to the Metro?

You have got to be kidding me. The funicular only goes up halfway, then you take a ski lift, called the Teleferic, to the top of the mountain. Which isn’t running today because the workers are on strike. 

Might they have posted a sign at the bloody funicular that the bloody teleferic was not operating today?

It’s been a day. It’s too early for another beer and bocodillo. It possibly was too early for the first one, but hey, it’s Spain. We admire the view (halfway) up Montjuic, which is what we came for. 

We walked all over the beautiful park and saw the city of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea below. Gary tentatively suggested we walk on up to the top. Really? Let’s think about this. They have a bloody ski lift to transport you up and down. How much fun do you think walking up and down is going to be? My legs are tired, my knees are killing me, my “wandering aimlessly” meter has clicked off. Did we go to the top?

Of course we did.

The mountain of Montjuic was planned to be Barcelona’s great cultural park. At the beginning of the Catalan Revolt in the 1600’s a small fort was erected around a lighthouse which had stood on top since medieval times. 

I told Gary, after sweating two water bottles worth of about a billion stone stairs to get here, he owed me the 5 -Hour-Everything Included- Complete Detail- DELUX TOUR for Two

Lucky for him they didn’t have one.

This fortress is to Barcelona what the Bastille was to Paris or the Peter and Paul Fortress to Saint Petersburg.

Both a citadel and a prison, generations of captives have awaited their sentence. From the tower of Montjuic, a black flag would be raised, signifying execution. The fort was used in more modern times during the Civil War of 1936, 4 Vickers coastal artillery pieces were not enough defense to prevent thousands of deaths from the fascist Italian raids.

Ancient to modern, Castell De Montjuic was fascinating and worth the sweat and exertion. 

I could not believe my eyes at the first set of stairs. A city bus. The kind you take a seat on and ride down the mountain. There sure weren’t any dang buses on the way up. We didn’t know where the bus went…exactly… but for sure it was DOWN. And that was good enough. 

When we got back to the city it was clearly time for a glass of cava, Spain’s local “champagne.” I want to raise a toast to Henry Ford. The personal automobile was a brilliant, bloody genius, invention. 

Segrada Familia 

Today was all about the cathedral, Segrada Familia, but of course we fortified ourselves first with cafe con letche and pan de chocolat. You know what happened to those before this second cup.

I wonder how long it took Antoni Gaudi to design the incredible detail for this church.  We opted for the audio tour so we could understand the description and explanation but as always, I have more questions after the tour than before we started. It’s impossible to convey the magnitude in pictures or words so I’ll just mention a few of my favorite things.

The cathedral is built in the shape of a cross with what will be the main entrance still under construction. The opposite bars of the cross depict Christ’s birth and death. The top of the cross is all about the resurrection.

The stories high towers seen from the outside are configured to direct light into the interior. Gaudi said, “There is no better painter than the sun.”

The stained glass windows were very modern in composition. Instead of portraits of saints, they were abstract color “patchworks,” cool colors on the eastern side, shading light to dark, top to bottom.


Warm colors of the setting sun were along the western side and the colors also progressed towards the front of the church, on both sides, blending into the greens of nature. Gaudi would have been a heck of a quilter, huh.

The soaring pillars reference tree forms, branching for structural support. Gaudi wanted worshippers to feel a connection to the natural world and conceived the inside as a great forest. 

When I get home, I’m getting a book on the Segrada from the library because this is where Gaudi really loses me. The ‘parachute’ over the alter has a specific name that I don’t remember. And I definitely don’t understand electric lights, grape clusters and figs hanging from the edges, and it was so small. 

Shouldn’t the Resurection be the main point? The alter beneath the crucifiction was very small with no ornamentation. This part is complete as Gaudi intended. I am left pondering…

Exiting the church, opposite Jesus’s birth on the other side, the story of crucifiction and death is the subject. 

Gaudi moved into a small house on site when overseeing the construction of the cathedral. On June 7, 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk and was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of identity documents and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid. Eventually a police officer transported him in a taxi to a poor hospital where he received rudimentary care. By the time the chaplain of the Sagrada Família, recognised him on the following day, his condition had deteriorated severely. Gaudí died on June 10, 1926 at the age of 73.

Does it seem like all we do is eat and drink? In Spain, the main meal of the day is eaten around 2 o’clock, with several glasses of wine or beer. I think Gary could eat dinner any time of the day (or twice a day) but all I want is a salad and I’m really craving a bag of potato chips. Both seriously hard to find in Barcelona.

Casa Gaudi

Tickets for anything “Gaudi” sell out quickly and you need to reserve online days in advance. You are given a timed entrance which is a good thing because the home Gaudi lived in is very small. Gaudi worked on the Segrada Familia project while living here and now it is a museum, explaining how he lived, evoking his personal life as well as showcasing furniture and objects he designed.

Gaudi wanted some privacy around his home but said a fence was too high and exclusive so he built a vine covered pergola around the perimeter.

There are gates designed by Gaudi as exhibits on the property. I think this looks like modern forms of sunflowers. 


I’m in love with this gate–inspiration for a quilt.

The interior was a mix of Gaudi’s actual living rooms and museum exhibits. Double sink in the bathroom, pretty forward thinking.

Often, Gaudi would design the furnishing to fit the architecture of his client’s homes. I thought the fretwork on this chairback would make a nice quilt motif. I’m really missing my studio, sewing and quilting.

After touring the home, we walked all over Park Güell. The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing development , the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, after whom the park was named.  There were 60 lots planned for luxury homes, with incredible views of the city Barcelona and Mediterranean Sea, set high on a mountainside with cooling breezes. Only two houses were built, Antoni Gaudi moved into the “show” house and lived there for 20 years. 

What the heck were people thinking? I can not begin to imagine what a home would be worth here today. No mention of why the home lots didn’t sell but Gary speculated that it was too far from the city center, in a time with poor roads and transportation and what was considered the    wealthy sector. You can see the spires of Segrada Familia in the center of the photo and apparently Gaudi didn’t have difficulty getting to work every day. 

Well, it was a good thing nobody bought the new neighborhood because now tens of thousands of people can enjoy the park and the monuments Gaudi designed.

There are buskers playing music, performers and venders of all sorts.  

At the highest point in the Park, Gaudi situated three crosses to remind people that man cannot top what God creates. It’s quite a climb to get up there and the last part is steep and stretches have no guardrail at all. Did we go to the top?

Of course we did. 

It was plenty scary with people deciding it was too dangerous to continue up and trying to come back down, white as sheets, insisting on clinging to the wall, forcing ascending people toward the edge with no hand rail. Grrr. I’m getting too old for these challenges. I didn’t dare snap a photo at the top. I’m reminded that woman doesn’t like tumbling down what man has built without safety considerations.


We are so lucky the storms held off and we didn’t have to walk the Camino in the rain. Leaving cold and wet Santiago for warm and sunny Barcelona, perfect timing.

We checked into our hotel and walked a few blocks, thinking about finding dinner. I turned the corner and caught sight of the Segrada Familia. It took my breath away. I’ve seen pictures of the Cathedral, Antoni Gaudi’s formidable work in progress, but it was so much bigger and grander than I could have imagined. 

It’s really hard to get a good photo, the cathedral is so massive. 

Huge, sky-high cranes work above, extending the towers and construction is visible everywhere. In 1882 the cathedral was begun by architect Francisco Paula de Villar. A year later, Gaudí became involved when Francisco resigned as the head architect. Taking over the project, Gaudí transformed it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Sagrada Familia’s construction progressed slowly because it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950’s. The cathedral is expected to be completed in 2026, 100 years after Gaudí’s death.

We reserved tickets to tour the interior of the cathedral day after tomorrow.

I saw this enormous paella dish, had to be 3 feet across, in a restaurant along the Camino in Galicia, but I have been saving the taste for Barcelona. 

Tonight is the night! Absolutely delicious. Sitting in an outside restaurant, having dinner and a glass of wine, gazing at the Segrada Familia, this is how I imagined experiencing Barcelona. 


We started out before dawn with our headlamps on. Fourteen miles to hike and the day will be hot, especially when walking through the city streets of Santiago, and a storm is predicted in the afternoon.

I understand how contemplative this journey can be. It’s easy to let my mind wander and think deep thoughts as I walk through the eucalyptus trees. 

I’m not ready for the end of the Trail. I wish I could walk the Camino in the Pyrenees, Pamplona, Sarria and Leon. Really, I could just transport up to Saint Jean Pied de Port right now and start at the beginning.

It isn’t long before we reach the Santiago city limits. 

There is a lovely park with statues and monuments related to the Camino. Pope John Paul commemorated the walk of Saint Francis of Assisi on the Camino.

Via con Dios. 

Now we follow the shells in the pavement through the suburbs.

Thunder rumbles overhead, walking the narrow streets of old town Santiago.

It was quite disappointing to arrive at the Cathedral of Saint James. The entire front facade was encased in scaffolding and blue construction netting for extensive restoration. I couldn’t see a thing and had to borrow this photo from Google. It is still majestic and an emotional end of the journey for many pilgrims. The sacred relics of St. James lie beneath the cathedral’s high altar in a silver coffer. Since the Middle Ages it has been the custom of pilgrims to pray with their fingers pressed into the roots of the Tree of Jesse below Saint James, and five deep indentations have been worn into the marble as a result. At the beginning of the Pilgrim Mass in Santiago de Compostela, a list is read out of the number of pilgrims who have been received in the Pilgrims’ Office in the last 24 hours, where they come from and where they started their pilgrimage. 

We were much too late to attend the Pilgrims Mass but Laura and Tim take their Passports to the Pilgrim Office to be authenticated. Along the way, pilgrims must obtain two stamps a day from designated churches and other official sites and they must walk the last hundred miles.

Success! Laura and Tim are both granted their Compostela.

Time for serious celebrating. Lots of things are going on in the enormous square around the Cathedral. Folk dancers, bagpipers, street artists, lots of venders have souvenirs for sale.

We sat on the massive stone stairs on the back of the cathedral and listened to an orchestra.

All along the Camino, we tried traditional pilgrim and regional food. St. James almond cake, bean soup with turnip greens, fresh bread and green olives. Gary developed a serious taste for bocadillas– sandwiches with Iberian ham and cheese. I was doubtful of pulpo, octopus! grilled and served in a smoked paprika sauce, but Gary is game for anything. I just put those ugly tentacles out of my mind and tried a bite. Delicious! Really! We polished that sucker right off. (I know…I just couldn’t resist!)

Travel is for enlightenment and gastronomic discovery, right? I don’t want any experience to pass me by!

Arzua to A Rua

Fresh croissants, just pulled from the oven with cafe con letche. I really could get used to this!

The guidebook says today’s hike will take us through rolling fields and woods. There are ample places to fill water bottles, like this very old piped spring. 

The enterprising owners of this beautiful stone house set up a “serve yourself” coffee and snack bar.

Gary does not pass up any opportunity to have a coffee. I may never get him to hike the Appalachian Trail again! I think this is a modern corn crib. The Camino is a very social experience. There are hundreds of hikers from all over the world and everyone talks to everyone, dispite the many different languages. There are groups of high school kids hiking with teachers and college students walking together and couples and singles and people of all ages. I’m especially impressed by the older folks– ok, older than me. I met a lovely lady in her eighties that only walks a few kilometers a day. Bravo to her!

We passed a man sitting out in front of his house carving these hiking staffs for sale. Many had the scallop shell carved in the wood. 

The scallop shell is one of the most iconic symbols of the Camino de Santiago and today it is used, along with the yellow arrow, to guide pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela along its many different routes. Painted on trees, sidewalks, tiles, etc… the scallop shells, help travellers find their way.

There are many stories, legends and myths trying to explain the ancient link between the scallop shell and the Saint James Way. I have taken so many photos of shell tiles decorating houses. The scallop shell is said to be a metaphor, its lines representing the different routes pilgrims travel from all over the world, all walking trails leading to one point: the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims all have shells tied to their backpacks. 

Sometimes the walk takes us on stone pavers through tiny farming villages.

It’s a hot day and we are greatful for shady lanes bordered by yellow broom plant.

I can’t believe how quickly we can walk 18 kilometers, about 11 miles. We check into our small Pension Casa Da Fonte, only 5 rooms here, and take a shower and rest. All the restaurants and shops are closed until 7 pm. It’s really hard to get used to this schedule, but in Spain, no one eats dinner before 7 or 8 o’clock. It’s still daylight at 11 pm!

This is the breakfast room but our bedroom looks much the same with stone walls at least a foot thick. There is no air conditioning but it is surprisingly cool. 

Right next to the Pension is a restaurant and bar. Tonight we ordered a pitcher of sangria to enjoy outside under the shade of a huge chestnut tree.

Gary ordered the Coquilles Saint Jacques, fitting for a pilgrim.

I fell asleep in A Rua to the sound of water filling a stone trough. And woke up to roosters crowing in the back yard. Sometimes I feel I am in a time warp but would you believe we had Wifi! What a lovely place to visit.