When my friends and I got tickets to the 2014 Monty Python reunion in London, we seized upon them without worrying about “details” like where else we would go and how we would get there.
When travel forces of the universe conspired to send us to Dublin first, again, we figured the details would work themselves out. Research suggested flying between Dublin and London on low-cost carriers would be sorta cheap, but really painful. Then, one of my friends found the SailRail combination of ferry and train between Ireland and the United Kingdom, and, with it, the details were all figured out.
SailRail proved to be an economical way to depart Dublin for London – via Holyhead, Wales – while getting to enjoy a bit of the Irish Sea, and the Welsh and English countrysides. It’s not fast travel, not even a little, but a delightful adventure to add on top of our already delightful adventure.
July 25 is the feast day of Saint James – Santiago – an important day in the Camino calendar. If you’re not walking, it’s a great day to reflect on your Camino, or even better, spend the day like you’re on Camino.
Since I carried all of my worldly possessions day-to-day on the Camino de Santiago, I picked up very few souvenirs. I came home the usual artifacts, the Compostela, distance certificate, and the Cotolaya – the document given to pilgrims receiving the Compostela in 2014 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi’s pilgrimage from Italy to Santiago.
Like every peregrino, my credencial is the most unique souvenir from the journey. Every stop, Dublin to Barcelona to Leon to Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre and Muxia, every sello a noteworthy stop with fond memories of café con leches and friends along the way. I got home and flipped through my credencial, again and again, I decided I wanted to look at it every day, somehow. So I fired up my computer and got to work.
Montreal, is a very, very fine food city, so (to borrow a phrase from one of my traveling companions) there is no need to waste a meal on a substandard chain restaurant, or somewhere that won’t surprise or delight. I’m happy to admit that a lot of my recent trip to Montreal was spent eating, or in recovery from eating, and I don’t regret a single minute of it. Eating well is living well and the living in Montreal is very good indeed.
Update: Great news! I have posted an update to this post at the bottom.
I completed my Camino de Santiago in September 2014. Along the way, I encountered people who were at various crossroads in their lives. Some had lost children or partners. Some had just retired from long careers. Some were on a school or career break. Some needed to check out from their daily lives to reset and regroup.
I had more conversations about Camino motivations and learning along the way than I can recall. My story was boring and consistent: “It just feels like the right time in my life to do this.” I did my daily kilometres, collected my compostela, and flew home.
In April 2015, I lost my job. The government department where I worked was eliminated, my position along with it. On a sunny April morning, the first nice weather we had seen after a tough slog of a winter, my former colleagues and I streamed out of a conference room with our hand-delivered letters into blinding sunlight and uncertainty. As it turns out, receiving the compostela was the beginning of the journey, not the end of one.