Tag Archives: travel

Peregrina !​

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Peregrina !​

Rucksack scrupulously packed and re-packed countless times, weighed 7kg, walking boots on, passport in hand, the time had come for my pilgrimage, even though I feel as if I’ve been on my personal journey come pilgrimage since January, when I started making many changes in my life.  But this journey I was about to embark on, would be one I will never forget.

The ‘Camino de Santiago’ or St James Way, is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in north-western Spain. Legend has it that the remains of the apostle, Saint James the Great, are buried there. As pilgrims traditionally started their journey from their own home, different Camino ways have emerged over hundreds of the years.  Having walked many miles, 1000 to be exact,in Andalucia since January, I had booked a ‘Finale’ of one week, walking the last part of the ‘Camino Frances‘ from just outside Sarria to Santiago.

There are many rumors or negative vibes often felt, when reading the numerous blogs and forums of ‘The Camino Pilgrimage‘, for those only doing the ‘Last leg’ and not starting further afield, but I feel everybody’s journey, situation, reasons, and thoughts are different and who are we to judge ?  Time restraints, responsibilities, money and many other factors all add to each walkers choices and planned routes.  Unfortunately my limitations were time and family but fortunately, I never experienced any such negativities. Each Peregrino I met had their own story, were happy and welcoming to hear mine, share experiences, encouragement, pain, and joys.  In fact, pilgrims with these righteous views, in my opinion, should look a little deeper into the true spirit of the journey.  On first arriving I got the sense of happiness from many, to see ‘Fresh legs and faces’ to continue along with on the way.

A direct short flight from Malaga to Santiago de Compostela, and then a short, packed bus ride into the city, eye-spying others laden with backpacks and sporting big boots, added to my excitement and butterflies. Santiago was bustling and vibrant, full of pilgrims, tourists and locals.  I had booked a night in the old town so I could sample the delights, once a foodie always a foodie, of course that was all part of the journey too.  Many pilgrims choose to use Albergues and hostals that require no-booking and run on a first come, first served basis, but as this was my first time backpacking, EVER !! I allowed myself some comfort in knowing after a long days walking I had a bed at the end of it.

After a day and night, exploring, feasting and quaffing, I took a train journey to Sarria, my start point.  Dramatic scenery lined the route, through forests of green, gorges and lakes so blue, deserted villages and landscape rich with wildlife.  In the train, I was very pleasantly surprised by the furnishings, and comfort, little did I know I’d plonked myself in First Class, 😉 the Inspector was most charming, and allowed me to stay, me I was thinking ‘Soak it up, the last of the luxuries for a while’.

My choice to do Sarria to Santiago would enable me to receive the

Compostela“, the accreditation of the pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. James. 

To receive this, Pilgrims have to walk at least 100km, Cycle or Horse-ride 200km.  Along the journey, you have to collect stamps in the ‘Pilgrims Credencial’ to prove your distance and consecutive days walked.

So my route: Sarria-Portomarin-Palas de Rei-Arzua-Amenal-Santiago 116km + a few finding accommodations 😉

Each day I rose before dawn, for a quick Cafe con leche, caffeine shot.  I made the mistake the first day to fill up at breakfast, only to find walking a struggle after.  So quick coffee, head torch on, find my route, off I went.

The route is symbolised by a shell motif, belief is that the lines on the shell, represent the routes from across Europe to Santiago.  I would hear the click-clack of walking sticks and the hushed early morning, sleepy chatter of fellow pilgrims, this gave a sense of warmth and unitedness.  Some moments tested my nerve and personal thoughts, walking through forests in the dark, with not a soul in sight, firstly I was jumping at every sound, rustle or movement, I had a chat to myself, deep breath and then learned to soak up the moment of solitude and nature in its purest form.

Daybreak, was the feel-good moment of each day, taking in the new surroundings, views, some days with a glorious sunrise, others with a thick mist, slowly letting light through. Familiar faces, and the welcoming sound of ‘Buen Camino‘ all added to the experience.  I was known for a quick pace and even got nicknamed ‘BOLT‘ or ‘Lynsey LongLegs‘ so passed many people each day, but stop-offs for water breaks, sock realigning, rucksack adjusting and general ‘I need a rest‘ moments, saw them catch-up, over-take or even join me.

And that’s how it rolled!

5 Days walking, through ever-changing landscapes and weather.  Difficult moments, euphoric moments, lightbulb moments, hymn singing, praying, cursing and even crying, tears of joy and pain.

Each day as I arrived at my next location, I celebrated with a cold local ‘Cerveza’, boots off, tapa eaten.  Found my bed for the night, hauled my rucksack off, stood in the shower, face up to the steaming water, – Tiger balmed my feet, took my ibuprofen & closed my eyes for siesta.

Towns and hamlets on the route offer wonderful menus for pilgrims, comfort, substantial food to fuel our bodies, about 9€ for 3 courses with bread, coffee and a bottle of wine.  My favourite soup for the soul ‘ Caldo Gallego’ soothed my brain and body and almost felt like it gave me a warm hug.  Bedtime was never late, 9-10pm, sleeping was often difficult, mind wandering and noisy neighbours ( some people are just not considerate of others 😉 ) and a different bed every night often had me muddled when I woke mid-sleep.  Small sacrifice though and forgotten quickly the next day.

Favourite town on my route: PortomarinIMG_3007

Favourite quirky find: A little old man in the middle of no-where selling freshly made Bunuelos! IMG_3001

Favourite sign: Free hugs!

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Favourite meal: Pulpo IMG_2978

My last morning and my last walk into Santiago just 18 km to go !! My pace was quick, I was on a mission, completely absorbed by the end in sight.  The last few Km’s seemed to take an age, through built-up areas and suburbia of the city, many pilgrims were behind me, but few upfront, on occasions I felt lost, symbols seemed more spaced out.  Finally, I spotted a sign ‘Catedral 800 m ‘ I had an overwhelming, emotional moment, hidden behind dark glasses, my tears flowed. Turning the corner the Piper, piped the pilgrim’s welcome.  As I entered the Plaza, pilgrims who had arrived the day before, welcomed me with open arms, hugs and cheers.  Tourists asked for my photo, as a ‘real-life‘ pilgrim ;). I just collapsed on my rucksack, head in hands and thought

Yes this girl can, this girl DID

Not an end to my journey, part of it, part of my quest to walk more, breath and stop and stare.  Part of my learnings to enjoy the wanderings of my own mind, except the solitude, be just me.

After getting over my arrival and up off the floor, the realisation my legs and feet were not invincible became apparent.  The officialdom stage had to take place, obtaining my Compostela.  The pilgrim’s office, receives approx 600-900 Pilgrims a day, the day I arrived it seemed double.  A long wait, in a long queue, was one of the hardest parts of the experience, but everybody was in the same boat, others had obviously walked for weeks.  7.28pm I GOT IT – I had two minutes to get to the Cathedral for the Pilgrims service, there was only one thing for it I had to RUN !! Ouch !!!!

A full cathedral, candlelight, incense burning, finalised my pilgrimage and to my delight the Botafumiera swang……

Until next time – Buen Camino!

 

 

 

 

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Best foot forward.

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I daren’t look when my last blog post was, they’re all in my head you see, I never seem to have the time, here we go again …

“All or nothing” that’s me. I don’t often do things by halves. Rockbottom or flying high, up or down, no wine or the whole bottle, couch potato or?

Well, that leads me to this blog post …

January saw me at another chubby, yo-yo, clothes going up in size stage. I had been recognising the signs, but ignoring them, as I do, for the past 12 months, then that dreaded Christmas photo !! I looked well, frumpy. No-no good. I also was in constant pain, with diagnosed degenerative disc disease, a pinched nerve and a spine very badly out of shape. To add insult to injury, my Hashimoto’s (Autoimmune under active thyroid) was muddling my brain, disturbing my sleep and adding pounds to my person.

Rollercoaster life rock-bottom once again kicked me into touch. So I flung myself wholeheartedly, I ‘WAS’ in the zone, to sort it out. Weight, fitness, diet, and lifestyle. I decided to take on a few personal challenges that I could focus on throughout the year. Poco a poco, little by little. Goals that I could put a big red tick by as I conquered them.

They’re work in progress and they are as follows:

  • Dry January

To refrain from Alcohol for 31 days.

COMPLETED – SAVING …17,000..CALORIES & …403….€ ( hides in shame !)

Miracles do happen, who’d have thought 😉 coming from a bottle of vino a night girl, plus a few!

THE FOLLOWING STARTED 9TH JANUARY 2017

  • Loose 15 kgs

Following the 5:2 Fast plan. Restricted food intake calories 2 days a week, and eating well 5 days a week, including indulging when called for at weekends.

PROGRESS TO DATE: DOWN 13 KGS 🙂

  • ‘Where’s you Everest’ Challenge

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To climb the height of Everest 8823m wherever, whenever you’re in the world. Set by Trail Magazine.

PROGRESS TO DATE: 6 weeks to climb my first Everest, onto my 2nd …15,424…m Elevation in total.

  • Walk 1000 miles in 12 months

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Challenge set by Country Walking Magazine, with an online FB group and following of ……people. A positive and inspiring group of people, from, excuse the pun all walks of life, all over the world. Some folks counting every step they take, some counting ‘Boots on’ miles.

PROGRESS TO DATE: 350 ‘Boots on’ MILES, On target and banking a few!

  • Walk as many stages of the ‘Gran Sendero de Malaga’

A circular walking route around the province of Malaga 650 KM

GR walk

PROGRESS TO DATE :

Stage 1 & 2 complete, Malaga to Rincon de la Victoria to Velez Malaga.

Stage 3 & 4 complete, Velez-Malaga to Torrox pueblo to Nerja.

Stage 5 complete, Nerja through the Sierras to Frigiliana.

  • Climb Maroma

For 12 years since we moved to our house on the side of a mountain, with looked with awe at the mighty Maroma. La Maroma, also known as Tejeda, stands at an altitude of 2069 m, is the highest peak of the Sierra de Tejeda,  Spain. The summit is located in the region of Axarquía on the border between the provinces of Granada and Málaga.

PROGRESS – Date booked 7th May, praying for good weather and not too hot.

  • Camino de Santiago

To start my Pilgrimage on the famous St James way.

PROGRESS TO DATE: Pilgrim passport ready, flights booked, depart 28th September, 1 week.

EXCITED !

Well, that’s the diet and fitness sorted 😉 should give me something to go on, now to fit in the lifestyle, not sure there are enough hours in the day. Maybe as I walk I can virtually write my cookbook, keep my website updated and plan recipes and menus. Perhaps I need a personal assistant, note to self must work harder, money helps 😉

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Once somebody showed me the ‘Wheel of life’ to balance all aspects of your life, work, rest and play, I even set diary notes for it to pop up to remind me to evaluate my ‘Wheel’ each month. Maybe just a tad unrealistic, or too perfectly formed for ‘real life’ and I know, I often would look at my ‘apple’ Pie Chart and think “ooh b********s”, I’m not that domestic, mantra chanting, chakra aligned, clean eating, goddess. But I’m ME work in progress, ‘watch this space Lynsey’ back on the waggon of self-fulfilment, having a little me time, slipping up as and when life bats me a curve ball, just trying to recognise the moment before it side swipes me to depths again.

So as I put my best foot forward I’m praying for no blisters, hoping my back will hold up and my pill popping will be less. I’m enjoying every moment, breathing in the views, stopping to stand and stare at the top of steep climb or mountain, learning to cope with the wandering of my own mind, ( yes I still think I’m crazy ), and I’m truly thankful that I live, where I live.

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Buen Camino todos!

Malaga a must see !

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Although living on our mountain in rural Andalucia for the last 11 years, I do have to travel back and forth to the U.K regularly for extra work.  Always on my plane journey the inevitable conversation starts by the fellow passenger next to me ‘ Going on holiday ?’ “no, I live here‘ I reply.  I explain my story in brief, and ask of their onward journey plans.

Most, probably 95% of them say they’re heading off to the Costa del Sol, or even say Malaga, when my eyes and ears light up, as this wonderful city holds a dear place in my heart and those that have visited, no doubt share the same enthusiasm for it , but they don’t actually mean Malaga the city, and have no plans to visit it, they either pass through, skirt pass or miss it altogether .

Maybe secretly in my thoughts , part of me feels this is a good thing, perhaps they’re not the kind of folk who would be held under its spell, of passion, history, art, architecture, cosmopolitanism, diversity and gastronomy.  The other side of me feels, don’t judge the place as an airport, be daring, take a detour, spend a few hours and explore, and get hypnotised by the power of this Andalucian treasure.

Go, Malaga is a must see !

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Even visiting regularly as we do, it always feels a special treat to take a day out in the city.  Luckily Malaga is on our doorstep well just a 30 or so KM’s away, but in the mountains nothing is too close.  We can hop on a bus from our local town of Colmenar, relax for the 40 minute journey, only costing a couple of euros and hop off the other end to explore, shop, eat,&  tapear (eat lots of tapas in lots of places).

This visit, we planned our itinerary around roof-top terraces, lazy lunch, cocktails and views to to die for.  Malaga even in 38 degrees did not disappoint .

 

 

 

 

A year of ….

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Yet again my year came & went and my scribblings, notes and plans for writing did too ! But thankfully I have the memories stored deep in my grey matter.  Deciding it was time to finally put finger to keyboard, I’ve spent most of my day, trawling through photos, Facebook posts , pinterest and Instagram, so yes generally procrastinating once more.

So to put it bluntly or should I say sum it up in a nutshell, 2015 was as rollercoaster as any we’ve had in Spain.  Looking on the highs & ups, La Rosilla-Lifestyle and Food has steadily and enjoyable grown.  Guests and travellers have visited from all corners of the globe and we’ve shared tales, recipes & traditions, sat, cooked , ate and drank together and the ‘*Sobremesas’ have been wonderful 🙂

We’ve explored and fallen more deeply in love with Andalucia, flora, fauna, fiestas & ferias.  Our city of Malaga, is forever evolving into a destination of delights, museums, gastronomy, port and each time we visit we stumble over something new.  We have a passion to share this with people who visit, and those who haven’t yet and we can perhaps tempt them by social media.

Somethings have appeared more in my timelines then others, guests, Paella & breads, all passions of mine.  I’ll share a few with you ..

 

I have to make some changes in 2016, foremostly I need to become gluten free 😦 Doctor’s orders !.  This will not be easy for me, and no doubt I’ll have some falling off the wagon moments, but I’m determined and looking forward to the challenge of creating bakes & dishes to suit.  I’ll keep you posted.

The winter so far has been especially kind, with many alfresco lunches and  evenings with friends and family spent by the fire pit under the stars.  Almond blossom is already blooming over the mountains and wild flowers peeping through, heads to the sun.

Strawberries are in the markets, artichokes and broad beans too, all signs of a Happy New Year and we’re ready for it too.

 

Trumpet blowing.

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So lovely when visitors take time to write a review and say Thank-you, and that they’ve gone away with happy memories of their visit …

Subject: Lynsey’s Cooking Class

La Rosilla, Lynsey Drake’s cooking school, is a must for visitors to Spain.  My husband and I, Americans from Texas, met Lynsey in the mountain town of Colmenar, population 4,000, located about an hour from the Costa del Sol.  We chatted over coffee and sandwiches (Pitufu Catalana- Small roll with tomato, garlic, olive oil & Serrano ham) at the Hotel Belen, walked the streets of Colmenar, drinking in the flavor of the local people, shopped for chorizo and blood sausage at the factory and bread at the bakery.

Lynsey then drove us to her mountain home where on her sunny terrace we ate various cheeses and sausages and sampled sherries and olive oils.  We then proceeded to Lynsey’s kitchen where we helped prepare five Spanish dishes including paella and gambas pil pil for our dinner.  Lynsey’s husband, and their daughter,  a gracious teenager, joined us for our meal.

Tasting time .

After dinner they drove us back to Colmenar where we picked up our rental car and returned to the Coast.

What a delightful day experiencing life in a small Spanish town and a Spanish feast, a definite treat for visitors to Spain.

 

 

 

Keeping in touch

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It’s great to keep in touch with folks back home.   I don’t know how I would’ve survived without Skype, emails &  along with My Mum’s telephone provider allowing her to call me free for as-long as she wants.  We have a code , 2 rings & she calls me back, maybe far away but only on the end of the phone.   Twitter came along to me, later than most, couldn’t get it at first but then I was hooked.  I’ve passed my obsession over to my Dad now, @bikeral64 , purely of course to keep him up  to date with the techie side of life 😉 but we now communicate in 140 characters or less – short but sweet but we get the message across 😉

Blogging too, has helped on many occasion when, perhaps I need to sit and take a look at what I’ve achieved,  what’s happening around me & what obstacles I have overcome.  Also what delicious meals I have created or eaten, I have shared with friends and now a wider audience, all thanks to technology.

It has been great to be asked to share my experiences with others too , and Midlands Food Bloggers who have created a platform for ‘Foodie’s based in the Midlands area of the U.K , hit home to me.  My area, the home where the other half of my heart lies, and the place where my food & travel life adventures were born…

At a young age, food & travel were always high on my agenda, starting my early working life, in a village pub, waitressing then being promoted to food prep, and then cooking, whilst at college studying Travel & tourism.  This paved the way for my adventures to come. Being fortunate to travel to some far-flung places as a Tour Representative, led hand in hand with trying new cuisines, visiting some of the worlds best restaurants, thus confirming ‘yes’ food was going to pay a major part in my life.

After my travel career, family life started and the story goes on…..

You can read about the next part of my journey from Warwickshire U.K to the mountains of Andalucia, and how my ‘Foodie’ quest has continued.

From Midlands to Andalucia – ‘Journey of a Foodie’ – Courtesy of Midlands Food Bloggers.

http://midsfoodbloggers.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/from-the-midlands-to-andalucia-journey-of-a-foodie/

Have tent will travel !

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In need of a rest, a break, some time out…I was looking forward to a holiday, all be it just for 3 nights, but camping..I thought I could do without. So much to pack, I have to have everything including the kitchen sink, and the arduous task of packing up the ‘Bogey’ our big green van, no not named after what you think, but after a golfing score..OH is a Golf Pro 😉 In 36 degrees of heat, was draining me already.

But pack we did, up early we got..on our way we went.

A new part of Andalucia for us to discover – Cabo de Gata, so Almeria was our destination. A journey of a 4 hours, took us through the flat planes of Almeria, and mile after mile of giant greenhouses, was the only landscape to be seen, apparently I’m informed you can see these greenhouses from outer space !!

Thinking at this stage. This wasn’t the type of view I had planned, I was getting a little anxious, fortunately all 3 kids were flat out asleep, so the groans of ,I prefer Tarifa, were not heard.

But as we took our exit from the Autopista, into the National Park area of Cabo de Gata, its lunaresque landscape, rocky coves and beautiful beaches put a smile on our faces.

We’d chosen the little seaside town of Las Negras, and it’s beach-side Campsite La Caleta, we were not disappointed, location,location, location enough said.

Right on a fabulous rocky and sandy cove, with the clearest , warmest sea, a pool for the non beaching lover of the family (my OH) , and a restaurant with delicious home-cooked menu, for nights after the sun had set. 

Giant mussels, Rabbit cooked in garlic,  Dauphinoise potatoes, and oozing chocolate fondant , my type of camping restaurant which ticked all my ‘Foodie’ boxes.

Snorkelling, surfing, reading, early morning mountain hiking, coastal exploring, friends made..all crammed into 3 glorious days.

A couple of pointers we need a large plot, with our 3 bed-roomed detached 😉 and we need to make note of where the sun will come up and set…that sun beat down on us, from early in the morning, and we would stumble out of the tent when it rose, like 5 turkeys in a Roasting bag. Also remembering the kitchen sink was all good and well, but a table too would be good, that we had forgotten…in our attempts to leave on time.

 

Hasta Pronto Las Negras – Vamos a Volver 🙂