Sabbatical Pilgrimage

On May 27, 2011, we will lock our front door and set off on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain. We'll fly to Paris... Take a high speed train (TGV) to Bayonne, France... Change to a slower train that will take us to St. Jean Pied de Port, in the foothills of the Pyrenees -- where our walk begins. On May 29, Sunday, we will set out on foot for our 500-mile walk across Northern Spain.

The Camino de Santiago is a centuries-old pilgrimage trail. We join millions of pilgrims who have walked this path over the years.

Journey with us, as we post pictures and highlights of our adventure.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Since our last update we arrived in Leon, a major city in the Castilla y Leon region. We arrived Friday to find the city very busy as a two week long music festival was under way. We had some difficulty finding lodging, especially for Saturday night. Once settled we explored this beautiful city and its enormous cathedral. So much stained glass! Saturday, we met our friend and Lydia's colleague, Janet Wheelock, arriving to begin her Camino. The days have been hot and sunny and Sunday was no exception. We had ambitious plans to walk about 26 km, but we got a late start and with the heat we were praying that we could find a place several km short of our goal even though none were listed in our guide. We experienced yet another Camino moment when we found an ad scrawled on a wall for El Molino Galochas just 2 km ahead. I called the phone number and requested a room as Janet and Lydia trudged ahead. We scored a room at a very charming casa rural with hostess Mercedes and spent a wonderful evening and breakfast with a German couple, a Frenchman, two Italians and a Danish woman. Such a wonderful mix of cultures and languages. Lydia is having opportunity to exercise her language skills in German, French and Spanish. The hot sun today was our adversary. Few stops were available and we arrived hot and tired in Astorga, an ancient Roman city known for its chocolate. About 6 km before the end of our walk we came to an oasis. A young man had set up a stand with juices, fruit, nuts all free or for a donation. It was lovely.


  1. Beautiful article on the front page of the Pioneer Press this morning! I'm so glad to have found your blog and send lots of prayers and love to you on your amazing journey. :)
    ~Elizabeth Hosch

  2. Dear Mark and Lydia, my grandmother in Oakdale, MN, sent me the Pioneer Press story about your pilgrimage. I think what you are doing is fantastic! I walked the Camino last year. This time last year I walked from Uterga to Lorca, in Navarra. Making the pilgrimage was one of the best times of my life, and I'm so happy that you two are walking and taking others back home on the journey with you!

    My fiancée and I are moving up to the Twin Cities in August (from Iowa City) as I'm going to start a PhD program at UMN. I would love to sit down and chat with you and share Camino stories! Send me an email when you're back home and settled:

    Buen Camino to you both! I hope that your feet are as blister-free as possible and that you keep collecting great stories and memories!

    Brett G. Johnson, 27
    Iowa City, IA