Lost in the Fog

With my new novel Lost in the Fog about to be published in early 2020, I'm embarking on a three month trip to Europe. A big part of it will be hiking the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile sojourn through Northern Spain. This blog will try to capture moments of the journey. David Lynch once said "getting lost is beautiful", and I hope my voyage will embody that definition.

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“To know Paris is to know a great deal.” – Henry Miller

“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other.”  – Ernest Hemingway

While I can’t say I “know” Paris anywhere near like a local or an expat writer like Miller or Hemingway, I feel very fortunate this is my fourth visit to the city.  April 1997, June 2005, November/December 2016, and now September 2019. Everytime I come to Paris I fall more in love with the place.

This time it was 3 full days (4 nights) of admiring gorgeous architecture & charming streets, enjoying wonderful restaurants &  cafes, and lots of long, rambling walks. On my last visit to Paris less than 3 years ago, J’Nell and I had a very detailed itinerary and we covered lot of sights in 2 weeks. This time around going inside churches, museums, or major attractions were not high on our list.  

We went to one museum (to see Monet’s epic Water Lilly murals at Musée de l’Orangerie), and did make our way up to the top of the Eiffel Tower (we couldn’t not do that).  And of course we viewed many of the iconic spots in the city on our long walks as we continue to prepare for our upcoming Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage.  In 3 days (according to Fitbit) we did almost 75,000 steps and 36 miles.

I had a moment of clarity on our first night walking down from the Bastille district (we stayed at the Moxy there) through the Marais to the Seine, and it stayed with me the whole time in Paris.  There just isn’t a better city anywhere in the world.  I remember telling someone my thoughts on Paris after getting back from my 2016 visit and they wanted to know why I felt that way.  It was hard to put into words back then, and I feel the same now.

Paris is more than its stunning architecture, interesting history, and rich culture. Its the feeling it gives you not only when you’re there, but long after you’ve gone.  If you’ve never been, I hope you get to Paris soon.  And if you have, I would love for you to leave a comment about your favorite moments there.

To close out this post as we make our way to St. Jean Pied de Port (the start of the Camino), here’s some photos that hopefully show why Paris, as Hemingway famously said, is a moveable feast ….

 

 

 

The city I lived in for 8 years, the location of my novel Lost in the Fog, the place where I have wonderful memories and still so many great friends. I haven’t been a resident since 2012, but it will always feel like home. San Francisco is the perfect place to stop from Hawaii before heading off to Europe for three months.

Since arriving late Sunday evening, J’Nell and I have been very busy having fun with friends and getting in practice walks. In preparation for our 500 mile Camino de Santiago journey, we’ve been covering a lot of ground by foot and have seen much of the city.

From our home base at the Hilton Union Square we’ve walked to the Ferry Building to Fort Mason to Chrissy Field up to the Bridge and into the Richmond District. We’ve also ambled through the Tenderloin past Japantown down to the Pan Handle and then all the way through Golden Gate Park to the windmill and the ocean. Many streets in SoMa have also been traversed. In a little over 3 days we’ve logged nearly 70,000 steps.

A lot of time on our feet, but its all been sans backpack. I’ve always been someone who walks a lot, and I have no hesitation going long distances day after day. But how will it feel with 20 lbs strapped to my back?

That is the unknown factor. We did a mile wearing the pack before leaving Hawaii and it felt pretty good. But we’ll be doing 10-14 miles per day on the Camino, and until I cover that distance with all that extra weight I really won’t know how my body is going to respond.

I’m thinking positively that all will be good, and I’m very excited to start the Camino. But we still have most of tomorrow to spend in SF, and then Paris is the next stop on the journey!

 “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” – From Walking, by Henry David Thoreau (1862)

“Man’s real home is not a house, but the Road, and that life itself is a journey to be walked on foot.” ―From What Am I Doing Here, by Bruce Chatwin (1988)

Camino route from Google Maps

In a few weeks I plan to follow the advice of Mr. Thoreau and Mr. Chatwin and walk the entire length of Spain!

My girlfriend J’Nell and I will be embarking on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage, a 500 mile hike that will take us from the Pyrenees Mountains in France all the way to the rocky coast of Spain at Muxia (after a very important stop at the Santiago de Compestella Cathedral).  No car, no trains, no bikes, no busses, no scooters, no Segways … all of that mileage westward will be by foot.  While thousands of people traverse this established route every year, it still seems more like something you talk about but never actually do.

We’re doing it!

I was granted a sabbatical from my job (a huge thank you to my boss Geri and Highgate Hotels), and during this leave of absence we will be in Europe for three months.  We say a hui hou to Hawaii this Sunday and fly to San Francisco, where we’ll get to hang out with friends and visit our favorite places there.  Our European adventure starts September 6th in Paris, my favorite city in the world.

After enjoying the City of Lights and its moveable feast, we’ll then head down via train to the medieval town of St. Jean Pied de Port in Basque Country, which is the start of the Camino de Santiago.  We’re not sure exactly how long it will take us to complete our five hundred miles of walking, but we’re not in any hurry and want to savor the experience.  There’s a very popular book we’ve been reading that has a 33 day schedule, but with our built in rest days for exploration, we’re estimating about 45.

Portugal will be next on our itinerary, and we have no reservations yet for accommodations nor any idea when we’ll get there or how long we’ll stay.  From our research on that beautiful country, I’m sure we will not want to leave at all.  Porto, Lisbon, Sintra, the Douro Valley, Lagos, and so many more wonderful places to see.

But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here!  First we have San Francisco, Paris, and the Camino de Santiago.

I’m not taking my laptop on this journey, but I’ll have my phone and hopefully some wifi along the way.  I’m going to try to post at least something once a day, most likely just a photo and some short commentary on what I’ve seen.

While I’m sure I’ll also put some stuff on Facebook and Instagram as well, I’m going to purposely (and severely) restrict myself to both social media and the internet in general.  After I had already decided to go on this 500 mile walkabout, I serendipitously read a great article on a guy who did a longer one in Japan and found bliss by (mostly) disconnecting himself from technology and immersing himself in the here and now.  I want to (mostly) unplug and experience something similar.

But I do want to share what I’m doing with family, friends, and anyone interested in my travels!  You can check back to the blog whenever you like, or else sign up to receive email updates for when I post (which of course you can always unsubscribe from whenever you like, or else ignore in your inbox).  Thanks in advance for following along on the journey!