May 3, 2015

If  you really love Spain, you will certainly enjoy this book!

Roads to Santiago - A Modern-Day Pilgrimage Through Spain, by Cees Nooteboom


Roads to Santiago is an evocative travelogue through the sights, sounds, and smells of a little known Spain-its architecture, art, history, landscapes, villages, and people.


And as much as it is the story of his travels, it is an elegant and detailed chronicle of Cees Nooteboom's thirty-five-year love affair with his adopted second country. He presents a world not visible to the casual tourist, by invoking the great spirits of Spain's past - El Cid, Cervantes, Alfonso the Chaste and Alfonso the Wise, the ill-fated Habsburgs, and Velázquez. Be it a discussion of his trip to the magnificent Prado Museum or his visit to the shrine of the Black Madonna of Guadalupe, Nooteboom writes with the depth and intelligence of an historian, the bravado of a real adventurer, and the passion of a poet.


Reminiscent of Robert Hughes's Barcelona, Roads to Santiago ( in English 1996 ) is the consummate portrait of Spain for all readers.

Really great reading, guaranteed!

Feb 8, 2015

You don't choose a life, you live one!

The Way ( 2010 ) , by Emilio Estévez, starring Martin Sheen

Crossing the Pyrenees and Basque country, then winding their way across northern Spain to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims have walked the 800 km Camino de Santiago for over a thousand years. The reasons for undertaking such a journey are as varied as the pilgrims themselves. Most of them are seeking something that has little or nothing to do with religion, yet taps into a deep, nameless yearning for connection to the mystery.

In "The Way," four of these pilgrims find themselves thrown together by chance. As their stories unfold we meet Tom, played by Martin Sheen, completing the journey begun by his estranged son who died in a sudden mountain storm shortly after setting off. He is joined by: a jovial bear of a Dutchman, hoping to regain his wife's affection; an acerbic Canadian woman, trying to exorcise the anger built up in an abusive marriage; and an Irish author who masks his writer's block by talking nonstop.

The acting is superb, though some of the characters may have been a bit overdrawn at the beginning. Writer-Director Emilio Estevez, who is Martin Sheen's son and plays his son in the movie, deftly interweaves the development of the personal stories of the four main characters with the hardships and camaraderie of the Pilgrim's Way. He takes us through lush countryside and rocky hills, stopping in local inns, gathering with other pilgrims in the evening around meals, and then retiring to Spartan dormitories to start off again in the morning.

Gradually the experience of the Camino works its way into the spirits of the pilgrims. They become mirrors for each other, helping to strip away the protective layers that have preserved their pain and isolation, and with their new vulnerability, freeing them to feel and connect once more. In the end, the message of this poignant film is that opening our hearts to others is the real miracle. Connecting with them through kindness and laughter and joy is the magic that invites the presence of God.

A lovely, moving film.

Jan 5 2015.

How to Walk for Weight Loss

By Wendy Bumgardner, Walking Expert; reviewed by a board-certified physician. See's Medical Review Board.

To lose weight and to keep it off, you need to get moving. Walking at a moderate pace for 30-60 minutes burns stored fat and can build muscle to speed up your metabolism. Walking an hour a day is also associated with cutting your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and stroke. Isn't it time to work 1-hour walks into your busy lifestyle?

How You Burn Calories Walking

Your weight and the distance you walk determine the energy calories burned while walking. Walking speed matters less than distance and weight. A rule of thumb is 100 calories per mile are burned for a 180-pound person and 65 calories per mile for a 120-pound person. Use this calculator or see the chart further below.

Calculator - Walking Calories Burned Per Mile: Enter your weight, distance and speed to see how many calories you would burn per mile of walking. If you can achieve the speed of walking a mile in 13 minutes or less, you will burn more calories per mile. But for most beginning walkers, it is best to increase the distance before working on speed.

Burning Calories to Lose Weight

To lose weight, you need to increase your activity to burn more calories each day and/or eat fewer calories each day. Start with knowing how many calories your body burns per day just in maintaining your current weight, using this basal metabolic rate calculator. 

Burning A Pound of Fat

A pound of fat equals 3500 calories . To lose 1 pound a week you will need to burn 3500 more calories than you eat that week. Losing one pound of fat a week is a sensible goal, but it requires burning 500 more calories per day than you eat. You can do this by increasing your calorie-burning activity or by eating fewer calories -- or both. It is easier to achieve it with the combination of increased activity and eating less. Exercising enough each day to burn 300 to 400 calories is a good goal for the exercise weight loss plan .

Calories burned per mile by walking

Speed / Pounds  100lb  120lb  140lb  160lb  180lb  200lb  220lb  250lb  270lb  300lb

2.0mph                    57         68         80         91       102       114      125       142       156      170

2.5mph                    55         65         76         87         98       109      120       136       150      164

3.0mph                    53         64         74         85         95       106      117       133       146      159

3.5mph                    52         62         73         83         94       104      114       130       143      156

4.0mph                    57         68         80         91       102       114      125       142       156      170

4.5mph                    64         76         89        102      115       127      140       159       175      191

5.0mph                    73         87        102       116      131       145      160       182       200      218

Notes About the Walking Calories Chart

People often wonder how you might burn more calories per mile at very slow speeds. This is because you are basically stopping and starting with each step and your momentum isn't helping to carry you along. Your body walks more efficiently at moderate speeds. Meanwhile, at very high walking speeds you are using more muscle groups with arm motion and with a racewalking stride. Those extra muscles burn up extra calories with each step. Running can burn more calories per mile as there is an up and down motion lifting your weight off the ground as well as moving it forward.

Dec 7, 2014 

Moment of Travel Zen by David Freifeld ( Huff Post Travel )

Every year, millions of people from all over the world travel to the ancient Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. Of these millions, over 100,000 individuals arrive on foot upon a centuries-old pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago. A 500-mile footpath, the Camino traditionally begins in the Pyrenees and winds its way across northern Spain to the final region of Galicia. After walking for seven consecutive weeks, carrying only a backpack and a walking stick, I arrived in Santiago on June 24, 2012—joining the countless number of pilgrims before me to have completed the trek.

Nowadays, the notion of walking 500 miles seems archaic and impractical (I should mention that the entire trip can be completed by car in all of eight hours), yet I guarantee that even as you read this sentence, hundreds of people are making their way towards Galicia. Most, if not all of them, are walking for two reasons: 1) the “surface”: well I have always been intrigued by the trip… and 2) the “honest”: I’m seeking direction for some new challenge in my life…”

The impetus for my Camino was a diagnosis: Multiple System Atrophy. Most likened to Lou Gehrig’s, MSA is a swift and terminal neurodegenerative disease. So when it befell my father, it hit with a vicious blend of shock, injustice, grief, and uncertainty. And though I could not change the prognosis, I decided to dedicate my Camino to my beloved dad—fully aware that he would soon lose his ability to walk entirely.

Upon arrival to the Pyrenees, I immediately found myself surrounded by other pilgrims. I walked with widows, the unemployed, families, broken hearts, the young and old. Each one clouded by his or her circumstances, but all seeking balance. Unlike other hikes, this walk is not about self-sufficiency or survival; rather, it’s humility and the joy of learning from whomever you’re with.

At its essence, a pilgrimage is a journey marked by horizons, both geographical and personal. Whether facing the peak of a mountain or seemingly endless plains, the Camino does not offer shortcuts or detours. Instead, it decelerates life down from 60 miles per hour to one step at a time. Each obstacle must be taken in stride with a welcome awareness for whatever comes next. As the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke once said, “Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final."

Nov 15, 2014  Today´s book recommendation, from the humour department


Tim Moore, Spanish Steps: Travels With My Donkey ( June 2005 ). Being larger than a cat, the donkey is the kind of animal Tim Moore is slightly scared of.  Yet intrigued by epic accounts of a pilmgrimage undertaken by one in three medival Europeans, and committed to historical authenticity, he finds himself leading a Pyrenean ass named Shinto into Spain, headed for Santiago de Compostela. Over 500 miles of extreme weather and agonising bestial sloth, it becomes memorably apparent that for the multinational band of eccentrics who keep the Santiago flame alive, the pilgrimage has evolved from a purely devotional undertaking into a mobile therapist's couch.

Ludicrous, heart-warming and improbably inspirational, Spanish Steps is the story of what happens when a rather silly man tries to walk all the way across a very large country, with a very large animal who reall doesn't want to.


>> a very entertaining read ... <<   The Guardian


>> compact and witty <<  The Independent