FEED MY SHEEP – Day two on the UTO Camino Pilgrimage

Today was the first full day of our UTO tour. Being Sunday, it is only right that we began our day in church.

We met in the lobby and headed out at intervals.

Bishop Doug Sparks of the Diocese of Northern Indiana and all of the other clergy have been invited to vest for the service so he led the first group.

From our hotel to the Cátedral Del Redentor, the Cathedral of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, is about a mile, slightly uphill.

The route through the Puerta Del Sol and up Fuencarral is a mostly pedestrian zone with plenty to distract us including a surprising photo op.

Straight up the hill, a right turn at the Museo de Historia with its exuberantly baroque pink and gray facade

and we were on the the Calle de the Beneficencia .

The Cathedral is tucked in down on the right side and is easy to miss.

During the Franco regime a street was added in front of the Cathedral so it is also easy to be killed !

A modern building across the street houses a fine food market and a fantastic roof top restaurant so its hideous architecture and graffiti is forgiven.

The congregation of the Cathedral has just celebrated the 150th year of its founding. The building is slightly younger.

Although ground was broken in 1891 for the building, construction did not begin until 1893.

In spite of the fact that it was consecrated in 1894, worshippers were still not allowed to enter through its main door until 1905. Until then they had to go into the church through a small side door.

The church sits between a former parish school closed by Franco and the Bishop’s Palace.

The Palace now houses all of the cathedral clergy and the church offices.

Thanks to a generous grant from the UTO, renovations are underway for the school (above on the left) to become a cafe, a bookstore and a small pilgrim hostel. (What we hope to do in Santiago on a larger scale.)

Once at the Cathedral Spencer kitted everyone out in whatever vestements fit or mostly fit or sort of fit. No worries about matching copes cassocks here.

On a personal note, I was happy for the chance to wear my Mozzetta with its extremely fancy hood. (purely a decorative touch as you can see by the size)

I also got to wear the silver, amethyst and turquoise cross which I treasure, given to me by my friend, Santa Fe artist Willard Shaw.

The Bishop made me a Canon of his Cathedral primarily because I am his chauffeur when he comes to America. I am honored to sit in the Chair of Saint James.

One quick picture of the Bishop with his normally camera shy tortoise and we were off to church.

Church was as good as church could be.

God was glorified. We, the sheep, were tenderly fed by our various shepherds.

Even the MysteryWorshipper would have to have given this service a 10.

Coffee hour and one final photo (thank you UTO)

and it’s time for a picnic on the patio

before heading back to church to receive our symbolic scallop shells, our pilgrim passports complete with the first stamp, and a final pilgrim blessing by Bishop Doug.

For some it was time for a trip to the Prado; for others, siesta.

Our day was far from over so stay tuned. More to come.


Having had several free days to wander around the city has been a luxury.

As I had previously visited and revisited the Museo Del Prado, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Centre de Arte Reina Sofía, today I had no agenda.

I walked up through the Plaza Mayor in the early morning, before the square was full of people.

Tourists and locals alike come here to enjoy the outdoor cafes, take an evening stroll or just shop and usually it is bustling.

This square, once the home of an outdoor market, has also been used in the past for executions and for bull fights.

Today the annual Christmas Market is held here and the weekly stamp and coin collecting markets are set up here each Sunday morning.

Although now quiet it reminded me of the lively and colorful markets I have seen over and over in Spain, including the always crowded and ever fascinating Mercado De San Miguel indoor market just around the corner.

This and all of the Spanish markets are riots of color and sensory overload.

They are also hot beds of multicolored temptations!!

It’s hard to escape the temptation and being an easy hit, I didn’t!

A short walk away, I found myself at the Plaza de Armería, maybe not as colorful but certainly more elegant.

Here the ornate baroque Palacio Real faces the Cathedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almydena.

The Palacio Real is the official home of the royal family.

Considerably more colorful inside, the palace,which is open to the public, is a treasure trove of art, furniture, clocks, porcelain and the only existing stradivarius string quintet.

Across the plaza is the the Almudena Cathedral, a cathedral with a curious history.

Probably built over the site of a former mosque destroyed in 1083, the building of this cathedral was postponed centuries and only begun in 1878.

Construction stopped during the civil war and was begun again in 1950.

It was finally finished and consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993.

For me, the most successful part of its “neo-gothic”interior is the ceiling.

Heading back down Calle Mayor, I am surrounded by more colors, a veritable rainbow of espadrilles are begging for me to try them on.

If one pair is good, is a pair in every color better?

And how convenient! Some shops are open 24 /7!

Resisting the urge to walk through the door, I keep going.

Next stop; El Corte Inglés, one of Spain’s most famous department stores.

Here I wanted to do a little Christmas shopping and for that I did have a list.

Mission accomplished , I cut through housewares and there also color abounds.

Where else but in Spain could one find not only towels but matching robes and slippers in a full spectrum of color.

What fun on Christmas morning to see the whole clan decked out from head to toe in their favorite colors- orange for Syracuse alumna Nicole, electric blue for Olivia to match her hair, green for Andy but which green ????

But that will have to wait for another trip with a bigger suitcase or more time to buy bigger boxes at the post office, like the one conveniently located in the sub basement of the store, just below the food emporium.

Speaking of post offices. I ease on down the hill to the Palacio de Cibeles, formerly Madrid’s main post office. Today it functions as the Madrid city hall.

One of my favorite buildings in Spain at least on the outside,

it is possible to ride the elevator up to the roof for panoramic views of the city.

Next I stopped into the Westin Palace Hotel for old time’s sake and because they have such nice ladies room -Not to mention this incredible ceiling.

Finally I made my way into the Parque de Buen Retiro- the park of the pleasant retreat, a serene green sanctuary, once the private domain of the monarchy, but today open to the public and much beloved by all.

I ambled through the calming green gardens and watched the boats rowing on the lake.

I did not row hence no good picture of the Monument to Alfonso XII.

I looked for but did not find Madrid’s oldest tree planted in 1633 and used during the Napoleonic wars as a gun mount.

How they know this I do not know???

Eleven and a half miles and 25,000 steps later, I headed back to the hotel through the botanical garden.

There were still enough flowers in bloom to snap a few pictures before I headed back up the hill.

Thus my days of being a solitary wandering wayfarer came to an end.

I met up with the 29 UTO pilgrims.

We went off to dinner and a lecture.

Judging from the exuberance of this group whose conversation both in the hotel lobby and subsequently at dinner was loud and lively, I suspect they will be as colorful as anything I have seen this week in Madrid.

Time will tell but not tonight! Buenos notches.

Hasta mañana.


My son is famous for his frequent Facebook posts of his latest cooking success or gourmet meal. His sister is not far behind.

So when our family had dinner recently with Bishop Don Carlos and his wife Doña Ana, our kids leapt from the dinner table to grab their phones when the Bishop walked in with an enormous paella . I found my phone too but I dispute that I leapt!

The Bishop, who was a cook during his army days, is a great cook and fantastic host, proudly told us that Ana had made the paella since she was from Barcelona, home of the most authentic paella.

Eating meals like this, it is no surprise that, no matter how many miles I walk, I rarely lose weight in Spain.

Getting used to the schedule of mealtimes in Spain takes some practice. It seems like it is always time to eat again.

To give you an idea of what I mean, let me show you ( with pictures) a typical day of eating in Spain.

Since very few places offer coffee before 7am, and coffee pots in hotel rooms are the exception rather than the rule, I don’t leave home without my portable kitchen.

This nifty zip lock box weighs less than one pound and has everything I need for eating and drinking on the road.

A collapsible silicone cup works for coffee and wine. The immersion water heater works like a charm.

If you buy one don’t take off the red label. That label reminds you whether to plug the gizmo in before or after you put it into the water in the cup. It’s AFTER.

When it boils, unplug it BEFORE you take it out of the cup. If you do it in the wrong order, the gizmo dies and that is the end of coffee at 6am unless you bring a spare which you will probably end up giving away to some other pilgrim who is tired of tap water coffee! Trust me. Don’t cut off the red direction label.

Starbucks makes coffee sticks which are light and take up very little room but they are really bitter without milk or sugar so you need to have a few cookies-milk chocolate digestives are the best – to sweeten things up. One cookie used to be enough but in my old age I need two.

Scissors are essential as it becomes increasingly impossible to open the little packets.

I throw in a few tea bags in the unlikely event that I have a short day and a corkscrew for wine after the typical long day and a knife for cheese in case I somehow missed a meal.

The cup does double duty and eventually between the coffee and wine it turns a revolting color.

The cover of the box makes a perfect plate; the box itself a decent bowl. With a spork (half spoon, half fork) and plenty of places to shop, every meal is covered.

After the wake up coffee, it’s time for Desayuno-anytime between 7 and 9am.

Now is when you get good your cafe con leché.

freshly squeezed orange juice,and a pastry or bread with butter and jam.

In some hotels there may be a buffet with meats, cheeses and fruits.

I am looking forward to two nights in the Parador in Santiago de Compostela where the breakfast buffet is legendary- every fruit, cheese, meat, egg, sweet, bread, two types of smoked salmon and if you are in a celebratory mood, help yourself to a glass of wine or champagne. But I digress, Santiago is over a week away.

Next on the eating schedule at about 10:30am is Almuerzo, a second breakfast or mid morning snack, the perfect time for a piece of tortilla or better “chocolate con churros ”, a sinfully delicious combination of fried dough sticks sprinkled with sugar, and hot chocolate, more like the hot chocolate pudding you were allowed to scrape out of the pan after your mother made old fashioned chocolate pudding from scratch.

Proust is not the only one who has evocative food memories!

La Comida or lunch between 1:30-3:30pm is usually 3 courses – a soup like my favorite Salmorejorecipe below given by chef or salad

followed by a either meat or fish.

Before and afteror a nice piece of suckling pig. All of the above is washed down by wine and or sparkling water.

Dessert is often flan but frequently chupito– a small shot glass of liquor that replaces dessert.

On the Camino del Norte, Barbara and I took quite a liking to Oruxo and went so far as to buy a bottle to help us sleep better!

Small wonder why after lunch it is traditionally time for siesta.

Moving up the calorie count, from 5- 7:30pm it’s time for Merienda– more coffee and a little sugar shot, usually pastries or a bit of ice cream

Just enough to hold you before Tapas around 8:00pm.

After all, you need something to sustain you until dinner, La Cena, which begins between 10 and 11pm, if you are still vertical.

Finally, about midnight you can go for Copas– liquors or a Spanish favorite, gin and tonic!

I have only made it to copas once or twice.

Usually I give out after Tapas unless we are on tour with Joanna!

So there you have it. A day in the life, the very good life, of your average Spaniard.

Too many more trips to this delicious in every way country and on my grave you will read…

“She ate well”

Until then,

Buen apetito y Buenos noches from Spain.


Joaquín Sorolla 1863-1923 I was a Spanish painter known for his family and society portraits, his landscapes, primarily at the seashore, and his historical and social subjects.

I first encountered his work two years ago at a temporary exhibit at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

The exhibit entitled Sorolla and Fashion was a beautiful exhibit showing Sorolla’s paintings along side the fashions of his time which he painted with meticulous care.

In some instances, we were shown the clothing actually worn by the sitter. In others, we saw similar dresses from the same period. For a lover of painting and fashion, it was pure heaven.

The clothes and the paintings were sumptuous and their similarities to John Singer Sargeant left me wanting to know more about Sorolla.

When I discovered that there was a Sorolla Museum in Madrid, I was determined go and see it.

The fact that the museum was his former home and studio and that it had the largest collection of his paintings in the world, only increased my desire. The mention that the gardens were beautiful didn’t hurt.

On two subsequent visits to Madrid I failed but today it was at the top of my to do list.

The museum is in the Chamberi neighborhood, not far but just far enough so as not to be able to walk. But two subway changes, a short walk and I was there.

The rooms of the museum, which was left to the State by Sorilla’s widow, contain most of the original furnishings and family momentos. Holy statues share space with paint brushes and one is able to see where Sorolla met his clients and sold his paintings.

In his time the walls were covered with unframed works he hoped to sell.

Evidence of this is still visible today in rooms filled with small paintings that Sorilla produced in large numbers for shows throughout Europe and America.

In fact it was in America where he was awarded one of his earliest prizes for Another Marguerite which now hangs in the Washington university Museum in St. Louis, Missouri.

Room after room showcases the genres for which he was famous.

Similarities to John Singer Sargeant reflect their close friendship and friendly rivalry.

I spent a wonderful afternoon there. Maybe I felt right at home in a place where every inch of wall space is covered and there are so many treasures on every horizontal surface as to make a cleaning lady cry, but I loved it.

Go, by all means, go to this museum. Get to know this painter. But a word of caution.

Leave the Tic Tacs at home.

Trying to get the phone out of my pocket to take a picture, I dropped a new box of tic tacs. As it shattered what seemed like thousands hit the polished floor like marbles.

Visitors found sudden interest in the painting nearest them.

Guards came running from every direction and glared as I crawled around for what felt like an hour picking up every single one.

I didn’t get thrown out but after that I had my own personal guard who shadowed me as though I was a cat burglar.

Still it was worth the embarrassment. Don’t miss this little gem of a museum.

On the road again…k

October 2 and I am back in Madrid, one of my favorite cities.

On the 5th, I will meet Edie Morrill and 29 people from around the US who are part of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela sponsored by the United Thank Offering UTO (for you Episcopalians, think those little blue mite boxes).

Twelve people will be “Grant Site Pilgrims”.

This group, which includes UTO President Sherri Dietrich and some other UTO board members, will travel by bus to Ávila, Salamanca, León, Astorga, Oviedo, and Lugo.

In addition to seeing some of Spain’s most beautiful cities , they will stop to visit places where UTO has given financial aid to support the work of Bishop Don Carlos and the Episcopal church of Spain.

During this pilgrimage they will also be promoting the current UTO Camino Challenge Grant.

Until the end of the year, UTO will match each dollar up to $60,000 towards the proposed Anglican Pilgrim Centre in Santiago de Compostela.

These pilgrims will be led by tour guide Joanna Wivell, of Insiders Madrid

and Bishop Don Carlos, Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, whose knowledge of Spanish art and history is legendary.

Missing any tour led by them makes me wish I could be in two places at once!

But as representatives of the proposed Anglican Pilgrim Centre in Santiago, Edie and I will be traveling with the “Walking Pilgrims”.

These seventeen pilgrims will be led by Bishop Doug Sparks of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, and his Canon, the aptly named Michelle Walker.

We will go with them from Sarria to Santiago, a distance of 100km or 66 miles. This distance is the least one can walk and still receive the Compostela, a document acknowledging completion of the Camino de Santiago.

As walking groups go, 17 is a large number.

Thus the walkers will inevitably spread out along the path as different walkers have different abilities and move at different speeds. Those who walk faster may finish as much as three hours ahead of the slower walkers.

As “sweepers” it will up to Edie and me to ensure the slowest walkers are able to walk as far and as slowly as they want or need to do and that regardless of how long or how far they walk, they too have a Buen Camino.

As always, it will be a joy to be a part of any camino pilgrimage and a privilege to see the effect that the camino has one those walking for the first time.

As usual, I will be happy to step onto the path and walk into Santiago(for the eighth time.)

The route may be the same, but the experience is always different.

Until the whole group convenes on Saturday, I have four days to catch up on My Anglican Pilgrim Friends work with the Bishop and his Canon, Spencer Reece, and ample time to play tourist.

But as the time difference is beginning to sting my eyes, I will say Buenos Noches, hasta mañana. N

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