Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pebble Garden


One of the most magical places on the Camino de Santiago was "The Garden of Pebbles".

It was really a tough day: pain in the knees, the right ankle, blisters.. We had just stopped for a quick meal in Ventosa and I desperately wanted to reach the next town to finally rest. That's when we stumbled upon this place with hundreds of small "pebble towers" everywhere.

All these pebbles put there by pilgrims over the course of the years, with all their prayers made this place almost a holy place. It was peaceful, relaxing, and full of comforting energy. We just had to stop for a while and immerse in it.

We finally ended up camping not far away instead of reaching the next town. The stormy sky granted us a beautiful sunset over the ice-capped mountains.

Buen Camino!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Galician mountains


After walking for about 10 days on a flat "plateau" between Burgos and Leon on the Camino de Santiago, we finally reach the Galician mountains. It is a welcomed change to go back uphill and downhill again with so much to see and so many colors around after the endless flat fields of wheat and long dirt roads.
It is like being reborn after the mental challenge of crossing the "Meseta". They say that here begins the Spiritual part of the Camino.

Being an overcast day during the climb, I was able to capture the amazing landscapes without harsh shadows and blinding light. The colors were softened and appeared truly magnificent. I was the first time I would see purple mountains!

Personally, this part of the Camino is one of my favorites, walking up to O'Cebreiro and looking back to see all the road you have walked for the past 3 weeks is simply amazing.

Buen Camino!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pilgrim's Path


"Education must remove hatred between the pilgrims on the various roads to God. There is only one God, one Goal, one Law, one Truth, one Religion and one Reason"

~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba ~

The most amazing experience on the Camino de Santiago is encountering pilgrims. Many people from various nationalities, horizons, religions and color walk this long dirt road.
All carry a personal reason, nobody walks 800km just for fun... But all are here because they seek something in common: They all seek a Truth.

The pilgrim walks on this long road with many others. Although surrounded, he is still walking alone with himself. It is a journey of self-discovery, listening to his own soul, away from the hectic and chaotic life outside the Camino.
He walks towards the same city, the same Goal. He could take a different path, a different road, a different means of transport. And no matter his color or religion, he will still reach the same destination as all others.
The pilgrim is not judged by his social status. He may be a CEO or a farmer, he still walks on the same level as anyone else, sleeps in the same bed as all other pilgrims before him have slept and shares the same food.
The Camino reminds us we are humans after all, stripped naked from our status. We all have the same doubts, fears and all seek the same Goal.

It also reminds us we are all beings of Love. That even the most expensive gadget can not compete with the pleasure of sharing a simple "bocadillo" with another hungry pilgrim, or a comforting smile that gives strength to a tired person, or just the tears of joy when hugging a complete stranger in front of the gates of the Cathedral of Santiago.

The Camino pulls you back on Earth, with everyone else. And teaches you that we all have the same path, same destination, same goal, walking under the comforting shadow of one God/Universe.

Buen Camino peregrino!

"For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in a stream of stars - pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across the eternal seas of space and time".

~ Henry Beston ~

Saturday, August 22, 2009

French Camino


This picture was taken on the first day of my Camino. It's located on the french side, before the spanish border, near St Jean Pied-de-Port.

It's quite a big change for me to travel from the UAE's chaotic skyscrapers and desert landscapes to the green mountains of the Pyrenees. I just feel connected to the mountains: I am a mountain person I guess.

We started walking late on the first day, not knowing that most pilgrims stop walking around 4~5pm. I guess that's why we were most of the time walking alone.
Reaching the top of the mountain (from 200m to 1400m high in 5hours), we had to stop and camp in the freezing cold, misty and windy weather. The first night was rough but we had such a splendid view from the top in the morning, with an ocean of clouds at our feet. It was worth it!

For those interested, here's a wallpaper version of the same photo uncropped for you to enjoy: 1024x664 , 1280x830 resolutions (click on the "Download button on the top).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alto del Perdon ~ Spain


Alto del Perdon ... The Mount of Forgiveness.

As the pilgrim walks out of Pamplona (Spain), a hill stands on his way, defying him/her, with many giant windmills crowding its peak.
It is a very windy place, and a long winding climb. The path is not very steep but feels tiring.. Maybe the weight of unforgiven sins on our shoulders?
Once the top of the hill is reached, he is welcomed by these statues representing pilgrims, braving the wind to continue their chosen path. It gives him hope and strength to carry on. Many have passed here before him and many will in the future. As he looks west towards his goal, a splendid view of the hilly region of Navarra stretches to the horizon.

Before he continues his journey towards the small town of Puente la Reina, his next stop for the night, he takes a moment to connect with the spirit of the place and reads the engraved words:

Donde se cruza
El Camino del Viento
Con el de las Estrellas

Where meets
The Path of the Wind
With the Path of the Stars

Buen Camino!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009



A simple yet beautiful Irish landscape. No wonder they call it the "Emerald Isle"!

I met once a half-drunk Irish guy in a bar in Galway. He smiled at me and said: "Feckin weather ay? Sorry for you tourists". I smiled back and said: "Well, on the contrary! Beautiful weather! That's why your island is so green and amazing!". I guess he loved it :D

This was taken from O'Connor's pass, on the way to Dingle on the west coast.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Bridge to Summer


I like to take long walks along a river on a calm Sunday morning, while everyone else is asleep.
This shot was taken in Perigueux - France, while having a walk with my brother.
Oddly enough, it does look like it was taken in autumn but it actually is winter (it was in January).
The foreground leaves were a bit more orange but I changed the hue to red to make them pop out.
It's a Bridge to Summer, the foreground looks like autumn but in the background, you can see it's sunny and the grass is green. It's a magic bridge I tell ya!

Thursday, August 13, 2009



This was taken in the city of Killarney - Ireland, near the castle Ross in the Killarney National Park.
It was a beautiful place to visit, long walks and not many tourists. I spotted these boats just sitting idle there as if stranded for a long while. There was an algae bloom on the lake and nobody wished to ride the boats for a little tour.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burgos Cathedral


I love to take frontal wide-angle shots of imposing buildings!
This was taken last May while doing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage path in Spain. It's the Cathedral of Burgos, a Gothic-style construction that began in 1221 and dedicated to the Virgin mary. It was declared a "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO in 1984.
It is quite an imposing and magnificent cathedral, in the old part of the city of Burgos. I did not have the chance to visit the inside of it (they were closing).
Definitely I will be visiting again on my next Camino!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stairway to Hell


Classic but always good to have in your collection!
This was taken in a friend's building in the UAE. The ramp around the stairway is kind of low so I had to be extra careful not to lean over to much and reach Hell faster than I should... Tone mapped and changed the color to give it a spooky atmosphere!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hungry in Ireland?


While driving along the West coast of Ireland, near Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher, I stumbled upon this sign in the middle of NOWHERE! That was really odd. There was nothing on the horizon on either side of the road.
I actually was hungry and thinking of having a meal.. Is that what they call visualization?

Irish people really have a great sense of humor!

In case you are very curious, the sign was actually followed by another one "Need Rest?" a few kilometers further which pointed to a hostel near the cliffs.

I'm gonna go grab a bite now...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Twin Guardians


This shot was taken in France, about 5 kilometers right before the Spanish border, while walking on the Camino de Santiago.
It was foggy, cold and windy. I captured this shot and wanted to give it a spooky "Sleepy Hollow" mood. Can you hear the headless horseman behind you? Run!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

David vs. Goliath


A big stone formation on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. We had to trespass on private land to be able to go see the cliffs away from the touristic spots. It was so windy but such an amazing view!
My friend seems so tiny next to this rock.. You'll get crushed buddy!
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