A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

I read that the Portuguese way of life isĀ about understanding that you are not always in power, that you should enjoy the small things in life, and love those around you deeply. I have certainly seen this in the few Portuguese friends and colleagues that have come into my life, and although we all strive to live this way, I want to make a special effort to do just this as I return to Ottawa.

Five weeks away from my family is a long time and I often fret about what is happening at home. I am learning to appreciate each moment instead of thinking what if I was there. I am so blessed with family and good friends who are always willing to step in when needed, and I have realized once more just how precious these people are to me.

As I am travelling almost non-stop for two days straight (Lisbon-Madrid-Venice-pause-Venice-Munich-Toronto-Ottawa-full stop), I will have lots of time for reflection & meditation and I intend to take full advantage of it.

Thank you, Portugal (and Italy) for having provided us with the perfect getaway in these uncertain times.

We shall see you again very soon I hope!

We spent the last two days in the idyllic Il Colombaio B&B resting, eating excellent food paired with the most amazing organic wines (we actually splurged on shipping 12 bottles to Canada!!) and getting a tour of the cellars.

If you are ever in Tuscany, I cannot recommend this place enough. The hospitality we received from the owners was truly remarkable. This, in contrast with the other ‘hotels’ CaminoWays had chosen for us. I won’t go into any details but for anyone wishing to walk the Via Francigena path, something that we found healing in so many ways, do organize the trip yourself. You will not only save money but quite a few frustrations along the way.

This being said, we left this morning with blistered feet that had not yet healed, tight calves and some trepidations with walking the last 21 km with temperatures rising once more in the 27-28 degrees range.

As we were leaving the town, and starting toward our endpoint, the view of Monteriggioni was breathtaking; the curvature of the stone walls espousing the natural curvature of the valley. Do note, however, that the medieval town is quite small so it is not worth a long stay-over unless you find the perfect hideaway :).

I don’t know if it was because we could see the end, or that we had shed off many worries along the way, or again that we had started singing (quite off-key… maybe that’s why we heard so many dogs barking along the way?), but our speed was phenomenal. We were walking each kilometre a good three minutes less than any other part of the trail, even the easier one between San Gimignano and Colle Val d’Elsa.

We didn’t even need to rest, eating half a protein bar around kilometre 11 while walking and sipping water here and then. Arriving in Siena was exciting as we remembered the time we had come as a family, lugging our huge backpacks from the train station up into the medieval town, arriving in time for the Christmas fair in Piazza del Campo.

I am happy to have completed our ‘pilgrimage’ and having walked all 133 kilometres without faltering. We talked of past travels, we make plans for future travels, we sang, Justin danced (because that’s what he does!) but we also walked in silence each taking stock of our lives. It was a beautiful healing journey.

Thank you Via Francigena, you’ve been most wonderful!

A tribute to all pilgrims of the Via Francigena