SHANNON REED PORTRAIT

56 Days Later...

Shannon Reed

Of course by "our" I mean Pitou and me...

I didn't take many pictures - in fact, I sent my camera ahead and just used my phone to document my experience on the Camino. Even then, I didn't take many pictures - but I created an Instagram account specifically for this experience and my amazing time in Spain and again in Spain and France once I finished. You can click HERE to go there, if you'd like to take a peek. ")

I'm still unpacking my experience on the Camino - walking 500 miles, managing different aches and pains, fighting the cold, wind, rain (only two full days with no rain), and crowds. I was in my head the whole time - ruminating, cursing, meditating... It's not a journey for everyone and it wasn't quite the spiritual journey I imagined it would be, but it was my journey and it is now a part of my story.

Four days from reaching Santiago, I decided to look at the pictures and videos I'd taken to that point, and decided to make the video at the top of this post. With the bulk of it edited and ready to go (all done on my phone), I added in a few images from the remaining days and, voila, I had a nice little memento of my journey - and I am so, so happy I did that. In my mind, it's just too difficult to sort through the experience - it was simply too vast and overwhelming; with this video, I can remember beautiful moments and how I was feeling in those moments.

It makes me super emotional to watch it.

I had such incredible love and support from friends and family back home so, even though I was out there on my own, I felt them with me - encouraging me along - and for that, I am so grateful.

What's not included in the video is the bit where I go to Finisterre after Santiago to purge the requested burdens of friends and family - and where I had my own release. I reached the lighthouse on a cool, windy, rainy day and stood there - looking out at the ocean, feeling the drops of rain on my face - and sobbed uncontrollably. I can't recall many times in my life when that's happened and I was grateful that the other people up there in those minutes were merciful and gave me and my emotions a wide berth of privacy to let me get it all out.

I have pictures and video from my time at the lighthouse and was going to post them here - but I think I prefer to keep those for myself. At least for now. However, I did take a picture as I was walking toward the beach on my first morning in Finisterre. I had gone there to honor the memory of my beautiful cousin, Elliott, who committed suicide shortly after his 21st birthday.

Finisterre

Finisterre

Once I finished this incredible journey, I went back to Santiago and took a plane to Bilbao to meet my love and spend a week decompressing with him before coming home. I got off the plane and into a taxi at 9:45 that morning and said, "To the Guggenheim, por favor!" haha. Frank Gehry is my favorite architect and going to the Guggenheim in Bilbao has been on my bucket list for a whole bunch of years.

There are pictures on Instagram so I won't repost them here, but here's one from the interior (work from "Matter of Time" by Richard Serra) that's not posted on Insta...

From Bilbao (a wonderful city I hope to visit again), we went up the coast to San Sebastian in the Basque country of Spain - a gorgeous spot to visit and spend long hours walking around the old town...

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

Then we continued our upward sweep to Biarritz - my new favorite place - so beautiful! Again - plenty of pictures on Insta, but here's one that isn't...

A staircase inside Chateau Clair de Lune - where we stayed in Biarritz...

A staircase inside Chateau Clair de Lune - where we stayed in Biarritz...

From Biarritz, we went up to Bordeaux for an afternoon - it didn't particularly resonate with me - so we decided to just make the 6.5 hour drive up to Paris. Paris definitely resonates with me. ") 

Pigeons at the Tuileries...

Pigeons at the Tuileries...

Rue Mazarine - a happy place for me and one which is an intersecting point between St Germain and St Michel - easily my two favorite neighborhoods of the 20 arrondissements in Paris.

Rue Mazarine - a happy place for me and one which is an intersecting point between St Germain and St Michel - easily my two favorite neighborhoods of the 20 arrondissements in Paris.

Rue Jacques Callot is a tiny, blink-and-you'll-miss-it street where I stayed in my first apartment in Paris back in 2008. Last week, as I was heading down the street to pay my respects to George Sand and Oscar Wilde (both of whom resided within a couple of minutes from here), I turned to quickly snap this picture of the street name. So many happy memories...

Rue Jacques Callot is a tiny, blink-and-you'll-miss-it street where I stayed in my first apartment in Paris back in 2008. Last week, as I was heading down the street to pay my respects to George Sand and Oscar Wilde (both of whom resided within a couple of minutes from here), I turned to quickly snap this picture of the street name. So many happy memories...

Patio chairs from L'Heure Gourmand in Passage Dauphine off of Rue Mazarine. Best hot chocolate in town...

Patio chairs from L'Heure Gourmand in Passage Dauphine off of Rue Mazarine. Best hot chocolate in town...

Sometimes - in the most beautiful of ways - Paris can feel like the most lonely place in the world; this image evokes that feeling for me...

Sometimes - in the most beautiful of ways - Paris can feel like the most lonely place in the world; this image evokes that feeling for me...

So, I'm back home now - day 5. Reintegrating and getting reengaged with my projects here at home. The sun is shining here in Denver and it's a beautiful time and place to begin anew with a fresh mind, heart, and spirit - oh - and a bottomless appetite when it comes to gobbling up my next adventure... ")