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Walking the Camino de Santiago by Trekcapri

Discussion in 'Spain & Portugal Trip Reports' started by Kathy (Trekcapri), Sep 17, 2016.


  1. View on Google Maps.
    View: https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1xOmLTMxqr-xOySbj4qLsVgifoLY

    Tomorrow, I will embark on the Journey of a lifetime. What first started out as a "Dream" will soon become a reality. In the morning, I will leave my comfy bed, my car and my fast internet service here at home to walk an ancient pilgrimage called the "Camino de Santiago (Wikipedia), also known as the Way of St. James. There are several other routes for this spiritual pilgrimage, but I will be taking the most popular one called the Camino Frances (The French Way) as seen on the famous movie, The Way, with Martin Sheen and Emilio Esteves.

    I will start in the small French town of St. Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenees. From there I will walk 790 kilometers (close to 500 miles) through four of Spain's 15 Regions to the town of Santiago Compostela which is where the remains of Saint James is buried.

    Logistically, I will fly into Paris, then take a train the next morning to St. Jean Pied de Port (with a brief stop in Bayonne to switch trains.). I used Captain Train which was recommended by Kathy to book my tickets. I booked a hotel close to the Gare Montparnasse Train Station since my train leaves early. My fly out city is Barcelona, so after my Camino I will either fly or train there and spend about a month exploring this beautiful city and a few surrounding towns. I may come back to the forums for possible vacation rental recommendations.

    I want to thank Pauline for allowing us to share our photos and experiences here. And I want to also thank everyone who commented and shared tips and thoughts on my trip planning thread. Much appreciation.

    I'm not sure how consistent I will be because I heard that the internet is a bit slow, but my goal is to try to post at least a photo each day. I'm very excited about some of the small villages I'll be passing through. Thanks again everyone.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2016
    Anne, Kathy, Chris and 1 other person like this.
  2. I'm here in St. Jean Pied de Port! Got into Paris Sunday morning. My hotel was literally a 5 minute walk to the Gare Montparnasse Train Station. It is a small hotel with friendly staff. My room was tiny but it was a single, not sure if the other rooms are larger. Still I would recommend it based upon service and location alone.

    On the train ride over I sat with a very nice family from Florida & San Francisco. The lady did this last year, but had to quit once she reached Pamplona because she got injured. But she loved it. Then another girl from Canada overheard us she is doing the Camino too. She's one day ahead of me.

    I took one look at her pack and knew I overpacked. I'm still laughing about it. We arrived in Bayonne to switch trains and met two other girls there. We decide to band together to find our platform. On the way about 8 different people and my Canadian friends asked if I need help. I'm too proud and embarrassed and said no, I'll be okay. Then these two young guys asked if I needed help. I hesitated for about 2 seconds before I took them up on their offer. The two girls from Nebraska had a big wheeled luggage too and told me they are using a serviced called www.expressbourricot.com to transfer their luggage to Santiago de Compostela which include storage. I told them that I was planning on transporting my heavy pack & post Camino clothes once I hit Pamplona because I had heard that if you're going to mail your things they recommended that you do it from Spain. With this service I don't have to do that.

    On the way, I started to contemplate my Camino a bit more. The scenery changed to more pastures and greenery. I saw lots of sheep. And ponies. Very nice. So far I have met people from Canada, US, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Korea and I think this is one of the best parts of doing the Camino.

    We roll into St. Jean Pied de Port (which is tiny), I just follow the flow of people up the hill (and with my luggage as you can imagine with my big bags) was tuff. Several people offered to help me but I told them I'll be fine, plus I need to put myself through this so I will know that it would be insane to carry all of this weight with me.

    Well, I was probably the last ones up that hill. A nice Irish guy helped me up the final last hill. He offered to carry it to my hotel but I told him what he did was helpful and I'll be fine. We wished each other Buen Camino. I still couldn't find my hotel. I asked this guy and he told this other guy to bring me to my hotel (so nice). And then the receptionist carried my backpack up the two flights to my room. I can't even express how the Camino is providing. I've heard about the Camino Angels but I had about 5 of them already and I haven't even started.

    So after checking into my hotel which is very big. My friends are staying at an Alberque so parted ways. After checking in I walked around to try to find the luggage transport service and bumped into my new Camino friend, Laurie. She told me the service was up a couple of doors but to hurry as she thought they might be closing soon. I did and arranged my bag to Santiago and I also arranged for them to carry my big backpack (I'm just carrying bare necessities in my day pack) to Orisson & Roncesvalles). Now I can just relax tomorrow, go to the Pilgrims Office and do a bit of sightseeing. Laurie finds me and we decide to have dinner together. We crash into a nice gentlemen from Texas. We are all solo pilgrims. We find a nice restaurant. Over dinner we shared wonderful conversations, good food and I even got two glasses of wine (which I never really do). Howard and I convinced Laurie to join us as we ordered Dessert. Laurie and I were both surprised and so appreciative when Howard paid for the two of us. Such a sweet, nice guy. We all share very personal reasons why we are doing our Camino (out of respect for their privacy I won't say here, but I was very moved).

    Today's Camino Lessons:
    - First, there are angels here among us and not just in heaven. And they are both always there for you when you need it the most.
    - Don't let your pride stop you from accepting help when you need it. Be thankful and when you are in a position to be an angel for someone else you should because that's what a community does.
    - When you open yourself up to others and all share your bumps, it can be a very healing process.

    I am so thankful to all my Camino friends today. Tomorrow I go to the Pilgrims office to get my shell (I have one already by I want one from them too) and my Pilgrim's Credential. The two photos are from the train station in Bayonne. Aside from a couple teens, everyone on the train were pilgrims. I love to travel to other places in the world, but when the world are pilgrims sharing the same desires to want to do the Camino, there is a natural and unstated instant bond and that is beautiful.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2016
    Anne, Chris and Pauline like this.
  3. Pauline

    Pauline Forums Admin

    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    This is so exciting! I am going to read another book about the Camino while you are doing this. I am reading the sample of A Million Steps, a guy from Ohio walks the trail. And I might reread the Shirley MacLaine book.

    Thinking of you and your first day!
     
  4. Thanks for all the detail about your travels so far, Kathy! Buon Camino! Thinking of you!!
     
  5. Pauline

    Pauline Forums Admin

    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    It's been nearly a week since @Kathy (Trekcapri) 's last post and she hasn't posted on Facebook. How are you doing?

    I finished A Million Steps and it was interesting but not great. The guy was very fit and the physical part of the walk was easy for him. Not the case for most walkers I think.
     
  6. Hi Pauline, I'm still alive and thankfully kicking. I've decided to stay in Pamplona for a few days to recover from the first stages. My feet so far have been blister free as I have followed the advice of many to take care of them and it has worked. My knees are sore but the hiking poles saved them from developing any problems.

    Here's where I have surprisingly ran into problems...Lack of good energy (don't eat meat just fish, not even chicken on this trip) food. The only decent meal I've had was in my hotel in Roncesvalles so the lack of energy food resulted in a complete physical breakdown when I reached Pamplona. I barely made it to the city and once there took a shower and collapsed. I'm hoping to regain my strength here and if I had to have a few rest days, I'll be honest, I'm glad it's in a wonderful city like Pamplona. This city is awesome.

    Day 1 & 2 was about conquering my fears and hiking the Pyrenees 14000 feet high. Never thought I could do that.

    Day 3 & 4 it's about knowing your limitations and letting go of the things you thought you needed, but don't. - Her brother pulls a few articles from her pack, she is literally at times exasperated and can barely put one foot in front of the other. Her brother takes the items and places it on a Camino marker and waves good-bye to the materials things. I know this feeling well. I'll be unloading more things and mailing them on to Santiago.

    I love how the local animals meet pilgrims by the fence and march through town.

    This is honestly the toughest challenge but standing on the Pyrenees is all worth it. And I have not had to pull out my guidebooks once. The way is well marked and you just have to pay attention especially when there is another path, the markers tells you the right way. And the locals will tell you too.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2016
    Anne and Pauline like this.
  7. There is a great sense of cameraderie and we all know that famous Camino wobble well. Just this morning met a couple who recognized it when I got up to get more juice. It 's all good. That truck is the only source of refreshments on the Pyrenees. He also stamps our credential.

    Buen Camino.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2016
    Anne likes this.
  8. Pauline

    Pauline Forums Admin

    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    Thanks for the posts and photos! Beautiful photos.

    Your altitude for the Pyrenees is off - you climbed from 200 meters to 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) to get over the Pyrenees. Some of the surrounding peaks are as high as 3,500 meters (11,000 feet) so you were in high mountains, but they are not as high as the Colorado Rocky Mountains (14,000 feet). Your climb of 1,200 meters is a lot to do in one day. On our recent Switzerland trip, spending 2 to 3 hours climbing 500 meters was our physical limit. You did well over twice that.

    As they say in England - well done you!

    From Camino Adventures: The route from St Jean is steep up quiet tarmac country lanes. You will climb from 200 metres above sea level to just above 1,400 meters then descend steeply back down again into Roncesvalles at 900 metres, which can be hard going on your knees and shins.
     
  9. Pauline

    Pauline Forums Admin

    Location:
    Dorset, UK
  10. Pauline

    Pauline Forums Admin

    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    Kathy (Trekcapri) likes this.
  11. Hi Pauline, I have so much to say and yet can't seem to find the time to post and journal as I intended. I've even had challenges trying to journal so I use my camera's video to try to Vlog journal so I'll remember what to write about. The life of a Perigino is simp,e, you sleep, wake up, eat a quick breakfast, walk, walk, and walk until you arrive at your destination. You quickly check in, shower and although you're tired you wash your clothes so they will have enough time to dry. If they do, then wear it again. Then find a place to eat, last night (for example) I ate dinner with a girl from Canada. Then if you're really lucky and have the time, do a bit of sight seeing. I made it in time to visit the monastery here in Najera before they closed.

    Then you go back to your hostal/Albergue, rearrange and repack (daily organization is the key). If I have time, I'll do a bit of journaling and read up on the next day's route (and interesting information) before going to sleep (Normally between 9:00 and 10:00 pm). I usually then wake up around 5:00 am and the next day begins.

    Today I have a short day and am treating myself to a spa like hotel where I hope to have fast internet and will do more posting of my journey and some photos. I'm still working on my Pyrenees journal (that's how behind I am).

    Note: I send my pack ahead (Jacotrans) to my booked lodging and only carry my important items (plus rain poncho) with me. For anyone who has dreamed of and who wants to do the Camino but don't like the idea of staying in Albergues, my message is do it. So far I've stayed in one Albergue and that was at Refugio Orisson. I could not sleep and that affected my next days walk, so I have chosen to stay in pensions, hostels or hotels instead. there are some private Albergues too that offer private rooms (with in suite private baths) too. I've seen many pilgrims do it. Everyone has their own Camino.
     
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  12. Pauline

    Pauline Forums Admin

    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    That is a great idea to have your pack shipped ahead. Walking all day is much more difficult with a heavy pack. The few times we did this, when we were much younger, are burned into my memory!
     
    Kathy (Trekcapri) likes this.
  13. On the Pyrenees there are these gorgeous horses. They are just eating righ on the path. Sheep too.

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    Today I had every intention of catching up ,but then met some nice fellow pilgrims at dinner and ended up talking for hours and now it is past 9:00 am with a long 10 mile day tomorrow, going from Azofra to Santo Domingo. Sorry in advance for lack of details and poor grammar.

    After hiking the Pyrenees and then from there to Zubiri and Pamplona my fatigue and spirits were fairly low. I had read that the first week was the hardest, but I was not prepared physically and emotionally for the challenge of hiking the Pyrenees and walking back to back long difficult stages. It felt like running four half marathons in a row.

    I decided that I needed to take a Camino break. I spent the next five days in Pamplona trying to recover and gain back my strength (physically and spiritually) and to gain back my convfidence and purpose. I love Pamplona.

    In order to not fall too behind (concerned about the weather in late November) I made the difficult decision to bus ahead to Logrono, skipping some interesting places. It is a decision I'm glad that I made.

    I am beginning to realize that the Camino is about making adjustments as well as enjoying the Camino experience. I'll admit that on that path to Pamplona I hit the wall. I sobbed, I was broken. After a few pity minutes, I got up and pushed on. I reworked my itinerary to give myself shorter distances, starting with the Logrono to Naverette stage. After making that stage I am beginning to regain my strength and confidence and now I am beginning to look forward to what each walking day will bring and I am enjoying the experience.

    The walking focuses my thoughts whether I'm thinking of my next meal, the People I meet and how they touch me, my surroundings and learning about Spain. There is a routine about the Camino experience as I wrote earlier but at the same time the Camino experience is anything but routine. I am constantly learning and being amazed. Each day brings new experiences. I mainly walk solo and every now and then I meet some amazing people that teaches me about life.

    Bridge entering Zubiti.


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    There are lovely views so I have to remind myself to take the time to enjoy them. It's hard sometimes, because you're tired and just want to get to your destination.

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    I am in Spain looking back into France at the border. Another thing to cross off my bucket list.

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    There are several pilgrim traditions along the way and some other interesting things. Cairns, crosses made out of twigs, momentos at bars from pilgrims around the world.

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    Going from Najera to Azofra.

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    I posted this photo on Instagram. Took this on the way from Navarrette to Najera.

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    This was taken today on the way from Najera to Azofra. Azofra is a small Spanish village but it is a wonderful little town and I'm glad I stayed here tonight.

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    Well, it's way past my bed time, big 10 miler tomorrow. Buen Camino.
     
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  14. I saw this lady about my age, carrying her full pack and she blew right by me leaving Logrono. I saw them later in Navarrette (where I was staying for the night), but they put their pack back on most likely on to the next town of Ventosa (another 3-4 miles more). All I can say is much respect.
     
    Pauline likes this.
  15. Pauline

    Pauline Forums Admin

    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    Good for you recognising that you needed a break and cutting out some of the distance.

    I know this is nothing like what you are doing but when we first walked the Cotswold Way (102 miles) we did it in 13 days when most people do it in 7 - 10 days. Our average was less than 10 miles a day. The next year we doubled up several of the days and I did not enjoy it as much as the first time. We had some hot days and I was not happy walking. We even gave up about 12 miles from the end and never bothered finishing. I enjoyed it more when we did easy days.

    Enjoy your walking! I too like talking with other walkers when we are on the trails. I feel like we share a passion for walking.
     
  16. Made it to Santo Domingo la Calzada and treating myself with a night in the Parador. Beautiful and great staff. Today was my longest hike since the first stage (10 miles), mostly flat with one hill.

    Just got back from dinner with my Camino buds, Jerry and Sharon. Saw the chickens in the. Cathedral and a Pilgrim walking in a quilt, and listened to the hush of the wheat or grass when the wind blew. It was. Amazing.

    Tomorrow. Is a short , sleep in day so I'll try to upload some pics of today's walk before breakfast tomorrow.
     
  17. Today I went to the small town of Redecillo del Carmin. With a short walk of 6.4 miles I was able to sleep in and enjoy the wonderful Buffet breakfast at this beautiful Parador in Santo Domingo del Calzada.

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    Azofra is a tiny village and met some nice pilgrims for dinner and great conversation.

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    I told Kilt guy at dinner that I hope to run into him to take his picture and what do you know I see him just leaving town. He told me if he charged a Euro for every who asked him for a photo it would pay for his trip. He said cyclists will usually hit their breaks in order to stop to take his photo.

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    Sometimes when your clothes don't dry fast enough you have to hang them on your pack. I've has to do that mostly with my merino wool socks.

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    When you read about the places you'll be passing, you have a sense of what are on your must see lists, and for me the town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, as its founder, Domingo Garcia dedicated his life to helping Pilgrims on their journey.

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    Legend tells that a German pilgrim who stopped at an inn. The inn's daughter fell in love with him, but the feelings were not reciprocated. The daughter placed a silver cup in his luggage and accused him of stealing. In those days punishment was death by hanging. The grieving parents continued on to Santiago de Compostela to finish their pilgrimage and on the way home stopped by the town to visit the grave of their son, but found him still hanging but alive. He asked his parents to ask to the mayor to take him down. When the parents went to the Mayor's house, he was having dinner. When they told him their son was alive and to take him down, the incredulous mayor said your son is alive as those two roasted chickens we are about to have for dinner. Just then the two chickens sprung to life, sprouted feathers and began to crow, so goes the saying, "Santo Domingo of the way, where the roosters crow after being roasted."

    In front of the Mousoleum there is a stone polychrome and gothic Henhouse which was built in the middle of the XVTH century to keep alive a hen and a rooster in memory of the most famous Santo Domingo's miracles.

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    Buen Camino.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2016
    Anne likes this.
  18. susan

    susan 100+ Posts

    Location:
    Colorado
    Hi Kathy,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post some of your photos and share some of your Camino journey with us. Glad you were able to treat yourself to a fancy hotel while in Santo Domingo la Calzada. Take good care and continue to enjoy your journey!!
     
  19. Thanks Susan, wish I had your hiking trails near me to have helped to train me better, but I'm slowly adjusting. Heading to the town of Villafranca Montes de Oca today, another 7 miles, where I'll be staying in. Hotel/Albergue which was once a pilgrims hospital (excited about that), then I'll have to either bus or taxi ahead to Burgos (couldn't find any available places on booking.com before and besides I need to catch up on my weather schedule . I already have booked two nights so I can have a rest day and to take in some sights.
     
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