I booked my tickets (flying into Paris and out of Barcelona) for Spain. On September 21, 2016, starting in the small French town of Saint Jean Pied de Port, I plan to walk 500 miles through four of Spain’s 15 regions to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage that people from all walks of life and from all around the world have been making for more than a thousand years. The reason for people doing the Camino varies from spiritual/religious to self discovery and/or to have an adventure. There are several different routes, but I will be taking the more popular Camino Frances route made famous by the movie, “The Way” (love this movie), which stars Martin Sheen and was produced by his actor/director son, Emilio Estevez. I have been planning this trip for nearly 3 years and I am so happy that I am finally doing it. This is an interesting trip to plan because on one hand it is the kind of trip where one is encouraged to do little to no planning. Go with the flow, move with the wind and see where it takes you kind of thinking. But I like having a plan and knowing where I’ll be sleeping, what I’ll be doing and how I’ll be getting there (I think this will be a Camino lesson to let go). This trip scares and excites me at the same time. But since I am officially retiring after 32 years working with the City of Los Angeles, in July and for the first time in my adult life, I can live my life without deadlines or schedules. So in a sense this trip comes at the most perfect time in my life. Take a trip, go on an adventure and have absolutely no restrictions, no deadlines (other than I have to return after 3 months ). I will spend 3 wonderful months in Spain (but I can also travel outside of Spain as well, if that’s where the wind takes me). After my Camino, I plan on making my way back (by plane or train this time) to Barcelona (my fly out City). Inspired by one of my favorite travelers, Shannon, I want to spend some time in this part of Spain. Heck, I may even take a tourist rest day and go to this festival (off the Camino trail) that Shannon mentioned to me. I wanted to post here, first to see if there is anyone who has walked the Camino de Santiago (and/or who plan on it)? And if so, any sound advice like the best towns for rest days along the Camino Frances? Any recommendations for towns to visit near and or around Barcelona that I can base myself in for a few days here and a few days there. How about possible apartment locations in either Barcelona and/or surrounding towns? Should I take a cheap flight to a nearby country for a few days? I’m traveling light, so I can hop on one of the low fare airlines to let’s say Budapest, Slovenia, Poland…..Or I can just concentrate myself in Spain (not that hard to do because I love Spain). It might take me 6 weeks to do the Camino, leaving me about 6 weeks to travel by backpack (another bucket list dream to fulfill). I fly into Paris and will need a hotel maybe a little close to the Montparnasse train station. Any recommendations? Any thoughts on what to do with one night in Paris. I was thinking about watching the sunset on the steps of the Sacre Coeur, then maybe dinner in the Latin Quarter. It’ll have to be an early night due to the long travel day the next morning. Ideal way to get from Paris to SJPDP? I’m thinking of using the SNCF site to book a train ticket from Paris – Bayonne – SJPDP It’s a long train day but it would get me to town at about 1900 hours. Any thoughts? In this travel day, do you think I’d have time to stop in the town of Lourdes? I’m thinking probably not, but thought I would ask. I’ve been studying the Stages of the Camino Frances Route and I have a a general snapshot of the towns that I’ll be passing through based upon my guidebooks (Pamplona, Puente La Reina, Los Arcos, Logrono, Najera, Burgos, Leon, ….etc.). Are there any towns along this route that maybe I should definitely plan a rest day to explore a bit more before moving on? I have read so many books and I will share more on my reading list recommendations. I do have a google map that maybe if I know how I can embed here. There is a lot of information out there. I’ll stay in my first Refugio in Orisson for the first stage and have already booked my “bed”. But I have also booked a room at Roncesvalles Hotel because I’m afraid I may take too long on the Pyrenees and wanted to be certain I’ll have a bed. After that, I’ll have to wing it. I’m a slow walker so I may try to book ahead as I go along. I know not very pilgrim like of me but I would feel better to know that I’ll have a bed. Any hostels, hotels, casa rural along the Camino Frances Route recommendations would also be appreciated. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to sharing what I’m learning and will post more about my trip. I am so excited for this trip and can't wait to share my Camino experience and any lessons learned.