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  1. Charleston Tom

    Albergues without blankets

    Given the potential for bed bug infestation...I would be very reluctant to use albergue blankets.
  2. Charleston Tom

    Scheduling too much?

    Because my walking companions (daughter and son-in-law) had a limited amount of time for last May's Camino we had to do several 18 to 20 mile days in fairly challenging Galicia terrain. Although this was certainly doable...it was not pleasant. I much preferred our more leisurely 12 to 15 mile...
  3. Charleston Tom

    Water Bottle or Camelback/Playtpus?

    I use a Camelbak for bicycling, long motorcycle rides, and kayaking. The bladder is drained and dried at the end of the day so it never has a chance to develop a foul taste. However, for the Camino I prefer easy to clean and refill water bottles. Unlike water bladders, bottles don't require...
  4. Charleston Tom

    Hiking sandals or lighter flip flops?

    I've found the Chaco Z2 Unaweep to be quite suitable as alternative footwear to trekking boots. IMO, the Chaco's footbed is far superior to the Teva and the toe loop provides much more lateral stability. You can also wear the Chaco sandals with socks by leaving the toe loop under the foot...
  5. Charleston Tom

    Those we leave behind

    Over the years, I've taken a number of trips to out-of-the-way places that have caused concern with family members and close friends. I have always found, however, that the burden to constantly 'check in' greatly diminishes the inner tranquility of solo journeys. In an attempt to balance these...
  6. Charleston Tom

    First Draft pack list. Assembling for training. Suggestions?

    There seems to be a very wide variance in what people consider 'essential gear' for a Camino pilgrimage. Personally, I'd trim the OP's list considerably and consider lighter/dual purpose replacements for the remainder of the stuff. A few examples: I bought a sleeping bag sack with a thin fleece...
  7. Charleston Tom

    medical insurance

    Although my medical insurance policy covers out-of-country travel I still buy supplemental travel insurance. Last year I purchased a policy through Allianz when I booked my flight on United. Alliance offers three levels of coverage: Basic, Classic, and Deluxe. My basic policy was approximately...
  8. Charleston Tom

    Good Restaurants

    With exception for good dining experiences in the larger cities...I wouldn't consider the food offerings along much of the Astorga to Santiago section of the Camino St. Francis to be very remarkable. FWIW, I traveled with my daughter and son-in-law who are quite fluent in Spanish and experienced...
  9. Charleston Tom

    How to train for the Camino

    I found the extensive walking (with a loaded backpack) I did prior to my pilgrimage did not prepare me for the strain that the mountain sections put on the body. Since it is difficult for many of us to replicate the rough terrain that is encountered in Galicia...it might help to spend some time...
  10. Charleston Tom

    Socks - are they important??

    Yes...socks are very important. In fact, I think they are every bit as important as shoes/boots. I took two pairs of smartwool outer socks and three pairs of wicking liner socks. I washed the liner socks every day and they were usually dry or almost dry the next morning. Each day I started out...
  11. Charleston Tom

    all in one hair/body/face/clothing cleansing bar

    I've been using Dr. Bronner all-in-one cleansing bars for years. They are a very convenient alternative to multiple products. Last year I used a Dr. Bronner bar for a 7,000 mile motorcycle trip across the USA and this year I carried one on my Camino pilgrimage. Here's a link for reference...
  12. Charleston Tom

    Did your Camino fail or exceed your expectations?

    I walked from Astorga to Santiago with my daughter and son-in-law. I was a rare opportunity to spend two weeks with them and we had a wonderful experience. In fact, they both said their Camino journey was the best travel experience they had ever had. On balance, a couple of the sections across...
  13. Charleston Tom

    Did movie: "The Way" motivate you...

    I wasn't familiar with the Camino until I saw the movie, 'The Way'. I walked out of the theater strongly inspired to do a pilgrim walk. I invited my daughter and son-in-law to join me. Four months later we walked from Astorga to Santiago. It was one of the best experiences in my life...and I owe...
  14. Charleston Tom

    Smart Packing and Unexpected Backpack Items

    Good suggestions! We've got the duck tape handled. And the multi tool, big nappy pins, floss/needle, etc. But what exactly is a 550 paraccord? Like a bungee? and where does one get this in the US? Ultreya! Kathleen 550 paracord is the lightweight nylon that was originally used in the...
  15. Charleston Tom

    Albergue Etiquette

    It is not uncommon for pilgrims to join together and form a "Camino Family'. While I'm sure some people enjoy the companionship...these groups can be a true nuisance by their insular behavior. Unfortunately, groups can frequently lose the individual civilities of their members. I've experienced...
  16. Charleston Tom

    Smart Packing and Unexpected Backpack Items

    Perhaps I missed it in my quick read of this thread...but I don't believe anyone has mentioned duct/duck tape. I wrap a 3 foot piece of duct/duck tape on my walking staff and another piece around my water bottle. In addition to emergency repairs...I've even used this tape to prevent blisters and...
  17. Charleston Tom

    Best guide book for the Camino Frances

    We used a current copy of Brierley's book for our two week Astorga to Santiago pilgrimage in May 2012. While it seemed that some of the distances were a bit forced in order to break the journey from SJPP into 33 sections (one for each year of Christ's life)...we generally found the Brierley...
  18. Charleston Tom

    30 L (28L Actually) Pack big enough -- Or 40 L better ---

    In spite of a general emphasis on limiting backpack weight...I was quite surprised to see that many pilgrims ignore this advice and carry 50 and 60 L packs. I found that a 35 L pack provided sufficient space for everything that was needed on a pilgrimage last May. I carried an Osprey Atmos 35...
  19. Charleston Tom

    Worried about my husband...

    FWIW...I strongly believe that any attempt to impose one's will on another person severely damages a relationship. It would be terrific to experience the Camino with a willing partner. Just don't drag another person along who doesn't share a comparable level of enthusiasm.

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