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A Long Walk Interrupted


Active Member
Past OR future Camino
On August 1st I started my dream walk from Rorschach Switzerlqnd to Finisterre. Unfortunately it came to a very abrupt end in Nyons day's walk from completing the Via Jacobi. I was so looking forward to updating my profile to say Via Jacobi 2013.

I suffered a retinal tear with a partial detached retina in my right eye which required an immediate return to Canada for surgery. While this was crushing emotionally to end my walk in this way I am thankful for so many things...B&B owner driving me to Nyons health clinic, proximity to Geneva University ophthalmic centre, family support and most critically an insurance plan through Global Medex Assistance which coordinated the Geneva assessment, booked flight home, setup wheelchair assist in airport etc.

Please fellow pilgrims make sure you have access to out of country insurance services! Having someone knowledgeable in dealing with acute situations and providing immediate guidance made a huge difference for me.

Current plans, assuming I get the medical go ahead, are to return to Nyons in 3 weeks and complete the Via Gebennensis and The Puy routes this fall and then return in the spring to walk the St. James Way and on to Finisterre.

Some brief reflections on the Via Jacobi:

Unbelievably scenic journey...not the postcard high Alps...lakes, Swiss villages, incredibly varied terrain, warm people

While I don't have other Camino's to compare to I considered the walk, especially the first week, to be quite physically demanding. Of course the heat wave and too long early walking days contributed.
Some surprises

Few pilgrims on Via Jacobi...many walk for a period of one week...met two pilgrims who were walking to Geneva over the 17 days

Electrical adaptor...went with my 2 pronged European adaptor...found in Switzerland that the system needs 3 prongs and has a special wall plug. Inter Discount store solved my problem with another adaptor.

Via Jacobi signage is generally quite good however in areas especially cities, can be quite tricky. Various types of signs are used with a number of them obvious carryovers from older trail systems are used. At times you can go quite a while between signs...perhaps no different from other Camino...I will find out! Needless to say I got lost quite a few times.

WiFi access was not as common as expected...bought a SIM card with 2 GB from Swiss Com for 39 Swiss francs which was extremely useful...especially in time of need in Nyons. Over the 17 nights I had WiFi 4 times (in large hostels). I did not find that WiFi was accessible in many cafes however the Via Jacobi tends to skirt by many towns and villages. the German part of Switzerland which was the first week+ until Fribourg I found that English or French was not as commonly spoken as I anticipated...people are kind so one always finds a way to communicate.

Worked great - Osprey 48 liter, Black Diamond trekking poles, water bladder were all key equipment

Will change - Raingear, for me Altus poncho is simply too hot and I found myself as wet inside after wearing. I will switch to light Goretex jacket and pants with backpack cover. Footwear...socks and shoes...was not the best combination as attested by persistent blister problems.
To do prior to returning - Forum comments welcome

Footwear - had 1000 miles and Ice Breaker socks with Patagonia Drifter trail shoes. I am looking to make a full scale switch to Dalhgren socks and a lighter weight trail shoe either New Balance SL-2 or North Face Hedgehog shoe. I think I will likely not purchase Goretex protection for the shoes...I am going to a store that specializes in shoes this time!

Data plan - I really enjoyed keeping a daily journal in a blog form...found it restful and a way to keep in touch. I know this isn't for everyone however it was the right way for me. I need to find a supplier where I can purchase the SIM card in advance and activate far am looking at TouristSim, lefrenchmobile and Dataroam. I tried Orange however they cannot help as they will not send a card to Canada and their first boutique is in Le Puy en Velay.

If interested in learning a bit more about the Via Jacobi my blog address is shown below...note in top right hand corner is a link to my Flickr account where I have a number of pictures (point and shoot variety). There is also a subscriber sign up should anyone want to follow the blog in the future.



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Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
How disappointing Guy - but as you say on your blog, at least it's coz you're old;-) You'll be back, and I'll be reading - already added you to my feed reader! All the best for a speedy recovery - you certainly seem to be approaching this very sensibly, and sometimes conservative is faster than forcing.


Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Oh, God....

GuyA - I really wish you all the best. My sister had similar problem and it was so hard for the whole family. I know it's not a tragedy at first sight, but... And to cut your dream walk like that... Nevertheless, I believe you'll get over this in no time and accomplish what you've longed for.


Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
Wow, what an awful thing to happen! My husband went through that a few years ago. Be careful about flying long-distance anytime soon after your surgery and recovery, the pressurized cabin can play havoc with your delicate new retinal attachment. Maybe you can return to Europe via cruise ship?


Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF (2000); St. Giles (2013); Le Puy-SJPP (2015); VDLP (2016); Mozárabe, Almeria to Granada (2018)
Hi Guy, I really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and the chance to get back to your walk.
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