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Did it!!!

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philipc67

New Member
Hello all, Philip in Athens here.

I recently finished the Camino, starting from Roncesvalles on 20 September and arriving in Santiago on 21 October (32 days). I took 3 rest days (in Burgos, León, and Sarria) and had two "cheating" stages when I took the bus from Estella to Nàjera and the train from Sahagùn to León.

First of all, I would like to thank all the Forum members for their helpful and friendly pre-departure advice.

Then, I want to thank all the good friends I made along the way: Armin, Dorle, Ilona, Dennis and his lovely dog Raki (all from Germany), Joseph from Alaska, Rosemary from N Ireland, Stephanie from the UK, Dominique from France, Peter from Zurich, Christiane and Jeannine from Quebec, Lillian and Bruce from British Columbia, Beatrice from Mallorca, and Australians Roger, Cathy and Rita from Brisbane. The companionship they offered was very precious to me.

This Camino was a unique travel experience.

Now, in my life so far (42) I have been around quite a bit. Among other things, I have trekked mountain gorillas in Rwanda, swum with tortoises in the Galapagos, escaped a hotel fire in Amman, gone up a mountain to a Buddhist monastery in Bhutan, driven across Arizona, scuba-dived in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, got sunburned in Persepolis, touched a glacier in Patagonia, seen the moon rise over the minarets of Samarkand, got stuck in the equatorial forest of the Congo, accompanied the Greek Olympic team to the Beijing Games as one of their doctors, flown supersonic on the Concorde, and crossed the length and width of India alone.

But walking 25 km a day and living out of an 8-kg backpack for 5 weeks presented a whole different bunch of challenges.

No, I did not have a spiritual “revelation” on the journey. But I have become a calmer, more patient, optimistic, resourceful person, and better organised as to what I want to do with the rest of my life. It was very important to just be alone with my thoughts and my body. I am also fitter, with considerably increased physical stamina and muscular legs!

I was moved to tears on two occasions: at the initial pilgrim blessing in Roncesvalles pre-departure and at the pilgrim mass after arrival in Santiago. I found the 12 noon mass in Santiago Cathedral, where pilgrims come together, hugging and sharing the joy of safe arrival, to be overwhelmingly emotional. When the priest said “this is the end of your Camino, now you can go home to your families and all your loved ones who miss you and have shed tears for you” we were all weeping freely. Unfortunately the Botafumeiro was not used.

I feel no guilt, being Greek Orthodox, about attending Catholic mass and partaking of Holy Communion. I believe in Christ and am sure that He knows my sins.

Shortest walk: 17km (Carriòn de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza).

Longest walk: 33km (Palas de Rei to Arzùa).

Hardest climb: Herrerías to O Cebreiro (I avoided the St Jean-Roncesvalles climb).

Hardest descent: Manjarín to El Acebo (a dangerous goat track and very slippery). The Acebo to Molinaseca descent is also bad, but in a pleasant green valley. The notorious "steep" descent into Zubiri on the first day was not as bad as I expected.

Places I loved: Burgos, Frómista, Puente la Reina, Astorga, Molinaseca, O Cebreiro, Portomarín.
I will never forget the evening in O Cebreiro. After an early dinner with Bruce, Lillian, and Dennis we took a walk around the village. The wind was howling but the night sky crystal-clear and, as most of the lights were out, the star cover was astonishing, long sweeps of the Milky Way swirling above us, so beautiful!

Places I hated: Hornillos del Camino (because of the flies), Sahagùn, Triacastela.

Beautiful stretches: the climb to Alto del Perdon, the descent from San Juan de Ortega, the foggy forest paths between Sarria and Samos, the final major climb from Herrerias to O Cebreiro.

Best breakfast: Just before the descent into Molinaseca. You come down from Riego de Ambros, pass through a lovely grove of chestnut trees, and on the mountainside is this little cafe looking out onto the valley. Delicious coffee and scrambled eggs while listening to classical music.

Dangerous stretches: the 5km stretch along the highway from Triacastela to San Cristobo (no protection for walkers, trucks come screaming at you) and also a couple of similarly dangerous highway stretches between Villafranca del Bierzo and Valcarce. I took the train from Sahagùn to León so avoided the notorious highway crossing there.

By the way, the "punctuality" of RENFE trains is a joke. Our express (and more expensive) train from Sahagun to Leon was 20 minutes late. No explanation, no apology, nothing. Customer Service in Leon station was completely indifferent, their boss was, of course, away at lunch and siesta. They give an impression of incompetent laziness.

Bad stretch: the looooong, endless circumnavigation of Burgos Airport before the long schlep into the city through the industrial area. Take the No 8 bus from Castanares.

Craziest moment: being threatened with a rifle outside the Camino Real hostel in Calzadilla de la Cueza.

Happiest memory: On the way to Portomarin, I thought that I was a day behind my friends. Stopping for coffee I suddenly saw them walking up to me, one by one. We all walked together to the 100km mark and took a group photo. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day, the last day before nonstop Galician rains. We stopped for lunch in a beautiful little place in Mercadoiro with a big green garden looking out onto a valley. We had paella and beer, then lay around barefoot on the grass. Someone from the bar produced a guitar and we sang songs in various languages. A long, lazy afternoon with friends on the Camino, I will never forget it.

Weather: Rain and sticky mud during the first 2 days (Roncesvalles to Zubiri and then Pamplona) and the last 3 days (from Palas de Rei all the way to Santiago), one black rainy day in León, and a mix of sunshine and clouds for the rest of the trip. The entry into Santiago in pouring rain on the (surprisingly exhausting) last day was unforgettable, the city streets reduced to rivers of flowing mud, cars and buses splashing me with dirty water and drenching me from head to foot, I was gritting my teeth and repeating to myself, over and over again, FINISH IT, FINISH IT. It rained nonstop in Santiago from the moment I arrived to the moment I flew out 3 days later.

Monte de Gozo: I was glad to reach it but it is so unbelievably UGLY, surely they could have built a better monument and pilgrim facilities.

Arrival in Santiago: The Pilgrim Office was an anticlimax, just four bored young girls who couldn’t have cared less when I presented my precious Credencial for inspection. The “Compostela” was handed over with no interview and no fuss.

Practical tips I have learned:

You MUST break in your boots and put in some training before you leave. I trained for nearly two months, walking 10-12km on weekdays and up to 20km on weekends (with backpack).

Keep the backpack as light as possible. I started with 9kg, discarded things along the way, and reduced to under 8kg.

It is best to travel alone. You set your own pace, stop and continue as you like, spend as much or as little money you like, meet people along the way, and can be alone with your thoughts if you prefer.
"He travels fastest he who travels alone".

When you walk 25km a day you should allow yourself to enjoy eating and drinking whatever you like. I found that a stiff gin & tonic at the end of the day took the pain away.

Learn some Spanish before you go. I am fluent in Castellano and really appreciated the enhanced experience of sharing conversations and insights with local people.

You can never be too careful about foot care. Vaseline and Compeed became my best friends. I would Vaseline my feet before starting each morning, take my walking boots and socks off every 2 hours to allow them to breathe, re-Vaseline at least once during the day, wash a pair of socks (smart-wool) every day, and drink plenty of water. Only had one blister and 3 days of minor Achilles tendon pain during the whole trip! Voltaren Emulgel helps for tendonitis. Your toes bump into the front of the boot during steep descents so keep toenails clipped very short to avoid haematomas (I lost 2 toenails during a difficult New Zealand trek last year and learned my lesson).

In October it is still dark at 8am, the sun rises after 8.30, and the path lights up after 9. In the mountains the morning fog burns off at noon.

The 17km stretch from Carriòn de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza is long, boring, and HOT, even in autumn, so bring TWO large water bottles.

Do NOT push yourself to exhaustion for the sake of doing a "macho" 35-40 km a day. I learned that my comfort zone was the 20km mark. I could push to 25km with no trouble if necessary but anything beyond that depleted my reserves for the next day. I walked two 30km days and one 33km day. The rest were between 22 and 27km. There is nothing easy about walking 25km a day!

For autumn journeys, a Goretex jacket AND a fleece AND a waterproof poncho AND gloves are advisable. September/October on the Meseta also mean newly tilled fields, ie manure, ie MILLIONS of flies (Hornillos del Camino was the most fly-blown place of all). They can turn a pleasant country walk into a day of misery. Bring a head net AND insect repellent. My wide, black head net frightened people, I looked like an executioner!

Do not mix Pulpo Gallego with red wine in Galicia, it can cause explosive diarrhoea.

Recommended albergues: Camino del Perdon in Uterga, San Rafael in Agès, San Bol, and El Camino in Boadilla.

Rudest albergue: San Juan de Ortega.

The wild dogs of Foncebadòn are a myth.

Recommended restaurants: La Peseta in Astorga, O Pino in Arca (you can indulge in a nice steak here before the last day).

Recommended hotels: San Antón Abad in Villafranca Montes de Oca, San Zoilo in Carrion de los Condes, Las Doñas del Portazgo in Villafranca del Bierzo (absolutely great, big comfortable beds and fluffy white pillows, my best night's sleep on the Camino, poached eggs on toast for breakfast), and Casa Benidle in Palas de Rei.

There is no shame in staying in a hotel or hostel. I value my privacy and, as I also snore, probably did other pilgrims a favor. A long soak in a hot bath after a day's walk does wonders for your leg muscles. Each travels on his own Camino in his own terms. Plus, on the "hotel days" you can get some laundry done efficiently, there is no need to stink.

If you want to splurge: the Parador San Marcos in León and, of course, the Hotel Reyes Católicos in Santiago de Compostela.

Must-sees: Estella Museum, Burgos Cathedral, Monastery of Las Huelgas (Burgos), church of St. Martin in Frómista, León Cathedral.

Recommended detours: Eunate (a MUST, the 12th century church is a jewel), Samos, Vilar de Donas (also a must, a 2.5km detour from Portos after Eirexe, a beautiful small church where the knights of Santiago are buried, the gatekeeper's name is Jesùs, make sure it is open before you go there, his phone No is +34 669 544 009, Ivar please take note).
The last detour I took was to see the Castillo de Pambre on the way to Melide. I took a taxi from Lobreiro, leaving my backpack behind and taking only my waist belt and camera. The 14th century Castillo de Pambre is just beautiful, your idea of a romantic abandoned castle. Do not attempt to walk there, it is further than you think and the route complicated. I made sure that the taxi dropped me back at Lobreiro so that I wouldn't cheat on the walk during the last days.

Obtain at least one stamp per day on the Credencial and two per day from Sarria onwards. Tick “religious reasons” when you register at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago in order to receive the “Compostela”. Otherwise you will get a secondary alternative “completion” certificate.

There is no need to buy any souvenirs or do any major shopping before the end. You will find millions of souvenir shops in Santiago with everything from jewellery to coffee mugs to bottle openers. One minor peeve was that I couldn't find an "Ultreya" T-shirt. Shops and Ivar please take note!

Finally, a BIG no-no: Do NOT take your dog on the Camino. Spanish albergues, hotels, and restaurants are unbelievably hostile to dogs. My friend Dennis from Munich brought his dog Raki along and a friendlier, lovelier animal you couldn’t imagine. They did about 20km a day so that Raki wouldn’t be too fatigued. Each day he had tremendous difficulty finding lodging where the dog would be accepted. On two occasions Raki was attacked by other dogs and we had to beat them off.
A Hungarian man I met also had his dog with him. They slept in a tent and the poor animal was always exhausted and developed paw blisters. They stopped the Camino in Ponferrada. Several of us pitched in to help buy them the bus fare back to France.
Do NOT bring a dog, think of the animal, not yourself. Please check what the law in Spain mentions re SERVICE dogs compared to "pet" dogs, Ivar any input?

So, this was my Camino. I understand the attraction it holds and why some people do it again and again, but for me, surviving it just once is enough.

I hope all the above is helpful and would welcome your input.

Take care.

Philip
 

elzi

Active Member
Wow! Great post philip!

Bits that amazed me (you were threatened with a rifle?!!!), bits that made me smile, bits that had me nodding along!

And don't worry in a month or so you will have forgotten all about the "surviving" part and will be itching to get back on the trail...! :wink:
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
"........ just once is enough." Famous last words!

(Come back to the forum when you decide to do another long trek Philip!)
 

andy.d

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
sillydoll said:
"........ just once is enough." Famous last words!

(Come back to the forum when you decide to do another long trek Philip!)

Yes - having said the same two weeks ago I'm now almost on the point of committing to walk the Camino Ingles with my daughter, probably in 2011 (it will be a few years before I get a couple of months free to do another big one).
 
Congratulations Philip !

I too have travelled fairly extensively but how I had made it though my camino is still beyond me, and yes, on my walk to Monte del Gozo all I could focus on was finishing the walk.

After a few long soaks in the bath, fresh clothes, my own bed, gleefully sleeping in till 10am, and as I pour over the photos I had taken, amazingly I started thinking and wondering which route I will walk next, and when that could be !

>>> ....... surviving it just once is enough

Rebecca
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
Hello Philip from Athen!
After my first camino I also said never again! Still I met you on my third.
Thank you for summing up the camino, it helped me think back. Arrived in Santiago a day before you and shared the mess with some of your caminofriends. To my great pleasure the botafumeiro was used. That did not happen during my previous visits in the cathedral. The priests seemed to enjoy swinging it too.
Well, I enjoyed reading your summary.Still I did not agree with you about the hotel in Villafranca Montes de Oca. The rooms and food were good, but the bosses treated their employees very badly several times in front of guests. As a union worker I did not like that. I decided never to stay there again.
I wish you a good life in the years ahead. Perhaps you will inspire more Greeks to walk the camino.
And thank you for the lunch in Sarria.
Grandmother from Norway
 

anniethenurse

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances.Vasco del Interior.Camino Finisterre& Muxia. Camino Portugues. Ruta del Ebro.
Enjoyed reading your post - very informative! Congrats and I´m almost sure you will be walking again soon!
annie
 
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Anonymous

Guest
philipc67 said:
Practical tips I have learned:
Do not mix Pulpo Gallego with red wine in Galicia, it can cause explosive diarrhoea.

Philip, this is invaluable information! The last thing we want to meet on the Camino is an octopus with diarrhoea... :D

Enjoyed your post!

Gareth
 

bbz180

New Member
Great post Phillip. Made me think of all the places I stayed during my Camino.
For me Pulpo was one of the highlights of my journey...but def. with beer!

I don't miss the crazy way getting into Leon where cars are inches away from you and you feel death breathing down your neck...but everything else about the Camino was pure magic.

I def. miss packing my bag in the morning and looking for the yellow arrows.

I've been back about a week from my trip and I already have a itch to go back to the Camino. I would like to do the Norte since I really enjoyed going to Finisterre and seeing the ocean.
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
Thanks for a detailed post Phillip. Much of what you said tied into my experiences. It's a funny old thing, this Camino; I too have walked in various places which are spectacular, but the Camino is in a class of its own.

:arrow:
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
I enjoyed your descriptions and good advice. Congratulations on your accomplishment.
 

nalzatron

New Member
I plan on doing the camino sometime in May of next year. I really like your posting. Question, if i only have about 2 weeks for the trip, where do you recommend i begin? :|
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
nalzatron said:
I Question, if i only have about 2 weeks for the trip, where do you recommend i begin? :|

If you can average 28 kms / day, you can start in St. Jean Pied du Port at the unofficial beginning of the Camino Frances and walk to Leon.

Or you can walk from Leon to Santiago. This can be done in 12 to 14 days.

My personal choice would be SJPP to Leon, and plan to complete the Camino at another time.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The poster has withdrawn this post.

Since he has already conceded in a later post that the tone of the post was inappropriate, but that has not satisfied critics who continue to go on about it, the best thing is to eliminate the post and the poster will retire from the Forum and shall not post again.

I hope everyone is happy now?
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Why don't you tell us what you REALLY think, Gareth. Don't hold back this time.
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Gareth Thomas said:
philipc67 said:
Practical tips I have learned:
Do not mix Pulpo Gallego with red wine in Galicia, it can cause explosive diarrhoea.

Philip, this is invaluable information! The last thing we want to meet on the Camino is an octopus with diarrhoea... :D

Enjoyed your post!

Gareth
Hey Gareth,
I have a particular fondness for the idiosyncratic, contradictory,contrary and plain hornery. But I am curious as to the shift in 'tone' between the initial charming bonhomie of your first post (quoted above) and that of your latest response to the same material on 8th of Dec.
Perhaps I'm failing to decode some embedded humor implied by the various 'smiley faces' ? If so my apologies, and I hope Philip is a better 'decoder' than I have proved to be. If not can one expect another reversal of 'tone' any time soon Gareth, or should one just wait till the east wind stops blowing? :? (by the way this little face implies that the above, though slightly tongue in cheek, is nevertheless genuinely perplexed)
Nell
 
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Anonymous

Guest
nellpilgrim said:
I am curious as to the shift in 'tone' between the initial charming bonhomie of your first post (quoted above) and that of your latest response to the same material on 8th of Dec.

Yes, Nell, that is a good point and deserves better explanation from me. Thank you for pointing that out.

Between reading Phillip's post the first time, I happened to read it again later, and this was after I walked the Camino again from León to Santiago in mid-November, and I also stopped in León again on the way home because I wanted to spend a couple of days examining the sculpture and stained glass in the cathedral. As I read this post, I felt that I identified more with the Spanish people who are the hosts to us pilgrims than with the people who whine about the poor service they get for the little money it costs to experience the Camino. I particularly felt that the series of negative comments running through this particular post were unjustified and therefore I gave the post a counter-blast.

I take the view that if one is capable of making some pretty harsh criticisms, one is ready to receive them as well and I stand by my comments in response to the post but also enjoyed some other parts of Phillip's post when I read it initially. But you are right, Nell, I should have explained why I was suddenly exercised to respond again to this material, and it was because I was recently in these places he wrote about and felt for the local people. I wondered what would they make of such criticism? And if there is one thing I would change about my post it would be to say that I hope he does return to the Camino again but without grousing quite so much afterwards about his poor experiences.

Gareth
 
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Anonymous

Guest
falcon269 said:
Gareth, you have not addressed your entitlement to make this comment:

Go home and don't bother doing it again.

You will see that very point modified in my post above, which you may not have seen before you posted shortly after. I take your point, though, and my tone is probably not finely tuned enough to the sensibilities of the Forum!

I stand by the substance however, and I think it worth adding this. Recently I arrived at Monte del Gozo and before continuing into the city, I used their very reasonably priced and spotlessly clean laundry facilities. I was waiting for my laundry and went to the pilgrim centre's excellent bar and restaurant area and bought a large Estrella Galicia for a very low price, poured with a cheerful smile by the girl serving the pilgrims and listening to the litany of complaints from a loud group of Irish and French pilgrims* sitting at the bar, bad-mouthing just about everything they had experienced on the Camino: the Spanish people; the pilgrim facilities, etc. etc; and even the 'lousy bus service' from Arca to get here (!) After a while, listening to this, I just laid into them and gave them a good lecture on politeness towards the country that hosted their stay for such a cheap cost!

To me it was an echo of those people when I read again the grumbling in Phillip's post. When I walk the pilgrim way I find that I am increasingly defending the Camino against such grousing and there is too much of that going on now. The surge in popularity of the Camino, with many people coming for the experience they have read about in recent best-selling books, seems to me to be encouraging a 'consumer rights' kind of mentality in which it is quite normal to go along the Camino complaining about all the facilities and services.

People who used the railways were once called passengers but in a consumer-driven age they were re-designated customers and this created customer services and a whole industry based around customer complaints. Let's hope pilgrims do not begin to see themselves as customers too quickly. Personally, I feel happy to counter that trend quite openly, so I stand by the substance of my post. We piligrimins are a tough-skinned lot 8) but we also like to get on our high horses a bit, don't we? Right now, it is clear that we like to have the balance right between complaining about the Camino and complaining about the customers who complain about the Camino!

However, after reading my post again, I stand corrected by you all on my tone which I agree is too harsh.

Gareth

(*Note to Ivar, I think I said German instead of French when I recounted this to you, but I later remembered there weren't any Germans in that group moaning about the Camino, just Irish and French.)
 

andy.d

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
I don't want to get into the debate of who is or who is not a true pilgrim, but one thing that does seem, to me at least, to be part of pilgrimage is gratitude. People who live along the Camino don't owe me anything, but I found on the Camino Levante this year that people, without exception, went out of their way to help me. This was truly humbling and it got me through some tough times.
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Hi Gareth,
Thanks for the clarification as I was puzzled.
I seem to have developed a sort of defensive reflex reaction every time I read any negative comments about Najera, Belorado or San Juan De Ortega as each of those towns, despite initially appearing to my overcritical eye be slightly dusty 'back of the shelf' kind of places, in fact proved to be special havens for me on my journey.
You seem to have a somewhat similar response.......though on a much broader canvas! :wink:
Nell
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
nellpilgrim said:
I seem to have developed a sort of defensive reflex reaction every time I read any negative comments about Najera, Belorado or San Juan De Ortega... You seem to have a somewhat similar response.......

Aaaaaaaargh! <Gareth dives under the bed> Whenever San Juan de Ortega is mentioned I think of Padre José María Alonso Marroquí and his garlic soup; this makes me think of vampires, and I dive under the bed to hide from them, hyperventilating.

No, don't apologise, you could never have known. We all have our sensitive spots. It is quite normal...

Gareth
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Steady Gareth Steady
Nell
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Gareth,
I have to add to the chorus here: I was gobsmacked by your reply to Philip's post. He obviously put a huge amount of effort into a hugely informative and useful post. He told us many things he was thankful for- friends he met along the way, forum members who gave advice before he went, challenges he met that have changed him. He told us of a beautiful day near Portomarin that was his happiest memory, and of two occasions that moved him to tears. He gave a whole heap of practical tips. And then your post just seemed to pull out from all that all the things you happened to disagree with, and you heaped scorn upon him. Like I said.... I was gobsmacked...
Margaret
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
And here I just thought it was rude and arrogant! Gobsmacked. Maybe that is what I was instead.
 

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
I was in a dilemma - should I be p...ed off by Gareth for being so intolerant of the original poster's honest expression of his intolerant views, or admit to my admiration for Gareth's honest re-think and correction!!

I will quote from my current inspiration, the Desert Fathers, on judging others, for all of us, including myself:

A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, 'Come, for everyone is waiting for you'. So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, 'What is this, father?' The old man said to them, 'My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.' When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.

Some monks came to see abba Poemen and said to him, 'When we see brothers dozing during the services in church, should we rouse them so that they can be watchful?' He said to them,' For my part, when I see a brother dozing, I put his head on my knees and let him rest'.


Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the inner peace displayed by the following:
Two old men had lived together for many years and they had never fought with one another (Oh, if only)
The first said to the other, 'Let us also have a fight like other men.'
The other replied, 'I do not know how to fight.'
The first said to him, 'Look, I will put a brick between us and i will say it is mine; and you will reply: no, it is mine ; and so the fight will begin.'
So they put a brick between them and the first said, 'This brick is mine', and the other said, 'No, it is mine.'
And the first replied, 'If it is yours, take it and go.'
So they gave it up without being able to find a cause for an argument.


love
Bx
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
As a generalisation these threads always go off the rails when we start to criticise each other and 'wash our dirty linen in public' as the saying goes. If it is possible please can we keep this to a minimum and perhaps use the PM option where possible. I know that much like football it is the person who retaliates who comes in for the worst stick and threads such as this have to be read from the start to get the context.

William
 
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Anonymous

Guest
KiwiNomad06 said:
I have to add to the chorus here

Indeed you have all got a nice little chorus going. :roll: However, if the people who have sent me PM's and email giving their full support to my comments were to bravely go public on here instead of quietly giving moral support from the sidelines, you might find it not quite so black and white. Two of those supporting messages were from Spanish people who said they think pilgrims complain too much. One was from an American hospitalero who said he agreed with every word, and provided several examples of unfair complaints by pilgrims from his recent experience in an albergue. One was from a member of the English Confraternity who said I might be unpopular for saying it but it was spot-on and pilgrims are 'becoming a bunch of moaning minnies' these days with too many expectations of what services they 'should get'.

As you are probably aware from receiving PM's and emails yourself, if you contribute here frequently, there are always more people reading this Forum than those who post on it. As with many Internet discussion boards, some would feel it a big step to enter the discussion, and certainly they would be intimidated by what you yourself refer to as your 'chorus'. The substance of my post was to disagree with Phillipe's moaning about various aspects of the Camino. I believe it is perfectly OK to take a critical view of his complaints and I will not be intimidated into thinking otherwise.

I remind you that I modified the last comment in my post, on reflection, in a later post where I agreed my original tone was misjudged; therefore I am a little unclear on the need for a continuing 'chorus'. Is it that you wish me to withdraw the substance of my remarks? I will not be intimidated into doing that, as I simply believe that too many pilgrims are grumbling unfairly about their hosts in Spain and the services they find on the Camino. I also believe that many Spanish people put up with a lot from pilgrims and do not get a great deal in return. They would be too polite to say so!

If you cannot understand my view, fine: you are entitled to your own opinion. That's the great thing about adult discussion, we can agree to differ. But being part of a 'chorus' doesn't make you right.

Gareth
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
It seems to me that everyone has had a chance to air their views on this topic. So let's try to get back on topic and share some positive energy... :)

Greetings from a rainy, but 14c Santiago!
Ivar
 

philipc67

New Member
Hello all,

It seems that a minor Forum "polemic" has been recently unleashed regarding my post. Being its original author, I feel that I must reply and set things straight.

I want to thank all the contributing members for their insight.
Ivar, many thanks for unlocking the post and also for helping me add my Cruz de Ferro photo.

I did edit the text several times since its original posting, as I have been going through my notes and memories and moments come flooding back.

Yes, Gareth has made some harsh remarks. I suppose he meant well, I am a big boy and can take it. But ooooooh he has caused me such emotional damage that I am now looking at years of psychotherapy and alcoholism!

When I go over my text again, I can find three negative comments for a 5-week journey, that's not too bad, is it? The weather comment was not meant as a complaint.

This Camino was an overwhelmingly positive and enlightening experience, and that is what I wanted to share with other Forum members, especially the ones who have yet to do the walk.

I have some specific points:

The RENFE train delay of 20 min was not in itself a major issue, although for a premium express service ticket you expect punctuality. What irked me was the staff's total disinterest and ignorance and yes, on the day I took the train no one knew or cared. I should mention that MONOCLE magazine recently featured an interview with the RENFE director, and he was waxing lyrical about his trains running no more than 3 minutes late. After I returned home, I contacted RENFE and 2 emails have remained unanswered. Is this Customer Service? I am a serious person, not some hysterical whining busybody, so kindly spare me your lectures.

Yes, the Monte de Gozo monument is really ugly, will anyone argue? That's all I said. One hopes for some sort of inspiration on the final climb before Santiago, telling you it's almost over, and doesn't feel it. I did not stay in Gozo, could certainly walk the final 5km to the city center.

Yes, the Pilgrim Office in Santiago was an anticlimax. I arrived exhausted, drenched to the bone and bearing my precious Credencial, expecting some joyful validation for the physical and spiritual journey, and got a bored young girl who chucked the "Compostela" at me without even addressing a single word in my direction.

Yes, I WAS threatened by a man with a rifle in Calzadilla de la Cueza (you want to know how I reacted? I whipped my c--k out and waved it at him. But that's another story). Cesar, who runs the Camino Real hostel, was there that night.
I do not appreciate being called a liar by someone I do not know.

The rest of my post was full of happy, positive memories about friends, beautiful landscapes, memorable places, and advice on practical issues and recommended detours. I had a great time interracting with Spanish people, tried to remain open-minded and friendly, was grateful for the services I received, spoke Castellano and virtually nothing else for a month, happen to love Spain, and Barcelona happens to be my favorite city in the entire world. How can someone who never met me on the Camino opine that I "failed" to engage with Spaniards?

Finally, thank you Gareth for the "verdict" that I am not a pilgrim and that I should stay home and not do the Camino again. Correct me if I am wrong, but in order to obtain the "Compostela" you need to walk the last 100km. What you do before that is nobody else's business. I started in Roncesvalles and have been completely honest about the two "cheating" stages, ie the bus from Estella to Najera and the train from Sahagun to Leon.
Have I failed?
I am a busy cardiologist who works round the clock. If I were retired and could take a million months to do the journey then yes, I would have walked the whole way from SJPDP. In order to be able to take five consecutive weeks off and walk the Camino this year I took no summer vacation, no Easter break, and will take no Christmas holiday.
I trained hard for two months, telling nobody about my plans in case I collapsed or were injured during the trip and were obliged to turn back.
Have I failed?

I suggest that you be more gracious in your critiques.

So, kids, everybody lighten up, let us learn from each other so that we can be better people, have happy journeys, and a Merry Christmas!

Philip
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Hi Phillip, great to read your summary of your pilgrimage to Santiago. I walked in 2006 and it seems so very long ago now. When I first got back I seemed to remember every place and every detail, by now it has all merged into a fuzzy memory. Glad to have my diary and pics to piece it all together again. It is such a special experience to have had in ones life. Love, Gitti
 

fsg ken

New Member
Thnkx Philip for your superb summary of your Journey,
having just completed the C.Frances of Oct 14th and eventually to Muxia via Fisterre,
i appreciate you sharing your insights, and later reply.

Every walker on the Camino has different responses to so many varied inputs of the people and places we meet,. But my lesson, before, during and after is still, " be positively positive and not positively negative " about encounters we meet in life.

Meegwetch and Buen Camino to all Pilgrims and walker
 

FatmaG

Active Member
Hello Philip in Athens and every pilgrim somewhere out here...

When I read Ivar's note yesterday about "coming back to topic and sharing positive energy", I wanted to reply - but the post was locked... (thanks for un-locking, Ivar).

Philip,
when discovering your Camino, mine came so really clear, powerful and beautifully back to me.
It was amazing.
Thank you for that!
Common experiences.
And completely different experiences.
One same way, one same experience so different and in the meantime so similar
YOUR camino friends immediately brought me back MINE, their names, their faces.
Your shortest, and longest walks as to mine; hardest mountain climbing, hardest descent (you did not take the 'camino duro'?); I loved Hornillos (in May), but hated Ledigos...

Your happiest memory was to me a good example to illustrate the so many funny, in 'ordinary' life unbelievable coincidences which happen all the time on the Camino.
Being touched in the 2 pilgrim's masses in Roncesvalles and Santiago... (me to - and to tears, which I would never have thought possible to that extend - I went even twice in Santiago to the pilgrim's mass!)

Of course Monte do Gozo is ugly (when people stay there - as I did - it must be for other reasons than architectural exploit).
And the welcome in the Pilgrim's office is "nothing special", is a bureaucratic thing to do, and that's it... (I was even anxious before leaving that I might have problems getting my Compostella with my - in catholic settings unusual - first name, but : nothing, nada, njet!)
I was quite often upset as well on my Camino - mostly about the behaviour of other pilgrims, sometimes it wasn't even their 'fault' : if someone snores, he is for nothing, but if I cannot sleep for 10 days despite the ear plugs, I am getting crazy.
But all this or a late train or an unfriendly barkeeper or a stolen camera cannot really belittle this magic and magnificient experience - it is too big, to strong, isn't it???
At least to me - but I had just very few annoyances, even the wheather, the Spanish food and my feet were fine....

Greetings from cold and rainy Brussels,

Fatma


PS CRAZY story : a gun in such a hicksville than Calzadilla de la Cueza....

PPS about Spanish food, it was a joke, don't throw any stones at me please ;)

A last PS : life sometimes is so short, don't wast it with anger and attacks, please.
ALL THE BEST to all of you for 2010, might it be bright, gentle and sound!
 

philipc67

New Member
Gareth Thomas said:
The poster has withdrawn this post.

will retire from the Forum and shall not post again.

I hope everyone is happy now?

Oh dear, this is too much. Retire and not post again?

Surely you and I are responsible adults who can give and take some criticism like a man?
Such exchanges add spice to the Forum as long as we don't stray off course.

Dear Gareth, please stay on, and have a Merry Xmas.

Philip
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
nellpilgrim said:
Steady Gareth Steady
Nell

Hi G

No need to throw a wobbly and retire from the forum - a bit of robust debate is always welcome. Thats life innit? Pile in! You made your case and others responded- thats ok surely? Thats what you expected, no? Pity that those who PMd you wouldnt state their views openly; there are people like that, unfortunately.

You refer to St. Juan de Ortega- I remember my stay there as a highlight of my first camino. Initiated by Jose Maria, we had a wonderful sharing of pilgrims - a "casse croute des amis'; we had a 'talk' despite our many languages, where we learned of each other's highs and lows, and in the morning, we awoke to the heavenly sounds of Gregorian chant floating up to the dormitory, courtesy of Jose's music system. And what a setting, what place!

What I have said will seem to be simple and might get a 'so what' response. Yet, for some unknown reason, it was actually an epiphany, which comes upon us unexpectedly.

Different strokes for different folks...... :arrow:
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
Gareth, please reconsider your decision. I have always valued your comments and view you as one of my favorite editors/pilgrims. I did not follow this bit of conversation or the reasons for such harsh feelings, but I also understand that discussion that is limited to one form of communication - the written word in this case - is very limited. It is too easy to misread others and to be misread. It is far too easy to lose the spirit of the conversation.

In addition, it is too easy for personalities to conflict. There is no reason to forfeit your values or your standards. However, it is also too easy to just say, "I am sorry", when offense is perceived to be given or received. This is not worth drawing a line in the dirt about or to carry hurt feelings.

We all have our own perception of being pilgrim and they all differ from one another to some degree. That difference should never alienate any one from contributing. Let us each appreciate the diversity we find here, respect that diversity, and acknowledge that many, if not all, of us are seeking to unit in a single path to glorify our God. At this sacred time of year, come again and rejoice together in the pilgrimage that is the Camino.

May we each draw closer to the Spirit this Christmas season,

Michael B
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
MichaelB10398 said:
Gareth, please reconsider your decision. I have always valued your comments and view you as one of my favorite editors/pilgrims. I did not follow this bit of conversation or the reasons for such harsh feelings, but I also understand that discussion that is limited to one form of communication - the written word in this case - is very limited. It is too easy to misread others and to be misread. It is far too easy to lose the spirit of the conversation.

Michael, that is very kind. It would be nice if others who sent supportive and kind messages could have been courageous enough to make them public. Ivar? :D To be honest, I have only returned to the Forum again just now to try again to unsubscribe - and it is more complicated than I could have imagined! So Ivar: unsubscribe me when you read this: seriously, I can't see any mechanism to do it! :?

The people on this thread above who have said this is mere petulance etc. are being every bit as insulting as they were accusing me of being towards Phillip. (Phillip I bear you no ill will, by the way. The tone of my original post was misjudged - as I already admitted - but it has not stopped the brickbats.) The main reason I am convinced it is right to leave the Forum is I simply disagree with what I see here now: for example all the stuff about taking public transport that has now broken out feverishly above! :roll: I want nothing to do with that kind of attitude. Honestly. And it's not me imposing 'my idea' of how to do pilgrimage: it's in the rules for using the albergues. When you have walked all day and you see people getting out of a taxi to take the last beds, I'm sorry but you are right to say, "That's not pilgrimage". End of story.

None of the above matters very much. I don't care about being in a minority of one. The pack mentality, with a bunch of people baying like hounds to bring down the prey, that's worrying! While trying to unsubscribe I noticed what happened to that poor Frenchman who today made the mistake of writing in French about his six-month pilgrimage (see the Albergue) and was insulted on this Forum so that he went away again immediately... AND HE IS A WELL-KNOWN SCULPTOR WITH AN INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION. How does that look? I do not want to be associated with that kind of thing.

Once again, thank you Michael. And no thanks to one or two people who know me and the difficult time I have been through recently - one reason for going away on the Camino for a couple of weeks - and have contributed to this thread without once thinking to contact me and see how I am feeling. Rock bottom actually, but that's not your problem.

You all have a nice Christmas,
Gareth

PS Once again, Ivar: before it gets forgotten, unsubscribe me. I still can't see how to do it!
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
[quote="Gareth Thomas I simply disagree with what I see here now: for example all the stuff about taking public transport that has now broken out feverishly above! :roll: I want nothing to do with that kind of attitude. Honestly. And it's not me imposing 'my idea' of how to do pilgrimage: it's in the rules for using the albergues. When you have walked all day and you see people getting out of a taxi to take the last beds, I'm sorry but you are right to say, "That's not pilgrimage". End of story.[/quote]
Gareth, I will miss you.
And I totally agree with you on not taking public transportation, or whatever is offered.
I "Ruined" my second camino - 1000 kms on the Via de la Plata by taking 92 kms in rides.
So much so that I am returning this year to walk it ALL.

My first sin was accepting the offer of a free ride for 3 days from a group traveling with a car. A doctor told me to take 3 days off because of the condition of my blisters. I should have taken 3 days off, not a 3 day ride.

My second sin was being caught on a holiday with all the hotel beds in a city booked and my guide book said "no albergue" To solve this problem, I took a taxi 17 kms up the road to the next town with an albergue. It turned out that there was an new albergue in the city. I should have asked a policeman "Where is the albergue?". Asking anybody works in a village works, but a city...

My third and final sin was an offer secured for me by a compassionate spanish peregrino. He came upon me throwing up beside the road so he waved down a car and asked them to give me a ride to the next town. It was very kind, but I know now I could have endured the next 4 kms.

So in April I begin the Via de la Plata again, but will walk through Ourense instead of going to Astorga. And may start in Cadiz, after hearing of lovingkindness starting there.

Enough true confessions.

Gareth, take a rest, but don't quit. I really enjoy your wisdom and humor.

David, Victoria, Canada.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Gareth, I have always enjoyed your posts a great deal, and I'll miss your observations and ideas! I sincerely hope you return and participate in the discussions.
lynne
 

Telluridewalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (1988)
lynnejohn said:
Gareth, I have always enjoyed your posts a great deal, and I'll miss your observations and ideas! I sincerely hope you return and participate in the discussions.
lynne

I'll second that.
 
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