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Documenting our Caminos - Diaries, blogs, photos, etc.

2020 Camino Guides

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I have been amazed at the detailed descriptions that some people can provide years after they have walked the camino. I assume that in most cases, they take photos and make notes in some format or other. How do you document your journeys, other than the thousands of phone/cameras files? (This builds on another recent thread about photo books.)

I have blogged (on my phone) almost daily on all of my caminos, which has sometimes been a chore. My blogs are not detailed accounts of the walking route, conditions, sights seen, pilgrims met, etc. The daily blogs reflect a bit of the physical walk and conditions, an entertaining observation or two, and a few representative photos. I try to make the text neutral so it could never worry anyone at home or offend someone who I've met, but still try to write so that the people who know me can recognize my "voice". But that means that there are a lot of interesting/fun/annoying incidents and people that I don't write about because they aren't suitable for public posting.

Now I am wondering if I should stop trying so hard to write for public viewing, and instead just write a diary with more detail about my routes. But then I ask myself "Why?" And then I ask myself "Why" about a lot of other things!

Have you used voice recording to capture notes while walking? Are you organized enough to synchronize those voice notes with photos?

My main documentation is the 20-30 page photo book I create soon after each camino. That has photos with virtually no text - a daily page or two with the destination, distance and date. I make letter-size soft cover books that are not so expensive and not too weighty either physically or in self-importance. They sit in a magazine box near my desk and generally I am the only person who looks at them. They are my main reference when I want to remember a particular stage, but I find that they are barely adequate to remind me of details such as others seem to remember.

It pleases me so much to look at this tidy collection of my photo books (not only my caminos).
20200325_190422[1].jpg
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@C clearly you have a great knack for bringing up topics that are wonderful distractions in these times. I will share my thoughts and hope others chime in.

As someone who has been walking for 20 years, I have seen a huge evolution in what I did. For the first ten years, I had one little notebook. I wrote in my reflections, comments, practical details, etc etc all in one little book. That was almost always done at the end of the day, relaxing alone or with friends (who were also writing), in a bar/café. That‘s what I’m using on your virtual Sanabrés by the way. Then as my participation in the forum grew, I started adding forum comments paralleling those I was writing. And then I also started using my phone to write a blog, using the dictation method. That made for a lot of duplication, incompleteness and a helter-skelter kind of feeling.

My hand written journaling came to a halt in 2017, when I walked the Baztán/Norte. I lost the little notebook one morning when i had gotten up at 5, thinking it was 6, hanging around an albergue till others got up, etc. When I realized I had lost it, I really thought, well no big deal because it had been diminishing in importance anyway. Better to have one less place to write. 2017 was also a year of change because my blogspot app crashed, and @NualaOC introduced me to FindPenguins on the Baztán.

So the last few years have been a combination of Find Penguins and forum posts. But neither of those sources has the richness, the personal reflections, the anecdotes, the practical info (I used to just tape in cards of places, notices about opening hours of monuments, etc) that those little journals had. I have seen that so clearly from going back and looking at them now as you talk about walking into Montamarta, etc etc. I have now pulled most of these journals off their various shelves and boxes and will take the time during social isolation to look at them one at a time over the months ahead.

So you know what? I am thinking that on my next camino, I am going to go back to the hand written journaling, cut off the forum while I’m walking, and just use the Penguin site for family to have a few pictures and a very very short daily snippet. Over the years, I had started thinking that I just didn’t have time to do the handwritten version, but really what it is is that I didn’t have the time because I felt committed to multiple outlets.

Does this sound crazy to you, as a very committed phone user?
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
I have tapped out a phone blog of sorts for the forum on my last two caminos. I'm used to writing on my phone so that part of it OK for me, and it seemed especially worthwhile for the Camino de Madrid because it's a less travelled route and I was able to give some practical information to those following behind me.

I think documenting while you're going (in any form) is one of those things that seems like a chore and you'd often rather forget about it and live in the moment while you're on camino, but something that later on you're happy that you took the time to do because otherwise you would just forget everything.

Incidentally, I ordered something from amazon.es today and couldn't help myself adding this notebook to my order because I like it so much even though I don't handwrite anything these days. It's a nautical theme (suitable for making notes for the Belém tour that I'm supposed to be writing this week) but I think it would still be great for a camino notebook!

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 15.32.32.png
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have tapped out a phone blog of sorts for the forum on my last two caminos. I'm used to writing on my phone so that part of it OK for me, and it seemed especially worthwhile for the Camino de Madrid because it's a less travelled route and I was able to give some practical information to those following behind me.

I think documenting while you're going (in any form) is one of those things that seems like a chore and you'd often rather forget about it and live in the moment while you're on camino, but something that later on you're happy that you took the time to do because otherwise you would just forget everything.

Incidentally, I ordered something from amazon.es today and couldn't help myself adding this notebook to my order because I like it so much even though I don't handwrite anything these days. It's a nautical theme (suitable for making notes for the Belém tour that I'm supposed to be writing this week) but I think it would still be great for a camino notebook!

View attachment 71999
Thanks, Nick. Your comments made me think about my own experience. And I realized that it never felt like a chore to sit quietly for a half an hour or so icing my feet and maybe drinking a glass of wine and writing out some thoughts from the day. It was soothing and enjoyable.What did feel like a chore was tapping on my phone, getting my blog going, it all seemed much less personal and more like a broadcast than a reflection.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
On my first Camino, I tried and failed to write a journal, and then migrated to using my camera as my diary and published photos and accompanying haiku on my LiveJournal (it still exists!!!). In recent years, I FB-posted photos as I went along, primarily to annoy my housebound friends with pictures of cats, altars and Spanish food. However, I still had a paper journal where I included cards, notes on prices, places where I stayed, and so forth. I am wondering if I should perhaps return to that more intently next time, as I become more aware of the ephemeral nature of electronic records (perhaps there has been an evening or two with archivists and historians emptying bottles over cauldrons of garbanzos y chorizo).
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Does this sound crazy to you, as a very committed phone user?
Not at all. I am a fierce defender of my phone, but that doesn't mean I think it is the preferred method for doing everything!

I expect that if I really knew how to use my phone to its max, I would be able to record my walking track, tag my photos in various ways, and also have short voice recordings linked to locations. However, thus far, I haven't wanted to make the necessary effort to figure all that out. I have the sense, so far, that it would be too much work for something that I am managing OK by other means.

I agree that it is hard to post on several platforms while on the camino. I am thinking of continuing my blog but allowing each day's post to be very short, and not using the forum much while walking. (Anyone interested can go to the blog.)

I still carry a small paper notebook, and I will encourage myself to use it more. One thing I've learned to do, is to write down the names of people I meet, right away. I use the same notebook for names, cash records, reminders, observations, etc.

Some things that I used to collect and stick into the notebook (I carried a glue stick) are now replaced by photos - photo of the price tag, a business card, etc. That can be an excellent record for reference, provided that the photos are accessible. (At conferences now, I sometimes take photos of people with their name tags visible, and sometimes even holding their business cards.)

And I realized that it never felt like a chore to sit quietly for a half an hour or so icing my feet and maybe drinking a glass of wine and writing out some thoughts from the day. It was soothing and enjoyable.What did feel like a chore was tapping on my phone, getting my blog going, it all seemed much less personal and more like a broadcast than a reflection.
This goes to my pet-peeve topic. In the old days, writing in a paper journal was considered to be a virtuous activity. It still is. Now I feel guilty or defensive when I am using my phone, because of the disapproval of some people and the sense that it is somehow not as acceptable.

I think some combination of phone (photos and blog) and paper notebook would work best. I'll just try to be more deliberate about it next time.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
On my first camino I wrote in a small journal every day. It really wasn't documentation of my camino so much as my thoughts, impressions and feelings. We did not have any electronics with us and every five or six days my husband or I I got online at an internet cafe or albergue and wrote a blog post. This was 2013 and Internet terminals that you could feed euro coins were around although all running very old software and very, sloooow! On our Primitivo and on the Haervejen, I carried a small iPad and wrote regular blog posts. I also have uploaded our pictures to Google Pictures and linked them to each day's blog post.

I really didn't have any particular plan when I wrote my blog. Mainly I just recorded my thoughts and feelings, erratic info about where we stayed and what we ate. I kind of wished I had been a bit more methodical!

I have recently re-read my first camino journal as I was planning to revisit the France this August. We will likely have to postpone the August trip, but the read through my journal was wonderful. This afternoon, I spent a couple hours lost in camino memories reading my blog. I'm not sure it's of interest to anyone but me! For me the memories of people, places and experiences just flooded back and transported me!

Ultreia, Liz
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
This goes to my pet-peeve topic. In the old days, writing in a paper journal was considered to be a virtuous activity. It still is. Now I feel guilty or defensive when I am using my phone, because of the disapproval of some people and the sense that it is somehow not as acceptable.
Well, I certainly don’t mean to make you feel defensive, and I don’t think the handwriting is more virtuous than any other way. I’m just finding out as I think about this now, now that I have left the journal behind, that it really was the most satisfying way for me and enabled me to write about things I don’t write about when I’m in blog post or forum post mode. And those are the things that I enjoy looking back at the most. It’s may be the same sense I have when I go to write a note of sympathy to a friend or relative. I just can’t send an email, it has to be handwritten. Maybe it says more about my attraction to old ways of doing things and my inability to adapt.
 

PeteD

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
Bicigrino CF SJPdP - SdC Mar 2016
Kumano Kodo Sept 2018
VdlP (was Mar 2020 now ??)
I kept a journal on my first camino which was just a collection of thoughts, observations and random details. Far from a literary masterpiece or even consistent from one day to the next. However, the real benefit for me has come in the time since. I wrote more about my thoughts from the experience in the same journal, 3 months and then 6 months after I returned home and those entries are much more reflective then the original journalling. I too will occasionally reread entries and it takes me back to the spirit of the camino much better than the photos do. Still yet to make a photo book of the camino which would be a great idea!

For my (now cancelled) March 2020 VdlP, I was going to use a Japanese style blank concertina notebook to journal, sketch and glue bits and pieces in for a more visual fun way - but that will now have to wait until 2021.

Time to put together that photo book for some social-isolation fun! :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
There are serious advantages to writing in a paper journal; first, it provides one with more time to organize one's thoughts and, second, it is far easier to chat with people and start conversations when one is using a notebook. Typing on telephones, in my experience and at my great age, is more difficult and requires more concentration, and I find people less likely to converse with a telephone user.

While @peregrina2000 is likely correct in that it is a confession of one's inability to adapt, it is an inclination which I have found to be very useful, and perhaps more appropriate to the life of the walker.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Great thread!... I have walked five various Caminos since 2015 and technology does not come easy to me, hence I do not readily embrace new methods of journaling. Being a rather private person I have always communicated through a group email list I create of only family members, 'interested' local friends, and several forum friends.

While on Camino and finally quitely tucked into bed each night, whether it be an albergue or hotel, I type out several paragraphs on my phone as I relive a few hopefully interesting facts about my day. It can include weather conditions, trail difficulty, a few of the interesting people I meet, food, and/or places of interest I pass by or visit. I also include a little humor cuz that's just me! I take hundreds upon hundreds of photos, but only include three photos each day that are representative of what I am writing about.

When I return home I condense all of those emails into one longish document and print it out, staple the pages together, and put it in a cheap folder. It then becomes my journal, which I read once a year, delighting in the little memories it evokes for me.

I disconnect from the forum while I am walking, but once I return home I write up a little recap of my experience and post it as a thread on the forum. I know my method is archaic, but it still works for me.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I know my method is archaic, but it still works for me.
Not at all archaic! You use various tools to suit your circumstances! The only difference from my approach is that you use a group email on a daily basis, whereas I use a blog post. You method is better than mine in one way - because my blog post is public, I need to restrain myself in some of my comments 🤣
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
It’s may be the same sense I have when I go to write a note of sympathy to a friend or relative. I just can’t send an email, it has to be handwritten.
I'm with you on this, Laurie. I love sending real note cards and have a wonderful selection in my desk to choose from. Our individual handwriting styles are as varied and unique as we are, which further personalizes the words we write.
 

Levi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015
VDLP 2016
Portuguese March 2017
Sanabres September 2017
Madrid September 2018
Since I retired from work five years ago I have kept a daily (written) diary. This comes with me on camino and each day is written up as I would usually do. Of course, what I write is just a 'snapshot' or a taste of each day, but even this can bring back a whole host of other memories. These little diaries have become very precious to me.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
My primary communication while walking a Camino is to let my wife know I have reached my daily destination.

I do not keep a journal but have in recent years posted daily brief notes of that days walk on the forum for those who might be walking behind me. This started while walking the Norte when some following asked me to provide a short daily summary and Albergue review. I have also posted when I encountered dangerous situations. Spring walks in the mountains can provide an occasional challenge. Sometimes even pictures of the hazards.

I take a few pictures when I find something interesting our unique, imo.

The walks for me a really introspective journeys, except for my first Camino.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I have been amazed at the detailed descriptions that some people can provide years after they have walked the camino. I assume that in most cases, they take photos and make notes in some format or other. How do you document your journeys, other than the thousands of phone/cameras files? (This builds on another recent thread about photo books.)

I have blogged (on my phone) almost daily on all of my caminos, which has sometimes been a chore. My blogs are not detailed accounts of the walking route, conditions, sights seen, pilgrims met, etc. The daily blogs reflect a bit of the physical walk and conditions, an entertaining observation or two, and a few representative photos. I try to make the text neutral so it could never worry anyone at home or offend someone who I've met, but still try to write so that the people who know me can recognize my "voice". But that means that there are a lot of interesting/fun/annoying incidents and people that I don't write about because they aren't suitable for public posting.

Now I am wondering if I should stop trying so hard to write for public viewing, and instead just write a diary with more detail about my routes. But then I ask myself "Why?" And then I ask myself "Why" about a lot of other things!

Have you used voice recording to capture notes while walking? Are you organized enough to synchronize those voice notes with photos?

My main documentation is the 20-30 page photo book I create soon after each camino. That has photos with virtually no text - a daily page or two with the destination, distance and date. I make letter-size soft cover books that are not so expensive and not too weighty either physically or in self-importance. They sit in a magazine box near my desk and generally I am the only person who looks at them. They are my main reference when I want to remember a particular stage, but I find that they are barely adequate to remind me of details such as others seem to remember.

It pleases me so much to look at this tidy collection of my photo books (not only my caminos).
View attachment 71925
Good topic - and nice books. There is still something intrinsic in a physical book which I don't think electronic media can ever entirely replace.
I use softback moleskine A5 notebooks and before each Camino set out the plan for each day on the left hand pages. I make notes on the corresponding right hand page each evening and collect ephemera - sellos, tickets, receipts etc which I stick into the book in roughly the correct place. I take very few - almost no - photographs. I rely on postcards of similar as better images of places I pass through.
My rack of completed journals is similar to your photo books - but on a smaller scale
 

Levi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015
VDLP 2016
Portuguese March 2017
Sanabres September 2017
Madrid September 2018
Thinking about this a bit more (and slightly off topic) my Mum had a sister in Australia and she went there several times to visit. She kept quite detailed diaries of these visits. After my Mum died I had the diaries and took them with me on a long trip to Australia. I was able to visit some the places she had been while reading her stories of her visits - in her precious handwriting. It was a blessing. Still is.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
I use Brierley's Maps Only books when available to mark places that I've stopped and wanted to remember, with a few words of description.

Photos - - Prior to entering a town, village, etc, I snap a photo of a sign with the name of the place. When I leave, I do the same. Everything in between are pics taken at that location.

I take few photos. . . only that of really special things that appeal to me. I cannot take pics AND absorb the details of what's around me at the same time. I want to sear into my memory every detail I can cram into my mind so that I CAN later remember the pilgrimage (or backpacking trip or children's concert, etc).

I have to remind myself to actually focus my vision and to look at the finest details, then gradually widen out my view to slowly take in the expanding view. This helps me still see in my mind the detailed decorative stone work on Neuschwanstein, the crevices between the massive stones of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, and the funny coloration to the eyes of the demented goat that chased me down a meadow in Grindelwald.

I can remember the damp odor of our clothes as we entered the place we stayed the night in Pontedueme, as we pulled off our wet outer clothing to lay on a radiator. The gleam and color of the woodwork in the Cathedral in Burgos. The stains to the stone face of the wine fountain at Irache. The smell of the dust tramping up the off-road pitch after Virgen de Orisson. The grandeur and color of the sky, and the shape of the clouds, at Col de Loepeder.

I decided as a young dad, when caught up in getting all the video captured of a child's Christmas concert, and realizing afterwards that I did not really SEE the concert, that I was done substituting trying to record what was important to me, and really LOOK at what was important to me.

It is not a simple Either/Or. . . not by a long shot. Other folks seem to be able to do both memory captures AND video/photo captures. Me. . I have to limit one in order to fully accommodate the other.

The last couple of years, my GoPro seems to function capturing video and allow me to capture unhindered memories. I can set it on my backpack shoulder harness, set the view, turn it on, and ignore it.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Photos - - Prior to entering a town, village, etc, I snap a photo of a sign with the name of the place. When I leave, I do the same. Everything in between are pics taken at that location.
I always swear that I will do this, as well as take a photo outside and inside of the place I sleep, but my record is very poor. I'm not sure if that is because I am fully engaged in my walking, too busy watching for a bar, or if I am simply forgetful!

As you say,
It is not a simple Either/Or
I am still trying to find the right combination for me. Although it runs contrary to the goal of a good photographer who focuses carefully on the image in the viewfinder, I can see a place for casually snapping photos with scarcely any attention, for later reference and filtering. That way, I am looking at things directly and the camera is just vaguely aimed. However, it is somewhat annoying to see other people taking photos of everything, so I try to do it surreptitiously. ;) This casual clicking is somewhat like the GoPro filming.
 

Introibo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances ( March 2015 )
Camino Portugues ( September 2015 )
I'm just getting round to writing up my Camino and posting it onto a blog site. After posting the
first days entry I had negative comments on the use of the present tense. So I posted the second
day in the past tense..... and had an equal number of negative comments :rolleyes:
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
@C clearly you have a great knack for bringing up topics that are wonderful distractions in these times. I will share my thoughts and hope others chime in.

As someone who has been walking for 20 years, I have seen a huge evolution in what I did. For the first ten years, I had one little notebook. I wrote in my reflections, comments, practical details, etc etc all in one little book. That was almost always done at the end of the day, relaxing alone or with friends (who were also writing), in a bar/café. That‘s what I’m using on your virtual Sanabrés by the way. Then as my participation in the forum grew, I started adding forum comments paralleling those I was writing. And then I also started using my phone to write a blog, using the dictation method. That made for a lot of duplication, incompleteness and a helter-skelter kind of feeling.

My hand written journaling came to a halt in 2017, when I walked the Baztán/Norte. I lost the little notebook one morning when i had gotten up at 5, thinking it was 6, hanging around an albergue till others got up, etc. When I realized I had lost it, I really thought, well no big deal because it had been diminishing in importance anyway. Better to have one less place to write. 2017 was also a year of change because my blogspot app crashed, and @NualaOC introduced me to FindPenguins on the Baztán.

So the last few years have been a combination of Find Penguins and forum posts. But neither of those sources has the richness, the personal reflections, the anecdotes, the practical info (I used to just tape in cards of places, notices about opening hours of monuments, etc) that those little journals had. I have seen that so clearly from going back and looking at them now as you talk about walking into Montamarta, etc etc. I have now pulled most of these journals off their various shelves and boxes and will take the time during social isolation to look at them one at a time over the months ahead.

So you know what? I am thinking that on my next camino, I am going to go back to the hand written journaling, cut off the forum while I’m walking, and just use the Penguin site for family to have a few pictures and a very very short daily snippet. Over the years, I had started thinking that I just didn’t have time to do the handwritten version, but really what it is is that I didn’t have the time because I felt committed to multiple outlets.

Does this sound crazy to you, as a very committed phone user?
As a committed phone user, I can say it doesn't sound crazy to me. It sounds like pausing to reflect what you want out of the time you spend chronicling your caminos and which activity will best give that to you, and then going with that.
 

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