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Just returned! 25 April - 29 May - SJPDP to Santiago

SarahTheKiwi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Planning 2024 Camino Frances
Well sorry for the long absence! I dropped offline and into Camino life and can't wait to go back (but unfortunately it won't be soon)! I won't say the Camino was an easy experience for me, or necessarily what I expected, despite my research. I've decided to call it an exercise in resilience. There were many, many things I was pleasantly surprised with, and there were occasional things I hadn't expected or planned for.

I think as New Zealanders we travel the longest distance (19,100km, 26.5 hours in the air) to the Camino (Spain being the antipode of NZ). I was rather tired on arrival in Bayonne, and greeted by a gite manager who only spoke French. But what was I expecting? Culture shock gave me a good shake. It was 17 years since I had travelled beyond NZ/Australia, and even then I was on a tour. This was solo travel where I depended on myself to organise everything. Things got real! My arrival in Bayonne coincided with my cellphone data playing up, so gone was the online interpreter that may have helped with said gite manager. I did eventually figure out the phone data. In fact I learned to use Whatsapp, Google Translate, Booking.com, Gronze and Buen Camino - apps I had never used before. My managed to get my eSIM going (proud moment, the instructions were in Spanish), then at El Acebo I managed to renew my data (another proud moment!)

I really liked the atmosphere in St Jean PDP. There is excitement in the air and multiple languages flying around. The shops and services there are very patient with newbie peregrinos who do not speak French.

I walked to Borda for the first night, then straight to Espinal. This is a plan I would repeat. Roncesvalles was completely full by 12.30pm when I walked past, but I had no intention of staying there. I was already booked through to Pamplona. When I got to Pamplona, and tried to book my next night I got a bit of a shock - it took me a couple of hours! So apparently the Camino was busy! I had wanted to wing it, but decided it wasn't possible for me to enjoy and relax on the Camino if accommodation was going to cause me stress. In fact booking accommodation versus "winging it" became a major talking topic over the next few days. There were seasoned peregrinos saying it was the busiest they had seen it. I met a few people who had to bus/taxi back and forth to where they could find accommodation. I heard of one or two who went home because of the situation. I started booking further ahead than I had intended. It was a trade-off with being able to do things on the spur of the moment. Mostly I stayed off stage. Sometimes it got me one or two hours where I was completely alone in the morning. I would start walking around 6.15am with a handful of cashews/banana, then stop for second breakfast around 8.30am. I'd arrive at my accommodation around 1.00pm. Many places let me check in this early - a real bonus for getting washing dry and being able to relax.

After about Day 10 any muscle aches subsided and my comfortable distance for walking was 22-27km. I averaged 23-24km a day. My longest day was 39km, my shortest days were 2 x 9km. My feet were great - I got a very small blister around Day 14 and it disappeared a few days later. My biggest physical problem was heat rash and hiker's rash - these occurred on the warmer days on my lower legs. I'd never had these before.

I think the biggest benefit of the Camino were the people! I was a fairly independent walker, but I'd walk with someone new on most days - even if just for an hour or two. All nationalities, men, women, all ages and walks of life. Some people I saw on a just about daily basis, others would disappear - only to pop up 10 or 15 days later - how mysterious!

The atmosphere changed after Sarria. Gone were the communal meals (I really loved these!) There were lots of new people sporting even newer trail shoes. I didn't encounter great crowds though, even in this stage. I stuck with staying off stage, and walking early.

I actually walked into Santiago twice. The first day I was staying at Lavacolla, 10km from Santiago, and there were some very decent human beings about to leave next morning. So I ditched my pack at Lavacolla, bridged the gap and was able to farewell my friends. I returned to Lavacolla that evening by taxi and repeated the "official" plan the next day, with my pack.

Loved the atmosphere in Santiago! There were pleasant surprises everywhere - like encountering Camino friends by surprise, attending a free orchestra concert inside the Cathedral, a live talent show being filmed in the square, the tour of the Cathedral roof, and hanging around near the piper to have a good listen. I lost over 8kg but still ate well. My pack was 5.6kg at the beginning. I ditched a selfie-stick. I used every single thing in my pack except a spork. Interestingly the items I kept losing were 2 x shampoo bars and 2 x headphones. Surprised I didn't lose any socks!

There's so much more I could mention. I just can't believe I've walked 800km across Spain! It's so good to remain in touch with Camino friends, and keep the experience alive.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
I loved reading this Sarah! I will be walking the same Camino on almost exactly the same dates next year and was very interested to hear about your experiences. Being a newbie myself I am very curious about the accommodation situation - I'm trying to soak up all of the information from current and past travellers - but also trying hard not to overthink it. Thanks for your post!
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
I think the biggest benefit of the Camino were the people! I was a fairly independent walker, but I'd walk with someone new on most days - even if just for an hour or two. All nationalities, men, women, all ages and walks of life. Some people I saw on a just about daily basis, others would disappear - only to pop up 10 or 15 days later - how mysterious!
First, great post! I think you hit the nail on the head with this paragraph on why many of us keep returning to the Camino. It’s this “mysterious” human connection that IMHO makes the Camino what it is and creates the “magic” of this experience. Without the people, it would just be another long walk!
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
Sarah,
I enjoyed reading about your experience. Congratulations on completing your journey. Congratulations, also, on being resilient and not allowing others' expectations to shape your experience.
I am looking forward to my first Camino at the end of August. I begin on the Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist--a formidable date for someone named John! (gulp!)
Again, thanks for sharing.
 
Well sorry for the long absence! I dropped offline and into Camino life and can't wait to go back (but unfortunately it won't be soon)! I won't say the Camino was an easy experience for me, or necessarily what I expected, despite my research. I've decided to call it an exercise in resilience. There were many, many things I was pleasantly surprised with, and there were occasional things I hadn't expected or planned for.

I think as New Zealanders we travel the longest distance (19,100km, 26.5 hours in the air) to the Camino (Spain being the antipode of NZ). I was rather tired on arrival in Bayonne, and greeted by a gite manager who only spoke French. But what was I expecting? Culture shock gave me a good shake. It was 17 years since I had travelled beyond NZ/Australia, and even then I was on a tour. This was solo travel where I depended on myself to organise everything. Things got real! My arrival in Bayonne coincided with my cellphone data playing up, so gone was the online interpreter that may have helped with said gite manager. I did eventually figure out the phone data. In fact I learned to use Whatsapp, Google Translate, Booking.com, Gronze and Buen Camino - apps I had never used before. My managed to get my eSIM going (proud moment, the instructions were in Spanish), then at El Acebo I managed to renew my data (another proud moment!)

I really liked the atmosphere in St Jean PDP. There is excitement in the air and multiple languages flying around. The shops and services there are very patient with newbie peregrinos who do not speak French.

I walked to Borda for the first night, then straight to Espinal. This is a plan I would repeat. Roncesvalles was completely full by 12.30pm when I walked past, but I had no intention of staying there. I was already booked through to Pamplona. When I got to Pamplona, and tried to book my next night I got a bit of a shock - it took me a couple of hours! So apparently the Camino was busy! I had wanted to wing it, but decided it wasn't possible for me to enjoy and relax on the Camino if accommodation was going to cause me stress. In fact booking accommodation versus "winging it" became a major talking topic over the next few days. There were seasoned peregrinos saying it was the busiest they had seen it. I met a few people who had to bus/taxi back and forth to where they could find accommodation. I heard of one or two who went home because of the situation. I started booking further ahead than I had intended. It was a trade-off with being able to do things on the spur of the moment. Mostly I stayed off stage. Sometimes it got me one or two hours where I was completely alone in the morning. I would start walking around 6.15am with a handful of cashews/banana, then stop for second breakfast around 8.30am. I'd arrive at my accommodation around 1.00pm. Many places let me check in this early - a real bonus for getting washing dry and being able to relax.

After about Day 10 any muscle aches subsided and my comfortable distance for walking was 22-27km. I averaged 23-24km a day. My longest day was 39km, my shortest days were 2 x 9km. My feet were great - I got a very small blister around Day 14 and it disappeared a few days later. My biggest physical problem was heat rash and hiker's rash - these occurred on the warmer days on my lower legs. I'd never had these before.

I think the biggest benefit of the Camino were the people! I was a fairly independent walker, but I'd walk with someone new on most days - even if just for an hour or two. All nationalities, men, women, all ages and walks of life. Some people I saw on a just about daily basis, others would disappear - only to pop up 10 or 15 days later - how mysterious!

The atmosphere changed after Sarria. Gone were the communal meals (I really loved these!) There were lots of new people sporting even newer trail shoes. I didn't encounter great crowds though, even in this stage. I stuck with staying off stage, and walking early.

I actually walked into Santiago twice. The first day I was staying at Lavacolla, 10km from Santiago, and there were some very decent human beings about to leave next morning. So I ditched my pack at Lavacolla, bridged the gap and was able to farewell my friends. I returned to Lavacolla that evening by taxi and repeated the "official" plan the next day, with my pack.

Loved the atmosphere in Santiago! There were pleasant surprises everywhere - like encountering Camino friends by surprise, attending a free orchestra concert inside the Cathedral, a live talent show being filmed in the square, the tour of the Cathedral roof, and hanging around near the piper to have a good listen. I lost over 8kg but still ate well. My pack was 5.6kg at the beginning. I ditched a selfie-stick. I used every single thing in my pack except a spork. Interestingly the items I kept losing were 2 x shampoo bars and 2 x headphones. Surprised I didn't lose any socks!

There's so much more I could mention. I just can't believe I've walked 800km across Spain! It's so good to remain in touch with Camino friends, and keep the experience alive.
 
Good for you KiwiSarah!
Sounds like a big stretch coming from that far
and no linguistic skills or all that app stuff!
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
You definitely kept up a steady clip!
Looking forward to my slower Camino in Sept!
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Well sorry for the long absence! I dropped offline and into Camino life and can't wait to go back (but unfortunately it won't be soon)! I won't say the Camino was an easy experience for me, or necessarily what I expected, despite my research. I've decided to call it an exercise in resilience. There were many, many things I was pleasantly surprised with, and there were occasional things I hadn't expected or planned for.

I think as New Zealanders we travel the longest distance (19,100km, 26.5 hours in the air) to the Camino (Spain being the antipode of NZ). I was rather tired on arrival in Bayonne, and greeted by a gite manager who only spoke French. But what was I expecting? Culture shock gave me a good shake. It was 17 years since I had travelled beyond NZ/Australia, and even then I was on a tour. This was solo travel where I depended on myself to organise everything. Things got real! My arrival in Bayonne coincided with my cellphone data playing up, so gone was the online interpreter that may have helped with said gite manager. I did eventually figure out the phone data. In fact I learned to use Whatsapp, Google Translate, Booking.com, Gronze and Buen Camino - apps I had never used before. My managed to get my eSIM going (proud moment, the instructions were in Spanish), then at El Acebo I managed to renew my data (another proud moment!)

I really liked the atmosphere in St Jean PDP. There is excitement in the air and multiple languages flying around. The shops and services there are very patient with newbie peregrinos who do not speak French.

I walked to Borda for the first night, then straight to Espinal. This is a plan I would repeat. Roncesvalles was completely full by 12.30pm when I walked past, but I had no intention of staying there. I was already booked through to Pamplona. When I got to Pamplona, and tried to book my next night I got a bit of a shock - it took me a couple of hours! So apparently the Camino was busy! I had wanted to wing it, but decided it wasn't possible for me to enjoy and relax on the Camino if accommodation was going to cause me stress. In fact booking accommodation versus "winging it" became a major talking topic over the next few days. There were seasoned peregrinos saying it was the busiest they had seen it. I met a few people who had to bus/taxi back and forth to where they could find accommodation. I heard of one or two who went home because of the situation. I started booking further ahead than I had intended. It was a trade-off with being able to do things on the spur of the moment. Mostly I stayed off stage. Sometimes it got me one or two hours where I was completely alone in the morning. I would start walking around 6.15am with a handful of cashews/banana, then stop for second breakfast around 8.30am. I'd arrive at my accommodation around 1.00pm. Many places let me check in this early - a real bonus for getting washing dry and being able to relax.

After about Day 10 any muscle aches subsided and my comfortable distance for walking was 22-27km. I averaged 23-24km a day. My longest day was 39km, my shortest days were 2 x 9km. My feet were great - I got a very small blister around Day 14 and it disappeared a few days later. My biggest physical problem was heat rash and hiker's rash - these occurred on the warmer days on my lower legs. I'd never had these before.

I think the biggest benefit of the Camino were the people! I was a fairly independent walker, but I'd walk with someone new on most days - even if just for an hour or two. All nationalities, men, women, all ages and walks of life. Some people I saw on a just about daily basis, others would disappear - only to pop up 10 or 15 days later - how mysterious!

The atmosphere changed after Sarria. Gone were the communal meals (I really loved these!) There were lots of new people sporting even newer trail shoes. I didn't encounter great crowds though, even in this stage. I stuck with staying off stage, and walking early.

I actually walked into Santiago twice. The first day I was staying at Lavacolla, 10km from Santiago, and there were some very decent human beings about to leave next morning. So I ditched my pack at Lavacolla, bridged the gap and was able to farewell my friends. I returned to Lavacolla that evening by taxi and repeated the "official" plan the next day, with my pack.

Loved the atmosphere in Santiago! There were pleasant surprises everywhere - like encountering Camino friends by surprise, attending a free orchestra concert inside the Cathedral, a live talent show being filmed in the square, the tour of the Cathedral roof, and hanging around near the piper to have a good listen. I lost over 8kg but still ate well. My pack was 5.6kg at the beginning. I ditched a selfie-stick. I used every single thing in my pack except a spork. Interestingly the items I kept losing were 2 x shampoo bars and 2 x headphones. Surprised I didn't lose any socks!

There's so much more I could mention. I just can't believe I've walked 800km across Spain! It's so good to remain in touch with Camino friends, and keep the experience alive.
I wondered how you were getting on. I just arrived back in NZ this morning.
 
Well sorry for the long absence! I dropped offline and into Camino life and can't wait to go back (but unfortunately it won't be soon)! I won't say the Camino was an easy experience for me, or necessarily what I expected, despite my research. I've decided to call it an exercise in resilience. There were many, many things I was pleasantly surprised with, and there were occasional things I hadn't expected or planned for.

I think as New Zealanders we travel the longest distance (19,100km, 26.5 hours in the air) to the Camino (Spain being the antipode of NZ). I was rather tired on arrival in Bayonne, and greeted by a gite manager who only spoke French. But what was I expecting? Culture shock gave me a good shake. It was 17 years since I had travelled beyond NZ/Australia, and even then I was on a tour. This was solo travel where I depended on myself to organise everything. Things got real! My arrival in Bayonne coincided with my cellphone data playing up, so gone was the online interpreter that may have helped with said gite manager. I did eventually figure out the phone data. In fact I learned to use Whatsapp, Google Translate, Booking.com, Gronze and Buen Camino - apps I had never used before. My managed to get my eSIM going (proud moment, the instructions were in Spanish), then at El Acebo I managed to renew my data (another proud moment!)

I really liked the atmosphere in St Jean PDP. There is excitement in the air and multiple languages flying around. The shops and services there are very patient with newbie peregrinos who do not speak French.

I walked to Borda for the first night, then straight to Espinal. This is a plan I would repeat. Roncesvalles was completely full by 12.30pm when I walked past, but I had no intention of staying there. I was already booked through to Pamplona. When I got to Pamplona, and tried to book my next night I got a bit of a shock - it took me a couple of hours! So apparently the Camino was busy! I had wanted to wing it, but decided it wasn't possible for me to enjoy and relax on the Camino if accommodation was going to cause me stress. In fact booking accommodation versus "winging it" became a major talking topic over the next few days. There were seasoned peregrinos saying it was the busiest they had seen it. I met a few people who had to bus/taxi back and forth to where they could find accommodation. I heard of one or two who went home because of the situation. I started booking further ahead than I had intended. It was a trade-off with being able to do things on the spur of the moment. Mostly I stayed off stage. Sometimes it got me one or two hours where I was completely alone in the morning. I would start walking around 6.15am with a handful of cashews/banana, then stop for second breakfast around 8.30am. I'd arrive at my accommodation around 1.00pm. Many places let me check in this early - a real bonus for getting washing dry and being able to relax.

After about Day 10 any muscle aches subsided and my comfortable distance for walking was 22-27km. I averaged 23-24km a day. My longest day was 39km, my shortest days were 2 x 9km. My feet were great - I got a very small blister around Day 14 and it disappeared a few days later. My biggest physical problem was heat rash and hiker's rash - these occurred on the warmer days on my lower legs. I'd never had these before.

I think the biggest benefit of the Camino were the people! I was a fairly independent walker, but I'd walk with someone new on most days - even if just for an hour or two. All nationalities, men, women, all ages and walks of life. Some people I saw on a just about daily basis, others would disappear - only to pop up 10 or 15 days later - how mysterious!

The atmosphere changed after Sarria. Gone were the communal meals (I really loved these!) There were lots of new people sporting even newer trail shoes. I didn't encounter great crowds though, even in this stage. I stuck with staying off stage, and walking early.

I actually walked into Santiago twice. The first day I was staying at Lavacolla, 10km from Santiago, and there were some very decent human beings about to leave next morning. So I ditched my pack at Lavacolla, bridged the gap and was able to farewell my friends. I returned to Lavacolla that evening by taxi and repeated the "official" plan the next day, with my pack.

Loved the atmosphere in Santiago! There were pleasant surprises everywhere - like encountering Camino friends by surprise, attending a free orchestra concert inside the Cathedral, a live talent show being filmed in the square, the tour of the Cathedral roof, and hanging around near the piper to have a good listen. I lost over 8kg but still ate well. My pack was 5.6kg at the beginning. I ditched a selfie-stick. I used every single thing in my pack except a spork. Interestingly the items I kept losing were 2 x shampoo bars and 2 x headphones. Surprised I didn't lose anythingsocks!

There's so much more I could mention. I just can't believe I've walked 800km across Spain! It's so good to remain in touch with Camino friends, and keep the experience alive.
A good and interesting account of your Camino. I'm glad that you enjoyed it especially those early morning walks on your own.
Many thanks from me who lives across the ditch!!
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
I loved reading this Sarah! I will be walking the same Camino on almost exactly the same dates next year and was very interested to hear about your experiences. Being a newbie myself I am very curious about the accommodation situation - I'm trying to soak up all of the information from current and past travellers - but also trying hard not to overthink it. Thanks for your post!
Any questions, I'm happy to help with, based on my limited experience.
 
Thanks everyone! I really want to go back! It took me a couple of weeks to settle into the Camino routine and once I was quite comfortable with it the time just seemed to fly!

I'm thinking of taking my children to the Camino around the end of their high schooling, perhaps to do Santiago-Finisterre-Muxia-Santiago. But on this particular Camino I promised not to leave my children behind again. They are 15 and 11. I needed this Camino, I really did, but missing my children was very hard.

I wanted to say that the Meseta turned out to be one of my favourite places. Early May it was lush green wheat as far as the eye could see, with the very bluest sky. Like walking through a Microsoft screen saver! IMHO people who miss it miss an opportunity.
 
Thanks everyone! I really want to go back! It took me a couple of weeks to settle into the Camino routine and once I was quite comfortable with it the time just seemed to fly!

I'm thinking of taking my children to the Camino around the end of their high schooling, perhaps to do Santiago-Finisterre-Muxia-Santiago. But on this particular Camino I promised not to leave my children behind again. They are 15 and 11. I needed this Camino, I really did, but missing my children was very hard.

I wanted to say that the Meseta turned out to be one of my favourite places. Early May it was lush green wheat as far as the eye could see, with the very bluest sky. Like walking through a Microsoft screen saver! IMHO people who miss it miss an opportunity.
Any questions, I'm happy to help with, based on my limited experience.
Sarah thank you for that lovely description of your Camino and yes we always want to go back. I have gone back many times but still struggle with the weight of my pack so can I ask how you traveled so light? Each time I walk I know it would be even better if I carried less but I always end up taking the same, I would be grateful for your advice. With thanks Donna☘️
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Well sorry for the long absence! I dropped offline and into C inside the Cathedral, a live talent show being filmed in the square, the tour of the Cathedral roof, and hanging around near the piper to have a good listen. I lost over 8kg
I walked about at the same time (Apr. 23 - June 1 then walked to Finisterre). I don't think our paths crossed though I heard mention of you from other Kiwis.

There definitely was a booking frenzy early on when everything that could be booked seemed to be booked at least a day ahead. I had planned to not do any booking but I normally booked 2 days ahead. Though I found that when I arrived without a bed a couple times, I had no trouble finding one. From talking to others, it was usually possible to find a bed in your desired destination especially if you were open to non-reservable options like municipals. They said they could also find beds in reservable places likely because a high percentage of people cancelled their reservation or didn't show up. So I don't think people should scared off about a shortage of beds. I found though I like knowing I had a bed and that I had more of a say in the quality of the place--while knowing I'd be ok if I didn't.

I too really enjoyed the Meseta in May. I literally saw the wheat growing taller as I went along.
 
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Th
Well sorry for the long absence! I dropped offline and into Camino life and can't wait to go back (but unfortunately it won't be soon)! I won't say the Camino was an easy experience for me, or necessarily what I expected, despite my research. I've decided to call it an exercise in resilience. There were many, many things I was pleasantly surprised with, and there were occasional things I hadn't expected or planned for.

I think as New Zealanders we travel the longest distance (19,100km, 26.5 hours in the air) to the Camino (Spain being the antipode of NZ). I was rather tired on arrival in Bayonne, and greeted by a gite manager who only spoke French. But what was I expecting? Culture shock gave me a good shake. It was 17 years since I had travelled beyond NZ/Australia, and even then I was on a tour. This was solo travel where I depended on myself to organise everything. Things got real! My arrival in Bayonne coincided with my cellphone data playing up, so gone was the online interpreter that may have helped with said gite manager. I did eventually figure out the phone data. In fact I learned to use Whatsapp, Google Translate, Booking.com, Gronze and Buen Camino - apps I had never used before. My managed to get my eSIM going (proud moment, the instructions were in Spanish), then at El Acebo I managed to renew my data (another proud moment!)

I really liked the atmosphere in St Jean PDP. There is excitement in the air and multiple languages flying around. The shops and services there are very patient with newbie peregrinos who do not speak French.

I walked to Borda for the first night, then straight to Espinal. This is a plan I would repeat. Roncesvalles was completely full by 12.30pm when I walked past, but I had no intention of staying there. I was already booked through to Pamplona. When I got to Pamplona, and tried to book my next night I got a bit of a shock - it took me a couple of hours! So apparently the Camino was busy! I had wanted to wing it, but decided it wasn't possible for me to enjoy and relax on the Camino if accommodation was going to cause me stress. In fact booking accommodation versus "winging it" became a major talking topic over the next few days. There were seasoned peregrinos saying it was the busiest they had seen it. I met a few people who had to bus/taxi back and forth to where they could find accommodation. I heard of one or two who went home because of the situation. I started booking further ahead than I had intended. It was a trade-off with being able to do things on the spur of the moment. Mostly I stayed off stage. Sometimes it got me one or two hours where I was completely alone in the morning. I would start walking around 6.15am with a handful of cashews/banana, then stop for second breakfast around 8.30am. I'd arrive at my accommodation around 1.00pm. Many places let me check in this early - a real bonus for getting washing dry and being able to relax.

After about Day 10 any muscle aches subsided and my comfortable distance for walking was 22-27km. I averaged 23-24km a day. My longest day was 39km, my shortest days were 2 x 9km. My feet were great - I got a very small blister around Day 14 and it disappeared a few days later. My biggest physical problem was heat rash and hiker's rash - these occurred on the warmer days on my lower legs. I'd never had these before.

I think the biggest benefit of the Camino were the people! I was a fairly independent walker, but I'd walk with someone new on most days - even if just for an hour or two. All nationalities, men, women, all ages and walks of life. Some people I saw on a just about daily basis, others would disappear - only to pop up 10 or 15 days later - how mysterious!

The atmosphere changed after Sarria. Gone were the communal meals (I really loved these!) There were lots of new people sporting even newer trail shoes. I didn't encounter great crowds though, even in this stage. I stuck with staying off stage, and walking early.

I actually walked into Santiago twice. The first day I was staying at Lavacolla, 10km from Santiago, and there were some very decent human beings about to leave next morning. So I ditched my pack at Lavacolla, bridged the gap and was able to farewell my friends. I returned to Lavacolla that evening by taxi and repeated the "official" plan the next day, with my pack.

Loved the atmosphere in Santiago! There were pleasant surprises everywhere - like encountering Camino friends by surprise, attending a free orchestra concert inside the Cathedral, a live talent show being filmed in the square, the tour of the Cathedral roof, and hanging around near the piper to have a good listen. I lost over 8kg but still ate well. My pack was 5.6kg at the beginning. I ditched a selfie-stick. I used every single thing in my pack except a spork. Interestingly the items I kept losing were 2 x shampoo bars and 2 x headphones. Surprised I didn't lose any socks!

There's so much more I could mention. I just can't believe I've walked 800km across Spain! It's so good to remain in touch with Camino friends, and keep the experience alive.
Thank you for sharing this. ❤️
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
Well sorry for the long absence! I dropped offline and into Camino life and can't wait to go back (but unfortunately it won't be soon)! I won't say the Camino was an easy experience for me, or necessarily what I expected, despite my research. I've decided to call it an exercise in resilience. There were many, many things I was pleasantly surprised with, and there were occasional things I hadn't expected or planned for.

I think as New Zealanders we travel the longest distance (19,100km, 26.5 hours in the air) to the Camino (Spain being the antipode of NZ). I was rather tired on arrival in Bayonne, and greeted by a gite manager who only spoke French. But what was I expecting? Culture shock gave me a good shake. It was 17 years since I had travelled beyond NZ/Australia, and even then I was on a tour. This was solo travel where I depended on myself to organise everything. Things got real! My arrival in Bayonne coincided with my cellphone data playing up, so gone was the online interpreter that may have helped with said gite manager. I did eventually figure out the phone data. In fact I learned to use Whatsapp, Google Translate, Booking.com, Gronze and Buen Camino - apps I had never used before. My managed to get my eSIM going (proud moment, the instructions were in Spanish), then at El Acebo I managed to renew my data (another proud moment!)

I really liked the atmosphere in St Jean PDP. There is excitement in the air and multiple languages flying around. The shops and services there are very patient with newbie peregrinos who do not speak French.

I walked to Borda for the first night, then straight to Espinal. This is a plan I would repeat. Roncesvalles was completely full by 12.30pm when I walked past, but I had no intention of staying there. I was already booked through to Pamplona. When I got to Pamplona, and tried to book my next night I got a bit of a shock - it took me a couple of hours! So apparently the Camino was busy! I had wanted to wing it, but decided it wasn't possible for me to enjoy and relax on the Camino if accommodation was going to cause me stress. In fact booking accommodation versus "winging it" became a major talking topic over the next few days. There were seasoned peregrinos saying it was the busiest they had seen it. I met a few people who had to bus/taxi back and forth to where they could find accommodation. I heard of one or two who went home because of the situation. I started booking further ahead than I had intended. It was a trade-off with being able to do things on the spur of the moment. Mostly I stayed off stage. Sometimes it got me one or two hours where I was completely alone in the morning. I would start walking around 6.15am with a handful of cashews/banana, then stop for second breakfast around 8.30am. I'd arrive at my accommodation around 1.00pm. Many places let me check in this early - a real bonus for getting washing dry and being able to relax.

After about Day 10 any muscle aches subsided and my comfortable distance for walking was 22-27km. I averaged 23-24km a day. My longest day was 39km, my shortest days were 2 x 9km. My feet were great - I got a very small blister around Day 14 and it disappeared a few days later. My biggest physical problem was heat rash and hiker's rash - these occurred on the warmer days on my lower legs. I'd never had these before.

I think the biggest benefit of the Camino were the people! I was a fairly independent walker, but I'd walk with someone new on most days - even if just for an hour or two. All nationalities, men, women, all ages and walks of life. Some people I saw on a just about daily basis, others would disappear - only to pop up 10 or 15 days later - how mysterious!

The atmosphere changed after Sarria. Gone were the communal meals (I really loved these!) There were lots of new people sporting even newer trail shoes. I didn't encounter great crowds though, even in this stage. I stuck with staying off stage, and walking early.

I actually walked into Santiago twice. The first day I was staying at Lavacolla, 10km from Santiago, and there were some very decent human beings about to leave next morning. So I ditched my pack at Lavacolla, bridged the gap and was able to farewell my friends. I returned to Lavacolla that evening by taxi and repeated the "official" plan the next day, with my pack.

Loved the atmosphere in Santiago! There were pleasant surprises everywhere - like encountering Camino friends by surprise, attending a free orchestra concert inside the Cathedral, a live talent show being filmed in the square, the tour of the Cathedral roof, and hanging around near the piper to have a good listen. I lost over 8kg but still ate well. My pack was 5.6kg at the beginning. I ditched a selfie-stick. I used every single thing in my pack except a spork. Interestingly the items I kept losing were 2 x shampoo bars and 2 x headphones. Surprised I didn't lose any socks!

There's so much more I could mention. I just can't believe I've walked 800km across Spain! It's so good to remain in touch with Camino friends, and keep the experience alive.
Hi Sarah, I loved your description and can’t wait to get back myself in the Autumn, what I’d like more is to carry a pack of 5.6kg as mine is always considerably heavier, please can you help this repeatedly overloaded perigrina ☘️🙏
 
Hi Sarah, I loved your description and can’t wait to get back myself in the Autumn, what I’d like more is to carry a pack of 5.6kg as mine is always considerably heavier, please can you help this repeatedly overloaded perigrina ☘️🙏
Hi Donna

If you look back at my posts before I left (around March maybe) I made one or two posts looking for constructive feedback on my packing list. I took the advice and managed to whittle the weight down. I'm happy I included my rain pants, even though I only needed them twice. I would have been miserable on those two days as it was cold as well. I ditched my selfie stick and didn't use the spork. I used speed sleeves a lot as they kept the sun and wind off, and meant I had a little extra insulation when wearing a short sleeved merino top. Please note, when I went the Camino was a little cooler than average for that part of the year.
 

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