- Camino(s) past & future
- Camino de Frances - Sarria to Santiago (2013), Burgos to Leon (2014), St Jean Pied de Port to Logrono (2015), Logrono to Burgos (2016), Leon to Sarria (May 2017).
(This is advice from Old Nick for prospective pilgrims. Not to be taken seriously of course - in fact, do the exact opposite.)
- There is no need to train for the Camino. No need for regular long walks, preferably with some climbing involved, for a few months beforehand. Once you start on the Camino you will find yourself propelled along as if by the breath of angels and you will make progress effortlessly. So, sit back, have another beer, order in a pizza and watch the ball game on TV. You’ll be fine.
- Bring a large backpack - it shouldn't be smaller than 70 liters. You never know when you might need something so it's best to bring at least two of everything.
- Buy your walking shoes a week or so before you travel. No sense in walking in them any earlier as you don't want to wear out the soles. Also, buy them in the exact size of your everyday footwear.
- Don't bother learning any Spanish vocabulary as a courtesy to local people. You can make yourself understood to any uncomprehending Spaniard by raising your voice and speaking slowly.
- When staying in albergues you can leave your valuables - money, passport, phone, etc - on your bed in full view even if you're not in the room. Everyone in an albergue is a paragon of honesty and wouldn't dream of stealing your stuff.
- Being an early riser is an admirable trait. Be an example to other people in the albergue by rising around 4 a.m. Encourage them to get up and about by making as much noise as possible while you get your pack ready for the day ahead. If you have a half decent singing voice try a verse or two of a song - The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, I find, always goes down a treat early in the morning. This will make you very popular with your fellow walkers.
- Wear earphones if walking solo so that you can listen to your favorite music. The alternative is to have to listen to birdsong, the sound of rivers and streams, the wind sighing across fields of wheat, and so on. Who'd want that when you can enjoy Van Halen's Greatest Hits instead?
- Yes, it's a race. Get to your destination each day as fast as you can. Keep your head down and leg it. There are plenty of YouTube videos you can watch when you get home to show you where you were.
- By the same token, don't allow yourself to be slowed down by other people along the way who may want to have a conversation: just mumble a barely intelligible "Buen Camino" and keep going.