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LIVE from the Camino Via Podiensis/Frances

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#1
Having joined this forum two years ago & been bitten by the Camino bug more than a decade ago, I'm finally on the road :)

Whilst I'd love to start from my home in France, just outside Geneva, I don't feel I should absent myself from my family for nearly four months, especially as I've lived & worked thousands of kms away from them for ten years before I retired last August.

So, a compromise (& also to give me a few days to 'warm' up), I'm taking a 'walking jump' at the Pyrenees & starting in Argagnon along the Via Podiensis.

Presently sitting in Geneva railway station waiting for the first of several trains & buses to get me to Argagnon. Staying at Gite du Cambarrat on Saturday night & starting my walk on Sunday, 2 October.

Wish me luck
Suzanne :)

http://smj6blog.wordpress.com/
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Inglés 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#2
Buen Camino! SY
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#4
Buen camino! :)
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#6
Four trains, one funicular, one bus & two days later I've arrived at Gité du Cambarrat in Argagnon along the Via Podiensis. Run by Nicolas & Isabelle, this very rural rustic gité is perfect for my Camino debut & I'm lucky enough to have my own little ensuite for the night. An excellent dinner in the company of 9 French men & women with mine host, Nicolas, playing some great music on his banjo.
Although I walked about 20 minutes from the bus stop to the gité this afternoon, tomorrow will be my first day of walking with no other type of transport. Noting the foot problems being discussed in another thread, I'm going to take it slowly tomorrow & not put too many kms in.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#7
I’m presently averaging around 16km a day (Achilles Tendinopathy means I’ve strapped my ankle & I’m using the RICE method each night plus stretching & yoga). So far so good.
Admittedly, the first day’s walk was longer than anticipated as I went wrong twice, but I think I’ve now understood the waymarks on the GR 65!
During the first two days I kept seeing signs forbidding hare hunting. That plus the fact that EVERYONE is overtaking me, led me to adopt the name Camino Escargot (okay, I know that it’s the tortoise Vs the hare, but as I’m in France, a snail seemed more appropriate!).
My first two nights I slept in a room on my own. However last night in Navarrenx I shared a room with a couple who snored & didn’t smell so good. My younger son thinks that this kind of trip (including the sleeping arrangements) is a bit like a Gap Year for older people, especially when I told him that two nights ago I could hear the couple next door getting very amorous (I found out later that they had just met on the Camino!). Meanwhile my Afghan friend, who is equating this pilgrimage to a Christian haj (& is calling me Haji Sahib), thinks that it’s scandalous that I’m sleeping in the same room as other men.
My decision to start some distance from St Jean Pied de Port to ‘acclimatise’ before starting to cross the Pyrenees appears to be a good one. For the last three days I’ve been gradually sorting out/ adjusting my rucksack to my body as well as getting used to the whole mechanism for long distance walking. In other words, very much what everyone goes through during the first ‘phase’ of the Camino. On the second day (between Sauvelade & Navarrenx) I was going up & down hills like a yoyo (& could feel it in my legs & thighs the next day!). So that should help when it comes to tackling the Pyrenees.
On the other hand, it’s taking me a little longer than I’d originally calculated & I probably will not arrive at SJPDP until Friday.
But the weather is good & the scenery is great. The Pyrenees can now been seen in the distance – they’re big ….Gulp!
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#9
Yesterday met up with @shefollowsshells in SJPDP with her five children (the youngest still smiling).
They'd already 'popped over' to Ronscevalles & returned & they left that afternoon to start the Camino Norte.
She's having internet connections problems & can't post anything (only 'like' posts). So I said I'd write something for her.
Apart from their shoes disintegrating (unusual because it's a brand she knows & likes), and hubby having to send new ones in the post, the family are in fine fettle & aim to reach SDC by 17 November.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#10
Well, I managed the first part. I walked the last part of the Via Podiensis from Argagnon to SJPDP. Six days of walking around 90km.
In keeping with a Spanish saying: «Para llegar a Santiago de Compostela como un joven, empieza el Camino como un viejo» – If you wish to arrive in Santiago de Compostela like a young person, begin the Camino like an old (wo)man, I took the first few days carefully. My daily average was 16km until Wednesday & Thursday when I had to walk 20 km each day. However, on Friday it was a mere ‘stroll’ in SJPDP of 10 km.

Stayed at Gité Beilari (opposite the Pilgrim Office in the old part of town), I’ve strolled through the streets a bit. Then spent the afternoon buying a few things & having a massage. Bliss! It’s a funny feeling actually being in a town that I’ve seen so often in other people’s photos…..and now it’s my turn!
I’ve booked a bed at Orisson refuge for today.

The last week walking through Bearn & Pays Basque has been great. I know I was right starting my pilgrimage in a country I already know before heading into Spain. However, I’m also aware that walking in Spain will be VERY different.

The Via Podiensis is a much more isolated walk. I rarely saw anyone else (sometimes not even in the evening if I was in a family home B&B setup), but I was perfectly content. Looking back on my first day of walking, it amuses me how green I was ;-)).

I’ve also toughened up. I was quite excited the first time I actually overtook people (instead of being overtaken). Ok, in one instance it was a 90 year old man hobbling down his little village leaning heavily on his walking stick – but I still overtook him! The other instance was a hiking couple (about my age) & the wife was clearly struggling.

One amusing incident occurred when two Frenchmen (my age) rapidly passed me by calling out words of encouragement to me whilst leaving me to eat their dust….40 minutes later, I arrived at a crossroads & needed to turn left. Who was coming towards me from the opposite direction??? Yes, the two men who looked sheepishly at me as they too turned off onto the correct road which they’d clearly missed earlier on.

I’m not yet a young (wo)man, but I’m certainly not the old person I was one week ago!

Ultreia.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#11
Wow. That was brutal. SJPDP to Orisson. I stopped about 2/3rds up to have sandwich, rest, take off my shoes, change my socks & enjoy the view.
Then I continued & finally came to a 'level' bit. But then I saw that the road turned a corner & then started climbing. At that moment, I almost lost the will to live. Where was this bl***y Refuge!!!!! Seconds later the building came into sight (hidden by a deep bend).
Oh boy, was I relieved.
Now sitting on the terrace, a sangria & tortilla at hand, sun out, view in front of me, & a young pilgrim playing his guitar & singing .... Bliss :)
 

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smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#12
The mountains did their hardest to bring me to my knees (& it was touch & go at times), but I made it together with a bunch of friends I made on Saturday night staying in a mountain refuge at Orisson. 

We had a bit of a party Sunday evening when we finally hobbled our way into Ronscevalles on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees to celebrate (a few sore heads on Monday morning!).
Went to sung Mass at Ronscevalles church on Sunday evening – very moving and the pilgrims present received a blessing for their pilgrimage.
Now on my way to Pamplona but taking it easy to let my body recover from two very tough mountain days (the 0-1 count above isn’t a joke either; the Pyrenees claimed two victims on Sunday: a German man about late 40s & a young 20 year old Australian. The German guy had to give up on Monday, whilst the young man has sent his rucksack on to Pamplona & is hobbling along the Camino in pain).
Meanwhile, liaising with my younger son who is trying to meet up with me at the end of the week, probably in Estella.
[photo: Dawn over Pyrenees]
 

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smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#13
Being on my own means I can change plans with no fuss. Yesterday morning I spent 1.5 hours seeing a bit of Pamplona (also the previous evening). Pavement walking hurts my heel :(, so as the clouds & rain began descending as I began ascending the Alto de Perdon hill, I decided that I was not going to slog on to Uterga as I'd originally planned.
Instead, at around 13:30 I stopped at Zariquiegui & checked into the San Andes albergue. Had an excellent three course meal with wine, & chilled out for the rest of the day/ evening.
Staying at the albergue with me is a young German girl who's struggling with her first day; a young Japanese guy on a mono-cycle (with injured knee); a young Spanish journalist; & a young German police man.
Hoping to have good weather & views this morning when I go over the mountain, then will take a detour to Eunate before descending into Puente la Reina.
I've nearly been walking two weeks. Where's the time flown by!!
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#14
Setting off the next morning to climb the last 200-300m to the top, I was pleased with my decision. The day was clear enough to see back to Pamplona.

Reaching the top of the Mount of Forgiveness, with its now iconic metal figures of pilgrims, I paused ... not only to have my photo taken but also to reflect on forgiveness for a decision I made when I was just 17/18 years old which took me down a path which - in hindsight - I regret. I regret because it caused pain & sorrow to someone very precious to me who I'd never wanted to hurt. This Camino has become a time for me to reflect on quite a few issues.

Then as I neared Puente La Reina, I saw signposts for Santa Maria del Eunate chapel.
Thanks to this forum, I knew it was worth the detour at that the church closed at 13:00 & I didn't have much time. I walked those two kms in double quick time & was able to spend about quarter of an hour in this lovely church (with black skies looming). What I hadn't realised was that I actually joined the Camino Aragones to rejoin the Frances!

But the speed took its toll on me and I stopped at the next village in Obanos, spending the night there in a huge dormitory with just one other pilgrim (a Belgian girl who'd been walking from Le Puy). The albergue closed down the next day for winter. The Camino Frances is slowly winding down to its winter season.
 

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smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#15
Late autumn pilgrims appear to be more laid back about getting up in the mornings (even though the daylight walking hours are less). It's now 7:10 & like other mornings in other albergue, everyone is still in bed (some playing with their phones like me:D) & it's nice :)
 

nalod

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2011, Finnesterre 2011,Le Puy to SJPDP 2011& 2012,Via de la Plata,Sambrasa 2012, Mozarabe 2013, Portugees 2013.PartNorde 2011, VDPL 2014,St-Guilhem 2014.Espalion-Roncesvalles 2014.Levante2015
#16
This is an excellent thread. Your posts are very interesting. Have a great journey. Will keep following you.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#17
A couple of days ago my path crossed with Debborah & Bello from the States (members of APOC & this forum). I thought she said her 'tag' here was sbpelegrina (sb for San Berdino) but I can't seem to find it. Anyway, she's had problems with her phone. She switched to a Spanish SIM & got locked out of her phone. She's trying to sort it. Meanwhile she's incommunicado. :(
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2016
#18
A couple of days ago my path crossed with Debborah & Bello from the States (members of APOC & this forum). I thought she said her 'tag' here was sbpelegrina (sb for San Berdino) but I can't seem to find it. Anyway, she's had problems with her phone. She switched to a Spanish SIM & got locked out of her phone. She's trying to sort it. Meanwhile she's incommunicado. :(
Hi There. Just started reading your thread form the beginning to latest post. Very good feel to your posts. I am walking the Camino Frances in stages. I walked from Pamplona to Burgos in early June and was planning to walk from Burgos to Leon in September but family commitments intervened.

So now I plan to walk starting in Burgos on November 8th and do 8 days to Leon. How is the weather and are you meeting many pilgrims along the way.

Good luck with your Camino.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#19
Hi There. Just started reading your thread form the beginning to latest post. Very good feel to your posts. I am walking the Camino Frances in stages. I walked from Pamplona to Burgos in early June and was planning to walk from Burgos to Leon in September but family commitments intervened.

So now I plan to walk starting in Burgos on November 8th and do 8 days to Leon. How is the weather and are you meeting many pilgrims along the way.

Good luck with your Camino.
I'm glad you're enjoying my occasional write ups. It's very quiet on the Camino. I walk each day on my own & rarely see anyone (which actually suits me fine). At night I might see 1 or 2 pilgrims. Obviously between two large cities it might be different ?
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
#22
Wow. That was brutal. SJPDP to Orisson. I stopped about 2/3rds up to have sandwich, rest, take off my shoes, change my socks & enjoy the view.
Then I continued & finally came to a 'level' bit. But then I saw that the road turned a corner & then started climbing. At that moment, I almost lost the will to live. Where was this bl***y Refuge!!!!! Seconds later the building came into sight (hidden by a deep bend).
Oh boy, was I relieved.
Now sitting on the terrace, a sangria & tortilla at hand, sun out, view in front of me, & a young pilgrim playing his guitar & singing .... Bliss :)
I totally relate to this! Same feeling for us as we topped the hill and felt a sense emptiness. So delighted to find Orrison hidden in the bend this spring!
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#24
Why am I doing this Camino? As I entered my third week of walking, I began to question this activity. I was beginning to not enjoy it (hence stopping my blog for a while)

From Villamajor del Montjardin, the gravel road wound up & down gently undulating hills. The weather was splendid & I happily walked on, & on, & on… The next village was 12.5 km away & I walked on… The Beatles song ‘A Long & Winding Road’ started playing in my head but I couldn’t remember the words or even the tune. I started getting fed up. Passing through Los Arcos, I continued nearly 7km more then stopped at Sansol where I gratefully soaked my hurting feet in an ice cold foot bath in the garden whilst having a cold beer. I then ate the worst meal I’ve had to date on the Camino

In this stretch of the Camino Frances, the villages are some distance from each other. This means walking around 10 or 20 km each day, nothing in between.

The next day, I started walking knowing I had 11km to Viana. My left ankle/ heel (which was always going to be my weak point) started to really hurt. But worst was the touch of food poisoning I had from last night’s meal. Enough to make me want to vomit, but not enough that I could empty my stomach. I limped along at 0km an hour feeling very very sorry for myself. My situation was not helped by a bouncy young Swedish Born-Again Christian introducing himself & trying not only to bring me to Jesus but also explaining various conspiracy theories of his. I managed to politely get rid of him & I continued to trudge towards Viana feeling very unhappy.

Since starting my walk, I’ve been on my own. Except for a couple of days walking from Orisson into Spain, I’ve never had a Camino ‘family’. My walking speed plus my need to only walk about 18kms a day, has meant that I’ve walked alone only meeting people briefly in the evenings – & each evening new people. I’m happy with my own company but was beginning to feel very down.

That night in Viana, I wrote to my virtual Camino family here in the Forum explaining my Achilles Tendinopathy problem & my pain. As I knew they would, they started coming back with good suggestions & well as words of encouragement.

The next day I limped into Logroño (9.2km – again the next village was another 12.5km & it was too much). I stayed at the first albergue (thinking mistakenly that it was the municipal one which could help with podiatrist info). Not only did they not have any info, but I also discovered (much much later) that only about 12 of their 68 beds were taken by pilgrims. When I returned much later I discovered the place packed full of young African males who clearly couldn’t afford anything else. That night I ‘booby trapped’ my little cubicle with my walking poles in case my rucksack went walkabout (my passport, cards & money are kept on my body when I sleep). The part of town I was in was not very salubrious, I didn’t feel at all comfortable. I ate alone & went to bed.

The next day (not having found a podiatrist), I strapped my heel & left. Navarette, the first village, was 12.5km. I soldiered on, still wondering why I was still walking. That night, I decided to get drunk. I bought food & wine from the supermarket & invited the other two pilgrims in the albergue (a young Quebec guy & an older French guy) to join me. We had a great evening & I slept well for the first time in several days.

The following day, I started walking & I realized I was slowly coming out of my funk. My heel will continue to give me problems, but I can handle it (at least for the moment).

So, why am I walking? Why don’t I just jump on a bus & get to Santiago? I’m not sure, but I do know that I want to continue walking.

Buen Camino & Ultreia
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
#25
@smj6 in times like those you have been experiencing, I have found very useful a phrase said by @Rebekah Scott; "When in doubt, a pilgrim walks". My regrets have always come from the times when I did not head that advice. Of course, there are many times that I have no doubts, in which case it is right to stop walking - like those times I choose to sit a day or two in the plaza, watching the world go by.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#27
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Tosantos: A recently reported incident of a naked masturbating man chasing a female pilgrim between Belorado & Tosantos made me more nervous, the nearer I got to the area. Two sensible suggestions from this forum: buy a whistle; walk with another pilgrim. I've not seen any whistles in the little shops along the way; & I rarely see any pilgrims during the day.
I've taken the opportunity- whenever a church is open - to enter for a moment of silence & to recite the Lord's Prayer. This time, when I arrived in Belorado, I entered its beautiful little church and I added an extra prayer: "Lord, watch over me during the next 5km stretch".
I then walked into the main square looking for a bar to have something to eat & drink. What do I find next to the bar? A small shop that seems to sell EVERYTHING. Sure enough, after several minutes searching through her eclectic stock, the storekeeper found a whistle for me....in the shape of a cross!
However, to do my bit in the procedures, I spent 40" having my lunch to se if any pilgrims turned up with whom I could walk the next 5 kms. No-one. As a last resort (trying to be a sensible pilgrim), I also alerted the forum that I was 'going in'! I girded my loins & set off, my cross-shaped whistle hanging around my neck and ..... I arrived safe and sound in Tosantos n
Given the nervous energy that I'd expended, and the fact that it started to rain, I decided to spend the night at Tosantos. I had two choices: a private albergue and the parish albergue. I headed for the private accommodation, looking forward to a glass of cold beer, only to discover that is closes on Monday. Yes, today was Monday!
So my only other choice as the parish albergue where one sleeps on a mat on the floor . Clearly the Lord was telling me that I 'owed' him something for having kept me safe in the road. I don't mind sleeping on mats, but it's murder on the knees getting up & down!
BTW, coincidence or not? The albergue was run by a Spaniard called Santiago, & a young 14 year old German boy, walking with his mother following his confirmation, was called Jakob.
So....who know? Is it that Lord that's keeping watch over me, or is it a coincidence? I know what I think, but I leave it to you.
Needless to say, my new cross/ whistle will remain around my neck for the rest of my Camino
 
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smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#28
First of all a big shout out to @annakappa & @minaleigh for their text explanation & pdf respectively on getting to Burgos by the riverside/ park route. Not only is it a lovely walk through this huge natural park and alongside the river, it also brings you out literally at the Cathedral itself. Brilliant & many thanks.

Today was rather tough. Thank goodness the clocks went back & sunrise was one hour earlier. This meant I could leave at 7:30 (but not in the dark, which I don't appreciate) & walk for part of the way in relative coolness. Temperatures have soared to 23°C & there's no shade on the Meseta.
The first two hours went fine & I stopped after 8km for an expresso & stale croissant (not so good!). But my second stop (after 6kms) didn't materialize- places are beginning to close now as the winter season begins. So not only no cold beer, but not even water. I ran out of water during the last 4km. I ended up walking 20km today basically like a clockwork pilgrim. Wind me up & set me in the right direction then continue walking (at an average rate of 4km/hour).
Thank goodness the Albergue Santa Brigida was open (& what an oasis of pleasure it is) because the village is another 10km. So I'll have to start planning a bit more.
After a cold beer (first order of the day to replace lost liquid/ minerals!), I've showered, washed my hair, washed my clothes, & now sitting down to a bowl of lentils & red wine.
NOW I can relax
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#29
smj6,

Those lentils and red wine sound yummy!

Whenever you do plan to leave Burgos consider stopping for a coffee, a meal or a bed at La Fabrica in Tardajos.

A few years ago soon after leaving Burgos it began to drizzle then really pour. Totally soaked and cold at Tardajos I stopped at La Fabrica an old flour mill recently re-purposed to be an albergue/hostal. It was a GREAT find and is open all year.

Each heated albergue dorm room holds 4 pilgrims with fresh linens on the bunks and a sleek toilet/shower adjacent. My chatty dorm-mate was a Japaneze tour guide from Osaka; we were the only pilgrims. The price per bunk was 12 euros including breakfast. Regular tourist accommodation was also available. The busy ground floor bar/dining room was popular with locals as well as visiting hunters and the food was copious, tasty and good value. All in all this was a very pleasant stop before starting up the Meseta.

Here is their web.
http://www.alberguelafabrica.com/

Happy continuation and Buen camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 29th to July 4th 2016
SJPDP to Santiago
And many, many more I pray
#30
Wow. That was brutal. SJPDP to Orisson. I stopped about 2/3rds up to have sandwich, rest, take off my shoes, change my socks & enjoy the view.
Then I continued & finally came to a 'level' bit. But then I saw that the road turned a corner & then started climbing. At that moment, I almost lost the will to live. Where was this bl***y Refuge!!!!! Seconds later the building came into sight (hidden by a deep bend).
Oh boy, was I relieved.
Now sitting on the terrace, a sangria & tortilla at hand, sun out, view in front of me, & a young pilgrim playing his guitar & singing .... Bliss :)
As I've told my family....Orrison is like walking to Heaven. :) You did it. !!!
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#32
Even if you start the Camino on your own. Usually it’s not long before you meet up with like-minded people & your ‘Camino Family’ is born.
A few weeks ago I was lamenting that my low daily mileage (& slower speed) was precluding me from having such a family & that I was walking on my own each day & meeting new & different people each night. Not a problem per se, but occasionally it would be nice to see a familiar face.

However, I started looking back over the last six weeks and realise I was wrong. Camino families have sprung up when I needed them most*, and they could be temporary families lasting maybe just a day or so.

  • It was a motley crew (Australian, Irish, American, German & 1 Brit) that met up in Orisson to tackle the Pryenees (as well as a large group of Spanish having their rucksacks transported for them). But we helped each other over the mountain & down the other side. Walking to the nearest pub that evening (after washing & sorting out my bed) & hearing the group call out my name & make a space for me was heartwarming. We walked together (albeit spread out) for a further day before separating.
  • A week or so later, I & Ralf from Bavaria clicked & we happily walked together one day. Then spent a lazy afternoon drinking beer & eating raciones in the warm sunshine with a few other pilgrims. The next day I walked out of Najera on my own. By the time I came to a hill leading up to Cirueña, my heel was really painful & I was struggling badly. Who suddenly appeared by my side….Ralf, and his presence got me up that hill. However, no way I could walk a further 6km into Santo Domingo de la Calzada. I was destined to stay in a little albergue in Cirueña which was a depressing ghost town. No way was Ralf allowing that. His friend (who’s Camino had stopped due to bad blisters) had a car & picked us up. We drove into town (weird being in a car after so long just walking) & ended up having an excellent meal in a four star restaurant before sleeping in a hotel in individual ensuite rooms. Ralf & his friend returned home the next day.
  • Last week, I was walking alongside a lovely albeit very isolated river route but I did not feel well at all. The only person in sight was a tiny Korean girl called Jin. We had seen each other over a few days but not spoken. We didn’t speak this day either, but Jin kept me in her sight (probably for her own safety as well) & her smiles & encouragement kept me going.
  • Leaving Burgos, the Meseta started. The first two days to Hontanas were tough going & many albergue were closed as the low season kicked in. And it was in this dry flat plateau where shade is minimal that once again a Camino family was formed to help each other get through the challenges of the Meseta.
As I leave the Meseta (just arrived in Astorga), so this little Camino family (2 Americans, 1 German & 1 Québécoise & me) is still together & we’re preparing to help each other over the Cruz de Ferro mountain.

Then there’s my family at home: my husband, children, siblings, nephews & nieces, & friends. They’re also with me on my Camino – at least in spirit. There’s an ongoing discussion (often heated) about IT on the Camino and I thought I’d switch off too. However, I’m enjoying contacting them each day (when I get WiFi) telling them about what I’m doing & sending pictures whilst hearing about their lives. Their words of support are good to hear. Then to my delight, my youngest son flew into Spain, caught a train down to Sahagún and walked 50kms with me into León. We had a lovely long weekend together before he hired a car to drive over to Bilbao & fly home.

Finally, there’s my virtual Camino family through this Camino de Santiago forum who are also ready to send words of support or answer questions.

So I am blessed as I walk this Camino.

* Rather like the Footprints in the Sand poem: “…When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#33
Today I walked over Mount Irago. I’d selected two ‘eco’ stones to lay down at the foot of La Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross), representing ‘burdens’ that I’d carried during my pilgrimage. I found the two ‘stones’ in the first few days of my pilgrimage in the Bearnaise forests in France as I walked along the Le
Puy route, although I was not actively looking for anything. Both seemed appropriate to me because the Tree of Life is a powerful symbol.

For:

– my mother, Josephine, I had a chestnut. It reminds me of her longevity of life; of the roots she put down that helped her weather many a storm; and of the reach of her branches which touched more people than I had realized whilst she was alive.

– my first born, Jason, I had an acorn because I’m hoping that from such a small kernel something big strong & long lasting will grow; that our relationship & love will deepen & endure.


Last night in a Rabanal del Camino albergue (about 7kms from the summit), I enjoyed a wonderful communal dinner with around 30 other pilgrims. Everyone pitched in to put dinner on the table from different ingredients in their rucksacks or from the little shop nearby. Many faces were already familiar; we’d crossed paths over the last 2-3 weeks whilst others were new faces. A convivial evening.

In the morning, my little Camino family of four (the Québécoise had gone on ahead the previous day) set off & we were joined by an Italian girl & a Brazilian girl. After three days of very strong cross winds that had made walking a real struggle, today the sky was blue, the sun shined & just a slight breeze moved the leaves on the trees.

Reaching the Cross, each of us lay down our stones & stood praying or in thought. There were tears & hugs where needed.

We then decided to have an impromptu breaking of bread & sharing of wine (plus cheese, chocolate, olives & other goodies). A time of joy, sorrow & sharing. It was a perfect day.

I’ve only got about 200kms to go before my 900km pilgrimage ends!

 
Camino(s) past & future
May 29th to July 4th 2016
SJPDP to Santiago
And many, many more I pray
#34
IMG_0037.JPG IMG_0200.JPG

I wore my M.S. Warrior bracelet on my Camino. The night before my plan to leave a stone I had carried from home. The little metal ribbon fell off my bracelet...I felt it was what I was meant to leave. I couldn't believe the emotion I felt.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#35
Day 44: I'm feeling drained and exhausted.

For the past 44 days (except for 1 day just outside Burgos when I had a rest day due to a very heavy cold), I've been walking every day. From 8kms to 35kms (although both those are outliers), but averaging 18-20kms a day and I've covered nearly 750kms since I started. Under 200kms to go before reaching Santiago de Compostela.

With the end so nearly in sight, for the last two days I've felt that I've reached rock bottom & I'm scraping the barrel for resources: physical, mental & emotional.

I'm not writing this to receive verbal comments of encouragement, it's just a statement of my present state. Thoughts keep passing through my mind: I'll just catch a bus or taxi for a few days; maybe I need to fly home to support husband or daughter; maybe I've done enough walking as far as I have.....

I parted with my little Camino family just two days ago because I couldn't keep going, & I'm once again walking on my own. No problem. But it also means my mind wanders all over the place. Maybe I should have taken one day off each week (as I'd originally planned) but I preferred to keep walking each day.

Today, walking between the road (aghhhh) & the river (ahhhhhhh), I started listening to the sound of the water (& switching off the sound of vehicles). Gradually, very gradually, I began to feel a bit better. Maybe, just maybe, I can hang in there through to Santiago.

Then, I arrived at a little village to find my Camino family waiting for me.

Yes, I think I'm going to make it. And maybe the Supermoon tonight will stop screwing things up for me!! ;-))))

The Camino Frances is not a walk in the park (as many like to say). It requires mental energy & perseverance to get through it. I'm trying.....
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
#37
@smj6,
We walked for 45 days (8 to 21 km per day average) last summer and my husband became violently ill in Melide and we had to end our Camino walking. At that point, I was very tired, feet, ankles, knees hurting. Although I was not glad my husband fell ill, I had no remorse in stopping and had been in the few days prior rolling around similar thoughts about home and buses and taxi's. Had he not become ill, I would have plodded along not entirely enjoying the walking even though we were so close to Santiago at that point. Now we are home; my feet, ankles healed and he is ready to return next spring to do the last 3 -4 days into Santiago and then walk on to the sea. I am certain I will go with him despite my final questioning days. I am with you with each tired step you take or don't take.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#38
It’s the final countdown:
Crossing over the mountain ranges of O Courel and Os Ancares and into Galicia, I arrived at the tiny mountain village of O Cebreiro at 1,300m. This is the last mountain range I have to walk over (through its not all down hill to Santiago - there are still a few tough hills left on the Camino!). But the end is in sight & I've once again got my mojo back :)

Galicia is such a verdant beautiful region of Spain (although like Ireland, that means a lot of rain!). The Camino wends its way through many little farming hamlets and forests interspersed with rolling hills and dotted with herds of fine looking cattle. The fields are divided by intricate dry stone walls & the Camino is often a sandy path with ferns growing either side or a little brook bubbling across it.


Coming down into Sarria, the last 'official' 100 kms into Santiago begin. Instead of one stamp in my pilgrim passport (Credencial) each day, I now need to get two stamps a day to be eligible for a Compostela when I arrive in Santiago next week.

Blessed with two great little albergue over the last two days (in Tricastela & Sarria), I'm now in my third good albergue in Portomarin.

This Camino has been a roller coaster of emotions & today was no exception. The bridge into Portomarin must have been 20-30m high & the side parapet is NOT that high. Already scared of heights, I was terrified crossing this 350m long bridge :-(((

But now I'm on the other side; happy in my lower bunk bed; chilling out before dinner; & knowing I've only got about 90kms left.
 
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smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#39
The plans of mice & men oft gang awry; or to make God laugh, make a plan.

Due to final departure dates, three members of our little Camino family, that had formed in the Meseta, wanted to arrive in Santiago by Tuesday morning. That meant two final days of walking on Sunday & Monday covering around 30kms each day. Then walking the last 10kms into Santiago on Tuesday morning allowing time to walk into the midday mass at the Cathedral.

There was no way I could manage two consecutive long distances, so with sad hearts we had our last supper on Saturday evening. On Sunday I'd stop in Castañeda after about 20kms & they would continue walking.
Sunday arrived & so did torrential rain. In seven weeks of walking I'd been fortunate enough only to have a couple of hours of rain, & even then it wasn't too bad. This morning only a pilgrim would have ventured out in that deluge, normal people would have stayed indoors

However, it also meant that today was the first time I could test the theory that trail runners worked well in rain because whilst the water would flow into them, it would just as quickly flow out again when the rain stopped. Thus, unlike boots which would retain the water inside, one's feet would dry out sooner.
Some two & half hours later, the other three pilgrims had sodden feet even though their boots were supposedly waterproof (maybe they were & maybe the rain had entered via the exposed part of their socks). Yes, I'd been walking in completely sodden shoes & socks, but when the rain finally abated, I noticed that I began to walk my shoes (& feet) dry. So I was pleased with my choice of trail runner shoe (Hoka One One Challengers)

Meanwhile, the rest of the Camino family had already decided to adjust their walking plan. The never ending onslaught of rain had exhausted us all & there was no way that they wanted to walk 30kms that day. So they stopped with me at my little albergue for the night. Now we'll divide the remaining 45kms into two full days of walking. This means we'll arrive in Santiago late on Tuesday afternoon & go to the evening mass instead.

Monday night we hope to stay in Santa Irene & we'll cook together one last time. What a journey we've had.



*My poncho worked well, but it was some time before I realised my hood wasn't properly sorted. In the right hand photo, I looked like Mrs Barbapapa (only red not purple) as I left the albergue that morning !!
 

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J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
#40
Almost there! Hope the rain does not accompany you further.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Camino(s) past & future
Oct/Nov 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
Oct 2018 (Via Francigena stage)
#41
Walking into Santiago this afternoon from Santa Irene with my Camino family; just 23km left. Hoping to pick up our Compostelas from the Pilgrims Office & attend evening Mass at the Cathedral.
We've booked rooms on the pilgrim floor at Albergue San Martin Pinerio.
Any suggestions about a restaurant tonight where I & my Camino family can have one last meal together?
Suzanne :)
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
#42
Looks like a lovely place to finish the pilgrim journey. We stayed at a place further away in a restored monastery although I recall that there are plenty of restaurants near the cathedral. I'm sure you'll find a place right for you and your friends.
 

Phil W

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances to Melide, May-early July 2016,
Zamora Dec 2017 as Hospitalero
#43
View attachment 30310 View attachment 30311

I wore my M.S. Warrior bracelet on my Camino. The night before my plan to leave a stone I had carried from home. The little metal ribbon fell off my bracelet...I felt it was what I was meant to leave. I couldn't believe the emotion I felt.
Penny you were and still are inspiring! So glad that Janet and I met you this last summer.
Phil
 

Phil W

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances to Melide, May-early July 2016,
Zamora Dec 2017 as Hospitalero
#44
Even if you start the Camino on your own. Usually it’s not long before you meet up with like-minded people & your ‘Camino Family’ is born.
A few weeks ago I was lamenting that my low daily mileage (& slower speed) was precluding me from having such a family & that I was walking on my own each day & meeting new & different people each night. Not a problem per se, but occasionally it would be nice to see a familiar face.

However, I started looking back over the last six weeks and realise I was wrong. Camino families have sprung up when I needed them most*, and they could be temporary families lasting maybe just a day or so.

  • It was a motley crew (Australian, Irish, American, German & 1 Brit) that met up in Orisson to tackle the Pryenees (as well as a large group of Spanish having their rucksacks transported for them). But we helped each other over the mountain & down the other side. Walking to the nearest pub that evening (after washing & sorting out my bed) & hearing the group call out my name & make a space for me was heartwarming. We walked together (albeit spread out) for a further day before separating.
  • A week or so later, I & Ralf from Bavaria clicked & we happily walked together one day. Then spent a lazy afternoon drinking beer & eating raciones in the warm sunshine with a few other pilgrims. The next day I walked out of Najera on my own. By the time I came to a hill leading up to Cirueña, my heel was really painful & I was struggling badly. Who suddenly appeared by my side….Ralf, and his presence got me up that hill. However, no way I could walk a further 6km into Santo Domingo de la Calzada. I was destined to stay in a little albergue in Cirueña which was a depressing ghost town. No way was Ralf allowing that. His friend (who’s Camino had stopped due to bad blisters) had a car & picked us up. We drove into town (weird being in a car after so long just walking) & ended up having an excellent meal in a four star restaurant before sleeping in a hotel in individual ensuite rooms. Ralf & his friend returned home the next day.
  • Last week, I was walking alongside a lovely albeit very isolated river route but I did not feel well at all. The only person in sight was a tiny Korean girl called Jin. We had seen each other over a few days but not spoken. We didn’t speak this day either, but Jin kept me in her sight (probably for her own safety as well) & her smiles & encouragement kept me going.
  • Leaving Burgos, the Meseta started. The first two days to Hontanas were tough going & many albergue were closed as the low season kicked in. And it was in this dry flat plateau where shade is minimal that once again a Camino family was formed to help each other get through the challenges of the Meseta.
As I leave the Meseta (just arrived in Astorga), so this little Camino family (2 Americans, 1 German & 1 Québécoise & me) is still together & we’re preparing to help each other over the Cruz de Ferro mountain.

Then there’s my family at home: my husband, children, siblings, nephews & nieces, & friends. They’re also with me on my Camino – at least in spirit. There’s an ongoing discussion (often heated) about IT on the Camino and I thought I’d switch off too. However, I’m enjoying contacting them each day (when I get WiFi) telling them about what I’m doing & sending pictures whilst hearing about their lives. Their words of support are good to hear. Then to my delight, my youngest son flew into Spain, caught a train down to Sahagún and walked 50kms with me into León. We had a lovely long weekend together before he hired a car to drive over to Bilbao & fly home.

Finally, there’s my virtual Camino family through this Camino de Santiago forum who are also ready to send words of support or answer questions.

So I am blessed as I walk this Camino.

* Rather like the Footprints in the Sand poem: “…When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
I love it! Well said.
Phil
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 29th to July 4th 2016
SJPDP to Santiago
And many, many more I pray
#47
I love my family and missed them so much while
On my Camino. Yet being home I daily miss my Camino family...the caring, loving, like minded pilgrims from all over the world. I miss the simplicity. I've always disliked and spoke out about gossip and bullying and just general superficial living. Since home it's even harder....to listen to the silliness people worry or complain about. I find myself longing for the open trail, my backpack and poles. Never knowing what views, discussions or people I'll meet. I pray I'll return again.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2016) ; 1st Camino Frances September 2016-November 2016 ; Camino Frances August 2017-October 2017
#51
Wow. That was brutal. SJPDP to Orisson. I stopped about 2/3rds up to have sandwich, rest, take off my shoes, change my socks & enjoy the view.
Then I continued & finally came to a 'level' bit. But then I saw that the road turned a corner & then started climbing. At that moment, I almost lost the will to live. Where was this bl***y Refuge!!!!! Seconds later the building came into sight (hidden by a deep bend).
Oh boy, was I relieved.
Now sitting on the terrace, a sangria & tortilla at hand, sun out, view in front of me, & a young pilgrim playing his guitar & singing .... Bliss :)
Those were our sentiments ...lol
 

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