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what did you find the hardest thing?



Sort of allied to the 'what did you discard' Q.

What did you find the hardest thing on your first pilgrimage?

For me it was sharing with others in cramped conditions at refuges. I live and sleep in quiet singleness. I like moving through city landscapes but also enjoy spaces away from people ... (which is also a part of my wanting to walk at night thread) and I found the rather enforced hugger-mugger with lots of strangers rather difficult - something that I didn't expect for some reason.

Don't get me wrong - I like humans in general, consider myself a part of the human hive and am very gregarious at social functions .. it's just that my day to day life is utterly different from all that - bodies and sweating and farts and snoring and chattering and smells and complaining and queues and so on-
and, yes, I did have some wonderful hostal experiences as I throw myself in rather than hide but I did find it difficult ...

all the other stuff? well, just went for it really.
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
My experience was the same as yours in some ways.

I think the only problem was a result of my own unrealistic expectations. I, like you, found sharing space difficult, especially when it was with those who didn't seem to vibrate at the same rate as I did.

I really enjoyed the aulburges where silence and prayerfulness was a requirement (there were a few, such as Emaeus).

I was on the road to Santiago as a pilgrim, to contemplate, to pray, to work out some issues in my own life, to think, to pray for others who had supported my trip, and to enjoy God's nature as I walked.

Much of my frustration was in the aulburges, which is why this trip, I will camp outdoors more.
It manifested as the challenge of often-irreverent chatter, loud and late night cellphone talking, blaring radios, people turning lights on, human excrement and fouled paper just thrown on the ground along with other litter, rustling bags and glaring lights without concern for those sleeping, rude talking in the chapels when people (locals included) were trying to pray/worship. On occasion, people were demanding, which was comical as well as shocking. I mean, really, when you're paying 3 euros, what type of coddling do you expect?

For me, all of these behaviors are displays of how we're becoming less empathetic, less caring, less loving of our fellow humans. I often just had to shake my head and walk away, disappointed in some of my fellow pilgrims for their seemingly blatant unkind and rude behavior.

This was the hardest thing for me... and luckily was not my ENTIRE experience. But you asked for the hardest, and I agree, that was it.

I guess I was expecting more of a silent vigil type of experience and my Camino certainly was not that.

Deleted member 3000

If irritating is different than hard, what's the hardest th

The mud hill up to Mañeru after Puenta La Reina; much tougher than abiding my fellow pilgrims.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Getting over the PPB in the weeks after the pilgrimage.


PPB - Post Pilgrimage Blues.
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Do the PPB include the need to walk?
One of the MOST difficult things was the day after the Camino trek was done, I woke up and there was noplace to walk! :|

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Annie, I was going to say I really missed privacy and cleanliness -- I got pretty fed-up with doorless showers and damp towels and laundry that still smelled after being "washed." But when I read your post I realized... YES. It took me WEEKS to slow to a stop. The need to walk was a physical, visceral urge that had me waking up in the pre-dawn with leg cramps and an irresistible urge to go tramping over the prairie!


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
For me, the hardest thing was the physical pain. I've never been much of a fan of pain.

After the initial round of blisters, I thought my feel would toughen up. They didn't. I got a second round that was so painful, and as I tried to walk "off" the sore parts, I aggravated other parts. Eventually I ended up with blisters on the bottoms, sides, heels and toes and at one point during the meseta, I prayed only that I would be able to think of something else besides pain - for every painful step was just in anticipation of the next painful step. It was a true exercise in fortitude and perseverence but I figured if breaking off my front tooth didn't stop me, a few irritating little blisters certainly wouldn't.

It made me slow down and really contemplate my goals, my purpose and my perseverence - not to mention my life!

Fortunately fortitude won the day and I completed a second Camino in 2008 and am hoping for another in 2009!

Buen Camino,


Active Member
For me at times it was the loneliness. I am a social creature and enjoy meeting new people but I only speak English (beyond the barest spanish to get by) and sometimes in Albergues I would be on my own and noone else spoke English and I did find it lonely. I did hurt myself and there was some physical pain but I found that more frustrating than hurtful.



Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (1988)
I'll second the notion of the loneliness on the Camino being the hardest thing for me. That feeling of pulling up to a postcard perfect pueblo and turning to say, "Is that not the most beautiful bridge in the world?!" and then realizing it's just you and your backpack. You could certainly bring it up in the refugio later that night, but the moment had, of course, passed.

As I review my journal, I'd have to say that highway-side walking pretty much sucked, too.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I have never walked alone but I can imagine that it must be lonely, especially if you need to share as beautiful scene.
A South African priest once said: “Solitude is necessary and often welcome but there are times when we need com-pan-eros, the ones we eat bread with. Bread is so evident at Spanish meals, not only those wonderful bocadillos, but the bread that comes with everything you eat. As the Spaniards say “Com pan y vino, ande el camino”. With bread and wine we walk the camino! A companion is someone we share bread with, not just the edible type but also the bread of our experiences and the many insights, revelations and learnings that we consume as we walk along the Way."


Physicially the hardest thing was tendonities in my left leg, which forced me to stop for 5 days.

Mentally for me the hardest thing wasn´t walking alone - it was walking with people with whom I really didn´t want to walk! This may sound odd or stupid, but in that period of life I was not yet able to keep my own limits, and I ended up walking several days with a man who wanted to walk with me (or even marry me) and I was too kind to say no early enough. So we separated a couple of times, both of us hurting and embarresed, and finally came the last time. It was really demanding to me to find myself in just the same situation I had had problems with myself at home.

As someone has written: the camino does not give you the things you want - it gives you the things you need. This was one the great lessons that all my caminos have teached and given me: to keep my limits, to listen to my inner self and my own body, and thereafter be able to love other persons freely and with straight and pure heart!


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
As I review my journal, I'd have to say that highway-side walking pretty much sucked, too.[/quote]

I think this was one of the hardest things for me as well. I love walking in the countryside so much, and truly my heart used to soar with joy at so many of the views. Often an especially happy time for me would be in the mornings as the sunlight gradually brought the view alive, and I would see spiderwebs covered with dew etc.
But put me near a busy highway with the traffic roaring past, and there seemed to be quite a few of those sections in Spain, and I would just be enduring it.

Another thing that was hard some days, was that I got quite a lot of pain some days around my ankles. If I go again, I really need to learn and do the proper stretches to help avoid/minimise this!


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
The hardest thing for me was the enforced socialising as I'm rather a solitary person. Walking only 20kms each day meant I had long afternoons to fill. At each stop I'd have a shower, wash my clothes, go to the nearest bar for the Menu del Dia lunch, and then go sightseeing. However, this still left several hours to fill and I'm not the sort of person to sit around albergues or bars just chatting. So I found that time quite tedious and sometimes stressful. A Dutch pilgrim suggested I get a Sudoku puzzle book, as she had similar problems, and that helped a bit. But I still got really fed up with the constant noise and chatter. Think I'll take some needlework and use the MP3 more next time!

I love walking alone and would start later than most pilgrims just to have the track to myself - all well and good until I thought I'd missed the arrows and was lost, then I welcomed the sight of another pilgrm! So, even though I disliked the afternoons, seeing other pilgrims around when walking was a comfort.



Active Member
My very first day crossing the Pyrenees was the hardest emotionally. I got caught in a mean storm and was soaked, cold, shivering, tired, spent!! An hour later having dinner in Roncesvalles it was like nothing happened. (like childbirth)
The other was having leg pain which led to my ankle injury.... the hard part being that I could not ask someone to massage my leg, which, as a fan of massage, I knew it would help nip it in the bud. I was too shy to ask.
Getting my voice


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Now there is a lesson for all aspiring massues! Wanna give as well as take on your camino? Learn to do a really good massage, take your oils with you and offer foot and leg massages to tired, hurting pilgrims along the way. Marion and I did massages in almost every albergue in 2007. The sounds the pilgrims made were quite erotic but there is nothing erotic about sore looking, scaly, blistered, puffy feet!


  • Massage hour.jpg
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Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2014
Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
MermaidLilli said:
My very first day crossing the Pyrenees was the hardest emotionally.

A friend of mine did this as his first day about twenty years ago. He was exhausted by the climb, so stopped for a sleep. When he woke up he swears he was surrounded by vultures, waiting for hime to die!


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
For me each day was hard but for a different reason: the causes included:- feet hurting, bag chafing, too many people, too few people, a noisy person in the refuge, constipation (!!!), knee problems, monotonous food, no-one to talk to, people who wanted to talk, but only to offload all their problems on me but weren't interested in me, walking on tarmac...blah blah! So each day I had a little little cross to bear, but the variety meant they were never too bad. And each day was also wonderful, I knew I was getting nearer to my goal, even walking by the highway made me appreciate the countryside more. It was all Yin and Yang, in perfect balance. Looking back I have to struggle to remember how hard it was, the good memories are so strong. And also I found I missed sleeping in crowded rooms by the end - being back in my bedroom on my own felt weird!! :roll:



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