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What I’ve learned from 8 days on El Camino

oaklandgirl

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Future
I started in Leon and am currently licking my wounds in Triacastela.

Things I’ve learned on the El Camino so far;

the Spanish people the Spanish culture and the Spanish country are extraordinary.

There are no less than 383 ways to get lost on the El Camino but at the end of the day you will most likely be found, because as miracles do happen that yellow and blue marker will somehow magically reappear just when you think all,including you, is lost.

the Camino is not a two hour movie so don’t be like me going in without more than a starting point an endpoint and a crappy pair of shoes that has resulted in numerous blisters taking more casualties every day. Get the book, buy a map, talk to people who have done it. The only good thing about being as unprepared as I was is that I have been able to meet a lot of really nice people who are eager to share their knowledge with me and let me take pictures of pages in their books.

It’s okay to shuttle your bag as a matter of fact if you have any aches, pains blisters what have you I encourage it because after all many of us on the Camino are PINOs (pilgrims in name only).

What you came in for is not necessarily what you’re gonna come out with.

When nine out of 10 bloggers tell you to skip the outskirts of Leon and take a bus to Plaza de Santo Domingo, you might want to listen to them because they know. Save those miles and instead take the less traveled route of the alternative to Orbigo and avoid walking next to a highway and having to be subject to freeway noise for a very long time.

Lastly for now, I have an allergy to whatever that white stuff is floating around.

Enjoy every sandwich. Buen Camino
 
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Frances 2016; Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre/Muxia 2017; Aragones 2018; Suso/Yuso, Meseta 2019
Dear Oakland Girl, I respect and admire your post about what you have learned in a such a short time. I have one difference of opinion. When a highly respected guide book author suggested that one might want to take a bus around Leon, to avoid the industrial areas if I recall, I took the bait and a bus and realized immediately that it was a mistake for me. The next year I started walking at the point in Mansilla de las Mulas where I took the bus and saw all the wonderful things that I had missed the first time around. It is by experiencing the good and not so good that our experience on the Camino is vastly enriched!
Buen Camino!
 
Past OR future Camino
2022
Find a bidet and soak your feet in it.
Your post is an amazing exercise in humility. So many pilgrims would not have the self awareness to recognize what they got wrong so clearly. I think you would be an excellent walking companion.
Please take some time to slow down and prepare for the rest of your journey. Buen Camino.
BTW, who are these 9/10 people who say take a bus into Leon???!!! I humbly disagree!!
 
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Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
@oaklandgirl, @J Willhaus and @trecile: I am not a native English speaker but I think over here the tree is more commonly known as poplar. In fact, in Spain it is called chopo blanco with the scientific name populus alba. I happened to think of this thread when I read today that the Spanish Post Correos had commissioned a short Guide of the Trees of the Camino Francés. You can apparently pick it up in post offices but it is also online:
I don't remember this but you can see these poplar trees with their fluffy seeds covering the ground right now along the Canal de Castilla - Boadilla del Camino to Carrión de los Condes. And elsewhere, of course.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I started in Leon and am currently licking my wounds in Triacastela.

Things I’ve learned on the El Camino so far;

the Spanish people the Spanish culture and the Spanish country are extraordinary.

There are no less than 383 ways to get lost on the El Camino but at the end of the day you will most likely be found, because as miracles do happen that yellow and blue marker will somehow magically reappear just when you think all,including you, is lost.

the Camino is not a two hour movie so don’t be like me going in without more than a starting point an endpoint and a crappy pair of shoes that has resulted in numerous blisters taking more casualties every day. Get the book, buy a map, talk to people who have done it. The only good thing about being as unprepared as I was is that I have been able to meet a lot of really nice people who are eager to share their knowledge with me and let me take pictures of pages in their books.

It’s okay to shuttle your bag as a matter of fact if you have any aches, pains blisters what have you I encourage it because after all many of us on the Camino are PINOs (pilgrims in name only).

What you came in for is not necessarily what you’re gonna come out with.

When nine out of 10 bloggers tell you to skip the outskirts of Leon and take a bus to Plaza de Santo Domingo, you might want to listen to them because they know. Save those miles and instead take the less traveled route of the alternative to Orbigo and avoid walking next to a highway and having to be subject to freeway noise for a very long time.

Lastly for now, I have an allergy to whatever that white stuff is floating around.

Enjoy every sandwich. Buen Camino
I have a feeling your list of observations regarding the camino will change and grow as you walk more and more caminos. You will always make some mistakes and you will always get lost and you will always have aches and pains, and you will always meet wonderful people. I have always thought about asking people in a post what it means for each not why they walk but how they walk:
It’s okay to shuttle your bag as a matter of fact if you have any aches, pains blisters what have you I encourage it because after all many of us on the Camino are PINOs (pilgrims in name only).
Your comment about PINO is a perfect example of this. The manner and form that a person takes in terms of comfort, pain, distance, accommodations, and choices of restaurants and budgets is a personal choice for each. Maybe not in terms of budget as some have much more flexibility than others. This is not a judgement in any manner, shape or form it is just something I am curious about. Especially those people who may have walked radically different caminos at different times to see how it affected, enhanced or diminished their experiences. I have a feeling that as you figure things out your outlook of what is or was important and your lessons learned may be very different. Buen Camino
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
Yes, the outskirts of Leon are not particularly attractive, but what's the point of walking the camino if you're taking a bus to the next town? Over the years, I've met more than a few so-called pilgrims, always taking taxis, buses or trains between towns. What's the point of doing it at all if you're cheating? I've always walked despite all the blisters, fatigue, pain and aches.
One word in reply.

Injury.
 

ct2022

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Sept 2022
I started in Leon and am currently licking my wounds in Triacastela.

Things I’ve learned on the El Camino so far;

the Spanish people the Spanish culture and the Spanish country are extraordinary.

There are no less than 383 ways to get lost on the El Camino but at the end of the day you will most likely be found, because as miracles do happen that yellow and blue marker will somehow magically reappear just when you think all,including you, is lost.

the Camino is not a two hour movie so don’t be like me going in without more than a starting point an endpoint and a crappy pair of shoes that has resulted in numerous blisters taking more casualties every day. Get the book, buy a map, talk to people who have done it. The only good thing about being as unprepared as I was is that I have been able to meet a lot of really nice people who are eager to share their knowledge with me and let me take pictures of pages in their books.

It’s okay to shuttle your bag as a matter of fact if you have any aches, pains blisters what have you I encourage it because after all many of us on the Camino are PINOs (pilgrims in name only).

What you came in for is not necessarily what you’re gonna come out with.

When nine out of 10 bloggers tell you to skip the outskirts of Leon and take a bus to Plaza de Santo Domingo, you might want to listen to them because they know. Save those miles and instead take the less traveled route of the alternative to Orbigo and avoid walking next to a highway and having to be subject to freeway noise for a very long time.

Lastly for now, I have an allergy to whatever that white stuff is floating around.

Enjoy every sandwich. Buen Camino
Thank you for sharing your experience. Your humble post is admirable. Good luck on the rest of your journey. Please keep sharing.
 
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Sheesh

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2009, 2013, (2022)
Yes, the outskirts of Leon are not particularly attractive, but what's the point of walking the camino if you're taking a bus to the next town? Over the years, I've met more than a few so-called pilgrims, always taking taxis, buses or trains between towns. What's the point of doing it at all if you're cheating? I've always walked despite all the blisters, fatigue, pain and aches.
"cheating" ?!
Nahaa - There's no rule book.

(Of course if you want a compostela you must walk the last 100K or cycle 200K and get your two stamps per day to qualify.)
 

Rita Flower

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
I started in Leon and am currently licking my wounds in Triacastela.

Things I’ve learned on the El Camino so far;

the Spanish people the Spanish culture and the Spanish country are extraordinary.

There are no less than 383 ways to get lost on the El Camino but at the end of the day you will most likely be found, because as miracles do happen that yellow and blue marker will somehow magically reappear just when you think all,including you, is lost.

the Camino is not a two hour movie so don’t be like me going in without more than a starting point an endpoint and a crappy pair of shoes that has resulted in numerous blisters taking more casualties every day. Get the book, buy a map, talk to people who have done it. The only good thing about being as unprepared as I was is that I have been able to meet a lot of really nice people who are eager to share their knowledge with me and let me take pictures of pages in their books.

It’s okay to shuttle your bag as a matter of fact if you have any aches, pains blisters what have you I encourage it because after all many of us on the Camino are PINOs (pilgrims in name only).

What you came in for is not necessarily what you’re gonna come out with.

When nine out of 10 bloggers tell you to skip the outskirts of Leon and take a bus to Plaza de Santo Domingo, you might want to listen to them because they know. Save those miles and instead take the less traveled route of the alternative to Orbigo and avoid walking next to a highway and having to be subject to freeway noise for a very long time.

Lastly for now, I have an allergy to whatever that white stuff is floating around.

Enjoy every sandwich. Buen Camino
Thank you for your insight and honesty. I am planning my third Camino - Via del la Plata- and have been feeling a little blasé. After all it is my third. But this route is very long and I am absolutely not so young. Thank you for the reminder to be prepared on all levels.
However agree with other replies- I walked through Leon and loved it. Compared to some of the sections on Camino Portuguese it’s a walk in the park.
My policy is to read the advice and then listen to my inner wisdom and guidance, and the voice of the Camino. Burn Camino.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I am on the CP and every so often was getting a coughing spasm. Two days ago I thought to myself that if this is being triggered by something in the air, I am carrying face masks, why not use one. I did, and it very quickly resolved my coughing spasms.

I think in my case it is a specific one of the roadside weeds that is doing it, but it could be any number of things.
 
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MaryStella

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
Yes, the outskirts of Leon are not particularly attractive, but what's the point of walking the camino if you're taking a bus to the next town? Over the years, I've met more than a few so-called pilgrims, always taking taxis, buses or trains between towns. What's the point of doing it at all if you're cheating? I've always walked despite all the blisters, fatigue, pain and aches.
It’s not a competition…… everyone walks their own Camino and should be able to walk without the judgement of others. You have no knowledge what others are going through…. Recovering from cancer, illness, injury, death of a loved one. Just because they are not walking the way you think they should does not make them a “so called pilgrim” or a cheater. Not everyone has the availability of 6-8 weeks to walk around Spain nor unlimited funds. Your Camino walk is no better than anyone else.
 

OZAJ

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Mozarabe/VdlP/Sanabres (2008) Norte (2009) Vezelay/Frances/Salvador/Primitivo (2010) etc.
Yes, the outskirts of Leon are not particularly attractive, but what's the point of walking the camino if you're taking a bus to the next town? Over the years, I've met more than a few so-called pilgrims, always taking taxis, buses or trains between towns. What's the point of doing it at all if you're cheating? I've always walked despite all the blisters, fatigue, pain and aches.
I guess you just don't get it. More ego work required.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Oct 2020
Thank you for your insight and honesty. I am planning my third Camino - Via del la Plata- and have been feeling a little blasé. After all it is my third. But this route is very long and I am absolutely not so young. Thank you for the reminder to be prepared on all levels.
However agree with other replies- I walked through Leon and loved it. Compared to some of the sections on Camino Portuguese it’s a walk in the park.
My policy is to read the advice and then listen to my inner wisdom and guidance, and the voice of the Camino. Burn Camino.
I missed Leon on my first (but not to be last) Camino and was disappointed. It was just what happened at the time, but I intend to walk through another time. I was walking as the country was closing down east to west in 2020. Coming into Mansilla de las Mulas, I was struggling with a painful Achilles but determined to keep walking. A lovely French couple saved me a space in the auberge as I arrived about 2 hours after them. I then heard that Leon was closing down and there was a free bus for pilgrims to skirt it to La Virgen del Camino. Head ruled heart that day so I bussed in and was able to return the compliment and book for my two friends, who opted to walk. Talking to them and other pilgrims, whom I met later, their welcome in the city was phenomenal, some said the best for them on the Camino. Although I was sorry to have missed that occasion, it was actually the right decision at the time, I needed a day of my feet (except that I walked 4km searching for somewhere to stay 🤣🤣
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
@oaklandgirl, @J Willhaus and @trecile: I am not a native English speaker but I think over here the tree is more commonly known as poplar. In fact, in Spain it is called chopo blanco with the scientific name populus alba. I happened to think of this thread when I read today that the Spanish Post Correos had commissioned a short Guide of the Trees of the Camino Francés. You can apparently pick it up in post offices but it is also online:
I don't remember this but you can see these poplar trees with their fluffy seeds covering the ground right now along the Canal de Castilla - Boadilla del Camino to Carrión de los Condes. And elsewhere, of course.
Cottonwood and poplar trees are in the same family. Maybe a difference in names across the oceans? In the US, cottonwood grow along rivers and streams in the plains and out west and poplars are planted in rows and grow tall quickly.
 
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Dublin57

New Member
Past OR future Camino
(Sept/Oct 2013)Frances (April/May 2014) France's (Oct 2014) Portugeses (Sept/Oct 2015) Frances
I started in Leon and am currently licking my wounds in Triacastela.

Things I’ve learned on the El Camino so far;

the Spanish people the Spanish culture and the Spanish country are extraordinary.

There are no less than 383 ways to get lost on the El Camino but at the end of the day you will most likely be found, because as miracles do happen that yellow and blue marker will somehow magically reappear just when you think all,including you, is lost.

the Camino is not a two hour movie so don’t be like me going in without more than a starting point an endpoint and a crappy pair of shoes that has resulted in numerous blisters taking more casualties every day. Get the book, buy a map, talk to people who have done it. The only good thing about being as unprepared as I was is that I have been able to meet a lot of really nice people who are eager to share their knowledge with me and let me take pictures of pages in their books.

It’s okay to shuttle your bag as a matter of fact if you have any aches, pains blisters what have you I encourage it because after all many of us on the Camino are PINOs (pilgrims in name only).

What you came in for is not necessarily what you’re gonna come out with.

When nine out of 10 bloggers tell you to skip the outskirts of Leon and take a bus to Plaza de Santo Domingo, you might want to listen to them because they know. Save those miles and instead take the less traveled route of the alternative to Orbigo and avoid walking next to a highway and having to be subject to freeway noise for a very long time.

Lastly for now, I have an allergy to whatever that white stuff is floating around.

Enjoy every sandwich. Buen Camino
Hello: I too suffered from very severe blisters on my first Camino. I was confident in the shoes that I had purchased and had walked ample in them prior to starting in SJPP. In time, what I discovered was the quality of socks was the primary culprit of my blisters. I started using Wright socks that have a built in liners and that took care of the problem. In time, I have tried various other types of specifically designed socks for hiking with equal success, even though they did not have liners but relatively thick soles such as wigwam, rockport, darn tough and smart wool. Buen Camino.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
I'm not one of those bloggers who said to avoid León but I remember I needed a map of the city and for some unremembered reason the one on my phone wasn't providing what I needed. I wrote in my blog about the irony of needing a map to find the turismo office where they provide the map!
 
Past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
Dear Oakland girl,

Thank you very much for your entertaining and informative read. Looking forward to your return!
Buen Camino, wherever your travels take you
 
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Old Kiwi

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
For me, the industrial area on the way out of Leon is just another part of the Camino. I don't skip bits just because they don't look nice. A pilgrimage is a pilgrimage for me, not a tourist trail. I am old and set in my ways and the only way I can walk a Camino is all of the way from start to finish carrying my 5kg pack. That is just the way I am. I do not consider anyone taking buses or taxis or skipping parts or having their pack transported as "cheating". Everybody does their own Camino as they see fit or are able and at the end everyone has the same sense of achievement and satisfaction.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2016; Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre/Muxia 2017; Aragones 2018; Suso/Yuso, Meseta 2019
If I may, I would like to offer a gentle grammatical correction to @oaklandgirl . To say the El Camino reminds me of the old car from 1959. In Spanish the word el is a definite article, the word “the”. So to say, ”the el Camino” is to repeat the
word the or say the the Camino. Everything we do on our journey is a grand adventure in learning to be embraced as done by @oaklandgirl .
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
I started in Leon and am currently licking my wounds in Triacastela.

Things I’ve learned on the El Camino so far;

the Spanish people the Spanish culture and the Spanish country are extraordinary.

There are no less than 383 ways to get lost on the El Camino but at the end of the day you will most likely be found, because as miracles do happen that yellow and blue marker will somehow magically reappear just when you think all,including you, is lost.

the Camino is not a two hour movie so don’t be like me going in without more than a starting point an endpoint and a crappy pair of shoes that has resulted in numerous blisters taking more casualties every day. Get the book, buy a map, talk to people who have done it. The only good thing about being as unprepared as I was is that I have been able to meet a lot of really nice people who are eager to share their knowledge with me and let me take pictures of pages in their books.

It’s okay to shuttle your bag as a matter of fact if you have any aches, pains blisters what have you I encourage it because after all many of us on the Camino are PINOs (pilgrims in name only).

What you came in for is not necessarily what you’re gonna come out with.

When nine out of 10 bloggers tell you to skip the outskirts of Leon and take a bus to Plaza de Santo Domingo, you might want to listen to them because they know. Save those miles and instead take the less traveled route of the alternative to Orbigo and avoid walking next to a highway and having to be subject to freeway noise for a very long time.

Lastly for now, I have an allergy to whatever that white stuff is floating around.

Enjoy every sandwich. Buen Camino
You're kicking goals Oaklandgirl! Keep going.👍
 
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