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What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?

tomnorth

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2020)
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?
On the first Camino during September of 2017, my son Caleb and I were going to walk together from SJPdP to Burgos, where Caleb needed to depart for home due to work. The plan was that I would continue to Santiago alone. At the time, I wondered at our walking together and whether it would be OK.

My biggest surprise was recorded as part of a blog entry:

"... an important aspect of the Camino has become the fellowship, helpfulness, and loving kindness of Caleb. I don't know when it happened, but what my Camino now means to me, includes doing the Way with Caleb."

That was written just before we arrived in Burgos, and before I knew I had to cut the Camino short at Burgos due to a need for hernia surgery. I left the Camino with Caleb at Burgos for Madrid. Then, a year later this last September-October, everything fell into place so that Caleb and I could finish the Camino Frances together..... me, starting over again from SJPdP and Caleb meeting up with me 14 days later in Leon so we could continue on to completion.

It was a huge surprise just how much it meant for me to have Caleb with me. :)
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
That I adapted and was way more resistant/resilient than my military husband while walking the camino.
Before we started our trip, so much of our planning was around how I would cope with the walk, with the backpack and stuff. He is a very fit soldier, so we always thought he would be helping me, if needed.

On the first days, he had blisters. I never had none. Two days later he fell down with a heat stroke. I was the one carrying him and both backpacks for lots of kms until we found help. Although worried about him, it was quite surprising to see I was the one whose body just coped well with everything (jetlag, different food, walking). That I could actually do it, and even provide help to others.

It was quite... powerful.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
Lots of things surprised me, but - happily - I am easily surprised!

Not the MOST by any means, but one that comes to mind just now... After spending the whole day outside in the elements, I would have thought that I would look forward to being inside sometimes. Other than to sleep, I never wanted to be inside. At bars and cafes, I quickly paid so that I could go sit outside. If it was raining, I found a covered place, but I still preferred to be outside.

In the bigger cities, I loved sitting outside in the big plazas, watching couples having a glass of wine while their toddlers ran all over the place, grandmas in wheel chairs, gaggles of old men on benches, huddles of teenagers. Whenever I get back to the US from practically anywhere else in the world, I feel like we are an isolated, lonely culture. People are mostly inside their houses, places of business or in their cars in my town.
 

Anna Cameron

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances sept-oct 2018
I was also a little surprised that literally every other person walking the Camino seemed to be wearing those convertible pants. I don't understand them.
I don't understand them either. Nor why they really are so ubiquitous on the Camino. One of my surprises was that I could wear the same outfit, usually the same clothes, day after day for over a month, and feel ok about that. Of course, I washed them every single day, they dried in no time and off I went the next day. My outfit was a merino Icebreaker short sleeve shirt and walking "skort." I love my skort. That was a surprise, too!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I was also a little surprised that literally every other person walking the Camino seemed to be wearing those convertible pants. I don't understand them.
I had them. On the few occasions I wanted to wear shorts I could. If I had brought shorts, I would have had to wear them a lot more frequently. Also, I found them really handy when I started to wear a knee brace. I could put in on or take it off without taking off my pants by unzipping my pant leg by the knee and then putting it back on after I had dealt with the knee brace.
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
I was also a little surprised that literally every other person walking the Camino seemed to be wearing those convertible pants. I don't understand them.
By convertible you mean the ones with zippers on the knees? I wear them :)
My reason is that then I don't need to carry shorts. I only carry those pants and, if it's hot and I want shorts, I just unzip the pants. Less weight on the backpack.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
My biggest surprise on my first camino was how easy it was, physically and financially. I had allowed myself far more time and money than I needed, and had to hang around at the end for almost two weeks waiting until my return flight would leave. I never had a blister or sore feet, I never lay awake in dormitories listening to others snoring. Well, I did have two nights of not much sleep on the whole camino, the first being my first night on the camino, at Orisson, where someone who arrived earlier had shut all the windows and it was too hot to sleep. And one other night later, when a sturdy and vigorous young man spent the whole night tossing energetically in the top bunk and I didn't get much sleep in the bottom. Physically, it was easier than any hiking trip I had ever taken, and that was key. Not much to carry, many years of experience in mountain walking, which made the pilgrim routes seem like "a walk in the park." And I was 67 at the time. Now I hope to walk until I am 90.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
By convertible you mean the ones with zippers on the knees? I wear them :)
My reason is that then I don't need to carry shorts. I only carry those pants and, if it's hot and I want shorts, I just unzip the pants. Less weight on the backpack.
Not less weight than just wearing shorts, which is what I did. I had light, merino wool leggings I could wear underneath if it was chilly in the morning or while my shorts were drying on the line. With my down jacket on, I found my legs rarely got that cold. I wore my shorts every day. But even carrying a pair of lightweight long pants and a pair of shorts, it doesn't seem like they would weight THAT much more. I'm probably just being vain... I hate how those convertible pants look.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
My biggest surprises:
Finding out that Albergue life suited me, I had been a bit anxious about the dormitory sleeping, turned out that I loved it
The snoring didnt bother me. Honestly I closed my eyes and slept, never heard the snoring - at home my husbands legendary snoring drives me nuts
Striking up conversations with strangers and chatting to everyone, I always thought I was more of an introvert, turns out I was wrong there too. I was expecting more of a personal Camino, nope - totally social
Red wine - dont drink it at home - turns out I do on Camino
Being perfectly fine with 2 outfits for the whole walk - when at home I can change my outfit three times getting dressed for work
The heat - in September on my first Camino, the heat was a complete shock - took me a few days to get used to it.


Edited to add @JillGat I agree with you, I only wore shorts, I had no need of long pants at all, and I hate the feeling of the zips, I cant stand any part of my clothing rubbing and the mere thought of them drives me crazy. I bought a pair years ago, and couldnt even tolerate them for half an hour. I also dont wear bracelets, socks with tight ribbing, elasticated cuffs, labels - the list goes on.
 
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caminoagogo

http://camino-a-go-go.blogspot.com/
Camino(s) past & future
Francés from Leon(2014)
Frances & Sanabres from Ourense (2018)
Portugués (2020)
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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
Anamiri, I agree with all you said! (except red wine, yes I drink that at home and everywhere else..). Albergues also surprised me. I actually miss arriving at an albergue and walking into a room full of bunk beds and settling my stuff next to one of them and sleeping together with a bunch of people. The simplicity of all the routines really appealed to me. And yeah, zippers, ribbing, cuffs, labels, I don't do those, either.
 

Oravasaari

Helsinki, Finland
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJpdP to Fistera, 2016 Leon to Fistera, 2017 CF-Salvadore-Primitivo, 2018 CF run/walk
My biggest surprise was that although I'd planned/anticipated the trip to be solitary (due to the punishing daily mileage target I'd set myself to meet up with a friend from home at Leon) there are always a few people walking at your pace (however fast or slow). So there's no way to take a solitary camino unless you actively shun company or making buddies.
 

Unie

Irish in QLD Australia
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May 2019
That I adapted and was way more resistant/resilient than my military husband while walking the camino.
Before we started our trip, so much of our planning was around how I would cope with the walk, with the backpack and stuff. He is a very fit soldier, so we always thought he would be helping me, if needed.

On the first days, he had blisters. I never had none. Two days later he fell down with a heat stroke. I was the one carrying him and both backpacks for lots of kms until we found help. Although worried about him, it was quite surprising to see I was the one whose body just coped well with everything (jetlag, different food, walking). That I could actually do it, and even provide help to others.

It was quite... powerful.
Go you....I love this story and had a little chuckle, sorry military hubby.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
The biggest surprise of the camino was finding out that I'm actually quite a fun person, one that people like to be around. When I relayed that info to my wife back home, her reaction was something like "Well, duh...", or words to that effect. I have always felt clumsy and awkward in social situations, and as a result I think of myself as the quiet and solitary type. So that is how I started walking.
But I met a surprisingly large number of people who visibly enjoyed my company and made an effort to stick around a little longer. It was a bit bewildering, to tell you the truth, but also a very freeing feeling. I guess the time was right for 'seeing is believing'. I can honestly say that since my camino I have more friends than I had before, and up until now I'm making new ones at an almost alarming rate. I still feel clumsy and awkward, but it doesn't seem to limit me the way it did earlier.
And as a bonus, echoing @davebugg a little, walking the camino Ingles with my then 16 year old son a year later produced a similar result. I found out that he was way more adult, autonomous and responsible than I thought he was. Turns out that for me the camino is a quirky way to unravel assumptions...
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Discovering on my first Camino that I was not scared. I had been in anticipation! Brought up in a small Presbyterian church in small town Scotland and with almost no experience of solo travel. Only the barest grasp of a few Spanish phrases. In the days before the internet and mobile phones so relying heavily on a Spanish language guidebook I could only vaguely decipher and an A5 pamphlet from the Confraternity of St James. Walking almost always alone since I met very few other pilgrims - probably no more than 30 in total. But I received such a strong and generous welcome from local people along the way and felt the presence of so many who had walked in previous centuries that my doubts and anxieties quickly vanished. I felt something very similar more recently when walking in Japan last year where my near-total "fish out of water" first impression quickly faded away in the face of great generosity and acceptance.
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (Spring '17)
Primitivo (Spring '18)
Madrid (April '19)
The biggest surprise of my first camino was the spirit of the camino and social aspect. I approached my first camino like it was a hike, and originally my wife and I had planned to try to sleep off-stage to avoid the masses, which we'd successfully done elsewhere (e.g. the Annapurna Circuit). But, of course, we soon realised that camaraderie and friendships are a huge part of the experience. It'll be interesting to see how we do on the Camino de Madrid in April this year with potentially no other pilgrims.
 

lt56ny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013-Frances SJP-Finisterre, 2015 Camino Le Puy-Santiago, 2017 Portugues Lisbon-Santiago 2018 Norte
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?
Of course, my greatest joy was meeting you my Pilgrim prince 😀. My biggest surprise after my first one was that I made and a feeling inside that I had never experienced before. Aftèr 4 Caminos how different each one is.
 

ShaLaw

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
I had a couple of surprises:

1. I was amazed at how a simple nights' rest heals the body. There were a couple of days where I was thinking there was NO WAY I could carry on the next day, yet in the morning, my body had miraculously healed itself enough to carry on (at least until the next night - lol!); and
2. How long it actually took us to walk distances. For example, at home, we could easily walk 10kms in a couple of hours, so we though, 'okay, if we leave to walk 25kms and leave the albergue at 8am, we will be at our destination by 12 - 1pm'. WRONG!) We didn't accommodate for the second breakfast stop, or that we would be stopping every couple of hours to air our feet out/change socks, etc..

Buen Camino!!
 

MaineSally

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cam Frances SJPDP to Santiago ('17): Finisterre ('17); Muxia ('17)
Camino Portuguese - April ('19)
Admittedly, my emotional state upon entering Santiago surprised me. I consider myself a very social being...enjoy company and a little crowd/traffic chaos in my life, but the streets teeming with people and the swell of consumerism really hit me, and I had a difficult time coping with that. Loved attending the Pilgrim Mass (I was a teary mess), but I also realized that what I set out to do had just been completed...at least the physical part. "Realizations" offer themselves many months, and years beyond. All the anticipation, training (yes, I needed to), and the actual trek was such a high, and then...it was done. I actually went to the airport a week early feeling I had to get out of Dodge. The cost to do so was prohibitive. So, I decided to strike out to Finisterre the next morning. Once on the outskirts of Santiago, looking back atop a hill, I could see the cathedral, and there was such a release of the anxiety. I continued on to Muxia after Finisterre. It was, by far, the most impressionable part of my journey. I'm so glad I had that extra week.
The Portuguese Camino is less than two months away. Lisbon to Santiago and back to Lisbon. I will carry much knowledge gleaned from this Forum, and I thank all you contributors sincerely.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was.
I am terrible at answering these types of questions (what's your favorite ..., etc.) but Peg asks your question to first time visitors to the States a lot so I asked her your question. She said "How kind and nice the Spanish people were."
 

Suzanne S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Camino Frances/Muxia/Fisterre (2017) Caminho Portuguese/Fisterre
(2019) Camino del Norte
Nearly all of your responses above resonate with me. My biggest surprise, I think, was that I did it. I overcame my anxiety and trepidation, my fear of doing it wrong (ha), my fear of doing it alone, my shaming thoughts of how indulgent I was being, and I just did it. I was rewarded with realizing how resilient, strong and self sufficient I am, and how much I believe in the beauty of the world and the universe. Transformative.
 

Rover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis, Fall 2016
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?

I agree. I soloed the Camino but never felt alone; embracing each day with excitement for what the day would unfold. My biggest surprise was that I started the Camino with no particular objective in mind other than to see if I could walk 500 miles . . . and I did. What I didn't expect was the transformation which took place along the way . . . I never realized it until I reached the end of my journey in Santiago and hopped into a taxi to head home. It was at that moment, it struct me and perhaps changed my life forever. There is hardly a day that goes by the I don't reflect on my experience.
 

Caminolou

The Netherlands
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances sep 2018/2019 - camino catalan 2019 - camino primitivo 2019
That there is something strange about the camino which I still dont understand. That calling everyone talks about. I took of last year september thinking I would only do this once in a lifetime. When I came back I felt it a lot. Then the camino magic started to happen. Or as they say the camino started providing even more then it already did, I know some of you dislike these clichés but I cant call it anything else. First I got the opportunity to volunteer in Grado, then I got selected for “veterans on the camino” and then I got a call if I was able to volunteer in roncesvalles. From having a hard time comming home to spending nearly the whole spring and summer on the camino. Even all the dates perfectly fitted together. Now that surprised me a lot and still does. Its kind of against all odds.

My most precious surprise however was comming home and having less nightmares. Less anxiety. Less PTSD. This is why I started the walk in the first place. I spent over 4 years in a war which didnt leave me untouched. I tried everything and nothing worked. The camino brought magic. Big (bad word) surprise!
 

tomnorth

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2020)
I am loving reading all the answers to this question. I’m amazed at the diversity in the answers. One common thread that seems to be emerging is the magic and pull of the Camino. I wish I could find a way of explaining that to those who have not walked.
 

Becky 59

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances May 2018
I was surprised that I could actually do it, on my shattered ankle. (We did 167 km of the Frances.) But I was also very surprised that my husband, who came along to help and support me, found the Camino to be a very positive spiritual place. (This from a man who “gave up Catholicism for Lent” many decades ago!) HE is going back this summer to do the entire Frances, and then join me on the Ingles.
 

ShaLaw

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
Ooooh, and one more thing;

3. That I was actually able to survive carrying only what was on my back for 32 days, and how easy it was to do so. Then I came home to my house full of 'stuff' that I likely don't need to live. I am currently on a quest to minimize my belongings, (especially after watching Marie Kondor on Netflix!)
 
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Gailsie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Fall '09 ;
How beautiful and varied that northern Spain was. I loved the mountains, but not walking up and down them, but their beauty. I loved the mesata. I had not expected the landscape to be so different across Spain and unprepared for its beauty.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)

Shippers

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013, Camino Norte 2018, Camino Primitivo 2018
This is an odd one I know......But I have always bitten my finger nails. I don't know why. Nobody else in my family does and I am embarrassed about it.

Anyway, on the Camino I don't. Start to finish, 30 days, I just don't. I start again, without thinking, on the flight home. What is that about?

I get a sort of peace in my soul. I focus on the day, meet people, chat and I'm not weighed down with a load of clutter. Just follow the yellow arrows. If only life were that simple elsewhere.
 

Mike Blackard

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
walk or bike in spring of 2018
Lots of pleasant surprises. First was just deciding out of the blue to go do it! I lived in Spain when I was a kid for 10 years until I was 16 and returned to Seattle, Washington, so even though that was 52 years ago, I still could speak a little spanish.
2nd big surprise was the dinner at Orrison- don't miss it! Fifty pelegrinos at dinner, we all stood up and introduced ourselves, said where we were from, and why we were there. About 6 or 7 said they were doing the camino for religious reasons, another dozen or so for spiritual reasons, and the rest of us heathens didn't have a clue - (adventure, meet new people, etc.) But the surprise was that 12 people were from Seattle!
3rd surprise was meeting Frances & Loretto in Zubiri and walking to Puente La Reina together until they had to go home, and then, several weeks later,
4th surprise, meeting Raquel and Montse on walk to Bercianos (I was momentarily lost and hailed by Raquel back to the trail). we walked together (juntos) to Leon where they too abandoned me to go home to work. But here's the kicker- all 4 are going to meet up with me this coming September where they left off last year! Raquel is a professor of Spanish for English speaking foreign exchange students in Alicante, so we spoke in Spanish only for three days- (with occasional corrections) it was fantastic!
My daughter and son in law joined me in Sarria (pre planned) but the 5th surprise was just how many peregrinos are on the trail from Sarria to Santiago. But the trail is much wider and easier walking, and never felt too crowded.
I was never bored, never hungry, never too tired to enjoy dinner, slept comfortably every night, always ready to go the next morning, sometimes an hour before sunrise, never got too hot, and surprisingly, didn't get sunburned or even good tan on left side (in shorts and short sleeve t-shirt) with no suntan lotion and sunny days EVERY DAY for 35 days! Can't wait to do it again!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
This is an odd one I know......But I have always bitten my finger nails. I don't know why. Nobody else in my family does and I am embarrassed about it.

Anyway, on the Camino I don't. Start to finish, 30 days, I just don't. I start again, without thinking, on the flight home. What is that about?
Similarly, the Camino is the only place I drink coffee. In my 55 years, I've never been a coffee drinker. But on the Camino Frances in 2016 when I drank cafe con leche every day. Then I got home and stopped drinking coffee. Until my 2018 Camino Portugues when, once again, I drank coffee every day. Until the Camino was over and I stopped again.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I wasn't really surprised by anything on the Camino itself. Being years long mountaineer and climber the physical aspect wasn't a big deal, I always watched a lot of documentaries and read piles of books so the nature, history, architecture or food wasn't a surprise either, but the real surprise came only after I got back home.

Like a custom demands over here if someone is returning after a long trip then there ought to be some kind of a family/friends reunion. In form of a Sunday lunch in my case. I was so calm and in peace with myself after Camino and I didn't talk much at that lunch apart from obvious info on my walk. I just let my relatives have good time and once for a change not even one little quarrel happened (we don't hold grudges though even if that happens). I was just enjoying immensely and after several hours when my sister and her twin daughters were leaving she hugged me in tears and thanked me. I asked what for and she said because of all of the above and if I didn't noticed it. And I didn't until that very moment. Then she said it was all because of my inner peace obviously gained on Camino.

That doesn't surprise me anymore though. And is one of the reasons I'm returning :)
 

Traa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I want to walk Camino in Sept/Oct 2017
This is an odd one I know......But I have always bitten my finger nails. I don't know why. Nobody else in my family does and I am embarrassed about it.

Anyway, on the Camino I don't. Start to finish, 30 days, I just don't. I start again, without thinking, on the flight home. What is that about?

I get a sort of peace in my soul. I focus on the day, meet people, chat and I'm not weighed down with a load of clutter. Just follow the yellow arrows. If only life were that simple elsewhere.
Yesss me too!!! 😁😂😂
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
I had a couple of surprises:

1. I was amazed at how a simple nights' rest heals the body. There were a couple of days where I was thinking there was NO WAY I could carry on the next day, yet in the morning, my body had miraculously healed itself enough to carry on (at least until the next night - lol!); and
2. How long it actually took us to walk distances. For example, at home, we could easily walk 10kms in a couple of hours, so we though, 'okay, if we leave to walk 25kms and leave the albergue at 8am, we will be at our destination by 12 - 1pm'. WRONG!) We didn't accommodate for the second breakfast stop, or that we would be stopping every couple of hours to air our feet out/change socks, etc..

Buen Camino!!
You are so right there. I limped into Los Arcos, my knee hurt the most but everything else went out in sympathy. The walk there was interminable and every step was agony. I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to walk the next day.
But I woke up, sent my pack on and walked to Viana with reasonable comfort and all was well with the world again.
 
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Isobeljc

Still walking
Camino(s) past & future
Frances “2017”
Aragones “2018”
Portuguese “2018”
Food, and lots of it.
I was surprised how much we ate every day while walking. We even managed to lose weight while doing it.
Breakfast, second breakfast, zumo, coffee con leches, patatas, tortillas, tapas, snacks, chocolate, croissants, more chocolate and much more. All that before we get to the ubiquitous pilgrims menu or menu de dia.
Last but certainly not least......vino tinto 😀😀
I seem to be able to drink so much more wine in Spain (and Portugal) than at home with no ill effects.
Will have to back again me thinks 👏👏👏
 

John Hungerford

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & to Finisterre (2009), Camino Podiensis (2011), Aussie Camino (2018)
My biggest surprise happened after the Camino. During our Camino in 2011 from Le Puy to St Jean Pied de Port we overlapped for a bit with a couple from England. In 2012 we went to the UK to walk the Coast to Coast path and after that we stayed with them for a few days. During conversation over lunch we discovered that the wife and I were 6th cousins. The Camino does provide !
 
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@tomnorth , my surprises included:
I could sustain my training for 4 years;
The first person I met out of Le Puy was the last peron I met at Burgos as I was retiring hurt;
I got more fit as I progressed;
I didn't need to be too organised each day
(just relax and enjoy the day);
I could simplify my gear (and reduce weight);
How many words (nouns) were in common;
 

Camino Chris

One step forward...
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
My biggest surprise happened after the Camino. During our Camino in 2011 from Le Puy to St Jean Pied de Port we overlapped for a bit with a couple from England. In 2012 we went to the UK to walk the Coast to Coast path and after that we stayed with them for a few days. During conversation over lunch we discovered that the wife and I were 6th cousins. The Camino does provide !
How do you determine who is a 6th cousin?o_O
 

Camino Chris

One step forward...
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Oh Rick, I just studied a picture of my own family tree and you are correct. I discovered I even have a 11th cousin 8th removed!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Still...I...don't...get...it. :oops:
Are you serious, Rick, or are you just messin' with me? You can't be trusted, and this is not the not thread. :p
Serious. And messing with you too.
1st cousin: shared grandparent
2nd cousin: shared great-grandparent
3rd cousin: shared great-great-grandparent
4th cousin: ...

Later edit: The way I remember this is the cousin level matches the number of gs (counting grandparent too.) Works in English anyway. Sorry for the diversion.
 
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David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
What a lovely thread!! My total and unexpected surprise was when, on my first Camino, I strolled confidently into the Pilgrim office but when I was asked "and why did you do the Camino?" I unexpectedly burst into uncontrollable sobbing tears - complete girl's blouse - no idea why, and, oh Crikey! I am choking up now just thinking about it!!!
 

Camino Chris

One step forward...
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I suppose one would have to go pretty far back in knowing their family tree to get to down to the 6th cousin.☺
 

John Hungerford

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & to Finisterre (2009), Camino Podiensis (2011), Aussie Camino (2018)
When her mother is your 5th cousin once removed.
Not precisely correct. For example: if two people (A and B) are 5th cousins (to each other) then a child of person A is a 5th cousin once removed of person B (and vice versa).
If your hear of two people saying they are 5th cousins once removed (to each other) you can't tell intuitively which one is of an earlier generation than the other. But you can with the Uncle/Nephew relationship.
 

John Hungerford

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & to Finisterre (2009), Camino Podiensis (2011), Aussie Camino (2018)
I suppose one would have to go pretty far back in knowing their family tree to get to down to the 6th cousin.☺
It's easier if you descend from a 'famous' family. I'm a 3 * great grandson of the Explorer Gregory Blaxland (who was the first European to cross the Blue Mountains in NSW). The other woman descends the same number of generations from his brother Christopher.
 

Jacobus

Pilgrim since 2008
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2008 09 14
Del Norte 2011. Portuguese 2015, 2017Ingles 2015 Fisterre 2015.
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?
After day one from SJPP to Roncesvalles coming to the surprising epiphany that I could and would finish the camino! Nothing tops that for surprise.
Second but worth mention was walking behind the big boarded gate at Boadilla into the paradise like setting of the albergue!
 

vwzoo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018
The afternoon heat and sun. I walked the Camino Frances in Sept and I sun burn so easily. I ended up with severe sun burn on my bald head because my hat kept blowing off first day leaving St. Jean. I ended walking everyday and ending right after 12 to avoid the sun, but I absolutely loved my Camino and it constantly shuffles through my mind.
 

Unie

Irish in QLD Australia
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May 2019
Lol! The Dublin Boys made me a crisps sandwich, potato chips on bread and just like you I was surprised it actually was good!
The best irish food ever.
 

Beeman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo,2017,Argonne and salvador,sept.2019
Being a happy positive fellow,I was surprized how happy I became I was on the Primitivo in 2017! I found myself singing out loud,if I was alone or if others were around! I have been fortunate to have brought this bliss home with me,and feel the same when I think about the camino. It has brought my usual happiness to a whole new level! I weekly get in touch with. Some of my camino family.i wish that many more can feel this way!
 

Attachments

GingerHaddad

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September (2018)
Lots of things surprised me, but - happily - I am easily surprised!

Not the MOST by any means, but one that comes to mind just now... After spending the whole day outside in the elements, I would have thought that I would look forward to being inside sometimes. Other than to sleep, I never wanted to be inside. At bars and cafes, I quickly paid so that I could go sit outside. If it was raining, I found a covered place, but I still preferred to be outside.

In the bigger cities, I loved sitting outside in the big plazas, watching couples having a glass of wine while their toddlers ran all over the place, grandmas in wheel chairs, gaggles of old men on benches, huddles of teenagers. Whenever I get back to the US from practically anywhere else in the world, I feel like we are an isolated, lonely culture. People are mostly inside their houses, places of business or in their cars in my town.
I noticed that as well - I loved the way families stroll the towns before dinner, stopping at the sidewalk cafes and saying hi to friends. In America now we drive everywhere and at cafes everyone buries their face in their phones🙁
 

cbacino

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Francigena, 2017
Camino del Norte (2018?)
I was also a little surprised that literally every other person walking the Camino seemed to be wearing those convertible pants. I don't understand them.
I don't understand anyone who can't understand convertible pants. What's not to like about them? Synthetic (dry immediately, sweat or wash), lightweight, no need to bring a pair of shorts, lots of pockets. I've only worn the long legs a handful of times in the past 5000 miles of trekking. Always wear them walking.
 

Mike Halligan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2008 O Cebreiro - Santiago: 2013 St Jean - Burgos; 2014 Burgos - Leon: 2016 Leon - Finisterre (i hope!!)
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?
End of last July I started at SJPdP and walked to Roncesvalles the next day. It was Sunday and I went to mass in the Church. After the mass there was a concert of Spanish medieval music. The musicians used different locations - the church, courtyard, cloister - for different pieces of music. It was brilliant and very beautiful. I walked as far as Leon and never met anyone else who was at the concert (to my disappointment) to talk about the event. It was a special start to the Camino for me.
 

AussieWayne

Walked Camino Francis April 2018 from SJPdP.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino St JAMES from SJPdP April 2018.
Plan Camino Portuguese April 2019
The biggest surprise of the camino was finding out that I'm actually quite a fun person, one that people like to be around. When I relayed that info to my wife back home, her reaction was something like "Well, duh...", or words to that effect. I have always felt clumsy and awkward in social situations, and as a result I think of myself as the quiet and solitary type. So that is how I started walking.
But I met a surprisingly large number of people who visibly enjoyed my company and made an effort to stick around a little longer. It was a bit bewildering, to tell you the truth, but also a very freeing feeling. I guess the time was right for 'seeing is believing'. I can honestly say that since my camino I have more friends than I had before, and up until now I'm making new ones at an almost alarming rate. I still feel clumsy and awkward, but it doesn't seem to limit me the way it did earlier.
And as a bonus, echoing @davebugg a little, walking the camino Ingles with my then 16 year old son a year later produced a similar result. I found out that he was way more adult, autonomous and responsible than I thought he was. Turns out that for me the camino is a quirky way to unravel assumptions...

The Camino does that. Don’t be surprised! I did Camino Frances in March/April 2018 and was stunned at the number of Christmas wishes I received before Christmas form people I walked with at various times. It’s a special activity which brings out the best in people.
 

catperson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
My first quip response
That i would get so many blisters lasting two weeks untill a light bulb went off and i changed my shoe lacing , all was well after that

Then thought 2 came to mind. I am vegetarian and worried so much beforehand about what i might eat. Spain does not have alot of items in their grocery stores or markets so i was pleasantly surprised to find my dannon a ctivia yogurt and my belvita chocolate breakfast wafers...

Should i say i was surprised that none of my many fears worries came true....

Should i say that i was surprised when i accepted that i didnt need to have every day planned out the nite before. I could live in the moment and it was great...

I might say i was surprised i didnt miss running , having been a runner 5-6 days week for over 35 years...


I could say i was surprised or in awe at the beauty of each day that unfolded as we walked. The small hamlets. The churches, The endless wheat fields, the mountains , the meseta...

I might say I was surprised how much i enjoyed the simplicity of every day, get up, walk, nap, eat. Sleep do it. Again....

I was surprised that me , who is not normally a group person, somehow got adopted by a rather large camino family from many countries and ages... a true delite and may have been the precious gift of the camino...

For the sake of keeping this somewhat brief.. i guess i am most surprised by how much i think about the camino every day still....( walked summer 17).... wanting to recapture that simplicity, gratitude, and in the moment feeling in my every day life
 

longwalker60

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2018
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?
I had many surprises, meeting great friendly people who all shared the same goal, and all were working together. But I have 2 that really stand out, they are the bookends to my journey. My first day, I made it on the train to SJPP with 5 minutes to spare, checked into the pilgrims office and was told there are no beds available. I could sleep in the local gym on a yoga mat. (This was after 18 hours of trains, planes and buses) I walked across the street, to purchase some trecking poles( mine were destroyed on the flight to Baritz_. I casually mentioned to the owner, that i could not believe that there were no beds available. The owner of the store, said hold on and made a phone call. By the end of the night, I had my own double bed, shared shower in a 300 yr old farm house. Breakfast included! The next day started off fresh..and so grateful.. There is magic on the camino!
My other experience, when I finished the camino, and I got my compastela, I looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow! What a perfect way to start and end my camino!
 

Attachments

Camino(s) past & future
😱
That there is something strange about the camino which I still dont understand. That calling everyone talks about. I took of last year september thinking I would only do this once in a lifetime. When I came back I felt it a lot. Then the camino magic started to happen. Or as they say the camino started providing even more then it already did, I know some of you dislike these clichés but I cant call it anything else. First I got the opportunity to volunteer in Grado, then I got selected for “veterans on the camino” and then I got a call if I was able to volunteer in roncesvalles. From having a hard time comming home to spending nearly the whole spring and summer on the camino. Even all the dates perfectly fitted together. Now that surprised me a lot and still does. Its kind of against all odds.

My most precious surprise however was comming home and having less nightmares. Less anxiety. Less PTSD. This is why I started the walk in the first place. I spent over 4 years in a war which didnt leave me untouched. I tried everything and nothing worked. The camino brought magic. Big (bad word) surprise!
So glad to hear your story. I donate to Veterans on the Camino because as a peacetime vet (Desert Storm) I can only imagine the environment you’ve been in. Glad to hear you’re on the road to recovery brother.
 

Greg Ludford

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
via Tolosana, via Aragones, Camino de Frances (08-11 2015)
C2C & TMB (2017)
VdlP-Sanabres (2018)
Lots of things surprised me, but - happily - I am easily surprised!

Not the MOST by any means, but one that comes to mind just now... After spending the whole day outside in the elements, I would have thought that I would look forward to being inside sometimes. Other than to sleep, I never wanted to be inside. At bars and cafes, I quickly paid so that I could go sit outside. If it was raining, I found a covered place, but I still preferred to be outside.

In the bigger cities, I loved sitting outside in the big plazas, watching couples having a glass of wine while their toddlers ran all over the place, grandmas in wheel chairs, gaggles of old men on benches, huddles of teenagers. Whenever I get back to the US from practically anywhere else in the world, I feel like we are an isolated, lonely culture. People are mostly inside their houses, places of business or in their cars in my town.
ditto Australia, we are losing (lost?) that community feeling. Shopping mall culture really doesn't cut the mustard. Hats off to the Spanish.
 

Greg Ludford

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
via Tolosana, via Aragones, Camino de Frances (08-11 2015)
C2C & TMB (2017)
VdlP-Sanabres (2018)
My biggest surprise on my first camino was how easy it was, physically and financially. I had allowed myself far more time and money than I needed, and had to hang around at the end for almost two weeks waiting until my return flight would leave. I never had a blister or sore feet, I never lay awake in dormitories listening to others snoring. Well, I did have two nights of not much sleep on the whole camino, the first being my first night on the camino, at Orisson, where someone who arrived earlier had shut all the windows and it was too hot to sleep. And one other night later, when a sturdy and vigorous young man spent the whole night tossing energetically in the top bunk and I didn't get much sleep in the bottom. Physically, it was easier than any hiking trip I had ever taken, and that was key. Not much to carry, many years of experience in mountain walking, which made the pilgrim routes seem like "a walk in the park." And I was 67 at the time. Now I hope to walk until I am 90.
Indeed was a surprise to me, seemed everyone had an aversion to open windows at night together with a mortal fear of mosquitos. Made for some amusing opn/shut/open games. I guess to each their own.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances (Sept-Nov 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2019)
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?
That the real Camino starts at the end....didn't believe it until I experienced it.
 

Fromista

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I walked once
One of my favorite questions to ask someone who has experienced something new is to ask what the biggest surprise was. The answers usually lead to an interesting discussion. The biggest surprise of my first Camino was how addicting the walking became. I absolutely loved it. I feared I would get bored with the walking, but the opposite was the case. I fell in love with it.

So how about you? What was the biggest surprise of your Camino?
tomnorth, the biggest surprise for me was that "the Camino gives me what I really need, not for what I was praying for."
 

yesshesaid

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2019)
That there is something strange about the camino which I still dont understand. That calling everyone talks about. I took of last year september thinking I would only do this once in a lifetime. When I came back I felt it a lot. Then the camino magic started to happen. Or as they say the camino started providing even more then it already did, I know some of you dislike these clichés but I cant call it anything else. First I got the opportunity to volunteer in Grado, then I got selected for “veterans on the camino” and then I got a call if I was able to volunteer in roncesvalles. From having a hard time comming home to spending nearly the whole spring and summer on the camino. Even all the dates perfectly fitted together. Now that surprised me a lot and still does. Its kind of against all odds.

My most precious surprise however was comming home and having less nightmares. Less anxiety. Less PTSD. This is why I started the walk in the first place. I spent over 4 years in a war which didnt leave me untouched. I tried everything and nothing worked. The camino brought magic. Big (bad word) surprise!
All of these posts are so heartening to me as I anticipate my first Camino—the reason for walking being a sorely felt need for connection and healing. Thank you all!!
 

EmoJohnson

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese coastal way (2017)
Camino Frances (May/June 2018)
Lots of things surprised me, but - happily - I am easily surprised!

Not the MOST by any means, but one that comes to mind just now... After spending the whole day outside in the elements, I would have thought that I would look forward to being inside sometimes. Other than to sleep, I never wanted to be inside. At bars and cafes, I quickly paid so that I could go sit outside. If it was raining, I found a covered place, but I still preferred to be outside.

In the bigger cities, I loved sitting outside in the big plazas, watching couples having a glass of wine while their toddlers ran all over the place, grandmas in wheel chairs, gaggles of old men on benches, huddles of teenagers. Whenever I get back to the US from practically anywhere else in the world, I feel like we are an isolated, lonely culture. People are mostly inside their houses, places of business or in their cars in my town.
YES! Thank you! Isolation from sense of community is what I felt returning to US. My cafe memories are so wonderful.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
1. That I actually made it.
2. The people I met.
3. That I did not mind sleeping in albergues, but really liked it.

Just to explain:
1. When I started my first camino in May 2006 everybody told me that I would most likely end up catching the bus. I was not very fond of sports at that time. I walked every single meter of the CF, even the unpleasant stretch into Burgos, and got addicted to walking the camino.
2. I would be a liar if I pretend that there are only nice people walking on the camino. Some are nasty, noisy, getting on your nerves. But overall you meet far more open-minded, friendly and interesting people than on any other holiday or at work. It does not count where they are from. Age, profession and social background do not prevent you from starting a conversation and enjoying it.
3. On my first camino I thought, that I would rather opt for private rooms as I could not imagine sharing my bedroom with lots of other people. 6 beds at Orrison seemed acceptable, but then at Roncesvalles the old dormitory with 160 people in it, what a shock. Thereafter 20 pilgrims in a classroom in Zubiri felt like mere luxury. And sometimes afterwards I started feeling uncomfortable when I had to take a private room, missing the company of the other pilgrims.

BC
Alexandra
 

efdoucette

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011 Camino Frances
2012 Porto
2013 Le Puy
2014 Francigena
2015 - 2018 More ...
My biggest surprise on my 1st Camino in 2011, was the mental relief that walking 32 days created.
I discovered that walking solo (probably 80% of the time) it was unavoidable to reflect and think about life. Many things happen in one's lifetime. I thought about the people in my life, and of those past. I thought about me, how was I doing?, in my beliefs, my values, my relationships. I realized "we" don't give life occasions due thought, things happen and we just tend to move on, life is so busy. Of course I didn't resolve everything but to be able to give things "time" was incredible. This became such a mental relief that it also became a physical relief. Totally unexpected. The Camino has made me more thoughtful, more tolerant, more kind (or at least I try).
 

Francois de Meillon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Part of (2018)
Primitivo (2019)
Finistere (2019)
Lots of things surprised me, but - happily - I am easily surprised!

Not the MOST by any means, but one that comes to mind just now... After spending the whole day outside in the elements, I would have thought that I would look forward to being inside sometimes. Other than to sleep, I never wanted to be inside. At bars and cafes, I quickly paid so that I could go sit outside. If it was raining, I found a covered place, but I still preferred to be outside.

In the bigger cities, I loved sitting outside in the big plazas, watching couples having a glass of wine while their toddlers ran all over the place, grandmas in wheel chairs, gaggles of old men on benches, huddles of teenagers. Whenever I get back to the US from practically anywhere else in the world, I feel like we are an isolated, lonely culture. People are mostly inside their houses, places of business or in their cars in my town.
Indeed. The Camino is a metaphor of life when it comes to people and their doings.
 

J.Patrick

Member
Camino(s) past & future
From Porto, Portugal, through Tui, Spain, in 2015.
Northern route in August/September 2017
When I began to plan my second camino (I had done the short Portuguese from Porto in 15) on the Norte, I had 2 friends and a brother who were all going to do sections of it with me. For very good reasons, they all backed out. I admit I was a little concerned about doing the Norte alone, as it has a deserved reputation for not being over populated. In my first 4 weeks on the Camino, I spent one day with some Germans who spoke English, and had two very happy meetups with a Canadian woman. Other than that, I was operating in Spanish (I had years in high school and college and a refresher course just before starting the Camino -- so I speak Spanish like a slow, not too smart 7 year old).

What surprised me was how deeply, deeply, deeply happy I was, all by myself, walking the gorgeous northern route, along the ocean, in the mountains, through the town and cities, with God as my companion, and very patient Spaniards along the way. What joy!
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP2Santiago completed (Sept.15, 2018).
It's been 4+ months since I completed the Camino Frances. Not a day goes by that I don't reflect on the excellent, once in a lifetime experience it was. What surprised me the most...that post Camino, the indelable memory of the Camino has taken up residence in my daily consciousness. Would I do it again? I pause to answer b/c I don't know if you can experience "perfect" twice.
The Camino experience provides an additional lens/filter through which to appreciate and understand humanity/life.
I appreciate this Forum, and all those who contribute their knowledge, time and experiences. A sincere thank you to each/all.
 

sal777

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
tomnorth, the biggest surprise for me was that "the Camino gives me what I really need, not for what I was praying for."
Absolutely this. I went for a nice walk in some warm weather. I came home with something completely different. Something, that after 18 months of trying, I still cannot put into words.
 

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