My time in Spain was spent differently than any other country I visited. First of all I walked across the border from France, St. Jean Pied de Port. Second, the majority of the time I spent in Spain was on the Camino de Santiago. A very worthwhile pilgrimage. I was a pilgrim on the French route which meanders through some of Spain's most beautiful country. Since my time in the country was so different, I decided to record in my Online Journal differently. While I was on the Camino there are a few things I did not do. Because I was walking most of the daylight hours I did not have time to keep a written journal as I had done in the past. Since I was also walking quite a few kilometers during the day I decided it would be best not to drink any alcohol while I was on the Camino. After taking care of three of my very good pilgrim friends in Mansilla de las Mulas, I'm glad I made that choice.
Before I dive into this exciting new format I'd like to make some general comments about the Camino de Santiago. In doing this I hope to answer most of your questions that you may have in your head as you go through these days in my journal as I stare at the camera lens.
Camino means 'the way' in Spanish.
There are many Camino's in Europe. I walked the most popular Camino called The French Route.
I started my Camino in France, St. Jean Pied de Port.
I ended in Santiago Compostella, Spain.
The Northern part of Spain is absolutely beautiful country, especially by foot.
The Spanish people are very patient, kind and generous.
You meet a lot of interesting people on the Camino. To see the general photo's I took while I was on my Camino go here.
I had a fantastic time in Santiago. To see the general photo's I took while I was in Santiago go here.
I came back shortly after completing my Camino since my bank had closed, it was unfortunate.
On the Camino I generally stayed in a Refugio or Albergue. These generally have sheetless bunks in communal dorms, toilets and showers (sometimes sex-segregated) and kitchens. They are run by parishes, local governments, Camino associations and private owners.
A Refugio is generally located every 15km.
Most Refugio's rely on pilgrim's donations, but can generally cost about 3 Euro.
You can typically stay in a Refugio for one night, more nights with good reason and prior permission.
I did not do any special training to prepare for my Camino.
Yes I lost some weight, however that was not *my* objective.
I mostly bought and carried food on my Camino.
I had my own sleeping bag.
My pack weighed from 15 - 20 kilograms, depend on how much food I was carrying.
Due to the time of the year I did my Camino, I walked generally from 8:00 ~ 17:00.
Yes I got off the Camino a few times, but it wasn't too big a deal since I was always heading in a Westerly direction.
The French route is generally marked very well, especially in Spain.
Knowing a little Spanish can go a long ways.
The Camino is not a fucking race.
If you are thirsting for more information here are a few sites (though your favorite search engine will likely turn these up, and more!).:
Whenever you choose and for whatever reason you decided to pilgrimage to Santiago, you've made a good choice. Any time of the year will present it's own unique experiences and challenges. Let there not be a season for pilgrimage. Let us come as we may.