Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Leaving Spain

This is my last night in Spain. Now that I've found a café with jazz & wifi, it's too soon, but then again, after speaking with Anita on the phone earlier today, perhaps it's not soon enough!

Tomorrow, the train: what took me 30 days to walk will take me 13 hours to sit through. Then, the overnight train to Paris.

Spain is gorgeous, and Santiago has its treats, but the last two nights were the first time in over four weeks that I've stayed in one place for so long, so yes I'm getting restless. Oh, and I can't wait to emerge from the traib in Paris wearing my zip-offs, hiking boots and bandana and make the French choke on their morning coffees as they murmur 'trés vulgar!'

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Loving your enemies

I used to think that I didn't have any enemies, but now on the camino I see that's not true. Not only have I met some great people on the camino and made a few friends, I've also had to deal with some quite antisocial behaviour from others and myself - snoring.

There is a basic injustice about snoring: this sign that someone else is sleeping soundly is the same thing that robs everyone else of a good night's sleep.

In the daytime snorer's are normal people, but at night they are transformed into something altogether else as they insist on demanding one's full attention as they perform their best imitation of a jet engine or Harley Davidson. After a long day of walking, a shower and a sleep are the two things that not only allow one to relax but get ready for the next long day of walking. So, imagine how hard it is to love those who seem so intent on depriving me of the sleep I need. I don't enjoy being grumpy, but as one snorer replied when told of his behaviour, "what can I do?"

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Someone commented that there aren't all that many 'spiritual' posts on my blog. In fact the blogging isn't going as I'd liked: I already mentioned the difficulty connecting, and add to that short amount of time I have when I do connect. Walking at about 5km an hour for (on average) 30km a day means - among other things - moving slowly, but also moving often. So time for extended reflecting and writing usually comes at the expense of sleep. But still, I have been writing, and when I can intend to transform journal entries to blog posts.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Getting closer

Well, it seems that all of the extra walking has paid off: I'm making good time and should be in Santiago before too long, just over a week now. It's exciting to look at a map of Spain and to trace the route. Initially it felt daunting. Each day brought new blisters, but now each day is 20-30km closer to my destination.

It's so nice to have afternoons off and be walking only 4-6 hours a day, rather than 8 or more, as now the longest days are behind me. There's surprisingly a lot to be done in the evenings: mostly it's just washing (I only brought two sets of clothes) and also some shopping so I don't have to eat out every meal. Life on the road has it's own rhythms, but still each day on the road creates work for that night.

More photos

Yes, I know that a lot of people have been enjoying the photos and wanting more... but it's time consuming.
Finally, I got around to it though. I hope you enjoy them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Normal life intrudes

I've really enjoyed having time outside of everyday time. Pilgrimage has its own rhythms and routines, and as a friend I've made along the way explained: the walk doesn't add anything new to who you are, it just istills it so you can see and deal with that reality.

Well, that time apart has been put on hold: yesterday I had to do some shopping, including replacing a phone charger. Until now blogging and keeping touch has been relatively easy, but I think I will be getting a bit more remote. Sorry, but that means less blog posts. The other thing is that finding an internet cafe or wifi hotspot also involves a big trade off when I have to eat and get ready for the next day, and even sleep. I find that walking is not the only part of pilgrimage, there are 'chores' also. I do hope to keep things up to date, but it's like shopping in a way - another 'normal' thing to add to the list that doesn't really get me closer to Santiago.

Also, though I've got some great photos, this internet cafe doesn't have an SD card reader or wifi, so sorry but none of them now.

Here's a quick recap of some highlights though:
  • sleeping one night on the beach - buying an icecream then unrolling the sleeping bag and still waiting at 10pm for the sun to set.
  • another night in a monastery - it was a long, hard walk, with an afternoon thundershower but Valdedios was lovely, and the hospitality was grand.
A few more nights on the coast, then I head inland. Hopefully some more nice pilgrim hostels to stay at.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Busy walking

Okay, a quick update from a public computer in a department store...
I'm in Oviedo, which is about 60% of the kilometres. In days, I'm about half way through, so things are going fairly well.
I've been without a phone or email for ages - hence the blog silence - but hopefully that won't be for a lot longer... but who knows.
I have plenty of cool photos and stories, but no time (yet) to post, I'm afraid.
As a consolation, head over to Anita's Facebook page and check out our holiday pics.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


Well, I was wrong about being a quarter of the way to Santiago: it's actually more like one third!
I'm now in Santander and enjoying the relatively flat, but usually paved and sometimes dangerous roads. Life had settled into a nice little routine, walking in the morining, stopping in a large town or city for lunch and a siesta before walking again in the afternoon or evening to a small city to sleep in. Well, you know how I am with routine, today I mixed things up. I walked pretty much straight through to this regional city, and was glad I did. This afternoon I got my first rain while walking, only a few drops but I'm hoping that the weather forecast is wrong for th next few days and that it stays dry. I'm also planning shorther walks now that I'm a few days ahead, to get back into the smaller towns.

Flickr photoset

It seems like the easiest way to keep updating photos is through Flickr. So here is my photo set of the camino del norte. I hope you like them, I'm having to be selective, but hope to add at least one for each day when I am able to upload.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Almost a quarter of the way

Due to the lift I got to Bilbao and two big days if walking, I'm bow almost a quarter of the distance to Santiago. That puts me about 2-3 days ahead of schedule. So, it may mean that I get a break (who knows when I might be forced by illness or injury to slow down or rest up) or simply get to Santiago early. I like this second option.

Today I walked 30km and yesterday 35. If- as I plan - I walk an 30 again tomorrow, I will have done in three days what the guide has in four. The added benefit of this is that I end up having lunch and a siesta where most others stay the night, and then go on to a smaller town or village for dinner and to sleep. Often its easier to find good food in these smaller towns, and the smaller refuges are quieter.

Yesterday I caught up with an earlier travel companion and at about 8.30pm we finally arrived in the small town we were to stay at. The key had to be collected from the local bar (the only one) which was a great excuse to take our packs off and have a cold one. Then when we got to the newly renovated refuge, we found we were the only ones. The quiet night was welcome.

Of course the larger hostels like we're staying at tonight have their benefits: fridge, lounge, and wifi for example.

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