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Archive for July 8th, 2016

When there’s something you’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and suddenly you make the decision to do it and it’s nerve-wracking…..which is weird really but there it is – I’ve finally put a date to my Camino.

It’s been a dream of mine to do ‘The Camino’ for a very long time. I’m not sure when exactly I first became aware of The Camino, that, is lost in the mists of time. But some years ago my father planned to do The Camino on his bike and suddenly I was like….Oh okay….then during some visit or other to the UK he and I discussed the possibility of doing it together but due to the fact that he wanted to cycle the route but I wanted to walk…unfortunately we never did get that off the ground.

me and dad 2011 (1)

My Dad and I in 2011, the last photo ever taken of us together

Although he did do it again last year with one of my younger sisters, albeit not very successfully apparently as by then he was in the early stages of dementia and not only lost his passport but was terribly slow and struggled along.  But since he was in his mid-80’s by then, he could be forgiven for struggling. And of course he has since passed away (not connected to the Camino).

Doing the Camino was one of the ‘things’ on my ‘list of things to do’ once I got my British Passport 🙂 and like the sorting out of my possessions in South Africa the time has now come. And so project #Camino2016 has begun!

I immediately started doing some research on routes and best time of the year to travel etc etc. What I discovered is that there are numerous routes besides ‘The Way’!!! I finally decided on the Portuguese Coastal Route starting from Porto. Besides the fact that it is relatively flat in comparison to The Frances route which is 790kms and traverses mountain ranges, I have always wanted to go to Portugal so this was a great way to combine the two. I would love to go to Lisbon of course, but since it’s a lot further and I don’t have unlimited time, I settled on Porto as my launching point. However, on the plus side Porto looks amazing, so I’m really excited about starting there.

I’m planning on spending 3 days in Porto to explore then on the fourth day I shall head over to the Cathedral and start my 285km Camino journey from there.

I joined a group on Facebook; exclusively for women, the group allows women who have already walked the Camino, no matter which route, to offer advice and encouragement to those planning their journey. It allows us to ask for help or information and allows women who are already walking to post photos and tips and hints on what to wear, where to stay, what to expect en-route, what to look out for (like insane gropers), where to eat and also just some of the most stunning and amazing photos. It’s certainly made me impatient to start!!! LOL I’ve also starting studying photos on Instagram. Ohmygosh! Some of the places are just stunning.

Next was suitable gear…..I had bought my jacket while I was in South Africa as well as pants with zips and lots of lovely pockets (I love pants with pockets). I also bought a thermal top and leggings, socks, shoes, gloves and other bits and bobs. So thrilling to start getting my gear together.camino 2016.05.24 camino(4) Once I got back to the UK, I started doing more research on what to take and what to leave…keeping in mind the recommended weight of 10% of body weight…..I’m trying really hard to NOT lose any weight so I can take more with me!!! Hahaha.

I got online and ordered a whole lot of goodies from Mountain Warehouse, a parcel I received with much excitement and couldn’t wait to get it all on and start wearing it in.  I’ve also bought stuff that I will clearly not get to use (go figure) and some that after trying it out I have found to be unsuitable.2016.05.31 (1) So it goes I guess. But slowly I’m whittling it down to what I will or won’t take. Veterans of the Camino recommend weighing EVERYTHING and note it down…apparently after carrying the backpack for a couple of days for up to 8 hours a day, the pack gets heavier and heavier. Hmmm.camino (2)

I also got online and started to plan my route. As I say the Portuguese coastal route appeals to me the most…there’s also an inland route, but the thought of walking alongside the seas (well ocean actually) for 5 days appeals greatly. So I zoomed in on the maps and listed the towns along the way; potential places to stay and noted the distance between each. I don’t want to walk my feet off, so I’m limiting my distance to 28kms on any one day.

I also noted places that have lots of historical buildings and churches and things to see.  I can’t go to Portugal for 2 weeks and NOT explore….that would be sacrilege. And so after many, many hours online I have identified the best places to explore where I’ll stay for two nights, and which towns I can just sleep over and leave the next day.

Working out the various stages has been fun too…I worked out the distances with great care since as I say I didn’t want to walk more than 28kms on any one day…some places just don’t play fair…33kms!! So it’s been a real challenge to plan each stage. I’ve also learned so much I never knew about Portugal…I may just end up not coming back to the UK LOL. Portugal sounds absolutely fantastic. The towns have so much history and having looked at photos of some church interiors, I can tell already that I’m going to be taking a LOT of photos.

At the midway point of my journey, I’ll leave Portugal from Valenca, cross into Spain and walk the final stages from Tui to Santiago de Camino…oh my word, when I write that it gives me a thrill…of anticipation and a healthy dose of fear. I love walking and that will be a real pleasure, I love being on my own so that’s something I’m looking forward to and exploring is right up my alley….it’s looking to be a really amazing journey. The section from Tui to Santiago is the most important stage, I’ll do this over 5 days via Vigo and at just over 100kms it will qualify me for my Compostela….the certificate you receive from the Cathedral in Santiago for completing the route as a pilgrim. In order to ‘prove’ you’ve done the required 100km’s you get stamps in your Pilgrims Passport along the way from all sorts of places, churches, alburgues, restaurants and other such places…not always easy to identify but apparently once you say you’re a ‘pilgrim’ the locals are mostly very happy to help.  I am planning on learning some Portuguese and Spanish so that I can communicate.

My sister is loaning me her Spanish phrase book so I guess it’s time to start learning a new language.

Bring on the Camino!!!!camino 2016.05.24 camino(3)

 

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