More practice required..

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When was the last time I walked more than 20k? It was probably in September before Burgos, watching the sunrise over the cathedral while the sun sets on my Camino. It was a good time and 20k was a breeze. I had good company and many good conversations.

Burgos cathedral

Since the New Year, I have barely walked more than 5k a day. Work has put a halt to that. Even the organised walks I join are far lower in distance to what I cover in Spain. I am so Camino unfit it’s not funny.

Anyhow, I have 4 months before myself and the brother travel to Ferrol and start off again. Luckily enough our days are not as long as they were back in September. Bring it on!

Two recent additions to ClearskiesCamino

Today, I have added 2 new files to the Camino Resources section of the blog – one gives a breakdown of how many pilgrims reached Santiago in 2018 and the other is my Packing List for my upcoming Celtic Camino in May. I hope they prove useful to you.

Some of my favourite accommodation on the Camino Frances

So I have been walking bits and pieces of the Camino Frances from St. Jean Pied de Port to Finisterre since 2011. I have been lucky enough to see Santiago a number of times. Some of the accommodation I have stayed in has been great, some not so good. But as a pilgrim, you ask for a bed and a roof over your head.

I have made a list of some of my favourite albergues and hostels on the Camino Frances. It might prove useful to you if you are planning to walk this route. You can download it here. It can also be found on my Camino Planning Links page.

Let me know of some of your favourite albergues, or where you had some of your best experiences. Buen Camino!

Camino de Santiago Android Phone Apps

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Just before I start, I must point out that this post is not for everyone. When it comes to phones or technology in general on the Camino, there are different types of pilgrim. There is the pilgrim who leaves his or her phone at home and wants to get the full Camino experience. There is the pilgrim who leaves his or her phone off whilst walking and uses it at the end of the day. And then there is the tech joy pilgrim. I am somewhere in the middle of the latter two. I usually have my Phone with me and use it as a Camera and a browser in wifi areas. However, there are more and more Camino related phone apps created with the pilgrim in mind. They have been developed with up-to-date information on the route and on albergues. Here are some of the best I have used while on the Camino. I own an Android phone so unfortunately, I can’t provide links for Apple devices. Here are just a few I have tried while in Spain.

Buen Camino de Santiago Pro (download)

Buen Camino de Santiago Pro

Buen Camino has sold thousands of guides of the Way of St James and continues to make available to pilgrims all the information required to complete the Way: maps, profiles, all types of accommodation and points of interest. You will find a profile of the route and maps, GPS of all types of accommodation and points of interest.

You can download the Camino de Baztán, Camino Francés, Camino Aragonés, Camino del Norte, Camino Portugués from Tui, the Camino Primitivo, and the Route extension to Fisterra-Muxia.

MAPS.ME – Offline Map and Travel (download)

An incredibly easy app to use. Download it and through wifi, download the maps that you need, whether it be Galicia or La Rioja or the whole of Spain. Then you will have offline maps on your phone before you go and save on mobile data. You also have the ability to create bookmarks which is handy.
It is also very useful if you are walking a quieter route.

Camino de Santiago Eroski Guide (download)

The Eroski Consumer guide shares all the secrets of the Way, exact kilometres of each route and stage, updated pictures, monuments and all the detailed description of the itinerary so you know at all times how to organize, what to see and what to do.
In the app you will find all the information the French Way (from Somport and Saint Jean Pied de Port), Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo, Camino de San Salvador, Basque Way of Interior, Road Baztanese, Portuguese Way, English Way, Way Catalan by San Juan de la Peña, Via de la Plata, Camino Sanabrés and to Fisterra and Muxía.

The Wise Pilgrim Collection (download)

Along with the printed selection of guidebooks, there are a wide number of apps to choose from. There are apps for a number of routes. That said, I prefer the guidebook in this case and do tend to carry the WP guide with me when on Camino. But it is entirely your choice. The guidebooks can be bought at www.wisepilgrim.com.

Camino de Santiago Companion (download free demo)

Camino Companion is a guide for your Camino on the French Way. It lists more than 1,300 important waypoints (with 1,360 photographs) from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Muxia. 
The free demo covers the 42-mile (68-km) segment from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona. 
In-app purchases include:
– The 557-mile/896-km Camino Frances from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Muxia. The guidebook lists every waypoint in order by distance along the trail and how far away you are from each waypoint. The guidebook also includes a detailed town guide for major resupply points, towns, and services along the Camino de Santiago. 

The Way of Saint James – CaminoTool (download)

Another handy app that will help you find something on the Camino. CaminoTool helps you find what you need whilst ensuring the best quality and service: accommodation, restaurants, food, bars, pharmacies, podiatrists, dentists, hospitals, souvenir shops, footwear, excursions, taxis, bookshops.

miCamino – my Camino de Santiago Mobile (download)

Through miCamino you will discover the different routes that make up the Camino de Santiago.
You will learn information from 5 different routes ranging from accommodation to GPS.
The app connects with all major social networks too so you can share your experience.

Weekend Watch #45 – The Camino Song

Mark Shea walked the Camino Frances way back in 2004. His Camino was caught on camera from St. Jean and he was one of the first to post such video on YouTube. His documentary ‘The Way’ has well over a million hits to this day.

Just before this New Year, he asked pilgrims to send their favourite picture on the Camino, and as you can predict, the response was outstanding. He chose 200 to create a collage. He used “Nature Anthem” by Grandaddy as perfect music.

The result was posted on Facebook last week and to this day, it has seen over 10,000 views. It’s short, it’s to the point, it’s inspiring, it will make you think of walking a few kilometres in Spain. Enjoy!

Weekend Watch #44 – A Brother’s Way

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I stumbled across this 90-minute movie on YouTube today. In May to June 2018, Jeremy Frick walked the Camino de Santiago from France to the ocean to deliver his brother’s ashes. Five years prior, his brother, Jimmy, died in a sudden accident. It is incredibly moving, especially when he arrives at the Cruz de Ferro. If you have time, please watch.

2018 becomes 2019…

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So here we are..2019! Happy New Year! The celebrations are over, the good cutlery has been put away and we have settled down to another year. I hope you had a good few weeks. Christmas has been good in the Smith household. Strangely enough, the last time I felt this way was January 2018 and I was preparing for a Camino #1 with the brother. As we all know, those few weeks went very well and we enjoyed our time walking into Santiago de Compostela. So much so, that we are going back this May.

Celtic Camino & Camino Finisterre

May 7th – we both fly to Santiago and aim for Ferrol. From there we walk to Betanzos, on the Ferrol leg of the Camino Ingles. The following day, we take a bus to A Coruna where we will walk to Santiago. I’m looking forward to these few days between A Coruna and Bruma as it is pretty quiet. Once in Santiago, we walk to Finisterre and the end of the world. I was here last in 2016 when I witnessed the sunset. It is the true end of one’s Camino. Just 122 days to go at the time of writing.

Hercules Tower and the statue of King Breogan
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Dabbling in Photography

Ok, to say this is a bit of a whim is an understatement. I have been thinking of taking up photography for quite some time and I have just purchased a DSLR camera (with thanks to some friends). I am waiting for it to arrive in the post but in the meantime, I have been watching “how-to” and “what-not-to-do” videos on YouTube. I chose Canon and didn’t buy too high-end. So, if I do enjoy it, I can upgrade the body or lens in the future. I will take it out on walks and see if it catches on. More from this in the near future.

One year in Donabate

Time flies when you are having fun eh? Well, I’m not sure about fun, but time is flying. I can’t believe it’s over a year since I moved into this new place. I’ve tried to make the place as homely as possible. I’ve got my compostelas hanging in my bedroom. There is a large Wise Pilgrim map hanging in my dining room and these large posters are hanging on the wall in front of the couch. I mean, I get to look at these every day! It’s great. I also have a large collection of fridge magnets with a Camino theme. So I’m quite happy with how it’s going. Just for the time being, that is.

Possible 2nd Camino for 2019?

I’m keeping my options open for a 2nd return to Spain in September. It will either be the Portuguese Coastal Route or the short snippet of the Via de la Plata. Nothing is set in stone yet. Updates will follow.