So we completed our talk..and it was a tremendous success. It was on Saturday night in Herbertstown Hall, Limerick and we had an attendance of 60 people from the locality. The advertising poster stated that those giving the talk were veteran pilgrims with the aim of passing on information to get people on “their way”. We received some good feedback at the end of the night and I would be eager to know if people do actually make their way to Spain as a result of our talk. Some people had walked from Sarria to Santiago previously with a tour group but wanted to return and walk another section.
We started the night by showing a short video, chosen by myself. It is by far my favourite and gets the spine tingling everytime I watch it. Afterwards, I started the talk with a brief presentation which lasted roughly 20 minutes. Trust me, speaking to a group is tough going, but I got into a stride shortly after I started. I suppose I wanted to talk about what people need to consider before they travel. I talked briefly about my own Camino experience and how I found out about it. I was eager to talk about the difference between my first Camino and my following four; my first being structured, and the following being fluid and I let my feet do the thinking. l also talked about the below topics:
- The History behind the Camino de Santiago
- Why is the Camino so popular?
- Why do people walk the Camino?
- The different routes to Santiago
- The popularity of the Camino Frances and why that is
- What are the best parts to walk giving alternatives to starting in Sarria
- How to travel to the Camino de Santiago
- When is the best time to walk, and
- The advantages and disadvantages of walking in Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter
Giving facts and figures may not be high up on a prospective pilgrim’s list of required information, but it may be a deciding factor should you wish to walk in July or in November.
Next up, another veteran talked about the practical elements to planning. We talked about the male and female rucksack and what items of clothing to bring. There was a lot of chatter in the audience when a sleeping bag was pulled out from the rucksack! Many of the people who attended have not heard of the Camino, or have walked through a tour company, so carrying a rucksack and sleeping bag would be new to them. The different types of accommodation and their costs were discussed next. The following topics were discussed also:
- Food tips – where to eat?
- Costs – we stressed that €30 to €40 is plenty to spend in one day, should you hope to stay in albergues
- Camino etiquette
- Finally, the credencial and compostele was shown to the audience.
To finish up the evening, we were treated to a Camino story by Neil Horgan, a storyteller whom I met in Burgos 2013. He is a pleasure to listen to and his story gave the night a human element. We were treated to stories about the people he had met on his time in Spain in 2013. He had met all types of people from all over the world each with one goal..to walk to Santiago.
Questions were taken by the three of us from the audience. Most of the questions were about accommodation – is there a need to book ahead? All three of us had walked numerous Caminos and only once could we not find a bed. While the option is there to book ahead, it was stressed that there is no need. New albergues open every season and if two are full, another one will have free beds. People like to book through tour operators to have “peace of mind” but doing so forces you to stick their plan. We discussed the option of having your backpack transported by services such as Jacotrans, should you need to do so.
When the talk was over, we provided the audience with an information sheet with links, transport information and packing lists.