I published the first in this series last week and have got a great response so far. It was great to receive Linda’s contribution and I’d like to thank her for that. This week, I posed the same questions to a great couple who write over on wisemonkeysabroad.com. Le and David love to travel and write about their times abroad. They have ventured to many places I will only see on postcards and visited Ireland at the start of this year. However, Le & David both walked the Camino de Santiago in September 2014 from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago and I was really interested to hear how they got on. So here we go…
1) How did you first hear about The Camino de Santiago and when did you decide to walk it?
We heard about it back in 2008 through a work colleague of Le’s at the time. We didn’t think much more about it until in 2013, we were speaking to a family who did the last 100 km and loved it. We decided that it would be something we needed to do before we turned 40 (in 8 or so years time). Somehow within a matter of weeks, it went from doing 100 km to doing the 800km from St Jean Pied de Port. No one ever mentioned to us the spiritual component nor mentioned how much it would change our lives.
2) I find that planning for an upcoming Camino can be almost as enjoyable as walking it. How did you research and plan The Camino de Santiago?
We actually didn’t research or plan it. The most planning we did was try and train for it. The way we organised our Camino was through a company – We were travelling through Europe for 2 months prior to starting the Camino, we placed the planning into someone else’s hands. We didn’t want to travel with only Camino gear and there was no way we could carry everything to walk the Camino either. So we needed an option. With the company, they booked us into all private rooms with ensuites and had our luggage transferred. They mapped out our days (including rest days). We were very happy with this arrangement. From our perspective, we went on the Camino “blind”. Leading up, we also refused to look at any pictures or read too many blogs about the Camino because we didn’t want to experience it before we did the Camino. So we had NO expectations. We didn’t watch the movie, “The Way” as many people suggested. We wanted to experience everything first hand. We also didn’t train as hard as we should because we had read, “why walk the Camino before you actually walk the Camino?”
3) What advice or tips can you give future pilgrims walkers who might be considering walking The Camino de Santiago?
– Use Vaseline on your feet.
– Learn to tie your laces so your shoes don’t slip or rub.
– Do the Camino YOUR way…there is no right or wrong way!
– Don’t pass judgment about how others do the Camino because that in itself is not what the Camino is about.
– Enjoy yourselves. It’s not a race!
– Don’t just go from one place to the next… actually enjoy the journey along the way.
4) Did you face any challenges?
Every day was a challenge. You learn very quickly on the Camino that you will be challenged physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But the beauty of all the challenges we faced is that we learnt many valuable lessons that we have been able to apply into life outside of the Camino.
5) I’m a big fan of Spanish food and drink. What were your three favorite traditional meals along the route?
6) Molinaseca and Belorado are favourite towns of mine along the Camino. Do you have a favourite spot?
– Burgos: it was where we celebrated our wedding anniversary on the Camino
– Santo Domingo
7) One can feel a range of emotions on arriving into Santiago de Compostela and seeing the Cathedral standing tall in the Praza de Obradoiro. How did you feel when you completed your Camino?
We hugged each other and cried. It wasn’t the sheer sight of the cathedral but it was the experience. We had been through a relatively tumultuous few years prior to the Camino for varying reasons and also the spiritual journey that is the Camino overwhelmed us so much. And we felt like we had become different people because of the 800km. We were also devastated that this beautiful experience was at an end. We would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
8) Looking back, do you think you were prepared for your Camino de Santiago? Would you do something different?
No, we didn’t even know what Buen Camino was and we also didn’t even know how to use the Brierley Guidebook. So you could say, we were not prepared at all but we would NOT have done it differently. We loved the way we did it, without any preconceptions.
Thanks very much for the contribution, Le & David.
You can “like” their page on facebook here. Another “Camino Through My Eyes” will be posted early next week.