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.

6 Things I Did in 2018


6 Things I Did in 2018

Another year has passed. So much has happened in the past 12 months involving the Camino. It’s nice to have the last few weeks free to reflect on the past and think of the future. I’ve decided to do another post where I look back on 2018. 

  1. The end of the year saw the first ever Camino Society Ireland Photo Contest on the 16th of December 2017 at St. James Church in Dublin. A photo I took near Ledigos was included in that exhibition and also in an exhibition in the Cervantes Institute in Lincoln Place. I wrote about the first exhibition here and the second exhibition in March here. These same photos have travelled from Ireland to Spain and back again and are currently situated in the Information Centre in St. James Street. 
  2. Another way of being a pilgrim on the Camino is to Volunteer. I gladly “give back” to the Camino through Camino Society Ireland. As well as giving information in the centre in St. James Street in Dublin, I edit their quarterly newsletter “Shamrocks And Shells” and help with social media. The newsletter is now a little over a year old and 4 issues have been produced, with over 20 thousand views. Something I am quite proud of.
  3. The first Celtic Camino Festival in Westport was a success. I was there from the 13th to the 15th of April 2018 and it was marked with talks, a showing of the Camino Voyage, and a Celtic Camino walk. I wrote an article here.
  4. December 28th will mark my 1st year in Donabate. A great little town but with so much work planned for the future, I’m not sure if I am to call this home just yet. Over 700 homes have been approved, but without the right facilities and infrastructure, it will be chaos going to and from work. The Northern Commuter train line is fine but there are no bus services. 
  5. I walked the Camino Portuguese with my brother from A Guarda in May. We walked into Santiago in the rain. I loved every second of it.
  6. Immediately on returning, I booked flights to return to the Camino Frances. I walked from Puente la Reina to Burgos in September.
6 Photo Memories of 2018
June pointing the way to the heart on the way to Ledigos. June was one of the many amazing peregrinos I met in September 2017. This photo was chosen for the exhibition.
Starting out at A Guarda in May. The waves were rough that morning.
At Susi’s (@conchasdelcamino) stall before Arcade on the Portuguese Camino. A gem of a woman
Back on the Frances – a look of guilt! 
With Carsten – a Camino brother – walking to Santo Domingo on a very hot day
Reaching a goal – Burgos Cathedral

A List of What You Want to Change in the New Year

There are many things in my life I am happy with. I’m loving life in my new home, I have many good friends but I would be lying if I said I am 100% happy with my lot. I’m not. There are a few areas I want to better myself in and there is no time like the New Year to start. So here’s my list for 2018:

  • Focus on my blog. My blog has been slipping. I just need to allocate my time more evenly. I have upgraded the blog in the last few weeks so there is no excuse now for more content. With planned Caminos in May and September, I will hope to upload videos from my time in Spain.
  • Think of ways to walk a full 30+ day Camino, whilst still managing to pay a mortgage. 
  • Plan a trip to Canada to visit peregrino friends (for 2019 or beyond).
  • Improve my writing, maybe find a writing skills course.
  • Make more of an effort to meet new people and be more social.
  • Dig out my guitar again: it has been so long since I played a tune. I guess confidence comes into it. 
Your Resolutions?

And there we have it. Another summary of my year. How was your 2018?