More practice required..

1

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.

Camino de Santiago Android Phone Apps

5

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!

2018 becomes 2019…

2

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
B

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.

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?

Olentzero – A Basque Christmas Tradition

2

Over the last number of years, I have let my understanding of the Spanish language subside, mainly due to not using it. So I decided I would give it one more shot and see where it took me. I recently attended a conversational Spanish class in a busy Dublin city centre. The profesora gave us the challenge of talking about how we usually celebrate Christmas and what traditions we have, and we would present this to the class. All well and good. 

Now I need to mention that the profesora has lived in the Basque region of Bilbao for quite some time before moving to Dublin so when it was her time to talk about how she and her family celebrate Christmas, my eyes lit up! There are so many differences to how the Irish celebrate the few days, however, everything is centred around the family. Which is the right way, I suppose.

One of the biggest surprises for me is the Basque tradition of Olentzero – 
the equivalent of Santa Claus in the Basque Country. Olentzero lives or lived (depending on what you believe) in the mountains, is a coal miner and descends to town to give presents to the children on Christmas Eve. He smokes a pipe, is normally dressed in traditional costumes and wears a Basque beret. If you are bad, it is believed that you receive a piece of coal from Olentzero. Better than a Playstation 4 so! 
In modern celebrations during the Christmas season, children dress in traditional peasant garb and parade through the streets with an adult-sized representation of Olentzero while singing humorous songs written in the mythical figure’s honor. It’s also a fairly common practice to hand out candy and treats to the costumed children, similar to the manner in which Halloween is celebrated. 

Links: