Weekend Watch #51 – Camino Frances from Sarria

This Weekend Watch falls on St. Patrick’s weekend and it has a distinct Irish feel to it. Not only does the video show a good part of Galicia, Ireland’s unofficial fifth province, but this pilgrim arrived at A Coruña before making his way to Sarria where he started his Camino. I look forward to seeing Breoghan and the Tower of Hercules in May. In the meantime, enjoy Galicia through this video.

To watch other Weekend Watches, check out my archives

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!

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?

Post-Camino Equipment Shakedown

So how did my gear get on after my Camino? In this post, I will tell you how the kit I brought fared and if it needs any improvement.

Backpack – Lowe Alpine 35litre Trail – I loved this pack. It served me well. It didn’t cause me any problems. I suppose the only issue I had, was with the zip-tie to close the pack itself. The two ends of the tie had a habit of going missing inside the pack and I had to go looking for them which caused me angst.
Trail Shoes – Meindl Philadelphia GTX trail shoes – Fine but not cut out for more than one Camino. They were comfortable and I had just the one minor blister. But they were battered by the time I finished up. I left them in Burgos and have since bought a new pair of Salomon X-Ultras.
Something for the rain – Berghaus rain jacket and Columbia rain trousers – Not used. The weather was superb save for a freak shower in Belorado.
Contigo 720ml water bottle – I loved this bottle, a little pricey but will do me for many more Caminos.

Clothes:
Columbia zip off trousers – No issues until I left the bottom half of the trousers in Belorado. An error on my behalf. So they need replacing.
Socks – 2 pair of Quechua socks and 1 pair of Smartwool – Perfect. No need to make any changes.
Underwear – 3 pair of Under Armour – Under Armour is a top class brand. I won’t be changing from them. I may reduce the number of socks and briefs to 2 on my Celtic Camino.
Baseball cap – Jack Wolfskin – Great, I wore it all the time.
Buff – Random buff I bought in Santiago in May – Not used
Sandals  – A cheap pair useful for airing the feet in the evenings – Great for the evenings. As I have said, they don’t need to be expensive. Just as long as your feet are comfortable after your day’s walking.
Craghoppers long sleeve shirt – Great. I wore this in May and it is perfect. Quick dry and great protection against the sun.
Helly Hansen t-shirt & T-shirt purchased in Santiago in May – Same as above. I may drop one t-shirt next May.
North Face fleece – Great in the morning, but it got warm very early. I had the fleece off before noon most days. 
Towel – 1 quick dry Microfibre towel – Ideal and essential that it is quick dry. I have this particular one 2 years now. I won’t be changing any time soon.
Sea to Summit – Silk liner sleeping bag – Used every night bar my first and last. It fits in my hand and it takes less than a minute to pack away. It’s perfect.

First Aid & Blister Kit:
Blister kit with a selection of compeed and plasters. – I used this once, but I make sure I bring it every year. Essential
Gehwol 75ml Foot cream – Used every morning and evening. 
Deep heat – Not used
Earplugs, perfect for those noisy albergues! – Oh boy, these were used, I can’t imagine a Camino without earplugs!!
Hand cream – Very handy to have.
Wash kit including All purpose soap 100ml – I just love the Lifeventure 100ml all-purpose soap and use it for every Camino. I always have some left over when I return home. At less than a tenner, I will stock up on some more.
Safety pins for hanging up laundry – I might return to pegs next time. I had lost a lot of the pins by the time I reached Burgos.
Toothpaste & Toothbrush – Goes without saying

Electronics:
Phone, charging cable & adaptor- My mobile phone was very battery intensive and I used it to take photos and keep in touch with those at home. Naturally, the battery would die sooner than later. I brought a cable and adaptor which just didn’t do the job so I was left two days with no power and no photos. I did, however, buy a Spanish adaptor so I have that for future Caminos.
Fitbit & charging cable – No issues with the Fitbit, but the number of steps I had walked was just not important on these ten days! I may leave it behind next May.
Small over-the-shoulder bag – For all the essentials, it’s good to have one instead of taking off the bag everytime you need something.
Wise Pilgrim guidebook – Well worth a look! 
Passport
Pilgrim passport – Supplied by Camino Society Ireland

So what do you reckon? Is there anything you would add or take away from that list?

 

A New Camino, and a return to Galicia

I thoroughly enjoyed my ramble through Navarra and La Rioja in September. The weather was fine, many people were met but the days spent there trickled away all too quickly. I hope to keep in touch with my new found friends electronically, and maybe we will meet in the months and years to come. On arriving in Burgos, I sat in the municipal albergue and had a few moments to myself. I thought about the next one, the next footstep to Santiago, or even if there was to be one!

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The majority of my Caminos since 2011 have been on the French Way, and I don’t see that changing as my main Camino in the near future. My feet are safe there. I will dip in and out and walk a week here and there. I’ve grown to like the people of La Rioja and Castilla y Leon and made friends in Burgos and Belorado. I get great joy from meeting people, staying in different villages, wandering through the meseta especially. But I have unfinished business.

On the 18th of June 2017, I walked from Bray to St. James Church (32km), the first part of the Celtic Camino and on the 19th of May this year,  I walked St Kevin’s way to Glendalough. So I have a Celtic Camino Compostela for the short distance walked in Ireland. The next stage is to walk the remainder (75km) to Santiago from A Coruña – hopefully, May 2019. This should take 3-4 days. This is a little too short for my liking so I will extend it by walking to Finisterre, another 3-4 days.

I hope I can bring my brother with me. It would mean a lot if he is available for the trip. He has the Celtic Camino Compostela also, having walked from Bray to St. James Church on two occasions.

For more information about the Celtic Camino and the Camino Ingles in general, check out the below links:

Information on the Celtic Camino on Camino Society Ireland
Guidebook to the Celtic Camino
Camino Ingles on Eroski

La-Coruña-arriba-Izqda-Galicia
Breogán and the Tower of Hercules / Source: Wikipedia

How To Pack For The Camino de Santiago

For Mightygoods.com

My name is David, I’m from Dublin, Ireland, however, my heart is in Spain.

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I discovered the Camino de Santiago in 2010 and since then I have been venturing back and forth one or twice a year. Shortly after my first Camino to Santiago, I started to write about my times in Spain in 2012 and more recently, I have been ‘giving something back’ to my local Camino association. I have walked the Camino Frances seven times, the Camino Portuguese Coastal Route once and the Camino Finisterre once. But what gives me greater satisfaction is assisting those who have yet to walk to Santiago through the Camino Society of Ireland. In the future, I hope to return to Santiago and volunteer in the Pilgrim Office in Santiago in the coming years.

 What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?

There are 3 things that I recommend pilgrims carry with them at all times no matter the Camino:

  • Gehwol 75ml Foot cream – Strengthens your skin. Rub this on your feet each morning and you won’t have any blisters. 
  • Buff – An essential item, and one that can cover a variety of places. I am running thin on top so this was perfect for me. It covers my neck when the sun is out too. A must.
  • Travel journal – always take notes on the Camino. It’s so easy to forget the littlest of things when you return home.

How do you bring things with you?

I have always used Lowe Alpine when it came to rucksacks. Up to 2018, I owned an AirZone Pro 35:45, however, I have recently switched to an AirZone Trail 35. Both packs have been very comfortable and have not caused me any problems during my Caminos. However, everyone is different and it is important if you are in need of a backpack to visit an outdoors store and get the pack fitted.

When walking, I ensure that I have what I need close at hand, either in an over-the-shoulder bag or in the top pocket of my backpack. My shoulder bag would usually hold money, passport, pilgrim passport, guidebook, and phone. I usually keep my lunch in the top pocket – a yogurt, some fruit, some nuts, chocolate.

In the main compartment, all the other items are separated into dry bags. Ex-ped are a great brand and you can usually buy a pack of 5. My clothes are in one bag, toiletries in another, electricals (phone chargers, adapters) in another. My medication is kept in another bag and the last bag is for the blister kit.

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What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?

-The Camino de Santiago is all about the people you meet, and the stories you tell, the bonds you build. The lives you lead before arriving get left behind and they don’t matter. Friendships last forever on the Camino. I have seen it. While there is a lot of advice to start your Camino 100 km out from Santiago, the road will be very busy and there are more routes than the Camino Frances. Why not walk the Portuguese Coastal Route, or the less busy Camino Norte?

-Start early. Hitting the trail between 7 and 8am means you avoid the worst of the day’s heat. There’s nothing better than watching a sunrise on the meseta.

– Drink plenty of water. It can be hot on the Camino, so be sure to replenish all those fluids you’re losing through hard work.

Download a suggested packing list