Your Stories, Your Camino – Reg & Sue Spittle

I was delighted to receive an e-mail from Sue Spittle after she read my post asking for other people’s experiences on the Camino de Santiago. Both Sue and her husband Reg, decided to walk the Camino Frances from Pamplona in 2013. It was their first long distance walk and their first time with backpacks. It seems they really gained from their time on the Camino as they both are “living life with less baggage”! More details about Sue & Reg’s Camino can be found on www.carryoncouple.com/caminodesantigo.

So what was Sue’s impression of her Camino?…..

“We should do it!” That was my reaction in August of 2012 as the credits rolled signaling the end of the Emilio Estevez/Martin Sheen movie, The Way. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I realized I really meant it.

My husband thought I was nuts. We had no backpacking experience, with the exception of an overnighter with friends some 30 years earlier. How could we walk 500 miles? How could we carry everything we needed in a backpack? Where would we stay? What would we eat? What about our privacy? All valid concerns to which I responded, “What if we can do it? Besides, (we were recently retired) what else will we do with all our time?”

Fast forward to an April morning in 2013. Equipped with brand spanking new packs, sleeping bags, hiking shoes, assorted clothing and an abundance of other non-essential personal items, we took our first steps along the Camino, leading us out of Pamplona, Spain and into an entirely new way of life!

● Our training consisted of a variety of day hikes, with and without packs, only 100 miles in all. Trekking poles are a must!
● Albergues, with their dorm-style rooms, were intimidating at first, but we met wonderful people of all ages and nationalities. Do stay in some!
● Some Pilgrim meals were better than others, but all were affordable and often shared
around a communal table. Don’t miss out on this!
● Walk your own Camino. Find a pace and daily mileage count that suits your abilities.
For us it was 12 miles/day. It is not a race!
● Nor is it easy! Sore muscles, tired feet, blisters, sun, rain, snow, snoring, top bunks,
co-ed bathrooms…be prepared!
● The Camino has much to teach all who travel The Way. Appreciate each day for what it
is.

While reaching Santiago was our original goal, we weren’t far from Pamplona when we realized that the adventure would be about so much more. We both experienced a variety of emotions upon arriving in Santiago. Exhilaration, relief, sadness, gratitude…I would encourage you to find your “Way”. It just might change your life!

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Reg & Sue after reaching the top of O Cebreiro

April becomes September..

So I posted before before Christmas that I had planned to walk from Leon to Santiago. I couldn’t wait to heal up after my broken wrist, so I booked my flights and bought any other gear that I needed. There was much anticipation which is usually the case when I think about returning to Spain. I had decided on April as a good time as it’s not too warm and it’s not that busy at that time of the year.

Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, I felt it would be better to postpone and cut short my Camino. I have a number of things that I need to give my attention to over the next 3-4 months and unfortunately, a trip to Spain isn’t high on that list. So I am putting it aside until September 4th when I fly to Madrid and catch a bus to Astorga. I have made a booking in Hotel Gaudi which I am looking forward to. The next morning I hope to march on to who knows where! I had to grin and bear the charge for changing flights but that’s a small sacrifice! I look forward to the Leon hills, the Cruz de Ferro, the Bierzo valley and of course, the climb to O Cebreiro!

 

Looking Back – Camino Frances 2011 #6

“Santiago here I come, right back where I started from!”, we sang.

Yes, we were aware that the above was lifted from the Brian Friel classic play, “Philedephia, here I come!”, but there was a great sense of euphoria and happiness from us as we marched on to Compostela. Today was our last day and whatever niggling pain or blisters we had, it was replaced by relief. The more kilometres that passed by, the more built up the area became, and it wasn’t long before we saw Santiago Cathedral standing tall in front of us.

“Now what?” – we asked.

We giddily waited in line to collect our much-sought-after Compostelas, before catching the swinging of the botufumeiro at midday mass. Our comfortable Camino was over and we were to go home the following day. Some of our merry band were unsure if they would meet the Camino again, however I was secretly plotting my return for the following year. A seed was planted.

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Looking Back – Camino Frances 2011 #5

All six of us were coming close to the end of our comfortable Caminos. The below pictures were taken while we walked from Arzua to O Pedrouzo, twisting and turning between rural townland and villages. There were more animals spotted than people. There was also a great anticipation to reach Santiago, however, at the same time, we didn’t want this little holiday to end. More photos tomorrow, including some from Santiago.

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Looking Back – Camino Frances 2011 #4

Today finds our merry band of pampered peregrinos (including myself) stroll from Melide to Arzua. A short 15 km to our end point, however a stop off at Ribadiso for a picnic made the day that bit longer. There we pilgrim-watched as the queue for the xunta grew longer and longer. It was then that I realised that I wanted to walk the Camino carrying my pack and stay in albergues. Maybe, hotels just didn’t suit this 30-something Irishman. Closer we were to Santiago. More photos tomorrow.

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Looking Back – Camino Frances 2011 #3

Happy New Year folks! My first post of 2017 finds me wandering from Palas de Rei to Melide; a short hop and skip nowadays but a tough challenge back then! The scenery was enough to make me wish that I had a few more days left to stay on. More photos tomorrow!

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Looking Back – Camino Frances 2011 #2

Below are a number of photos from our stroll from Portomarin to Palas de Rei. I remember it being a very cloudy day and there were a number of showers, however, we were getting closer to Santiago! As you can see, the Xunta were working on the Camino in a number of areas at the time. And the distance markers were yet to be updated! However, I had the pleasure of visiting the Vilar de Donas church just off the Camino, which I would recommend. More photos tomorrow.

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