It’s the weekend again and boy! did that week go quick!
But not to worry, we have a great Weekend Watch for you. It comes from Efren, who has been creating Camino videos over on YouTube for months following a Camino Frances. He has now started a Camino Norte followed by a stint on the Primitivo to Santiago.
This video just sums up the Camino. It is pure joy. Plus it has one of my favourite artists “Woodkid” as music. The drone footage is fantastic! Enjoy!
September 2014, I remember walking the first day out from St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles. It was a fine day and despite fears of rain, the clouds held back and the sun was out for the day. I had a distinctive shade of red by the time I reached the albergue in the abbey in the woods.
However, the weather will not be pleasant for all pilgrims making their first steps. There will be rain, fog, wind and being at a height amplifies the difficulties, if any. The following video illustrates my point. I can’t believe how quick the fog comes down while these two pilgrims cross from France to Spain. The wind and rain makes a difficult walk even more so, especially while walking through the forest into Roncesvalles.
It is always helpful to a) speak to the locals before you set out and b) take any alternative routes if there any hazardous sections.
However, the threat of bad weather doesn’t put me off wanting to return to this part of the world again soon. It’s magical.
Do you ever have a countdown to your next Camino ticking away? I bet you have. I use an application on my phone telling me the number of days I have left before I leave. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not but each morning I get a little bit giddy knowing that I’m a little closer to my return date. And when I return back to Dublin, the whole process starts again.
So what do you do to bide the time before your next Camino?
It is quite possible to walk the Camino with very little preparation. Provided you are in normal good health, are prepared to take your time and listen to your body, you are half way there. However, here in Ireland, we are lucky enough to have numerous walking trails and pilgrim paths on our doorstep. It is a shame not to use them. Throughout the year, there are various walking festivals in Ireland which provide perfect opportunity to get you ready for a trip to Spain. Or why not walk by yourself with your pack? You can find details of these trails on irishtrails.ie or pilgrimpath.ie. It might be the case in other countries.
Are you comfortable with your Pack?
If you are considering carrying your pack on your Camino, you will need to be comfortable with it and it’s contents. Check it’s weight and if there is anything you don’t need, leave it behind. Try to walk with your pack a few times before you leave so you are sure it is the right size and all the settings are correct.
Join a Camino / Pilgrim Society
Are you talking about your experience on the Camino with a family member and they just don’t get it? Does it feel like you are talking to a brick wall? Well, by joining a Camino Society in your country, you get the chance to meet like-minded people (just like you!), share your story and give back to the Camino. Being a volunteer with Camino Society Ireland is a huge plus for me as I am able to pass on my experience to people preparing for their own Caminos and I can learn about new and exciting developments. And I don’t drive my family crazy!
YouTube / Movie
YouTube contains countless videos of peoples experiences along the different Caminos. From the very professional to videos made by pilgrims just like you and me. Watching them brings me back to the Camino and some offer helpful tips. Or you could watch a Camino related movie. The Camino Voyage springs to mind and I may give that a watch shortly.
And when you come home…
..Organise another Camino! Ah yes, the old doozie! For those of us fortunate enough to get away for another Camino, the 2nd best thing to being on the Camino is putting one together. Booking your flights and/or your first night accommodation (if needed) is a joy-inducing formula. Then there is Gronze.com, Rome2rio.com and plenty of other Camino planning tools to ensure everything goes smoothly.
I hope you are having a good weekend. I have finally reached 50 in this series. And I mark this occasion by posting a quick video about my favourite 30km stretch on the Camino Frances – from Burgos to Hontanas and the start of the meseta. This pilgrim even stopped at the same cafes as myself in the small towns of Tardajos and Hornillos del Camino. Check out the video.
Hontanas is not a big village, its population is less than 100 but at least you will find here three albergues. Some people prefer to walk over nine more kilometers to the bigger village of Castrojeríz as usually this stage is quite easy on the foot but most opt to stay overnight in Hontanas. My favourite albergue is the municipal at the end of the village and have always been given a warm welcome here. The main feature of the town is its church tower whose bells ring every hour on the hour. Happy sleeping.
Some pilgrims like to walk the Camino Frances not knowing what is ahead of them. Maybe that is unwise. There are other pilgrims who plan every minute detail weeks in advance. Again, maybe this takes away from the mystery. I did a little of both when I first walked from St. Jean Pied de Port in 2014.
I had heard stories and hearsay that this would be a very difficult walk. I had pictures of pilgrims scaling mountains with ropes. Obviously, that isn’t the case. However, the first few hours is all up-hill. If you need proof of that, why don’t you flick through the start of this chap’s video. He has recorded his walk from St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles from leaving the albergue in St. Jean to the arriving at the Abbey in the woods.
I can’t recall watching another video of this length and it sure may be of some help to those of you who are taking your first steps. The owner has gone on to record to rest of his Camino to Santiago. Just follow the links in YouTube. Enjoy..
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.
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!